Roger Arnebergh served as Los Angeles city attorney for 20 years and was so widely respected that he rarely faced opposition on election day. Arnebergh was a high school dropout who eventually earned a law degree from an extension school. The veteran official, who saw himself more as a lawyer than a politician, first won office in 1953. Through five more elections, Arnebergh always said he opted to seek an additional term only at the urging of lawyers and civic and business leaders, who would sign petitions by the thousands. He was rarely opposed and usually won at the primary election. But in 1973, Burt Pines forced Arnebergh into a runoff and won 58% of the vote to end Arnebergh's political career. During his long tenure, Arnebergh oversaw an office that more than doubled from 76 lawyers to 185 attorneys and generally won praise for evenhandedly resolving disputes among city departments, enforcing misdemeanor offenses and scolding city officials if they closed meetings he believed were to be legally open to the public. The lean, 6-foot-1-inch Arnebergh played in junior veterans' tennis tournaments, and a Times reporter once noted that with the dark glasses Arnebergh wore on the court, he looked "like a movie star." After his political ouster, he practiced law privately in Van Nuys, stepping back into the limelight briefly in 1991 as part of Citizens for Integrity and Viability in the City Charter. The group, which supported beleaguered former Police Chief Daryl F. Gates, opposed changes in selection, removal and tenure of future police chiefs.
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