On Nov. 6, after months of speculation and shadow campaigning, former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan officially kicks off his gubernatorial bid with the formal announcement of his candidacy at an Olvera Street press conference.

The event begins a two-day tour through the state that will end Wednesday evening in the Sacramento area. In between, Riordan will stop off at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Tuesday evening for a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser.

Riordan campaign officials say Olvera Street was chosen because it's in the heart of L.A. and was the subject of an extensive renovation during Riordan's tenure as mayor.

But the symbolism of a Republican candidate going to the Mexican roots of Los Angeles to make his announcement for governor can hardly be ignored. After the debacle of Proposition 187, which alienated tens of thousands of Latino voters, and the unsuccessful attempt by the last Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren to court the Latino vote, Riordan is playing up the strong support he received from Latinos as mayor.

He's also sending a message to the Republican Party faithful that he is the only Republican candidate who has demonstrated the ability to win substantial numbers of Latino votes, a crucial block the challenger will need to unseat incumbent Gray Davis.

Park Smokeout

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry made a big splash nationally when she unveiled a proposal to ban smoking in city parks. If approved, it would be the first such ban in the country, which is what got Perry noticed by the Washington Post, USA Today and other national media.

So why, with all the pressing issues facing the city these days, is the newly-elected Perry going after smokers?

"It's a matter of public health and safety," Perry said. "Children and families are the biggest users of our parks and studies have shown children are especially susceptible to tobacco smoke. What's more, I've seen very young children actually scoop up used cigarette butts in park sandboxes and put them in their mouths."

Perry also noted that discarded cigarette butts pose a high fire danger, particularly in parks near brush.

Perry's motion comes before the council's Arts, Health and Humanities committee next Tuesday. If approved, it could go to the full council later this month.

Silent Jack

While Jan Perry has been making national headlines, her colleague, new Westside City Councilman Jack Weiss, has maintained a low profile. He's held few press conferences and has garnered considerably fewer headlines than other new councilmembers like Perry, Janice Hahn, Eric Garcetti or Dennis Zine. Even his predecessor, Mike Feuer, took on high-profile citywide issues like banning smoking ads from city billboards.

Many in City Hall circles are privately wondering when, or if, they will hear from Weiss.

But Weiss says that while he may not be meeting with reporters every day, he is busy, both in his district and at City Hall.

"Look, holding press conferences is not what this job is about. It's about solving problems, often behind the scenes," Weiss said. "As a federal prosecutor, I got into the habit of only speaking when I had something substantive to say. I think that's a good habit and I'm not going to break it now."

Weiss pointed to his role spearheading the formation of the city's "Threat Preparedness Task Force," which is reviewing the ability of city agencies to detect and respond to terrorist or bioterrorism threats.

"You think these days that's not a high-profile role?" he asked.

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

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