|SurveyUSA's poll of likely voters continues to show City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer |
with a seemingly unassailable lead.
Overall, LA voters seem fairly decided that there will be a change in leadership at the City Attorney's office. If the undecided vote were to be evenly divided between the candidates, then the outcome of the May 21 election would show Feuer winning with 56% of the vote, 12 points ahead of the incumbent at 44%. However, many experts agree that Feuer's margin of victory may ultimately be less than 10 points, perhaps as low as 5. Either way, the outcome of the election seems certain, and LA will elect a new City Attorney on May 21.
City of Los Angeles braces itself for onslaught of billboard litigation
Failed incumbent City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was issuing press releases faster than a late night pitchman's get rich quick scheme, hailing the news that he had won the lawsuit forcing Clear Channel and CBS Outdoors to shut down their digital billboards.
While the court ruling will provide the campaign with something to brag about, the success of the lawsuit will likely come at a price budget-strapped Los Angeles can ill afford. The reality is that the next step in LA's troubled history with digital billboards is a flood of lawsuits claiming loss of revenue from Clear Channel and CBS Outdoors based on their belief that they were nonetheless permitted to rely on the 2006 deal struck with the City, even if the deal was a bad deal for the City.
If the lawsuits are successful the City's losses could run as high as hundreds of millions of dollars. That, however, is unlikely to trouble Trutanich; he wants something to brag about in the run up to the election regardless of the cost. As for that cost, he won't have to share that pain as he will likely have left the City of Los Angeles after losing the election and returning to his Long Beach residence.
His inability to find a resolution to the issue of digital billboards is in many ways similar to his disastrous handling of medical marijuana; he devoted the scarce resources of the City Attorney's office to what he perceived were 'election issues,' while re-assigning lawyers from solid, well-proven public safety programs such as the School Safety Program and the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program.
The City Attorney's Office after Trutanich; Part I
With the likely rout of the incumbent in the May 21 election, some are wondering what will be left for LA's next City Attorney? That the office is in tatters is unquestioned. Despite claims of million dollar victories, the finances of the City Attorney's office may not be as robust as would be expected. In plain language, where has the money gone?
In August 2011 LA Times reported on an attempt by the incumbent to divert a $2M check from the DA's Office to Sheriff Baca. The $2M was approximately half the settlement with an outdoor advertising company for 'Unfair Business Practices,' and under state law the proceeds are suposed to be shared with the prosecutorial agencies where the unfair practice took place - the City and County of LA in this case.
While the attempt to divert the money failed, the bigger question is what happened to the $2M that went to the City Attorney's office? That along with other similar settlement checks, such as one paid by Ralph's for overcharging, another by CVS for mishandling medical waste, all must have swelled the City Attorney's coffers as they do not go to the City's General Fund.
Yet despite the riches of those lawsuits, there isn't money to by toner cartridges and paper for printers and deputy city attorneys have to buy their own office supplies. Where has the money gone? That's a question that Mike Feuer may find himself asking before July 1.
City Attorney Debate - Wednesday, April 17
Valley Village Neighborhood Council will be hosting a City Attorney Debate Wednesday night, April 17 at the Colfax Charter Elementary School Auditorium, 11724 Addison St., Valley Village, CA 91607. The debate starts at 7PM.