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Bill to expand city attorney's powers dies in Assembly committee

June 30, 2010 |  1:18 pm

A political feud between Los Angeles city officials has helped sink a proposal to vastly expand the powers of the Los Angeles city attorney by giving him his own grand jury.

SB 1168 by state Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) appears to have died for the year after failing to win support from a key committee in the Assembly. The panel’s approval is necessary by Friday and the committee is not meeting again.

The measure was proposed by Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich to help him investigate significant misdemeanor cases, but it had been bitterly opposed by some members of the Los Angeles City Council as an illegal power grab.

The measure failed to get the votes needed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The panel’s chairman, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), objected that he was being asked to jump into an "internecine battle" going on in Los Angeles. "I just thought it was inappropriate to bring to the Legislature. I don’t want to play in somebody else’s backyard," Ammiano said Wednesday, the day after the committee action.

He said the bill had practical problems: Such a grand jury could help investigations but cannot return misdemeanor criminal charges. "It was not a viable way to do this,’’ Ammiano said.

--Patrick McGreevy