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PANEL TO PROBE PAY-TO-PLAY CHAIRMAN PROMISES REFORMS IN WAY CITY DOES FUND RAISING, BUSINESS.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

With investigations into an alleged ``pay-to-play'' system still under way, Mayor James Hahn announced the appointments Wednesday of seven people to a panel he formed to review the city's contracting practices.

Hahn said the panel, under the direction of University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, will look at procedures in place for awarding contracts by the departments of Airports, Harbor and Water and Power - targets of investigation by county and federal authorities.

``I want to implement comprehensive reform in city government and I am looking to this commission ... to accomplish this goal,'' Hahn said.

He reluctantly formed the panel after federal and Los Angeles County prosecutors announced separate grand juries were investigating whether the city has a ``pay-to-play'' system that rewards political contributors with contracts.

The inquiries followed an audit of the Department of Airports by Controller Laura Chick and was expanded to include the other independent agencies.

Hahn said he wanted his panel to look at how the agencies award contracts and ensure the best business practices are used.

The appointees include Kelly Martin, an attorney who was chief of staff to former Mayor Richard Riordan, and Julie Butcher, general manager of Service Employees International Union Local 347, one of the largest labor unions representing Los Angeles municipal workers.

Also on the panel are Gene Hale of the Greater Los Angeles African- American Chamber of Commerce; retired Assistant City Administrator Jerome Selmer; Monsignor Terry Fleming, a former member of the city Ethics Commission; Roberto Barragan, director of the Valley Economic Development Center; and businessman Charlie Woo.

``Each panel member was selected because they are proven leaders with the expertise and integrity required to ensure that the city's airports, port and DWP award contracts efficiently, uniformly and transparently,'' Hahn said.

Chemerinsky, who chaired the Elected Charter Reform Commission, welcomed the appointments.

``This panel brings a breadth of expertise and experience that will lead to significant and far-reaching reform,'' Chemerinsky said.

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

rick.orlov(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 18, 2004
Words:336
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