Let’s Talk About Carmen Trutanich: 8 a.m. Thursday on KPFK with Sonali Kolhatkar

Carmen Trutanich: From ‘People’s Lawyer’

To ‘Enemy of the People in Just Three Years’

KPFK (90.7 FM) news and talk host Sonali Kolhatkar invited me to talk about the District Attorney’s race at 8 a.m. Thursday, specifically about the record of Carmen Trutanich as LA City Attorney and the District Attorney’s race. (LISTEN HERE)

Just to check up on on all the details of why I turned from being an early and ardent supporter of Trutanich and now feel he has betrayed his private and public promises to stand up for the “people” while becoming nothing but a tool of LA’s failing political machine, I spent half an hour googling around.

Here’s what I found about a man who is your classic bully-coward (why else would he have a sign in his office reading: “The strong do as they will, the weak do as they must.”? He would be a dangerous District Attorney, trashing the law and civil liberties on whims and fancies:

Conservative commentator Larry Elder put the former Republican down this way this week:  ‘‘No one should run for higher office if they’re going to make stuff up – you get found out!”

Lying is one of the main charges leveled against “Nuch” by his challengers Jackie Lacey, Alan Jackson,

In 2009, Trutanich campaigned against the widely despised Councilman Jack Weiss with a promise “to prosecute misdemeanor ethics violations by politicians,” as he told Sherman Oaks homeowners as reported here. “We’re going to change the way politics is played in the City of Los Angeles.”

To date, he has not prosecuted a single City Hall corruption case and is now little more than a rubber stamp for just about everything the mayor and City Council want to do.

He challenged Weiss to sign his pledge that they would both serve the full two terms as City Attorney, vowing to take out a full page ad in the Times and donate $100,000 to LA’s Best after-school program if he broke his promise. Challenger Alan Jackson called him a “liar” — a label that has stuck.

To date, he has not taken out the ad or donated the money.

In January, Trutanich falsely claimed several law enforcement organizations as supporters and was forced to apologize and remove the groups.

In February, Trutanich claimed “broad support…from a vast online and grass-roots audience” based on 700,000 hits on his “Tru Stories” video on youtube but was forced to admit he paid a marketing firm to generate many of those views.

Another promotional video told the story of how he was a shooting victim as a young county prosecutor cracking down on gangs — a story that has no backing in remembrances of others involved. He pleaded for Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate why his personnel files were missing — a demand that was dismissed as laughable.

He claimed a ballot designation of “Los Angeles chief prosecutor” but a judge ruled that was false and misleading.

From his bull-in-the-china-shop feeble threats to jail AEG’s Tim Leiweke over costs of the Michael Jackson funeral and Councilwoman Jan Perry over his assault on advertising signs, Trutanich got off to a clumsy start.

The mayor and Council were enemies and tore into his budget and tripped him up at every turn. He response eventually came to beg for mercy and surrender any pretext at independence even as he continued to assault civil liberties wherever he saw them — mostly without success.

The best story did on Trutanich was in the LA Weekly in February by Gene Maddaus under this headline and key paragraphs:

Carmen Trutanich, L.A. City Attorney, Tramples the Rights of Pot Smokers, Street Artists and Protesters

Carmen Trutanich came into office vowing to “throw politics out the front door.” But in almost three years as city attorney, he has repeatedly sought jail time for minor offenses that align with his political crusades. He’s pursued sign installers like Mark Denny. He’s tried to jail people who sell medical marijuana. He’s gone after street artists and political demonstrators. At a time when most policymakers are trying to reduce the jail population, Trutanich’s impulse is to lock ’em up.

Such high-profile crusades have become part of his sales pitch now that the 60-year-old Trutanich is running for district attorney. But the truth is that he has largely failed in his efforts to lock people up for these nuisance crimes — even as the manpower he’s devoted to them has left fewer resources for more important cases. Records show, for example, that the City Attorney’s Office under Trutanich has cut back on pursuing gang injunctions — a critical component of public safety — and has prosecuted far fewer gang cases than his predecessor

Trutanich’s critics point out that, while his office is limited to prosecuting misdemeanors, he’s been obsessed with enhancing his powers. He launched a Bureau of Investigation to pursue his own cases, rather than wait for local law enforcement to bring him its handiwork. He tried to get the Legislature to give him control of a criminal grand jury. And, in a little-noticed move, he got state law rewritten to let his investigators eavesdrop electronically.

