Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dennis Zine - The People's Hero

The good people in City Hall are far and few between. Most are as scared of upsetting the Mayor of Failure or his organized groups, as they are scared of their shadows.

For the past 10 months, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has led the charge against the 'business as usual' brigade, tackling the thorny issues that few cared to stand up to. Trutanich's lone stance hasn't made him many friends in the 'horseshoe,' but his earliest supporter has stood by Trutanich through thick and thin, and today, Dennis Zine joined the small but growing group of elected officials who now buy the City Attorney's motto "You can't do wrong when you do the right thing."

Today Dennis Zine truly made his mark on the political landscape as an independent thinker and a man of his word. Zine was the first to stand up to the Mayor of Failure's sordid, scandalous, and slimy attempt to put a band aid on his financially irresponsible drunken sailor spending record with a so-called 'Green Energy' rate hike that is nothing more than an illegal tax.

Zine led the minority of elected officials who didn't just say "No," but "Hell No!" to the Mayor's DWP rate hike. He didn't just say it once for a sound bite or a photo op, but he said it steadfastly and consistently.

Even when the Council voted 8-6 to allow a partial rate hike, Zine led the minority who still said "No."

In stark contrast stands the biggest mouth (with the least integrity) of the initial "No" sayers; Councilperson Jan Perry. The 2009 winner of the Mayor Sam Political Ass Clown of the Year Award, showed us why she truly deserved that award as she shamefacedly changed her tune to a "Yes" vote as soon as she got her sound bite.

That other piece of political puke, Ed 'El Stupido' Reyes, who cries for the poor Los Angelenos who cannot afford dog licenses, flipped and sold out the 'poor Los Angelenos' as soon as his B-roll TV quote was in the can.

Thankfully Dennis Zine stood himself apart from the Mayor's cynical manipulation of the DWP, and did the right thing and led the vote in the horseshoe tonight to send a resounding "No" to the Mayor's totally corrupt attempt to paper the cracks in his failed fiscal responsibilities.

On behalf of Los Angelenos, "Thank you" Dennis Zine.

Monday, March 29, 2010

That Was The Week That Was

A week is a long time in Los Angeles politics, but last week broke all records.

Billboards at AEG's Regal Theater Tells The Story
(Click on the picture for a better view)


The local marijuana dealers failed to gather enough signatures to challenge the City's new ordinance. No real surprise, if anyone needed further proof of the way marijuana messes up your brain, it must be the 13,000 or so signatures that weren't even counted because the idiots who gathered the signatures forgot to sign the declarations on the petition forms.

Many wonder why the marijuana dealers even bothered to challenge the law. They don't obey it anyway. But all is not lost. A statewide initiative called "The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010" will be on the November ballot, thanks to a more organized campaign probably funded by the Mexican drug cartels who will be the principal beneficiaries of the Act.

Why will the Mexican drug cartels benefit from legalization? Expect City Attorney Trutanich to have the answers to that one. One glaring problem is that it is a given that the cost of producing marijuana 'legally' in California and then taxing it, will result in a far higher price of the 'legal' pot than the Mexican product. So the demand for Mexican pot will increase, as will the violence we're already seeing as the drug cartels fight for control of distribution in California.


Again, not a surprise really, if the Mayor's popularity gets any lower, we'll have to use negative numbers. Former Mayoral candidate, Phil Jennerjahn, filed papers with the City Clerks Office to recall Mayor Villariagosa.  Jennerjahn reports that he will need to gather 240,000 signatures to put the recall on the November ballot, not an easy task considering that he was placed last of the 10 candidates, with .88% of voters supporting him.

But don't write off Jennerjahn's recall efforts too quickly. As noted, the Mayor has never been so unpopular, and his latest DWP rate hike stunt is bound to enrage voters even more. Jennerjahn has also been 'making nice' with the marijuana dealers and has been promised a ton of cash to help the recall effort. That's, of course, assuming the pot heads remember to put the check in the envelope, never mind using a stamp.


Doubtless emboldened by President Obama's passage of Healthcare Reform tax hikes, the Mayor of Failure probably thought this would be a good time to stick it to the Los Angelenos unfortunate enough to have to pay their bills with an illegal tax dressed up as a Green Energy something. Just throw in 'green' and 'renewables' and lobbying from the IBEW, and the taxpayers will not object.

Think again, Mr. Mayor. LA City Council exercised their power to put the brakes on the rate hike, and it's now in their hands. Councilmember Jan Perry was one of the more outspoken critics of the Mayors rate hike, no doubt hoping to bolster her position as the leading mayoral candidate in 2013.


