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City Attorney Race Continues, And Heats Up

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Los Angeles' civic duties didn't end with March's election; with no majority winner, the race for city attorney went into a runoff between City Council member Jack Weiss of the 5th District and attorney Carmen Trutanich, to be decided on May 19. And the contenders don't exactly have a "let the best man win" attitude.

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The Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" blog was at a debate last week between the two sparring would-be attorneys. The fact that Weiss didn't already win cleanly back in March was a big blow to him; he outspent Trutanich two to one. It's also a sign of sinking influence for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who supported the councilman.

Things got heated:

Trutanich cast Weiss as a legal "novice" with little to show for his two terms on the City Council. Weiss hammered Trutanich for representing polluters and sharing a law practice with an attorney for the National Rifle Association, among other gun groups.....

"You are a walking, talking conflict of interest. You need to tell the people of this city who the conflicts are, and how much it's going to cost us," Weiss said, arguing that the city would be forced to spend millions of additional dollars on outside counsel if any of Trutanich's former clients faced the city in court....

"Here's a guy who is in the back pocket of almost every developer in the city telling me to disclose something?" Trutanich retorted. Questioning Weiss's accomplishments, he continued: "He fell asleep on his shovel and woke up to run for city attorney. There's an entitlement about him -- he feels he's entitled to this job and he's not, because he's done nothing to deserve it."

From indefatigable local news blogger Mayor Sam, some TV ads from the original city attorney election--and his opinion about why Weiss didn't win in the first election. In sum:

The bottom line is that many people would vote for Attila the Hun over you for City Attorney because they find you arrogant, deceitful and contemptous of the people. For corn sake Jack when 20,000 people in the 5th District take enough time away from sipping lattes to sign a recall petiton and the overwhelming majority of your own District votes against you its apparent you have real issues...

The Times meanwhile, wrote back in February about a controversy over one of Trutanich's ads--which Weiss's campaign said "unfairly depicts Latino men as gang members.:

For some historical context on the office's challenges, the L.A. Weekly back in 2007 profiled the controversial record of outgoing city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, and found that he "managed to turn as noncontroversial a job as city attorney into a potential disaster."

Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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