Acting like Elliot Ness of the “Untouchable” he has tried to “eradicate” medical marijuana dispensaries, jailed a Hollywood property owner on $1 million bail for allowing a supergraphics sign on his building, persecuted graffiti artists even as the Geffen Contemporary had long lines at its “Art in the Streets” exhibition, sought one-year jail sentences for non-violent political protesters in 2010 and charged 50 Occupy LA demonstrators criminally while demanding a couple hundred others pay $375 to watch a video on their First Amendment rights to avoid jail.

The result is the mainstream media and the blogosphere are unanimously opposed to Trutanich as District Attorney, preferring Chief Deputy DA Jackie Lacey (DA Steve Cooley’s choice) and Deputy DA Alan Jackson while other county prosecutors — John Breault, Bobby Grace and Danette Myers — all have their supporters.

Still, with more money from special interests, more name recognition and endorsements from Sheriff Lee Baca (presumably looking for cover over criminal investigations of his department) and Gov. Jerry Brown (presumably because of some really bad advice), Trutanich could win it all on Tuesday.

BYD — Build Your Dreams — Goes Bust in the City of Broken Dreams

It was the biggest deal Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pulled off in his desperate effort to show he was actually doing something about the city’s staggering unemployment rate and its loss of economic clout.

With $2 million in federal poverty grants and nearly $3 million in loans guaranteed from funds intended to revive blighted neighborhoods, the mayor two years ago proudly boasted LA had beaten out other cities to become the home of BYD, the Chinese electric car and battery maker that was invading America with a massive investment from Warren Buffett.

“It means more job opportunities but it also sends a powerful message to other companies that L.A. is the place to do business,” the mayor proclaimed when BYD opened it headquarters on Figueroa, a few blocks from LA Live, last October.

“We see BYD’s Los Angeles opening as a catalyst that will usher in good jobs, global investment and a more sustainable future.”

The city even promised to install home charging stations within a week and saw hopes for a local assembly plant as sales of BYD’s all-electric cars soared and to use terminals at LAX and exhibition space at the Convention Center to show the vehicles.

But like the million trees, greenest city in America, the high-tech corridor and everything else the nationally celebrated “Latino” leader has said these last six years, it was all hot air.

BYD opened a year late with a skeleton crew of 20, not the 150 it was supposed to hire initially and has not sold any of its E6 all-electric cars — one of which burst into flames, killing three people in China on Sunday.

“Build Your Dreams” stock is down nearly in half this year as sales in China plunged, down nearly 20 percent last month even as nearly 20 percent more cars were being sold in China.

And Wang Chuanfu, BYD’s founder and chairman who was celebrated as a hero by the city officials and business leaders last year, now doesn’t even see a future of his all-electric car.

“BYD now accepts that the future of the auto industry is more likely to lie in hybrid gasoline-electric cars, a technology in which it lags Japanese manufacturers, and not in all-electric cars, which still face issues of battery range and recharging time,” the New York Times reports today.

The only BYD vehicles on LA’s  city streets are 10 older model sedans, not the E6 which is a bust, which were bought by the criminally corrupt Housing Authority and an electric shuttle bus used by Hertz.

“Things like this are about planting seeds. Some grow fast,” Austin Beutner, the former deputy mayor and architect of the BYD told Neon Tommy’s Zhao Yang two months ago.

And some shrivel up and die like the BYD deal that will never produce any return on the city’s investment.

It shouldn’t be a mystery that you can’t buy jobs with tax holidays, subsidies and rebates as the loss of nearly 100,000 jobs in the city even as the population grew by one million shows.

What City Hall has done over the last 30 years with its giveaways is grow poverty while letting the infrastructure rot to the point that we will never have enough money to fix the roads and sidewalks and pipes.

BYD is just another in a long line of busted dreams, just another symbol of the failure of leadership and why LA is a city in decline.

Stop Trutanich from Doing More Harm: Vote for Jackie Lacey or Alan Jackson for District Attorney

Carmen Trutanich got elected City Attorney because informed voters knew his opponent, then Councilman Jack Weiss, was nothing but a stooge of the political machine and not a very effective one at that.

The way things have turned out in the last three years, Trutanich has become just another stooge of the political machine and not a very effective one at that.

He started out as a bull in a china shop, threatening to lock up “Mr. Big,” AEG’s Tim Leiweke, and Councilwoman Jan Perry and throw away the keys. He ended up groveling for budgetary mercy from the mayor and signing off on every dirty deal City Hall’s minions concocted to rip off taxpayers and destroy the quality of residents’ lives.