The Los Angeles Business Journal carried a piece explaining how upset businessmen were at City Attorney Trutanich for making them obey the City's law on billboards and supergraphics.

"Many building owners have taken down their supergraphic signs fearing arrest and confiscation of revenue from the signs, which can generate millions of dollars each year." the LA Business Journal reported.

"One of those is Jeff Anthony, who runs a film storage archive at a 14-story building on Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland known for its supergraphics advertising Apple products."

“This whole thing is bewildering and confusing for us,” said Anthony, vice president of Iron Mountain Film and Sound Archives, a subsidiary of Boston-based Iron Mountain Inc. “To say we’re going to take the signs down now, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth.”

It is true, businessmen are bewildered, for years they were able to break the law, and now it's very unfair that they should have to obey the law. Read the article, it's really very entertaining.


AEG's newly opened and rather magnificent JW Marriott Hotel was the location of the American Diabetes Association's Thirteenth Annual Political Roast, with Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley as the main course.

It's rare for the blogisphere to give AEG credit for anything it does, but frankly, with the opening of this hotel and next month the adjoining Ritz Carlton, the whole LA Live thing is finally beginning to look like a world class destination that the City of Los Angeles can be proud of. Sorry, but Tim Leiweke got this right. Now take care of the Jackson Memorial Show mess and dump Jan Perry and you could run for Mayor yourself.

The charity event was an enormous success for organizers Arnie Berghoff and Mitch and Harvey Englander, raising a half a million dollars to find a cure for Diabetes from the 900 guests attending.

While Cooley endured the merciless tirade of jokes, jabs and japes from roasters Eric Garcetti, Gloria Molina and Carmen Trutanich, Cooley took it all in good humor while seated on stage in "Cooley's Cannabis Collective," a stage set designed to resemble the pot shops he's closing down.

Cooley responded with as good as he got and the evening ended on a 'high' note. Sadly, a little too high for Miguel Santana, the Mayor's budget hatchet man and former Chief of Staff to Supervisor Molina. He got himself arrested for drunk driving on his way home in his City issued Honda. Pity he wasn't using one of the City's Toyota Prius hybrids as he might have been able to blame the erratic driving on "sudden acceleration."

The LA Times is reporting that Santana has checked himself into a rehab center, and will be replaced by his top assistant Ray Ciranna until he returns, if he returns.

Quite a week!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mayor of Failure Finally Uses 'B' Word

It wasn't the 'F' Bomb, but the 'B' Bomb that Mayor Villaraigosa dropped on Councilmembers in a desperate move to persuade them not to intervene in his attempt to hike up our DWP rates.

Villaraigosa had dressed the rate hike up as some sort of 'Green' thing to disguise the true intent of the likely 20% increase in our DWP bills. However, the LA Times reports that when Councilmembers sounded like they were going to exercise their Charter powers to question the rate hike, Villaraigosa responded with a stern warning that unless the DWP got the rate hike, the City of LA would face bankruptcy.

Hmmm, what happened to the 'Green' thing Antonio? Wasn't this rate hike about 'being Green?' It does rather look like the Mayor's been outed by his own email, sorry, 'Briefing Paper,' and basically admitted that he's using the DWP to finance the City's drunken sailor spending, much as he would have done if Measure B had passed - remember that hummer?

Despite the scare tactic, the Mayor failed to prevent the City Council from putting the brakes on the rate hike.

City politics isn't the only arena where the truth is finally outing shady antics. In the upcoming June 8 primary elections, the Metropolitan News Enterprise reports that two candidates for Attorney General have chosen strangely misleading ballot designations.

Law school professor John Eastman has decided to call himself "Assistant Attorney General" based on a tenuous contract job he's doing for South Dakota to litigate whether the prison's food is kosher enough for an inmate. I kid you not. Career politician Tom Harman has equally misleadingly chosen the ballot designation "Prosecutor/Attorney/Senator" based on either a split personality or his February 10 participation in Orange County's Trial Attorney Partnership Program that includes a volunteer post with the Orange County DA's Office.

Busy men, both Eastman and Harman, it seems. A little too busy to realize that misleading ballot designations for those who seek to be the state's chief 'law and order' guy are bad ideas. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley who is also in the running for the top cop slot was harshly critical of Eastman and Harman “This goes to the core of being A.G.: Are you honest?” Cooley told the MetNews. “This is dishonest.”

