While there’s been a tremendous amount of focus on the L.A. Mayor’s race (and justifiably so), when Angelinos head to the polls, they’ll also be electing a City Attorney, who some–including myself–would argue is more important or just as important as who the next mayor is.
The Los Angeles City Attorney is an elected official whose job is to prosecute all of the misdemeanor criminal offenses within the city—not the County of Los Angeles. Street translation: The City Attorney can send your ass to jail.
The city attorney’s office decides whether or not to prosecute Lil’ Junebug and Kiki to the fullest extent of the law for stealing (a.k.a. shoplifting) that bag of Doritos from the liquor store around the corner or your cousin Shaniqua after she’s arrested for beating the crap out of her baby daddy Pookie, otherwise known as domestic violence. Other crimes that the city attorney’s office handles include: assault, battery, petty theft, DUI, trespassing, driving without a valid drivers license, reckless driving, and violation of a restraining order.
You should care who the next City Attorney is because you want someone in that office who will understand that jail isn’t always the answer to the problem, especially in Black and brown communities where more often than not—we find ourselves being prosecuted for one crime or another.
Our current city attorney needs to go for more reasons that I have time to list.
Carmen Trutanich is a flip-flopping promise breaker who will say or do anything to get elected or re-elected. And as far as African-Americans go—he’s never been a friend to our community.
Trutanich famously promised not to use the City Attorney’s office as a way for him to get into the District Attorney’s office. He promised that if he reneged, he would, among other things, pay $100,000 to the L.A.’s Best After School Program from his own personal funds.
In 2009, during an interview with the Daily News, Trutanich stated:
“The fine lawyers and staff will know that the City Attorney truly cares for the office, and is not a waypoint for the next political jump. I intend to serve my entire tenure as City Attorney and not seek another or higher office.”
He just flat out lied and to this day, hasn’t paid the money and acts as if he never made that promise.
Trutanich supported Governor Jerry Brown’s realignment plan when he was running for district attorney last year. As we all know—or should know by now, the realignment plan addresses prison overcrowding by transferring responsibility for certain inmates from state to local authorities.
Always the flip-flopper, now that he’s running for re-election as the city attorney, Trutanich has pulled his support of the plan calling it “the get-out-of-jail early law” in an effort to get the conservative vote.
It’s also important to note that when he did run for District Attorney, voters were so disgusted with him that he didn’t even make it into the run-off prompting him to seek re-election as the city attorney.
And while there are a lot of other examples of Trutanich’s dishonesty, what’s really important here is that when you or a loved one is on the other side of the aisle in the courtroom, you want to be assured that any deal made with the city attorney’s office is going to honored. With Trutanich as the leader of that office, you really are taking your chances. We also need a city attorney that sees the importance in prevention programs. Arresting people, throwing them in jail, releasing them, and re-arresting them again isn’t the answer and never has been. That’s how we ended up with the jail and prison-overcrowding problem we have now.
In my opinion, anyone would be a choice than Carmen Trutanich—anyone. I’m not particularly excited about Trutanich’s opposition Mike Feuer, but he got my vote simply by not being Carmen Trutanich. Nuff said.