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Category: Los Angeles elections

L.A. Votes: Greuel, Garcetti navigate union waters, roast colleague

Photo: Eric Garcetti speaks to supporters during election night at the Avalon; Wendy Greuel speaks to supporters at an election night gathering. Credit: IWally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

As the mayoral candidates crossed the two-month mark until the runoff election, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti are struggling with a bit of a paradox -- the two long-time, pro-labor Democrats are jockeying over which of them is more likely to stand up to city-employee union demands. Election Memo

Both candidates have labor backing, but the most influential and deep-pocketed unions have thrown their support behind Greuel. That has resulted in a political dynamic few expected -- Greuel has emerged as the de facto labor candidate while Garcetti has been painted as a union nemesis.

Greuel has been forced on the defense as some of her business backers grew uncomfortable with recent statements she made about city employee retirement benefits. On Thursday, Greuel responded to questions from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, affirming  her support for making new cuts in pension costs and assuring them that she has no interest in challenging any of the reductions in benefits that have already been approved.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Garcetti and Greuel appeared together Thursday night for the first time since winning runoff spots in the March 5 primary. A swanky benefit for diabetes research at the Beverly Hilton was billed as a roast of Councilman Tom LaBonge, but most eyes were focused on the mayoral candidates. Greuel and Garcetti poked barbs at each other while they poked fun at themselves.

Meanwhile, fund-raising continues to take up large quantities of the candidates’ time as they try to replenish coffers drained by their testy primary.

Garcetti is on an East Coast fund-raising swing. Tonight, he is collecting checks at a reception at the New York City home of Hilary and Peter Hatch. Garcetti’s connection with the hosts is deep -- the councilman officiated at the couple’s 2005 wedding. Peter Hatch formerly worked for presidential candidate John Edwards and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. On Saturday, Garcetti heads to Miami to raise more money.

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While Greuel’s plans for the weekend haven't been disclosed, the candidate sent out a fund-raising plea to supporters Thursday that said, “Let’s make history – and then have a big group hug when we win on May 21.”

Meanwhile, in the city attorney’s race, incumbent Carmen Trutanich called on two companies to turn off more than 100 digital billboards, and opponent Mike Feuer accused him of seizing on the issue to play politics. Feuer has racked up many major endorsements in the race, but on Thursday, county Supervisor Gloria Molina bucked the trend by backing Trutanich.


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Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel speaks to supporters at election night gatherings. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

L.A. Votes: Endorsements flow as Greuel and Garcetti seek edge

Photo: Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

A new stream of endorsements emerged in Los Angeles' mayoral race Wednesday as Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti sought an edge in the May 21 runoff. The backing has two overarching goals – blunting criticism the two Democrats are facing about their ability to confront the most pressing financial problems in the city, and courting voters who supported candidates who did not survive the primary.Election Memo

Greuel won the backing of former Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, who pledged he would serve as a senior advisor to her administration for a salary of $1 a year. This move, long sought by Greuel, comes as the city controller has faced increased heat about her support by the city’s labor unions and recent statements about her views on pension reductions for newly hired city employees. The latter prompted the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which has backed Greuel, to call on the controller to explain her position on retirement benefits in person today.

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Greuel’s campaign hit back, with a co-chairman of her campaign, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, promising that Greuel would fight to cut retirement costs at City Hall, including by exploring raising retirement age for existing city employees, a hugely controversial proposal.

Greuel’s rival Garcetti, who edged her in the March 5 primary, also named new endorsements on Wednesday. He picked up the backing of Republican developer Steve Soboroff and an influential African American Democratic club, which could help Garcetti make inroads with two key groups he and Greuel are battling over: white GOP voters in the Valley and black Democrats in South Los Angeles.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

In other city races, the candidates seeking to become Los Angeles’ next city attorney clashed in the first runoff debate, with incumbent Carmen Trutanich and challenger Mike Feuer showing they have starkly different visions of the role of the city’s top prosecutor. And the statement for two competing medical marijuana initiatives survived legal challenges to appear unchanged on the May ballot.


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Photo: Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

Backers of dueling medical pot measures tangle in court

Los Angeles medical marijuana measures
A Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that ballot arguments for two opposing Los Angeles medical marijuana measures do not violate the law and should appear as they were written in the city's official voter guide.

Attorneys for both measures had alleged the other side violated the city election code.

Lawyers for Proposition D, which is backed by the City Council and a labor union representing marijuana dispensary workers, sued the city first. They claimed the ballot argument in favor of the competing Measure F, which is supported by a separate coalition of dispensaries and other medical marijuana groups, was unfair because it refers to Proposition D as “a Trojan Horse” that “was slapped on the ballot at the last minute by the City Council.”