He doesn’t stand a chance win re-election which may explain why he is betraying the solemn vow he made to his supporters that he would not jump ship and run for District Attorney.

He has been exposed time and again as liar about everything from his professional record to his political promises.

Fortunately, there are two solid candidates running for District Attorney in Chief Deputy DA Jackie Lacey and Deputy DA Alan Jackson.

“Either is a better choice than Trutanich,” said the Daily News in its “Anybody But Carmen” editorial.  “Both are distinguished and veteran deputy district attorneys. Both are well-respected members of their agency with proven management skills. Both have smart ideas about modernizing the agency and adapting to the governor’s realignment plan. And either would be a much, much better D.A. than Trutanich.”

In its endorsement, the LA Times said: “Jackie Lacey is the candidate best equipped to strike the proper balance. She has years of experience leading the office, as well as realistic goals and a well-thought-out program for delivering justice.”

As for Trutanich, the Times has opined that ‘he does not seem to grasp that voters took seriously his pledge not to run for another office before completing his job as city attorney. It may have been just a campaign gimmick to him, but it was a pledge to his constituents — and it was all too typical of the occasional gap between Trutanich’s statements and his actions.”

It is the same throughout the county: Trutanich has lost the public’s confidence by failing to protect the public as he promised, a blowhard who wanted to throw the book at Occupy LA protesters for exercising their democratic rights even as he stands up and salutes labor union bosses like Maria Elena Durazo.

As an early and passionate supporter, I can only say “Nuch” is a great disappointment and has turned out to be only marginally better than Jack Weiss would have been worse. I waited a long time before criticizing him in hopes that he would remember that it was the activist community that brought him to the dance.

Today, Trutanich is just another politician who has last his way.  Mike Feuer, Greg Smith and whoever else runs for City Attorney next year will eat Trutanich for lunch if he comes up short in the DA’s race and seeks re-election.

Maybe Lacey or Jackson will succumb to the same pressures of a corrupt political system but they both are career prosecutors with solid records of public service — not the kind of overly ambitious outsider like Trutanich who has put himself first and the public last.

No office in the county is more important than District Attorney especially at a time when bribery, theft and self-service are so rampant in the public sector.

LA simply cannot afford Carmen Trutanich in a position with so much power and so much at stake.


Honoring those who didn’t make it home — Lift the Fog of Prosperity and Tune in for a Moment: My Sunday Column

One of my earliest memories dates to my fourth birthday, when it seemed like the whole world was celebrating with me.

The whole world was indeed celebrating, but it had nothing to do with me. It was May 7, 1945, the day the Germans unconditionally surrendered, the day before victory in Europe became official. From the Soviet Union to America, vast throngs of people took to the streets to rejoice in that moment of triumph.

Three months later, the Japanese surrendered, setting off more celebrations. Soon, my two uncles came home from war and like all the other GIs, they were treated as conquering heroes.

In 1947, the Cold War began and America has been at war virtually non-stop ever since: in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, the Bay of Pigs in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Libya, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Kosovo and now the War on Terror that has engulfed Iraq, Afghanistan,  Pakistan, Yemen and parts of Africa.

War, rumors of war, the scars of war — so many missions accomplished, but without the great victories that ignite public passions. Not one of these wars has seen the men and women who returned home from war, or those who didn’t, honored by a massive outpouring of emotion and public gratitude for the sacrifices they made.

That’s what Memorial Day is supposed to be about, how it came to be after the Civil War, growing out of the emotional parades and community events in small-town America, both North and South.

There’s still some parades like the one in Canoga Park every year, and services at McCambridge Park War Memorial in Burbank, the Vietnam War Memorial in Montrose, the Veterans Memorial in Glendale and elsewhere in the area and around the country on Monday.

But we all know the holiday is about the start of summer fun, about barbecues and beer, fiestas and fairs, the Greek Festival, the Jazz and Reggae Festival, the Wine Fest and Wet Pool Party in downtown Los Angeles.

It’s time to party, perhaps at best with a passing moment or two to think about all those who died doing their duty for their country and those who fought and came home with wounds of their bodies and psyches, what used to be called “shell shock,” or now, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Nothing can heal those scars as much as the glory of great victory in combat, something that has eluded us for so long as we played policeman to the world in costly and drawn-out wars in Korea and Vietnam, or with the end in sight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the most part, we have tuned out. It is all so remote, so far from our consciousness. The odd returning veteran who goes berserk gets far more visibility than all the hundreds of thousands of men and women who put themselves in harm’s way and find few cheers when they come home — not even a job, in so many cases.

