When Jan Perry is good, she is very, very good like when she took on the corruption and incompetence at the DWP and stood up for transparency and the public interest.
But when she is bad, she is very, very bad like when she proposed last week that the City Council officially oppose a bill by Sen. Gil Cedillo that could lead to exposing and prosecuting the crooked back room deals that have become so commonplace at City Hall.
The measure is SB 1168 would give the City Attorney’s office the power to subpoena witnesses and documents as part of its investigations “into misdemeanor offenses involving environmental, consumer protection, workplace safety, labor, fraud, or corruption violations and unfair business practices.”
Strangely, the City Charter gives subpoena power effectively to just about everyone in City Hall except the chief law enforcement officer, the City Attorney.
“Upon the request of the Mayor, Controller, Treasurer, President of the Council, or the presiding officer of any board, the City Clerk shall issue subpoenas in the name of the City, attested with the corporate seal, requiring the attendance and testimony of the witness or production of documents at a specified time and place before the Mayor, Controller, Treasurer, Council, or board requesting the subpoena,” according to Aritcle II, Section 217 of the Charter.
SB 1168 would go even further and give the City Attorney the authority until Jan. 1, 2014 to ask the presiding judge of the Superior Court to impanel a grand jury to aid in the investigation of possible crimes involving “environmental, consumer protection, workplace safety, labor, fraud, or
corruption violations and unfair business practices.”
Given the aggressiveness and independence of City Attorney Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich you can see how this kind of authority could lead to revelations of some pretty interesting things and even begin to unravel the system of political corruption.
Without the power to subpoena documents and call witnesses to testify under oath before a grand jury, it’s almost impossible to unravel all the dirty deals that have cost taxpayers so dearly for so long.
So you can understand why the mayor and City Council members would be uneasy if Trutanich were to have the power and to conduct thorough investigations. Some of them might turn up incriminating evidence of their various nefarious activities that have benefited them and their “friends” at the expense of the public interest and the health of the city’s neighborhoods and the business community.
That’s where Jan Perry enters to protect the political games at City Hall.
Last Tuesday, she introduced a resolution backed by Bernard Parks and Greig Smith, the self-styled fiscal conservatives” to include in the city’s 2009-2010 State Legislative Program OPPOSITION to SB 1168 which would allow the Los Angeles County Superior Court to impanel an additional grand jury, managed by the City Attorney, to investigate misdemeanors.”
The reason is the city’s terrible financial shape thanks to the mismanagement and corruption of the mayor and Council so Perry is terribly concerned that impaneling a grand jury might have some costs associated with it. .
“There has been no fiscal analysis of this proposal, no determination of the potential costs to manage a Grand Jury, and no evaluation of the benefits associated with this program…in these difficult fiscal times when the City of Los Angeles is making severe cuts in all areas of our services, has eliminated entire City departments, and has laid off employees, it is unwise to take on additional services without a full fiscal analysis,” Perry’s resolution states.
What a lot of b.s. that is.
Cedillo’s bill specifically states that the bills for the grand jury “shall be submitted to the
prosecuting city attorney for reimbursement of the costs to the county out of the prosecuting city attorney’s own budget.”
Get it? Trutanich has to find the money in his own budget which it should be noted has been savagely cut by the mayor and Council because they fear him as the lone outsider in a corrupt political machine, the only figure in the city who could potentially harm them.
Then there are the “no fiscal analysis, ” “no determination of potential costs” and “no evaluation of the benefits” arguments — issues the council never worries about when it’s giving away millions to unions, contractors, developers and consultants who contribute to their campaigns or treat them to expensive dinners.
The benefits of giving the power to take certain suspected crimes to a grand jury should be as clear to ordinary citizens as it is to Perry and her pals: An end to the worst corruption at City Hall that LA has seen since the Great Depression.
This is as clear-cut as any issue could be. The Council should vote to support the Cedillo bill and anyone who is on the other side is as good as admitting they are nothing but crooks.