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California State Forum
Roy Romer, Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District
Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles County Supervisor
Laura Chick, Los Angeles City Controller
Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilman
March 10, 2004
RELATED CENTER: California Center

If Los Angeles is to prosper, its leaders must give top priority to improving the region's infrastructure, from expanding regional airports to building affordable housing. But most important, they must focus on the area's most important asset — its people — and that means improving education and helping create well-paying jobs.

That was the message from four of Los Angeles' leading public officials at a California State Forum hosted by the Milken Institute: "California's Economic Recovery: Financing Our Infrastructure."

The panelists were Roy Romer, Superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District; Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles County Supervisor; Laura Chick, Los Angeles City Controller; and Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Councilman.

Garcetti focused on what he called "a crisis of finance" within state and local governments, as well as the critical need for housing, while Chick decried a "crisis of confidence" that people have because of the appearance of an un-level playing field in the bidding for some of the city's contracts.

Antonovich cited a litany of issues that need addressing, from traffic to education, but left his most pointed criticisms for Sacramento, where the state Legislature has been on what he called a spending "binge" for several years.

Romer emphasized the good things that are happening at the school district, such as rising scores in elementary grades and the recent voter approval of bond Measure R, which allows the district to continue with much-needed school construction.

The meeting included follow-up questions from a panel of experts: Ross DeVol, Director of Regional Economics at the Milken Institute; Howard Fine, a reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal; and George Kieffer, Chairman of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Frank Mottek of KNX Newsradio was the master of ceremonies.

John E. Anderson, Chairman, President and CEO of Topa Equities, received the Forum Award in honor of his service to the community.

The event was sponsored by Barrington Associates, as well as Bingham McCutchen, LLC, Northern Trust, CDR Financial Products and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The California State Forum is a nonpartisan event that was created to provide the public greater access to civic leaders and to encourage discourse about issues affecting the community. It is televised and played on local stations throughout California following the event.