There are no hurrahs when Johnny or Joan come marching home.

I did my time during the Vietnam War, spending two long freezing winters in the far north of Alaska, so I only know about combat from those who will talk about what it was like to have faced the enemy and fought for their lives and the lives of their comrades.

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8310 on West Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank one afternoon last week, I chatted with a couple of guys who are the survivors of the fighting in Vietnam, men who found no heroes’ welcome after that unpopular and politicized war.

One would just have soon not talk about being in the heart of the fighting so long ago. The other recalled being wounded in a firefight with North Vietnamese soldiers, who stood passively within shooting range as two of his comrades in arms carried him to safety.

He’s visited Vietnam — loves the people and the countryside, and plans to go back for a longer stay one of these days.

He found healing by going back to where he had been wounded and seeing that the past is gone.

Maybe in the fog of the peace and prosperity most of us enjoy — that so many of us take for granted — we should take a moment to honor those who fought in the name and service of our country so that those who did not come home did not die in vain.

(This article was published Sunday in the Glendale News-Press and other LA Times community newspapers)

Fatal Flaw, Part One, The Coliseum: Officials’ Arrogant Abuses of the Law, USC’s Contempt for the South LA Community

EDITOR’S NOTE: The giveaway of public property — the Coliseum, Sports Arena and control of Exposition Park — to USC without public benefit ranks as one of the most outrageous acts by public officials in LA in years, especially given the criminality and incompetence in the management of these historic facilities. The city, county and state officials who serve on the Coliseum Commission have long taken as many as 20 free tickets each to events as well as other valuable freebies — something that continued last month when four of them filled one of the Sports Arena’s two luxury seats with luxurious catering to get free admission to the sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert, according to the LA Times latest expose.Councilman Tom LaBonge, an alternate commissioner, idiotically sounding like Marie Antoinette, defended the freebies by saying it lets them keep an eye on things and their presence to lift the spirits of ushers, fire inspectors and others.  “When a councilman or commissioner walks through,” he said, “it makes them feel good.” The Coliseum deal combined with USC’s pending plans to take over much of the neighborhood around the campus has ignited anger in South LA and prompted Gloria Zurveen, publisher and editor-in-chief, of the PACE News community newspaper to demand “The Public Has a Right To Know What the Coliseum Commissioners are Up To With the USC Deal.” (may25pacenews1)(may25pacenews2)(may25pacenews3)

By Gloria Zurveen, Editor-in-Chief PACE News

Because of a tight deadline, I am going to be real brief on the issue about what is going on with the Coliseum Commissioners and their literally giving away, what belongs to the people, the taxpayers.

Yes, it is sweetheart deal they have cut with the University of Southern California (USC) whereby, if we are blessed a little we will get some crumbs off the table.

The public has a right to know, yet with all the secret dealings and backroom negotiations, the public has been practically ignored and trampled over by the members of the commission.

Look at this, according to a Los Angeles Times article recently, the 8-to-1 vote would virtually end public stewardship of the 88-year-old stadium, which is teetering on the brink of financial ruin.

Now mind you, this didn’t happen without the neglectful stewards in charged. Their solution to the problem is not to seek open bidding from sources who will not only benefit the historic Coliseum but who will also bring jobs to the local community in this distressed economy we are currently facing.

The neglectful crew want to throw in the towel to USC and say we are threw with having the public’s view.

This is not good. We, the public, we the taxpayers must not allow this to go down like this.

The Times point out that the pact signals the failure of the public officials to maintain the Coliseum as a self-sustaining venture and it follows a financial scandal that led to corruption charges against three former managers, two rave concert promoters and a former Coliseum contractor.

It amazes me that while this corruption is found to be so blatant, none of the Commissioners have lost their positions. It seems like they are rewarding themselves with this sweetheart deal of giving taxpayers property away with little or no benefits to us.

Honey, I hear Moms Mabley in the air, “Here comes the judge.” This situation calls for a legal redress and not later but now.

The people have a right to know what they can do to stop this highway robbery of the people’s possessions.

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It is reported that USC will put up just 70 million into stadium upgrades under the deal, and take control of the Coliseum’s revenue with the assumption of the $1-million annual rent payment to the state which owns the land under the stadium and the companion Sports Arena. Get this, the value of the complex in 2005 was at $240 million to $400 million. Now is this a deal or a steal? Who wouldn’t try to close this quick fast and in a hurry.

