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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dragnet On Hiatus

We're on hiatus for the time being and will return October 24, 2011.

In the meantime, commenting on this page will be left open for your thoughts, views and any new tips from our confidential tip-email will appear as comments from Joe Friday or Windscale.

&tc.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Free For All

Trutanich blasted by Fire Commission Report, Again

A 5-page report issued September 12, 2011 by the Board of Fire Commissioners under File No. BFC 11-140 blasts City Attorney Carmen Trutanich for his failures to timely meet with a sub-committee specifically established to discuss the apparent break down in relations between the Fire Commission and their attorney, Carmen Trutanich.

 The latest report mirrors many of the criticisms and complaints about the poor advice given by Trutanich in the Fire Commissions' July 13, 2011 report; suggesting that little or nothing was done by Trutanich to respond to those earlier complaints. The latest report reaches the conclusion that "It appears the City Attorney's Office is no longer willing to answer the Commission's questions regarding the August 23, 2010 advice, or discuss any of the issues related to that advice." Accordingly, it appears that the Fire Commission will rely on independent legal advice given by Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

Although the legal issues facing the Fire Commission are far from simple, Trutanich's apparent intransigence and failure to address 5 key issues described as "outstanding" by the Fire Commission, suggests that Trutanich may simply be out of his depth and preoccupied with matters that he considers more important.

RentGate: No Explanation For Missing Rent Payments

Exhibit 1: Yellow highlighted payments said by Trutanich to be for rent,
are in fact for "campaign paraphernalia" leaving a shortfall in rent payments.
Despite claims that Trutanich did not receive illegal in-kind contributions in respect of rent for his campaign office, the campaign finance reports submitted by Trutanich contain no evidence to support his claim.

Payments to Allen Realty Plaza, LLC and Barry M. Allen, A Law Corp. said by Trutanich to be for rent, are described by Trutanich in his campaign finance reports as "campaign paraphernalia," not "office expenses" which would identify the payments as rent. 

The City Ethics Commission is understood to have received a complaint regarding the RentGate scandal, however, it is the practice of the Commission not to confirm or deny whether an investigation is ongoing.

The issue appears to be straightforward enough. In the absence of evidence of payment of all the rent, believed to be $16,200 for the eight months that Trutanich can be shown to have used the Ventura Blvd. storefront, then Trutanich would be found to have received illegal in-kind donations for the rent free period. Records on the City Ethics Commission's website shows Trutanich paying only $12,150 of the $16,200 due.

DA Candidates' Debate Rumored

The six declared candidates for the 2012 District Attorney election are believed to have been invited to participate in a candidates' debate in the near future. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich may be invited to attend, however, it is thought likely that he will decline the invitation.

&tc.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trutanich 0-66 In Controller report

This one missed our attention last week, but it's worth repeating. City Controller Wendy Greuel blasted City Attorney Carmen Trutanich for failing to implement a single one of the 66 recommendations made in the audit of his office's workers compensation program. The audit's recommendations were made a year ago. What has Trutanich done? Nothing. His response? "We're working on it."

As seems to be the new trend with Trutanich, he doesn't comment on bad news topics, but lets someone from his office do the talking. In this case, it was someone the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise identified only as a "spokesperson." Perhaps he was too embarrassed to have to admit to another one of Trutanich's growing list of failures.

Read the excuses in the Met News, if you can be bothered, but it's all beginning to sound like a broken record from Trutanich - big promises and absolutely no follow through.

That also seems to be the case where the quality of Trutanich's legal services to the Fire Commission are concerned. We hear there's a new report from the Fire Commission which is less than complimentary about Trutanich. Developing...

&tc.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trutanich's ACE may be trumped by common sense

Some might say that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has been selling "his" ACE Program like a snake oil salesman; promising that it will do all things for all Los Angelenos - provide swift justice for low grade crimes and fill the coffers of the city's cash starved General Fund with a flood of "Administrative Penalties."

The Dragnet has previously warned of the grave dangers of allowing Trutanich to become judge and jury in the ACE Program's kangaroo courts, and now it seems that Los Angelenos are beginning to get the message.


Former City Council candidate Stephen Box yesterday published a succinct account of the dangers of Trutnanich's ACE Program at CityWatchLA. Box's article touches on many of the dangers previously identified by the Dragnet and is an excellent read. Box analogizes the powers hidden in Trutanich's ACE Program to those used by the City of Bell to shakedown its residents in a culture of corruption that recently shocked the nation.

But Trutanich's ACE Program goes far beyond the small town shakedowns of Bell, and places Trutanich in a position of power and influence that likely exceeds the role of city attorney contemplated by the Charter Reform movement. The goal of reforming the city's Charter was to instill transparency and accountability into what had become a corrupt and unaccountable City Council. A close read of Trutanich's ACE Program raises serious concerns that it takes us back to those dark times, and then some.
 
Trutanich has been quick to try to quell the fears about the Orwellian flavor of his ACE Program. In an article recently published by the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise, his office dismissed the allegation that Trutanich was using ACE to secretly obtain the Grand Jury powers that the City had previously denied him as "ludicrous." However, Trutanich has nevertheless written into the ACE Program a subpoena power that many believe can be abused by an over-zealous prosecutor much as in the McCarthy era.

