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Historic Breakthrough: Council Bans ‘Stupid, Ignorant, Uninformed’ Votes

The issue was SB 1168 — City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s effort to get legislative authority to issue subpoenas and impanel a grand jury so his office can investigate misdemeanors.

Under the City Charter, the City Attorney — the city’s chief law enforcement officer — is just about the only official at City Hall who can’t issue even subpoenas.

Yet some on the City Council — notably Jan Perry and Bernard Parks — are afraid of what Trutanich will do if he can get the evidence to criminally prosecute slumlords, executives of insurance and billboard companies that violate the law, hospital officials who dump patients on the streets of Skid Row and so on.

What are they afraid of? Could the investigations lead to prosecution of friends and contributors, even to the links they have to elected officials?

Of course, that isn’t the tack they took Friday. The issue was solely that it might cost some money to catch these criminals — money Trutanich says he will take out of his existing budget which the mayor and Council have slashed by 30 percent in two years.

Their goal on Friday was to stall the vote on whether to support SB 1168 — a measure that Sen. Gil Cedillo steered through the Senate and is now in Assembly committees facing a July 6 deadline to move to the full Assembly.

In an impassioned speech to avoid hearing from the City Attorney’s office and to put of a vote until June 30, Perry argued the Council would be “stupid” to discuss the issue in “ignorance” of all the facts.

Herb Wesson jumped aboard, declaring the Council should adopt a new policy and no longer vote on matters about which they knew little or nothing.

The vote was 10-0 to delay — after wasting most of an hour on a tragicomedy of procedural machinations.

This is the nation’s highest paid, perked and staffed City Council yet it rarely has all 15 members present and votes for city budgets, costly early retirement packages, giveaways to developers and billboard companies and DWP rates hikes without a clue about what they are doing.

To understand how important SB 1168, here’s some documents for you to read:

Fact Sheet (Important Facts to Remember when Considering SB 1168.doc)
Fact/Lies (FactsComparisonSB1168.pdf)
Cedillo Report (2010-06-15 SB 1168 _Cedillo_ Grand Jury Authority – Asm.pdf)
SB 1168 Suport Motion (MotionInSupportOf_SB_1168_BABCNC.doc)
Who to Write (Contact Info ASSEMBLY MEMBERS & LA City Council.doc)

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25 Responses to Historic Breakthrough: Council Bans ‘Stupid, Ignorant, Uninformed’ Votes

  1. Anonymous says:

    Funny how you don’t mention that the California Association of District Attorney’s, who usually bow down to Trutanuch’s master DA Cooley, took the highly unusual step of writing a letter to oppose this power grab (already shown to be in violation of the L A City Charter by its authors Raph Sonnenshein and Erwin Chemerinsky) as “probably unconstitutional.”
    Even the Trutanuch lapdogs at the L A Slimes (well, the Sunday Op Ed editor, anyway) allowed a very harsh editorial debunking this power grab as exactly what the City Charter is intended to prohibit, adding that it’s precisely the kind of person like Trutanich who’s used his powers to bully and intimidate without proving legal reason first (and being unable to later either, as in the case of roaring about “criminal aspects” to the AEG-Jackson affair, implying he’d get the LAPD too, which he recently admitted in so many words, HAD NO CRIMINAL ASPECTS AFTER ALL, just as legal scholars had opined from the start, noting there were NO LAWS requiring any such shakedown, er, voluntary contribution at the time, never mind of the grossly inflated arbitrary amount he came up with). But he had to waste (or “save” in the black-is-green as with unbridled fury world you sycophants inhabit) bundles of money on a year-long “thorough investigation,” first.
    He’d been caught either blatantly not understanding the law again or trying to set policy where it didn’t exist and wasn’t in his job description (again, under that annoying city charter). This isn’t to say there shouldn’t be such understandings IN ADVANCE and IN GENERAL about how much of such costs the city picks up and when, nor that the Jackson family shouldn’t fork over more of the alleged $1 Billion they’ve made since Jackson’s death, to offset at least the parts of Jackson’s funeral that were for benefit of their family. Except that the proper thing to do would have been just to suggest such for future, but wait, Wendy Gruel, Garcetti and even Perry had already beaten him and Zine to THAT. And it fell under THEIR JOB description, as makers of policy, which HE was supposed to execute. Oh, damn those annoying legalities – just get “One Bill Gil” Cedillo, who the Tea Party set has loathed hitherto for insisting it’s racist to forbid illegal immigrants from driving without licenses or insurance, to sneak through a bill so he can get even with his former friend and now nemesis, that Mayor we’ve got. (The one Ron and Bruno want in jail any old how, forging unholy alliances with anyone.) Perry and AEG’s bosses and lawyers wouldn’t jump into jail like Trutanich wanted on the signage issue, either, gotta accomplish one’s goals somehow, gotta get authority to rifle through their papers and subpoena witnesses BEFORE you can show cause, ha-ha, good one!
    Yeah, it would be nice for Carmen the Clown as he’s widely called for reason, eminent night school grad of defunct Carson night school law school, to be able to rope together some grand jury he can intimidate and which would operate in SECRET answerable only to him, to “find” any evidence he could use to prosecute anyone without the annoying business of having to go through legal and constitutional channels.
    Too bad he’d be setting the city up for still another nightmare sure to guarantee expensive lawsuits he’d lose because his demands are not only wrong-headed power grabs he’s unfit for in terms of temperament and self-restraint, but downright illegal and unconstitutional, according to the very legal scholars and practising DA’s most in the position to know.
    But hey, Trutanuch don’t need no stinkin’ laws and legal scholars and constitutions and city charters to tell HIM what’s HE KNOWS is right!

