City Attorney Carmen Trutanich received harsh criticism from the Los Angeles Times this past weekend over his decision to seek jail sentences for political protestors. The criticism was richly deserved and perhaps marks the beginning of the end for the 'People's Lawyer,' the honeymoon is well and truly over, and divorce papers are being filed.
In his Friday 'Talk Back' piece, LA Times' columnist Steve Lopez rhetorically asks "Is Carmen Trutanich L.A.'s Mubarak?" Lopez proceeds to answer in the affirmative, concluding "But in threatening to lock up dozens of protesters involved in various demonstrations, giving them up to a year of jail time, Trutanich looks like the bully his critics have long accused him of being."
Lopez's criticism of Trutanich must be particularly upsetting for Trutanich who is believed to have worked very hard to turn Lopez from a critic to a supporter. They've not only shared coffee and cigars together, but Trutanich recently invited Lopez to 'get high' and then participate in a test to 'evaluate' driver impairment while under the influence of marijuana.
Although not reported, it's not hard to imagine Trutanich giving Lopez exactly the same "mano-a-mano" treatment he probably gave Jim Newton as reported by TRU is False; the overly firm handshake followed by the bear-hug, then the teary-eyed "I'm just trying to do my job'" line, followed by a concluding "We'll be friends for life" close-the-deal line.
Yet all the hard work Trutanich must have put in on Lopez appears to be for naught, and Lopez now joins a growing line of critics who tag Trutanich as a bully.
With the ink on Lopez's 'Talk Back' condemnation scarcely dry, long-time critic 'Mulholland Terrace' was quick to follow-up with his own thoughts regarding Trutanich's Mubarak mien. Muholland Terrace, an accomplished journalist in his own right, prefers the use of a pseudonym where he now blogs at the Street-Hassle blog. 'MT' was, perhaps, the first to label Trutanich a 'bully' and was certainly the first to refer to Trutanich as "Carmen the Clown" while blogging at the Mayor Sam blog, then the Griffith Park Wayist blog. It was there that 'MT' was warned or as some might say, 'threatened,' with an action in defamation from a Trutanich staffer. Perhaps a harbinger of Trutanich's attitude towards freedom of speech.
But if Trutanich thought (hoped?) the storm had died down on Friday, he was wrong. Tim Rutten penned Saturday and Sunday's LA Times op-ed piece entitled "Not fit to be tried" in which Rutten accuses Trutanich of being "overzealous in filing charges against nonviolent protesters." Rutten picks up on the Mubarak analogy saying "From the hysterical reaction of two local prosecutors, you'd think Southern California suddenly had become Paris in 1848 — or, maybe, contemporary Cairo." The other 'local prosecutor' being Orange County DA Tony Rackauckas.
But if Trutanich hoped that he could share the shame with Rackauckas, Rutten went a stage further, picking up on the 'bully' theme saying that "Trutanich seems to have formed his notion of prosecutorial discretion during an earlier career as a schoolyard bully."
Rutten also validated a less well known, but equally unsavory attribute of Trutanich's; his micro-managing idiosyncrasies. Trutanich, he notes, "has reversed his office's policy of treating arrests during the course of nonviolent political protests as infractions that could be resolved in informal hearings resulting in fines." Career prosecutors at the City Attorney's Office are, it seems, incapable of handling political protestors without Trutanich's hands-on intervention lest the offenders do what? Protest again? Clearly Trutanich does not abide recidivist political protesters.
Rutten was savagely dismissive of Trutanich's claim that he was seeking substantial jail time as these were "professional protesters." Rutten notes that Trutanich's claim would be "laughable if Trutanich didn't have a by-now unfortunately demonstrable history of playing fast and loose with the truth to support the insupportable." Rutten, perhaps alluding to Trutanich's 'criminal aspects' investigation into the AEG Michael Jackson memorial which ended abruptly after a year, without comment from Trutanich, but contemporaneous with a rather surprising donation from AEG; a pair of Lady Gaga tickets to Trutanich's Officeholder Committee.
Trutanich has yet to officially confirm his candidacy for Los Angeles District Attorney in 2012, and seems to have enjoyed toying with the press over his true intentions. Perhaps the gentlemen of the press have tired of Trutanich's schoolyard antics, seen through his crass attempts to endear himself to them, and are beginning to see what a number of others have already seen; a bully.