City Union Chief Takes ‘No Questions Asked’ Stance Politics by Jacqueline Fox Representatives of the Service Employees International Union Local 347 have backed down on their earlier vow to request a formal audit of the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis report released last month by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the agency weighing secession. According to Julie Butcher, the union’s general manager, she and other members decided they were more concerned about LAFCO’s financial projections than technical data, and there was no guarantee the State Controller’s Office would consider them important enough to dig into. “The concerns we have are with LAFCO’s presumptions and analysis, and we just felt the state likely wouldn’t consider them to be significant enough to approve for an audit,” said Butcher. In addition, Butcher said requesting an audit could have slowed down the process for crafting a ballot initiative in time for the November election. Meanwhile, members of the United Chambers of Commerce decided to hold off on a decision to take a formal stand for or against secession. UCC board members had been expected to come out in favor of secession late last month. However, they agreed instead to wait until LAFCO releases the final terms and conditions before choosing sides. Representatives of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association and the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley have also said they would not announce their positions on secession until after the terms and conditions are released. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, however, has formally launched its “No on Secession” campaign. The federation, an umbrella group representing several unions with 800,000 workers, voted to launch a drive to dissuade voters from supporting a Valley split, saying secession threatens to take jobs away from its members. Off the Map Universal Studios isn’t the only San Fernando Valley institution to take issue lately with LAFCO’s proposed map of a new city. Universal officials are upset with the latest proposed map for a new Valley city because, in a post-secession world, Universal City could be split up among three separate municipalities: The new Valley city, Hollywood and Los Angeles. The map also outlines a new Valley city’s council districts. Secessionists have concerns because it places Los Angeles Pierce College in the communities of Winetka and Canoga Park, instead of its long-time home, Woodland Hills. LAFCO commissioners argued recently that population figures for the area immediately surrounding the college were too high to include it in a proposed District 8, based on census tracking requirements. Secessionists say that’s hogwash and want the map redrawn. They got a little support from Commissioner Zev Yaroslavsky who said of the area surrounding the college, “pigs outnumber people there 10-1.” Is It or Isn’t It? Officials with the California Technology Trade and Commerce Agency are apparently miffed with state Assemblyman Tony Cardenas for supplying the L.A. Daily News with what may have been misinformation about the potential closure of the San Fernando Valley Financial Development Corp. (FDC). The agency funds the FDC, which is overseen by VEDC. The VEDC announced last month that the FDC, which helps small businesses get guaranteed state loans, was in danger of being shut down because of budget cuts. Then Cardenas was quoted in the press as having secured funding for the program, thus saving it from closure. VEDC spokeswoman Kerry Aubry said part or all of that story was incorrect. However, she wouldn’t confirm whether closure was still an issue. Stay tuned. BID Business Roberto Barragan, president of the Valley Economic Development Center, said recently his agency is negotiating to take over a number of business improvement districts in the Valley because many involved with the BID’s say they are not doing much to increase business the original idea particularly along Ventura Boulevard. “They just aren’t working as efficiently as they could be,” Barragan said. The BID’s are part of a community program that involves designating certain areas for landscaping and structural improvements, paid for by fees collected from property owners. But business owners involved in BID’s say they don’t end up seeing much impact on their bottom lines. Topiaries and new awnings, many say, just aren’t enough to get people get out of their cars to shop. Barragan said a VEDC takeover would focus on increasing the financial resources of the BID’s by widening the pool of available loan and financing programs. The Boulevard Gets a Hand Mayor James K. Hahn and the L.A. Department of Transportation launched a new program Jan. 31 to help ease the gridlock along Ventura Boulevard during the morning and evening rush hours. The DOT has agreed to place eight officers at five of the boulevard’s busiest intersections to direct traffic. The intersections at Van Nuys, Sepulveda, Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon and Beverly Glen will be manned from roughly 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each weekday. Jacqueline Fox is political reporter for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com.