Trutanich's vehement denial might have persuaded a few of his Neighborhood Council supporters that he can be trusted, but since that denial Trutanich has been plagued by a series of scandals even the most ardent supporters must see as representing serious flaws in the credibility of his glib assurances.

Perhaps the first doubts were raised by the way Trutanich lied about the origins of the ACE Program itself. In an interview on the Kevin James radio show, Trutanich claimed that ACE was his idea and that he had shared it with other cities and it was "working just fine." But the reality is that those cities already had their version of ACE (albeit without Trutanich's Orwellian attributes) before Trutanich was City Attorney. Even his Chief Deputy had to admit that Trutanich had lied.

More recently, in the BillboardGate scandal, when the Dragnet questioned whether Trutanich's billboards on Ventura Blvd., were illegal off-site signs in violation of Trutanich's own laws, his office told the Met News that "the determination of the signs’ legality is not one that is made by his office." A "ludicrous" response considering that on the very same day that Trutanich was saying his office does not determine the legality of signs, Trutanich was condemning the City of Santa Monica for placing digital signs on their city buses, never mind the endless grandstanding Trutanich has engaged in regarding the $1M bail arrest of a Los Angeles businessman during the Oscars ceremony. Of course Trutanich determines the legality of signs, that's his job. He probably did not like being questioned about his own signs, which he swiftly removed, so he lied to cover it up.

More troubling was what looked like a cover up by the Dept. of Building and Safety. Their lead investigator initially defended Trutanich's billboards, making the equally "ludicrous" statement that Trutanich's billboards, which had been on display for over two years since he took office, was a “temporary sign ... that doesn’t require a permit.” Two years is temporary?

The apparent willingness of the Dept. of Building and Safety to bend over backwards to help Trutanich is perhaps not surprising. But it is troubling. Under the ACE Program, the Dept. of Building and Safety will become the lead city department in issuing ACE Administrative Penalties for code violations. Remember, it is this Dept. that is being investigated by the FBI for abusing its permit issuing powers. Seriously Los Angeles, do we need to even ask you if you are willing to grant more power to Trutanich and the Dept. of Building and Safety?

ACE started out as a simple two page proposal from Councilmember Koretz to improve the way code violations were handled. It appears that ACE was hijacked by Trutanich and transformed into a twenty page power grab and shakedown tool. Don't let that happen.

&tc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trutanich RentGate Story Fails To Explain Missing Rent Payments

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's response to RentGate; the questions raised as to who paid for his campaign office, still fails to fully account for rent payments for the eight month period that Truanich is understood to have enjoyed the use of a Ventura Blvd. storefront.

Friday's Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise reported that Trutanich's campaign treasurer, David Gould, "vehemently denied" that Trutanich had received an illegal in-kind donation in the form of free rent for his headquarters space. Gould stated that “Everything was paid for, and it was all disclosed.”

However, in what some might believe to be a confusing and incomplete account for the payment of rent, Gould neither supplied a copy of the lease, nor copies of checks showing all rent payments. Instead, Gould stated that some rent payments were made to “Barry M. Allen, a Law Corp.,” which is "a related entity to Allen Realty," and that the amount of the rent payment "varied from month to month because the cost of utilities was included."

Based on what Gould stated, it appears that the monthly base rent was $2,025.00, not $2,053 as previously stated. Accordingly, we checked the City Ethics Commission's website to search for all payments made to Allen Realty Plaza, LLC, and it's related entity Barry M. Allen, a Law Corp. The result of our search does not appear to support Gould's story.

Exhibit 1:  All payments by Trutanich to Allen Realty Plaza, LLC and Barry M. Allen a Law Corp.
(Source: City Ethics Commission)
Trutanich paid all Allen entities a total of $17,391.00, however, as the yellow highlighted areas show, $4,650.00 was described as being for "CMP - Campaign Paraphernalia," leaving only $12,741.00 for rent, which is described as "OFC - Office Expenses."

If the $2,025.00 monthly rent figure is correct, Trutanich should have paid $16,200.00 for eight months rent for the time he admits to using the storefront; October 2008 through May 2009. However, Trutanich's records at best, show payments of only $12,150.00 for six months rent, plus $591.00 for utilities.

Once again, we are left wondering who paid the rent for the missing two months. Equally, who paid for the utilities for those two months? Is there another Allen entity that Trutanich failed to mention?

Beyond the palpable evidence suggesting that there is a real problem in accounting for the payment of Trutanich's rent, the statement to the Met News appears to contain at least three errors.

First, the claim that the Ethics Commission “audited the entire campaign” and “came up with no findings whatsoever,” and that "the commission was unlikely to consider a complaint regarding the campaign in light of this," is sheer fantasy or, perhaps, wishful thinking, on Trutanich's behalf. Just because an audit was completed without a finding does not preclude a further investigation in the light of appropriate evidence.

Based on the evidence of the payments above (Exhibit 1), there would appear to be sufficient evidence to revisit the audit results, and perhaps demand to see a copy of the lease, utility bills, and copies of the checks to see if “Everything was paid for, and it was all disclosed,” because that certainly does not appear to be the case.

Second, Trutanich claimed that the Fair Political Practices Commission “has no authority over city elections.” He is wrong. They do have that authority.

