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News Briefs 2

House Plan Would Eliminate Fed Savings and Loan Industry

The Washington Post

The House Banking Committee is near agreement on a plan that would eliminate the federal savings and loan industry - requiring existing institutions to become either national banks or state-chartered thrifts, and closing down the federal Office of Thrift Supervision, according to industry and congressional sources.

The provision, which is expected to be approved by the full committee Tuesday as part of its contribution to the overall budget reconciliation bill, was put on the fast track last week when congressional budget writers discovered it would raise $5 billion in additional revenue for next year, these sources said.

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to act on its version Wednesday.

If the proposal becomes law, each of the nation's roughly 1,500 federally chartered savings and loans would face a choice two years from now: They could become national banks, under supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the Federal Reserve; or they could become state-chartered thrifts, under state regulation. Many might decide to merge with other institutions; a few might liquidate.

The plan, which grew out of a proposal to merge the two federal funds that insure bank and thrift deposits, took shape only last Friday, sources said. Committee staff members worked on it over the weekend, and it appeared to be in final form Monday.

Clinton Hoping to Avoid Social Issues in California

Los Angeles Times

As part of the first major swing of his re-election campaign, President Clinton is headed to California this week with his treasury filling rapidly, his poll numbers in the state looking promising, yet needing one thing in his quest for the nation's biggest electoral prize: A change of subject.

In 19 previous trips to the state as president, Clinton has cultivated an image as the chief executive who ministers to California's needs through earthquake, flood, fire, military-base closure and recession. Yet even with a payoff from all this now apparently in view, Clinton has been unable to turn the topic of his visits away from a vulnerability: the state's preoccupying social issues, led by affirmative action and immigration.

Each of his trips to California earlier this year has been dominated by those concerns, which re-election strategists see as Clinton weak points in a state he hopes to lock up early so that he can devote resources to other critical contests.

Some Democratic strategists assert that this fight over the agenda is already shaping up as the central element of the California campaign, no matter whom the Republicans pick as their candidate. In this view, Clinton must find a way to make the social issues secondary while promoting his record of service and portraying himself as a champion of moderates on such issues as abortion, gun control, health care and the environment.

Congress Weighing Slimmed Down Parks System

Los Angeles Times

The big trees have been falling for decades, crashing down on roofs and cars and occasionally landing on people. For just about as long, the National Park Service has been trying to move Giant Forest Village, the park's commercial hub, out from under the regal sequoias.

Now, unless officials can come up with at least $30 million in private capital, the second oldest national park and one of the most frequently visited could be without hotel rooms, restaurants, shops and other visitor services by 1998.

Giant Forest Village will be closed this winter, officials have decided, and some buildings near leaning trees have already been vacated. The state, reacting to chronic sewage spills, has ordered the Park Service to shut down the village's ancient sewer system.

Sequoia's plight has become a focal point of wrangling in Congress over the Park Service budget and whether the system of parks, monuments and recreation areas should be shrunk to help ease the federal deficit.

Facing a $4 billion maintenance backlog, and watching many of its prized historical sites fall into ruin, the Park Service is pushing for legislation that give parks a larger share of the profits of concessionaires - the private businesses that provide most visitor services.

LAPD Chief Sues City

Los Angeles Times

Embattled Police Chief Willie L. Williams on Monday filed a $10 million claim against the city of Los Angeles and its police commission, contending that his privacy was violated and his reputation defamed when copies of his confidential personnel records were obtained by The Times.

Williams also asked the city to launch an investigation into the source of the document leaks, echoing a request Friday by City Councilman Nate Holden.

"There just doesn't seem to be any other viable option. He's not going to sit up there as a sitting duck and permit these violations to go unaddressed," said Melanie E. Lomax, the chief's lawyer and former police commission member. "There's obviously been a deliberate effort to smear the chief. It continues to distract him from his efforts in investigating rogue officers and the whole reform movement."

The claim, which must be filed as a precursor to a lawsuit, focuses on an article in Friday's Los Angeles Times that detailed a police commission investigation into whether Williams improperly accepted free hotel rooms in Las Vegas or tickets to Universal Studios and then lied about it to the commission.