In court Wednesday, Proposition D attorney Bradley Hertz said a ballot argument in favor of a measure should explain why voters should vote for it, not why they shouldn't vote for the competition.

“If I were to ask someone, ‘Why do you like hamburgers?’ I don’t think a good answer would be: ‘Because they’re better than hot dogs,’” Hertz said.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell ruled the language should stand. “It seems logical than an argument for one ballot measure may include statements regarding the insufficiency of another,” O'Donnell wrote in an opinion.

A separate challenge brought by the backers of Measure F was also dismissed by O'Donnell. In that case, Measure F attorneys argued that the ballot argument on behalf of Proposition D was unfair because it called itself "the only measure" that will raise taxes and control and regulate dispensaries.

Measure F, which was the first to qualify for the ballot, would allow an unlimited number of dispensaries so long as operators pay taxes, keep a certain distance from schools and each other and meet other requirements.

A third marijuana dispensary measure will appear on the ballot as Initiative Ordinance E, which would allow only older pot shops to continue operating. It initially was supported by the union of dispensary workers and a group of some of the city's original dispensaries, but those groups are now backing Proposition D.

Crafted by the council, Proposition D also would allow only the oldest dispensaries to continue operating, while raising taxes on medical marijuana sales.


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Photo: Medical marijuana at a Los Angeles dispensary. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

L.A. Votes: Wendy Greuel faces questions on pensions, labor support

 Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel speaks to media on March 6.

Labor support and pensions for city workers continue to be a key issue in the Los Angeles mayoral contest, as Wendy Greuel faces fresh questions about her backing from public-employee unions and her stance on a City Council vote last year to trim retirement benefits for new workers.Election Memo

Greuel has long criticized rival Eric Garcetti’s City Council vote to roll back pension benefits for new hires without engaging in collective bargaining with city worker unions. Recent statements that she would push to reopen talks with labor over the decision have raised concerns among some of Greuel’s pro-business backers. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday called on Greuel, the city controller, to appear personally to explain her position.

Also on Tuesday, Greuel accepted the endorsement of the 600,00-member county Federation of Labor, a union umbrella group that fought the pension changes. The controller also backed off an earlier suggestion that she wanted a new round of negotiations over the pension cuts, saying Tuesday she simply wants to meet with labor leaders to discuss ways of avoiding a lawsuit over the matter.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Columnist Steve Lopez talked to voters in the San Fernando Valley who say Greuel’s labor backing is costing her support in the key, voter-rich region.

Meanwhile, Garcetti and Greuel continued to rack up new endorsements, with Garcetti earning the support of council members Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian, and Greuel picking up the backing of Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Monica Garcia and newly elected Los Angeles Community College Trustee Mike Eng.

Garcia, who won reelection to the board this month, faces a new challenge as a majority of her board colleagues voted to limit the number of consecutive years a board member can serve as president.

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The first debate of the runoff occurs Wednesday night -- in the city attorney race. Incumbent Carmen Trutanich will face off with Mike Feuer at a downtown meeting hosted by the Italian American Lawyers Assn. and the Metropolitan News-Enterprise. Feuer on Tuesday also picked up the endorsement of the county Federation of Labor.


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Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel speaks to media March 6. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

Mike Feuer gains endorsement of L.A. County Federation of Labor

Photo: Mike Feuer,  candidate for city attorney, talks to the media during the election night party at a residence in Los Angeles. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

The powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has endorsed former lawmaker Mike Feuer for Los Angeles city attorney, the Feuer campaign announced Tuesday.

In a statement released by the campaign, federation chief Maria Elena Durazo said the former Los Angeles city councilman and state assemblyman "has been a tireless advocate for working families throughout his career and a real leader when it comes to bringing jobs to our region and making L.A. safer."

The endorsement adds momentum to Feuer's May runoff challenge to incumbent City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, whom Feuer led, 44% to 30%, in the four-way municipal primary this month.

The 600,000-member federation has been a potent force at City Hall and in local elections because it can provide campaign volunteers and urge the workers it represents to vote for its preferred candidates. In some races, it has spent heavily on efforts independent of a candidates campaign, such as when it led an alliance that spent $8.5 million to help elect Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in 2008.

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Garcetti, Greuel pick up new support in L.A. mayoral election

Wendy Greuel addresses the media at an election night gathering in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday; Eric Garcetti talks to the media after casting his ballot Tuesday. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times; Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

The two contenders in the May 21 Los Angeles mayoral election announced their latest endorsements Monday, with City Councilman Eric Garcetti picking up support from a colleague in the San Fernando Valley and City Controller Wendy Greuel touting the backing of a community college board member.

