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City attorney candidates to debate environmental issues

Previewing Wednesday night’s debate on environmental issues, Los Angeles city attorney candidate Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich pledged Tuesday that he would expand the city’s prosecution of environmental crimes and add more environmental compliance officers to the city’s ranks.

Throughout the race to succeed outgoing City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, Westside Councilman Jack Weiss has been critical of Trutanich’s private environmental clients, and that issue is expected to come up Wednesday night at a forum presented by the League of Conservation Voters.

In a preemptive defense Tuesday, Trutanich highlighted his work of prosecuting environmental crimes in the 1980s while serving in the district attorney’s office. During a  news conference outside City Hall with 10 current and former environmental prosecutors and investigators, Trutanich said his record shows he has brought companies into compliance.

“I wasn’t there whenever their actions took place," he said, "but when I got there, their actions stopped. In the case of a client, don’t paint me with the brush of a company that’s done something that I wasn’t involved in.”

The San Pedro attorney faulted Weiss for missing what his campaign characterized as 149 important environmental votes, and said he should have used his chairmanship on the council’s public safety committee to investigate environmental crimes.

"Environmental pollution is a public safety issue,” Trutanich said. “We’ve had millions and millions of gallons of raw sewage dumped into the Santa Monica Bay because of the city of Los Angeles not doing adequate assurance measures to stop that from reoccurring.... There should have been public safety committee hearings over the past eight years on this issue.”

In response, Weiss’ campaign consultant, Ace Smith, said Trutanich had repeatedly represented polluters “to get them off the hook.”

“He’s responsible for that, and it’s put hundreds of thousands of dollars in his own pocket, and it’s all dirty money,” Smith said.

Weiss, who is president of the Santa Monica Bay Watershed Council, laid out his own environmental plan several weeks ago, promising to expand clean water enforcement, help revitalize the Los Angeles River and crack down on air pollution and illegal dumping in the region.

The Westside councilman was endorsed Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and environmental advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who said in a statement that he respected Weiss’ work as founding chairman of the Santa Monica Water Restoration Commission “to reduce sewage spills and polluted runoff in the region.”

Weiss and Trutanich will debate at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd. Most of the tickets for the forum have been distributed, but forum officials will make any additional seats available at 6:15 p.m. and allow voters to watch in an overflow area.

—Maeve Reston

Comments () | Archives (3)

Doing what he can to hide the evidence before the trial is not "doing what he can to bring companies into compliance." That's just a transparent excuse it's amazing he's got the nerve to get away with it, and that this young new reporter seems to buy it or at least write it down with a straight face.

Even rightwing talker Doug McIntyre had a good on-air laugh over Trutanich's similar spin about the Sea Captain who shot baby seals and then said he turned the guy into a "born again animal activist" because the guy had to do community service caring for sea mammals as part of his sentence.

And here Trutanich goes again, talking about his record on the environment from the 80's, just like with the gang prosecution he's always talking about from 86, because his real record from the recent decades is so slimy, it's clearly not in sync with voters. Since then he's a "self-made millionaire" which of course is good, while he derides Weiss' career in public service instead of similarly lining his pockets which he easily could have. But he chose to follow the model of his parents. I'm disgusted with Trutanich trying to turn his own selfishness into a black mark against public service, a fine message that is to our young people.

With the Mayor distancing himself further from Weiss (see 'Villaraigosa says city attorney's race is no slam dunk' below) it's increasingly harder for Jack Weiss to get anyone to take him seriously.

The debate tomorrow night will doubtless see Weiss sticking to his guns and attacking Carmen Trutanich's record as a private attorney who has represented clients charged with crime; environmental or otherwise. Weiss's cheap trick is to ask Trutanich to 'give me your clients list.' While ethical rules prevent Trutanich from discussing his representation, a fact that Weiss should know - Weiss is no stranger to ethical violations with some 32 on record at the City Ethics Commission.

But the fact is that Weiss himself could look all the cases that Trutanich has handed. That's how I determined that Weiss has only ever tried 2 jury cases, not the 8 he claims as the 'experienced prosecutor.'

Cheap tricks and dirty deceptions have been Weiss's playbook in the 3 public debates to date. The Mayor clearly sees that as a losing strategy, and the audiences have commented that while they heard plenty from Weiss in terms of attacks, they heard nothing in terms of Weiss's accomplishments.

Perhaps that's because Weiss has few if any notable accomplishments, let's see;

2 trials while serving as a federal prosecutor,
1 recall effort as councilmember,
32 ethics violations for receiving and keeping laudered money in his campaign account,
Being subpoenaed to testify before a criminal grand jury investigation into pay to play allegations surrounding Weiss's relationship with the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation and a $8,000 lap dance bill,
Wrongly advising the Mayor on the legality of the Pico/Olympic one-way traffic plan that was illegal without an Environmental Impact Report,
Being the only attorney other than Rocky Delgadillo who represented the City in settling claims with billboard operators that caused the chaos that is currently called 'billboard blight'
Selling out Council District 5's right to a fair share of the revenue from the Street Furniture Revenue Fund, by agreeing to having 50% of the new advertising pillars in CD5, but CD5 will only get 1/15 of the money,
Agreeing with every high-density development on the Westside, that cause the traffic congestion that Jack then tried to sidestep with the illegal Pico/Olympic plan.

The list goes on, but the point is made, Weiss has a record of failure that is finally getting the voters attention and it clearly has the Mayor worried, Despite Chief Bratton's "no brainer" endorsement, the fact is that every other law enforcement entity has supported Trutanich because of who he is, not what he says.

Today a seasoned collection of environmental prosecutors from LA County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and former prosecutors gathered at City Hall to show their support for Carmen Trutanich.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles on the steps of City Hall, a real attorney who has the experience and integrity to be a real City Attorney. High above today's press conference, on the souht facade of City Hall, the engraved words read "He that violates his oath profanes the divinity of faith itself.” I think there's a message there for Jack Weiss...

I think that Richard Bloom is the President of the Santa Monica Bay Watershed Council. I serve as a member of that Council for the Sierra Club. Jack Weiss has not been part of this council for at least the last year.


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