But I am saying to the people we need to let the state know that they need to hold up on signing off on what the Commissioners have already sold us out on. We need to ask some critical questions pertaining to the benefits to the public.

Terry Francke, general counsel for California Aware, an open government group said,  “This is an unloading of a huge public asset through a process entirely contemptuous of public involvement.”

Speaking with him on Wednesday, he said the meetings held to cut the deal was a direct violation of the Brown Act which was passed in 1953 that guaranteed the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.

Francke said that he is contemplating on seeking a court order to nullify the deal.

Anna Caballero, the Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency appointed by Governor

Jerry Brown and has the authority to sign off on the deal has said she will not rubber-stamp the Coliseum panel agreement.  She said she was concerned about the control USC will have over the parking lots used by patrons of the state’s free California Science Center museum and California African American Museum. The revenue from those facilities help maintain Exposition Park where the Coliseum and museums sit.

So it is not a done. The public has a right to know what’s in it for them.

Call, email and contact Anna Caballero at:Email: info@scsa.ca.gov Phone: (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday  – Friday) (916) 653-4090 Fax: (916) 653-3815 Address: State and Consumer Services Agency 915 Capitol Mall, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95814-2719 Let your voice be heard on this urgent matter because again, the public has a right know.

The following individuals represent the Coliseum Commission:

From the State of California: David Israel (President), Glenn Sonnenberg, William J. Chadwick, Fabian Wesson (alternate)

From the County: Zev Yaroslavsky, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don Knabe (Vice President)Mike Antonovich (alternate)

From the City of Los Angeles: Barry A. Sanders, Bernard C. Parks, Johnathan Williams, Tom LaBonge (alternate) Jill Werner (alternateInterim General Manager : John Sandbrook

Correspondence to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission canbe sent to: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission

3911 South Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90037 Ph: 213/747-7111


Fuel for Thought: How LA Elected Officials and Their Staffs Are Taking Us for a Ride in City Cars

UPDATE: Are you keeping your eyes on them and reporting their abuses? Here’s one for you from a citizen paying attention: “Last night at little Tokyo a library worker st 8 pm buying pinkberry and parking the city car in a red zone.” Help stop abuses, report the wretched excesses of City Hall.

The gardener did it!

Wouldn’t you know they would find the fall guy for the massive theft and widespread abuses of the city’s policy of providing take-home cars to more than 1,000 elected officials, their staffs and other employees and 1,000 more assigned to various departments for work and fun?

Yep, the $7 million in gas stolen every year is the fault of Rec & Parks gardener Michael Lee who was caught when a citizen spotted him selling gas off a city truck and police later watched him filling up 5-gallon cans at one of the city’s 141 fueling sites.

Lee’s alleged crime involves only 800 of the missing 2 million gallons of gas but what the heck nobody cared for years about what was going on until then Controller Laura Chick blew the whistle in 2009, calling her audit “the most stunning example of how this city does business in an un-businesslike way.”

Despite the unending cycle of massive budget deficits — what citizen fiscal watchdog Jack Humphreville calls “kicking the can down the road” — nothing was done until Chick’s successor, Wendy Greuel, the leading candidate for mayor, followed up with another audit two months ago.

So now we got an arrest of a gardener who was sent home with pay pending what could be a long proceeding to actually fire him.

Meanwhile, the car abuses on a grand scale continue which is why I asked under the California Public Records Act for a list of all the more than 100 cars assigned to our elected officials and their staffs, and records of their gas use and repairs.

Dig into the links below and see what you can find out about how your taxpayer money is being spent in these tough times when services are being slashed and you are being hit with huge increases in fees, rates and penalties with tax hikes planned for your voting pleasure come November.

The king of repairs during the 12-month period from April 2011 to April 2012, is the wannabe elected fiscal watchdog and successor to Chick and Greuel, West Valley Councilman Dennis Zine who racked up $6,370.93 in bills to the 2005 Mercury Mountaineer taxpayers bought for him.

Like most electeds, Zine prefers an SUV while the six or seven staffers of each Council member get Toyota and Honda hybrids, also older models when it must have been OK to support foreign rather than local and domestic businesses.

Zine also is the king of gas consumption with 120 fill-ups at city pumps, more than two a week on average with a peak of 14 fill-ups during the holiday month of December when he went through179.1 gallons of the people’s gas.