And when it comes to bad ideas, Eastman must be ruing the day he accepted an endorsement from the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, headed by President Steve Ipsen. Ipsen is embroiled in litigation with his boss, District Attorney Steve Cooley. Perhaps Eastman didn't know that when he accepted the endorsement, but he certainly didn't know that ADDA President Steve Ipsen considers a convicted sex offender to be one of his "closest friends," a fact that came out as a result of Ipsen's complaints as reported in the Metropolitan News Enterprise:

"Steven J. Ipsen, president of the Assn. of Deputy District Attorneys, last month underwent intensive cross-examination before a county commission as to his relationship with a convicted sex offender who was one of his “closest friends,” the MetNews has learned.

"The transcript of a Feb. 24 hearing before the Employee Relations Commission, obtained late Friday, reveals that Ipsen had acted as a character witness for the man, lent him his automobile in which he had left his deputy district attorney’s badge, and possibly allowed the man to live in his home for a short time."

Word from sources in the DA's Office say that many were disappointed but not surprised to hear that Eastman received an endorsement from the ADDA, because Ipsen has been using the ADDA as his personal "springboard" to attack DA Steve Cooley. Ipsen ran unsuccessfully against Cooley for Los Angeles DA in 2008.

The revelations about Ipsen's "closest friend" relationship with a convicted sex offender were, however,  surprising. Ironically, Ipsen has made a big deal out of promoting victim's rights and one has to wonder what Ipsen thought of the rights of the victims of his "closest friend's" crimes.

So we have a Mayor who tried (and failed) to scare City Councilmembers into falling in line with a lie-based rate hike, a couple of wannabe AG's who don't know the meaning of honesty, and a president of a District Attorney's Association who was a character witness for his "closest friend" a three times convicted sex offender. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Illegal Billboards Come Down - Some Without Even Being Asked

As the LA Times reported, CBS Outdoor put their money on following City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's advice to obey the law and remove their illegal supergraphics on the Iron Mountain storage building at 1025 Highland Ave., in Hollywood.
Before (above) and After (below)
At 11 stories high and almost a city block wide
these were the widest and tallest supergraphics in Los Angeles

Trutanich had sent CBS Outdoor a 'Cease and Desist' letter, however their attorney, Laura Brill did not immediately return a call from the LA Times seeking comment. Many, however, believe that CBS's decision to follow the law may be tied to the recent arrest and imprisonment of Kayvan Setareh, the Hollywood 'businessman' who apparently ignored the City Attorney's letters and emails, to remove illegal supergraphics, leading to the Dragongate saga.

The ties are more tangible than simply the prospect of having a CBS Outdoor executive spending a few days in jail. Many naysayers questioned Trutanich's motives in seeking the $1M bail that held Setareh in jail until he ordered the removal of the "How to train your Dragon" supergraphic funded by Paramount to promote the upcoming Dreamworks movie during the Oscars. 

Perhaps the most vitriolic naysayer was the left-wing wackjob political hack LA Times columnist Tim Rutten, who poh-pohed the notion that a supergraphic could fall and cause any harm.

As Trutanich is known to say "Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds an acorn" and here's the acorn; According to the LA Times (and NBC),  one of the Iron Mountain images recently broke free in a wind storm, split in two and fell to the ground. 

The proof of one of the dangers presented by illegal supergraphics comes from Robert Eicholz, a Hollywood resident who was interviewed by LA Times reporter David Zahniser  who related that Eicholz works in a nearby office building. “The wind got up under that thing and ripped it into pieces,” said Eicholz, who said the tattered sign was an advertisement for the Apple iPod. “It ripped and it went crashing down onto Highland Avenue.”  

Of course facts are the enemy of political hacks, and the ultimate irony for Rutten, whose left wing hit piece borderlines outright untruth, is that Rutten's deception was outed by David Zahniser; the LA Times journalist who interviewed Eicholz.

So while the rest of the illegal adverting industry relished in Rutten's hit piece, some of the wiser advertisers started to realize that the days of paying off politicians like Jan Perry to make exceptions for them, were over. That Trutanich was one of the few elected officials in Los Angeles who not only stays true to campaign promises, but follows the law. And so, perhaps wisely, they decided to follow the law without even getting a 'Cease and Desist' letter, let alone 3 squares and a bunk at County Jail.

Word around the City is that almost as stealthily as they went up, illegal supergraphics are coming down. 

The west facing wall of 7461 Beverly Blvd.
December 28, 2008 (above) and March 19, 2010 (below)

The west wall of 7461 Beverly Blvd., has been devoid of supergraphics since before Dragongate, and remains so to date. The anti-illegal billboard activist website Ban Billboard Blight has noted numerous other supergraphics disappearing as a result of Trutanich's enforcement and Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, had sharp criticism of left-wing wackjob political hack Tim Rutten's characterization of Trutanich as a bully; "By common definition, a bully is someone who picks on someone who is weaker than themselves," said Hathaway. The illegal billboard industry makes millions of dollars weekly from their illegal activities, they are hardly weaker than the budget strapped City Attorney. 

