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City Attorney Trutanich to Fight City Hall on Cuts

February 1, 2010

Although the local media covered the announcement that the Mayor plans to cut 100 jobs at the City Attorney’s Office while not reducing his staff or those of the 15 Councilmembers, it was the blogosphere that broke the news that Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is planning to fight back.

Longtime Los Angeles political gadfly and blogger Zuma Dogg’s L.A. Daily  Blog reported that Trutanich will sue the Mayor and the City Council. “He’ll sue (file an injunction) in Superior Court over State Law that says you cannot use budget excuse to eliminate the ability of a government official to perform their mandated duties,” according to Zuma Dogg.

While the L.A. Daily Blog related Trutanich’s strategy, the City Hall Insider quoted an article in the Los Angeles Times that suggested the Mayor and City Council’s threatened cuts might a way of reminding the City Attorney that they can control him because they hold the purse strings to his ability to function.

It was the Los Angeles Dragnet that perhaps gave a little more insight into the actions of the Mayor and the Council, suggesting that the true motive was not budgetary, but payback for the embarrassment City Attorney Trutanich had caused them over a variety of issues that the City Council had been previously been unable to handle. Those identified as being particularly interested in punishing Trutanich were reported to be “Mayoral aspirant” Jan Perry who Trutanich shamed into revealing her close relationship with AEG in the Michael Jackson Memorial fiasco and the digital billboards exception that Perry was forced to make for her longtime political supporters.

Also mentioned was Councilmember Ed Reyes, who many believe was made to look stupid and irrelevant over his mishandling of the marijuana shop ordinance.

But perhaps the most compelling theory behind the staff cutbacks was that it would force the City Attorney to resume the old ‘pay to play’ policy of hiring private law firms to conduct legal affairs on behalf of the City when the City Attorney is unable to undertake the work. Trutanich had vowed to end the practice which saw a small group of expensive private law firms share a lucrative stream of taxpayer money for work that could easily be performed in house. Pressure from these firms, who contribute generously to political campaigns, is not a far fetched theory as faced with cuts, the City Attorney would have to use ‘Outside Counsel.”

The Los Angeles Dragnet also reported that  that Trutanich held a secret briefing with his top aides on Saturday morning where a full briefing was given on how the City Attorney plans to legally challenge the attempts being made to limit his operation. Given Trutanich’s impressive record of successes in the 6 months since taking office, City Hall could be in for another nasty surprise.

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