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By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
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Then there's Greuel. She argues she is outside the City Hall power structure because, for the last four years, she's been rooting out waste and inefficiencies from her perch as city controller. But in truth, no one is more of an insider. She practically grew up at City Hall. She went to work for Mayor Tom Bradley when she was 22 and stayed 10 years. Those years left a mark on her leadership style — careful, deliberate, risk-averse — and gave her an appreciation for the nitty-gritty of government.
On his drive to work, Bradley would look for potholes to fill. When Greuel became a councilwoman, she immediately did the same, branding herself "The Pothole Queen."
That back-to-basics approach seems to be what voters are looking for after eight years of a mayor whose lofty promises often turned out to be empty.
On the stump, Greuel frequently quotes the person who told her, "If you just pave Wilshire Boulevard, I'll vote for you for anything." It should be an easy promise to keep — starting in July, the city is set to repave four miles of Wilshire.
In any case, that seems to be a good read of the electoral mood: Don't try to inspire me, just pave my street. The challenge will be in convincing people that Greuel represents something different, not a continuation of the City Hall establishment.
On today's agenda, Greuel has debate prep at campaign headquarters in Van Nuys, then a stop at a firehouse before the day's big event: the opening of her West L.A. campaign office, with Sen. Barbara Boxer. Then a house party in Culver City, endorsement meetings in South L.A. and Encino, then home for dinner before heading out for more.
By this point, Greuel's work ethic is beyond question. She was a newly elected councilwoman when she gave birth to her son, Thomas, in 2003. She returned to City Hall after just 10 days, bringing a nanny to the council office to help care for her newborn. When her son was young, Greuel and her husband, literary agent Dean Schramm, hired two nannies, who worked in shifts.
Greuel's car is a Ford Escape hybrid that used to belong to Mayor Jim Hahn. Her driver today is a handsome, 24-year-old Texan named Jake. He looks like a model, which, it turns out, he is: He did catalog work before getting involved in politics.
Driving for Wendy Greuel means battling traffic 14 hours a day in an effort to keep the boss on schedule. Greuel sits in the passenger seat, dialing supporters, keeping one eye on the clock.
Greuel is not a natural speech-maker, and in debates she seems overly rehearsed. But in small groups, as at the firehouse, she is more at ease. "I piss somebody off every day as controller," she confides to the firefighters.
At the West L.A. event, she gives her speech before introducing Boxer, and the difference in styles is obvious. Boxer is a pro — poised, funny, in total control. By comparison, Greuel seems bound in a straitjacket of clichés. A representative sample: "As we stand here today, we need to talk about the future and to get our economy moving, to get those jobs, and to make sure that we are able to do that. ... We also need to look at our future, which is education."
Afterward, she takes pictures with supporters, holding a fixed smile and somebody's baby. To her right, just out of the camera frame, a large man with a dark jacket and stringy gray hair tries to get her attention.
"The sidewalks are insane to walk on!" he shouts. "It's insane! The curbs are not wheelchair-safe! I've been complaining for four years!" She tries to acknowledge him without messing up the picture, which means not moving her mouth or turning her head.
He is Dale Boren, 68, of San Pedro, a retired millwright. He's also a Greuel supporter. "She's found all the dang corruption and she's reporting it," he says. "The other candidate wants to cover it up. ... We gotta get something different going."
Asked about Villaraigosa, he says, "I'm not too fond of him. All the problems we got — we still got the problems."
At the house party, a guest brings up the L.A. Times article, asking in the politest way possible how to talk to friends about the charge that she represents Villaraigosa's third term.
"It's much ado about nothing," she says. "You can tell them that Wendy's been an independent controller. I've done a lot of audits that don't make the mayor very happy."
Jack Humphreville has been hounding the DWP since 2007, when the utility proposed a rate increase. Since then, he's been banging out editorials lambasting D'Arcy as the "shadowy, public-be-damned business manager of the IBEW."
Humphreville, who writes the L.A. Watchdog blog for CityWatch, has not been impressed with Greuel's performance as controller. Her audits have taken a few shots at the utility's management team, but she has never challenged the IBEW. In fact, some of the criticisms of DWP management in her audits are shared by the union.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure the relationship of the IBEW and Wendy Greuel. They have put in over $500,000 for an independent campaign to support Wendy. Of course they expect a pay back in the years ahead.
LA Weekly has done a marvelous job covering this election. This story on D'Arcy is way ahead of anything the LA Times or Daily News has done on the election. I hope voters are going online to follow the campaign in the LA Weekly newspaper.
Funny thing is one a macro scale the right wing war on unions looks wrong but on the micro level of LA government the unions do have way to much power and influence resulting in these absurd double dipping pensions and high salaries etc etc.
But its a democratic show and all the realistic candidates are insiders and won't get elected without union support so how is anything going to change?
Final rant - lets make the fire department's only job fighting fires. Create a new department dedicated to saving little old ladies that fall down so instead of having 15 firefighters show up in 2 big trucks you have 2 guys in an ambulance show up - saving how many billions a year????
@ketchy . DWP rates in the Valley are sky high. They would be much lower if the City Hall politicians weren't in the back pocket of the union that represents the DWP workers. The article made it clear that Wendy Greuel is in the back pocket of the DWP union. She allows their lobbyist to have free access to her and her office. What more do we need to know?
A tough negotiator would achieve a fair deal for the workers but also the rate payers (voters) who own the DWP. Wendy is going to give them a huge raise to pay back their investment in her campaign, and that funding will be passed onto the city rate payers (voters). No thanks.
The article made it crystal clear. If you want a higher water and power bill, vote for Wendy.
This is corruption at its peak, it is ridiculous that the DWP bosses make more than the mayor, it is just criminal to hear of something like that. If we elect Wendy Gruel or Garcetti, we will have more of the same, maybe it is time to elect someone that is outside of this dirty politics pool, someone like Kevin James, someone who is going to make fair pension deals that eliminate special benefits and unnecessary health benefits that are currently increasing our city deficit. If anyone is passionate on restoring LA and interested in volunteering for Kevin James, visit volunteerforkevin.wordpress.com
Great article! Thank you for debunking the Greuel fiscal conservancy myth, and for shedding light on her comfortable relationship with the DWP
A must read piece, esp for anyone that's paid a DWP bill. Who sez journalism is on the wane? Good job connecting the dots here, Maddeus.
There's a rumor going around that when Garcetti didn't get the DWP endorsement, he started crying. Does anyone know if this is true? If so, please let me know....
Thanks for warning us about this Wendy Greuel. The last thing we need is another Mayor that's owned by the DWP union. Our rates out here in the Valley are already high enough. In fact they're ridiculously high for a utility that's owed by the taxpayers. Now I see why, so we can pick up that inflated salaries of the union bosses.
I won't be voting for Wendy Greuel or anyone who's owned by these public employee unions. We've stomped out their propositions in the past and plan on doing it again next month.
I doubt that he'll join that rat-pack.
And don't forget to kill Prop. A, Tony Villar's brilliant effort to pay for union pensions on the backs of the city's lowest classes.
@Fred_Ward What utility is going to give you lower rates than DWP? Everyone I know with SCE has higher rates than I pay with DWP.
Not Kevin James. And while you're at it, don't forget the kill the union-backed Prop. A., Villaraigosa's brilliant effort to put a tax increase on the back of the city's lowest classes.