Tuesday, November 3, 2009

LA City Attorney Trutanich Has Plans For LA

Trutanich Marks First 115 Days in Office, Identifies Next Priorities

By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich yesterday marked his first
115 days in office and identified his priorities going forward in a
speech to the Century City Bar Association.

The first speaker in the association' s new Distinguished Speaker
Series, Trutanich told attendees at Lawry's in Beverly Hills that he
would be more "visionary" in the next 100 days and focus on
keeping citizens safe, safeguarding taxpayer dollars, improving quality
of life and providing "top legal counsel."

He said he would do so by cleaning up Skid Row, cracking down on gangs
and taggers, taking action against medical marijuana dispensaries,
enforcing the city's ban on billboards and continuing to pursue
reimbursement of city funds expended on the July memorial for Michael

`The Right Thing'

Trutanich remarked that he was guided by a philosophy of doing "the
right thing for the right reasons to benefit the citizens of Los
Angeles." He said that during his first staff meeting after taking
office, he told the almost 40 attorneys present that anyone who
mentioned politics or fallout from their decisions would "not be
here next week."

He also indicated, now that he was through "putting out fires,"
that he was looking forward "to four years, and hopefully, if I do a
good job, four more."

Identifying his top staff—Chief Legal Advisor Curt Livesay and
Senior Media Advisor John A. Franklin, who were present, as well as
Chief Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter, Special Assistant City Attorney
David Berger and Senior Assistant Jane Usher—Trutanich said the
office would "work on being more aware of our surroundings. "

He declined to provide specifics on cleaning up Skid Row, saying that
the office would be moving forward in a way that has "never been
done before." However, he identified his first priority as making
the neighborhood safe for residents, even if they are homeless.

Trutanich said it was important to remember that the homeless are often
preyed upon and that many victims are families. He also said more jobs
are needed, and said Los Angeles needs to become more
"user-friendly" in order to expand its tax base by bringing in
more income.

The City Attorney announced that he intended to break the
"multi-generational " cycle of gang violence by working with the
Los Angeles Unified School District to institute a class in
decision-making in juvenile hall and at the elementary school level.

Teaching `Life Skills'

Complaining that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation merely
"warehouses" offenders who then "learn…from their
friends," he said he wanted to teach "life skills" to be
reinforced daily so that children "learn there are consequences to
bad decisions."

Turning to medical marijuana, Trutanich said he was compelled to enforce
the law under the California Supreme Court's decision last year in
People v. Mentch 45 Cal.4th 274. There, the court ruled that a medical
marijuana supplier must have provided patrons some previous, other form
of caregiving in order to qualify as a "primary caregiver"
immune from prosecution for growing or possessing the drug for sale.

He said he recently took a sample of medical marijuana from a dispensary
to the federal Food and Drug Administration for testing and was told the
sample contained unacceptable levels of insecticide. Remarking that his
position has "nothing to do" with the pros or cons of medical
marijuana, and that there was "boatloads" of insecticide- laced
marijuana, he commented, "if it's a medicine, it has to be
controlled like any other medicine."

Trutanich told the crowd he could shut all dispensaries down tomorrow,
"but if subsequent law says I'm wrong, the city is exposed to
tremendous liability." Instead, he said, he would be taking future
action against dispensaries, but would move slowly in order to limit the
city's possible exposure from doing something "aggressive and

He also said he was working to resolve the "rat's nest" he
inherited with respect to the enjoinment of Los Angeles' billboard
ordinance by a federal judge. He indicated he will enforce the
city's decision to enforce a ban on new billboards, and that he
would continue to push to recover costs from the Michael Jackson
memorial, which cost the city $1.4 million to cover security, traffic
control and other services.

Trutanich acknowledged criticism over the decision on the memorial, but
said he was obligated to determine whether the decision to pay the
funds—made, he said, over a weekend without any input by any
"electeds," and for "a commercial, private
purpose"—constituted misappropriation or unjust enrichment.

He also said that he has a good relationship with Los Angeles Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa, who endorsed Trutanich's opponent, then-City
Council Member Jack Weiss, in the May election—"everyone gets a
mulligan," Trutanich quipped—and that any of the three
recently-named candidates to succeed LAPD Chief William Bratton would be
a good choice.

http://www.metnews. com/articles/ 2009/trut103009. htm

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