Third, and perhaps most tellingly, the claim was made that "The March rent, Gould said, was shown in a $452 payment to Allen Realty reported in April, which reflected the pro-rated rent for the space up until the primary election." If that were the case, one could reasonably expect to find a payment for $452.00 to Allen Realty for "OFC - Office Expenses." However, if it is not clear enough from Exhibit 1 above, take a closer look:


The $452.00 payment was not for rent, pro-rated or otherwise. 

We trust that the City Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission will now be looking into this matter, especially in the light of Trutanich's story. We understand that a second complaint is being filed in connection with the admissions made by Trutanich, as well as the apparent lack of any reported payments for the two years use of the off-site billboards outside the Ventura Blvd. storefront.

&tc.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Free For All

Trutanich To Be Honored By Monkee


File this one in the "you can't make this up" category: City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is to receive an award presented at an event emceed by Micky Dolenz of The Monkees.

The October 6, 2011 event will honor Trutanich for his role in the 1980's in the Environmental Crimes/OSHA Division of the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office. Trutanich will pick up his belated award at an 11:30 luncheon at the Hilton Woodland Hills. The event is open to those members of the public who are willing to pay $50 to "watch a monkee reward a clown," as the anonymous tipster who sent us the link commented.

Seriously, an award for something that happened at least 25 years ago, should also be filed in the "scraping the bottom of the barrel" category.

Trutanich Likely To Announce DA Campaign in December 2011

It's not a question of if, but rather when Trutanich will bring to an end the pathetic pretense of his exploratory committee and formally declare that which he has been pursuing since October 2010; he is running for District Attorney.

It is likely that Trutanich will now chose a date December to make the announcement it the hope that the goodwill of the holiday season will overshadow the slew of accusations that he has reneged on his numerous promises and assurances that he would not use the City Attorney's Office as a springboard to higher office.




It is understood that Trutanich had originally slated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to make his announcement, however, Assembleyman Mike Feuer stole the moment to announce his challenge to Trutanich's City Attorney position.

Feuer's surprise announcement may have upset Trutanich but he can say or do little about it. Instead he may choose to make the announcement on December 7, the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Appropriately, "a date which will live in infamy."


And On A Lighter Note

File this one in the "only in LA" category:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Happy weekend!
&tc.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday's Thorny Topics

City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer Will  Challenge Trutanich in 2013

City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer confirmed our Tuesday report that he will not rule out running against current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in the March 2013 election. Feuer told the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise that he 'would not “get into speculation” about what may happen if Trutanich does not enter the race, or loses.' the Met News reported.

Trutanich would most likely lose a straight race for re-election against Feuer, who is popular amongst his wealthy westside constituents, whereas Trutanich is increasingly being seen as a disappointment to many of those who believed his "Pledge to Serve."

Furthermore, Feuer's "assumption" that Trutanich will succeed in his bid to fool informed voters into electing him to higher office has absolutely no downside for Feuer; if his assumption is correct, he has the keys to the 8th floor at City Hall East. If his assumption is wrong, Trutanich will be an easy target to defeat as he will have no campaign manager, no ability to raise funds, and an established record of having turned his back on promises and commitments. It's a win-win situation for Feuer.

Parking Problem Highlights Trutanich's Mercenary Motives

In an excellent article published at CityWatchLA, former Los Angeles Councilmember candidate Stephen Box (CD-4), Trutanich's true motives for his proposed enforcement of a municipal ban on "Parkway Parking" are questioned. Trutanich's enforcement of the ban on renters and homeowners from parking their vehicles in their driveways, is more likely a way of raising revenue, than a genuine attempt to solve a problem.

Box's conclusions are not the first time that Trutanich's "monetization" of law enforcement have been questioned. Trutanich's enforcement of a citywide billboard ban silently netted him a $4M settlement, half of which he tried to illegally divert to a political ally. His current ACE Program seems to be on hold while the City Council reconsiders the wisdom of giving Trutanich more power. Many now see that giving Trutanich the power to wreak financial misery on homeowners and small businesses through "Administrative Citations" is not a good idea. That may be especially so in view of the way that Trutanich has promised to enforce ACE "just like traffic tickets," in other words, with little or no opportunity to challenge the fees and fines he can impose.

The ludicrous response of Trutanich to his apparent dual standard enforcement of the billboard ban; fining illegal off-site billboard owners while maintaining his own off-site billboards, must surely raise more doubts about whether Trutanich is capable of enforcing our laws in a fair and evenhanded manner.

&tc.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Topics

Alan Jackson Scoops 4 Police Chief Endorsements


District Attorney candidate Alan Jackson's campaign achieved a significant boost to his campaign with the announcement of his endorsement by four Police Chiefs. This from the Alan Jackson campaign:

Los Angeles, September 12th – Today four highly regarded retired El Monte Chiefs of Police endorsed Alan Jackson for District Attorney.  Combined, these four Chiefs have over 150 years of law enforcement experience. Jackson takes great pride in his close relationship with the law enforcement community and its leaders, having worked hand in glove with them prosecuting some of the County’s most complicated and complex criminal cases.

