Just a few weeks before Carmen Trutanich took the oath of office as LA City Attorney, I asked this question: “Will Success Spoil Carmen Trutanich?”
“Some people are worried his election will go to Carmen Trutanich’s head. Others are asking, “What’s all this talk about Nuch already turning into an unapproachable <expletive>? … As someone who owes his election to strong support from community
activists and is the only city official carrying the torch for positive changes at City Hall, Trutanich has created high expectations, impossibly high expectations for that matter.
On the day after his crushing defeat of Jack Weiss, Trutanich told the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association:
“I’m not going to let you down…We’re going to prosecute misdemeanor ethics law violations by politicians…We’re going to change the way politics is played in the City of Los Angeles…The future of this city is going to be bright and clean…I want to be your City Attorney. I want to be the people’s lawyer..I want to hear what you think is broken and I want to try to fix it. I’m not a politician. God forbid I ever become one.”
“That’s the kind of talk that puts a guy in a fishbowl with everyone watching his every move.”
Sadly, the answer to the question I posed on June 9, 2009, has been clear for a while. Today, Nuch removed the last shred of doubt by announcing he is running to succeed District Attorney Steve Cooley (Nuch-Run.rtf).
It is no surprise. Trutanich has been raising a lot of money and seeking endorsements from other politicians for many months. His opponents have been gearing up to cut the 800-pound gorilla in the race down to size with Deputy D.A. Alan Jackson ready with a full-page ad layout with a picture Nuch and the large headline: “I am a liar.”
Next to the picture is the pledge Trutanich campaigned on against Weiss, a pledge that promised to give his “full attention to serving the people of Los Angeles as their City Attorney rather than running for other political office.”
“Should the pledge be violated, a penalty of $100,000 must be paid to LA’s Best After School Program from the violator’s personal funds. In addition, the candidate breaking the pledge must purchase one full-page newspaper advertisement in every daily newspaper in Los Angeles to be run on the first Sunday following the breach of the Pladge. The ad must included a large headshot of the candidate in question, a copy of the Pledge and the words, ‘I AM A LIAR’ in large block print.”
Trutanich signes that pledge, Weiss didn’t. Trutanich won, Weiss lost. Now it’s time to pay up.
Alan Jackson’s campaign consultant John Thomas, who had worked on Trutanich’s City Attorney campaign, has saved Nuch the trouble of producing the ad, leaving only the question of whether Nuch will find a legal loophole to avoid fulfilling his promise.
The first clue to what was going to happen came when Trutanich stood before the City Council in the first weeks after taking office and calledLA’s Mr. Big, Tim Leiweke, a criminal and threatened to prosecute him.for how he stuck the city for the bills for Michael Jackson’s funeral while setting AEG up to make tens of millions of dollars in profits from it.
The very next day, former City Controller Laura Chick called Trutanich “a demagogue” who lied to her in order to get her endorsement.
“The CityAttorney lied, and is not a man of his word…he is a demagogue who will say anything to get elected, and then go back on his word… he stood next to me and lied to get my support,” she told KABC’s Doug McIntyre.
Then, there was the falling out with top lieutenant David Berger who had campaigned so hard for Trutanich and was so embittered he set up the LA Dragnet blog as a forum for sharp criticism of the City
What ensued at City Hall were savage cuts to Trutanich’s budget, constant carping at every move he made by City Council members who from time to time have dealt with outsiders entering the inner sanctum of their petty little political machine by thwarting every move they made.
Paul Krekorian elected to the City Council in 2009 with an outpouring of grassroots support similarly found he had to go along to get along and now is a rising star as the Council’s most eloquent and convincing re-writer of reality and concealer of truth.
A lot of people, myself included, gradually saw Trutanich disappear from visibility while using his vast staff of lawyers to clear the way for the mayor and Council to get away with just about anything. We heard less and less from him about his budget woes and less and less about standing up for the people.
Soon it was clear that once again the promise of a “People’s Attorney” who would stand up against the politicians and for the greater good of the community was just one of those things that are said in the heat of a campaign to become one of those politicians serving the interests of the few, and not the many.