L.A. Votes: Greuel halts ads, DWP becomes central issue in race
With less than two weeks to go until election day, mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel’s campaign has suspended television advertising, a move that reflects her continuing struggle to raise enough money to compete head-to-head on the airwaves with rival Eric Garcetti.
At least temporarily, the move effectively left the most significant aspect of Greuel’s communication with voters -- TV advertising -- to an independent effort largely funded by a union that represents many workers at the Department of Water and Power, just as Garcetti is making that union’s support for her candidacy his main argument against her.
Garcetti renewed that line of attack on Tuesday during an education debate, prompting Greuel to reply, “There he goes again,” a play on a retort made famous by Ronald Reagan during his 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter.
On Tuesday, months after it was first requested by The Times, the city’s utility agency released salary information about its workers. Average pay at the DWP rose 15% over the last five years – significantly more generous pay increases than other city workers -- despite an economic slump that ravaged the city’s budget, the records show.
The union representing most of the DWP’s workers has become the single biggest source of campaign cash in the mayoral race, giving $1.45 million to an independent effort backing City Controller Wendy Greuel.
Another public-employee organization that is supporting Greuel’s bid – the city firefighters’ union – urged its members to increase their dues to finance aggressive new political campaigns, saying their salaries are vulnerable and retirement benefits are “under siege.”
Times columnist Steve Lopez tagged along with Greuel as she visited Tolliver’s barber shop, a frequent haunt for his political columns, and found that the city controller was expansive and seemed more comfortable in her own skin without a slew of TV cameras and the limitations of the never-ending series of debates.
Comments, questions or tips on city elections? Tweet me at @LATSeema
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