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EDITORIAL PROFILES IN COWARDICE THE CITY COUNCIL'S TERM-LIMIT GAMES.

THE City Council offered several profiles in cowardice last week when it voted to water down term limits for elected officials in Los Angeles.

Leading the way was freshman Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who, after loudly denouncing the measure, then went on to vote for it.

``We may feel voters want to repeal term limits or extend our terms,'' she told her colleagues, ``but I have to say I haven't heard that from the people in my district.''

For just a moment, the mayor's kid sister sounded like a free-thinking, political machine-bucking populist.

The council's plan to water down term limits, she said, ``came from politicians'' and not from the people, who overwhelmingly backed a 1993 ballot measure that limits local officeholders to two terms.

But then, after all the posturing and preening, Hahn merrily voted with her colleagues to put a measure on the March ballot that would extend the current limits on city officeholders to three terms.

That was the compromise legislation.

Council old-timer Nate Holden, who says he's retiring in 2003 no matter what and is usually more candid than most about his true feelings, had hoped for something more ambitious.

He proposed putting three different anti-term-limit measures on the ballot that would either repeal all term limits or let officials hold their offices for as long as four terms.

As much as his colleagues, especially the newcomers, privately supported his idea of lifetime or at least long-term job security, they lacked the nerve to publicly do anything that bold. So they backed the three-term compromise instead.

Their reticence clearly got under Holden's skin. ``I can't believe what I'm hearing around here,'' he thundered. ``When we talk in private, everyone says they hate term limits. But when you're in public, you sing a different tune.''

Yet for all his professed shock, Holden's been around City Hall so long that no act of political hypocrisy should really shock or amaze him.

That's how the City Council has long done business, under the old management as well as the new. Members seldom have the courage to vote their convictions or respond to the public's wishes.

Their public meetings are a mere charade to bamboozle the public by concealing what they have worked out together behind closed doors.

The result is the sort of worst-of-all-worlds' legislation that they've approved for term limits, which neither upholds a principle nor reflects the true will of the voters.

No wonder the public looks so favorably on term limits - anything to get the rascals out of power. As Hahn put it, ``People want term limits because they've lost faith in government.''

And neither she nor the council's political plotting is going to restore it.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 26, 2001
Words:449
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