Thursday, January 22, 2004
Cooley Unwilling to Fight Corruption, Opponent Says in Belmont Campaign Kickoff
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley is unwilling to fight corruption and should be replaced by someone who is, one of his five challengers said yesterday at a the first press conference of his campaign.
Roger Carrick spoke to a sparse crowd of print and broadcast reporters across the street from the site at which the Belmont Learning Center was to be built by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“The facts are very clear, someone broke the law at Belmont,” Carrick said, but no one was prosecuted.
Carrick, an environmental lawyer, said the Belmont site would be the first of several stops along a “Cooley Trail of Shame.” Later stops, he suggested, would include the Rampart police station and other locations where Cooley has chosen not to prosecute corruption or environmental crimes.
Carrick, who was flanked yesterday by local League of Conservation Voters President Andi Liebenbaum and former Deputy Mayor—and onetime state elections watchdog—Tom Houston, was special counsel to LAUSD Inspector General Don Mullinax in connection with Belmont.
Mullinax produced an exhaustive report on Belmont in September 1999, suggesting possible violations of environmental, hazardous waste and education laws.
Then-District Attorney Garcetti concluded that there was no basis for any prosecution, a judgment that was vigorously criticized by Cooley during the last campaign. Cooley said he broadened the investigation’s scope, but still found no financial crimes, including bribery, grand theft or securities law violations.
That conclusion was disputed by Cooley’s former Belmont special prosecutor, Anthony Patchett, who is also running for district attorney. Patchett has said that “without a doubt” there was enough evidence to take the case to the grand jury.
The problem, Carrick said yesterday, is that “we don’t have a prosecutor who will back up an aggressive inspector general.”
He said he would pattern himself after New York’s Democratic Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Carrick, who described himself as the “green Democrat” in the officially nonpartisan race, explained that Spitzer has been “kicking butt” in cases against wealthy and powerful lawbreakers, while Cooley has overseen “a culture that refuses to go after all the crimes.”
Deputy District Attorney Tom Higgins is also running for district attorney, as are former Los Angeles City Councilman Nick Pacheco and Deputy District Attorney Denise Moehlman.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company