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Local pols take no-fear approach

Officials promise to remain in public eye despite Arizona shootings.

January 13, 2011|By Joe Piasecki and Bill Kisliuk

The killing of six people and the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson) in Arizona has shaken the city's state and federal representatives, but none has plans to scale back public appearances.

"We all have concerns about it. I want to be out on the public and meet constituents, but I'm always conscious of incidents that might occur," said state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge).

While she has no specific plans to beef up security, Liu said members of her staff called for help from law enforcement officers several times last year to deal with unruly strangers who found their way into her Glendale district office.

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Officers with the California Highway Patrol, who she said have responded to the office from their nearby Glendale headquarters, were also present during a December open house there, said Liu.

In La Cañada Flintridge, city officials have not announced any plans for increased security at City Council meetings but will discuss City Hall security measures with members of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station next week, said Administrative Services Director Kevin Chun.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who like Liu is a former mayor of La Cañada, also isn't announcing any changes.

"I pride myself on being one of the most accessible elected officials out there. I'm not going to change who I am. I work for the residents for my district and I've got to be available," Portantino said.

Jo Maney, spokeswoman for Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), whose district includes La Cañada Flintridge, said the Giffords shooting was "an attack on our system of government, on people participating and exchanging thoughts. Mr. Dreier has made clear that this event will have absolutely no effect on his ability to do his job."

Like many others, Liu is troubled at the thought that increasingly intense political rhetoric may have helped goad alleged killer and 22-year-old Tucson resident Jared Lee Loughner, the suspected shooter in the Arizona incident, to violence.

"It makes you really think of the tenor and tone of what we do and where we are as a country. I'm reflective about 'How did we get here, how come there is such vitriol over ideas?' It's rather disturbing, but I don't know that it will forever change [area politicians'] behavior," she said.

"We're pretty accessible," Liu said of local officeholders. "As a representative, that's your job."

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