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Villaraigosa accused of unfairly slashing city attorney's budget [Updated]

April 21, 2010 |  7:22 pm
A high-level aide to Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich lashed out Wednesday at Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa over his proposed budget, telling neighborhood activists that Trutanich’s office is being asked to absorb cuts that are larger than those sought at most other city agencies.

In an e-mail titled “Mayor Declares War on City Attorney,” Special Assistant City Atty. Jane Usher said Villaraigosa is attempting to slash the size of the city attorney’s office by an unfairly large amount -- 36% over a two-year period. Usher said Trutanich asked the mayor to allow him to do “more work” on such issues as the collection of unpaid debts and the reduction of workers’ compensation costs.

“To his face, the mayor agrees with Trutanich. In his budget proposal, the mayor shows his true colors,” Usher said in her e-mail. “So bring on those bogus lawsuits. Deal your drugs in our [neighborhoods]. Because this mayor lacks fiscal foresight. He has other agendas. He simply refuses to spend your money intelligently, to protect us.”

The words were especially strong considering that Usher campaigned for Villaraigosa’s election in 2005. She served as his planning commission president from 2005 to 2008.

Villaraigosa Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo said the mayor would issue a comment later today. [Updated, 7:07 p.m: Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said late Wednesday afternoon that the mayor would have no comment.] But City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, the top budget advisor at City Hall, said other agencies are also being asked to make large sacrifices.

In the fiscal year that starts July 1, the mayor is seeking a nearly 25% cut in the Cultural Affairs Department, Santana said. The Human Services Department is being zeroed out, he added.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall