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Negative mailers heat up 2nd District council race

September 18, 2009 |  7:00 am

In the final stretch of the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd District race, candidate Christine Essel has sent out a string of negative mailers attacking the ethics of two of her competitors while touting her proposals to strengthen city ethics rules.

But one of Essel’s own mailers includes a glaring misstatement about the position of her rival, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, on a controversial proposal to develop the Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga, which is in the northern part of the district.

A recent mailer from Essel’s campaign claimed that Krekorian “voted for legislation that gave a Valley golf course away to a luxury condominium developer” and cites a May 2007 vote on Assembly Bill 212 as its source. But Krekorian says he never supported the project and has circulated an August 2007 letter he wrote to then-Councilwoman Wendy Greuel stating the golf course should be preserved as open space.

Krekorian notes that at the time he voted for AB 212 in May 2007, the bill was a briefly-worded state budget bill that did not include any language pertaining to the golf course project.

After the May 2007 vote, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes gutted and amended the legislation, proposing planning process changes that would have allowed developers to build 229 homes on the 63-acre golf course in Tujunga.

“Saying that I voted for that is a lie,” Krekorian said in an interview this week. 

Fuentes killed the bill after The Times wrote an article about his ties to the developers of the project.

Essel’s campaign consultant, John Shallman, said he stands behind the mailer and noted that Fuentes is running ads — a week before the election — praising Krekorian’s work in the Assembly without mentioning his bid for the council seat.

“The information that we have suggests that Krekorian had been working with Fuentes on this issue and that AB 212 was the vehicle used by Fuentes to push this Verdugo Golf Course into development,” Shallman said.

Krekorian’s consultant, Eric Hacopian, said the Essel campaign “either knowingly misrepresented and lied about Paul‘s position on this issue, or they are so incompetent that they have no business in public life.”

With Tuesday’s special election just days away, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades also weighed in Thursday, announcing a $32,500 independent expenditure for television advertisements supporting Essel. The ad features Greuel, who is now the city controller, praising Essel’s credentials for the office.

—Maeve Reston at City Hall