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LOS Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Burke may need some supervision. She's been accused of sleeping where she shouldn't be.

With most politicians this would betoken some kind of sexual impropriety, but Burke is clean in terms of her nighttime company. This is a question of whether she lives where she sleeps or if simply by changing cars and picking up the mail she makes another house her home.

Yvonne Burke is the county supervisor from -- uh, well, that's the problem. She represents South Los Angeles, an area that includes her "legal residence" in Mar Vista. However, she is in some political and possibly legal trouble for spending too much time in her Brentwood home and not enough (or any) in her official and legal residence in the district she represents and where, by law, she must reside.

Burke claims that the Mar Vista property was uninhabitable because she was remodeling, which has taken more time than anticipated. This, of course, sounds credible to anyone who has survived a remodel. However, it doesn't pass the reasonable-person test.

Burke's Brentwood house with swimming pool and tennis court is somewhat more, let's say, comfortable than her Mar Vista condo -- a condo whose vistas are marred by a lack of lush mountains and the verdant vegetation of Brentwood's Mandeville Canyon.

The fact that she is engaged in some stealth makes one think that she has something to hide. Burke sleeps in Brentwood and drives to Mar Vista to get picked up to go to work. She is dropped off in Mar Vista and drives to her Brentwood home, where she sleeps -- and swims and presumably plays tennis.

Is there anything a priori wrong with living outside the district you represent? Well, no. In England they do not play the game of hide and seek we play. For the House of Commons, you may live anywhere at all and you may "stand for election" in any district that can stand you.

The issue itself is not self-evidently important. While I understand the theory that one should live in one's district so as better to know the people and the issues, the English have not done a bad job with their system.

However, laws do mean something to politicians (and even civilians), or at least they should. Swearing falsely is perjury, and politicians have been charged with and convicted of perjury for claiming residence falsely.

In San Francisco, a place famous for liberality, civil disobedience and tolerance, Supervisor Ed Jew was charged with voter fraud and perjury for listing an empty apartment without electricity as his residence. In fact, he goes home to the plush suburb of Burlingame every night and returns to "the City" every morning.

In our own greater Los Angeles area, Linda Guevera ran for office in Huntington Park but lived in Downey. Peter Sabatino ran for the school board in West Covina, while he, too, lived in Downey. Clearly, something has to be done before all of Southern California is controlled by cruel carpetbaggers from Downey -- a city with obvious hegemonic ambitions.

All of this is passing strange since many in Congress have moved to Washington, D.C., and its adjacent suburbs and only visit their home districts. They exemplify the fiction and hypocrisy of the rule. Maybe the rule should be changed, but we at least need to end both the charade of residence and the hyper-technical definitions of what constitutes legal residence.

Burke's long and distinguished political career is coming to an end. I would hate to see her legacy created by her residence in the small house in Mar Vista, the large house in Brentwood or the big house.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jul 31, 2007
Next Article:SHOP > GOTTA HAVE IT.

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