  2. James McCuen says:

    It is interesting that the City Council routinely votes (usually unanimously) on things they know nothing about. Just review the footage posted on this blog on the budget and DWP. Remember the discussion with Rosendahl stating that he didn’t know what he voted on!
    Not to mention all the Development projects which are heard in PLUM and many times and not heard in City Council. The City Council just can’t say no to Developers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Now that the first comment has attempted to mislead readers, let me just state a few simple items to consider:
    The State Legislature wouldn’t be considering this if it wasn’t legal. The measure has already passed the Assembly; so clearly, there are some up there who don’t perceive this as a “power grab.” Plus, the City Attorney receives his prosecutorial duties from the State. Something the writers of the Charter failed to state in their Times Op Ed piece.
    Secondly, the City Charter like many other laws isn’t perfect. And, if you think that the City Council would have supported an attempt to get an 1168 equivalent measure onto to a ballot for voters to decide, well then this measure wouldn’t be needed in the first place.
    Also, say what you will about Carmen – at least the guy is trying to do right for the people. After all, the people put him in office over a politician that participated in the ruination of this city.
    As for paying for this – read the literature via the links Ron posted. Don’t listen to Perry’s fearful rants.
    Blustering, grandstanding, etc., is part of being an elected official anyway.

  4. Annonomous says:

    Jan Perry is an ignoramous. Anything she’s against, I’m for. Anything she’s for, I’m against. I can’t believe this city let a big dope like her anywhere near their business. Her thought of running for Mayor is a big joke. At least she’s giving the whole city a big laugh.

  5. Annonomous says:

    Jan Perry is an ignoramous. Anything she’s against, I’m for. Anything she’s for, I’m against. I can’t believe this city let a big dope like her anywhere near their business. Her thought of running for Mayor is a big joke. At least she’s giving the whole city a big laugh.

  6. Chris Rowe says:

    I support Jan Perry on this one. I know what it is like to be presented with an agenda item to vote on that you do not know enough about. This is what we criticize the City for all of the time – voting on issues when they do not know the costs or the feasibility of the program. That is what the Rate Payer’s Advocate is all about. That is what “Measure B” was about.
    The best line was Council member Huizar’s. The City Attorney was on the phone calling Robert of “Robert’s Rules of Order” to determine what Motion should be voted on first. I hope that was his sense of humor talking. I thought it was pretty funny!

  7. Jack Mehoff says:

    Give me a break! The council has voted on more nonsense without having any idea what they were voting on, and most of the time it was for issues that stuck the taxpayer with more taxes. Now something comes up that looks like it will protect the citizens and tax payers in this city, and all of a sudden she thinks they need to be better informed. I doubt any of these council people will spend one second further reviewing this issue. They’re all too busy figuring out which office they’re going to run for next.

