Sunday, February 26, 2012

Carmen the Barbarian? What happened to Trutanich; the man who promised so much and failed to deliver?

The cover of this week's LA Weekly paints an ugly picture of Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich. The ten-page feature entitled 'Carmen the Barbarian' may seem humorous at first, but sadly there is little to laugh about concerning Trutanich. He has let us down, made fools of us, and can no longer be trusted to hold public office.

LA Weekly reporter Gene Maddaus does an excellent job of condensing a catalogue of complaints and criticisms of the man who once promised us that he was only interested in serving as City Attorney and that, if elected, he would not use the City Attorney's Office as a political springboard to the District Attorney's Office. But that is precisely what Trutanich is doing, and he isn't ashamed of it, and that's because he has no shame. And that's why he is unfit for public office, and unfit to be District Attorney.

Trutanich conned many people into believing he was different; he was not a career politician like Rocky Delgadillo or his opponent Jack Weiss. It is fair to say that most people, myself included, were too willing to believe what Trutanich was saying simply because he was bucking the trend; he was an outsider, he was not part of the downtown Los Angeles political machine. He could be trusted. We were wrong. But as the old adage goes, 'Make a fool of me once, that's your fault. Make a fool of me twice, that's my fault.' I am not going to let Trutanich make a fool of me twice, and neither should you.

Before I go further, please take a moment to see and hear what Trutanich promised us back in 2009 when he was doing such a brilliant job of conning us into believing in him:

Powerful words and forceful statements from a man who really, really, really wants you to buy what he is selling.

Let's face it, there are plenty of politicians who promise one thing and then do another, but Trutanich sought to bootstrap his false claims by signing a 'Pledge to Serve.' A solemn, sworn written statement to show us precisely, exactly and definitively how different he was.

It took Trutanich less than a year to renege on his sworn promise. He had been City Attorney for a few months, had already reneged on the City Controller's right to audit his office, and was busy threatening to arrest people over non-existent crimes - like the so-called 'criminal aspects'  investigation into the Michael Jackson memorial.

In short, Trutanich realized that he could get away with lying, misrepresenting the truth, and reneging on promises. He realized that nobody seemed to care, few called him on it, and if they did, he could bullshit and bluster his way out of it. He was drunk with power and obsessed with seeing his name in the headlines.

Trutanich's disregard for his promises to those who trusted him with elected office is eclipsed only by his disregard for laws that don't suit him. Trutanich claims to be the 'enforcer' when it comes to illegal billboards, but his own illegal billboards blighted Ventura Blvd. for over two years after he closed his campaign office.

Trutanich's illegal billboards were up for two years before he was forced to remove them, but
two days was too much for the 'How to Train Your Dragon' billboard at the 2010 Oscars
Violating his own billboard laws may seem trivial when judging Trutanich's hypocrisy, of course it was anything but trivial for Keyvan Setareh, who was arrested and held in jail on $1M bail for violating Trutanich's law. But Trutanich, so far, has gotten away with abusing excessive bail demands to bully and bludgeon his way into the headlines.

And that is a very large part of the reason why Trutanich is utterly unfit to be District Attorney; each time he is able to get away with abusing his power he becomes more emboldened and less accountable. His threats to arrest political protesters, threats to arrest council members, screaming abuse at cancer patients, and lies about police endorsements; all show a pattern of an increasing disregard for the law, disregard for principles of decency and worse of all, an alarming tendency towards an 'ends justify the means' approach to law enforcement.

No better example exists as to just how far Trutanich believes he is above the law, than the way he broke the law relating to law enforcement endorsements. Days before Trutanich officially launched his campaign to become District Attorney, he made the headlines when it was discovered that he had lied about being endorsed by police agencies.

Trutanich lied about endorsements from police unions.
Trutanich, in a desperate move to deflect attention from the embarrassing revelation that he had lied about being endorsed by several police agencies, released a glitzy 13 minute long video advertisement which culminated in an impassioned endorsement by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

Trutanich's use of Sheriff Lee Baca's endorsement violated state law.
The video was removed when the crime was discovered, but Trutanich has refused to
take responsibility for his misconduct.
Sheriff Baca put his credibility and reputation on the line saying Trutanich is "the best qualified to serve as District Attorney for Los Angeles County." But what Sheriff Baca didn't say is that state law forbids him from making that endorsement while he is in uniform. That same law also forbids Sheriff Baca from making an endorsement while on duty. But Trutanich set-up Sheriff Baca to break the law because he needed the credibility and respectability that the Office of the Sheriff would bring to his campaign - regardless of the cost. The ends justify the means.

Sheriff Baca first told the LA Times that he believed was 'exempt' from the law. No doubt he said that based on 'advice' he was given by Trutanich. However, after checking with real lawyers, the Sheriff found out that the law applied to him just like it applies to you, to me, to everyone. Only then did Sheriff Baca do the decent thing; he admitted to the LA Times that he was wrong and had broken the law. There was no innocent explanation. I'll give Sheriff Baca credit for admitting that much.

But Trutanich? What did he do? A big 'mea culpa' moment? A press release admitting responsibility? No. Trutanich made no statement, offered no explanation, and simply removed the illegal endorsement from his video as if it never happened. Trutanich has since refused to answer questions about his complicity in breaking the law, because, according to his warped ethical and moral compass, it was no big deal. So he's 'taking the Fifth,' saying nothing that might 'tend to implicate him in criminal conduct.' Nice.

What Trutanich did to Sheriff Baca is what he has done time and time again to other otherwise decent people who find themselves trapped into doing Trutanich's bidding. He is a dangerous leader because he encourages misconduct in others to further his ends, and then he summarily throws them under the bus when it suits him to do so.

His is a culture of corruption and abuse that, as LA Times columnist Steve Lopez today said, is "catching up to Chicago in sleaze." That is why Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich, the man I voted for, the man I worked for, and the man I dumped when I could not tolerate the culture of corruption a moment longer, is unfit to be District Attorney.

Sheriff Baca needs to take a step back from campaigning for this blatant law-breaker, and realize that if Trutanich is so willing to engage in unlawful conduct at the start of his campaign, just imagine how much worse it will become if he is elected as District Attorney.

It is not too late Sheriff Baca, as Edmund Burke said, 'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.' You are a good man Sheriff Baca, so do something while you still can. Withdraw your endorsement and support for Trutanich. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the people of Los Angeles.

For those of you wondering who else is running for District Attorney, the Los Angeles Dragnet has a review of the candidates. Each and every one of them has more integrity in their little fingers than Trutanich has in his entire body.

David Berger
Los Angeles, February 26, 2012