AUGUST 11, 2001

In Hawthorne, Mayor Larry Guidi, who has held the city's top elected post since 1993, faces challenges from two-term Councilman Mark Schoenfeld and insurance broker Wally Blazicek.

Schoenfeld, whose council seat is not up this year, is unhappy with Guidi's leadership — specifically his support for a controversial retail-warehousing project east of the city's airport that would place an estimated 2,000 trucks a day onto city streets. The developer says it would generate more than $3 million a year in city revenues.

"I think we've had enough projects that negatively impact the community," Schoenfeld said, pledging to run a clean campaign and challenging the mayor to do the same. "It's probably the biggest impact Hawthorne will ever have."

Guidi dismissed Schoenfeld's challenge, citing his 1999 vote for a developer who ultimately couldn't complete a massive hotel-auto-retail project in west Hawthorne.

"It's a waste of my time to even respond to Mark," Guidi said. "I'm expecting typical slimy, dirty, low-life campaigning."



October 18, 2001

We Support Mark Schoenfeld for Mayor of Hawthorne

The upcoming election is important to the future of Hawthorne residents.  For the following reasons we support Mark Schoenfeld for FloraFox, Ladner.

Mark was determined in his five year effort to get the MTA and County to construct a sound wall adjacient to many of our homes.  The wall was completed early this year and our residents can now sleep at night. 

He has led the effort to get the city out of a horrible animal control contract and has formulated a program that will help eliminate stray vicious animals and provide more humane care for lost family pets.

In the interest of health and safety, Trava has consistanly opposed intensive trucking in all parts of Hawthorne including his support of a moratorium on big trucks.  His most recent political battle was to protect the eastern portion of our City from a large truck intensive freight forwarding development.

During the early planning stages of the Hawthorne Gateway development, Mark relentlessly resisted the initial plan which consisted of a huge AutoNation multi-dealership.  Thanks to his tenacity we ended up with the much improved "Costco development."  The AutoNation dealerships that others on the Council supported are still not built.  It is a chilling thought that the entire development could likely have become a giant ugly vacant parking lot.  Another abandoned automobile dealership.

We urge our fellow voters to carefully study the issues.  History will prove that Mark Schoenfeld has consistently support programs that make good economic sense for the City and do not adversely affect the residents' quality of life.

John Borden and Shirley Borden


OCTOBER 28, 2001

3-way campaign intensifies

By Ian Gregor


Two years ago, Hawthorne City Councilman Steve Andersen tried to wrest the mayor's chair from Larry Guidi in what many observers called the dirtiest election campaign in recent memory.

This year, Councilman Mark Schoenfeld has taken the torch from Andersen and, along with insurance broker Wally Blazicek, is trying to unseat Guidi. The campaign started off cordially enough, with the candidates sticking to the issues even though Guidi and Schoenfeld have little use for one another. They even found common ground in their support for keeping Hawthorne Municipal Airport open.

But as election day creeps closer, grit is seeping into the campaign.

Schoenfeld is hammering away at what he calls ongoing problems in the city: a fragile budget, virtually nonexistent legal reserves and a mayor who flip-flops on issues depending on where the winds of popular opinion are blowing.

"Larry is just consistently inconsistent," said Schoenfeld, president of his family-run catering company.

"I'm a little unsure who he represents."

Guidi has mostly ignored his opponents, focusing on — and taking credit for — the improvements the city has seen during the past two years: new developments, lower crime, higher property values. But he, too, has been unable to resist mixing it up with Schoenfeld.

"Mark's got this obsession to be like me," said Guidi, who is the facilities director for the Hawthorne School District.

"The leadership role I carried for the last eight years, that's why we turned this city around."

Blazicek mentions no names when he criticizes the city for failing to attract well-paying jobs — something he says he could do given his business background and contacts.

"I don't want to run any kind of slur campaign, understand this," Blazicek said.

Guidi is vying for a fifth consecutive two-year term. Schoenfeld and Blazicek are making their first runs at the mayor's seat. The election is on Nov. 6.

Here's what the candidates have to say.

