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In L.A.'s city attorney race, it seems that only money talks

Every city election season brings the inevitable debate about who is a legitimate candidate, and the answer often comes down to money. Tonight at 6:30, three Los Angeles city attorney candidates — Councilman Jack Weiss, environmental attorney Carmen Trutanich and Deputy City Atty. Michael Amerian — have been invited to speak at a forum hosted by the Assn. of Black City Attorneys at First African Methodist Episcopal Renaissance Corp.

The two other candidates, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Berger and Marina del Rey attorney Noel Weiss, were not asked to be part of the event, and they're not happy about it.

In an e-mail to reporters today, Berger said he believed he was being excluded because he's been a vocal critic of Jack Weiss, who represents the 5th Council District, where Berger lives. Noel Weiss said he contacted organizers and was also upset he wasn't invited.

Event organizer Capri Maddox said the association — which Berger referred to as "an obscure organization" in his e-mail to reporters — invited candidates who had contacted the group requesting a sit-down with members and who had filed financial reports with the city ethics commission by late December.

As of midday today, Berger still had not filed his most recent campaign finance report, which was due Jan. 22. In his Dec. 31 report, he said he had less than $5,000 on hand.

Jack Weiss has raised $1.5 million and has more than $1 million on hand. Trutanich has raised nearly $673,000 and has received $121,630 in matching funds — giving him nearly $451,000 to spend in the final weeks. Amerian now has $267,000 on hand and has received nearly $89,000 in matching funds. Noel Weiss reported $400 in contributions over the last filing period and reported that he's spent $5 and change.

Berger told reporters that given his seriousness about his candidacy, he "cannot stand by and allow the members of the Black City Attorneys Assn. to be misled." To that end, he plans to hand out fliers outside the forum and "resist whatever further efforts may be made to silence me."

Maddox said the group had no such intention: "If Mr. Berger wants to come and address the group, we can make time on the schedule for him to do that," she said.

-- Maeve Reston

Comments () | Archives (2)

Has Jack Weiss ever had a real job? I'm tired of paying his salary when all he does is run for yet another office. Thanks to Weiss, we have electronic billboards and gridlock traffic all over west L.A.

Perhaps the headline should have been "In LA City Attorney's Race The Press Trumps Money," because it was thanks to the Times and Association of Black City Attorney's executives Capri Maddox and Kimberly Willis that I was able to participate in the forum. What I didn't know, until the Times weighed in, was that Jack Weiss had insisted on a format that was vastly different from the typical forum where all candidates appear at the same time. Jack Weiss would only appear if all candidates appeared separately - he cannot afford to be confronted by me regarding his illegal campaign donations because he does not have a credible answer for his failure to divest himself of the dirty money he used to obtain taxpayer matching funds.
As I told the audience, I'm a prosecutor, not a politician. A politician would have known better than to insult and embarrass a fine and honorable association like the LA-ABCA. I apologized to the group last night, and I do the same now. I also truly appreciate the way Capri and Kimberly treated me fairly as I struggled to comprehend that the initial exclusion was not of their doing, but rather the manipulative way that Jack Weiss had secured a forum where he could address the audience unchallenged. I care passionately about the future of our city, and the prospect of having another career politician as City Attorney was too much for me. What kind of City Attorney would I be if I were willing to simply accept exclusion from such an important forum? I had to respond; pull out all the stops and fire the big guns - the Press. A free Press is vital in this race as long as expensive advertising can be used to mislead and misinform the public. Just like the Mayor will not debate Walter Moore, Weiss will not debate me or any other candidate - both have records that cannot survive scrutiny. The Press can make a difference . Last night they did. Thank you.


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