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!

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