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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends Vote for Wendy Greuel: Here's Why

That didn't work out so well.
In every campaign, each candidate has their supporters and detractors. Usually, one or more candidate is better than the other. In the end, some supporters will be happy as their choice succeeds; others will lament in defeat.

When it comes to the current crop of candidates seeking the Mayoralty in Los Angeles, one candidate is so lacking in basic honesty, credibility, ethics and brings baggage to the table such that it would actually severely damage the City and hurt it's stakeholders.

Dramatic words, steep statements, but in this case, the emotions are backed up by facts and can be clearly documented.

Wendy Greuel would be Los Angeles' worst nightmare.

Yes, I visited goat herding territory
to get out the vote in Sunland-Tujunga
for Wendy Greuel many years ago
It's an unfortunate position I must take as many years ago I supported Wendy over a flock of candidates to replace veteran Councilman Joel Wachs who had resigned. I volunteered for her campaign, making hundreds of phone calls in a battered office in Valley Plaza and walking precincts in CD2, including an afternoon in goat country in Sunland-Tujunga, knocking on doors, and then heading back to New Hope Church on Oro Vista and Foothill to tally off the voters I had reminded to go vote or go back and remind them again.

We won that day.

As time went on, either Wendy changed or our understanding of Wendy changed. It's a history of lack of candor, false narratives, backroom deals and unbridled ambition. As a source close to the City Council told me, "Wendy will say/do anything just to be Mayor." It's an ambition not backed by chops - even the status quo LA Times said of Greuel "It is hard to see how she would rise to the challenge as mayor given her record."

Can it get worse?

When it comes to whom you wish to select as Mayor, particularly at a time when the City is riddled with crumbling infrastructure, choking development, declining quality of life and near bankruptcy, you want a candidate with character and one who has the ethics to "drain the swamp" at City Hall.

Wendy's past is full of incidents that make the case she just isn't morally fit to be Mayor. Time and time again, Greuel, when backed into the corner and caught with her hand in the cookie jar, takes a position that one can only presume means the Controller is either lying, dumb, or both.

We can start with what, in the usual cliche that has endured since a third rate political burglary in Washington D.C. hotel 40 years ago, has been referred to as "Calendar-gate." Investigative reporter Randy Economy, following an extensive review of hundreds of Greuel's official calendar records found that the Controller had spent a significant amount of City time on her campaign for Mayor. When Economy's report was widely picked up by other news organizations, what did Greuel's camp do? Distribute hit pieces on Economy's past drug addiction, despite the fact the writer has been clean and sober for years and works with Catholic organizations that fight drug abuse. It really wouldn't matter anyway. Economy could have sparked up in City Hall; it would not have changed the fact City records show Greuel used her office for political purposes, in violation of law.

Campaigning on the city dime is nothing new for Greuel. In 1991, as a young aide for then Mayor Tom Bradley making $37 an hour, Greuel was among a number of staffers reprimanded by Mayor Bradley and ordered to reimburse the City for the time spent working on the campaign of Rita Walters, who was later elected to the Council.

When it comes to what the average voter might think of the perks of holding public office, fixing parking tickets has to be at the top of the list. Such was the purview of Los Angeles' legendary "Gold Card Desk." This special service within City Hall was established so that elected officials could reverse the parking tickets of select VIPs. When Greuel became Controller, in a move clearly intended to grab headlines for her coming Mayoral foray, she released an "audit" with her shock and dismay that there was ticket fixing going on. There was just one problem - as a former Councilmember and chair of the Council's Transportation Committee, Greuel knew about the program, her office had used it and she approved the contract for the firm that the ticket-fixing work was outsourced to (incredible that there was so much ticket fixing that the City needed a vendor to handle it). On top of all that, Greuel received contributions from the Gold Card desk contractor. Despite those reports (including Greuel being thrown under the bus by Mayor Villaraigosa's office rejecting the notion of Greuel's ignorance), Wendy sticks to the narrative that, like the famous Sgt. Schultz of Hogan's Heroes, she "knew nothing!" So much so that even the local press is raising eyebrows.

Then we come to the DWP. Oh, if we only had enough bloggin' real estate to dedicate to the "Department of Wendy's Pals." Most of you by now know the drill. Wendy Greuel, flush with millions of dollars of contributions from the Department of Water and Power public employee unions, votes to raise rates on ratepayers in order to pay salaries 46% higher than comparable jobs in the City and 40% higher than the average in other utilities.  If you look at your DWP bill in wonderment, you know what to do when you vote for Mayor.

Finally, we come to some of Greuel's actual duties as City Controller. Her predecessor, the somewhat less grandstanding Laura Chick, made somewhat of a regular public spectacle when it came to releasing "audits" of city services and spending. Greuel came under fire when she made claims she and her staff found $160 million in fraud, waste and abuse in City Hall that could be recovered and help the fiscally ailing city. Problem is, the figures were vastly exaggerated. On January 31st, the LA Times reported the findings "depend on an accounting maneuver and a large revenue projection that the controller's office itself said was unrealistic from the start." Even in the face of this data, as per her usual style, Greuel sticks to the false narrative and continues to make the bogus claim. Perhaps the City Controller, who friends refer to as "Pixie" believes what Joseph Goebbels once said if you tell a lie often enough, perhaps it will come true.

Here's the bottom line, Greuel's series of ethical lapses, deep relationships with employee unions and general lack of ability to tell the truth makes her a really bad candidate for Mayor. Indeed, Kevin James is the best choice today for Los Angeles. However, even insiders such as Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry would be an immensely better choice. Having read all of this, you now know, if you didn't already, what you need to do.

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