With four weeks to go before the Primary Election, KPCC's Larry Mantle hosted the third, and perhaps the most feisty City Attorney debate during the noon hour.
Current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich got off to a rocky start when confronted by Mantle over his failure to honor his promise not use the City Attorney's Office as a political springboard to the DA's Office; a broken promise that Mantle reminded listeners makes it hard for voters to believe any future promises Trutanich makes.
Trutanich responded by saying he won't make any more promises, perhaps an acknowledgment that his credibility is his weakest point; he said he wouldn't even promise to 'show up here tomorrow,' although it was unclear what he meant as he is not scheduled to appear at KPCC tomorrow. Trutanich, it seems, has a very real problem with promises, something that Mantle said has denied him the advantage of incumbency that he would otherwise have if he were not such a prolific liar.
When pressed by Mantle, Trutanich did admit that his failed bid to become DA was a 'mistake,' adding that 'I only wanted to fix the gang problem in Los Angeles.' At the last City Attorney debate Trutanich faced the same question and also said his broken promise was a mistake, but on that occasion he said 'I only wanted to help kids.' It will be interesting to see how Trutanich answers the question the next time it is posed.
If he were honest, which is akin to saying if pigs could fly, Trutanich should admit that he decided to break his promise because his over inflated ego got the better of him. Promises made were quickly forgotten, as he assumed his multi-million dollar campaign, replete with endorsements from every political hack, would overcome public disgust at his betrayal of their misplaced trust.
Mantle set the tone for the debate, one that put Trutanich on the defensive throughout what must have been a painful half hour. Mike Feuer took every opportunity to attack Trutanich, including his failure to formulate an effective Medical Marijuana law, and his woeful record of trial losses. Trutanich defended each of Feuer's allegations with vehement insistence that 'We have been the most successful City Attorney,' another example of Tutanich's tortured use of language when under fire.
The problem with Trutanich's oft-repeated chest thumping claims to be 'the most successful City Attorney' is that those claims are based entirely on Trutanich's ever changing facts and figures. The $250M in savings based on 'favorable verdicts,' was $234M the last time he offered his voodoo math. When he claims to 'go after' predatory home loan lenders, he conveniently forgets to mention that those cases have not gone to trial, and perhaps just like his 'criminal aspects' case against AEG, will evaporate into the ether of other Trutanich promises once they have served their media grabbing purposes.
But it was Greg Smith who skillfully forced Trutanich to concede that morale in the City Attorney's office is at an all time low. Part of the reason for low morale is, according to Trutanich, the 15% pay cut that everyone else in the City Attorney's office has to take. Except him. He steadfastly refuses to share the suffering of his employees because, as he previously said, his family 'lives on his salary.' Presumably, non of the 475 lawyers in his office have families who depend on their income.
That morale is at an all time low under Trutanich's administration has far more to do with his blatant abuse of the Office of City Attorney to advance his political career. It is not hard to imagine the extreme embarrassment his staff has to endure when their leader is labeled a 'Liar' by the LA Times, when his foolish threats to jail Councilmembers, Dream Act protesters and Occupy LA trespassers amount to nothing. When his power-crazed attempts to get his own Grand Jury are thankfully thwarted no less than three times. When he is publicly shamed for lying about non-existent police endorsements, 724,000 YouTube campaign video views, using a false and misleading ballot title, or being the victim of an assassination attempt.
The slow train wreck that is the Trutanich reelection campaign continues Wednesday when the candidates face off in the fourth and perhaps final debate, scheduled to be televised by PBS on SoCal's "SoCal Insider." Perhaps that's what Trutanich won't promise to show up for after the drubbing he just received.