To his credit, Zine is a hard worker but was every drop of that gas used in service to the public or is he like the mayor where everything he does is an official duty?

The mayor with some 200 staff members provides take-home cars to a dozen staffers while City Attorney Carmen Trutanich looks after himself and seven staffers.

Greuel, for her part, is the Queen of Frugality, with only one car for herself and one for her “staff.” The records do suggest she lives in fear of running out of gas,  like going to the city pumps five times in eight days last July to put 1.4 to 4.9 gallons in her 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid.

The King of Frugality is clearly Paul Krekorian since he doesn’t supply city cars to anyone on his staff and only hits the pumps once every six days on average. Still, repair bills on his 2008 Toyota Camry run roughly $200 a month.

Perhaps the fact that Greuel and Krekorian are so politically ambitious has something to do with their frugality as appears to be the case with Eric Garcetti’s decision last July 31 to turn in his 2007 Honda Accord Hybrid and take away cars from six staffers three weeks later.

He did reassign five of the cars to “staff,” which meant in one case at least a take-home car that had been filled up 24 times in four months was only filled up six times in the eight months after it became a staff car.

Ed Reyes, in contrast, with nowhere to go except into retirement with his $150,000 a year pension and extra income as a “planning” consultant, apparently went through a change of life experience last November of a different sort.

He turned in his 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid for a brand new 2011 Dodge Charger muscle car so instead of filling up with an average of six gallons twice a week, he now needs more than twice that.

So play the “Fuel for Thought” game with me and dig into the documents yourselves and maybe we’ll learn more about how they are taking us all for a ride and having a lot of fun at our expense.

CD1-Reyes1  CD1-Reyes2   CD1-Reyes3  CD1-Reyes4  CD1-Reyes5


CD3-Zine1  CD3-Zine2   CD3-Zine3  CD3-Zine4   CD3-Zine5

CD4-LaBonge1  CD4-LaBonge2   CD4-LaBonge3   CD4-LaBonge4   CD4-LaBonge5

CD5-Koretz1   CD5-Koretz2   CD5-Koretz3

CD6-Cardenas1   CD6-Cardenas2   Cd6-Cardenas3   CD6-Cardenas4    CD6-Cardenas5

CD7-Alarcon1   CD7-Alarcon2   CD7-Alarcon3   CD7-Alarcon4

CD8-Parks1   CD8-Parks2   CD8-Parks3   CD8-Parks4

CD9-Perry1   CD9-Perry2   CD9-Perry3

CD10-Wesson1   CD10-Wesson2   CD10-Wesson3   CD10-Wesson4   CD10-Wesson5

CD11-Rosendahl1   CD11-Rosendahl2  CD11-Rosendahl3    CD11-Rosendahl4

CD12-Englander1   CD12-Englander2   CD12-Englander3

CD13-Garcetti1   CD13-Garcetti2   CD13-Garcetti3

CD14-Huizar1   CD14-Huizar2   CD14-Huizar3

CD15-Buscaino1   CD15-Buscaino2   CD15-Buscaino3


Cars-Attorney1   Cars-Attorney2  Cars-Attorney3   Cars-Attorney4


You, the voter, must pay attention — Break the cycle of failure: My Sunday Column

Mail-in voting for the general election two weeks from now already is under way with reforms in place — open primaries and the end of gerrymandered legislative districts — that are supposed to end the stalemate in Sacramento.

The odds of any significant change occurring are about as great as the current crop of legislators actually solving California’s fiscal crisis.

Better you should have gambled all your money buying stock in Facebook so you, too, can be a billionaire.

It isn’t going to happen.

Somehow, in the 21 years since the fall of the Soviet Union and the constant threat of a nuclear holocaust under the policy of mutually assured destruction, we have internalized the policy into our political culture as mutually assured (self) destruction.

Three governors now have succumbed to the MAD-ness: Gray Davis, because he was too weak to control his party; Arnold Schwarzenegger, because his party despised him; and now Jerry Brown, because neither party cares what he thinks.

It is madness, alright, to think that two decades of creating costly entitlements for public employees, the rich and the poor, while failing to invest in California’s future, are going to be fixed without hard and painful decisions — and without both Democrats and Republicans putting aside their ideological insanity for the common good.

The goal of the open primary system, and of creating honest districts, was to give voters the chance to elect more moderate representatives who will force the ideologues to the center, where compromise is possible.

But that requires you, the voters, to pay attention, to know who you are voting for, and whether they have the courage and integrity to stand up for what’s right, and not just be obedient servants of their party and their personal advantages.

