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LA City Attorney’s Reaction to Latest Budget Cuts Concerns LAPD Detectives

January 25th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


In LA’s most recent round of budget cuts last week,
the mayor’s office, the city council and the office of city attorney Carmen Trutanich, all had another $1 million cut from their respective bottom lines.

As one might imagine, no one is very happy about this newest bout of fiscal slashing.

However, Mr. Trutanich has responded to the cut with a move that critics say is designed to throw a retaliatory punch at the mayor and the city council at the expense of the needs of the city and its police force.

Specifically, Trutanich has abruptly shut down all the CA’s branch offices citywide—most notably in Van Nuys, Hollywood and San Pedro. This means that LAPD detectives from, say, the department’s various Valley and Harbor divisions, who would normally file misdemeanor criminal cases at those city attorney satellites with comparative efficiency, will have to spend hours driving to and from downtown instead— longer in rush hour traffic. To make matters worse, the detectives worry, the downtown offices will likely be plagued by a processing pile up due to the sudden centralization. Thus cops will have to add waiting time to their new extra driving time.

City Attorney Trutanich told Eric Leonard of KFI radio on Monday that, indeed, “downtown is now where all filing takes place.

“Somebody has to say – you know what - we’ve cut enough out of public safety,” Trutanich added. “It makes no sense to have 10,000 police officers and not be able to complete a prosecution.”

But many of the detectives who will be the most affected by Monday’s district office shuttering strategy believe that other less harmful cuts could be made and worry that Trutanich is simply using the move to play hard ball with the city council—at the expense of public safety.

While the city attorney makes his political point, they say, a large swath of LA’s already overstretched police force is going to have to spend precious hours driving and waiting, waiting and driving—when that same time could and should be spent….you know… policing.

There are assuredly more rounds to go in this fight. So stay tuned.


NOTE #1: I began reporting this story late in the day, thus by the time I tried to call the city attorney’s office for comment, it was exactly 6:01 pm. I knew I would likely not find Mr. Trutanich’s public information officer still at work, but I assumed that—as is the policy with most other PIOs for public figures and government agencies—the city attorney’s guy would have a cell-phone number or some other after hours form of contact to accommodate reporters on deadline. Alas, he did not.


NOTE #2: LOOKING FOR AN ANTIDOTE TO THE CABLE TV TALKING HEADS WHEN YOU WATCH TONIGHT’S STATE OF THE UNION MESSAGE?

Try KCET’s SoCal Connected, which goes live at 6 pm.

The show’s anchor Val Zavala will be joined by panelists Larry Elder, Patt Morrison, and SoCal Connected correspondent Brian Rooney—a good line up.

The live broadcast will also stream in real-time at www.kcet.org/socalconnected. Viewers are invited to offer feedback online during the broadcast at KCET’s FaceBook page, plus Twitter posts will air throughout the coverage.

Sounds good to me.

Posted in City Attorney, City Budget, LAPD | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. Rob Grocholski Says:

    Great little sum-up of the L.A. budget fallout & Nuch’s response.

    As for antidotes to the Cable Heads covering the SOTUS, the trifecta of Elder, Morrison, and Rooney sounds pretty good. Don’t forget, there’s always the yap-free air of CSPAN.

  2. City Attorney Veteran Says:

    Interesting. Under previous City Attorneys, the PIO cell phone was available and they often took reporter calls after hours. If only because many of the predecessors were obsessed with press. I guess Nuch’s folks don’t think they have to work past 6:00pm. Perhaps he could find that $1 million by firing spoiled, entitled non-attorney employees. In the real (non-overpaid City Hall world), people can’t clock out right at 6pm.

    As for Nuch himself, I wonder how many of his political appointees (who earn in the 6 figures) he will let go. All those political advisers (who are given non-political titles to try to obscure their real role) are unnecessary. The City Attorney already has legal staff in the office who can advise him on important cases.

  3. Jack Says:

    The troubling thing abut Trutanich, as you’ve often said Celeste, is that you never really can tell what’s really on his agenda. He has created this problem with filing cases, not because there really is a problem with staffing at the City Attorney’s Office, but because he wants to threaten not to prosecute crime.
    It’s an old ploy, most effectively used by Sheriff Sherman Block who would threaten to open the jail gates if anyone messed with his budget. Everyone is scared about what happens when criminals (even the minor criminals that Trutanich deals with) are not punished, so it’s an effective ploy.
    But that’s all it is, a ploy. He’s used it before, like when he transferred loads of city attorneys out of the criminal division to the civil division (Airport, DWP & Harbor) for “budget” reasons.
    But at the same time he took people out of criminal, he transferred one civil attorney to criminal – Tom Griego. Why? Could it be that Trutanich wanted to “make” a judge? By transferring Griego to the criminal division (where according to the Met News he was reading manuals) Griego was able to use the ballot designation “Criminal Prosecutor” when he ran for election as a judge – with Trutanich’s endorsement of course. So you can see just how Trutanich plays the game.
    Trutanich was less than honest when he said there were “criminal aspects” to the Michael Jackson memorial – remember that bombshell that he dropped in the Council Chamber when. One year later, no case was filed against AEG or anyone else, and then Trutanich starts efforts to get Grand Jury powers – most likely to threaten AEG with a Grand Jury grilling because just like McCarthy, Trutanich builds cases on rumor and myth, not solid evidence.
    The City Council was wise to cut off Trutanich’s Grand Jury plans, just as it it wise to cut his budget because we’ve already seen the way he abuses power, giving him more power would be a terrible mistake.

