In those odd moments when he isn’t napping, calling developers for money or posturing as if he actually does something for the people of Los Angeles, Councilman Jack Weiss seems to have a rare knack of making enemies.
You can talk to almost anyone in Weiss’ Westside/Sherman Oaks/Encino district who has paid attention to the councilman’s record of public service over the last eight years and the verdict is nearly unanimous: Anyone but Jack Weiss. They even tried to recall him from office over his sellouts to developers, his duplicitous actions on digital billboards and his deaf ear to their concerns.
Just yesterday, Councilwoman Jan Perry said she found Weiss’ self-congratulatory ads for his City Attorney campaign “disappointing.” Controller Laura Chick called them “offensive.” Councilman Dennis Zine, a strong supporter of Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich, dismissed Weiss as an “egotistical individual who will do anything to try to convince voters to elect him to public office.”
And today, Jane Usher — who resigned recently as head of the Planning Commission after courageously trying to stop digital billboard blight and protect the quality of life in the city’s neighborhoods — came out strongly in support of Trutanich, saying Weiss’ candidacy “is undermined by his antagonism to neighborhoods and by his profound reliance
upon developers and lobbyists.”
Their public comments reflected the disdain for Weiss so many inside City Hall, elected officials and staff, have been whispering about for so long — whispering because the intimidation tactics employed by Mayor Villaraigosa and his cronies have silenced most of the city’s most influential voices.
Weiss does have friends in high place including the mayor’s clique and Police Chief William Bratton who like his go-along-to-get-along willingness to do whatever they want whenever they want it.
Last week, Bratton took the extraordinary step — both ethically and in terms of police practice and policy — and endorsed Weiss with feint praise, saying, “At this particular time, it’s crucial that the city attorney know and
get along with the U.S. attorney, district attorney, Los Angeles Police
Department and the city in general.”
We’ll soon find out if the “city in general” likes Weiss so much but we know District Attorney Steve Cooley does not. He is the leading supporter of Trutanich. The U.S. attorney is unlikely to comment about a former employee with an undistinguished record as a government lawyer.
That leaves just the LAPD, which in the absence of a vote of the rank-and-file (80 percent of whom live outside the city), means Bratton himself.
It’s hard to believe a tough cop like Bratton respects a guy as soft as Weiss who even when he’s right as he was six years ago in calling attention to the lack of police crime lab staff to test rape kits is incapable of actually getting anything accomplished.
It’s easy to understand Bratton’s support of Weiss who is certain to carry on the tradition of Rocky Delgadillo that Usher described as “a striking
legacy of misjudgment and cronyism.”
What’s disturbing is that in doing so Bratton violates one of the canons of law enforcement, one of the principles identified in the Christopher Commission’s blueprint for reform of the LAPD in 1991.
In a section entitled “Political Activity of the Chief,” the Christopher Commission noted the legal right of the chief like other civil servants to engage in political activities but it raised serious questions about the appropriateness of then Chief Daryl Gates backing Robert Philobosian for District Attorney in 1984.
The concern was that his action “politicized the Department, damaged officer morale, and undermined public confidence in the Department’s impartiality and objectivity.”
It noted a survey that found police chiefs across the country were nearly unanimous in believing they should not endorse “under any circumstances.”
Even Gates agreed and testified to the commission that he regretted endorsing Councilman Hal Bernson because he was “angry” and felt it was “improper” and that such endorsements “should be discouraged.”
All I can say is Jack Weiss is no Robert Philobosian, he’s not even a Hal Bernson.
For the Chief of Police to endorse someone like Weiss certainly politicizes the department and undermines public confidence.
Bratton doesn’t have the excuses that Gates had back then. It is a disservice to the department and to the city.
But you haven’t heard a peep from the mayor or the Police Commission. And that’s what should make voters convinced that Weiss must be stopped.
This is not the LAPD of William Parker or Daryl Gates despite its abuses at the May Day rally that have cost taxpayers a fortune. We’re proud of the LAPD and the progress that has been made.
Bratton’s endorsement of someone like Jack Weiss threatens those gains that have cost us so dearly. We don’t need a “yes man” as city attorney doing the chief’s bidding. We need someone who will bring integrity to the office and in the words of Jane Usher “restore the office to a stronghold of honorable public service.“