Ernani Bernardi, ex-councilman was 94 *

LAT photoThe LAT was right on top of this local obituary. Saxophone-playing, small-government maverick Ernani Bernardi died yesterday. He served eight terms from his beloved Van Nuys before leaving the city council in 1993, following an unsuccessful run for mayor at age 81. Patrick McGreevy writes:

Bernardi, who represented an east San Fernando Valley district with fierce independence, was widely regarded as the naysayer of City Hall because of his predictable curmudgeonly "no" votes against projects he considered wasteful, tinged with political cronyism, or overly bureaucratic.

He was called the conscience of the council, raising questions that other members did not want to hear.

"He probably saved the city millions of dollars over the years with his questioning," the late City Council President John S. Gibson Jr. once said. "He has stopped the council from voting on issues it would have otherwise voted on without searching very deeply."


Performing under the name Noni Bernardi, he was a smooth-toned lead alto sax player during the 1930s with such big band leaders as Benny Goodman and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey.

He wrote the arrangements for Tommy Dorsey's recording of "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" and Goodman's popular "And the Angels Sing." Bernardi came to California in 1940 with Kay Kyser's "Kollege of Musical Knowledge," a potpourri of music and gags.

He also brought something to the council horseshoe that they could stand more of: a sense of humor.

Robertson services: Former labor leader Bill Roberston will be remembered Saturday morning at a memorial to be held in the city council chambers at City Hall. Expect a big turnout from the local political world.

* Statement from Alex Padilla: The former council president represents Bernardi's old 7th district. Excerpt: "For more than 32 years Ernani Bernardi served our city in a principled, ethical and dignified manner. He was known as the City Council's conscience. I remember well visiting his home in Van Nuys and I was truly honored to have his support in my first race for council....He was a man of the people, a true populist who was always looking out for the homeless, those with disabilities and the elderly." 4:50 pm

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