The El Monte Police Chiefs who have endorsed Jackson include:

Chief Wayne C. Clayton (served 8-01-78 to 12-30-00 as Chief),

Chief James W. Ankeny (served 12-31-00 to 1-04-02 as Chief),

Chief Kenneth P. Weldon (served 1-05-02 to 12-31-08 as Chief), and

Chief Thomas B. Armstrong (served 1-1-09 to 5-17-11 as Chief).

Chief Wayne Clayton said, “As someone who served as Chief of Police for over two decades, I know LA County not only deserves but requires its next DA to be a close partner with law enforcement. We need a real cop’s prosecutor, not merely a politician looking for the next rung. I am confident Alan Jackson will make a tremendous DA and will work tirelessly to put criminals behind bars.”

Chief Ankeny concurred, “I could not be more pleased to join with these distinguished law enforcement leaders to support Alan Jackson for District Attorney.”

Chief Weldon said, “Alan Jackson is absolutely the best candidate for the job. I believe Alan Jackson has the credentials and character to build on what Steve Cooley has accomplished during his distinguished years of service as DA.”

Chief Armstrong said, “To continue to establish and maintain the public trust, I know Alan Jackson will serve Los Angeles County honorably and ethically as District Attorney.”

Alan Jackson stated, “Throughout my entire career I have focused on forging close relationships with the law enforcement community. As District Attorney I promise to utilize those relationships to keep our communities safe while swiftly but fairly prosecuting criminals. I am honored to have earned the support from each one of these Chiefs.”

Deputy DA Alan Jackson has earned strong support from other public officials such as County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, State Senator Tony Strickland, Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon, former La CaƱada-Flintridge Mayor and current City Councilmember Steve Del Guercio, San Gabriel City Councilman Mario De La Torre and Honorary Mayor of San Pedro Anthony Misetich.

For more information, please visit Alan Jackson’s campaign website at www.VoteAlanJackson.com.
# # #

Cary Brazeman Announces Run For City Controller

In an email announcement, Cary Brazeman informed his friends that he has decided to challenge Councilmember Dennis Zine in the March 2013 election for Los Angeles City Controller.

This from Brazeman:

Dear Friends:

Before you hear about it somewhere else, I wanted to let you know that soon I will be announcing my candidacy for Los Angeles City Controller … not something I ever imagined I’d be doing, but it needs to be done.

We have a dysfunctional city government that largely serves the special interests that have bought and paid for it … with little public accountability. Just one example: Instead of fixing our sidewalks or reducing taxes for a broad base of businesses, city leaders have approved $640 million in tax breaks for downtown hotel developers (LA Times, May 4, 2011). This cannot stand.

Our city has lost residents and businesses at a record clip. It cannot be fixed the way it got broken. Pyramid schemes are unsustainable. When I officially file to run in several weeks, it will be clear by the actions we take that our campaign is different … that I am different. As difficult as it is for outsiders to participate in the system, independent, strong people must get involved, or things will get worse. Right now, while there is an opportunity, we must fight for the future of our city. I will let you know when our campaign is official, and what you can do to help.

For the love of our city, thank you very much.

Cary Brazeman
September 12, 2011


Assembleyman Mike Feuer Enters City Attorney Race

Assemblyman Mike Feuer delivered an eloquent, thoughtful and moving speech in Beverly Hills,
Sunday, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, in marked contrast to Trutanich's crude remarks
at the Studio City Neighborhood Council's social gathering, Saturday night.
As predicted, Assembleyman Mike Feuer has confirmed the worst kept secret in Los Angeles; he is going to challenge City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in March 2013. Feuer was narrowly beaten by Rocky Delgadillo for the position in 2001, and has selected John Shallman as his campaign consultant. Feuer's choice of Shallman to run his campaign suggests that Trutanich will shortly end his months of pretense over his "indecision" about running openly for District Attorney.

Shallman has been retained to handle Trutanich's campaign for District Attorney, but not for City Attorney when he loses the DA race. Feuer told the LA Times that he had opened the fundraising committee “on the assumption that Mr. Trutanich runs for district attorney and wins.” Significantly, Feuer did not indicate that he would withdraw his bid to oust Trutanich if his assumption proves to be incorrect.

It's a clever move by Feuer, not only does it force Trutanich to run for DA and openly violate his "Pledge to Serve," but it also leaves Feuer virtually unopposed as Trutanich will be without a consultant and unable to mount a serious reelection campaign after he loses the November 2012 DA election.

Feuer has lured Trutanich into a perfect storm for the end of his political career, and has assured himself of a fairly easy return to City Hall where he had previously served as Councilmember. 

&tc.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday's Hot Topics

9/11 Remembered


Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the worst terror attack on US soil. As a nation we paid tribute to those who were hapless victims trapped in their offices or on the four passenger flights that were weaponized that morning, and to the outstanding courage and selflessness of the men and women of law enforcement and emergency responders, who made the ultimate sacrifice to try to save lives.

Some of the DA Candidates used their FaceBook pages to share their thoughts with their friends:



Trutanich Grandstands 9/11 Tragedy


City Attorney Carmen Trutanich took full advantage of the podium at the Studio City Neighborhood Council social meeting on Saturday night, to grandstand his self-proclaimed relevance to keeping our nation safe. He delivered these carefully crafted words, probably scratched out on the back of a napkin:

Trutanich said, “These bastards thought they would take us to our knees and that the world would follow them. ... Trust me, people, I know, you are safer today than ever before in lifetime. What they thought they did they did not do. They woke up a giant out of horrific day.” according to the Studio City Patch.

