Los Angeles City Hall politics revealed from an insider's point of view.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

City Attorney's ACE Program Promises Swift Justice At Small Price

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) have been quietly but steadily working together for the past two years on a plan to streamline the handling of minor, low-grade violations of the municipal code. The Administrative Citations Enforcement program (ACE) will allow Trutanich to impose fines (administrative citations) on violators without the traditional high costs and delays of the criminal justice system. Apart from the clear advantage of swift justice, it will also generate a revenue stream that will not only cover the costs of the program, but also yield several millions of dollars in fines and fees that will go to the General Fund.

At 1PM on Monday, September 26, 2011, the Budget and Finance Committee will vote on Trutanich's proposal, and members of the public are welcome to testify as to their thoughts on ACE.

The ACE program was an idea Trutanich came up with when he became LA's first fiscally conservative City Attorney in decades. A former Republican, Trutanich reinvented himself as an independent but kept a firm grip on his Republican values. Supporters will be pleased to find that unnecessary and often undue deference to civil liberties and minority interests, takes a distant second place to uniform enforcement of law. According to Trutanich, his idea was adopted by at least two major Californian cities after he shared his idea with them; San Diego and Santa Monica were rapid adopters and, according to Trutanich, "it's working just fine."

Although the idea was Trutanich's the impetus for ACE came from Councilmember Paul Koretz who represents Council District 5 which includes much of LA's wealthy westside community. Koretz had the bare bones of a plan to tackle common neighborhood complaints such as illegal vending, noise pollution, fence heights, unpermitted construction and untended front yards. Trutanich had to modify Koretz's two-page motion to beef it up with more effective enforcement measures that the liberal lawmaker had overlooked. Trutanich's final draft includes the following key concepts designed to ensure maximum enforcement with minimum delay and minimal or no cost.

1. Removal of the Criminal Court's Jurisdiction
Currently, neighborhood problems receive low priority in the already overcrowded criminal court system. Rogue judges often make allowances or exceptions for special interests and minorities that are not written into the letter of the law. ACE creates a parallel universe of Administrative Hearing Courts where the defendant will not be able to "game the system" with delays and typical defense attorney tricks. The goal is to ensure a uniform enforcement of the law with no exceptions.

The Trutanich Courts will be efficient and effective because:

  • There will be no jury - the judge decides everything.
  • There will be no public defender - if these criminals want an attorney, let them pay for one.
  • The judges will be selected by the City Attorney and told how to decide cases. That way, rogue judges can be quickly removed.
  • Specially selected prosecutors will staff the courts to assist the judge in matters of law.
  • If defendants want to fight cases, they will have to pay the fine first before the judge even hears their case.
  • If defendants fail to attend their scheduled hearing, a money judgment lien will be recorded against their home or business.

2. Fines not Jail Will Bring Rapid Results
The costs of incarceration are bankrupting the state. Sending more criminals to jail just adds to the strain on our limited resources. Using Administrative Penalties and Fees we can save money because:

  • No defendant in Trutanich Courts will ever be sent to jail by one of Trutanich's judges. 
  • Defendants will, instead, be made to pay their fines and fees, either by attachment of earnings or property liens.  
  • Defendants who delay resolving their obligations will face a daily increase in fines because every day that a violation exists, constitutes a new offense.

3. Criminals Cannot Hide Evidence
Oftentimes, defendants escape justice because they are able to hide or conceal incriminating evidence. Because the Trutanich Courts are non-criminal, the full range of constitutional protections such as the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments to the Constitution do not apply. All that is required is Due Process - notice and an opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, the Trutanich Courts can:

  • Hear evidence that would be considered hearsay in a criminal court.
  • Compel the defendant to produce documents and items using a subpoena power similar to that used in criminal courts and grand juries.
  • Use evidence seized by enforcement officers without search warrants.
  • Hear incriminating statements made by defendants without "Miranda" warnings.

These are just a few of the ways that Trutanich will ensure that all our laws are applied fairly, evenly and appropriately to all who violate them. Yes, it is swift justice, but justice delayed is justice denied.

