Tue, May

The Looong and Winding Campaign Trail: The End, at Last

PERSPECTIVE - I am in pretty good spirits as I write this.

The 2013 city election campaigns are almost over. Soon I can go back to writing about other topics…and there are a host of them: tax policy, commuter rail, state and local budgets, to name a few, not to mention life in Valley Village and Incline Village. 

At this stage, we know almost everything about the candidates. I don’t think we want to know anything more. 

To me, this race, like others, boils down to character and potential. That is why I am voting for Garcetti, Galperin and Trutanich. 

I surprised myself with that last pick.  I was not too happy with Trutanich after the way he handled running for DA, dismissing his promise to stick it out as City Attorney. He also has a tendency to talk way too much at public meetings, leaving little time for Q&A. I always felt he did that deliberately. Feuer, on the other hand, was always open to questions. 

My opinion changed after listening to the City Attorney debate at Valley Village. Trutanich acted like an attorney, displaying a passion for defending the city. Feuer came across as a college professor – he might be great teaching a contracts course in law school, but managing the equivalent of one of the largest law firms in the country is another matter. I do not think he can manage beyond the desk he used in the Assembly. 

What swayed me in the end was this simple question: if I were being tried, who would I want to defend me – Feuer or Trutanich? 

Galperin was an easy choice. He has far better technical and analytical skills. His professional background is solid, unlike Zine who wrote traffic tickets for a living and voted for every public union raise as a member of the City Council. 

I have been in Garcetti’s corner since he won the primary. I backed Kevin James and was glad when he, along with candidates Perry and Pleitez – both of whom I respect, endorsed him. 

While Garcetti and Greuel voted almost identically on key issues while serving together on the City Council, Garcetti had the courage to admit his mistakes, including his vote for what turned out to be unsustainable wage packages offered to city employees. 

Furthermore, when he addressed the unions while seeking their support, he did not apologize for the modest pension reform measures he backed as Council President. It took character to do that. By contrast Greuel all but said the reforms were illegal despite the City’s Attorney’s opinion to the contrary. 

Garcetti produced measurable improvements for his district. When I think of Greuel, I think of Valley Plaza, the most notable example of blight in the South Valley. 

Garcetti never wavered from a position throughout the campaign, while Greuel promised conflicting stances to satisfy whatever group she was courting at the time. 

Most people equate my writings with a crusade against Greuel. I understand, but most are unaware of my past support for the former Council Member and cooperation with her. 

I enthusiastically supported Greuel in her first run for City Council. I viewed her as a reformer. My enthusiasm diminished steadily and was replaced with disdain after she supported the IBEW job machine in the form of Measure B, term extensions deceitfully marketed as term limits and the phone tax – another deceitfully worded measure that disguised a tax increase as a tax decrease. She attempted to place all of the blame for Measure B on Garcetti throughout this campaign when she was one of the biggest cheerleaders for it. 

After she won the City Controller’s race in 2009, a campaign where she lied about her opponent’s tax status, Greuel and I did have a dialog. At her request, we had one-on-one meetings where we discussed the role of the controller. I still appreciate her willingness to talk to this day. 

I gave her space and maintained a neutral stance for several months while I watched how she performed. 

The City Controller’s office offers a platform like no other for advocating reform and shining the light on shady dealings. Laura Chick was just getting the hang of it in her last years. She raised the bar. Greuel lowered it. 

It became apparent to me that Greuel was simply using it as a stepping stone to the mayor’s office. She was simply interested in rolling out press releases about waste, fraud and abuse, but never followed up. To this day, she has never substantiated her claims of identifying $160 million in savings. If anything, the LA Times exposed it as fiction. 

Truly, if there was a basis in fact for the savings, a real controller would have fought to implement the changes necessary to bring them about. She was quiet as a church mouse. Probably too afraid lest she would offend potential backers for her mayoral campaign. 

It is also impossible to believe her promise to maintain independence in labor negotiations when her campaign has been bankrolled by the city’s unions. She unequivocally stated she would stand with the unions. 

Compensation and benefit reforms are essential to the city’s long-term health. Garcetti does not have Greuel’s baggage and can operate from a position of true independence. Will he get everything needed from negotiations? Probably not, but he has a far better chance of making a real deal than Greuel, who will probably settle for window dressing to create the appearance of progress. 

And with Greuel, it is all about appearances. Form over substance. 

Garcetti has the potential to build true coalitions, and the independence to do so.


(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village, contributes to CityWatch and can be reached at: phinnoho@aol.com) –cw




Vol 11 Issue 40

Pub: May 17, 2013