How many of you are going to vote any differently than you always have in the past: party affiliation, name recognition, vague sense that your representative is doing a good job?

The results will almost certainly be what they have been for so long: Democrats fighting against real cuts, Republicans opposing every form of tax increase, and both parties protecting the special interests who keep them in office.

Repeating the same thing over and over and expecting something to change makes us all complicit in the political insanity.



Where Is Gov. Moonbeam When You Need Him?

Back in the day when he was Gov. Moonbeam, you couldn’t help but love Jerry Brown as the embodiment of everything kooky, adventurous and free-spirited about California where so many believed in impossible dreams.

Today, he seems less about moonbeams lighting our hopes than a tired old man-in- the-moon who double-talks like every other politicians of every stripe.

One moment he is the tough guy, promising to rein in public workers’ pensions and salaries, balance the budget without gimmicks by slashing spending and do whatever is necessary to get California back on track.

The next minute he’s crying about people losing their jobs and moms losing their child care while he inflate revenue numbers, defers costs into the future and raids every fund the state has, like the settlement from banks that was supposed to help the people ripped off on home loans and one-time windfall like Facebook going public.

He’s still relying on “triggers” that never seem to get pulled even when the budget deficit doubles to $16 billion so he wants to soak the rich with massive tax hikes while mortgaging everyone else’s future to build a bullet train that only the rich could afford to ride.

What he really needs to do is pull the trigger and put a bullet into the nonsense that the problem is the recession rather than his own and the legislature’s gutless incompetence.

This is  a weak economic recovery. This is the recovery. It’s as good as it gets.

Rather than canoeing a little left and a little right as he used to say back in the day, he now seems timid as he takes two steps after each tentative step forward.

The last great American newspaper columnist Mike Royko popularized the Gov. Moonbeam label in 1979, calling California  “the world’s largest outdoor mental asylum … If it babbles and its eyeballs are glazed, it probably comes from California.”

Everyone got a laugh out of making fun of the state, even Californians but it really isn’t so apt any longer. It isn’t California that’s crazy; it’s the whole world that’s gone crazy.

We are in a state of perpetual warfare and global tension even as the 200-year boom that created the vast middle class populations in America and Europe is over. The First World countries are becoming nations of rich and power with shrinking middle classes while giant Third World countries like China, India and Brazil are booming.

Since the truth of our condition exploded in our faces in October 2008, our leaders have tried to buy time by cooking the books and political posturing.

Time has run out. The party is over. Consumer demand is not going to drive the economy. We need to face reality and get to work remaking our society.

Jerry Brown knows better than what he’s done. His proposal to give state workers the four-day, 38-hour week with a 5 percent pay cut shows he know we have to redefine work rules and income expectations.

We have to create a society that values happiness and freedom — not personal wealth and legalistic controls.

We need to create a sustainable society that serves the broad populace — not a phony “green” society that makes elitists feel good about themselves as if their Prius doesn’t pollute the air.

Jerry Brown knows better. So do all kinds of people in high and low places. Yet we keep on fighting for petty little advantages and keep on hoping everything will get better if we just put a smiley face on it and pretend we solved what’s wrong.

Time is not on our side. But I can’t help but wonder if people like Jerry Brown (and Barack Obama for that matter) and all the others who know what has to be done but won’t do it, what hope is there?

Full Disclosure Network: The Ugly Side of Los Angeles Politics

The Full Disclosure Network’s Leslie Dutton has long tracked the foibles and finagles of the County Board of Supervisors — an institution rarely watched closely by mainstream media — so reports they had banned footballs and Frisbees on LA beaches did not go unnoticed.

She and I delved into the craziness that went viral around the world within minutes and sent county officials into a tizzy of denials and fingerpointing.

What we found was the story behind the (erroneous) story revealed a lot about how the supervisors operate and why so much of what they do remains so obscure to the public.

You can watch the 1-minute preview of our conversation above or go to the Full Disclosure Network to watch our entire conversation.

Pablum Politics and Placebo Policies: It Is Our Duty to Fight for a Better City for All

The vision is for this to be a city where people feel they can get a good public education and not spend their life on the freeways creating smog. It would be a city where you graduate from college and find a job. I imagine a city that is manageable in terms of quality of life, good recreation, parks, public libraries. My vision of L.A. is one that allows us to say that you can really achieve your dreams.”

That’s the message Wendy Greuel’s campaign for mayor is sending out all over town to convince you, the voters, she is up to the job and not just a nice upper middle class woman who way down deep is very shallow.

