Saturday, December 24, 2011

Does Trutanich plan to bankrupt Occupy LA protesters?

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is 'going for the jugular' in his need to promote himself as the tough-on-freedom-of-speech candidate for Los Angeles District attorney. Journalist ​Bethania Palma, who was arrested when she joined the Occupy LA movement,  accused City Attorney Carmen Trutanich of "going for the jugular" with Occupy protesters, according to the LA Weekly.

After spending two days in jail, the former San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group reporter was not offered the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction by participating in Trutanich's 're-education' program. Other Occupiers have, apparently, can avoid a criminal conviction by being re-educated as to their First Amendment rights in one of Trutanich's 'approved' diversion programs, but perhaps because Palma was a reporter, she was not offered Trutanich's First Amendment re-education.

Trutnanich, who was either too busy campaigning, or too afraid to face the press personally, used a spokesperson to respond to questions about the 'special' treatment doled out to Palma. The comment issued on behalf of Trutanich was that "he did not know why Palma was not offered diversion," but that Trutanich feels that "this case has come to a satisfactory conclusion and there is nothing more to comment on at this time," the spokesperson said.

Trutanich, it seems, is not content with just using 're-education' to deal with the Occupiers. According to the Los Angeles Times, 'Trutanich is considering a lawsuit against the protesters, one that would seek reimbursement for damage caused during the occupation and "is contemplating any and all of its options," said William Carter, Trutanich's chief deputy.'

The costs that the City of Los Angeles incurred as a result of the Occupy Los Angeles protest is proving hard to nail down. The Times reported that it has cost the city at least $2.35 million, not counting repairs to the lawn and fountain outside City Hall, according to a report issued Friday. However, the City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said that "some city workers who were assigned to the protest would have been on duty anyway" and therefore  could not be considered as an additional cost of dealing with the Occupiers.

Whatever portion of the $2.35M is ultimately determined to be attributable to the Occupiers, one thing seems certain; the Occupiers will not be able to pay. They certainly could not pay their bail, so how could they possibly pay their share of that $2.35M?

Under Trutanich's plan, it is believed that each of the 300 Occupiers arrested by the  LAPD would be 'jointly and severally liable' for the $2.35M bill, meaning that they would be forced into bankruptcy, or at a minimum, have their credit ruined by such a huge unpaid judgment debt. It would be a hollow victory for the City, not only because no actual money would be recovered, but because the City would also incur the additional cost of having Trutanich pursue 300 pointless cases.

However, Trutanich is poised to 'officially' announce that he is running for District Attorney. His personal need to keep his name in the headlines is likely to override any concern that the cost of bankrupting the Occupiers will cost the City even more money.

It also won't be the first time that Trutanich has wasted taxpayer resources to promote himself. Shortly after taking office, Trutanich launched a year-long 'criminal aspects' investigation into AEG's handling of the Michael Jackson memorial. Trutanich dropped his investigation without comment, and has never revealed the costs of that investigation. However, the controversy that Trutanich generated kept his name in the headlines for almost six months, at taxpayers' expense.

With Trutanich's proven track record as a 'grandstander' and his personal need to achieve publicity to further his political career, it seems likely that Trutanich will seek to financially ruin the Occupiers, as well as the taxpayers of Los Angeles, who have to fund his fiascoes.

Trutanich, for his part, frequently complains that the City Council has cut his budget. Perhaps we can now see the reason why. Trutanich, it seems, is too willing to waste the City's money on side shows to further his political career, than doing the job he once promised to do.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder where the ACLU is in this whole mess? They should weigh in and sue Trutanich.