charter/22inches/1stjc/mark2nd

DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter

City Charter reform backers have long conceded the difficulty of coming up with a snappy ad campaign to sell their ballot initiative to voters.

Unlike crime or education, charter reform doesn't lend itself to short sound bites and catchy slogans or does it?

In radio ads last week, state Sen. Tom Hayden took his stab at making charter reform real to voters by claiming it's a plot by Richard Riordan and junk bond dealers to pillage City Hall.

Hayden, a mayoral candidate in the city's April 8 election, urges voters to cast ballots against the slate of charter reform candidates backed by Riordan.

"Richard Riordan and his junk-bond friends are spending $2 million on candidates to reform the L.A. city charter," Hayden, D-Los Angeles, said in one of three 60-second commercials.

"This isn't philanthropy. They're doing it to make a fast buck," he said.

Both charter reform supporters and Riordan's reelection campaign staff say that the charges are baseless and that Hayden is using the charter reform issue and a charter reform organization he heads to bolster his own campaign to unseat Riordan.

"How does anyone make money with charter reform?" asked political consultant Steven Afriat, who is working with 10 charter reform commission candidates endorsed by Riordan. "He may as well say charter reform will find a cure for cancer."

Charter reform has been the most contentious issue on the April 8 city ballot. Proposition 8 asks voters to appoint a 15-member commission to draft a new version of the city's charter, which serves as L.A.'s constitution.

Voters will also be asked to select candidates from the L.A.'s 15 city council districts to sit on the charter reform commission should Prop. 8 pass. Fifty-one candidates are running for the unpaid positions.

Critics have accused Riordan who contributed $575,000 of his own money to the charter reform effort of pushing for a new charter that would give more power to his office, and of endorsing candidates who support the change in power.

Hayden's commercials, which were scheduled to run through the end of last week, expand the charge by saying that local business people have contributed to the charter reform campaign with the hopes that they could win favor with a more powerful mayor's office in coming years.

Among the contributors was Apollo Advisors L.P., whose management includes former members of the defunct firm of Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., where convicted junk-bond dealer Michael Milken worked.

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