  4. sbl Says:

    Very interesting to see “Jack,” formerly staunch Trutanich supporter unless there is ANOTHER “Jack” posting here, making the same critical points others are now. Including on some blog former supporters started, “Tru is False.blogspot,” something like that – links are being posted all over.

    The amount of detectives’ time he’ll be wasting is itself bordering on criminal, in terms of cost financially and to public safety, and morale. Especially since the police union, the PPL – which has swung radically partisan right, under their political consultant Don Novey, who as profiled here and elsewhere, makes some $2000/hr. for his efforts – was persuaded to spend a cool million throwing their staunchest Council supporter, Weiss, under the bus in favor of this guy who hadn’t been on the side of law enforcement in decades. THEN his first major public act, the loud and unsubstantiated “criminal aspects” brou-ha-ha Jack refers to, was to throw the cops themselves under the bus, claiming they grossly mismanaged their OT on the Jackson Memorial events. When there wasn’t a single negative incident as a result- how much did the “May Day Melee” cost by comparison?

    Funny how he’s not worried about cops’ OT now that he wants to get in the fact of the mayor and Council. But why is this tit-for-tat surprising? The idea of detectives who are already stretched thin having to drive from the nether reaches of the city downtown to file all cases, makes zero sense whatsoever, can’t be anything but “in your face.” Didn’t he also close down the effective neighborhood prosecutor program, allegedly to keep certain popular attorneys from getting too close to the public?

    And Jack’s right, “Nuch” or “the Nooch” stacked his office with political supporters/ senior “advisors” like long-time Cooley aides Carter and Livesay, who try to make up for his lack of experience and to keep his foot out his mouth especially after that Maeve Reston “high five” article he complained about everywhere as unfair (maybe why his people avoid the media – he expected to get the unchecked blind support he got during his campaign, forever?); campaign actives Jane Usher and Berger, among others. He stripped some program in the City Attorney’s office to be able to do it. And didn’t he, despite being told not to, find a way to also “Find funds” for a team of secret “investigators,” who were to work in tandem with his unique Grand Jury powers, to try to substantiate the “rumors and myths” he bases his cases on to begin with?

    I never did understand how a solid reporter like you could have been among those who never did their homework on the “fixer from Long Beach” and actually supported him, when even USC’s sports blog was incredulous that he was Cooley’s pick to shove down the city’s throats as “the innocent outsider.” Suddenly even his other supporters, iike Jill Stewart’s Weekly, are writing about how as Kevin Roderick’s current “profiled” piece says, “his middle name is ambition.” Going back on his pledge not to run for DA, because of “new circumstances.” Of course. (Roderick gives props to you for this article, BTW.)

    In his piece for the Times, Jim Newton is a little more critical than when he essentially did PR for Trutanich and character assassination on Weiss on his behalf (way worse than the bias you documented against Harris and for Cooley) but not much, and I’m still wondering why he totally failed in due diligence for that paper, as did Zahniser, Steve Lopez (who can almost be excused as just following their lead), etc. Are we now to believe that Cooley was even duped, and is now seeing red that this guy is Mr. Ambition with bullying issues, disguised as “people’s lawyer?” This guy came out of nowhere with a fake bio and fake ballot tag as “environmental lawyer” when he defended those accused of crimes, including the “win at all costs” jocks on Pete Carroll’s teams who found his connections to DA Cooley very convenient, and allegedly advised environmental scofflaws on beating the law. He and the Times’ including Newton made a huge issue about how being a criminal lawyer was a perfectly worthy profession, and it is: but be HONEST about it then, let the people decide if that’s the training they want for the city attorney’s office. Don’t pass him off as something he wasn’t.

    Never mind his pledge not to run for DA until he fills out his maximum terms as city attorney, I don’t care where the guy runs or for what, just hope people wise up this time, and his disgruntled staff members have the guts to speak out. But why has everyone forgotten his pledge to let the Controller audit HIS office any way she wants, not just Rocky’s old worker’s comp books?

