By Tibby Rothman
Clearly Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Usher has not received Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's memo on insubordination.
Today, the woman who as the chair of the City Planning Commission urged residents to sue the city over an unpopular development policy, issued a scathing e-mail to community activists slamming Villaraigosa for recommending large budget cuts in City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's department. The subject line could not have been more succinct: “Mayor Declares War on City Attorney.”
“Surely you are wondering whether this is consistent with the
reductions proposed by the Mayor for other City offices,” an incensed
Usher wrote. “Look high and low. You will not find another City
department that has been similarly targeted by the Mayor for closure.”
Usher excoriated the mayor for backing what she said was a total of 36% in budget cuts to the city attorney's office over two years. She said Trutanich had saved the city over $100 million through legal victories, laid out a litany of services that faced the axe, and urged neighborhood activists to take action.
Asked if she was frightened that the Mayor would find ways to remove her in retaliation, Usher told the Weekly she wasn't worried. She added that the mayor had taken a “swing” at the city attorney's office and that “as a political figure, he should expect that many figures will take swings back.”
As for whether she might be among layoffs the budget cuts could force she noted, “I work at the pleasure of the city attorney.”
Usher claimed that the cuts would be to the detriment of Los Angelenos. “If the Mayor has his way… you will not be able to find a civil lawyer to serve as watchdog to counter rogue City actions or to defend against the avalanche of claims upon the City's treasury.”
Speaking to the Weekly, Usher said the Mayor had called for shared sacrifice, but that the there was no parity or shared sacrifice among departments. While Usher declined to name specific departments, the Weekly has previously reported that some city councilmembers have taken as little as 2.5% cuts to their $178,789 salaries.
She declined to speculate as to why the Mayor was targeting Trutanich's office.
The Weekly first wrote about cuts proposed for Trutanich's office back in February. At the time, insiders speculated that Trutanich was being punished for his abrasive style.
Though Trutanich has been seen as a grandstander and gadfly, during his tenure Los Angeles has finally begun to win legal cases to halt the flow of billboards-gone-wild. Trutanich won office over Jack Weiss, who was widely seen as an inside player and mayoral flunky.