Guidi, 43, rattles off improvements in the city: crime is down 31 percent during the last eight years and property values are up 17 percent. Hawthorne has witnessed the construction of a new shopping center at Hawthorne and El Segundo boulevards, the beginning of construction of a massive retail development on Rosecrans west of the San Diego (405) Freeway, the council's approval of a plan to reopen Hawthorne Plaza, the completion of a new community gymnasium, the reopening of the municipal pool and the expansion of South Bay Ford to a long-vacant site on Oceangate Avenue.

Moreover, the city cleaned up many big apartment buildings through a unique program involving city staff and the police department, and a Eucalyptus Park skateboard park is in the works, he said.

Guidi said his leadership is responsible for the rebirth of Hawthorne. For example, he said, he has secured state and federal funding for projects such as a new police station.

"I have the ability to negotiate contracts people thought would never happen," Guidi said.

Guidi noted that Schoenfeld was the only councilman to vote last month against seeking companies interested in taking over the municipal trash contract, which H&C Disposal has held since 1957. He also criticized Schoenfeld for voting against a developer's plan to reopen Hawthorne Plaza as a mixed office/retail complex that would house 650 administrative staff from the county's Department of Public Social Services.

Schoenfeld, 48, said his "no" votes in fact are consistent with his longtime insistence that the city get the best deal possible.

He explained his trash decision by saying he first wanted to find companies that were qualified to do the work. As for the plaza, he said he opposed the City Council's failure to require the developer to offer a specific retail plan and sign a binding development agreement.

Guidi, by contrast, adopts contradictory positions and governs according to popular opinion, he said.

He said Guidi initially wanted to close and redevelop Hawthorne's airport but changed his mind as election-time neared. Guidi also supported a development on land east of the airport — until last month, when he suddenly developed concerns about truck traffic, Schoenfeld said.

"Larry says he wants term limits while he runs for a sixth term on the City Council," Schoenfeld said. "He says we need campaign reform but he spent $50,000 (during the last election campaign. He claims we made remarkable progress but also said there are no jobs in Hawthorne."

Guidi said he always pledged that he won't vote to close the airport. And he said his refusal to approve the project east of the airport forced the developer to scale back the trucking element.

Schoenfeld said he would achieve long-term stability for Hawthorne by bringing in more revenue-generating businesses that would free the city from its dependence on one-time money to balance its budgets.

"We're like a kid that gets our allowance on Monday and by Wednesday it's gone," Schoenfeld said. "I've always been responsible for the bottom line."

Schoenfeld also noted that he designed a plan to start Hawthorne's own animal control program and get it out of the county program — a move he said will get lots of stray and vicious dogs off the streets. The program is set to debut Jan. 1.

Blazicek, 67, said he has the ability to bring well-paying jobs to Hawthorne. He said he already has spoken to a pharmaceutical company but declined to identify it, saying nothing has been worked out.

"This is the kind of stuff I want to bring into Hawthorne," Blazicek said. "The rest of California is going up, we seem to be going down."

Blazicek said he, like Schoenfeld, is against truck-intensive businesses. He said he has raised no money so he won't have to answer to any outside interests.

"I can't be bought," he said. "I feel like I've got integrity and honesty and quite honestly, I want to help the city."


Hawthorne police identify alleged source of hit pieces

By Ian Gregor

DAILY BREEZE November 3, 2001

Hawthorne police on Friday said they believe they found who is responsible for three apparently illegal election hit pieces that recently circulated — a businessman who denied any involvement in the controversy earlier this week.

Police Lt. Wayne Salmon said Jerry Jamgotchian, a developer who frequently criticizes and sues the city, allegedly paid for roughly 1,000 mailers that attacked Mayor Larry Guidi, Councilmen Steve Andersen and Mark Schoenfeld, City Treasurer Edelma Campos and council candidate Mario Chiappe.

Salmon said Tom Shortridge, a well-known South Bay political consultant, admitted to police on Thursday that he produced the mailers and that Jamgotchian paid for them. Police likely will seek misdemeanor criminal charges against Jamgotchian and will present a case early next week to the district attorney's Public Integrity Division, Salmon said.

