Pubdate: Thu, 09 Mar 2000
Source: Daily News of Los Angeles (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Daily News of Los Angeles
Address: P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365
Fax: (818)713-3723
Author: Rick Orlov
Bookmark: Rampart scandal:


Mayor Richard Riordan's office and the City Council clashed sharply
Wednesday over how to pay hundreds of millions of dollars the city could
owe from judgments and settlements arising from the L.A. police corruption

The council's Budget and Finance Committee urged rejection of the mayor's
proposal - to sell $300 million due the city over 25 years as its share of
the national tobacco lawsuit case, for about $100 million now.

The panel recommended instead the council take a go-slow approach by
immediately setting aside $23 million into a special fund that would be
increased over the years. If needed, the city then could issue judgment bonds.

"I'm not sure it's wise to be holding out a large pool of money at the
start, particularly since no lawsuits have been filed," said Councilman
Mike Feuer, the committee chairman. "We should be cautious and not
hamstring the city. It is important to address the issue right now, but we
shouldn't be making premature decisions."

But Deputy Mayor Jennifer Roth said Riordan is concerned that setting aside
the money would mean taking it from the general fund and cutting services
to the public.

"Putting together the budget this year is going to be a difficult process,"
Roth said. "And putting this money in reserve would result in a cut in city
services, which is an approach the mayor would not support."

The city expects dozens of lawsuits in the coming months, beyond the 14
already filed, from people who contend they were victims of the Rampart
Division's anti-gang CRASH officers, who allegedly abused and framed dozens
and possibly hundreds of suspects.

Former Officer Rafael Perez, who has been sentenced to five years in prison
on cocaine charges, has told investigators he and other CRASH officers
routinely assaulted, planted evidence and lied to win convictions of
suspected gang members, and also stole cocaine.

Riordan's tobacco funds proposal would use the money the city anticipates
receiving over the next 30 years to raise $91 million immediately, to be
set aside for the expected payouts.

But the committee, bolstered by reports from Bill Fujioka, chief
legislative analyst and city administrative officer, said it preferred to
wait and see what develops.

Fujioka has said he believes the city should maintain some flexibility by
setting aside cash now and using judgment bonds - which carry an interest
rate of under 5.5 percent - rather than bond the tobacco money, which would
carry an interest rate of 6.75 percent.

Under that formula, he said, the city could save $254 million over the next
25 years.

Roth said the mayor - who has indicated he wants to fire Fujioka - was
disappointed in his recommendation.

She also bristled at a suggestion that Fujioka come up with proposals to
set aside $20 million from next year's budget even before it is released.

"Respectfully, the budget will be released on April 20, as required by the
City Charter," Roth said. "Up until then, it is a draft document."

In a related development, Ted Hunt of the Los Angeles Police Protective
League issued an angry demand for an apology from LAPD Deputy Chief Mike
Bostic - who headed up the Board of Inquiry that last week said the
department suffered from mediocrity. Bostic had said the public "can no
longer trust the integrity of every officer in the LAPD."

Citing the league's efforts to work with the department on Rampart
problems, Hunt said members feel the Bostic comments "backhands our members
by painting a broad brush to describe the integrity of every officer on the

"We believed (Rampart) was an isolated incident involving a few rogue
officers, and that this is not a department-wide problem," Hunt wrote.
"While numerous officers have been assigned to home, CRASH units (have)
disbanded and Internal Affairs expanded, not one command officer above the
rank of captain has been held accountable for this embarrassing situation."

Bostic said Wednesday that his remarks are being misconstrued by the union.
"It's unfortunate they want to inflame an already tragic situation," Bostic

Also on Wednesday, Councilman Nate Holden issued a call for Police Chief
Bernard C. Parks to make sure actions are taken against any officer
involved in the corruption before the statute of limitations runs out.

"Imagine the public's outrage at the city letting even one of these corrupt
officers get off due to a technicality," Holden said at a City Hall news
conference. "The statute of limitations is now running and we must act now
to record and process the names of those involved so we can ensure justice."

Holden, however, said he did not want the names of the officers released
publicly until officials are convinced they committed a crime.
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