Signaling its intention to play a greater role in the debate over City Charter reform, a coalition of leading business groups weighed in last week with a series of recommendations on the issue.

The coalition which includes the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Central City Association, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the Latin Business Association called for reducing the City Council's power and concentrating more administrative and management responsibilities in the mayor's office.

It also called for giving city department general managers more flexibility in selecting their most senior managers and establishing a multi-year budget cycle that should be used to improve long-term planning for city services.

"I can say that the form of government in Los Angeles is the most complicated form of government in the country, bar none," said chamber President Ezunial Burts at a coalition conference last week. "It's an obvious issue."

Meanwhile, a group of corporate chieftains, the Los Angeles Business Advisors, has commissioned its own study on charter reform. That study, prepared by Rand Corp. for about $100,000, is expected to be released in October.

"It's going to be more of a guiding principle this time, I think," said Sam Bell, president of the Business Advisors, which formed two years ago. "Our group is going to be looking at narrowing that once we get the final report and we find areas that perhaps need more priority."

Together, the actions reflect a growing commitment by business to be involved in charter reform and city politics in general, said Frank Moran, president of the Latin Business Association, one of eight groups in the coalition.

"There has never been an established, cohesive group in my recent memory," he said. "I really believe this is the beginning of a strengthening core of influence."

Two separate charter reform commissions a 21-member commission appointed by the L.A. City Council and a 15-member commission elected by voters are currently developing versions of a rewritten charter, which serves as the city's constitution.

The appointed commission, whose version of the charter can be amended by the City Council before being sent to voters for approval, already has held several public hearings on how the charter should be rewritten.

The elected commission which has had no money since being formed July 1, but which last week was granted $350,000 in city funds has broken into five committees and expects to have its guidelines ready early next year. Its version of the charter will go directly to the voters for approval.


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