Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, July 23, 2001


Page 10


Hahn Nominates Lawyer/Developer Ted Stein to Return to Airport Commission


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The on-again, off-again City Hall career of San Fernando Valley lawyer/developer Ted Stein appeared on again Friday as Mayor James Hahn nominated him to return to the Airport Commission, where Stein once landed in hot water for orchestrating a lobbying contract for Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell.

Hahn named his former election opponent to the post along with 16 other commissioners for the key city panels that run the airport, the harbor, and the Department of Water and Power. The new mayor named a labor group representative to each of the panels, and for the first time in memory put a majority of harbor-area residents on the Harbor Commission.

Those nominated to lead the three proprietary departments include newcomers as well as City Hall veterans like Stein.

Stein served as Airport Commission president under then-Mayor Richard Riordan, and simultaneously as Riordanís top unpaid advisor, when he hired convicted Whitewater figure Webster Hubbell for $49,500 to lobby for the airport in 1994. A probe by City Controller Rick Tuttle found that Hubbell did no work under the contract and that Stein lacked the authority to hire him.

Pressured from both sides over whether to recommend sanctioning Stein, Tuttle in the end recommended only that the city inform Stein that his actions were improperó-but the City Council rejected even that move.

In 1996, with Riordanís blessing, Stein left the airports panel to challenge Hahn for city attorney but was beaten badly. He returned to city service two years later as a Riordan appointment to the Harbor Commission, where he also was elected president.

But Riordan broke with Stein, and fired him from the commission post, when Stein backed his erstwhile foe Hahn for mayor over Riordanís choice, Steve Soboroff.

Stein became a staunch Hahn backer, donating $3,500 in the mayoral election. His wife, Ellen Steinó-a Riordan appointee to the Board of Public Worksó-donated $3,000 to Hahnís campaign.

Most recently in the news as a real estate developer, Steinís plan to build a denser housing development in a part of the northwest Valley currently zoned for horses was vetoed by Riordan. Stein supporters said the mayorís move came out of spite, and the council overrode the veto.

Steinís primary mission while on Riordanís Airport Commission was to press for transfer of airport money into the cityís general fund to pay for the hiring of more police officers. The move was opposed by airlines and by the federal government, and the city lost several court battles in the failed effort.

Hahnís avowed top goal for the panel is to pare down a $12 million expansion of Los Angeles International Airport in favor of expanding capacity at all airports in the region.

Also appointed to the panel were Eileen Nebel Levine, a health professional and former associate dean of students at UCLAís Student Health Service; Cheryl Peterson, a Riordan airport commissioner and a former manager at Atlantic Richfield; real estate developer Warren Valdry, also a Riordan airport commissioner; United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America official Armando Vergara; former Westchester schoolteacher Ruth Mahala Brown Walter; and Kaiser Permanente executive Leland Wong, the current Airport Commission president.

Riordan had moved Wong from the harbor panel to airports to make way for Stein at the harbor.

Among those not renominated to the commission was County Federation of Labor leader Miguel Contreras, who was a staunch supporter of Hahn opponent Antonio Villaraigosa in the mayoral election.

Under the 2000 city charter, the Airport Commission is expanded from five members to seven, with one to come from the neighborhood near LAX and one from the area near Van Nuys airport. Walter is the LAX designee; it was not immediately clear who was the Van Nuys appointment, although Stein may qualify.

Appointed to the Harbor Commission were former Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Elwood Lui, now an attorney at the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue; attorney Nick Tonsich of the firm of Glaser, Tonsich & Brajevich, a former city prosecutor in Long Beach; San Pedro/Narbonne Community Adult School Principal Camilla Townsend Kocol; Thomas H. Warren, a former president of I.L.W.U. Local 63 Marine Clerks Association; and current Fire Commissioner James Acevedo, president of nonprofit housing developer Neighborhood Empowerment and Economic Development, Inc.

The charter requires at least one member of the harbor panel to be from the neighborhood, but Hahn, a San Pedro resident, appointed threeóKocol, Tonsich and Warren.

Secession-minded harbor-area residents have long fought the commissionís pro-port policies, which they often saw as contributing to a loss in quality of life in the area.

Appointed to the Board of Water and Power Com≠missioners were current President Kenneth Lombard, who leads Johnson Development Corporation/Magic Johnson Theatres; current member Dominick Rubalcava, an attorney; Annie Cho, president of public relations agency Jin Woo Communication group; former Riordan Deputy Mayor Mary Leslie; and Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 Business Manager Sid C. Stolper.

Nominations are subject to confirmation by the City Council, which must act within the next 45 days.


Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company