Friday, February 10, 2012
No on Trutanich
Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is running for the post of district attorney. He doesn’t have the right to do so.
Trutanich forfeited that right on Nov. 24, 2008, when he was running for city attorney. He did not merely indicate a present intention not to seek higher office during his term as city attorney, if elected; he signed a pledge that he would not do so. Here it is:
Trutanich should be held to the promises made in that pledge.
Voters should hold him to the promise not to leave office during the term to which he was elected. They should do so by rebuffing his candidacy.
Taxpayers—through litigation, if necessary—should hold him to his promise to pay $100,000, from personal funds, to an after-school program.
And daily newspapers with Sunday editions should hold him to his commitment to place a full-page ad with a large headshot of himself and block letters spelling out: “I AM A LIAR.”
LL THIS, HE PROMISED. He seemed sincere in doing so, and probably was at the time. But power and ambition have corrupted a man who appeared to have potential as an officeholder. One by one, those who believed in him have become detractors.
District Attorney Steve Cooley, a prime backer of Trutanich for city attorney, now shuns him.
Newspapers that had supported him in 2009—including this one—have soured on him.
Members of the City Council don’t want him as their lawyer.
His performance as city attorney has been disappointing, to say the least. His service as district attorney would be disastrous.
There is now harmony in county government. The DA gets along just fine with the public defender, with the Board of Supervisors, with the Superior Court. If Trutanich were district attorney, acrimony would emerge. Trutanich would be taking potshots, picking fights, instigating feuds.
As city attorney, he has unsuccessfully sought legislation to give him a grand jury to probe commissions of misdemeanors. A bill to do that, SB 1168, failed in committee. If he were district attorney, Trutanich would have a civil and criminal grand jury to use as vehicles for his grandstanding and bullying.
EPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY David Berger’s informative and entertaining website, http://losangelesdragnet.blogspot.com, is checked daily by many to see what Trutanich’s latest antics are. Berger, generally utilizing the pseudonym “Joe Friday,” labels the city attorney “Carmen the Clown.”
It’s a harsh but fitting sobriquet.
In a Jan. 25, 2011 op-ed piece, Los Angeles Times editor-at-large Jim Newton terms Trutanich “a bit odd,” and remarks:
“He loves to talk—and rambles around an answer, distracting himself so often that it can take him 10 minutes to return to his original point. He speaks with great conviction, and his eyes dampen a bit when he shares such thoughts as ‘All I want to do is to do my job.’ ”
In a clown-like action, Trutanich threatened to have City Council member Jan Perry arrested if a billboard permit were granted Anschutz Entertainment Group for a theater at L.A. Live. Trutanich was involved in a tiff with AEG’s president in connection with the Michael Jackson memorial at the Staples Center.
In a Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011 blog, Berger, using the name “Windscale,” tells of a meeting of the South East District Bar Association the night before. Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo (who is now also running for district attorney) was presented with the group’s Attorney of the Year award. Berger recounts:
If there was a dark moment to an otherwise joyous evening, it came when Cooley was just about to present Trujillo with his award; to the shock of the audience City Attorney Carmen Trutanich interrupted the proceedings.
“Wait! Wait! Wait!” screamed Trutanich as he forged his way to the podium and grabbed center stage. Trutanich, who had arrived at the awards dinner late and was not listed as a speaker, had been confined to a table in the far corner of the room as the capacity crowd were already seated. He had been observed craning his neck around the room, perhaps looking for a better seating position.
Suddenly Trutanich was on his feet armed with an fistful of calligraphic scrolls, and was not going to be stopped. In what appeared to many as something of a “Kanye West -Taylor Swift” moment, Trutanich proceeded to give his own impromptu speech recognizing the achievements of not only Mario Trujillo, but the other honorees who had not yet even been introduced.
Judging by reports of the audience’s reaction, this was not a welcome interruption, and Trutanich’s excuse that he had [to] interrupt because he had leave early to catch a plane to DC, was singularly unimpressive. He could have been flying to Idaho for all anyone seemed to care, “and the sooner the better” was how one of the guests summed up this fiasco.
He’s high on ego, low on judgment.
HAT MATTERS MOST is that he is low on integrity. His brazen disregard of his pledge not to seek other office while serving his term as city attorney is one reflection of his lack of a commitment to ethics.
