Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Topics; Times Trashes Trutanich, The Bell rings for Spaccia, More Baca Blues

LA Times Trashes Trutanich (again)

While often criticized by commenters for hounding the ghost of onetime DA wannabe Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich, it appears that the Dragnet is not alone in reminding readers of the historic political failure of the man who succeeded only in alienating allies, squandering political capital, and earning the headline "Carmen 'I am a Liar' Trutanich." The LA Times, Monday, chose to use Trutanich as it's leader for their recap of the winners and losers of 2013. The Dragnet, it seems, is in good company.

Headlined "The Final Flameout of Carmen Trutanich," this from the LA Times: "He was once celebrated as a breath of anti-establishment fresh air in Los Angeles City Hall, but the beginning of the end of Carmen Trutanich's romance with voters came last year when he broke his pledge to stay as head of the city attorney's office and not seek the district attorney's post. Voters spoke what is likely the final word on his political career on May 21, when they defeated him soundly for reelection as city attorney."

Interestingly, the Times chose Trutanich ahead of their other two notable losers; failed San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and FBI suspect Ron Calderon. Trutanich, it seems, also in good company.

It is also, perhaps, not without coincidence that the Times' piece on Trutanich came out on the same day as he co-hosted a fundraiser for Sheriff Lee Baca. Baca also hit the headlines Monday with the not altogether unexpected news that 18 Deputy Sheriffs have been indicted in a "wide ranging jail probe." Must have been quite a fundraiser...

Bell Rings for Angela Spaccia - Guilty in Corruption Case

The LA Times reports that after eight days of deliberations, which must have had heads scratching as to what was taking the jury so long, a downtown jury found former City of Bell Assistant Manager Angela Spaccia guilty on 11 of 13 felony charges.

The verdict must come as a huge relief for DA Jackie Lacey, this being perhaps the highest profile conviction on her watch. Lead prosecutor, Max Huntsman also must be glad to know that he is leaving the DA's Office on a high note, to become County Inspector General with oversight of the Sheriff's Dept, even though he might be feeling like he has jumped from the frying pan into the fire in the light of Monday's Federal indictment.

Former District Attorney, Steve Cooley, must also feel a certain pride in the successful conclusion to the Bell corruption case that he initiated. Cooley can also point to yet another vindication; Spaccia's defense attorney, Harland Braun, had argued to jurors that Cooley had only initiated the Bell corruption cases because it would help him in his bid to become Attorney General.  It seems the jury did not buy what Braun was selling.

Blaming then District Attorney Steve Cooley for a politically motivated prosecution
and likening Spaccia and Rizzo to Adolf Hitler "evil people can do good things,"
defense attorney Harland Braun tosses arguments to the jury.
Curiously, Braun compared his client's boss, Robert Rizzo, to Adolf Hitler arguing "I've said what terrible things he [Rizzo] did to the city, but even evil people can produce good things. You've all heard of Adolf Hitler and Volkswagen," he said, referring to the car developed by Nazi Germany, the Times reported. Alas for Braun, who apparently represented Spaccia pro-bono, the "evil people can do good things" argument did not impress the jury any more than the "politically motivated prosecution" argument.

More Baca Blues

Monday was likely not the best day embattled LA County Sheriff Lee Baca ever had. Perhaps the only thing worse than the prospect of attending a fundraiser co-hosted by Carmen Trutanich was the devastating news that 18 Deputy Sheriffs have been indicted in what the LA Weekly reports is a "Wide-Ranging Jail Probe" encompassing 5 cases of alleged misconduct. Ouch.

An 18-page indictment concerning one of the five cases was posted by the LA Weekly and can be viewed here.

LA Observed reported that Baca released this statement in response:

"While the indictments were not unexpected, it is nevertheless a sad day for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. We do not tolerate misconduct by any deputies. This department is grounded in its core values, namely to honorably perform our duties with respect for the dignity of all people, and integrity to do right and fight wrongs. We have cooperated fully with the federal investigation and will continue to do so.

Please know that I respect the criminal justice system. No one is above the law."

Tellingly, however, US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr., said "The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct. This investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests. Our investigation also found that these incidents did not take place in a vacuum. In fact, they demonstrated behavior that had become institutionalized."

The LA Weekly reported that Birotte was repeatedly asked about Baca's role in these incidents, but he declined to comment, except to say that "the investigation is ongoing."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the LA Weekly reported that former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who is running to replace his former boss, "declined to comment."

In stark contrast to Tanaka's silence, another candidate for Sheriff, retired Commander Robert 'Bob' Olmstead, was surprisingly well prepared to comment. "Today's arrests underscore the high level of corruption that has plagued the Sheriff's Department under the failed leadership of Sheriff Lee Baca and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka," Olmsted said in a statement. "It would be no surprise to me at all if there was a direct link between Sheriff Baca and Undersheriff Tanaka and these arrested sheriff's regarding their actions of obstructing justice and their attempts to prevent the FBI from further investigating corruption inside the department."

Outside the federal building, Olmsted gave several media interviews. "This is just the first wave," Olmsted predicted. "They're going after the low-lying fruit first... Everybody indicted today does not have the authority to do what they're accused of doing. This could not have happened without the top people knowing about it." The LA Weekly reported.

If Trutanich, Baca and Tanaka don't like Mondays, it seems Bob Olmsted does. This is likely the big break he has been waiting for in his campaign. With dark clouds over Baca and Tanaka, Olmsted could emerge from being labeled as a "long shot" (LA Weekly) to a front runner if, as seems likely, the media gets behind him. Given the level of Olmsted's preparedness in his response, it is likely that the popular former Commander had some advance notice of the indictments. Perhaps a leak or two from within the Sheriff's Dept., where many remember Olmsted as a firm but fair leader, likely the kind or person they would like to see as their next boss.

Olmsted will be on the ballot in the June 2014 primary, along with the other challengers to Sheriff Baca's reelection bid. His campaign slogan, "Olmsted Instead," might just have enough of a ring to it to resonate with voters if Baca's blues continue to dog him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dragnet, you are pathetic. I was a guest at Sheriff Baca's fundraiser and despite all your biased reporting (you probably will not publish this) I can tell you that the room was packed. The Honorable Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich was the star of the night, with his JFK looks and gorgeous family. He must have brought all the high rollers in San Pedro with him because the cheer from the crowd when he made his speech was so loud it was deafening. I hear they raised $150k and that there is plenty more to come. Don't misunderestimate Nuch, he may be out politics for now, but he'll be back to kick your ass again. Maybe as special counsel to the Sheriff, who knows.