Garcetti held a news conference in Studio City with Councilman Paul Krekorian, who heads the council’s powerful Budget and Finance Committee. Krekorian, who holds the council seat once represented by Greuel, said Garcetti would as mayor "have the courage to take the hard steps" to address the city's problems.

The announcement was not a huge surprise, given that Greuel campaigned hard three years ago for Krekorian’s opponent, former Paramount Studios executive Chris Essel, in a special council election. Essel -– like Greuel in this year’s mayoral campaign -– was heavily backed that year by the union that represents Department of Water and Power employees.

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Garcetti compared this year's mayoral election to that campaign, saying that when Krekorian ran "there were powerful forces aligned against him." "He showed that elections aren't for sale," Garcetti said.

Greuel, in turn, announced the support of Mike Eng, a newly elected board member for the Los Angeles Community College District. That wasn’t much of a surprise either since Eng is the husband of U.S. Rep. Judy Chu -– who endorsed Greuel just a few weeks ago.

Continue reading »

L.A. Votes: Garcetti raises a pint, Greuel cheers marathoners; both court endorsements

Photo: Councilman Eric Garcetti shakes supporters' hands at an election night party on March 5. Credit:  Kevork Djansezian / Getty ImagesElection Memo

The mayoral candidates spent the weekend pressing the flesh and raising cash. City Controller Wendy Greuel was seen at the L.A. Marathon, being interviewed alongside termed-out Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Dodgers’ owner Frank McCourt. City Councilman Eric Garcetti hoisted a Guinness while toasting Los Angeles during a St. Patrick’s Day bash at Tom Bergin’s on Fairfax.

Garcetti picked up the endorsement of former mayoral candidate Emanuel Pleitez on Saturday outside the Derby Dolls’ roller derby rink. Greuel picked up the nod of EMILY’S List, a fundraising organization devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women. But two of the biggest endorsements remain in play -– Republican attorney Kevin James and Councilwoman Jan Perry, who effectively tied for third in the mayoral primary, and whose supporters would be a major boon to Greuel’s or Garcetti’s chances in the May 21 runoff.

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Team Garcetti is also piqued by the continued airing of an anti-Garcetti ad by a pro-Greuel independent committee that is largely supported by a union that represents many workers from the city’s Department of Water and Power. A flurry of Garcetti fundraising pleas have gone out in recent days, with subject lines such as “Fed up,” “I’m tired of this,” and “Enough is enough.”

Whoever is elected mayor, the city’s next chief executive will have a new quandary to face because of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s decision not to sell Anschutz Entertainment Group and company Chief Executive Tim Leiweke’s departure from the firm: how to upgrade the city's Convention Center in case plans for developing a downtown football stadium fall apart.


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Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema

Photo: Councilman Eric Garcetti shakes supporters' hands at an election night party on March 5. Credit:  Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

L.A. Votes: Greuel and Garcetti vie for endorsements and cash

Photo: Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel speaks to media on March 6. Creidt: Nick Ut / Associated Press

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef017ee8cd99e7970d-piAs they gear up for the May 21 runoff election, Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti are spending limited time on the campaign trail as they gather support and cash for the final 10 weeks of the race.

Greuel will announce what her campaign bills as a “major” endorsement on the steps of City Hall on Friday morning. Garcetti is not holding any public events on Friday, but will be headlining a fundraiser in the evening at the home of film producer James Lassiter. He also has fundraisers planned at the Los Angeles manse of billionaire Tony Pritzker on Tuesday, and one hosted by a bundler for President Obama in Chicago on Thursday.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Greuel is undoubtedly planning fundraisers as well, but invitations to her events have yet to pop up on the city’s Ethics Commission website.

In their few events in recent days, both candidates have underscored their pro-business credentials. Greuel touted her efforts on behalf of minority and female business owners, while Garcetti said the city needed to stop being lazy and work harder to lure international investment.

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The break from non-stop campaigning is unlikely to last long, however.


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Photo: Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel speaks to media on March 6. Creidt: Nick Ut / Associated Press

L.A. Votes: Building runoff machines, courting endorsements

Photo: Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti speaks at a news conference on March 6. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

After a frenzy of activity on the campaign trail in recent weeks, culminating in last week’s primary election, the mayoral candidates are focusing on raising money, trotting out new endorsements and courting party and labor loyalists to build their general-election campaign machinery.