Quite what the relevance of the City Attorney's Office is to war on terror in Los Angeles is unclear, but just as with his claim to be prosecuting the Bryan Stowe Dodgers Stadium attackers, his audience probably did not realize that he is as utterly irrelevant to those matters, as he was to "busting the 38th Street Gang."

Trutanich did give a clue that all is not going well with his District Attorney campaign. The Studio City Patch also reported that 'Trutanich talked about how “I have a newspaper that hates me,”' That did produce side-splitting laughter, not from Trutanich but when Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Krekorian, perhaps growing tired of Trutanich's grandstanding, piped up from the audience saying, “Only one?”

It seems that the excellent coverage the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise has been giving to Trutanich's recent BillboardGate and RentGate scandals is upsetting Trutanich. Perhaps he sees himself as a something of a hate crime victim?

RentGate Scandal Widens

No records of payments to Allen Realty Plaza, LLC can be found for four of the eight months
that Trutanich appears to have occupied the Ventura Blvd. storefront, and three of the months
when payment records exist, appears to indicate a substantially below market value rental was paid.

Campaign materials date-stamped October 8, 2008 indicate that Carmen Trutanich was in occupation of his campaign headquarters three months before records filed by him indicate that he paid rent for the Ventura Blvd. storefront that he used to run his successful campaign to become Los Angeles City Attorney.

RAW file data from the designs for Trutanich's business cards utilizing the Ventura Blvd. storefront indicate that the design was created on October 8, 2008, suggesting that the location had been secured for Trutanich's occupancy in October 2008. Previously, the only evidence of Trutanich's occupation of the storefront was his "Pledge to Serve" dated November 24, 2008.

The only records showing a full month's rent paid by Trutanich indicate a monthly rent of $2,053 for the 750 square foot store. This is believed to be the market rent for the location. Based on the absence of records for the payment of rent for the the periods of October - December 2008, and May 2009, and the apparent below market rent for January - March 2009, it appears that Trutanich either failed to report $12, 548.50 in campaign expenses for rent, or he received an unreported "in kind" or "non-monetary" donation of that amount.

The Alan Jackson campaign issued the following statement in response to our previous coverage of what has become known as Trutanich's RentGate scandal:

"Mr. Trutanich's repeated disregard for ethics and integrity and willingness to play fast and loose with the rules to benefit his own political career is not only obvious, it's abhorrent. The next District Attorney must be held to the highest moral and ethical standards, something Mr. Trutanich clearly does not possess." 

John S. Thomas
Strategist
Alan Jackson for District Attorney

It is understood that complaints have been filed with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission requesting an investigation into the payment of rent at Trutanich's former campaign headquarters.

&tc.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Free For All - Trutanich's Troubles Treble

RentGate - Trutanich Declines To Comment

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich will not comment on a charge that he received an apparently illegal in-kind donation in the form of headquarters space for his successful campaign, the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise reported yesterday.

The RentGate scandal was first reported here Wednesday, September 7, 2011, and posed 3 questions as to the payment of Trutanich's rent for his campaign headquarters. Critical questions that remain unanswered, and will likely remain so.

The MetNews staff reporter was referred to Trutanich's "campaign consultant," John Shallman and his treasurer, David Gould, for answers to those questions, however, both could not be reached for comment.

Given the previously farcical statements from Trutanich in response to the BillboardGate scandal, it is not surprising that the Trutanich camp wants exercise their right to remain silent, rather than repeat their prior embarrassingly inculpatory admissions.

It is understood that the joint issues of who paid the rent for Trutanich's headquarters and whether Trutanich received an under market value rent for the limited period that he appeared to have paid for the Ventura Blvd. location, will be investigated. The Dragnet has learned that at least two separate referrals have been made to the City Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission. Thus far, we have no information as to whether the Public Integrity Division of the District Attorney's Office has been asked to investigate.

Trutanich Ignored Audit Recommendations - City Controller Reports
Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel slammed Carmen Trutanich for failing to implement any of the 66 recommendations made in her October 13, 2010 audit of the City Attorney's Workers Compensation Program, KPCC reported.

In yet another of his broken campaign promises, Trutanich had pretended to support Laura Chick's position that the City Controller should be allowed to audit city department programs. However, within days of taking office Trutanich reneged on his agreement and recommended that the City continue to litigate the matter. Trutanich also declined to recommend that the city settle the matter and pay the legal fees that Laura Chick had incurred in her fight to bring greater transparency to city government.

Chick went public with her views on Trutanich's duplicity, calling him a "demagogue and a liar" on KABC 790AM's morning show hosted by Doug McIntyre, the LA Times reported.“The city attorney has gone back on his word. He is not a man of his word, to me,’’ Chick said on the radio show. “I have told him this to his face. I told him that he lied in order to get my support."she told LA Times reporter Phil Willon.

Simone Wilson, a reporter at LA Weekly, yesterday reported that "L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has apparently been too busy breaking his own billboard rules to glance at a late-2010 audit of his "Workers' Compensation and Subrogation Program." Of 88 problems identified by Greuel, not a single one has been addressed." Some might also say that Trutanich has been too busy running for District Attorney to pay attention to his duties as City Attorney.

