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)
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)