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Riordan Gets Involved in Plans For Charter School at Skid Row

Riordan Gets Involved in Plans For Charter School at Skid Row


by Howard Fine

In the months before former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan left office, it seemed he was readying himself for a post-mayoral career in the world of education. After successfully remaking the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education in 1999, Riordan kept stressing the need to “put children first.” He announced that after he left office, he would take a job under Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer, working on bringing technology into the classroom.

Then the Bush Administration called to encourage him to run for governor, and all thoughts of education posts went out the window. Now, after his failed gubernatorial bid, Riordan is trying to launch a newspaper that would go head-to-head against the Los Angeles Times. He also has returned to his investment firm on a part-time basis.

But there’s been no mention about initiatives in education.

Riordan told the Business Journal he is not abandoning his work in the education arena. He said he’s planning to co-chair the proposed multibillion dollar bond initiative LAUSD is considering placing on the November ballot for new school facilities, popularly known as the “Son of BB.” And he said he’s working on redistricting of the seats on the LAUSD board.

Riordan added he’s also involved in an effort to build a charter school on Skid Row. “They’re ready to open a kindergarten this year and are now seeking approval to go up to the eighth grade,” he said. “I’m helping them to see if we can get state land to site the school on.”

Blacks and Secession

It’s no secret that Valley secession proponents have been busy trying to woo L.A.’s black community in South L.A. to their side. During the battle over former L.A. Police Chief Bernard Parks and his bid for a second five-year term, secession leaders paid several visits to churches and community organizations in the area.

Ostensibly, secession proponents hope to capitalize on discontent over the Parks imbroglio. But there’s a more basic, if not immediately obvious, selling point: blacks and other South L.A. residents would stand to gain in a new, smaller L.A. political structure.

Right now, blacks claim three of the City Council’s 15 districts and only form a majority in one district. City Hall watchers say it’s only a matter of time before black representation on the City Council is reduced to two, or even one seat. Indeed, this “loss of political clout” as evidenced in the lopsided 11-3 Council vote not to consider Parks’ appeal has been cited in the analysis of why the black community was so vocal in the Parks affair.

But if voters were to pass the Valley secession measure that presumably will be on the Nov. 5 ballot, the L.A. City Council would have to redraw the council districts to fit into the remaining 53 percent of the city’s land area. In such a scenario, blacks would likely gain one seat and maybe even two seats on a redistricted Council. That would make blacks a more formidable voting block on the Council.

Secession Redistricting

On a related front, the need to redraw the council districts again if secession passes is not of immediate concern to City Councilman Jack Weiss, who chairs the Council’s redistricting committee. This additional redistricting would mean that residents in many areas of the city would see themselves in three different council districts in a matter of 18 months a recipe for confusion, at the least.

“We’re not considering that issue right now,” Weiss said. “The secession issue is forcing Los Angeles to do so many things that cost a lot of money that we’re not going to devote any resources to redrawing lines again unless and until it’s absolutely necessary.”

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



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