Pope, Alexander, 1929-

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Alexander Hillhouse Pope received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1952 and then practiced law in Los Angeles, Calif. A Democrat, he served in the Pat Brown's administration as Legislative Secretary (1959-1961), and was President of the Westchester Mental Health Clinic (1956-67), a consultant for the implementation of the McCone Commission Report which examined the causes and effects of the Watts riots in 1965, the California Highway Commission (1966-1970), and the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners (1973-1977). In 1977, he was appointed Assessor of Los Angeles County. Although Pope was opposed to Proposition 13, he had to implement its requirements. Pope left the Assessor's Office in 1986. He sought to correct problem areas of Proposition 13 through litigation and his legislative work with Assemblyman Dave Elder. In 1997 he became Executive Director of the California Citizens Budget Commission.

From the description of Papers of Alexander Pope, 1932-2000, (bulk 1978-1990). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 228770311

Biography / Administrative History

Alexander Hillhouse Pope's grandfathers were both lawyers, and his grandmother was active in a forerunner of the ACLU, which may explain why Alex Pope was walking precincts for Roosevelt and Truman at a young age. He skipped his last two years of high school to attend the University of Chicago where his political activism continued with the National Students Association and Americans for Democratic Action. Pope's college advisor told him law school was the "surest ticket to public office," and in 1952 Pope received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.

Although he claimed he had no intention of practicing law, Pope did just that for more than twenty years in Los Angeles, while continuing his activities with the Democratic Party and local community associations. Pope's tireless campaigning and volunteerism were rewarded when he was appointed Governor Pat Brown's Legislative Secretary (1959-1961). At the community level, Pope was President of the Westchester Mental Health Clinic (1956-67) at a time when some factions still associated psychiatry with communist infiltration. He was also a consultant for the implementation of the McCone Commission Report, which examined the causes and effects of the Watts riots in 1965. Additionally, Pope served on the California Highway Commission (1966-1970) and was a member of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners (1973-1977).

After working in a gubernatorial administration that elevated public education by leaps and bounds and oversaw a litany of public works and services, Alex Pope became a pivotal player in applying a new law that eroded the revenue for such services: Proposition 13. No sooner was Pope the first local politician to oppose the initiative, than he was appointed Assessor of Los Angeles County, the "biggest property tax agency in the world," and had to enforce the will of the voters: June 8, 1978 -- the New Deal and the Great Society were now in the distant past. Pope put aside his opinions and implemented Proposition 13 "within specified time limitations and with a high level of efficiency," according to L.A. County Chief Administrative Officer, Harry L. Hufford.

Proposition 13 was the threshold event for an era of economic belt-tightening and its effects permeated intergovernmental relations as well as local municipal budgets. Pope's endeavors to correct problem areas of Proposition 13 came through litigation and his legislative work with Assemblyman Dave Elder even after Pope left the Assessor's Office in 1986. In 1997 he became Executive Director of the California Citizens Budget Commission which published comprehensive reports on reforming the state budget process and addressing the state's health care needs.

Philip E. Watson was Los Angeles County Assessor from 1963 to 1977. A World War II pilot, he studied accounting at UCLA, became a field appraiser for the county and then deputy assessor. Watson efforts to reform the assessor's office and limit property taxes were sidetracked when Baxter Ward and other members of the County Board of Supervisors accused him of unfair assessment practices, favoring big corporations over small homeowners. These accusations culminated in an audit and report by former Watergate investigator Carmine Bellino, which was highly critical, but ultimately found no wrong-doing. This investigation and Watson's health were deciding factors in his decision to step down from the Assessor's Office in 1977. Watson died in 1986 at age 62 in Rancho Mirage, California.

Other featured Los Angeles County Assessor's Office staff:

Robert H. McNeill, Jr., Assessor Watson's Field Deputy, assigned the task of writing the history of the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office.

