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Garcetti accuses DWP union of trying to buy election for Greuel

March 1, 2013 |  1:28 pm

As the union representing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees plowed hundreds of thousands of dollars into their independent effort to elect Wendy Greuel mayor, contender Eric Garcetti alleged Friday that the union was trying to buy Tuesday’s election on her behalf and contended that she had abdicated her duty to thoroughly audit the department as city controller.

The DWP union has provided much of the financial backing for an outside group known as Working Californians that began airing an ad attacking Garcetti on Thursday night. The city councilman said the union has spent $1.7 million to elect Greuel “because she’s let the DWP off the hook.” He noted that while Greuel’s predecessor in the controller’s office, Laura Chick, did two comprehensive audits of the department, Greuel has not done a top to bottom audit of the agency.

“Ms. Greuel has failed to audit the DWP pension system, and the DWP salaries, and now the DWP union is spending millions to elect Greuel and attack me because they know that I will be an independent voice for our ratepayers,” Garcetti said during a press conference outside the department’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

“If the DWP buys this election for Greuel, what does that mean for our DWP bills? What does that mean for DWP pensions and salaries? What does that mean for the average family here in Los Angeles?” Garcetti said. “Every time you pay that bill, some of that money is going into attack ads and not to reduce your rates.”

Greuel has said that she has been tough on the DWP in her audits and that their financial support for her campaign would have no bearing on her work as mayor.

He noted that Working Californians has also aired radio ads attacking Councilwoman Jan Perry, who is also a mayoral candidate: “It’s no coincidence," he said, noting that he and Perry wrote a law creating a ratepayer advocate as "somebody who will be an independent voice for the people of Los Angeles when proposed rate increases are before us. This was a law that was opposed by the DWP union and Ms. Greuel.” 

Perry’s campaign also sought to use the independent effort by the DWP union to her advantage in the final days before Tuesday’s election. In a fundraising solicitation, Perry consultant Eric Hacopian said the ads showed that Greuel allies “are in panic mode” and argued that Perry “is the one candidate running for mayor who has promised to fight the kind of transactional politics that increases your DWP rates in exchange for filling the coffers of craven politicians.”

The 30-second attack ad from Working Californians accuses Garcetti of “living large” on the taxpayer’s dime. It opens with an image of Garcetti, dressed all in white and singing “White Christmas” at a holiday party, while a narrator declares: “It’s Christmas every day for Eric Garcetti, president of the highest paid City Council in America.” It accuses Garcetti of staying in “five-star hotels,” using multiple city cars and redirecting funds for special projects to pay the salary of one of his staff members.

Garcetti noted Friday that the footage of him singing was from his visit to a convalescent home last Christmas. “It seems kind of a little bit strange that they would take that and use that as the ad.”

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-- Maeve Reston and James Rainey

Twitter.com/MaeveReston

Twitter.com/LATimesrainey

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