    Since she can’t, we don’t know how much he is actually wasting with all his shenannigans and wasting staff time/ re-allocating them/ shutting perfectly viable offices which serve the public, etc. We hear all kinds of boasts about how he’s saving tons of money and others are wasting it, but the opposite sounds true.

    Shouldn’t people and press – besides Doug McIntyre – hold him to his promise to let the Controller audit and prove “transparency?” Also he’s claiming to be the victim of some political conspiracy, but sounds like he’s just getting the same kinds of cuts every other dept. is – and Jack’s right, playing the game of Sheriff Block, or Baca, when he threatened to stop testing all rape kits. Except they have some track record at least, while he’s allegedly planning to jump ship to the DA’s office to be able to prosecute felonies and really scare his non-supporters, whether Cooley likes it or not.

    Is Cooley going to tell it like he sees it now, if indeed he had been duped also? (Hard to believe – he’s no dummy or naive, surely.) Is Cooley angry that he’s just another person used as a stepping stone, like the Controllers, cops and the naive medical marijuana advocates? More importantly for the public, can ANYONE put this guy in his place, get him to stop playing games with public safety and city money, because he’s not getting his way? WHERE is the media on this – are the Weakly and Doug McIntyre the first of a crescendo, or has the MSM in this town been rendered too untrustworthy and easily duped, little better than the blogs, or politically blowing with the winds trying to hang onto its aging print readership, to ever be trusted again?

  5. Jack Says:

    No, sbl, not another Jack. I’m the same one who, yes, WAS a staunch defender of Trutanich. I am not too proud to say I made a huge mistake defending him after he was elected. It was a mistake because by defending him I (like many others) gave him the impression that he could do no wrong, and that he had our unwavering support.

    I, like so many others, really voted for ABW (Anyone But Weiss) and I still maintain that Weiss would have made a terrible anything and had to be stopped. To some extent I think we were seduced by the opportunity to oust a City Hall insider who was imperious, arrogant and unaccountable to all but a few select special interests.

    But now we have this thug who started bullying and bluffing his way around City Hall from day one. Oh he’s sneaky, very sneaky. Why do you think he is so keen on cleaning up Skid Row? To help the homeless, like he claims, or is it to get rid of them for the developers who support him? I wonder why Bruce Riordan, who was the Deputy City Attorney in charge of the Skid Row project, left so suddenly? Did he find out the truth and prefer to leave?

    Interestingly, Berger, his long time supporter and Special Assistant, also quit – no reason given, but I bet it had to do with Trutanich’s “win at all costs” ethos which is fine if you’re a defense attorney and you have to do whatever it takes to give your client the zealous representation they’re entitled to under the constitution. But that “win at all costs” ethos has no place in the world of criminal prosecutions – the US Supreme Court has made this point with clarity on many occasions when prosecutors go too far to win. It’s ok for the defense, but unacceptable for the prosecution. And that’s the problem with Trutanich, he goes too far – like locking up a businessman on $1M bail over a billboard, or his latest trick of shutting down the criminal filing offices because of self-created staff shortages.

    You raise the question of LAPD overtime, and I’m sure you know all about the horrendous amount of OT that Trutanich’s LAPD security detail racks up driving to and from fundraisers and non-City business events. Maybe Celeste should file a Public Records Act request to find out exactly how much Carmen the Clown costs the tax payers that he was so keen to help after the Michael Jackson memorial?

    Sure the City Attorney is entitled to be protected, but when he’s engaged in private or political activities, should he reimburse the City for the costs of protecting him? That’s the sort of reimbursement he wanted from AEG. I bet the San Pedro Thug is too cheap to offer to pay the 20 cents in the dollar that AEG came up with.

    One other thing, sbl, yes there are similar comments (and more) about Trutanich on http://truisfalse.blogspot.com and elsewhere, and yes, there are many who are willing to speak out about Trutanich’s empire of evil – the highly paid political advisors or ‘button men” that he pays to tell him he’s so right about everything.

    But Trutanich is wrong to think he’ll waltz across to the DA’s Office when he’s done destroying the City Attorney’s Office. There is now a growing number of people who know the truth about Trutanich and what a monumental disaster it would be to let him get his hands on real power. And they will sing like birds when the time is right – Swift Boats? No more like battleships, probably led by Cooley, and Trutanich will be sunk.

    Celeste, it’s time to ask real questions of Trutanich, and please don’t be fooled by his switching on the emotions and getting all teary-eyed like he did with Jim Newton, and don’t let him bamboozle you with his ranting rambling 15-minute answers while he hopes you’ll forget the question you asked, and just be grateful that the horrible noise of this legal lummox has stopped. Pin him down. Maybe you should start by asking readers to submit questions that you could ask? I’ll bet you’ll get some really interesting ones.

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