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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

Jumping Into Political Beat With No Shortage of Stories

It couldn’t be a better time to start a tenure as a political reporter in Los Angeles. It’s the start of what proves to be a competitive race for the mayor’s office, and next week’s presidential election may be as close as the last one. This week, some of the city’s business leaders will discuss several important propositions that Angelenos will be considering Nov. 2. They find themselves considering tough issues like Proposition 72, which pits the state’s image as hostile to business against a healthcare crisis that has seen several Los Angeles hospitals close in the last year. Business leaders have taken a stance against the proposition, which would leave on the books legislation requiring companies with over 50 employees to provide health insurance to its workers. Those who spoke with the Business Journal said that the proposition could drive jobs out of the city and hurt those it’s designed to help. Valley business figures are also voting for Proposition 64, which would limit damages awarded to lawyers suing companies for unfair work practices, unless there is a specific victim claiming damages. They say that unscrupulous law offices have made a living threatening small business owners with suits in order to get those businesses to settle out of court. The upcoming mayoral election promises to have more twists and turns than the last race, which was essentially a two-person contest. Two Valley politicians will be playing an important role as James Hahn fights to win another term in office. As far as headlines go, the next few months will produce them in no short supply. Antonio Villaraigosa has made up for his late entry into the race with an impressive fundraising effort, Bernard Parks won the support of Bill Cosby in his bid. Robert Hertzberg is employing a 21st Century campaign style in maintaining a daily Weblog of Los Angeles news. Richard Alarcon, working to drum up support for his bid, has been more than accessible to the Valley public and its business leaders. In the last couple of weeks he’s been at events such as the public hearing on the closing of Northridge Medical Center Sherman Way Campus, the steel topping ceremony for Kaiser Permanente’s new hospital in Panorama City and a meeting of an alliance of neighborhood councils in Woodland Hills. Hertzberg has challenged the validity of some of Villaraigosa’s endorsements, saying that they represent nothing more than political payback. Hertzberg has been able to raise more contributions to his campaign than any of Hahn’s other challengers, but he is sure to remember the fight that Villaraigosa put up last time and could be deciding now who the biggest competition will be. Before the March primary, the Business Journal will speak with each of the major candidates to learn what each plans to bring to the Valley business community and what their general election strategy will be. This marks the first column of what will be a regular political column, examining local government, legislators and their activities, campaign related and otherwise. I hope that it will be relevant to the business community. Contributions for the column will be greatly appreciated, as will phone calls and mail. Open Primary Last Wednesday, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association Board of Directors announced their support of Proposition 62, which would change the state’s primary elections to “open” primaries. The proposition would allow voters to vote for any candidate in a primary election, regardless of party affiliation. The two candidates receiving the most votes would appear in the general election. VICA claims that the current primary system often produces candidates that do not reflect the more moderate elements in their parties. Should the proposition receive more votes than Proposition 60, the opposite measure, the open primary system would become law in 2006. Staff Reporter Jonathan Colburn can be reached at (818) 316-3124 Valley Clinic Receives $650,000 Grant The Valley Community Clinic has been awarded an additional $650,000 annually to expand its services to more of the uninsured population. The clinic is one of five Los Angeles County health centers and a total of 76 health centers to receive a total of $49 million in grants. Health and Human Resources Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the grants, which are a part of President Bush’s five-year plan to create comprehensive health care centers. The aim of the program is to have 1,200 new and expanded health center sites and increase the number of people served annually from about 10 million to 16 million by 2006. Judi Rose, director of public relations, said the money will help the clinic to expand its services, particularly its pediatric program, and to add both medical and administrative staff. “The whole point of the program is to expand access to care for the uninsured,” Rose said. The clinic’s annual budget will now be just under $9 million. Half of the money comes from federal, state and local grants. The rest comes from a private foundation, corporate and private donations as well as patient fees. The Valley Community Clinic is a private, non-profit agency. It was founded in 1970 as a counseling center, but soon expanded to include free and low-cost medical and health services. Ninety-five percent of the clinic’s patients are employed, however most have incomes below state poverty guidelines. Jonathan D. Colburn

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