Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Trutanich in Slip & Fall Nightmare - A Legacy of City Officials' Abuse of Toll Roads?

Former City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich has kept a low profile since exiting the Los Angeles political scene in 2013. He is an occasional guest on KABC 790AM's popular Peter Tilden Show where he recently declared himself to be "a better lawyer than a politician."  

On Monday, February 2, 201, the Peter Tilden Show moved up in KABC's estimation and was given the more prestigious time slot 6-10PM, and Tilden received a surprise call from Trutanich.

Although Trutanich originally called to congratulate Tilden on his promotion, the conversation quickly switched to what can only be described as a Slip and Fall Nightmare.

Trutanich related how, in November 2014, he tripped and fell on the curb at Figueroa St. and 5th in downtown Los Angeles. Trutanich said he "cracked his hip but didn't know it," X-Rays apparently did not reveal the injury. The pain must have continued because Trutanich said he underwent hip surgery on January 21, 2015, returning home two days later.

The following day, Saturday, Trutanich went for a "one hour walk," after which he showered. It was then that the nightmare began. While in the shower he said his "hip became displaced" and was just "hanging there," rendering him unable to put his foot down.

Trutanich said he went into "shock and atrial fibrillation," while paramedics rushed him to the ER. It was there that the nightmare got worse. His ambulance became bogged down in Saturday afternoon gridlocked freeway traffic; "Kings Hockey Traffic" as he described it.

The freeway toll lanes were apparently wide open, but as Trutanich lay in the ambulance watching the monitor recording his heart rate reaching 198 beats per minute, the paramedics refused to use the toll lane, saying a law prohibited them from doing so. "I'll pay for the ticket," Trutanich says he told the paramedics, but to no avail, they said they "couldn't do it" he said. Trutanich made it clear that he had no criticism of the paramedics, crediting them for "saving his life."

"Did you know," Trutanich told KABC listeners, "and I didn't know this, as a City Attorney of LA, I found this astounding, that when the Los Angeles paramedics are running the freeway, going Code 3, to a hospital, they cannot take the toll road because it is not allowed under state law." he said.

"It's the most asinine thing I've ever heard in my life," Tilden said. Trutanich said that it was "something that should be looked into by the City Council."

The rule preventing emergency service vehicles from using toll roads certainly seems illogical. Most people in Trutanich's situation would surely be horrified to find their life-saving dash to hospital delayed even for a minute by this rule. One reason for the rule could be past abuse of toll roads by elected officials.

In 2013 CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein broke the story of scandalous abuse of toll roads by city officials, including embattled City Councilmember Jose Huizar. In 2013, Huizar's taxpayer supplied hybrid SUV was photographed on three separate occasions using toll roads without paying the toll.

Goldstein showed photos of Huizar's SUV "blowing through the toll road" without a transponder, and exhibited records showing Huizar has neither paid the toll, nor the fine. Huizar claimed that his SUV is used by other members of his staff, but his office was unable to identify the drivers.

Goldstein reports that in the first 6 months that the toll roads had been in operation, as much as $50,000 in unpaid tolls and fines had been racked up by state, city and federal agencies.

So could it be that the LA Paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital had been 'warned off' using the toll roads because of abuse by city officials?

Oddly, Goldstein reports that emergency vehicles are "exempt from tolls when going to and from an actual emergency."

It's certainly a conundrum. A potentially life-threatening conundrum. If indeed emergency vehicles are exempt from tolls, then why didn't the paramedics who transported Trutanich to hospital know that?

Hopefully, someone will look into this. In the meantime we wish Mr. Trutanich a speedy recovery and offer our thanks for sharing his harrowing experiences and making us aware of this problem.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rick Orlov, Veteran Los Angeles Political Reporter - Dead at 66

With much sadness, we report the passing of Rick Orlov, one of the greatest and most respected political reporters in Los Angeles.

Rick worked for the LA Daily News, and was generally found in and around "the horseshoe" - the inner sanctum of Los Angeles City Hall. Rick privately fought a battle with diabetes, but never let it interfere with his work.

Remarkably, when a certain politician felt aggrieved by something Rick had written and insisted on a 'face to face' meeting, Rick responded by saying "I'm having dialysis at the moment, so if you want a meeting, you'll have to come here [the dialysis center]."

The politician and his entourage indeed descended on Rick who listened attentively to politician while attached to a dialysis machine. Despite the politician's remonstrations, Rick was unmoved and declined to bend to the politician's will.

Rick was a king amongst princes, and will be sorely missed. RIP Rick Orlov.

Please read Rick's obituary at the Los Angeles Daily News.

Monday, February 2, 2015

District Attoney Jackie Lacey honored at Person of the Year Awards Dinner

The Los Angeles Metropolitan New-Enterprise hosted its 27th 'Persons of the Year' dinner awards at Los Angeles' exclusive California Club, Friday night, and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey topped the list of those honored for their contributions to the legal community.

Metropolitan New Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace presented District Attorney Jackie Lacey with the Person of the Year award after Editor Roger Grace expressed some surprise that Lacey had won the race, noting that the Met News had endorsed Lacey's opponent in the 2012 election.  Jo-Anne Grace was less surprised, noting that, notwithstanding the endorsement, Roger had not asked which way she had voted.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey receives the Person of the Year Award
from Met News-Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace

In her acceptance speech, Lacey graciously credited her award to the hard work and commitment of the Deputy District Attorneys and support staff at the Office.

DA Jackie Lacey presents Metropolitan News-Enterprise Co-Publishers Jo-Ann and Roger Grace
with the District Attorney's Commendation for their contributions to the legal community.

Lacey, in turn, presented Jo-Ann and Roger Grace with a commendation from District Attorney's Office, recognizing their contributions to the Los Angeles legal community. In accepting the commendation, Met News Editor Roger Grace remarked that the last time he had received a paper from the DA's Office was in 2002; when District Attorney Investigators served a search warrant at the newspaper's premises.  

Los Angeles County Bar Association President Linda Curtis Esq. (left) presented
Attorney L. Ernestine Fields, Sheriff Jim McDonnell and DA Jackie Lacey with awards.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Dependency Court Attorney L. Ernestine Fields joined Lacy in receiving Person of the Year Awards, with Presiding Judge of the Superior Court, the Hon. Carolyn Kuhl, complimenting Lacey for her professionalism, Fields for her commitment, and McDonnell for his integrity.

Many past recipients of the Person of the Year Award were in attendance, including former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Robert Philibosian, who emceed the event.