As Los Angeles city voters prepare to go to the polls for the May 21 general election and runoff, incumbent and first-term City Attorney Carmen Trutanich seems to be facing a formidable challenger in the person of former Councilman Mike Feuer.
When the two men met in the March 5 primary, despite the fact that a total of four candidates were vying for the city attorney job, Feuer walked away with 44.10 percent of the ballots cast versus 29.70 percent for incumbent Trutanich.
Now, as they race toward the general election, Trutanich is working to highlight how his achievements have made for a better Los Angeles, and his experience as a prosecutor and the administrator of the third largest law firm in California are what is needed in the City of Angels.
Trutanich said among his proudest achievements during his first four years in office are the social justice/public interest litigations his office initiated to protect the city’s most vulnerable residents.
“… I took action to protect working-class neighborhoods from the irresponsible foreclosure practices of two banks in particular–US Bank and Deutsche Bank. These two banks foreclosed on hundreds of homes in Los Angeles, many of them in South L.A. But then they failed to maintain the foreclosed properties, letting them slide into disrepair and become hangouts for unsavory activities and health problems.”
Trutanich said his office is suing the banks to force them to follow the same rules everyone else must follow in terms of keeping property up to code.
The city attorney said his office has also filed several lawsuits against big insurance companies for selling phony policies to unsuspecting consumers or for reneging on their obligations to help pay medical costs when their customers got breast or ovarian cancers.
On Skid Row, Trutanich said his office has obtained injunctions that prevent drug dealers from entering the area to prey on individuals, many of whom are attending drug-rehabilitation programs there.
In addition, Trutanich is looking to bolster the alternative justice programs in his office.
“We cannot solely incarcerate our way out of crime. We need to educate our way out of crime, too. I have nurtured programs that take low-level, nonviolent offenders and give them a second chance,” he said. “These programs target at-risk youth and military veterans with educational training and counseling programs as an alternative to jail time.”
Finally, the city attorney, believes it’s crucial to get the word out about the success his offices have achieved.
As a veteran officeholder (six years on the City Council, and six years in the state Assembly), Feuer wants to offer innovative solutions to the city’s toughest problems and provide a government that inspires confidence and trust in residents.
He counts his leadership of the public interest law firm, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, as one of his key demonstrations of how he would address crucial issues like combating elder abuse, standing up to slumlords and promoting environmental justice.
“Under my leadership, Bet Tzedek helped more than 50,000 indigent, primarily elderly or disabled clients on crucial cases involved in nursing home abuse, consumer fraud, access to healthcare, slum housing conditions and more. The Los Angeles Daily Journal said I made Bet Tzedek a national success story and named me one of California’s 100 Most Influential Attorneys.”
Feuer, who counts his time on the legislative side of the issues of justice a key strength, identifies the top five issues he would tackle as crime prevention in neighborhoods; curbing gun violence; enhancing the safety of children around school sites by working to expand safe passage to school and reducing truancy; leading an effort to diminish the number of lawsuits against the city; and fast-tracking economic development ordinances and other legislation that create jobs or revenue.
Trutanich’s top five include: Reforming a public education system that has failed to deliver; making sure that schools train young people for jobs of the future; making sure law enforcement institutions–from cops on the beat to prosecutors in the courtroom–deal honestly and fairly with citizens regardless of their status; building a vibrant and diverse economy where workers are paid wages that will restore the middle class; and ensuring that schools, businesses and political institutions reinforce the importance of tolerance of all people.
In terms of juvenile justice, Feuer says he would continue to work with his colleagues in city government, the school system, church leaders and the city’s private sector to expand after school programs, offerings for at-risk youth and jobs for disadvantaged young people.