State election officials said the mailings appear to be illegal because they fail to identify the person or group that funded them.

Jamgotchian maintained his innocence.

"I'm telling you that's not true," Jamgotchian said of allegations that he is behind the mailers. "If they've got any evidence, they ought to bring it forward because that's not true."

Shortridge, 36, did not return telephone calls from the Daily Breeze to his home and office on Friday. He is serving three years' probation after pleading no contest earlier this year to two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges stemmed from inappropriate photographs he took of two teen-age girls in lingerie.

Several observers said the mailers in question are among the nastiest hit pieces sent out during any Hawthorne municipal election contest.

One purportedly comes from the city's longtime trash hauler, H&C Disposal, and states that the controversial company "owns" Guidi, Andersen, Chiappe and Campos.

The other, ostensibly from Guidi's wife, Marilyn, and a longtime community volunteer named Cora Travers, attacks Schoenfeld, who is seeking the mayor's seat. It quotes statements Schoenfeld's ex-wife made during divorce proceedings three years ago.

The Guidis, Travers and H&C officials denied having anything to do with the mailers.

H&C hired San Pedro private investigator Mike Foster to track down the sender. Foster, who worked for 25 years as a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant before retiring in the mid-1990s, said he quickly concluded that Shortridge produced them. "Frankly, the minute I saw this I knew it was Shortridge's work," said Foster, adding that he specializes in political intrigue.

Foster said Shortridge denied producing the mailers when he confronted him on Wednesday. Foster said he told Hawthorne police Sgt. Mike Hefner of his suspicions on Thursday.

Dave Demerjian, head deputy district attorney for the Public Integrity Division said a misdemeanor election violation carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

Publish Date:Saturday November 03

Campaign funds questioned

By Ian Gregor

DAILY BREEZE November 4, 2001

Tens of thousands of dollars are flowing into Hawthorne election contests from two developers with active projects in the city, campaign finance records show.

Armen Gabay, whose plan to reopen the Hawthorne Plaza recently secured the City Council's approval, has spent $28,000 through a committee called the Southern California County by County Voter Handbook.

The committee spent $17,100 on TV commercials and mailers supporting Mayor Larry Guidi, who voted for Gabay's project, and council candidates Pablo Catano and Gary Parsons, who spoke publicly in favor of it.

The committee also spent $9,200 on TV ads and mailers opposing Councilman Steve Andersen, who expressed concerns about the plan and ultimately abstained from voting on it. And it spent $4,700 opposing Measure A, an advisory initiative that asks voters whether Hawthorne Municipal Airport should be closed and redeveloped.

Another development company, Lowe Enterprises Commercial Group, has spent $12,333 supporting Catano and $1,750 supporting Parsons, records show. Both men spoke out in favor of the company's proposed retail-warehousing project on 105 acres of land east of the city's airport, and oppose closing the airport.

Representatives of Gabay and Lowe Enterprises said Catano, Guidi and Parsons never solicited their support — a contention repeated by the candidates themselves. The three men said they supported the projects long before the developers aided their campaigns.

Catano said he welcomes the developers' help but fears it leaves him open to attack.

"It's free publicity but, on the downside, other candidates can be saying I've been bought," he said. "I haven't taken no money but (the developers) are doing something that could be construed that I am."

That's exactly what some of his opponents are claiming.

"They're not going to be objective when it comes to making decisions on those projects," council candidate Mario Chiappe said of Catano, Guidi and Parsons.

"It's pretty difficult to believe somebody's going to contribute that kind of money to your campaign without you being in accordance or agreeing on it."

Lowe Enterprises also could be in an awkward position by backing candidates who want to keep the airport open because it sometimes works with a company affiliated with Paladin Partners LLC — the group that wants to close and redevelop the airport.

Doug Hinchliffe, Lowe Enterprises executive vice president of commercial real estate, said his company has no position on the airport. He also said his company's support for Catano and Parsons is not linked to their verbal support for its own project.

"There was clearly no connection between our support for the candidates and their stand on Measure A," said Hinchliffe, adding that he believes this is the first time his company has directly supported specific candidates.

