LOS ANGELES, Calif. — City Councilman Dennis Zine and attorney Ron Galperin, each promising to root out abuse, fraud and waste as the city’s official watchdog, will face off today in a runoff contest to succeed Controller Wendy Greuel.

In the primary, Zine, who has positioned himself as an experienced City Hall veteran, finished a few hundred votes behind Galperin, a businessman who touts his “outside” perspective.

Galperin, 49, is an attorney who sits on two volunteer city commissions, one focused on revenue efficiency and the other on quality and productivity.

As part of his 10-point plan, he says he will focus on recovering fees that often go uncollected in the city, rein in “runaway” contracts with outside companies that go over budget, and make use of city assets such as two asphalt plants with “excess capacity” that he said could be better marketed to other cities.

The 65-year-old Zine spent the last 12 years representing a west San Fernando Valley council district and was a Los Angeles Police Department officer for 33 years. As controller, his says his first task will be to tackle liability costs incurred by police department personnel.

He also wants to set up a Performance Management System, modeled after the one used by New York City’s comptroller, that can monitor department spending in “real time.” Zine also chairs the city council’s Audits and Government Efficiency Committee and says he helped put in place reforms of the
city’s fee-collection process.

A USC-Los Angeles Times poll last week showed Zine slightly ahead in the polls at 31 percent to Galperin’s 28 percent, but with 41 percent of voters undecided, the outcome of the race could prove more uncertain than that of the mayor’s, attorney’s and council races.

In latest update to the city charter, the controller’s job, which pays $182,200 a year, was revised to focus more on conducting audits of not only financial matters, but of anything the controller thinks deserves closer inspection. Though the controller can only make suggestions to the City Council, audits by former officeholder Laura Chick played a role in swaying public opinion on a failed solar panel ballot initiative sponsored by the Department of Water and Power and drew attention to a backlog in processing DNA
rape kits.