Galanter Not the Only Loser in Proposed New Council Districts

POLITICS
by Howard Fine

The L.A. City Council redistricting plan recently unveiled by the California Latino Redistricting Commission would not only knock Ruth Galanter out of her Westside council seat, it would derail the campaigns of two people seeking to replace her next year when her term expires.

Former L.A. City Controller Rick Tuttle, who lives in Palms, and Galanter staff member Mike Bonin, a Venice resident, have been quietly campaigning for Galanter's seat for months, getting their fundraising in gear. The primary election for Galanter's Sixth District seat is scheduled for April 2003, with a runoff the following June.

But if the redistricting plan now on the table wins approval and the Sixth District is transferred to the San Fernando Valley, Tuttle and Bonin would be faced with two unappealing options. They could abandon their Westside roots and move to the unfamiliar Valley. Or they could wait until 2005 and run for one of the two remaining Westside seats against opponents better known throughout those districts.

"It's going to be hard to campaign in a district that doesn't exist," Tuttle said.

Not surprisingly, both potential candidates are lobbying for Galanter's alternative plan, which would extend the Sixth District north along the coast and move 11th District Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski's district to the Valley.

Minimum Wage Escalator

State Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, is moving a bill through the state Legislature that would enact one of the key planks in the labor platform: indexing the minimum wage to the cost of living.

When he first introduced AB 181 last year, it would have raised the minimum wage $2, to $8.75 an hour, and then indexed it to the same annual change in the cost of living that the federal government uses to index Social Security payments. But that bill was tabled after it ran into opposition from employer groups.

Now he has resurrected the bill, but with a key change: eliminating the increase to $8.75 an hour. "We felt that with the economy the way it is now, raising it that high would be too much of a burden."

Koretz is pitching it as a good bill for employers, saying it's far better for their pocketbooks to pay out an annual increase of 5 cents or 10 cents an hour than to pay the huge jumps of 50 cents an hour every few years.

But business groups still oppose the bill, saying it would place California businesses at a further competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.

Nonetheless, AB 181 cleared the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on a 3-to-1 vote on Jan. 9 and goes this week before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill must pass the Assembly by Jan. 31 or it dies for the session.

Odds and Ends

Backers of a state initiative to enact a one-cent sales tax increase for terrorism response and preparedness have withdrawn their initiative, citing concerns that it would not garner enough support to pass when the economy is in recession

A recent mailer from the John Garamendi campaign for state Insurance Commissioner seems a bit presumptuous. The return address read: "Garamendi, Insurance Commissioner."



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

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