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Bush makes $600 million available to Los Angeles

By HELEN THOMAS, UPI White House Reporter

WASHINGTON, May 4, 1992 (UPI) - President Bush Monday made available $600 million in emergency federal recovery funds from riot-torn Los Angeles and dispatched a high-level government team to assess the needs in the aftermath of last week's violence.

White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater announced that budget director Richard Darman estimated that $300 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency Funds and $300 million in Small Business Administration aid would be provided to California authorities.

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Fitzwater's announcement followed morning meetings Bush held with Cabinet officials at which the president received an update on the human and material cost of the rioting in Los Angeles. The statistics cited by Fitzwater were 51 deaths, 2,555 injured, 1,164 arrests and 1,113 fires.

Damage was estimated at $550 million, which Fitzwater described as a ''soft figure.''

Fitzwater said that California officials have requested the continued presence of federal troops, sent to Los Angeles last Friday to help restore order with no set deadline for withdrawal. Fitzwater explained the troops were serving as ''backup support'' until conditions return to normal.

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Fitzwater said that Bush had selected David Kearns, deputy secretary of education and former chairman of the board of Zerox to head a delegation of sub-Cabinet officials to travel to Los Angeles Monday to evaluate immediate assistance requirements to rebuild the ravaged area.

One of the officials the delegation will meet with is Peter Uberroth, who has been appointed to conduct an inquiry into long-term solutions.

Monday morning Bush began a series of meetings with top officials in search of immediate and long-term solutions to the problems that led to the racial violence in Los Angeles last week.

Housing Secretary Jack Kemp, who has called for a ''dramatic agenda'' in urban renewal, was not on the initial list of officials going to Los Angeles and Fitzwater, in response to questions, explained that officials were also needed in Washington.

As the other presidential candidates either traveled to Los Angeles or made statements about the situation -- Democrats Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas and former California Gov. Edmund ''Jerry'' Brown and Republican Patrick Buchanan, as well as undeclared candidate H. Ross Perot of Texas -- Fitzwater noted, ''No doubt everyone will have his solution.''

''I'm trying to hit it head on with conservative solutions,'' he said, in contrast to ''to the other candidates and all the liberals out there.''

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Fitzwater repeatedly told reporters that the social programs of the '60s and '70s had failed, but was unable to pinpoint the Great Society and other initiatives that he claimed fell into that category.

''We believe many of the root problems resulted from inner city programs that have broken down and failed,'' he declared.

Fitzwater said Bush intends to fly to California on Thursday in keeping with previous plans, but his schedule is being changed to include several meetings with officials and others involved in restoring order and rebuilding Los Angeles.

During his two-day trip, he will make stops in Los Angeles, Fresno and Mountain View.

At the meeting with key Cabinet officials to assess the need for quick action Bush said, ''We have some very good proposals out on the table right now, proposals that have clearly come of age.''

A follow-up meeting will be held with the officials Tuesday on longer-range initiatives to deal with the root causes of civil unrest underlying the rioting in California.

Those attending the meeting included Kemp, Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, Labor Secretary Lynn Martin, Darman and Attorney General Wiliam Barr.

The president said his discussions with Cabinet officials will focus on long-term solutions as well as immediate measures.

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''Today, we're probably going to think more about what we can do immediately in the aftermath of this violence,'' he said. ''Tomorrow, we'll put it in a little longer-term perspective.''

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