DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter
The coffers of the campaign to rewrite Los Angeles’ city charter are being filled by many of the biggest names in L.A.’s business community.
The biggest contributor is Mayor Richard Riordan himself, who gave $575,000 to the “Citizens to Turn L.A. Around” committee. He is followed by A. Jerrold Perenchio, controlling shareholder in Univision Communications Inc., who gave $150,000.
A total of $1,103,297 was donated to three committees backing the April 8 initiative to create an elected charter reform commission, according to campaign finance reports released this month.
Opponents reported no expenditures through the Dec. 31 filing period.
Among those contributing in support of the charter reform committee were Bert Boeckmann, owner and president of Galpin Motors Inc., who gave $25,000; Eli Broad, chairman of SunAmerica Inc., who gave $15,000; and David Price, chairman of American Golf Corp., who gave $25,000.
Stewart Resnick, chairman of Franklin Mint, gave $25,000; attorney David Fleming donated $15,000; and Richard Ferry, chairman and CEO of Korn/Ferry International, contributed $5,000.
Large companies many of them based outside L.A.’s city limits also wrote large checks to the charter reform campaign.
The L.A.-based contributors that gave some of the largest amounts include Lowe Enterprises Inc., which gave $20,000; Peterson Properties ($25,000); Saban Entertainment Inc. ($25,000); Zenith Insurance Co. ($34,000); Ticketmaster Southern California Inc., which gave two contributions totaling $25,000, and SunAmerica Financial, which gave $10,000.
Companies based outside L.A. whose headquarters would not be directly affected by a city charter rewrite also weighed in heavily in contributions.
Santa Monica-based U.S.A. Investments Inc., San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., Burbank-based Walt Disney Co., Compton-based Ralphs Food4Less and Lancaster-based High Desert Medical Group each contributed $25,000. Beverly Hills-based City National Corp. gave $10,000.
Michael F. Keeley, co-chair of the campaign to pass the measure that would create a charter reform commission, said that even though the business community contributed a large amount of money, L.A. residents also weighed in with donations.
Keeley said that 1,200 city residents contributed a total of $160,000 to Citizens to Turn L.A. Around. Those contributions were solicited as part of the petition drive to get charter reform on the city’s April 8 ballot.
“Twelve hundred people said, ‘That’s a good idea,'” Keeley said.
But the lion’s share of the contributions were from Riordan and L.A.’s business community, Keeley confirmed. “The reality is that fund-raising solicitation from individuals was not a priority of this campaign up to this point,” he said.
The charter reform campaign is being led by Riordan, Fleming and others who believe the city is dysfunctional and that more authority needs to be vested in the mayor.
Some Los Angeles City Council members have accused Riordan of mounting a power grab, even though any reforms are not likely to take effect until after he leaves office. So those council members have appointed their own panel to recommend charter changes.
The council-appointed panel, however, would only be able to recommend changes. By contrast, the elected citizens’ panel would have authority to put changes directly to voters.
Among those opposing the elected reform panel are the city’s two powerhouse unions, the Police Protective League and the United Firefighters of Los Angeles. Both unions have forged strong relations with City Council members, who approve their pay and benefit packages.