Controller Wendy Greuel's prospects of being elected mayor "depend largely on how effectively she can repel" criticism that her publicized audits are for show and that her record, including a vote for the big 2007 raise for city employees, mark her as a City Hall insider, LA Times political writer Michael Finnegan says in a piece for Tuesday's paper.
In a city beset by chronic budget shortfalls, Greuel is campaigning in the March 5 election primary as a fiscal conservative. She's uniquely qualified, she argues, not just because of her record as a city official, but as a result of her work at DreamWorks and her family's ownership of a building supply business in North Hollywood.
"I have inside knowledge and an outside perspective," she said in an interview.
But Greuel's record, her opponents contend, doesn't match the image she's crafting. They question what she's accomplished with her audits and portray her Hollywood experience — in government relations — as emblematic of a career as a political insider.
"This whole notion that she's some kind of outsider who has an ounce of political courage, it's frankly a bunch of hooey," said Eric Hacopian, chief strategist for mayoral candidate and City Councilwoman Jan Perry. Greuel's audits, he said, amount to "constant headline grabbing" and "a whole bunch of sound and fury that signifies nothing."
UC San Diego's Steven Erie is the source of the "tightrope act" thought, saying in the story that Greuel has to convince the less City Hall-enamored voters in the Valley that she really is somewhat of a fiscal conservative while also keeping labor unions happy enough not to campaign against her. Greuel, for her part, "takes credit for identifying $160 million in potential city savings through her audits."
The story also traces Greuel's timeline from childhood in Granada Hills, college at UCLA, and job in the Bradley Administration at City Hall to service with the Clinton Administration in Washington, including a stint as HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros's deputy in charge of earthquake relief after the 1994 Northridge quake. She then got hired to handle political affairs for Dreamworks, helping win permission for the studio to build in Playa Vista (it opted not to build there) and arguing with the state coastal commission that co-founder David Geffen should be allowed to build a seawall at his beach home in Malibu. Greuel was elected to the City Council from the East Valley in a March 5, 2002 special election, beating Tony Cardenas by 225 votes.
With her brother, Greuel co-owns Frontier Building Supply, her family's long-time business in North Hollywood, the story says. She is 51 and was a Republican until registering as a Democrat in 1992.
Also Monday in Campaign 2013:
- The Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters co-endorsed Greuel and Councilman Eric Garcetti in the mayoral race.
- Zocalo founder Gregory Rodriguez said in a Times op-ed piece on LA demographics that "I'd put the chances that the next mayor of Los Angeles will be intimately tied to Jewishness or Judaism by blood, conversion or marriage at about, um, 100%. Eric Garcetti is Mexican Italian Jewish. Jan Perry is an African American who converted to Judaism 30 years ago. Wendy Gruel is married to a Jewish man and is raising her son in her husband's faith."
- As I posted earlier, former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg endorsed Mike Feuer for City Hall — of note since Hertzberg co-chaired the Trutanich transition four years ago.