The City Controller's report did not reference two other notable recent failures by Trutanich to adequately perform the duties of City Attorney; the Martin Declaration and the Fire Commission Report. If ever the evidence was gathering that Trutanich is simply just another "all talk and no action career politician," Wendy Greuel's report would appear to put the matter beyond doubt.

Trutanich Faces 58th Challenge To His Unconstitutional Medical Marijuana Ordinance

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is proud of his aggressive stance against medical marijuana, and according to James Shaw, director of the Union of Medical Marijuana Patients (UMMP), Trutanich "pushed an ordinance through the City Council in January 2010 that was so full of contradictions and legally questionable rules that a judge placed a hold on its implementation, and it has since then had to be frequently amended in an effort to survive 57 lawsuits, which should be decided by the end of this month." 

UMMP is to add to the 57 challenges in a new lawsuit arguing that Trutanich's scorched earth law required an EIR - environmental impact report. It's a novel argument, and one that might not have flown back in 2009 when Trutanich was making headlines as a LA's tough guy. However, in the two years since taking office, many of Trutanich's promises and assurances have proven to be as bogus as his DraftTrutanich4DA campaign - a laughable effort to extricate Trutanich from his campaign promise not to run for District Attorney by creating the illusion that he is being beseeched by cops to run for DA.

Trutanich's credibility has taken a number of serious blows recently. His crass attempt to misappropriate a $2M settlement check to support a political ally, ludicrous claims that he "does not talk politics at his desk," and of course his totally insupportable defense of his own billboards, not to mention his current RentGate scandal, could cause a court to be less than impressed with the quality and caliber of Trutanich's legal arguments.

Trutanich's openly hostile attitude towards medical marijuana patients might also be relevant to the issue as to whether a City Attorney who thinks nothing of shouting down and berating a cancer patient who questioned his voodoo science, is capable of fashioning a workable ordinance.

Carmen Trutanich Screams At Cancer Patient Who Questions Him on Medical Marijuana


City Attorney Clashes with Speaker at 2009 Congress of Neighborhoods -Accused of Bullying, Questioned on Red Ant Theory from Michael N. Cohen on Vimeo.

Los Angeles needs a sensible and workable medical marijuana ordinance. It was something Trutanich promised to deliver during his campaign, but just like most of his other campaign promises, it was one that he has insidiously failed to deliver. Perhaps UMMP's challenge to Trutanich's law will succeed because Trutanich's credibility account is so horribly overdrawn as to be worthy of downgrading to junkbond status.

&tc.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday Topics

Who Paid The Rent?
Trutanich's former campaign headquarters on Ventura Blvd. is now the focus
of questions as to who paid the rent in the absence of full and complete campaign finance records.
The 3 questions posed by the Dragnet yesterday into the Trutanich RentGate scandal remain unanswered despite a slew of comments from Trutanich supporters who seem more incensed that anyone dare ask the question, than to have to deal with the answers.

Danette Meyers Lands Major Endorsement

According to her campaign website www.DanetteForDA.com:
Los Angeles, CA - September 7, 2011

Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray, former head of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of Los Angeles’ most visible churches,  today officially announced his endorsement of Danette Meyers for District Attorney.
 
Rev. Murray stated: “History is her story, how for a quarter of a century Danette Meyers has prosecuted more cases than any other elected D.A. in the history of Los Angeles.  Her story includes her selection as Prosecutor of the Year twice, and being recognized as one of the Top 100 lawyers in California.  Her story  includes her election as the first female African American President of the 26,000 member Los Angeles County Bar Association.  Now it's up to fair minded voters like those of us who know her record to celebrate her story by electing her as Los Angeles County District Attorney in 2012.  Make her story history.”

# # #

&tc.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Trutanich RentGate Scandal? - Missing Rent Payments and Irregularities Raise Campaign Finance Questions

EXCLUSIVE: Carmen Trutanich's 2009 City Attorney Campaign Could Face Ethics Violation Investigation Over Apparently Unreported or Under-Reported Campaign Expenses.

Dragnet readers familiar with Trutanich's Billboard Blunder, and the ensuing BillboardGate cover-up, will need no reminding that City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's former campaign headquarters were located at 12524 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

The scandal surrounding Trutanich's off-site billboards
has led to questions about who paid the rent for Trutanich's headquarters
As a result of the Dragnet's coverage of those scandals, an anonymous tip suggested that we research the amount of rent paid by Trutanich for his headquarters. Campaign finance laws require all candidates to timely report their expenses, debts, as well as cash and in-kind contributions, so the tipster suggested we research the City Ethics Commission website where the relevant records can be found on-line.

The City Ethics Commission website allows visitors to search
campaign contributions and expenses.
Following the tipster's suggestion, we searched for campaign payments made to "Allen Realty Plaza," Trutanich's landlord and, according to Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety Inspector Luke Zamparini's statement to the Los Angeles Metropolitan News, 'the property owner, Mort Allen, was “a big supporter” of Trutanich’s campaign."

We found two payments from Trutanich to Allen Realty Plaza LLC
which appear to be related to rent as they are described as 'Office Expenses.'
The results of our search shows that four payments were made by Trutanich to Allen Realty Plaza LLC, two of which appear to be rent as they are described as 'Office Expenses.'

