Councilman seeks meeting over Southwest Museum *: Councilman Jose Huizar has been trying to set up a meeting with the head of the Autry National Center to discuss possible government assistance to restore the Autry’s Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington.

In a letter Huizar sent Wednesday to the Autry’s board, Huizar said he had “reached out” to the executive director John L. Gray over the past month to discuss potential city and federal financial assistance for the Southwest and Autry Center in Griffith Park but Gray was not available to talk. “We were told Gray couldn’t meet until the New Year,” said Huizar spokesman Rick Coca.

* Update: Autry spokeswoman Yadhira De Leon said Gray only recently learned of Huizar’s interest in meeting. “A fax was sent to John Gray yesterday evening. It’s the first time he has been contacted for a meeting with Huizar.” However, Coca, said that the councilman and his staff raised the subject of a meeting last month. “We think that there is a real compelling reason to meet.”

Coca said the councilman, who represents Mt. Washington, also was not informed about the Autry’s recent decision to close the gift shop and restrict public access to the Southwest Museum at the end of the month. Relations have been strained since Huizar lead a city effort to demand the Autry pledge to reopen the Mt. Washington landmark as a full-fledged museum. The Autry dropped plans to expand its Griffith Park museum after a deal could not be worked out.

In his letter, Huizar said money to help restore the Southwest and expand the Autry could be raised from federal stimulus dollars, the creation of a park assessment district and city grants.

Related story:
* Southwest Museum of the American Indian store to close. LA Times

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