Perhaps Tim Rutten won't be swayed by the facts about the dangers of supergraphics, nor the vast profits accumulated by the very worst offenders. The depths of Rutten's political bias probably makes it impossible for him to read LA Weekly journalist Christine Pelisek's insightful report into the amount of money generated by supergraphic multimillionaire Barry Rush. Peilsek headlines her report "The Mad Men of Los Angeles," it's an excellent read unless you like to stick your head in the sand like Tim Rutten.   

Chalk up one victory for Trutanich in getting illegal supergraphics under control in our city, another to David Zahniser at the LA Times for finding a witness to debunk the naysayers, and one for Christine Pelisek at LA Weekly for revealing the money men who can buy political hacks.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pot Shop Poll Pales Into Insignificance

The LA Times is reporting that an attempt by a businessman to challenge the City's ordinance limiting the number of marijuana shops in Los Angeles failed to gather a sufficient number of signatures to put a referendum on the ballot.
Referendum backer Dan Halbert delivers a box of signed petitions to the city elections division office Monday. 
Attorney Nathan Hoffman joins him at the counter. (Credit LA Times Christina House / March 15, 2010)

LA Times reporter John Hoeffel wrote that "Dan Halbert, operator of Rainforest Collective in Mar Vista and the principal organizer, said the coalition of collectives gathered about 30,000 signatures but determined that only about 14,200 appeared valid. The collectives need at least 27,425 signatures for the referendum to qualify."

That's good news for the residents of Los Angeles, and especially good news for Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich who spearheaded the effort to convince Los Angeles City Councilmembers that they could and should clamp down on the estimated 1,000+ marijuana shops in Los Angeles, most believed to be illegally selling the drug under the guise of being "dispensaries."

Pro-marijuana advocates widely use the term "dispensary" to refer to marijuana shops in what is believed to be an attempt to mislead the public into thinking that a shop that sells narcotics is somehow legal if it is called a "dispensary." However, the word "dispensary appears nowhere in the legislation that allows for medical marijuana to be distributed by non-profit "collectives." The drug sellers doubtless spent thousands of dollars in public opinion research to come up with a word to disguise the true nature of their conduct, according to Alfie Noaks, spokesperson for Save Our Kids From Dope, a grassroots movement aimed at eradicating marijuana shops near schools.

Trutanich and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley were initially the only elected officials to challenge the legality of the drug sellers, but as community outrage built, fueled by efforts of marijuana shop owners to target school children at the Grant High School, the City Council stepped up efforts to take action against the drug dealers.

The low number of signatures gathered by the drug dealers stands in stark contrast to the bold statements made by Americans for Safe Access who promised a lawsuit and an outpouring of public outrage at the closure of the drug sellers. "The reality appears to be that nobody really believes the bullshit about marijuana being 'medicine,' or that a 'dispensary' is anything other than a drug dealer who has moved from the alley to a storefront," Noakes said.

Los Angeles' ordinance that will result in the mass closure of marijuana shops is expected to come into force in May, and with the failure of the drug advocates to gather anything like the signatures needed, little opposition is likely.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Touche From Trutanich

Kudos to 'True Grit' at the the LA City Hall Insider Blog, for her Sunday morning op-ed piece in response to the liberal media's constant criticism of Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.

In her way too lengthy missive, 'True Grit' poses the question "Would Jack Weiss have made a better City Attorney?" and uses the adaptation below of a cartoon on Kevin Roderick's excellent LA Observed Blog to also take a swipe at cartoonist 'Greenberg.'

To answer the question posed 'True Grit' offers in-depth analysis of the 8 'majorgates' that saw the media side with the 'don't rock the boat' politicians that she calls the 'business as usual brigade.'

True Grit must have way too much time on her hands, so to make it easier for you, we've broken it down.

1. PERRYGATE - Jan Perry's $6M Bail Out Package for AEG's Disaster Movie "This Is It"
Perry probably thought nobody would dare to call her out when she signed off on closing the city center for 3 days and deploying 3,500 LAPD officers to help AEG stage the Michael Jackson Memorial Show.

To this day Trutanich remains the only elected official to have 'demanded' that AEG repay the City. Perry, who garners thousands of dollars from AEG in support of her political campaigns, has been "going around like a bag lady asking for donations," according to the City Hall Insider.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Nothing. Except, perhaps, look forward to healthy campaign donations from AEG.

