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Judge delays legal squabble between L.A. city attorney and controller

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney agreed to a two-week delay today in the legal dispute between City Atty. Carmen Trutanich and City Controller Wendy Greuel over the auditing powers of the controller’s office, but he underscored that he believes Greuel is entitled to outside legal counsel.

The lawsuit began before Trutanich and Greuel took office. Former City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo sued Greuel’s predecessor, Laura Chick, last year, charging that she acted beyond the scope of her authority when she tried to audit a workers’ compensation program in his office and subpoenaed some of his employees.

Though Trutanich said he did not agree with the lawsuit,  the judge entered a tentative ruling 10 days before the new city attorney took office. Mooney found that Chick did not have legal authority to conduct performance audits of Delgadillo’s office or the offices of other elected officials.

Greuel argues the ruling could severely limit her ability to audit city programs and asked the City Council and city attorney to dismiss the case. But so far the council has said the judge’s tentative ruling should stand.

In recent months, the two sides have wrangled over Greuel’s legal representation. Greuel stepped into the lawsuit after Chick left office and has been represented by Chick’s lawyer, Fred Woocher. But Trutanich’s office contends that only Chick – not Greuel – is a party to the lawsuit.

Earlier, the council ordered Greuel to sever ties with Woocher. But last week, the city’s top budget analyst recommended rehiring him to represent Greuel since he is most familiar with the facts of the case. The council did not have enough members at Friday’s meeting to vote on the analyst’s recommendation.

Mooney said he would delay a final decision for two weeks to allow the council to decide whether Greuel should get outside legal representation.

Greuel said today that she had learned the city attorney’s office never presented her most recent settlement offers to the council.

Greuel and Woocher rejected two settlement offers from the city attorney. In the first, city attorney officials said they would dismiss the lawsuit if Woocher waived his legal fees. Under the second alternative, the office said they would pay Woocher less than $100,000 as long as the judge was permitted to enter his final order in the case.

In a counteroffer, Greuel and Woocher said if the city dismissed the lawsuit, Woocher would accept $80,000 in reduced fees. Woocher also said he would agree to a dismissal with no immediate payment—with the understanding that he could seek his legal fees after the case was settled. Under a state statute, Woocher said, officials who are sued in their official capacity are entitled to have their legal fees paid by the city or public entity for which they work.

Greuel said today that it is “unfair and not ethical” that the decision about her legal representation is in the hands of the city attorney and members of the council, whose interests are at stake in the case.

-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall

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Comments () | Archives (3)

Ok Trutanich, what are you hiding?
You are accountable to "us"!
You are so corrupt!

This does NOT mention the CRUCIAL fact that LieTanich swore to Laura Chick AND to Woocher to their faces and all over the media like on Doug McIntyre's show several times, that he would support Chick's position on her right to audit all depts. no matter how the judge ruled. To get her endorsement over Weiss who like the council, urged Delgadillo and Chick to let them or someone else mediate before they took the case to court. But LieTanich was Go, Laura! (McIntyre is a conservative guy who used his show to campaign for LieTanich, repeated all his campaign slogans like he was a PR op working for him, so he was NOT some pro-Democratic, pro-Weiss person, that's why it's more surprising he would actually see the truth on this.)

Funny how the Times refuses to report the whole backgr0und which is that someone elected to uphold the law has no ethics and was shameless in saying and using anyone to get elected, like Laura Chick said in so many words. He did this to many groups and people, like telling the pro-medical cannabis community that he would be sympathetic to them unlike "too tough Weiss," got them to work for him and throw money at him, now he's thrown THEM under the bus with lots of other groups and individuals.

McIntyre puts it further as, "Do what I say or I'll use my silo of lawyers to sue you and destroy you." LieTanich and his Chief Deputy Bill Carter - who's DA Cooley's decades-long righthand and obviously used to getting away with this - make it worse by trying to lie that Chick and Woocher agreed to work for FREE and now are shake-down crooks against the city, even though they cut their real fees HUGELY. But it's clear LieTanich won't pay a DIME out of sheer ego, putting his vengeance above the law and good of the city.

"The Nooch" from Long Beach as he's been known for decades doesn't like that Chick called him out as "a liar and demagogue," a charlatan, so he's been trying to destroy her reputation. Now with Greuel, he got the wimpy Council to refuse to allow her to keep Woocher - then claims in public that "the Council is my boss and I do what they tell me." SO DEVIOUS. They forced her into Court alone last time, so that Judge Mooney as noted in this article scolded not only the City Atty LieTanich but the WHOLE COUNCIL for going along with it.

While some councilmembers like Smith tried to do the right thing and get LieTanich to pay off Woocher and move on, others refused, afraid to get audited themselves. Funny how Jan Perry who ALSO wants Outside Counsel against Trutanich because he threatened to jail her, was one of those voting to deprive Greuel of HER lawyer Woocher, who knew her case and had worked for a long time on it. They would let Greuel NEW outside lawyer if she won't take one of "his" underlings, even though it would cost way, way more - like the City Financial Official said.

UNBELIEVABLE that a guy can abuse OUR city dollars this way, abuse the vast powers of the city attorney's office to try to corral elected officials into doing what HE wants to shore up his own rightwing fan base, which wants him to arrest and threaten ALL Democrats and encourages his ignorance of the law. On his office bookshelf he has a plaque: "The Strong to What they Will/ The Weak Do What They Want." NO MR. BULLY FALSETanich: You are NOT some "strong guy" who can do what you WANT, you must follow the law, you MORE than anyone.

Correction to how FalseTanich's plaque on his office bookcase reads, from what I had in the last paragraph: It reads "The Strong Do What they Will/ The Weak Do What They Must." Meaning clearly that since he's one of the "strong" ones, he things he can do whatever he wants while the "must" part, the law, is only for "the weak." He's got it exactly backwards - he's supposed to uphold the law and follow it, and set an example more than anyone. "The weak" are the ones he's SUPPOSED to PROTECT with the law, that's why we have those hundreds of attorneys and private investigators, not to shore up his personal power to use as he "will/wants," to threaten to sue/jail/ruin anyone who doesn't do what he tells them, right or wrong.

IF this Council had any backbone they'd join Chick and Greuel and numerous others in forcing him to do what he's legally bound to do and promised to do to get elected, ALL down the line, instead of taking advantage of the situation to hide their own offices from the Controller's auditing. Some claim that no elected official should audit another, but that guts the Controller's job to where it's more meaningless and leaves her just auditing NON-elected depts. like the LAPD (which some councilmembers and FalseTanich have meddled with and micro-managed often wrongly), while leaving the loud and FALSE claims of FalseTanich to be "saving money" despite his wild hiring spree, unavailable to audits. We also want the gang programs, Budget Committee headed by Parks, and numerous programs headed by Perry, Zine, Alarcon and other critics audited too.

If they want to audit the Controller too by outside auditors or a neutral city financial official, fine, but don't use it as an excuse to let FalseTanich get away with this renegade behavior so they can hide behind it. As Perry already found out, sacrificing your colleagues can come back to bite THEM too with being threatened and then deprived of legal counsel to defend themselves.


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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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