Greuel’s campaign calls it the highlight of her interview with LA Magazine, that and whether she “prefers Art’s or Jerry’s Deli” — a critical question that makes no sense since there is no comparison.

“Help us spread the word about her vision for LA … and let us know your pick — Art’s or Jerry’s.”

The emphasis in the Wendy vision quote and the underlining on the deli question comes from the campaign’s senior advisor Rose Kapolczynski, longtime political consultant to the irreplaceable Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Ms. Kapolczynski has captured the essence of why it can be fairly said, “Everybody Loves Wendy.”

Frankly, the hollow phrases that ring so truly from the lips of Wendy Greuel are no worse or better than the empty pieties uttered by the man who is called her No. 1 competitor for mayor, Eric Garcetti, who swears on a stack of Bibles that the nation’s second most corrupt city government in the nation’s second most hated city is a “Temple to Democracy.”

By everyone’s analysis — and not just that of those lost in the fog of despair — Los Angeles is a city in crisis, its future at stake.

The city with the nation’s worst air, worst congestion, worst roads, failing schools, aging infrastructure, Rust Belt poverty and unemployment rates — what more do you need to know to convince you that we need leaders with the courage to speak the truth and the vision to see a way forward, not the invisible civic leadership that has gone along with failure for so long while the apathetic populace foolishly acted like it wasn’t their problem?

Greuel and Garcetti are smart enough and good enough people at heart.

The leadership provided and the decisions that are made by the next mayor and the next City Council  are of the utmost importance to all of us in terms of the quality of our lives, our economic opportunity, our safety, the future of our children going to school and coming of age?

But have Greuel and Garcetti ever in their long political careers done anything substantive other than talk in hieroglyphics that deflect attention from the serious issues at hand?

Have they ever stood up in public and taken responsibility for the thousands of votes they cast and actions they took that put city government so deeply into the red that even now after what they claim is $1.5 billion in budget cuts, we still face massive deficits for years — if not decades to come — no matter what happens?

I bring this up because the only people I have heard anything concrete from were outsider attorney/talk show host Kevin James and the half-outsider who has given up the farce, Austin Beutner.

Maybe an angry woman named Jan Perry will find the motivation to stand up to  the failure of the City Hall political machine now that AEG and Central City Association — the downtown power interests she pandered to so generously with public money and public policy — showed who they really are by abandoning her in the redistricting fight.

The hardest thing for me to understand about the tepid politics of LA is why in the last 30 years the closest thing to someone who promised to really change things was Dick Riordan and you know what happened to him.

He turned LA around but he couldn’t get it moving because the dark side coalition of developers and labor blocked his reforms. So he turned himself around and accommodated them in the name of “pragmatism” — the amoral justification LA’s rich so often use for surrendering their integrity.

What makes me so frustrated about this farce of national, state and then local elections is I don’t hear a word of truth coming from anyone — except from the candidates who don’t stand much of a chance.

Does it really matter who wins the costliest Democratic Congressional primary in history: A  worn-out old political hack like Howard Berman or a not-so-old worn-out political hack like Brad Sherman?

Does it matter that Tony Cardenas — a wannabe worn-out old political hack is being given a free ride in Berman’s Valley seat and will represent the district just the way Berman did 99.99 percent of them?

That’s what troubles me so: I don’t agree with anyone all the time, not even myself. That’s not the problem. I’m not looking for agreements. I’m looking for someone with the courage and ability to lead, to move us forward.

I’m troubled when people like Wendy Greuel say things like they want to live a in a city “where you graduate from college and find a job … a city that is manageable in terms of quality of life, good recreation, parks, public libraries.”

Damn it, what about the fact that a third to half the kids never graduate high school? Is she out of her mind, so indifferent to the realities of a city where half the people live in fear every month where the rent is going to come from?

Did she not notice we closed the libraries two days a week and even though voters gave the libraries millions of dollars in more money, they ripped 90 percent of it off so there was only enough to hire back six fired librarians and reopen half a day on Fridays?

Life, recreation, parks — all gutted because we need a city of flashy subways and trains linked to a state with a bullet train so the rich can get to San Francisco.

There are two LAs: the rich and the poor. And just about everything you are hearing and all that you are likely to hear is lies covering up the truth.

Dance with the devils if you want. But we will never reach the light at the end of this dark tunnel unless we fight, fight what we want, what we believe in.

Fight we must. It is our duty.