Unfortunately, not all citizens see things the right way, and there have been a few alarmist and ill informed criticisms of ACE. Stephen Box, who ran for CD4 and lost, published a hit piece on CityWatchLA, read it after reading this and you decide what's makes more sense. The Los Angeles Dragnet blog also criticized Carmen Trutanich for his ACE program, but the arguments made there are frankly ludicrous and completely biased against Trutanich.

For more information the draft ACE ordinance can be found at:

http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2010/10-0085_RPT_ATTY_06-27-11.pdf .

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact David Hersch or Christopher Koontz in Councilmember
Koretz’s office at 213-473-7005.

Come and testify at the Budget and Finance Committee:
September 26, 2011, 1:00 PM
Room 1010, City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(Contact CD5 for Parking 213-473-7005.)

If you cannot attend the hearing, please send e-mails and letter of support to members of the
Budget and Finance Committee below.  Please copy Councilmember Paul Koretz.

Bernard Parks             bernard.c.parks@lacity.org
Tony Cardenas           tony.cardenas@lacity.org
Mitch Englander         mitch.englander@lacity.org
Paul Koretz                 paul.koretz@lacity.org
Bill Rosendahl            bill.rosendahl@lacity.org

Remember, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has worked on this plan for over two years and if there were any real problems, he would have said so. His enemies inside City Hall want him to fail, but with your support that will not happen.

Thanks to the folks at LANeighbors.org for much of the information used here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Trutanich Unfairly Blamed For Delays In Arizona Boycott

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich has been harshly criticized for delaying passage of the City Council's Arizona boycott ordinance.

Politics Without Mercy seized on an LA Times article to unfairly accuse
Trutanich of purposefully and deliberately delaying the boycott
to appease his "hard-core right wing voter base"
The unfair criticism started with an article in the Los Angeles Times questioning the one-year delay in drafting an ordinance to put into effect the wishes of the the Los Angeles City Council to boycott business with the State of Arizona. The boycott was in response to Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law; SB1070.

The LA Times article quoted Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes, who wrote the boycott in May of 2010, said "he blamed City Atty. Carmen Trutanich's office for taking more than a year to draw up an ordinance specifying the terms of the ban," however, a spokesman for Trutanich said "an ordinance is still in the works."

The comments from CM Reyes are not surprising. Since taking office, City Attorney Trutanich has suffered a hostile relationship with CM Reyes; believed to be attributable to Trutanich's Senior Special Assistant Jane Usher, who had previously clashed with CM Reyes over planning matters and has privately accused CM Reyes of being the "Mayor's puppet."

Notwithstanding the reasonable explanation that Trutanich was still working on the ordinance, the Politics Without Mercy blog, spun the story around. According to PWM the issue is not as simple as routine obstructionism of anything CM Reyes proposes, but a more sinister desire to appeal to Trutanich's perceived "hard-core right wing voter base" who favor Arizona's aggressive stance against illegal immigrants.

PWM appears to suggest that Trutanich's supporters would likely applaud Trutanich for using every tool in his box to delay the passage of a law boycotting the State of Arizona. The perception that Trutanich can defeat the progressive policies of the Los Angeles City Council will do much to support Trutanich's bid to become Los Angeles District Attorney, a position which would give Trutanich more power to re-introduce conservative policies towards illegal immigration.

Whether Trutanich is obstructing the passage of the Arizona boycott purely to put CM Reyes in his place, or to appeal to his voter base as he ramps up his District Attorney campaign, there is little that CM Reyes or the City Council can do about it. Trutanich can point to budget cuts that have forced him to prioritize the demands on his staff and can hold off the boycott indefinitely.

It seems that the City Council will have to find another way to put their boycott into effect, and Trutanich will emerge as a champion of anti-illegal immigration laws and earn respect for showing how he can control the City Council.

Trutanich's District Attorney campaign website is www.DraftTrutanich4DA.com.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trutanich Targeted in "Memorial Day Of Shame" Attack

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich was the target of what appears to be an orchestrated ad hominem attack against his credibility on Memorial Day. The attack is likely the work of his political opponents in the District Attorney race all of whom, however, are expected to deny any connection to what one commenter described as "a cowardly outrage reminiscent of Pearl Harbor."

