Thursday, July 2, 2009
Trutanich Sworn In, Vows to ‘Do The People’s Work’
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Los Angeles’ new City Attorney, Carmen A. Trutanich, yesterday vowed that he will vigorously prosecute gang members and environmental crimes, as well as welcome an audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel.
“I’m here to do the people’s work,” he declared after taking the oath of office on the steps of City Hall. “You hired me to be your lawyer.”
Alluding to the preamble to the Constitution, Trutanich said:
“ ‘We the People’ doesn’t mean we the politicians, we the wealthy, or we the well connected, ‘We the People’ means you.”
Trutanich insisted that under his leadership, the City Attorney’s office “will fight for the little guy,” and “preserve the quality of life for every resident of every neighborhood.”
He added that he “will welcome, with open arms and open doors,” an audit by the controller, which his predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo, had vigorously opposed.
Greuel and former Controller Laura Chick both maintain that the controller is empowered by the City Charter to conduct such an audit.
Greuel reiterated her belief that she was authorized to conduct audits of any elected official yesterday after taking her oath of office from Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson—who also presided over Greuel’s wedding and administered the oath of office when she was elected to City Council in 2002—shortly before District Attorney Steve Cooley administered the oath to Trutanich.
Accompanying Trutanich on the dais was a group of third grade students from Rowan Avenue Elementary School in East Los Angeles. Trutanich said he met the students during his campaign and jokingly introduced them as the “newest class of deputy city attorneys.”
He explained that he was so impressed by the students’ academic excellence, despite the hardships and challenges they faced on a daily basis, he promised them they could take the oath of office with him if he won the election.
Cooley was also joined by Presiding Justice Paul Turner of this district’s Court of Appeal, Div. Five, Los Angeles Superior Court Judges J.D. Lord, Mark S. Arnold, Peter J. Mirich, John J. Cheroske, Ruth A. Kwan, and Jesse L. Rodriguez, and retired Orange Superior Court Judge Dennis Choate for the oath ceremony.
Trutanich said that he was “humbled” to be standing on that stage, “a working class guy who beat the odds,” adding that “it’s a long way from the docks of San Pedro to the steps of City Hall.”
The San Pedro native, one of six children, reflected that growing up, “we were not rich,” and “we didn’t even know any lawyers, much less the head lawyer for the City of Los Angeles.”
He earned both his undergraduate and business degrees from USC, followed by night classes at the South Bay University College of Law while working alongside his father in a StarKist Tuna cannery.
Upon graduating and gaining admission to the State Bar in 1979, Trutanich opened a small practice in San Pedro, then joined the District Attorney’s Office, working in the Hardcore Gang Division.
In 1988, Trutanich re-entered private practice, establishing the environmental law firm of Jaffe, Trutanich, Scatena & Blum. Trutanich and C. D. “Chuck” Michel formed their own firm 10 years later.
As a former prosecutor, Trutanich yesterday declared, he would vigorously prosecute crimes. But he cautioned “we cannot simply arrest out way out of the gang problem that faces this city.”
He insisted “we need to stop it at its source,” with job training, apprenticeships and after-school programs to divert potential future members away from gangs.
“We need to give our kids something to say yes to,” he said, pledging to do everything in his power to step the “cycle of violence.”
In addition, he declared that he was committed to prosecuting environmental crimes and would be pursuing an “expanded task force approach” to doing so.
As for the 500-plus members of the office, Trutanich vowed that he would provide resources and training programs so that the deputy city attorneys “will be prepared to take on the best lawyers in the world…and working together, we will win, and save the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.”
His voice echoed off surrounding buildings as he adamantly declared, “we will not roll over,” a veiled reference to his frequent campaign criticisms of Delgadillo for settling lawsuits to avoid litigation.
But even while pursuing polluters, hospitals engaged in patient dumping, gang members and illegal billboards, Trutanich promised his wife that he would still take the trash out every Monday night.
Following Trutanich, the members of the City Council took the oath of office from City Clerk June Lagmay, and Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa had his oath administered by his younger sister, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge May Lou Villar.
Lakers point guard Derek Fisher served as the master of ceremonies for the event.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company