Former L.A. Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores dies at 84



Former Los Angeles Metropolis Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, a onetime teenage stenographer for the town who labored her method up at Metropolis Corridor earlier than successful the Watts-to-San Pedro council seat, died Dec. 19. She was 84.

Flores died of problems from a myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood dysfunction, mentioned her grandson, Trevor Davis.

The primary girl to signify District 15, which includes the L.A. Harbor and residential and industrial neighborhoods, Flores was identified for her loyalty to her district and her push to make metropolis authorities extra clear.

She navigated a Metropolis Council seen as a “boy’s membership,” utilizing canniness and persuasion, somewhat than shouting or arm-twisting, to get what she wished. She was a stately girl, a quiet and highly effective presence on the council.

“When she raised her microphone to talk, I all the time wished to pay attention,” mentioned longtime politician Gloria Molina, who served on the council alongside Flores. “She was very clear and to the purpose.”

Joan Milke was born in 1936 in Sheboygan, Wis. Her household moved to California, the place she grew up in Highland Park and went to work as a metropolis stenographer after graduating from highschool. It was not a conventional path, she mentioned in a 1981 interview with The Occasions: “In these occasions, you have been profitable in case you acquired married and had a household.”

A wedding to Sam Flores, onetime director with the Los Angeles Police Protecting League, led to divorce.

She joined the workplace of Metropolis Councilman John Gibson Jr., a pro-business, pro-growth Democrat who represented District 15 for 3 many years, within the period earlier than time period limits. Flores labored as his secretary and, later, chief deputy.

His retirement in 1981 prompted Flores, then 44, to run for the seat. A Republican, Flores beat a big discipline within the major, then defeated John Greenwood, a member of the Los Angeles Board of Training, in a significant upset.

Flores served three phrases earlier than dropping to paint-store proprietor Rudy Svorinich Jr. amid an anti-incumbent election season that additionally pushed out Councilwoman Pleasure Picus, who represented the west San Fernando Valley.

Flores launched Proposition 5, a poll measure handed by voters in 1991 that allowed the Metropolis Council to override choices made by the town commissions, whose members are appointed by the mayor. The measure put her at odds with then-Mayor Tom Bradley.

The proposal adopted anger over a $1.5-million severance package deal accepted by the Neighborhood Redevelopment Company’s board of commissioners for the company’s departing administrator.

Supporters of Proposition 5 additionally argued that the town’s commissions didn’t mirror the make-up of Los Angeles, leaving poorer residents underrepresented.

“I’m not certain probably the most certified folks to serve on commissions are those that have contributed financially to the mayor’s election campaigns or are supporters of the mayor on the whole,” Flores advised The Occasions in 1991. “If the entire folks on these boards and commissions are reduce from the identical mould so far as economics and politics and every little thing else, are we actually getting the attitude of Los Angeles that we want?”

Proposition 5 “actually clarified who was accountable for the choices that come out of Metropolis Corridor,” former Metropolis Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who served alongside Flores on the council, recalled in an interview this week.

Flores additionally pushed to televise the Metropolis Council’s conferences, which began airing in 1989 on a then-new native station, Channel 35. Some council members turned up with new haircuts on the first assembly that was broadcast. Wardrobes have been critiqued by reporters, and there was concern that council members’ speeches would go on endlessly.

Flores felt the broadcasts have been essential for “residents to be taught extra about what their authorities is doing — not the response,” The Occasions reported.

Flores led the creation of the Alameda Hall Transportation Authority, a regional board that oversaw the brand new freight railway, and served as chair. She additionally gave the hall linking Los Angeles with its port a brand new title, Harbor Gateway, to present the neighborhood its personal id.

Whereas serving on the council, she ran unsuccessfully for California secretary of State after which for Congress.

Her Metropolis Council workers consisted largely of ladies who mirrored the variety of her district. On her last day at the City Council, a lot of them sat within the entrance row, and “most cried on and off in the course of the assembly,” The Occasions reported in 1993.

Her former staffers communicate and get collectively to at the present time, mentioned Ann D’Amato, a onetime Flores deputy.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, a former 15th District consultant on the Metropolis Council, credit Flores with opening doors for women in elective office. “I adopted in her footsteps after I was elected to that seat in 2001,” Hahn mentioned.

Flores shaped a consulting agency after leaving Metropolis Corridor and, after retiring, traveled all over the world and watched the Dodgers. She remained in San Pedro and loved watching the harbor boats are available in, her grandson mentioned.

Along with her grandson, Flores’ survivors embrace daughter Valerie Flores, a senior assistant L.A. metropolis lawyer; sister Ruth Rinker; and longtime companion Bernie Evans.