The first apparent rent payment of $1,822.50 was made on March 11, 2009, eight days after the March 3, 2009 primary election:


This payment purports to cover a three month period from January 1, 2009 to April 4, 2009, suggesting a monthly rent of $607.50 for the approx 750 square foot unit occupied by Trutanich.

The second apparent rent payment of $2,053.00 was made on April 13, 2009:


That payment covers a one month period from April 5, 2009 to May 2, 2009 at what appears to be a monthly rent of $2,053.00.

If indeed, our interpretation of these two payments is correct, several issues arise. Issues that could constitute ethics violations as they relate to the timely and accurate reporting of campaign expenses, as well as non-monetary contributions.

Question 1: Who paid the rent for the period May 3, to May 19, 2009?
The general election was on May 19, 2009. Trutanich's campaign staff were using the campaign headquarters right up until the eve of the election when they went to the Sheraton Hotel at Universal City for Trutanich's victory party.

Trutanich personally used the campaign headquarters on May 12, 2009 when he gave an interview to Fox 11 News regarding Jack Weiss and the Felon Fundraiser, so he cannot claim not to have used the headquarters after May 2, 2009.

As well as being used by campaign staff during a period when no record of rent payment can be found,
Trutanich personally used the location to give an interview to Fox 11 News in that period.
The campaign headquarters was probably in use in the days after the May 19, 2009 election, at the very least until the end of the month.

However, no record can be found for payments to Allen Realty Plaza LLC in respect of 'Office Expenses,' which would appear to be the correct description for the rent.

The $2,053.00 payment for the 27 day period of April 5, to May 2, 2009, results in a daily rent rate of $76.04, meaning an unreported expense of $1,216.59 to the date of the election, or $2,129.04 to the end of May 2009.

Of course, it is possible that the landlord, Mort Allen, could have made a gift of the rent, however, that would also have to be reported as an "in kind" or "non monetary" contribution. The problem there is that on March 25, 2009, Allen contributed the maximum allowable $1,000.00 to Trutanich:


 It does appear that Trutanich either paid Allen the rent without reporting the expense, or, if no payment was made, Trutanich received an "in kind" or "non monetary"contribution from Allen which exceeds the campaign contribution limits. Either way, it appears to violate the rules.

Question 2: Who paid the rent for the period before January 1, 2009?
 Just as no record can be found of rent payments for Trutanich's campaign headquarters after May 2, 2009, no records can be found of rent payments before January 1, 2009.

Former Trutanich campaign workers have stated that the headquarters were in use well before January 1, 2009, perhaps as early as September 2008. However, independent evidence exists which establishes Trutanich's use of his headquarters at a very minimum on November 24, 2008:


Trutanich's infamous "Pledge to Serve" challenge to Jack Weiss was signed on November 24, 2008, on letterhead giving the campaign headquarters' address. In all likelihood, the campaign headquarters was occupied and in use well before November 24, 2008, but the 37 day period between that date and December 31, 2008 would, based on the daily rent rate of $76.04, result in an unreported campaign expense/payment of $2,813.37, or an unreported "in kind" or "non monetary"contribution of that amount from Allen, which clearly exceeds the campaign contribution limits.

Question 3: Was the rent for January 1 through April 4, 2009 under-reported?
If it didn't initially strike you as strange that a monthly rent of $607.50 is exceptionally low for a prime location on Ventura Blvd., then perhaps the difference between that and the second $2,053.00 payment makes the likelihood that Trutanich received the benefit of a below market rent all the more apparent.

The $2,053.00 charged for April 5, through May 2, 2009, equates to an annual rent of $27,753, or $37 per square foot, which is believed to be in the region of the market rent for comparable locations. The $607.50 declared rent would equal an annual rent of $7,752 or $9.54 per square foot. This is believed to be well bellow the market rent.

If Trutanich had paid rent at the same rate for that 93 day period from January 1, through April 4, 2009, as he apparently paid for the 27 day period of April 5, through May 2, 2009, that would equal $7,071.44. He only paid $1,822.50, so arguably, Trutanich either failed to report the true rent, or received an unreported "in kind" or "non monetary"contribution of $5,248.94.

Unless Trutanich paid the rent to Allen in some other way, not apparent from the reported campaign expenses, there appears to be a minimum of $9,278.90 either in unreported expenses, or in illegal campaign contributions in excess of campaign finance limits. Violations of the Campaign Finance Ordinance (LAMC 49.7.1 et seq) can be prosecuted as misdemeanors. Additionally, because each campaign finance report requires the signature of the candidate and treasurer under penalty of perjury, a prosecution for a felony violation of Penal Code Section 118 is also possible if it can be established that those signing the reports knew that they were making a false statement about a material fact.

The Dragnet believes that these three questions require adequate answers, and perhaps reference to the City Ethics Commission, the Fair Political Practices Commission, and the Public Integrity Division of the District Attorney's Office for investigation.

While illegal campaign contributions scandals dogged Jack Weiss's campaign for City Attorney, Weiss always maintained that he did not know that the illegal contributions were 'laundered.' In contrast, it would appear to be hard for Trutanich to claim that he did not know how much rent was paid for his campaign headquarters; only deadbeats don't know how much rent they have to pay.

