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Too Close to Call

Debate continues over Valley secession

by Wendy J. Madnick

April 22, 1999 | 8:00 pm

Fangs bared and chests thrust out, the competitors stepped into the ring and proceeded to demolish each other in ways both fair and unfair.

Was it the World Wrestling Federation? No, just another debate on Valley secession.

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League invited representatives of both sides of the secession issue to speak on the Valley's favorite topic at Adat Ari El in North Hollywood. About 65 people attended. Representing the "pro" side were Jeff Brain, president of Valley Voters Organized Toward Empowerment (VOTE) and Earl Greinetz, the current president of the Jewish Home for the Aging and past president of the Jewish Federation's Valley Alliance. Speaking against secession were Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Feuer and H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D., an associate dean at the University of Southern California.

The debate got off to a lively start when a heckler interrupted Aaron Levinson, director of the ADL's Valley office, during his introductory run-down of the organization's current projects.

"I thought we were here to learn about secession -- what's this got to do with it?" asked the man, setting the tone of the evening for the "Just the facts, please" crowd.

Facts can be tough to get at when emotions run high, however. Feuer began by saying he felt secession was wrong for Los Angeles as a whole and for L.A. Jews in particular.

"We have a principle that says, 'Don't separate yourself from the community,'" Feuer said. "I agree the Valley should be seeking better services from the city of Los Angeles. The question is not if the desire is appropriate, but what way should that desire be achieved?

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