  8. Jack Mehoff says:

    Give me a break! The council has voted on more nonsense without having any idea what they were voting on, and most of the time it was for issues that stuck the taxpayer with more taxes. Now something comes up that looks like it will protect the citizens and tax payers in this city, and all of a sudden she thinks they need to be better informed. I doubt any of these council people will spend one second further reviewing this issue. They’re all too busy figuring out which office they’re going to run for next.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maywood and Oakland’s economic meltdowns made nationwide news…Who’s next..Batter up!…Pay to Play Ball!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “I support Jan Perry on this one. I know what it is like to be presented with an agenda item to vote on that you do not know enough about”.
    This is why every Councilperson has a staff of over a dozen people, so they can be informed on all issues. If they are not being informed, they need to fire the staff, and save taxpayers a bundle of money. Jan Perry has the most to hide, being a big player with big boys like AEG. As time comes closer to being unveiled, she is hiding behind anything she can grab on to. The woman is no good. Check her record, and let us all know what exactly she has done for the poor people she represents in SouthLA.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “I support Jan Perry on this one. I know what it is like to be presented with an agenda item to vote on that you do not know enough about”.
    This is why every Councilperson has a staff of over a dozen people, so they can be informed on all issues. If they are not being informed, they need to fire the staff, and save taxpayers a bundle of money. Jan Perry has the most to hide, being a big player with big boys like AEG. As time comes closer to being unveiled, she is hiding behind anything she can grab on to. The woman is no good. Check her record, and let us all know what exactly she has done for the poor people she represents in SouthLA.

  12. Chris Rowe says:

    To: By Anonymous on June 27, 2010 6:33 PM
    I attend meetings that Council member Perry Chairs called the “Energy and Environment Committee”. At that committee, the LADWP reports to her. She has stood up to them, and she has told them that the community and the City Council do not trust them.
    She questions how their money is being spent whether it is for water or for power. When the pipes were bursting all over the city – the LADWP had to report to her and tell her why.
    If an LADWP project is going to cost the rate payers too much money, she tells the LADWP – “no”. They killed a solar project this past winter after appearing in her committee.
    Council member Perry supports the Independent Rate Payer’s Advocate rather than an LADWP staff being put at City Council.
    I cannot speak about how she represents her community – I can speak about how I have seen her speak on these issues.

  13. anonymous says:

    Anonymous on June 27, 2010 9:51 AM wrote:
    “Funny how you don’t mention that the California Association of District Attorney’s, who usually bow down to Trutanuch’s master DA Cooley, took the highly unusual step of writing a letter to oppose this power grab (already shown to be in violation of the L A City Charter by its authors Raph Sonnenshein and Erwin Chemerinsky) as “probably unconstitutional.”
    I’m curious why it would be unconstitutional.
    That being said (or asked), I doubt the State is concerned about voting for something that violates the City Charter. If it is voted through, might that portion of the Charter violate the State’s law?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Remember too how the Assembly was going to pass AB1818 as an end run around the city’s limitations on development/ local zoning ordinances, allegedly to benefit the would-be developer of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Sunland-Tujunga which is currently not zoned for the scale he wanted. The infamous “Fuentes bill.” Which then too, was written only to apply to cities of a certain size, i.e. only L. A. Like this one is.
    Scotched when the local community got wind of it and sicced Wendy Gruel then council-member on the case. So the Assembly’s passing things that are bad for the city and community as well as in this case, are an explicit end-run around the city charter, just means that it’s the foxes watching the chicken-coop and there will always be foxes who think they can sneak one in before anyone finds out. Until someone at the city level actually reviews all legislation as soon as it’s proposed or until there’s some Assembly provision that says laws that explicitly override city ordinances or even the city charter must be passed to the appropriate city officials for review and comment first.
    As for why the Assoc. of Calif. DA’s opines it’s likely unconstitutional, a major point is that the Grand Jury would operate in secret as proposed, answerable to no one but the city attorney himself. (Who is setting himself up to be answerable to no one, i.e., explicitly to override the checks and balances in city government which are essential to prevent any one power-hungry official from doing absolutely whatever he wants. And when he flaunts the absolute protection of the DA, who’d otherwise offer a check and balance on him as well…)
    As their letter notes, anyone thus targeted or subpoenoed would essentially be deprived of the constitutional rights to information about their own charges and case, to even be able to defend themselves – not only having to pay lawyers to fight the city, but with their having to be in the dark trying to figure out what the case is and who’s saying what…with no power to resist any demand.
    The mere threat of this would be a hugely powerful weapon to intimidate just by its mere mention. (And this city attorney is someone who as critics note, has shown a proclivity to enjoy intimidating people.) More Guantanamo Bay than anything remotely acceptable power for someone charged with misdemeanors. Downright undemocratic, to its core.

  15. anonymous @ 3:12 AM says:

    To 5:41 AM,
    Thank you for the explanation. That’s interesting and now I see your point. Wow!!

  16. Walter Moore says:

    If it weren’t for “stupid, ignorant, uninformed” votes, the City Council wouldn’t have any votes at all. Hey, this could work!
    Now, if they’ll just go back and undo all their prior “stupid, ignorant, uninformed” votes. . . .

