Voters could assemble a fairly good city attorney using parts from the five candidates who are running to succeed Rocky Delgadillo in the March 3 election. From Michael Amerian they could pull a knowledge of the office and of the kind of management it might take to get the best work from the lawyers and support staff. From David Berger they could get solid prosecutorial experience in Superior Court and a healthy impatience with politics. From Jack Weiss they could access sharp intelligence and strategic thinking. From Noel Weiss they could glean a much-needed passion and ability to advocate for average Angelenos against the machinations of City Hall.
None of the candidates is perfect, but we believe the best package of civil and criminal know-how, and the right combination of savvy and arm’s length distance from City Hall politics, are offered by Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich. The Times endorses Trutanich for city attorney.
Trutanich presents a strong vision for the office, with tough prosecution of violence tempered by a real-world recognition that gang crime must be answered with alternatives for youth. He supports and would enhance the neighborhood prosecutors program, one of Delgadillo’s best ideas. He has the civil practice background to get a handle on Los Angeles’ penchant for agreeing too easily to settlements, and impresses us as a man who would be willing to take a risky case to trial -- and suffer the political consequences if he loses -- in order to serve notice that the city will not roll over at the merest threat of a lawsuit by a billboard company or a disaffected employee.
Jack Weiss is the best-funded candidate and the one who likely has had his eye on this office the longest; he recently has begun to suffer the attacks typically weathered by front-runners. That’s unfortunate. There are a lot of bad reasons to oppose Weiss, including the fact that he is one of the least popular members of the City Council. Truth be told, Weiss’ somewhat combative relationship with his council colleagues is one of the more comforting aspects of his candidacy, and would help avert the too-cozy relationship that his opponents complain would rule if he becomes city attorney. Nor is it reasonable to expect an elected official to harbor no further political ambitions.
But the impatience with constituent service that Weiss has often displayed does raise doubt about how carefully and how long he would focus on his duties as city attorney. While being candid and generally on-target in his critique of Delgadillo’s tenure, Weiss has not articulated a clear direction for the office. Trutanich has, laying out an approach that focuses on fiscal prudence, environmental prosecution and public safety. He gets our vote.