When Alex Padilla took the helm as president of the L.A. City Council on July 3, word was he would move quickly to make committee assignments.

But now it looks like it will be well into August before any decisions are made. That's because he wants to make some changes in the committee structure. Under the new charter, Padilla can't just wave his magic wand; it takes a council-approved ordinance to add, combine or disband committees.

This week Padilla intends to introduce just such an ordinance into the council, according to his spokesman David Gershwin.

"This is not going to be a major overhaul of the committee system, but he would like to make a few changes to the structure," Gershwin said.

Even if the council approves the ordinance this week, it needs a second reading next week, meaning that the earliest any committee assignments could come is Aug. 1. Councilmembers will probably want a few days after that to digest the changes and perhaps change their requests.

Businesspeople Crowd City Hall

Speaking of the L.A. City Council, last Thursday the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce gave its members their first chance to meet and question the new raft of elected city officials in the newly re-opened City Council Chambers.

Typically, these once-a-year affairs draw about 250 businesspeople. Chamber officials expected a larger-than-normal turnout this year because of all the new faces at City Hall. But they were not prepared for the estimated 750 RSVPs that came. Even after hastily arranging for an overflow room, they still had to turn away more than 100 people.

Those who got in heard from Mayor James Hahn, three panels of new and old councilmembers, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and City Controller Laura Chick.

Judging from the questions, the new council has its work cut out for it in addressing business concerns, especially in the development area.

"With the cost of land and all the regulations, it just doesn't make economic sense any more to put projects here in L.A.," said developer and real estate investor Mark Weinstein. He followed up with a question for new councilmember Jan Perry on what the city could do to entice more developers to build projects in L.A.

Perry said there was plenty of low-cost land available in her district.

Later on, Chick drew loud applause when she announced she was going to take advantage of a provision in the new city charter to conduct performance audits of every city department. While such a move may not make her too popular inside City Hall, it seemed to strike a chord with chamber members.

New Lobbying Shop

The nephew of one of the L.A. area's most noted campaign strategists has opened up his own local lobbying shop. Mitchell Englander left his uncle Harvey Englander's firm, the MWW Group, and on June 25th set up Issue Strategies in offices near the Staples Center.

Harvey Englander is well-known in political circles, having run several campaigns for local and state officeholders through the years, including Laura Chick and Hal Bernson for L.A. City Council and L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe.

"I went out on my own because after 10 years wearing virtually every hat in my uncle's company, it was simply time to start developing my own reputation," Mitchell Englander said.

But he won't be entirely on his own. He's joining forces with three other local political consultants and lobbyists: Arnie Berghoff, Ken Spiker and Fernando Guerra.

Staff Reporter Howard Fine can be contacted by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227 or by e-mail at hfine@labusinessjournal.com.

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