2. CONTROLLERGATE - Who Picks Up The Tab For Laura Chick's Losses?
Chick racked up a $300k legal fees bill in her bid to force Rocky Delgadillo to allow her to audit his failing Workers Compensation program. When Trutanich followed up on his campaign promise to allow the audit, the lawsuit became an irrelevant publicity stunt. Chick refused to give up and lost at trial. Now she wants the City to swallow the $300k legal fees bill that was supposed to be 'pro bono.'

Trutanich says 'No,' he's not paying a lawyer for losing a case, especially when he's allowing the audit.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Most likely Weiss would have paid the bill, but reneged on his campaign promise and denied the Controller access to audit the program because the audit will show just how bad his buddy Rocky Delgadillo was as a City Attorney.

3. PERRYGATE II - Jan Perry Pardons AEG's 18 Illegal Billboards
AEG forgot to get permits for their new movie house and when they realized their mistake it was too late as there was a citywide ban on all new billboards. AEG ignored Trutanich's suggestion that they both go to court to see if granting permits would not invalidate the law. AEG got their puppet Perry to weigh in and she went around 'squealing like a stuck pig' that Trutanich was a 'bully' who 'threatened to arrest me.'

Perry then got the City Council to make an exception for AEG and they got their billboards, and Perry doubtless secured further political campaign support from AEG in her bid to be Mayor.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Nothing. Apart from not wanting to stand up to AEG, Weiss already had a wholly unhealthy relationship with the illegal billboard industry having signed off on a 'settlement' to give 900 digital billboards to 3 favored billboard companies. That settlement was recently thrown out of court by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green, who described it as 'poisonous.'

4. POTSHOPGATE - City Hall Takes 4 Years to Ponder Pot - Trutanich Passes A Law in 6 Months
Councilmember Ed Reyes sat on Dennis Zine's 2005 request for a regulatory ordinance to stem the explosion of pot shops in the City. Reyes took 'advice' from a pot shop owner and paid consultant to the pot dealers. The Council eventually got fed up with the 'usual suspects' showing up at City Hall and dominating Public Comment with strikingly similar stories about marijuana being the wonder drug that saved their lives, and how they were incapable of growing a weed that was their 'medicine.' Buying Pot from 1,000 pot shops was the only answer to their plight.

Trutanich's law proposed a ban on sales of marijuana, something that most in City Hall had not realized was still illegal despite Prop 215 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act. To prove the point, in a brilliantly insightful strategic move, Trutanich filed a test case in Superior Court that resulted in a ruling that the sale of marijuana was not allowed, only 'collective cultivation.' Thus the City finally got an ordinance that will soon result in the mass closure of the illegal pot shops and leave somewhere between 80 and 150 'collectives' in the City.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Again, nothing. Weiss can see the huge amount of money pouring into make Los Angeles the battleground for legalizing marijuana, and he's the last person to turn down a potentially lucrative source of political campaign contributions. Weiss would have sat on the fence like Delgadlillo and let the Council do whatever they want.

5. DRAGONGATE - Shock Horror! Illegal SuperGraphics Enabler Goes To Jail
A week before the Oscars a Los Angeles 'businessman' puts up a gigantic SuperGraphic on his office building that is guaranteed to catch the cameras and earn him more than enough money to pay the paltry fine that's just the cost of doing business. So he thinks.

Trutanich has him arrested and thrown in jail on $1M bail. 3 days later the sign comes down and the liberal media goes nuts claiming a civil rights violation. A left wing liberal whackjob hack at the LA Times writes an op-ed piece slamming Trutanich for having the audacity to enforce the law.

As the 'Dragongate' SuperGraphic comes down, Trutanich arrests another bunch of illegal SuperGraphic posters on the other side of the street and the Asics illegal ad comes down.
Reports from all over the City indicate that illegal adverts are coming down as Trutanich shows that he means business and will enforce the law through all available means.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Nothing. Weiss would probably have seen the same dollar signs from the illegal sign industry that the Hollywood 'businessmen' saw, and rather than fight them, he would have much preferred taking their money and making them 'legal,' just like Delgadillo tried to do.

6. LAWSUIT SETTLEMENTGATE - Fighting and Winning, Instead of Settling Paying
I can't say it better than True Grit "a bogus lawsuit brought by the mother of a baby who died in the arms of her shit for brains gang banger boyfriend while he traded shots with LAPD using the baby as a shield" and the City faces a $20M lawsuit. Rather than write a check to the mother, Trutanich empowers his attorneys to go to trial and do their best. And they do their best. It's a defense verdict, not a penny, not a single red cent to the shakedown artists that sue the City at the drop of a hat.

