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Garcetti, Greuel exchange barbs in televised debate

February 18, 2013 | 10:30 pm

Photo: Candidates for Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel talk on stage before a mayoral debate at the Cal State Los Angeles' Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs on Monday. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

In a feisty debate that highlighted the intensifying clash between the top two contenders in the race for mayor, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti disparaged rival Wendy Greuel’s record as city controller and mocked her campaign platform Monday night.

Greuel defended her record and agenda but declined to take direct shots at Garcetti. Instead, she accused the entire City Council of failing to act on her findings of waste, fraud and abuse at City Hall.

“They can attack me,” she said. “They can attack my numbers. They can attack my auditors. But the one thing they haven't done is attack the problem.”

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Garcetti’s aggressive posture in the Cal State L.A. debate reflects the increasing pressure he faces as Greuel reaps the benefits of more than $1 million in advertising by independent committees funded by public employee unions and other supporters.

It also overshadowed efforts by three other candidates -- Councilwoman Jan Perry, entertainment lawyer Kevin James and former tech executive Emanuel Pleitez -- to decisively break from the pack during the 90-minute debate, televised live on KABC-TV Channel 7. Voters go to the polls in two weeks.

Garcetti began his assault by challenging as “simply not true” Greuel’s frequent statements that she identified $160 million in squandered city money. “It rests on an accounting maneuver and on unrealistic projections,” he said, citing a Times review of audits by Greuel’s office.

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

“What is real,” he added, “is real pension reform like we've done the last few years, real cuts and consolidations -- the tough choices -- not just identifying potential savings but actually enacting them.”

Greuel told viewers that two former controllers, Laura Chick and Rick Tuttle, were supporting her.

"They told me that City Hall would try and kill the messenger, and that's what they're trying to do,” she said. “And apparently my opponents don't feel there is any waste. I know there is, and I'm going to do something about it.”


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

MAP: All of California's 2012 election results

MAP: How Los Angeles County voted in the 2012 election

-- Michael Finnegan and David Zahniser

Photo: Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel talk on stage before a mayoral debate at the Cal State Los Angeles on Monday. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times