[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

a lesson in civilized behavior

Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
those of us who do not know how to 'split' political boundaries (i.e.,
most of us) without use of the gun need to learn how to do so. forget
the q. of seccession from the nation, forget the state. consider a city.
the following object lesson is from Los angeles vs. San Fernando valley.
Read this, and pl. consider a democratic method to allow people to
separate political boundaries without using guns at each other. this is
a request for our joint exercise of rationality and civilized behavior.
this is from


Tuesday, March 16, 1999 

Petitions Qualify Valley Secession for Official Study 
     Government: More than the 132,000 required valid signatures were
      submitted, county says. Debate looms over who will pay for costly
analysis of
      the proposal. 
 One-fourth of San Fernando Valley voters
       have signed petitions authorizing the first
official step toward secession from Los Angeles,
county officials said Monday, triggering what is
sure to be a highly complex and politicized debate on the
consequences of breaking up the city. 

     More than 132,000 of the 202,000 signatures submitted by the
pro-breakup group Valley VOTE are valid, according to the county
registrar-recorder's office, forcing officials to conduct an
unprecedented analysis of the cost and impact of secession. Such a
study is the first step in the arcane process of municipal divorce,
which has not occurred in California since Montebello detached
from Monterey Park in 1920. 
     Leaders of the secession movement rejoiced after learning that
they had moved closer to their goal, saying that their successful
signature gathering campaign indicates that their effort to forge the
nation's sixth-largest city from the Valley's prototypic middle-class
suburbs has tangible public support and can no longer be taken
     "I was involved in the creation of Proposition 13, and this is just
as big for me," said Valley VOTE Chairman Richard Close, a
longtime Sherman Oaks homeowner activist. "This is like that, an
idea that was kind of cuckoo but then went mainstream. Politicians
didn't want anything to do with Howard Jarvis. But once people
signed the petitions, every politician wanted to be photographed
with him." 

The fate of the breakup movement now rests
in the hands of the county's Local Agency
Formation Commission, a nine-member panel that usually oversees
the redrawing of municipal boundaries. The panel must now find
money to conduct a detailed analysis--the largest of its kind in
history--tallying and dividing Los Angeles' assets and liabilities. 
     Among the politically explosive issues to be examined are
whether the Valley has a right to share ownership of the Department
of Water and Power, and if not, whether the nation's largest publicly
owned utility can charge Valley residents a higher rate for its
services. Another controversial issue is whether a split can be done
in compliance with a state law that requires municipal alimony
payments to one side or the other to ensure breakups are "revenue
     After conducting the study, panel members--including
Councilman Hal Bernson and county Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky
and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke--will decide whether secession can
occur without hurting either the Valley or the rest of the city
economically. If so, the commission will place the secession
question on the ballot for a citywide vote. To pass, it will have to
receive a majority not only within the boundaries of the proposed
municipality, but also within the existing city of Los Angeles. 

     Riordan Maintains Opposition to Breakup 
     The study is expected to take as long as two years, so Valley
secession is not likely to go before voters until 2002 at the earliest. 

 "The dynamic has changed as of this
morning," said Yaroslavsky, who heads the
subcommittee that will direct the study. "All of us who are a part of
this process have to step back and make this process work. It
would be folly for any of us--the city, the county, the state or [the
Local Agency Formation Commission]--to do things that would
surreptitiously block this." 
     Mayor Richard Riordan, who has repeatedly voiced his
opposition to even studying a city breakup, said in a terse statement
Monday that he will continue to speak out against secession. He
declined to elaborate. 
     "I continue to be opposed to secession," Riordan said in the
statement. "I believe secession will ensure nothing but another big
bureaucracy, and it's in the best interest of the city for all its parts
stay together." 
     However, mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Copen said Riordan
has not yet taken a position on what is expected to be the next
political battle in the secession process--whether the city should
help pay for the study, which is expected to cost several million
     Although no formal proposal for funding has been submitted,
Valley VOTE leaders have for months been advocating that city,
county, state and federal governments share the cost, arguing that it
would present an unconstitutional hurdle to the ballot if the private
organization were asked to pay the expenses. With strong
opposition among many city and county leaders to funding any part
of a secession study, many observers expect the issue to wind up in

