Boosters of Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel on Thursday sought to highlight her business community support as proof of her independence from union influence and ability to bring conflicting interests to the negotiating table.
Basketball legend Magic Johnson, standing in front of the 17-foot bronze statue of himself outside Staples Center, said voters were being fed a false story by the media and others that Greuel was beholden to city employees unions.
“When you partner with labor, you partner with business, that’s the only way you can get this city of Los Angeles moving forward,” he said. “… She’ll be independent — the voters don’t have to worry about that.”
Gary Toebben, head of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, noted that in addition to labor, Greuel has the support of his organization as well as business groups representing downtown and the San Fernando Valley.
“There are some who are saying because Wendy has the support … that she can’t possibly be independent. And to that we say, ‘You don’t know Wendy Greuel like we know Wendy Greuel,’ ” he told reporters at a news conference outside of Staples Center.
“She is a very independent person and her opponent tried very hard to get all of those endorsements," he said. "I trust if he had succeeded in getting those endorsements, he would not have considered himself any less independent.”
The news conference occurred one day after an independent committee that received much of its funding from a union representing Department of Water and Power workers bought $500,000 of television time to air a new ad boosting Greuel’s bid.
Asked about the timing, Toebben said the gathering was unrelated and had been scheduled for a week.
Greuel’s rival, Eric Garcetti, has argued that his opponent can't be trusted to safeguard the city's interests in collective bargaining because of the seven-figure support Greuel has received from the city’s public employee unions.
The business leaders praised the city councilman for his economic development work in Hollywood, but said that Garcetti had never created jobs in the private sector. Greuel did both through her work at DreamWorks and her family’s hardware store, they said.
“She is the only candidate who has ever signed the front of a paycheck, and not just the back of a paycheck,” Toebben said.
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