Thursday, March 21, 2013

Few fireworks at first runoff City Attorney debate

The Los Angeles Metroplitan News-Enterprise co-hosted the first runoff City Attorney debate with the Italian American Lawyers Association at Casa Italiana, just north of downtown Los Angeles.

The event was well-attended with a capacity crowd of LA's leading legal luminaries arriving early to hear the primary election finalists pitch the crowd for their support. Given City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer's dominating 14 point lead in the primary, it was not surprising that Feuer was the first to arrive, working the room while Trutanich was elsewhere.

Despite arriving late, Trutanich nevertheless won the coin-toss and elected to speak first. His opening contained few surprises as he devoted a substantial portion of his statement to introducing his family before hailing his success in reducing crime by 23%, a result of his partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department who refer 70% of their cases to his office, something Trutanich said was 'empirical evidence' of his effectiveness, along with his $285M in 'favorable verdicts,' and an 82-84% success rate in misdemeanor trials. As the audience politely responded with applause, it was hard to ignore the somewhat more enthusiastic applause and cheers from Trutanich's table, perhaps reflective of an air of desperation following his less than stellar performance in a primary that saw 70% of voters casting their ballots for A.B.C. - Anyone But Carmen Trutanich. 

Feuer's opening remarks perhaps reflected an air of confidence and calm, the former State Assemblyman reminding the audience of strength of the endorsements he carries, as well as the lessons learned from his father; a B24 crew-member who was shot down during WWII and spent time in the infamous German POW camp Stalag 17. Feuer reinforced his commitment to tackling gun crime and restoring the Neighborhood Prosecutor program, contrasting his plan for the Office to that of Trutanich who all but dismantled the Neighborhood Prosecutor program to concente the scarce resources of the City Attorney's office on billboard violators and ticket scalpers. Feuer concluded by stating that he saw the role of the City Attorney as being the 'Problem Solver in Chief,' perhaps leaving unsaid his belief that Trutanich was more of a problem causer than a solver.

A series of five questions then followed, probing the candidates' positions on a variety of topics. If the crowd expected sparks to fly between the candidates, they may have been disappointed. For the most part the candidates refrained from direct attacks. Trutanich challenged Feuer over his lack of trial experience, while Feuer attacked Trutanich for being a bully.

If audience response was anything to go by, it reflected the outcome of the primary; the somewhat strained but enthusiastic applause from the Trutanich table being overshadowed by the general acknowledgment from the crowd that Feuer was going to be the next City Attorney.


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