After Five Terms, Bradley Says Goodbye to L.A

Article excerpt

ON a smoggy day in downtown Los Angeles, Mayor Tom Bradley looks out his third-floor office at a horizon filled with skyscrapers. Inside, adorning his desk, bookshelves, and walls are dozens of Asian artifacts from Japanese dolls to Chinese vases and Korean artwork.

"The transformation of this city into a center of Pacific Rim trade happened at least a decade before most anticipated," he says. The gifts reflect the constant influx of Asian businessmen and dignitaries; the skyline, the fruits of international investment.

"The century of the Pacific is upon us, and we are the point of access to America and from America," he says. "Understanding that cultural shift will be the test and hallmark of this city through the year 2000."

For 30 years, Mayor Bradley has been a fixture in the modern growth of Los Angeles - as a street cop, lawyer, city councilman, and then five-term mayor. That public career ends today, as his successor, Richard Riordan, takes the oath of office.

"The entire city skyline ... international airport ... harbor ... new housing ... rapid transit ... reflect symbolically what Bradley has meant to this city," says Alan Heslop, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont. "For two decades, he confounded all those ... who feared he couldn't force alliances between blacks, Jews, and business to get it all done."

Despite the poor headlines of the past two years - including riots, increases in crime, drugs, and homelessness - Bradley insists the best days of Los Angeles are yet to come.

"{At} the moment, we are in a downturn in the economy but that won't last.... To those who see doom and gloom, I just disagree."

CRIME, jobs, and immigration are the top problems facing incoming Mayor Richard Riordan, Bradley says. Close are environmental issues from air and water quality to sewage treatment.

"The first three are all related," says the lanky, 6 ft., 4 in. Bradley, sprawled in an easy chair and stroking his chin. "The problem is we have simply not seen the kind of adequate response or acknowledgment from the federal government on immigration. …