Rivals take new shots at Greuel over L.A. ticket-fixing service
City Controller Wendy Greuel took new fire Wednesday for her handling of a special service at City Hall that dismissed parking tickets for special applicants. Two rivals in the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles -- City Councilwoman Jan Perry and entertainment lawyer Kevin James -- accused Greuel of criticizing the now-defunct “Gold Card Desk” after voting in favor of the vendor that handled the program and despite the fact that members of her staff used it to fix tickets.
A mailer from Perry’s campaign accused the controller of using the program to fix tickets for “her supporters and other political insiders.” A Web video from James calls Greuel a “scamming politician.”
James first tried to push the issue to the forefront in a debate Monday night in Los Feliz. He said that reports from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office showed that Greuel’s office had been amply briefed on the Gold Card Desk when she was a member of the City Council. She also voted for a contract with the company that provided the Gold Card Desk service, after receiving $1,500 in campaign contributions from it, James’ camp said. “Wendy, voters know a scamming politician when they see one,” a woman intones in the video.
Perry created a stir with a second mailer that became public Wednesday. On one side, the appeal shows Perry in two photographs, one with President Obama and one with former President Clinton. While the mailer does not claim an endorsement from either of the presidents -- which they have not given -- the flip side calls her “the choice of Democratic Party leaders for mayor.”
Greuel has called the attacks on the special ticket program ludicrous, noting that her 2011 audit led Villaraigosa to end the special parking ticket fixes. “She should be commended, not attacked,” said Greuel campaign consultant John Shallman.
The Greuel camp also called Perry a “hypocrite” for criticizing Greuel’s 2006 vote to award the Gold Card contract because Perry also voted for it. “Some candidates will say anything to get elected,” said Greuel campaign spokeswoman Shannon Murphy.
Perry’s campaign consultant, Eric Hacopian, defended the mailer on the parking program. “[Greuel] does this audit and it ends up that her office is one of the biggest users of the Gold Card,” Hacopian said. “When someone claims to be something and their actions contradict that, it’s hypocrisy and we need to point that out.”
While the Perry mailer cites The Times as its source in accusing Greuel of “repeatedly” using the ticket-dismissal program, the newspaper did not report on the number of times her office used the program.
The Times reported that Villaraigosa’s staff said Greuel’s office had been briefed on use of the Gold Card program when she sat on the council and that her staff had fast-tracked ticket fixes. Greuel said she knew nothing about the program until her 2011 audit. The newspaper also reported on one instance in which Greuel’s press deputy used the Gold Card to fix a parking ticket for his mother.
Hacopian said the Perry campaign had ample information from sources in City Hall to charge that Greuel’s office used the Gold Card service repeatedly. He also defended the mailer touting Democratic endorsements.
On the opposite side of the pictures of Councilwoman Perry posing with Obama and with Clinton is a message saying Perry has “also” been endorsed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles Councilman Bernard C. Parks and four other current and former elected officials.
The Times previously reported that presidents rarely endorse candidates in municipal elections but that Councilman Eric Garcetti, if anyone, stood the best chance of getting an Obama endorsement and that Greuel had hopes of landing an endorsement from Clinton.
Hacopian said the mailer “in no way” suggests the current and former presidents have endorsed Perry. “Anyone who does that is a ... fool because the White House and Bill Clinton would take your head off,” Hacopian said. “You don’t use the name of the president of the United States lightly.”