Carmen 'Nuch' Truanich's 2009 City Attorney campaign promises were
dragged out and selectively edited into a YouTube video produced by
the Political Pantloads blog, and shared by two other blogs.
The Political Pantloads Blog produced a YouTube video containing statements made by Carmen Trutanich during his 2009 campaign for City Attorney which, when taken at face value and out of context, could be construed as contradicting a campaign pledge made by Trutanich that he would not run for District Attorney until he had completed two terms as City Attorney.

The Political Pantloads story was quickly picked up by the Los Angeles Dragnet at the Politics Without Mercy blogs, with little or no attempt made to disguise the fact that they were basically parroting the original story, suggesting that this was a pre-arranged attack with the collusion and cooperation of all involved.

Credits for the YouTube video makes the claim that no candidate for District Attorney was involved in the production of the Memorial Day hit piece, however, observers may think differently.

Trutanich has known for some time that his campaign pledge would be used against him and has stated that he challenged his then opponent to sign the pledge. Because the pledge was not signed by both politicians, it is not binding and is basically a campaign stunt that should not be taken seriously.

Your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trutanich Outs LAPD QuotaGate Scandal

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is being hailed as a hero for taking an aggressive stance and refusing to cover up the long suspected practice of forcing traffic cops to fulfill a daily quota of traffic violation tickets.

Is this a routine traffic stop, or is the cop fulfilling his daily quota?
Thanks to City Attorney Trutanich, the truth has come out.
On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that "two veteran motorcycle officers" were awarded $2M in a lawsuit because of their complaints about being forced to "write a certain number of tickets each day."

According to the LA Times, LAPD Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff, from West Traffic Division, "sued the department in 2009, alleging that they had been punished with bogus performance reviews, threats of reassignment and other forms of harassment after objecting to demands from commanding officers that they write a certain number of tickets each day."

Ticket quotas are illegal under state law and Officers Chan and Benioff alleged in their lawsuit that they were "expected to write at least 18 tickets each day."All but one of the 12 jurors in the case sided with the officers, concluding that the officers' reputations and specific employment actions against the officers by the department affected their careers after they reported the misconduct and refused to meet the quotas.

Thanks to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who rejected a $500,000 offer to settle the case and thereby cover-up the ticket quota scandal, the people of Los Angeles got to hear the truth. But for Trutanich's bold action the officers would never have been able to tell their story about how "they were ordered to scrap regular patrol assignments and sent instead to specific streets where they were more likely to catch motorists committing moving violations." The Times said.

The officers also gave us some new terminology in traffic ticket quotas; "orchards" or "cherry patches" are apparently cop-speak for good places to catch motorists.

If there is no appeal of the verdict, the City will have to pay $2M in damages plus attorney fees. Trutanich could decide to appeal the case, however, now that the cat is well and truly out of the bag, the appeal could be seen as pointless.

The Times also reported a statement by City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD motorcycle sergeant; "You can't violate the law to enforce the law," Zine said. "You can't mandate the number of tickets."

Now that Trutanich has outed the quota,  perhaps motorists will get more sympathetic treatment in traffic court if they ask the officer to tell the judge whether they got their ticket as part of a quota, or whether the ticket was issued at an "orchard" or "cherry patch." If successful, they can thank our City Attorney for doing the right thing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mayoral Candidate Kevin James Omited In Biased LA Times Op-Ed

The LA Times chose to ignore Mayoral candidate Kevin James in a blatantly biased Op-Ed pieced dated April 4, 2011.

LA Times writer Jim Newton chose to omit Kevin James
from his review of candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles

 If LA Times writer Jim Newton's op-ed piece gives the appearance to readers that it is simply a fair analysis of potential candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, then Newton will have succeeded in deliberately misleading its less well-informed readers. Newton knows that on March 16, 2011, on the steps of the South Lawn of City Hall, KRLA AM 870 talk show host Kevin James announced his candidacy for Mayor, but Newton did not even mention James.

But Newton's op-ed made no mention of the only non-insider candidate, Kevin James, instead focusing on 6 political insiders and developer Rick Caruso, who actually has no serious intention of running for Mayor, but likes to see his name mention whenever potential Mayors are being discussed.

