Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Trutanich Gets Last Laugh on City Council - Sneaks Grand Jury Powers into ACE Program

(Reprinted from our Tumblr website: "Trutanich's ACE Program Sneaks In Grand Jury Like Powers")

The lies about the origins and provenance of the ACE Program had scarcely left City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's lips last month when the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office acted swiftly to present a revised version of the ACE Program containing hidden Grand Jury-like subpoena powers.

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants Grand Jury powers as an "investigative tool"
Similar powers were routinely abused by Joseph McCarthy in an era that Trutanich probably
wishes the City Council have forgotten.

Barely a year has passed since Trutanich's original plan for his own Grand Jury was thwarted by the City Council. Although budgetary constraints were then cited as the reason for denying Trutanich powers that could be abused in the wrong hands, few doubted that fears of Trutanich becoming a modern-day McCarthy were truly behind the City Council's actions.

But Trutanich wasn't going to take the loss of what he has characterized as a "valuable investigative tool" lying down (others saw it as an intimidation tool). Sources say that following the death of his Grand Jury plan, Trutanich secretly ordered his deputies to sneak similar Grand Jury-like subpoena powers into the ACE Program.

Trutanich recaptures Grand Jury-like subpoena powers through
Section 11.2.09(b)6 of the latest version of the ACE Ordinance
 The Grand Jury-like powers are well hidden "in plain sight" at Section 11.2.09(b)6 of the proposed ACE Program ordinance. If enacted as currently written, Trutanich has granted himself the power to order the Administrative Hearing Officer (believed to be called "Judges" by Trutanich) to "subpoena witnesses, documents and other evidence"  in accordance with procedures he dictates.

Prosecutors Can Be ACE Judges
Trutanich has made no secret of his plan to use his own prosecutors as Judges, and again, Trutanich has hidden that power "in plain sight" at Section 11.2.09(a):

Under Section 11.2.09(a) of the ACE Program ordinance
Trutanich can appoint "independent" Judges. Trutanich conveniently
refrains defining "independent" or from excluding Deputy City Attorneys
from being appointed as his Judges.
The ACE Program ordinance does not define the term "Independent Administrative Hearing Officers" thereby giving Trutanich broad powers to appoint whoever he considers suitable to serve his needs.  If Trutanich believes that his prosecutors can be independent, then nothing in the ACE Program ordinance prevents that.

Furthermore, Trutanich has the power to tell his "Judges" what to do and how to do it by developing his own "written policies." Regardless of the written policies, few would doubt that his "Judges" will grant any request he makes to issue subpoenas for "witnesses, documents and other evidence."

Coucilmembers Support Likely With Promise of Major Contribution To General Fund
With Trutanich promising that ACE will provide a veritable cash cow of administrative penalties to swell the starved coffers of the General Fund, it is likely that Trutanich believes he has the eight votes he needs on the Council to get the ACE Program passed. The eight councilmembers that will likely  support the ACE Program are thought to be Zine, Hahn, Englander, Alarcon, La Bonge, Koretz, Huizar and Rosendahl. City Controller Wendy Greuel is also likely to give ACE her blessing.

Trutanich Gets The Last Laugh(s)
In selling the 'eight' on ACE as a cash cow, Trutanich gets the last laugh on his enemies in City Hall, by neatly performing an end run on their previous efforts to deny him the power he so desperately craves.

But there's more to Trutanich's last laugh than simply out-smarting the City Council. The ACE Program can only live up to Trutanich's promise of being a cash cow if it is used against homeowners and small businesses. The scofflaws that Trutanich says he will pursue simply don't have the money to pay the fines, and there is little enforcement action in ACE that could have any meaningful effect on them. But a crackdown on non-compliant yard fences (anything over three and a half feet in height) or replacement water heaters installed without permits, or small businesses who have un-permitted off-site advertising on their premises, now that would yield millions of dollars for the General Fund from the ACE Program.

Of course the outcry from voters would likely cause the Council to stop such crackdowns. And thus the promised cash cow will become the Trojan Horse that it really is. Trutanich gets his power, the General Fund gets nothing, and the Council gets egg on its face.

The McCarthy era abuse of grand jury-like powers proved to be perhaps even more dangerous and destructive to a free society than the evils McCarthy sought to defeat. With Trutanich's track record of bullying, thuggery, grandstanding and most recently, flat out lying, few would doubt that the powers he has sneaked into the ACE Program will enable him to be the next McCarthy.



Anonymous said...

ACE is evil.

noelweiss said...

ACE is an incredibly bad idea. . . . A very unhealthy consolidation of political administrative power in the hands of the Office of City Attorney. . . The Charter defines who has subpoena power (Section 217) and the City Attorney is not included in the list.

I don't think the City Council can give the City Attorney this kind of power in the absence of a Charter amendment (which the voters should reject).

No better invitation to abuse of power exists. . .Punish your enemies. . . Reward your friends. . . .

It is amazing that Republicans who are against abuse by 'big government' would be for this idea (fashioned by a closet Republican).

There are much better and more cost-effective ways to facilitate enforcement of code violations than ACE. . . .

Relying on 'big brother' is not one of them.

Noel Weiss

Anonymous said...

Noel, the ACE Program is a Trutanich Trick. The fact that he lied about it on the Kevin James Show should raise a gigantic red flag that all is not what it seems.

Trutanich is banking on the promise of millions of dollars in fines flooding the city's coffers to blind the city council and the residents of the pure evil of this police state shakedown. He's fooled us for long enough. I hope you spread the word.