Friday, April 19, 2002
Hahn Kicks Off City’s Anti-Secession Fight in State of the City Address
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
Mayor James Hahn yesterday vowed not to let “the city of dreams” be broken into pieces by the “empty promises of secessionists” as he used his State of the City address to issue a rallying cry for citizens across the city to come together in opposition to efforts to split it into smaller municipalities..
“This is the city that dreams are made of and I will not let our dream be destroyed,” Hahn declared, urging citizens to “fight secession with the truth.”
Speaking at James Monroe High School in North Hills, Hahn kicked off the city’s fight against the proposed formation of new cities in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and the Harbor area.
City leaders have kept their anti-secession campaign on the backburner for months as they dealt with the aftereffects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the turmoil surrounding LAPD Chief Bernard Parks’ bid for a second term.
Standing in front of a large banner that read “Neighborhoods are Los Angeles,” Hahn painted a picture of a unique city made up of many unique neighborhoods. Secession would destroy that uniqueness and the Valley, Hollywood and San Pedro would cease to exist as we know them, he said.
“Breaking apart Los Angeles won’t provide one dime of additional money to a new city and will leave a remaining city wounded,” Hahn argued. “The reality is that a breakup is going to create more bureaucracy, more politicians, fewer resources and diminished services.”
A new city would not improve services because the new cities, unable to provide services themselves, would be forced to buy services from Los Angeles and the Harbor secession plan even proposes a 30 percent reduction in services, he maintained.
Hahn also took credit for improvements in the three secession-prone areas, including bringing more businesses and the Academy Awards back to Hollywood, targeting problem traffic intersections in the Valley, and appointing a Harbor Commission whose majority is made up of area residents.
“Secession is not a solution,” he said. “Working together to fulfill our dreams, meeting our shared goals, that’s the solution.”
A report on whether a new Valley city would be fiscally sound is expected to be released by the Local Agency Formation Commission next week. Final reports on the harbor area and Hollywood are expected to be ready within two months.
Hahn encouraged residents to take pride in the city that they have worked hard to build and to remember the good things about Los Angeles. He drummed up images of old Hollywood and held up the story of the recently deceased immigrant screenwriter Billy Wilder, who came to Hollywood with no money and went on to win six Academy Awards, as an example of how Los Angeles can make dreams come true.
Hahn also called on residents to take an active approach in their communities, to become active in their neighborhood councils, citizen emergency response teams,
“I ask all of you that if you are not already involved – get involved,” Hahn challenged.
Flanked by students in Monroe’s police academy magnet program, Hahn also reminded the community of his efforts to “turn the tide” of the mass exodus of LAPD officers in an effort to increase public safety across the city, including implementing a flexible work schedule for officers and reducing the time it takes to hire new officers.
The third step in the process of returning the ranks of the department to full strength, Hahn said, is “growing our own officers right here in Los Angeles.”
To show his commitment to the program, Hahn said his upcoming budget includes dedicating one police office to each academy.
Hahn also issued a challenge to the next LAPD police chief to help mold a department that is committed to fighting crime, ending corruption and protecting the rights of citizens.
“We will build a new culture within the LAPD that is founded on community trust,” Hahn promised.
The mayor’s speech drew rave reviews from the four City Council members in attendance and City Controller Laura Chick, who applauded the mayor’s efforts to bring the city together.
“I was driven to my feet at the end [of his speech],” the former West Valley councilwoman said.
Chick said she agreed with the mayor that secession is no panacea for the city’s ills.
Despite months of unanswered lobbying for a breakup by secessionists, Chick said its not too late for the city to get into the fight.
“I was getting worried it was [too late], but now I don’t think so,” Chick said.
Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who was recently elected to the council, said she noticed a distinct change in the questions voters were asking here when she was campaigning. During the primary, questions revolved around things like tree trimming, but that changed to question after question regarding secession during the general election, Greuel said.
“It was an interesting change,” she said. Greuel said she looks forward to listening to all of the information on secession from both sides.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the mayor’s sister, said that after being distracted by other issues, it is time for the city to “start answering the one-sided, shallow arguments of secessionists.”
“We have to remind people why LA is so great,” she said.
City Council President Alex Padilla agreed that the city’s focus needs to shift to keeping the city together.
“There’s been a lot going on,” Padilla noted. “Now our focus is going to be primarily on secession.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company