That Newton's op-ed featured a picture of LA City Controller Wendy Greuel is not surprising, she was the first to announce her candidacy.  But Kevin James was the second candidate to announce, and that fact was reported by the LA Times on March 15, 2011.

The LA Times had no problem reporting that Kevin James would be announcing
his candidacy for Mayor, and mention him together with the 7 candidates
selected by Jim Newton for discussion in his op-ed piece.

So what's Newton's game? Does he really have such little regard for LA Times readers that he thinks they will have forgotten what the Times said on March 15?

Does he really think that by deliberately omitting Kevin James from his op-ed, and instead discussing six candidates all of whom have their fingerprints on the monumental failure of this city, LA Times readers will be fooled into thinking there are no other choices?

Shame on you Jim Newton, and shame on the LA Times for thinking its readers are as asleep at the wheel as the six failures you chose to opine as being in any way shape or form capable of having the vision desire and ability to drag the city out of the mess the 'business as usual' brigade have gotten us into.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fools Day!

In case you needed any reminder, today was April Fools Day and the blogs had a field day:

Micheal Higby of the Mayor Sam Blog announced his run for Mayor of Los Angeles complete with a hilarious campaign website.

Political Pantloads launched a Homeland Security styled Political Bullshit Threat Alert System, that is "designed to monitor the threat level of bullshit from his [Carmen Trutanich's] campaigns."

TRU is False published an email sent by Perry Mason to Los Angeles City Council warning them of the dangers of Trutanich's ACE Program.

Michael Cohen shared the Off The Press Radio Show on LA Talk Radio piece which took a swipe at pretty much everyone in Los Angeles politics.

And the winner is.... Higby!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Los Angeles City Election Voter Guide - March 8, 2011

Our thanks to David Berger on LA for putting together this comprehensive voter guide:

Tuesday, March 8, 2012 is Election Day in LA, although if you don't live in one of the City's 8 even-numbered Council Districts, you might not know it.

In case you are undecided about which way to vote, or whether to vote at all, I have some suggestions for you, as well as some links to others with different recommendations. Although we may differ on our recommendations, the one thing I know we all agree upon, is that you have to vote. Our democracy fails when voters allow elected officials to get a pass because of voter apathy.

So here goes:

No question, vote to re-elect Paul Krekorian. Regardless of the fact that he is the odds on favorite, go and vote for him anyway. The bigger his majority in votes cast, the stronger message it sends to other Councilmembers that they need to be as accountable and accessible as Krekorian in order to justify holding on to office. Vote Krekorian.

This is a hard choice. Incumbent Tom LaBonge is facing credible challenges from Stephen Box and Thomas O'Grady, making the likelihood of a runoff between LaBonge and one of the challengers increasingly likely.

LaBonge is one of the politest people you will meet in City Hall, but many wonder if being a nice guy is enough to justify a third term. My recommendation is a vote for LaBonge if you like the way he has represented your district and respect his 35 years of public service.

But if you want to make a change in Los Angeles, vote for Stephen Box, he endorsed by LA Clean Sweep, and has the wit, desire and will to be an accountable representative in City Hall. Vote Box for CD4.

This is an easy one for me. David Baron is a Los Angeles City Code Enforcement Officer who has a keen interest in the City he lives and works in. Like Stephen Box, David Baron is endorsed by LA Clean Sweep, the movement to oust lackluster incumbents like Tony Cardenas who seem more concerned with special interests than the needs of LA. Vote Baron.

Another easy one. Incumbent Bernard Parks has been the target of a nasty and well funded campaign by Forescee Hogan-Rowles, mostly because he is the most fiscally prudent Councilmember in City Hall. Parks is also endorsed by Los Angeles Clean Sweep. Vote Parks.

If incumbent Herb Wesson Jr. can be beaten by anyone, then Althea Raw Shaw is the person to vote for. I can do no better than to repeat what Higby at the Mayor Sam blog says "Herb Wesson is a joke with his animal shows in Council. He's another recycled politician from Sacramento. Althea Shaw however would bring the sensibilities of a regular person and would be an impassioned advocate for public safety and victims. Shaw was thrust into the spotlight when tragedy befell her family much in the same way Carolyn McCarthy became a respected member of Congress following the shooting death of her family members. Vote for Shaw."

