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SECESSION GROUP HIRES CONSULTANT.

Byline: Harrison Sheppard Staff Writer

San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secessionists took the first step toward launching their pro-cityhood political campaigns Thursday by announcing the formation of campaign committees and the hiring of a political consultant.

The San Fernando Valley Independence Committee will spearhead the political campaign in the Valley, while another group could form soon to campaign in the rest of the city, said Jeff Brain, president of Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment.

Former Assemblyman Richard Katz is expected to lead the citywide campaign, and current Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, has said he might get involved as well.

The committee has hired the campaign firm Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli to manage the effort citywide.

The committee will go head to head against Mayor James Hahn's anti-secession committee, L.A. United, which has already raised $2 million out of an expected $5 million. It is being run by political consultant Bill Carrick.

Brain said matching Hahn's fund-raising ability will be one of the toughest challenges.

``We also believe we don't need as much money,'' he said. ``We believe he has a harder case to make than we do. We know people already support this in the Valley. I know people for whom $5 million isn't going to change their mind.''

A similar committee was formed for Hollywood. Although the city's third secession movement, in the San Pedro area, has not formed a committee, it is expected to benefit from the other two movements.

There is also greater doubt now as to whether the Local Agency Formation Commission will place San Pedro cityhood on the ballot because financial studies have found the area to be not viable as a separate city.

LAFCO is expected to decide by May 15 whether to place the cityhood proposals on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Hahn's strategy is based on convincing voters that the city is better as a large, unified entity and that he is working hard to improve services throughout the city, especially the Valley.

Hahn's team feels that even though it was first to form a committee and already has a substantial lead in fund raising with more than $2 million, it has to catch up to secessionists, who have benefited from more media attention over the past six years.

``They've been talking longer,'' said Kam Kuwata, the mayor's political consultant. ``But I think once people find what the truth is, I think they will conclude that it is better to keep Los Angeles united.''

Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli, with offices in Malibu, Sacramento and Washington, D.C., has managed dozens of ballot campaigns throughout California in the past decade, such as the campaign for Proposition 39, which lowered the voter threshold needed to pass school bond measures.

The separate campaign committee was formed because Valley VOTE, which has been working to get secession on the ballot, is a nonprofit organization that cannot officially take sides or campaign for approval of the ballot measure. State law exempts it from having to report its fund raising but the political campaign for the ballot issue must file reports.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 26, 2002
Words:514
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