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City Council Adopts Resolution Opposing U.S. Invasion of Iraq

By Sue Fox, Times Staff Writer

In a carefully arranged marriage of thinking globally and acting locally, the Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to oppose unilateral war in Iraq but made sure to tuck a plea for the city's homeless into the small print.

The compromise -- aimed at quelling criticism that local lawmakers have no business dabbling in foreign policy -- came after weeks of wrangling that split the council and unleashed a spirited debate on how the nation's second-largest city views itself.

In an era of terrorism and economic uncertainty, ought city leaders concern themselves with global affairs? Or should they stick to the meat-and-potatoes neighborhood issues many of them campaigned on, from untangling traffic congestion to thwarting gang violence?

"We have great needs in our cities, and we should not be spending our federal tax dollars bombing and killing other people in other countries," Councilman Ed Reyes told the approximately 300 peace activists who jammed the council chambers for the decision. "We're not a bunch of crazy councilmen. All we're saying is, 'We are echoing the sentiments of those who are hurting.' "

Mayor James K. Hahn signed the antiwar resolution late in the day, making Los Angeles the biggest city to take a stand against a unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq. About 100 other cities, including Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia, have approved similar measures.

An earlier vote on Councilman Eric Garcetti's resolution opposing a war without United Nations support fell one vote short of passage Tuesday, setting the stage for Friday's sequel.

This time, Councilwoman Jan Perry smoothed over the peace versus potholes clash with an amendment pledging greater efforts to seek federal funding for homeless people. After a short discussion -- with those lawmakers who opposed the measure keeping conspicuously quiet -- the council approved the antiwar resolution on a 9-4 vote.

"Thank you!" screamed an elderly woman in a canary-yellow T-shirt as the audience erupted in wild cheers. Another demonstrator, sporting a "No Blood for Oil" message across her shirt, blew kisses at the council members.

"It's very bold of the city to do this," said Fred Greissing, 42, a music video director who had slashed holes in his clothes, roasted them on his barbecue and splattered them with fake blood for the occasion. "Local government is easy to reach, closer to the people. I mean, I don't think we could have walked into the back of the White House and done this."

Although the City Council typically deals in police reform, street paving and other strictly municipal matters, it occasionally ventures into national or global affairs.[size]

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