Brad Smith (another Los Angeles Clean Sweep endorsee) could well surprise favorite Mitch Englander with voters associating the name Smith with that of outgoing Councilmember Smith. Vote Smith.

Rudy Martinez. There is no other choice given the way the incumbent has conducted his campaign. Vote Martinez.

Easy. No on everything. The City's problems will not be solved by propositions, but by sound and prudent fiscal management. If we had a Council where the elected officials care more about balancing a budget than pandering to the special interests who line their pockets at our expense, we wouldn't need propositions to solve revenue shortfalls. Say 'No' to everything, and kick out those who got us into this mess, and install candidates who will run the City responsibl

Seat 1: Essavi
Seat 3: Write in "Mark Isler"

District 1: Lee
District 3: Pugliese
District 5: Fernandez
District 7: Love

Check out what others think:

Walter Moore - Walter has a handy-dandy concise voter guide.

Mayor Sam Blog - Very detailed analysis and endorsements from Higby and Joe B.
CD2 Paul Krekorian
CD4 Stephen Box
CD6 Anyone But Cardenas
CD8 Split Decision
CD10 Anyone But Wesson
CD12 Anyone But Englander
CD14 Split Decision

Street-Hassle - Tons of analysis from Mulholland Terrace

Now get out there and vote!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

March 8 Elections Hotsheet

In 50 days Los Angelenos go to the polls to elect councilmembers for the even-numbered council districts. Over the next few days, we take a look at the incumbents and challengers.

Council District 2 - Incumbent Paul Krekorian
Wait a minute. Didn't we just vote for Paul Kekorian a few months ago? Yes, on December 8, 2009, Krekorian won a hotly fought battle with Chris Essel in a special election for CD2, caused by former CD2 councilmember Wendy Greuel's early departure from office to become City Controller.

Krekorian was sworn into office on January 5, 2010 and, according to most City Hall insiders, has done a very good job as CD2's representative. On November 14, 2010, Krekorian kicked off his re-election campaign http://paul4council.blogspot.com/ and is widely expected to win re-election in a four way fight against challengers Michael McCue, Augusto Bisani, and Ayinde A. Jones.

McCue describes himself as a "Grassroots Community Activist," for more information visit his website: http://www.mccuefor2.com/
Bisani's ballot designation is simply "Businessman," more information at: http://augustobisani.org/home 

Jones' ballot designation is "Disability Rights Advocate," and we were unable to find a website for this candidate.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mike Feuer In The News

It's a sure sign that something's in the wind when two blogs independently report on the same career politician.

The Mayor Sam Blog today reported that "Assemblyman Mike Feuer is this year's recipient of the Stanley Mosk Defender of Justice Award for authoring legislation to create a first in the nation pilot project that establishes the right to counsel for low income people in critical civil cases. The award is sponsored by the California Judicial Council."

The report drew a snarky comment that Feuer bore "a remarkable resemblance to Groucho Marx," so we did a little research...

Some say that Assemblyman for the 42nd California Assembly District
Mike Feuer bears a strong resemblance to Groucho Marx
You decide.

Over at the Los Angeles Dragnet Blog, Feuer was mentioned as one of nine potential candidates for the 2012 District Attorney election.

According to Dragnet: "Feuer is a former City Councilmember who came very close to beating Rocky Delgadillo in the 2001 race for City Attorney. Feuer is a Westside Democrat who enjoys substantial support from the well healed West Los Angeles community … His ability to garner substantial financial support from the Westside community makes him a very viable candidate."

So a Justice Award and a rumor about running for Los Angeles District Attorney, and the fact that Feuer is termed out in 2012. Maybe it's just a coincidence?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stephen Box for CD4 - New Year, New Look

Los Angeles City Council Candidate Stephen Box
The Griffith Park Wayist blog is reporting that Stephen Box, a community activist vying to replace incumbent Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge in Council District 4 in this year's City Elections, has brightened up his image.

We thought we'd add a before and after, another glimpse of Old Stephen here on LAist.

With just over 3 months to go until the March 8, 2011 elections, you're looking good Stephen!