Let me entertain you here in the entertainment capital of the world by handicapping the race for City Attorney — actually why the office has become irrelevant thanks to the power grabs of the mayor and City Council and their contempt for – and fear of – the current officeholder.
Carmen Trutanich: Outsider who trashed the insider, the least popular City Councilman of his generation, Jack Weiss, thanks to the passionate support of thousands of ordinary citizens who cared enough about the decline of the city that they got involved.
Unfortunately, “Nuch” acted like a stampeding bull in china shop, unaware that everyone inside City Hall hated his guts — nothing personal — simply because he wasn’t part of the political machine that has reduced them all to parodies of what elected officials should be.
So they tripped him up at every turn, as if he needed any help falling on his face all by himself, took away tens of millions of dollars he needed to prosecute criminals, defend the city against all the lawsuits caused by the lack of discipline among its employees and the flagrant disregard of the law shown by the mayor and City Council whenever it suited its purposes.
Throw in some health issues and the result was “Nuch” was neutered and irrelevant to the point ”Nuch” decided he didn’t like the job all that much so he broke his pledge to stick it out for two terms and ran for District Attorney, a move so stupid he ran third to two unknowns with little money and no name recognition.
Bye bye “Nuch,” you’d think but it doesn’t quite happen that way.
The political machine that has destroyed the city wants the ultimate PC liberal former Councilman and state Assemblyman Mike Feuer, who was given his walking papers as City Attorney a dozen years ago by Rocky Delgadillo, who did such a lackluster job he hasn’t been heard from since.
Mike is a smart guy, Harvard-educated as if you didn’t know, but he has a hard time telling the forest from the trees and he is a true believer in all things uber-liberal even when they make no sense and achieve nothing good except for serving the special interests that own City Hall
His lack of critical and independent thinking made him a seeming shoo-in to be City Attorney but God is a tough customer and sent an another vehicle crashing into Mike’s car, seriously injuring him and seemingly robbing him of the strength and vitality needed to vigorously campaign while giving poor “Nuch” the hope he needed to inspire renewed effort.
Then there’s Greg Smith, definitely not to be confused with the former Councilman Greig Smith when it comes to name recognition.
This Greg Smith is interesting guy — smart, tough, successful, an outsider who only has one big problem. He made a handsome fortune suing the City of Los Angeles and other cities in the region for their bungling incompetence in how they mistreated and mishandled personnel problems in their police and fire departments.
We’re talking tens of millions, hundreds of millions in judgments and settlements over the years with Smith’s share putting him in position to write a half million dollar check for his campaign to put himself in the running.
Let’s look at just one of my favorite cases, the one involving firefighter Tennie Pierce who unknowingly was fed spaghetti with dog food meat sauce in a firehouse prank that had become all too common.
I love the case because I had a big hand in convincing Antonio Villaraigosa to prove his manhood by vetoing the City Council’s approval of paying poor Tennie $2.7 million plus legal fees for the bad taste in his mouth, not that he noticed until everyone laughed at him, causing him terrible emotional pain and suffering.
Greg Smith didn’t represent Tennie, who wound up getting only $1.4 million in a settlement although the total cost to taxpayers still came close to original amount with legal fees and court cots.
Given how the Fire Department has been run for so long, the actual pranksters got off light but because of the public uproar the captains in charge of the station were hit with career-damaging month-long suspensions — giving Smith another slam-dunk case as their lawyer.
“Betrayed” by the Fire Department is how Smith, who was hoping for a $250,000 settlement, described his captain clients at the time. “They looked exhausted because of what they had to go through,” he said. “I could see the strain in their faces.”
Maybe he should have been looking at the strain on the faces of taxpayers who shelled out $1.6 million to pay the judgment, bringing the total cost to $5 million or so — for a plate of dog food spaghetti that half the population would have gobbled down for a few hundred bucks.
Smith is a sharp lawyer, the best of the lot, can the guy who got rich suing the city actually protect the city, especially when so many of the lawsuits stem from mismanagement in the police and fire departments he represented.
Finally, there’s city activist Noel Weiss who has fought City Hall and won on some renter rights issues and the outrageous attempt to squelch opponents of the Measure B solar energy boondoggle.
Good guy like so many of the citizen candidates but no money, no chance.
That is the bad news when it comes to who to vote for in the City Attorney’s race.
The good news is it doesn’t really matter.
To get around Trutanich and the many capable people around him, the mayor and other key departments have decided to dispense with his and his staff’s services as much as possible by hiring their own lawyers despite all the cuts in public services.
Bottom line: The City Attorney’s office has been gelded and can do neither great harm nor any good. It is merely a tool of a failed machine, designed to protect and serve the incompetence and corruption, and should be abolished entirely.