Glenn Quinn: at times, Assistant Assessor and Director of Assessment Services and Chief, Residential Division, served both Watson and Pope administrations, as did:

Paul M. Hannah, Assistant Assessor, Director of Valuations, Assessment Services and Assessor's Operations

Sherrill D. Luke, Chief Deputy Assessor during the Pope era; became a judge for the Los Angeles Municipal and Superior courts.

Leonard J. Wheeler, Director, Real Property Appraisals; Valuations

Post-Pope assessors marginally represented in this collection:

John J. Lynch, 1986-1990 Kenneth P. Hahn, 1990-2000 (no relation to the Los Angeles City Council member)

From the guide to the Alexander Pope papers, ca. 1932-2000, 1978-1990, (Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Alexander Pope papers, ca. 1932-2000, 1978-1990 Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery
creatorOf Pope, Alexander, 1929-. Papers of Alexander Pope, 1932-2000, (bulk 1978-1990). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bellino, Carmine S. (Carmine Salvatore), 1905-1990. person
associatedWith Bradley, Tom, 1917-1998. person
associatedWith Brown, Edmund G. (Edmund Gerald), 1905-1996. person
associatedWith Brown, Jerry, 1938- person
associatedWith California Citizens Budget Commission corporateBody
associatedWith California. Dept. of Health Services corporateBody
associatedWith California. Division of Highways corporateBody
associatedWith California. Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots. corporateBody
associatedWith California. Highway Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith California. State Board of Equalization. corporateBody
associatedWith California Taxpayers' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Center for Governmental Studies (Los Angeles, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Central City Association of Los Angeles (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dana, Deane. person
associatedWith Democratic National Committee (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic Party (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith International Association of Assessing Officers. corporateBody
associatedWith Jarvis, Howard. person
associatedWith Jarvis, Howard. person
associatedWith Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963. person
associatedWith League of Women Voters of Los Angeles. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles Actors' Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles (Calif.). Board of Airport Commissioners. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles County (Calif.). Board of Supervisors. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles County (Calif.). Office of Assessor. corporateBody
associatedWith Los Angeles Theatre Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Mayer, Brown and Platt. corporateBody
associatedWith Mayer, Brown & Platt. corporateBody
associatedWith McCone, John A. (John Alex), 1902-1991. person
associatedWith Medi-Cal Policy Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Post, A. Alan (August Alan), 1914- person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965. person
associatedWith University of Chicago. Law School corporateBody
associatedWith Waldie, Jerome R. person
associatedWith Watson, Philip E. (Philip Eugene), 1921- person
associatedWith Westen, Tracy. person
associatedWith Wheat, Frank, 1921- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.)
United States
California
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Westchester (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Mineral King (Calif.)
California--Los Angeles County
California
Mineral King (Calif.)
California--Los Angeles
Subject
Tax and expenditure limitations
Campaign literature--20th century
County government--Archives
Real property tax--20th century
Mental health counseling--California
Tax assessment
Airport Management
Real property--California
Watts Riot, Los Angeles, Calif., 1965--Sources
California--Politics and government--20th century--Sources
Campaign literature--California--20th century
Mental health counseling
Political parties--Rules and practice--California
Political Campaigns
Nonprofit organizations--California
Property tax law
Property tax relief
County government--California--Los Angeles County--Archives
Transportation--20th century
Real property
Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--20th century--Sources
Transportation--California--20th century
Real property tax--California--20th century
International economic relations
Property tax law--California
Health care reform
African Americans--Crimes against--California--Los Angeles
Airports management--California
Health insurance
Managed care plans (Medical care)
Medicaid
Political parties--Rules and practice
Nonprofit organizations
Health care financing
Medical care
Budget process
Health care financing--California
Legislation--California
Insurance, Health
Racism--California--Los Angeles
Intergovernmental fiscal relations--United States
Legislation
Medicare
Poor--Medical care
Political campaigns--California
Racism
Tax and expenditure limitations--California
Intergovernmental fiscal relations
African Americans--Crimes against
Poor--Medical care--California
Property tax relief--California
Brown, Jerry, 1938-
Medical care--California
Budget process--Calfornia
Tax assessment--California--Los Angeles County
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1929

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