Just last Monday, the Times revealed that Trutanich, in an Association of Deputy District Attorneys questionnaire, falsely listed three law enforcement groups as supporting his candidacy when they had taken no stance.
In the course of touting his proposed Administrative Code Enforcement (“ACE”) program, entailing use of citations for minor code violations rather than criminal charges being brought, Trutanich told one of his whoppers. On June 5, the city attorney told then-radio talk show host (now mayoral candidate) Kevin James: “This is a concept I came up with early on when I became city attorney….When I came up with it, I shared it with other cities.” However, in a July 7 MetNews article, Chief Deputy City Attorney William Carter is quoted as admitting that Trutanich had not conceived the program, declaring: “[W]e saw other cities were already doing it.”
The supposed “Draft Trutanich” effort, apparently orchestrated by Trutanich political advisor John Shallman, has contended: “Trutanich busted the notorious 38th Street Gang—confiscating an arsenal of 80 firearms and removing 57 long time gang members from the streets.” The City Attorney’s Office does not make arrests.
In a campaign video, released yesterday, Trutanich tells of his prosecution of a slayer. An unsophisticated viewer would assume he was talking about an action as city attorney. The candidate does not mention that he’s referring to a prosecution when he was a deputy district attorney in 1985.
In the announcement of his candidacy, Trutanich contends that “thousands of police officers, deputy sheriffs and other supporters…signed the Draft Trutanich for DA petitions.”
Thousands? We’ve asked Trutanich for documentation of that. His bare word is not enough.
NITIALLY, TRUTANICH TRIED to explain away his activities preparatory to declaring candidacy by proclaiming that the pledge was not binding on him. This was so, he reasoned, because his opponent, Los Angeles Council member Jack Weiss, had not also signed it. However, a look at the pledge Trutanich signed shows that it was not conditioned on being signed, also, by Weiss.
Last month, with Trutanich making numerous personal appearances, projecting the image of a candidate, Internet reporter Doug Kriegel reminded Trutanich, during an interview: “You said you weren’t going to run for another office.”
The city attorney provided this rationale:
“A lot has transpired since that time, The district attorney’s office has not been open for 50 years. When I took this job, I was under the impression that Mr. Cooley would be there for eight years and I would have a partner in law enforcement. Circumstances have changed grossly since then.”
Actually, it’s 48 years since there was a DA’s race without an incumbent running. (Evelle Younger prevailed in the 1964 contest.) A difference of two years is trivial. What matters is that Trutanich brings this up as if it provided some sort of excuse for running for an office in contravention of a pledge. Plainly, it’s an irrelevancy.
So is Trutanich’s alleged supposition at the time he made the pledge that Cooley would run for and attain a fourth term. Any such supposition—which Trutanich does not contend emanated from an assurance to him by Cooley that he would run in 2012—would have been unreasonable. In 2008, when the pledge was signed, there was the prospect that Cooley would run for attorney general. There was the obvious prospect that, after three terms, Cooley would retire. Nor could there have appeared an absolute assurance that if Cooley did seek a fourth term, he would win. The only DA who attempted such a feat, Buron Fitts, lost (in 1940).
Moreover, the pledge was not conditioned on Cooley being a candidate in 2012.
And why could Trutanich not be a “partner” with a new district attorney?
Trutanich told the Daily News yesterday that he could not do his job as city attorney “without a crime fighting partner in the DA’s office.” Again, there’s no explanation of why he cannot do his job if someone other than Cooley were DA.
Trutanich’s rationalizations are feeble. There is, simply, no justification for going back on his word.
RUTANICH’S CANDIDACY SHOULD be rejected both because the candidate is ethically foreclosed from running and because he does not possess the ability to serve as our county’s chief prosecutor. His abysmal performance as city attorney proves that.
We intend to make no endorsement in the DA’s race until after the filing deadline, March 9. Conceivably, someone could get in the race who is better qualified than any of those presently identified as a candidate.
We have no hesitancy in indicating which contenders we believe to be unqualified for the post: Trutanich, Deputy District Attorney Steve Ipsen (for reasons previously detailed here) and Deputy District Attorney Danette Meyers, who is strident and disputatious, incapable of running an office with smooth operations.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company