Once again, the Bernie Madoff statement "there is no innocent explanation" comes to mind, however, should Trutanich have an innocent explanation for what appears to be a series of serious violations of campaign finance laws, the Dragnet will gladly publish it.

&tc.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Topics

The long Labor Day weekend was likely welcomed by all as an opportunity to take a short break from the campaign trail. Some candidates nevertheless, used the Labor Day break to send a message to their FaceBook friends.

Danette Meyers reminded her FaceBook followers of her values, quoting President Barack Obama's Labor Day remarks:


Mario Trujillo reminded his FaceBook followers that, as well as being Labor Day, there was an important birthday to celebrate:


Alan Jackson paid tribute to Cesar Rodriguez, a young Sheriff's Explorer slain in a drive-by shooting:


Our plan to bring you another Dragnet exclusive was thwarted by the City of Los Angeles:


The City Ethics Commission website mysteriously went down on Labor Day, perhaps giving one candidate a break. For now.

&tc.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Free For All

TRUTANICH'S BILLBOARD BLUNDER BEGETS BLOGGERS' BONANZA

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's Billboard Blunder proved to be a bonanza for the blogs and the mainstream media. The exclusive story broke here just over a week ago, and would probably have gone no further if it were not for Billboardgate; Trutanich's infantile attempt to cover-up the potential illegality of his own billboards, as reported in the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise.

It was the sheer lunacy of Billboardgate that lit up the blogs. Trutanich tried to assert that the City Attorney's Office does not determine the legality of signs, and a city billboard inspector gave a series of bizarre statements insisting that Trutanich's two year-old billboards were "temporary" and "did not require a permit." Billboardgate elevated a minor embarrassment into a viral scandal attracting the attention of CityWatchLA, the Met News (Op-Ed), and most recently Street-Hassle.

Street-Hassle's precis of Billboardgate
is shatteringly accurate
The spectacular disaster of Trutanich's Billboardgate should not have surprised anyone who has had to deal with Trutanich's unique defense strategy; the Porcupine Defense. Doubtless inspired by that same brand of schoolyard bully mentality, Billboardgate proved as ineffective in defending Trutanich from the accusation of harboring illegal off-site billboards, as his Porcupine Defense has been in racking up spectacular loses for Trutanich's hapless deputies who are compelled to utilize his catchphrase inspired joke of a legal strategy.

DOES THE LAST WORD BELONGS TO STREET-HASSLE?

While Trutanich's Billboard Blunder and Billboardgate will probably recede as new scandals surrounding Trutanich's campaign emerge, it is interesting to note that Street-Hassle's pseudonymous blogger, "Mulholland Terrace," has not been deterred from utilizing clown-like imagery in his precis of Billboardgate. 

It was Mulholland Terrace who first called Trutanich "Carmen the Clown" when he blogged at the Griffith Park Wayist. Trutanich was not pleased, and somehow Mulholland Terrace must have been told of this, because he continued refer to Trutanich in that way. At one point, according to an insider, Trutanich was beyond apoplectic and in one of his infamous Monday morning executive management meeting rants, he demanded to know the true identity of the blogger who dared to defame him. No answer was forthcoming. However, shortly afterward, Senior Special Assistant Jane Usher issued a threat to 'MT'


What is interesting, apart from the perhaps infectious nature of Trutanich's bullying and threatening strategy, is that Usher apparently knew MT's identity. In her defamation threat she states "As an old City Hall department head, you probably know this already," clearly implying that she knew MT from her time in City Hall. Yet she remained silent while her leader ranted and raged. Curious, one might think.

Of course the threat failed to deter MT, and if you want discover MT's true identity, visit his blog. While you're there, you might be tempted to spend less than the price of a vente latte on the Kindle edition of his third novel, The Plasma of Terror, first published in 2005 by St. Genevieve Press.With the anniversary 9/11 just around the corner, it's an excellent read from a gifted wordsmith.

&tc.




Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trutanich Blasted In Met News Op-Ed "Inconsistency, Blarney"

Despite City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's apparently hurried efforts to remove his allegedly illegal "off-site" billboards, the Los Angeles Metropolitan News Enterprise published an Op-Ed, Wednesday, August 31, 2011, condemning the cover-up comments from Trutanich's office and those of the city's building and safety inspector.

The Met News is widely read amongst LA's legal community, many of whom are being targeted to give their support for Trutanich's campaign to become District Attorney.

Trutanich's Billboard Blunder, as the scandal has become known in City Hall, and Billboardgate; the crass attempt at a cover-up, will have done immeasurable  damage to Trutanich's credibility amongst a community who were expected to contribute as much as $2M towards his campaign.

Many must be wondering how Trutanich could have been so insensitive to the appearance of impropriety as to allow himself to be cast in the light of a "one rule for you, another for me" double-speaker.

Worse, it seems, are the doubts that have been expressed about Trutanich's managerial ability in the light of his deputy's official response: “The determination of the signs’ legality is not one that is made by his [the City Attorney’s] office.” Either the deputy does not know the responsibilities of his own office, or he felt compelled to give a misleading statement to cover-up for Trutanich's blunder.

Either way, it belies a lack of leadership and ethics that few will want to be associated with.

&tc.