Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came into office promising to eliminate the city's persistent deficits. And as he heads out the door, having cut 5,000 positions, the deficits are still there.
This week, he sent the City Council a memo with some "outside the box" ideas for trimming even further. Among them is a proposal to change the charter to strip the city attorney's power to represent the city in civil court.
We'll get to why that might save money in a second. But first, just take a guess as to who doesn't like this idea at all.
In a statement, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich said, "The Mayor's recycled idea shows a distressing lack of imagination on how to solve the City's problems, and would cost the City at least three times what it is currently paying for legal services."
Trutanich also called the proposal "another misguided attempt to disrupt the necessary checks and balances provided by an independent City Attorney; elected by and accountable to the voters, against any excesses by the Mayor or City Council."
The mayor's office didn't provide an explanation for how this proposal is supposed to save money. But the thinking seems to be that the city would lose fewer cases -- and pay less in civil judgments -- if it had better lawyers.
Assemblyman Mike Feuer, who is running against Trutanich in the March city attorney election, joined Trutanich in denouncing the mayor's proposal.
"The truth is, Mr. Trutanich has failed as city attorney, and his failed leadership has resulted in extreme proposals like this to help deal with the mess he's helped create in our city," Feuer said in a statement. "If the concern is the city attorney's office needs to be better run... then we need a more effective city attorney."
In response, Trutanich's campaign manager, Rick Taylor, blasted Feuer over the state's prison realignment policy and questioned his legal background. "He's been in a courtroom as much as I've been in a courtroom," Taylor said.
Also this week, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana suggested eliminating 50 positions in Trutanich's office. Trutanich doesn't like that idea either, calling it an "outrageous and short-sighted attack on the public health and safety of the City's residents."
They might be down a few deputies over there, but rest assured they're not running out of adjectives.