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IN making his pitch for why he should be re-elected, Mayor James Hahn in his annual State of the City address claimed credit for everything good that happened on his watch and none of the bad.

It's as if he was dream-walking through the last four years and suddenly awakened in South Los Angeles, where he found himself on a stage backed by a gospel choir and young hip-hop dancers and an audience of friends and supporters.

It was a short, sweet and very rosy picture he painted of the City of Angels since he took the helm of City Hall in 2001. ``I am proud to report to you that the state of our city is safer, stronger and improving every day,'' Hahn said.

You can grant Hahn the safer bit - crime has been down on his watch under Police Chief William Bratton. For that he deserves credit, although illegal street gangs still rule many city streets because Hahn chose to give handsome pay raises to city employees over hiring the extra cops that are so badly needed.

But stronger? Improving every day?

Is Hahn thinking of the same Los Angeles in which the doings in local government, particularly his administration, are the subject of local and federal criminal corruption probes?

Does he mean the same town in which basic services have been reduced year after year to pay for giveaways to special interests and employee unions, and where fees and rates are soaring?

Can he really be talking about the same Los Angeles as the one in which the power structure consistently backs developers, contractors and other special interests and neglects the interests of ordinary citizens from Pacoima to Mar Vista?

That's not to say that there aren't good things that have happened in Los Angeles in recent years. There are, and Hahn cited many of them: 35 new libraries opened; neighborhood councils have grown from nothing to a burgeoning movement that is learning how to wield grass-roots power; business tax reform.

What Hahn glossed is over is that the libraries were built by a voter-approved construction bond engineered by Richard Riordan when he was mayor. That neighborhood councils were created because of City Charter reform engineered by Richard Riordan when he was mayor. And that business tax reform driven by City Council members Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti with at best passive support from the Hahn.

What's the real state of the city?

Los Angeles is steadily becoming two cities, one rich, one poor, with the middle-class people of all races fleeing to the suburbs. It's a city run by small-minded leaders in public and private affairs whose vision rarely goes beyond their own self-aggrandizement.

Hahn needs to show he understands this and that he's committed to doing better. The city cannot afford more of the same.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 20, 2005
Next Article:BRIEFLY.

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