  17. Walter Moore says:

    Re:
    “As their letter notes, anyone thus targeted or subpoenoed would essentially be deprived of the constitutional rights to information about their own charges and case, to even be able to defend themselves. . . .”
    So, you’re saying grand juries are unconstitutional? I must have missed that at law school.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Walter, you may indeed have missed a lot in law school, who knows – but the CADA’s letter notes that Trutanich’s grand jury “would likely be deemed unconstitutional” because, among other things, operating in total secret as it would, answerable to no one but a (clearly power-hungry official impatient with the tedious business of finding legal evidence to indict BEFORE calling someone a likely criminal, we’ve seen that, right?) it would NOT be answerable to the judiciary and therefore violate the separation of powers. Giving him power to be Judge and Jury, in essence. A UNIQUE form of Grand Jury in this regard as well as unique for any mere city attorney in the country. (And he wants it ONLY for himself, not any successor L A city attorneys, making it stranger still.)
    You DID learn about separation of powers in law school, right? The role of an independent judiciary? To prevent just such abuses?
    This is no joke – in your and Ron’s zealousness to prosecute CERTAIN current city officials, your wanting to turn a blind eye to such constitutional issues, AND the fact that it’s a blatant end-run around the city charter and the city officials who is supposed to be able to persuade with his brilliant logic IF it’s so self-evident (but of course, they, his clients, are a chief target, talk though he may about recalcitrant hospitals that “dump” and so on), suggests that it just might have been a good thing you’re not mayor, either. This man has been compared to Kim Jong-Il by none other than former blind booster Doug McIntyre, who’s written many a satire about him before THIS even came up.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Some of the language used in their (CA Assn. of District Attorney’s) denunciation of the scheme: “We must also consider its impact on other prosecutors…The Grand Jury performs a vital function and we do not wish to risk losing it.” So Trutanich’s scheme as he proposes, could lead to charges that undermine the whole Grand Jury system, as it currently stands.
    And, “such a system would likely face accusations that it is a sham and a violation of the separation of powers…” Again, all of this from the Assn. sidestepping the issue of also explicitly intended as an end-run violating the city charterr (REALLY extraordinary that Walter, Ron and Trutanich’s blind supporters write that off as NOTHING, as though it doesn’t address a vital need), or political or financial issues.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous at 9:59 and 10:08 are confused:
    1) If Trutanich’s Grand Jury is unconstitutional, then so is every other Grand jury in the US. Grand Juries do not violate the separation of powers. If they did, then all of them would be do so, even those the D.A. currently uses.
    2) All Grand Juries operate in secret. They have to, because their purpose is to determine whether the prosecutor has a case or not. If the Grand Jury determines that the prosecutor DOES NOT have a case, then the secrecy of the proceedings PROTECTS the privacy of those who were being investigated.
    3) The Grand Jury does not give the prosecutor the power to be judge and jury. The Grand Jury IS the jury. The jury itself is the only one with the power to issue indictments., and they can refuse top do so if the evidence is not convincing.
    4) A far as finding it strange that this legislation has a sunset clause, if it is found to be a “bad thing”, then it does not have to be repealed – it dies on its own. If it is found to be a “good thing”, the legislation can be extended, and include other City Attorneys from other cities.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ron,
    Read the City’s Ethics Ordinance, violations of the City’s ethics laws are misdemeanors.
    The politicians are afraid of a Grand Jury that can investigate them.

  22. Anonymous says:

    12:24 is speaking in broad terms that have nothing to do with the specifics of Trutanich’s half-baked neither-fish-nor-fowl concoction of his OWN VERSION of a Grand Jury. This person doesn’t even know what she’s talking about. But like Trutanich himself, this person knows better than the entire state of CA’s professional prosecutors/ DA’s. Whose opinion mirrors DA’s across the country.
    (And OF COURSE, better than law school deans and legal and constitutional scholars of far greater education and erudition, including those who wrote the city Charter – which is toilet paper to him, a mere obstacle to enforcing one person’s ambition.)

  23. Anonymous says:

    Having no rational arguments, 12:51 resorts to ad-hominem attacks that clearly show her intellectual poverty.

  24. Villaraigosa says:

    All this in fighting is great. Meanwhile as whities fight; Mexicans being appointed into office. Stupid Gringos

  25. Anonymous says:

    The proposed grand jury answers to the superior court, not to the City Attorney. Jeez. Some people need to read the proposal.

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