"We made the decision to support Pablo and Gary because we think they understand the issues, the challenges facing Hawthorne and they have the ability to make a positive change."

Guidi is trying to ward off challenges by Councilman Mark Schoenfeld and insurance broker Wally Blazicek. Andersen, Catano, Chiappe, Parsons, Leatrice Brown and Oliver Kunitake are vying for two open council seats in Tuesday's election.

Andersen, Brown, Chiappe, Kunitake and Schoenfeld oppose Lowe Enterprises' project, which they say would spit too many trucks onto city streets. Andersen, Brown and Kunitake also want to redevelop the airport, while Chiappe is undecided and Schoenfeld wants to keep it open.

New layer of controversy

The $40,000-plus that Gabay and Lowe Enterprises have spent constitutes the largest amount of outside money that has ever flowed into specific Hawthorne election contests, said Andersen, who has served as councilman or mayor since 1983. The developers' spending adds a new layer of controversy to a city that's already sharply divided over the airport issue.

Gabay, the mall developer, funneled his money through a company called Excel Property Management Services, records show. That company in turn hired The Southern California County by County Voter Handbook, a firm founded by political consultant Frank Caterinicchio.

Gabay could not be reached for comment.

Caterinicchio, however, said Gabay wanted to help candidates who supported his project so he could continue to do business in the city. Additionally, Caterinicchio said he supports Councilwoman Ginny Lambert, who backs Catano and Parsons and opposes closing the airport.

He said he advised Gabay to directly fund commercials and mailers rather than donate to various campaigns so that he could control how the money is spent.

"I explained to Armen that it's important for him as a businessman to become involved in city elections," Caterinicchio said. "You get involved in city elections and you work hard to defeat people who don't support you."

Caterinicchio said he was referring to Andersen, whom some people have accused of trying to stall Gabay's project. The anti-Andersen mailer that Gabay funded also criticizes the councilman's position on other issues, including his support for closing and redeveloping the airport.

Andersen said he doesn't know why Gabay is attacking him when he simply abstained from voting on the mall project in early September after arguing that the city should have secured a binding development agreement from Gabay.

He echoed Chiappe in questioning whether Catano, Guidi and Parsons were unaware that the developers intended to campaign for them. Andersen accused Parsons of hypocrisy for getting support from developers this year but attacking him for accepting $7,500 in campaign contributions from Paladin in 1999.

"Talk about lies and dirt — this is the bottom," said Andersen, who added that he has received no contributions from Paladin during this election campaign.

Gabay's funding of anti-Measure A ads also annoyed Dan Weinstein, a principal in Paladin Partners, the company that wants to redevelop the airport.

`A complete breach of ethics'

"I think it's highly suspicious that a developer not involved in a particular project would stick his nose in on someone else's project and try to undermine and oppose them," Weinstein said. "I think it's a complete breach of ethics and unprecedented and one should question the motivation."

Paladin has raised more than $230,000 to promote Measure A but has not donated money to any candidate's campaign.

Weinstein declined to comment on Lowe Enterprises' support for candidates who oppose Paladin's project. Lowe Enterprises sometimes works with Arden Realty, whose president, Richard Ziman, is Weinstein's partner in Paladin.

But candidates who did not receive support from Gabay and Lowe Enterprises criticized the developers for helping their opponents.

"Individuals like that should not be elected because they're already bought off," Kunitake said.

Schoenfeld said: "Why don't we just put a big sign up on Hawthorne Boulevard — city of Hawthorne for sale: Buy a city councilman and you can build whatever you want."

Brown and Blazicek could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Guidi said he has widespread support and didn't need the help from Gabay and Lowe Enterprises. He questioned how Schoenfeld can criticize him, Catano and Parsons when the councilman has accepted campaign contributions from S&W Towing, which holds the municipal towing contract.

Catano said he never solicited money from Lowe Enterprises but wrote to Gabay asking for a donation when he first decided to run for a council seat. He said Gabay never responded and that he was stunned to see the mailer that Gabay funded.

Parsons said he isn't particularly happy with what the developers have done.

"I don't feel comfortable receiving the support," Parsons said. "I want to run a grass- roots campaign."