BOLAND PLAN SINKS TO DEFEAT : LOSS CALLED AN `ABOMINATION'.
In a stunning blow for San Fernando Valley residents, a Democrat-controlled Senate committee killed a compromise measure late Saturday night that would allow voters in Los Angeles to decide if they want to form a new city without the threat of a City Council veto.
On a partisan 7-4 vote that supporters of the measure contended was politically motivated, the Senate Appropriations Committee defeated Senate Bill 112.
The vote blocked any chance of a Senate floor vote from taking place on the citywide vote compromise plan pushed by Assemblywoman Paula Boland, R-Granada Hills.
The defeat, orchestrated by Senate President Pro Tem Bill Lockyer, meant the bill would remain in the policy committee - left to die - as the clock was set to expire on the legislative session at midnight.
Boland said there were no last-minute plans to keep her legislation alive before the session ended. She called Lockyer's decision to send the bill to a committee loaded with Democrats who opposed the bill ``an abomination for all Californians.''
``This fight is over, you bet,'' Boland said. ``But maybe it's just over until November when we get a Senate that believes in the people and democracy and believes in the institution of this Legislature instead of manipulating lives for their own gratification whatever that might be.''
Boland also blamed the city of Los Angeles lobbyists for helping to defeat the bill, even though the City Council formally has advocated a citywide vote.
``As soon as I gave them what they asked for, they really didn't want it,'' Boland said. ``They want to strangle the neck of San Fernando Valley people. They want to keep them by the neck and squeeze their blood. Immediately they pulled back and said kill it at all cost.''
The defeat of the legislation dashed any hopes for the year to rewrite the state law that currently gives the 15-member council a monopolistic control over secession.
``Ms. Boland had many chances to have her bill heard and just never persuaded enough people,'' Lockyer said through a spokesman. ``It is a complicated issue that requires a revamping of California urban policy and I'm sure we will revisit it.''
City lobbyists considered the outcome a victory. But the final action served as a setback for San Fernando Valley residents who have long resented the treatment they receive from the downtown establishment and viewed the bill as - at the very least - a way to extract from city leaders better services and a more responsive government.
``I think the bill is dead, but we know this issue isn't dead,'' said city lobbyist Leslie McFadden. ``We look forward to dealing with all the people in the Valley.''
A budding secession movement in the Valley nearly 20 years ago prompted city lobbyists to push for the current law making it nearly impossible for any area of Los Angeles to form a new city.
Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Los Angeles, said any victory for the city would be considered a hollow one.
``It just means that the status quo won,'' Hayden said. ``All the city has to look forward to now is more citizen dissatisfaction.''
The measure received bipartisan support in the Assembly. Every Valley representative in the Capitol, including Hayden, supported the citywide vote proposal.
``All this bill does is say that Los Angeles City Council, all those miles away from the San Fernando Valley, cannot arbitrarily end the (secession) process,'' argued Sen. Ross Johnson before the committee vote. Johnson, R-Irvine, was listed as the author of the bill.
Voting to kill the bill were Sen. Patrick Johnston, D-Stockton; Sen. Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles; Sen. Teresa Hughes, D-Inglewood; Sen. Ralph Dills, D-Gardena; Sen. Henry Mello, D-Gilroy; Sen. Al Alquist, D-San Jose; and Sen. Lucy Killea, I-San Diego.
The members voting to send the bill to the Senate floor were Sen. Tim Leslie, R-Roseville; Sen. John Lewis, R-Orange; Sen. David Kelley, R-San Diego; and Sen. Richard Mountjoy, R-Arcadia.
Sen. Steve Peace, D-Chula Vista, was present but did not vote. Sen. Bill Leonard, R-Upland, was absent.
The signs pointing toward defeat of the legislation were ominous from the time it arrived in the Senate - sent there on a 43-13 bipartisan vote from the Assembly on Friday afternoon.
The Senate adjourned late Friday night without taking action and eventually sat on the bill for a full 24 hours before shipping it to the Appropriations Committee. There, it sat idle for several more hours before a hearing was finally scheduled shortly after 8 p.m.
Lockyer made the controversial decision to move the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee, despite pleas from Republicans to send it directly to the floor.
Lockyer ignored a staff recommendation to move the bill to the Senate Local Government Committee, where it was expected to easily gain passage to the floor.
``Look at the names on the Appropriations Committee and go figure it out,'' Polanco, a downtown Democrat who worked the hardest to derail the legislation, said before the vote.
``It isn't going anywhere,'' he said. ``It's over.''
Lockyer said he was sending the bill to appropriations so proposals he introduced weeks ago could be debated.
Lockyer, D-Hayward, drafted amendments calling for an 18-month study of state secession laws and a $1.2 million economic analysis of a Valley split.
``I have serious policy issues that I'm interested in with respect to urban policy issues for the 21st century,'' Lockyer said at the Rules Committee meeting. ``That debate is going to occur.''
But it never did. The short debate was supposed to center on fiscal impacts of the Boland measure, but the Department of Finance said they had no evidence of any.
``We don't have a file,'' an official with the department told Johnston, the committee chairman.
Boland said Lockyer was ``afraid to send it to the floor because he knows it will pass with a citywide vote.''
Her initial bill limited any election to the area seeking to secede.
Boland took the existing bill, plus the citywide vote provision, and placed it into SB 112, which dealt with contractor licenses and public records.
Boland's new measure would have required Valley residents to vote twice if they ever wish to secede - once as the area seeking to split from Los Angeles, and once as a resident of the entire city.
Johnson chalked up the last-minute maneuvering to typical end-of-year political games.
``One sees a lot of strange things around here at the end of session, that's for sure,'' Johnson said.
During the Rules Committee hearing, Lockyer, known in the Capitol for his short fuse, grew increasingly upset with Boland. The two lawmakers have carried out a deep personal feud over the legislation for several months. Boland is running for the state Senate and Lockyer, as the leader of Senate Democrats, is chiefly responsible for making sure she loses.
``I waived lots of rules to accommodate the author . . . during the course of the discussion of this measure,'' Lockyer said. ``I was called Mickey Mouse, a dictator and most recently when it went to a vote that it lost because I intimidated members. None of that happens to be true. People involved with this know I stretched the rules.''
Afterward, Boland said Lockyer was straying from the matter at hand.
``I'm disappointed that he's more hung up on old press than he is on taking up good policy,'' Boland said. ``I'm astounded. What just happened here are not logical options in this building.''
For most of the year inside the halls of the Capitol, the policy issue seemed to be clouded by politics and personality conflicts. Boland and Lockyer have carried on a war of words for months and have barely spoken in recent weeks. It is no secret that they dislike each other.
Photo: Paula Boland
Says Lockyer was afraid