MAYOR'S TALK VIOLATED CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION
American Reporter Staff
HOLLYWOOD, June 25, 2002 -- A gathering at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood Monday night where Mayor Jim Hahn and Councilman Eric Garcetti were given 10 minutes to speak against Hollywood independence to more than 1,000 parishioners violated Federal laws and the U.S. Constitution's ban on mixing matters of church and state, a backer of cityhood for the Hollywood area says.
"Independence for Hollywood is very much a political issue," said Joe Shea, a supporter of the proposed new City of Hollywood, "but Cardinal Mahoney's opposition to it has led to a violation of one of the most important principles of American governance. The pastor of Blessed Sacrament invited both Mayor Hahn and Councilman Garcetti to speak for six minutes and four minutes respectively against our independence to more than 1,000 parishioners and despite pleas from parishioners like myself, did not allow a pro-independence spokesperson to represent our side."
Shea spoke to the parishioners from the pews in Spanish, without a microphone, but was cut off by the pastor. No unscheduled questions or statements were permitted.
"They presented a dog-and-pony show that was aimed at Latino parishioners who may not understand the issues at stake in secession but very much understand the promises of housing that were made. The Church was acting on the principle that you can fool most of the people all of the time" Shea said.
Councilman Garcetti told the parishioners of six area churches at Blessed Sacrament Monday night that Hollywood VOTE leaders don't support rent control, want the Sheriff's Dept. to patrol the new city instead of the LAPD, and will be $21 million in debt -- statements that are plain wrong, Shea said.
"All of that is false," Shea said. "Rent control is a principle foundation of Hollywood independence. We have asked the LAPD to contract with us for policing. And we will have a 3 percent budget surplus after the first year and a 9 percent surplus after three years, a financial position that Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky called 'very robust.' The only reason we have to pay $21 million to Los Angeles is because that is how much more they take from Hollywood than they give to it every year," he said. "If they want us to have a $100 million trust fund for low-income housing, all they have to do is forgo their 'alimony' payment for five years."
The duo promised to build 500 low-income rental units between Hollywood and. Sunset Blvds. mostly on property owned by the Church along Selma Ave. between Vine Street and Highland Ave. over the next three years. Most of the meeting was conducted in Spanish with some translation.
"The Church can trample on the Constitution if it wishes, and the press can stand by silently and thus encourage it, and the IRS can ignore it when it happens, but in the end the conscience of voters and the principles of our Constitution will triumph," said Shea, who was a candidate for mayor in 2001 on a pro-secession platform and heads the Ivar Hill Community Assn. He is a member of Blessed Sacrament Church.