But the LA Times' spin on the story? "High fives for a dead baby," not "Trutanich saves the City $20M." The real story is that the days of the City of Los Angeles being an ATM machine for the plaintiff's attorneys are over, and in just 9 months, Trutanich has won case after case saving the City well over $100M in liability.

What Would Weiss Have Done? Nothing. Because Weiss lacked any experience in trying cases (just like Delgadillo) he would not have had the slightest idea of how to value a case, let alone how to inspire Deputy City Attorneys to be the best that they can be. Weiss would have kept the City's ATM machine running for the plaintiff's attorneys, after all, they're always good for campaign contributions come election time.

7. OUTSIDE COUNSELGATE - Paying Private Law Firms To Do What The City Attorney Can Do
I think 'True Grit' should have called this one 'Dog Food Gate,' the scandalously obscene waste of money that takes place when the City uses private law firms to do the job that the City Attorney's Office is supposed to do. These are cases that are supposedly 'too complicated' for the City Attorney, like the infamous Tennie Pierce case, remember that one? The Firefighter who cost the City of Los Angeles $5.5M for eating a spoonful of dog food? 

In addition to Pierce picking up a check for $2.7M, the private law firm that the City hired to defend the case racked up legal fees that made the whole case cost us $5.5M. And the City Attorney can't take on cases like that? Gimme a break. 

Since taking office, Trutanich has taken many cases away from private law firms and is letting his lawyers do the job they were trained to do; defend the City. In those rare cases where a case cannot be taken back, he's forced those firms to cut their billing by 10% to 15%. 

What Would Weiss Have Done? Nothing. Many of those private law firms were heavy supporters of Weiss's campaign, and he would be the last person in City Hall to cut off their easy access to our money. 

8. BUDGETGATE - The Mayor's Plan to Silence Trutanich
There's nothing worse than being called a 'Failure' when your career is politics for the sake of politics. It's ten times worse when there's some novice upstart who is actually succeeding in doing the job that they were elected to do. That's the dilema facing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. With the City budget crisis that he ignored while he and the Council spent our money like a bunch of drunken sailors, the best solution that Villaraigosa can come up with was to kill the Golden Goose.

That's what career politicians do, instead of upping their game and pitching in and doing the hard work that's necessary to turn our City around, they kill the one guy that's showing them up as the bunch of abject failures they all are.

So it was no surprise when Villaraigosa hid behind his axeman, CAO Miguel Santana's skirttails, and ordered 100 jobs to be cut from the City Attorney's Office, while he did not cut his staff at all. In fact the Mayor's Office continues to boast a staff bigger than the Obama's White House staff, but not a single achievement that you can take to the bank.

Trutanich stood up to the Mayor's order, and politely pointed out that the Mayor does not have the power to order job cuts. Something else that Villaraigosa didn't know. So for now, the City Attorney's Office can continue to do it's job and effectively defend us from everything that gets thrown at the second largest city in the United States.

But the Mayor might yet get the last laugh. He could cut the City Attorney's budget for 2010-2011, and thereby force the 100 layoffs that he couldn't order. But to do that, he'll need the City Council to sign-off on his budget, and the way Trutanich is showing the value of his office on a daily basis, that could be political suicide for Villaraigosa.

What Would Weiss Do? Nothing. Weiss was Villaraigosa's pick for City Attorney and as such Weiss would have to do what he was told. Weiss would have sat back and taken the cuts without so much as a whimper, safe in the knowledge that Villaraigosa will return the favor with some more support when Weiss moves on to bigger and better political career.

You can all draw your own conclusions from the LA City Hall Insider's op-ed piece. It seems pretty clear, however, that Jack Weiss would have made an awful City Attorney. That the backroom deals and City Hall shenanigans would have continued without question, and the 'business as usual' brigade would have carried on lining their pockets at our expense.

Trutanich took on a monumental and seemingly thankless task on July 1, 2009. But while Big Media continue to jump to the beat of the business as usual drum, we, on behalf of the people of Los Angeles, say THANK YOU TRUTANICH!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Trutanich Set To Win Dragongate II

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is on course to score a second victory in his campaign to erradicate illegal billboards and supergraphics in Los Angeles.

As of Friday evening, a second illegal billboard was in the process of being taken down in response to a second criminal case brought against the building owners, billboard company, and installers of a series of illegal Asics adverts designed to capture the cameras at the upcoming Oscars awards.

Monday night

Friday evening - Arrows show workers removing the illegal advert
(Photo credit: Curbed LA)

Last week's 'Dragongate' saga played around the world as bemused Hollywood hot shots' jaws dropped when their massive "How to Train Your Dragon" illegal supergraphic was removed in response to Trutanich arresting Kayvan Setareh, a 49 year-old 'businessman,' and throwing him in jail on $1M bail.

