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I Will Be Back in June with a New Proposal, Ridley-Thomas Promises

Part one

The pulse is weak but not weakening for a light rail station in Leimert Park Village, a sensitive, densely populated region, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said Monday, because he plans to reformulate his battered proposal and bring it back at the next meeting of the MTA Board on Thursday, June 23.

Exactly what adjustments and refinements he will make he was not yet prepared to disclose. But he is not backing away after a dump truck-sized disappointment at last Thursday’s monthly meeting.

In spite of a seeming misdirection attempt by the 13-member board to kill the Leimert Park station in all but a science fiction technical sense, Mr. Ridley-Thomas — who has tart words for his opponents — optimistically believes he can overcome a lopsided 9 to 3 vote.

He went into the 5½-hour downtown meeting believing he had the seven votes needed to lasso one of his two proposed enhancements for the Crenshaw-to-LAX line when ground is broken next year.

Fellow County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Gloria Molina — a conservative and a liberal — and John Fasana, an original member of the 18-year-old board from the East Side, were committed, Mr. Ridley-Thomas said, along with the four votes Mayor Villaraigosa controls.

How the Split Decision Developed

Mr. Ridley-Thomas knew he was not going to score a sweep.

He realized winning a mile-long underground tunnel through the southerly Park Mesa Heights section was unlikely, and it quickly was whacked, 10 to 3.

But the supervisor was confident he had just barely enough votes — including the four Mayor Villaraigosa controls — to squeeze through approval of a station at Vernon and Crenshaw in Leimert Park.

Instead, when Mr. Ridley-Thomas reached the third-floor meeting room in Gateway Plaza, adjacent to Union Station, he immediately found Mayor Villaraigosa and his three backyard pals — Richard Katz, Jose Huizar, Mel Wilson, along with the ever-pedantic Zev Yaroslavsky — forming a wall and throwing their bodies in his path.

This did not square with his pre-meeting convictionb. Mr. Ridley-Thomas was so certain of backing from the mayor’s team that he gauged his going-in chances at 7 or 8 on a 10-scale.

But he had ore faith in Mr. Villaraigosa than the mayor did in himself.

“Apparently, the mayor’s support was shaky all along,” Mr. Ridley-Thomas conceded. “I think he had a divided house (among his three allies), and he also was lobbied hard to vote against the station.”

Mr. Katz was charged by Mayor Villaraigosa with planting the bomb that would blow up plans for the frequently ignored or delayed black community.

Ignoring the supervisor’s intention to win a commitment for a station at Vernon and Crenshaw next year, Mr. Katz, a skin-close ally of board colleague of Mr. Villaraigosa, leaped over the plan and proposed an alternative with a gigantic catch attached:

If the 8½-mile $1.7 billion Crenshaw Corridor line comes in below estimates, then the board will endorse the station, and not one penny before.

All of these events began dramatically, slowly, tantalizingly, to play out as if scrupulously scripted.

(To be continued)

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