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Ex-City Controller Laura Chick skewers Carmen Trutanich on radio

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

Comments () | Archives (5)


Darn right, Laura. But it's too bad you didn't see he was just a demagogue when he was running, when it really mattered.

A demagogue is defined as someone who just preys on the public's skepticism about government and the current crop of elected officials and says whatever it takes AGAINST THEM to gain their support. That defines him to a T, especially as he was a total neophyte to politics having worked the past 25 years as a criminal defense attorney in obscurity in a tiny law firm that wasn't even in L A. He was known as "the fixer" who did and said anything to get his clients off. Thanks to a clever campaign and utter lack of scrutiny from the media who should have done its job, his own PR was accepted as fact. All this talk about his "ethics" obscured that he had no track record in proving it.

Now he's also made unsubstantiated allegations that there are possible criminal charges involved in the Jackson/ AEG case -- putting legal scholars are into a whirl of speculation because they don't see any possible cause and anyway, it's NOT in the City Attorney's domain to file criminal charges. That would be under his friend and sponsor DA Cooley. (?)

This on top of threatening planning commissioners with legal action just for not bowing down to his "request" to delay a decision on something they'd worked on for months, with a deadline looming, under guidance from the City Attorney's office.

How much BAD PR has this renegade behavior cost LA so far? Will companies be more reluctant to do business with our city and its mayor and officials, with a loose canon of a City Attorney threatening criminal and civil action out of the blue?

Will qualified commissioners be reluctant to volunteer their time and expertise, when faced with the same threats? As one commissioner has already told the Times.

HOW MUCH have all the investigators cost us so far -- Trutanich said he had a large team working for a long time, weeks apparently, to dig up some excuse to file criminal and civil charges against SOMEONE involving our officials. Will Wendy Greuel do an audit -- and HOW and WHEN she wants not just when he "invites" her in to audit Rocky's books.

Are these investigators also working with DA Cooley's staff, since only the DA is authorized to file criminal charges? Is this the "cooperation with the DA my friend" what he's promised/ threatened in the campaign, hitting already?

Laura Chick is my hero.

It's a shame that Laura Chick is destroying her reputation over her unwillingness to pay her bills. She wants the city of Los Angeles to pay the bill for the legal fees in the lawsuit that she lost.

Worse, as someone who is supposed to be fiscally responsible, she dismisses the $100k bill as "a small price." With the City facing work furloughs and lay offs, Ms. Chick can better afford to pay her lawyer than the City, after all she makes over $200k in her new job.

Worse still is Ms. Chick's accusation that Trutanich ever promised to dismiss the lawsuit. According to her own statement to the Daily Breeze on April 15, 2009

"Chick ... indicated at a news conference on the steps of City Hall that she is backing Trutanich because of his position on allowing wide latitude to the controller in auditing programs."

Wide latitude is all that was 'promised' Ms. Chick, and Mr. Trutanich confirmed that promise today in the Daily News. So if the promise was dismissal, why didn't Ms. Chick say that when she was interviewed?

I think Ms. Chick owes Mr. Trutanich an apology for calling him a liar, and the public an apology for betraying our trust.

Laura Chick wants to stick City taxpayers with her personal legal bills after losing her lawsuit. She hired her personal political lawyer without Council approval, and without an open and transparent bid process to make sure she had the best and brightest attorney at the best cost doing the work. Then she proceeded to lose the case in court. Big surprise.

Now Chick is faced with having to personally paying her attorney's fees. How could she expect taxpayers to pay this?

Trutanich's statement in the press yesterday seems consistent with his campaign pledge. So why the political hyperbole out of Chick? It seems she is trying to offload her own failures and missteps with regard to the suit and her reckless waste of taxpayer money when she should have simply turned to the ballot box and let voters decide instead of an expensive court process.

Trutanich said the entire suit was a waste of taxpayer money and he's trying to protect taxpayers from paying Chick's personal political attorney fees for a losing effort in court. I don't think that's unreasonable. Hell, Greuel got headlines out of spending a few thousand dollars too much on feeding police officers during the Jackson memorial. How about a few hundred thousand dollars on Chick's legal bills?

Chick should pay her own bills and stop playing politics and picking fights with someone who fundamentally agrees with her position on transparency--but refuses to recommend taxpayers pay her personal attorney for doing such a lousy job. Would they be having this argument if they'd won? A Controller ought to know better. Pay your legal bills, Laura, it's a small price to pay for transparency.


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