While the vast majority of Los Angelenos gave Trutanich a huge 'thumbs up' for having the audacity to take on Hollywood's elite on their very doorstep (the supergraphic was strategically located next to the Kodak Theater where this weekend's Oscars awards take place), a handful of lazy parasitic hacks started working for the defense in a pathetic effort to criticize Trutanich and portray the imprisoned Setareh as some sort of hero.

Top of the list of naysayers was the Los Angeles Times columnist, Tim Rutten, who blasted Trutanich with an Op-Ed Hit Piece that was so poorly written and so replete with falsehoods that it really made readers wonder whether Rutten had deliberately lied to them, or was simply foolishly lapping up the hackneyed anti-law enforcement rhetoric typically attributed to his wife; disgraced criminal defense attorney Leslie Abramson.

Even respected bloggers, such as Witness LA's Celeste Fremon fell for Rutten's rant, with a sharply worded message for Trutanich. Fremon, to her credit has now backed off her criticism stating " I honestly do think I was much too flip about the public safety issue," a rare admission for a writer and one that leaves one with the hope that she will do what Rutten didn't - actually reseach the issue before jumping on the bandwagon.

Extortionately high bail and grandstanding were the accusations leveled against Trutanich by Rutten and the coolaide drinkers who imbibe at the poisoned font of Rutten's brand of devious and deceitful editorial. $1M bail for 3 misdemeanors was hawked as inappropriate, yet the bail demanded in the second case totals $1M amongst the 8 defendants.

The high bail issued in the second case rather belies the vile filth that Tim Rutten penned in his ill-informed eager haste to satisfy big Hollywood's need for vindication. Bullying, overly high bail, forum shopping, unethical conduct, abuse of the system, blah, blah, blah...  the plethora of baseless rhetoric that spewed forth from Rutten's page sounded just like the bullshit arguments his wife routinely made in defense of the murdererous Mendendez brothers, or that other icon of big Hollywood; Phil Spector.

Rutten's motive for denigrating Trutanich may have another, perhaps, more sinister explanation.

Sources within the Times revealed long harbored suspicions that Rutten is an ardent supporter of Jack Weiss; the disgraced former Los Angeles City Councilman who was defeated by Trutanich in the May 2009 general election.

Weiss, it may be recalled, spoke out harshly about the visual polution caused by supergraphics while he was a Councilman, but did almost nothing about it. Indeed, many believe Weiss received campaign contributions for his failed bid to become City Attorney from those he criticized.

One can surely expect duplicitous conduct from career politicians like Weiss, but a columnist at the Times? Say it ain't so Rutten.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Did Tim Rutten Lie In LA Times Trutanich Opinion Hit Piece?



In Wednesday, March 3rd's Opinion section of the Los Angeles Times, a piece by Tim Rutten made a number of misleading, poorly researched, and flat-out false statements in response to Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's handling of "Dragongate;" this past weekend's top story about the arrest of 'businessman' Kayvan Setareh for violating the Los Angeles City ban on SuperGraphics.

A lie is defined as 'an intentionally false statement,' and while Rutten's shameful hit piece was full of false and misleading statements, the question posed is, did Rutten intentionally publish false statements, or was he merely reckless?

Was Rutten so obsessed with writing anything he possibly could think of to diminish and belittle the efforts of the City Attorney's Office to finally take charge of enforcing the Citywide ban on illegal and unsafe signage, that he could not be bothered to check facts and concealed relevant facts?

Now editorials are not supposed to be 'fair and balanced,' neither are they neutral. They present an opinion, but it should be an informed opinion, not a blogger's inane drivel. It should be factually correct, and not omit those inconvenient truths that undermine the validity of author's opinion. Sadly, Tim Rutten appears to have breached standards one should expect from the LA Times by blogging drivel instead of opining. But was it intentionally false? You decide.

Rutten's hit piece can be found by clicking here assuming, that is, that the LA Times does not do the right thing and retract it immediately and apologize to Trutanich and Judge Mildred Escobedo for reasons that should become clear as you read on.

The essence of Rutten's 'opinion' is that Trutanich acted unethically in asking for $1M bail. Is there "any ethical proportionality" Rutten rhetorically asks "in demanding $1 million bail for three misdemeanor charges, are we really supposed to believe that Setareh -- with all his holdings in Los Angeles -- is a flight risk?"

Ruttten suggests that the $1M bail was not "ethically proportional" because Pacific Palisades businessman Kayvan Setareh was not a "flight risk." In doing so, Rutten implies that Setareh is not a flight risk, and that being a flight risk is the only consideration to be made in setting bail. Not True.