Election memoOn Tuesday, Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti courted two key groups-–the most influential labor coalition in the county, and the county Democrats, neither of which endorsed in the primary.

Reflecting the tightness of the race, the county Democratic Party again split on which candidates to endorse in the May 21 runoff election. But a key committee of the county Federation of Labor backed Greuel, setting in motion the procedural votes that will almost certainly result in an official endorsement in the next week. Both candidates vigorously sought the imprimateur of the federation, which represents about 600,000 workers.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

The fight for endorsements-–which can carry financial backing, influence or armies of volunteers-–has intensified in recent days over the parties that did not weigh in before the primary. Now that the field has been whittled down to two, state lawmakers are increasingly making their decision on who to back in the mayoral contest. Greuel rolled out the backing of two influential African American pastors, and Garcetti rolled out the backing of some labor unions and the former leader of the state Democratic party.

The lull in campaigning is likely to be short-lived. Greuel plans to stump Wednesday morning with women and minority business leaders, while Garcetti will speak at a luncheon for the L.A. Metropolitan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.


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Photo: Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti speaks at a news conference on March 6. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press

Greuel, Garcetti courted big labor group for endorsement

As she sought the endorsement of the county’s most influential public employee union Tuesday, mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel dismissed criticism of her backing from organized labor, saying unions are not political "baggage."

“When I go out to parts of the city and they say to me, ‘I’m not sure I can vote for you because you’re the labor candidate.’ Guess what? I’m proud to have labor support," said told the political committee of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, an umbrella group representing 600,000 workers. 

"You know what they also say?" Greuel added. " ‘You’re a special interest. Ooh. That’s horrible,’ " she said, mockingly. “I’m proud that you’re a special interest. And you’re a special interest for the working men and women.”

Greuel made the remarks at a closed-door meeting of the labor federation, shortly before 70% of the committee voted to give her their endorsement. The Times acquired recordings of portions of the remarks made by both Greuel and her rival, Councilman Eric Garcetti.

The endorsement will not be official until two more votes occur over the next week, but those approvals  are considered largely procedural.

As she has in the past, Greuel accused Garcetti of failing to engage in collective bargaining –- a  reference to a pivotal vote last fall on pensions. That was when city officials hiked the retirement age and scaled back pension benefits for newly hired civilian city workers, over the objections of unions that said the changes had not been properly negotiated. The changes take effect July 1 and are designed to save $4 billion over 30 years.

“It’s about collective bargaining. How important is collective bargaining to all of us? It is the heart and soul of what you stand for,” Greuel told the labor committee.

Garcetti voted to support the pension changes. His spokesman, Jeff Millman, defended the councilman’s handling of the vote on retirement benefits and questioned whether Greuel would side with unions who are now challenging the pension rollback.

“Eric collectively bargained hundreds of millions of dollars in real pension reform. While Ms. Greuel won't say it publicly, it appears she would undo the city's pension reforms,” he said.

In a phone call, Greuel would not say whether she would side with unions that have filed a challenge to the pension changes. But she said she favored both the pension rollback and the collective bargaining process.

"I supported the reforms," she said. "I think there should have been collective bargaining."

As city controller, Greuel did not have to vote on the rollback of benefits for new employees. Officials who supported the pension changes were warned by the labor federation's leader, Maria Elena Durazo, that their votes would “come back and haunt” them.

Garcetti, who has sharply criticized the multimillion-dollar campaign support Greuel has received from city employee unions, argued in Tuesday's meeting that he was not attacking labor.

“I haven’t hit back at labor,” he said. “Let me be clear. The term special interests … is not something I’ve used to attack labor.”

He also argued that he has long supported the cause of labor, such as crafting an ordinance that forbids the opening of nonunion Wal-Mart SuperCenters in the city. “As we speak right now  I’m doing more to promote labor … on issues that you care about than anybody else in this race,” he said.

“But I have more in that plus column that anybody in this race,” he said. “And I’m going to win. I’m going to be the next mayor. And I can’t wait to get to work with each of you, each of you, no matter where you are in this race.”

Once news of the labor federation vote broke, Garcetti’s campaign responded by trumpeting its support from other unions, including Teamsters Joint Council 42, the Communication Workers of America’s Southern California Council, Laborers' Local 300, and the Service Employees International Union’s United Service Workers West.

"We are already making calls and knocking on doors for Eric Garcetti," said Ron Herrera, of the Teamsters' council, said in a statement. Garcetti is the preferred choice of his union, he said, because of the councilman has shown a strong ability to grow jobs in his district.


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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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