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Ex-City Controller Laura Chick skewers Carmen Trutanich on radio

July 22, 2009 | 12:00 pm

Former Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick didn’t pull any punches this morning in her assessment of L.A.’s newly elected city attorney, Carmen Trutanich.

During an interview on KABC-AM 790’s Doug McIntyre show, Chick called Trutanich a “demagogue” and a liar. She accused him of backing down from a campaign promise to dismiss a yearlong legal battle over whether the controller has the authority to audit programs in the city attorney’s office.

“I know that there’s politicians who think the public is stupid and they think they can manipulate the public and come out with these little sound bites and campaign promises," Chick said. “But I believe that the public sees through these things, and that they are going to see what they got in this city attorney is a demagogue, is a man who will saying anything to get elected and he’ll go out and make fancy speeches. But when you look behind the words, it’s not just empty. It’s lies.’’

The Times called Trutanich for comment and a spokesman said a statement might be forthcoming. In this morning's Daily News, Trutanich explained his position.

The lawsuit had been filed by former City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, who wanted to block Chick from conducting a performance audit of his workers' compensation unit. Both politicians termed out of office July 1, but the bickering has continued between the two new officeholders, Trutanich and Controller Wendy Greuel.

During his election campaign, Trutanich said he disagreed with Delgadillo’s lawsuit and would welcome audits of his office by the controller.

Two weeks before Greuel and Trutanich took office July 1, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney issued a tentative ruling stating that the controller did not have the power to audit the workers’ compensation program or conduct performance audits of the city’s other elected officials.

Trutanich said he still supports dismissing the legal action, but that first he wants assurances that the city will not have to pick up the tab for the controller’s legal bills.

He also said he needs the City Council’s approval to dismiss the case, since his office essentially won the lawsuit in court.

Chick, who in April was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to a newly created inspector general post overseeing the disbursement of federal stimulus money within California, said that Trutanich’s concerns about attorney fees were ludicrous, and that it would be a small price to pay for ensuring L.A. has transparency in government.

She said that, during the campaign, he point-blank promised to dismiss the case when he was seeking her support.

“The city attorney has gone back on his word. He is not a man of his word, to me,’’ Chick said on the radio show. “I have told him this to his face. I told him that he lied in order to get my support."

-- Phil Willon at L.A. City Hall