If Rutten had bothered to research the question of bail, he might have stumbled across California Penal Code Section 1275(a):
"In setting, reducing, or denying bail, the judge or magistrate shall take into consideration
the protection of the public,
the seriousness of the offense charged,
the previous criminal record of the defendant, and
the probability of his or her appearing at trial or hearing of the case.
The public safety shall be the primary consideration."

Flight risk is but ONE of FOUR considerations that a judge makes when setting bail, and public safety is the primary consideration. There was no mention of 'public safety' in Rutten's hit piece. Perhaps that's not surprising as Rutten is not a lawyer. But he is married to a lawyer, a criminal defense lawyer.

Rutten is married to non other than Leslie Abramson, who perhaps is best remembered for using all her skill in the defense of the murderous Menendez brothers, and then invoking her fifth amendment right against self incrimination when questions arose over whether she re-wrote portions of an expert witness's notes. Makes you wonder if Abramson was the source of Rutten's conveniently selective knowledge of the law relating to bail. You can have your opinion about that.

Not satisfied with questioning Trutanich's ethics, Rutten denigrates Judge Mildred Escobedo by saying "Trutanich found a feeble-willed judge who was willing to set the landlord's initial bail at $1 million."

Not true. You don't 'find a judge,' you go to the judge assigned by the court to issue arrest warrants. As for calling Judge Escobedo "a feeble-willed judge," what evidence does Rutten offer to support that 'opinion?' Or is it Abramson's 'opinion?' You decide.

All of which leads us back to the real issue about the $1M bail that was conveniently omitted by Rutten, public safety

The risks that these unauthorized supergraphics present was well described to Judge Escobedo when she was asked to set bail. Apparently tt wasn't the possibility of 4,000 square feet of vinyl falling down on pedestrians or, god forbid, Hollywood's elite as their limos deposit them at the Oscars, that impressed her all that much.

It was the statement of a fire captain who described the very real dangers a firefighter would face if he or she had to tackle a fire at this 12 story office building where the majority of the windows were obscured by the Dreamworks banner for their upcoming movie "How to train your dragon."

Windows are one place that people trapped inside a burning building can be rescued when smoke and fire below makes it impossible to leave the building. It is also one way that a fire can be tackled from above. But when you cannot see the windows, it is very unsafe for a firefighter to try to guess where the window is, and then have to cut through the vinyl to get to the window. Imagine how much worse that gets if the vinyl itself catches fire?

Why should the work of firefighters be made even more dangerous than it already is, just because of the vanity of big Hollywood who wanted an advert in full view of the Oscars cameras, and the greed of a 'businessman' who wanted to make a fast buck?

The public safety concerns were real and validly considered by Trutanich in asking for the bail, and validly considered by the judge who agreed and granted the bail.

Rutten also states that "The bail was subsequently reduced to $100,000" as if to suggest that the $1M originally imposed was too high. What he doesn't tell you is that the bail was only reduced after Setareh agreed to remove the supergraphic, and thereby reduce the danger to public safety. An inconvenient truth for Rutten that he either willfully did not want you to know, or he simply forgot? You decide.

Rutten also tells you something wholly untrue when he says "Trutanich essentially imposed a choice between jail time or a $100,000 fine on a defendant who'd never had a minute -- let alone a day -- in court and is entitled to the presumption of innocence."

There are two untruths here.

First there's the "presumption of innocence." Not true. That, as Ms. Abramson should know, does not apply when deciding bail. The judge has to assume that the charged crimes were committed by the defendant when assessing and setting bail.

Second, this business about "a defendant who'd never had a minute -- let alone a day -- in court." Not true. Mr. Setareh has had many days in court with his previous cases with the City Attorney's Office. As we now know, another factor for a judge to consider in assessing bail is defendant's previous record - he has a record of prior non-compliance with building and safety laws relating to "all his holdings in Los Angeles."

This Opinion poses the question of whether Rutten lied by intentionally making false statements, or whether Rutten was foolish and blinded by political bias in his need to denigrate Carmen Trutanich and Judge Mildred Escobedo? You decide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SuperGraphics - Gone in 60 Hours

60 hours after Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich agreed to lower the $1M bail holding the alleged owner of an historic Hollywood building for in jail for violating the City's ban on SuperGraphics, the "How to train your Dragon" SuperGraphic was .... GONE!

The controversy over the use of criminal law to bring illegal billboards and supergraphics under control was reported widely following the Friday night arrest. An article at the Curbed LA blog promises that the controversy is not about to end with the prospect of further arrests likely. Click here to read the full story.