Both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News today reported on an email sent to thousands of Los Angeles residents by Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's Special Assistant, Jane Usher.
Usher's email lambasts Mayor Villaraigosa for trying to cut the City Attorney's Office budget by 36% at a time when Trutanich runs the only City department that is not only saving the City more than $100M by winning the cases that the Mayor used to settle with taxpayer dollars, but is also taking control of issues that the Mayor was reluctant to get involved in; illegal billboards, marijuana shops and runaway spending on contractors.
Usher's email makes for good reading:
"Dear Neighbors --
Please circulate this email broadly. Please act.
Today, the dire economic news from City Hall got immeasurably worse. The Mayor released his budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2010. Despite a series of meetings to the contrary, he recommends cutting the City Attorney by 18%. This is on top of the 18% budget cut that the Mayor presented to Carmen Trutanich on inauguration day, July 1, 2009. And that money grab was compounded by the "who's on first" hijinks that have become the hallmark of this City Hall. Trutanich was required to use his shrunken 2009 wallet to pay $1.5 million in unpaid bills from his predecessor. Welcome to life under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
You do the math: in two year's time, the Mayor intends to reduce the City Attorney's Office by 36%. Surely you are wondering whether this is consistent with the reductions proposed by the Mayor for other City offices. Look high and low. You will not find another City department that has been similarly targeted by the Mayor for closure. Well, except perhaps for the Neighborhood Councils, whom the Mayor has seen fit to dismantle in their entirety. If the Mayor has his way, you will not be able to find a criminal prosecutor to enforce the code against scofflaws or to protect our neighborhoods from street crime. You will not be able to find a civil lawyer to serve as watchdog to counter rogue City actions or to defend against the avalanche of claims upon the City's treasury. The workload of the remaining City Attorneys will be ungovernable. The Mayor will have made the day for our criminals, claimants, and City Hall cads.
In just 10 months in office, the City Attorney has won verdicts that have saved the City over $100 million (more than his annual budget). He is succeeding in his efforts to restore order on topics as diverse as billboards, code enforcement, medical marijuana, and skid row crime. He has asked the Mayor to give our office MORE work -- so that we can increase the City's collection of unpaid debt, reduce Worker's Compensation payouts, and enact a new Administrative Citation Enforcement program. To his face, the Mayor agrees with Trutanich. In his budget proposal, the Mayor shows his true colors. So bring on those bogus lawsuits. Deal your drugs in our neighbors. Because this Mayor lacks fiscal foresight. He has other agendas. He simply refuses to spend your money intelligently, to protect us.
Please learn more. Then share your views with the Mayor and the City Council. The City Attorney's website will have news and updates on this growing fiasco. As always, it will be your voices that turn City Hall around.
There is no doubt that Villaraigosa's mean spirited attempt to stifle Trutanich's shockingly refreshing approach to politics; actually doing the job he was elected to do, represents a serious problem for the Mayor.
In June 2009, Villaraigosa made the front cover of Los Angeles Magazine with the word "Failure" emblazoned all over his diminutive chest. One month later, Carmen Trutanich was sworn in as City Attorney and in sharp contrast to Villaraigosa's ever increasing list of failures, Trutanich started the hard, and largely thankless, task of turning around the City Attorney's Office after years of mismanagement by Rocky Delgadillo.
In his first 10 months in Office, Trutanich has succeeded at every turn, while the Mayor looks more ridiculous and insignificant every time he opens his chronically bad-breathed mouth. This is not good for the Mayor who, like many small men, has a huge ego problem.
So what is the Mayor's solution? Well apparently it is not like Trutanich's who took the bold step last year of insisting that everyone who contracted with his Office, cut their charges by 15%, according to the City Hall Insider, who point out that the Mayor has never once asked, let alone, insisted, that any of his campaign contributing blood-sucking city vendors, take the slightest cut in their over-inflated fees.
It seems that the Mayor can only get tough with his political rivals, and can only do so by cowardly back-stabbing measures that are so see-through that perhaps this is the only time the Mayor can claim to be truly transparent.
Jane Usher has stepped up to the plate with her email and it has reached so many people in the City that many must be wondering whether the Mayor will suffer yet another humiliating defeat in his unbroken record of failures; failure to silence Trutanich.