Another issue likely to lead to legal squabbles
is whether Los Angeles bureaucrats must comply
with what are expected to be voluminous requests for data. Some
of the data the agency may request from the city does not exist or is
not up to date, said Ron Deaton, the city's chief legislative analyst. 
     "They need the current value of city facilities, but we don't do
appraisals every year, so that would not be readily available,"
Deaton said. "Someone would have to hire appraisers." 
     Many Valley leaders have been supportive of a secession study,
saying that their constituents have a right to determine whether they
would benefit from "Valley independence." 
     "The study is really important," said Councilman Joel Wachs,
who represents parts of the southeast Valley and lives in Studio
City. "I signed the petition because I thought it was important to
have the facts." 
     But many other city politicians, especially those from outside the
Valley, have expressed strong concerns about the breakup, fearing
it could hurt the remainder of the city. 
     Councilwoman Rita Walters, who represents much of the central
city, said one of the main issues fueling the call for secession--that
the Valley is being deprived of its fair share of public services--has
no basis in fact. 
     "I'm disappointed that it has come to this, that they want to pick
up their marbles and run," Walters said. "Their cause is not a just
     State Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) said in a recent
interview that "the city is what it is because of its diversity and
totality. It's a world class city, and for us to break it up would be a
horrible thing." 

Many Latinos Fear Impact 

Valley secession has generated stiff
opposition from Latino groups that fear it could
be an attempt by residents in the relatively whiter Valley to undo
some of the political gains made by Latinos in Los Angeles. 
     "Political representation for Latinos in the San Fernando Valley
would be worse if we secede than if we stay a part of Los Angeles.
That is just a fact," said Xavier Flores of the Mexican American
Political Assn.'s Valley chapter. "You don't need a huge study to
know that you have more clout when you are 40% of the total
population compared to 30%." 
     But other Los Angeles Latino leaders say the secession issue is
fueled by a lack of faith in government. 
     "It's too simple to say this is racial, that this is about certain
communities wanting to secede from other communities," said
Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) in a
recent interview. "What this shows is that the support is broader
than people thought. The motivations are more complex than that." 
     To counter claims that support for studying secession did not
exist outside wealthier, whiter parts of the Valley, leaders of Valley
VOTE released figures earlier this month that it said showed the
largely Latino northeast Valley supported secession more strongly
than any other area. 

     "I don't see where the city has any choice but
to be cooperative," Burke said. 
     Miguel Santana, a spokesman for Supervisor Gloria Molina,
said petitioners should pay for the study themselves, much as do
those seeking to incorporate unincorporated areas of the county. 
     In the 1980s, Santana said, East Los Angeles residents backed
off on plans to incorporate because of the daunting cost of such
studies. "That standard that has been applied to the unincorporated
areas should stand," he said. 
     * BACKING CHARTER REFORM: Three leaders of Valley
secession movement endorse charter reform ballot measure. B2 
                       * * *

     Changing the Map of L.A. 
     Leaders of the San Fernando Valley secession movement have
accomplished a key step. But a breakup still has many hurdles. 
                       * * *
     The Local Agency Formation Commission studies economic
impacts of a breakup. 
     The study will take the following steps: 
     * LAFCO asks the city for data to decide how to divide assets
and liabilities. 
     * Valley VOTE submits its plan; the city of Los Angeles
     * LAFCO decides whether to place Valley secession on the
                       * * *
     For LAFCO to place the issue on the ballot, the study must
show that a Valley city would be economically self-sufficient, and
that a split can take place without hurting the rest of the city
                       * * *
     For secession to take place, the approval of a majority of voters
in the Valley, and in the remainder of Los Angeles, is required in an
election not likely to take place before 2002. 

Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times. All Rights Reserved 
     Even those cool to Valley secession acknowledged Monday that
it had taken a step closer to reality. 
     "It's obvious that it's more likely it will become a reality,"
Supervisor Burke said. 
     She added that she believes the city and state should pay for the
funding, a frequent refrain around the Hall of Administration, where
supervisors want to see those entities open their wallets first. 

This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/