Oh, the final days of a campaign. City Controller Wendy Greuel called the media to her Van Nuys Airport-adjacent headquarters this morning to attack Councilman Eric Garcetti for endangering children and profiting from oil drilling near Beverly Hills High School. She produced a chart detailing what Garcetti knew and when he might have known it. Except it appears that no oil has been drilled for under Garcetti's property, no children have been endangered, and any profit has been extraordinarily slim. The controversy is over a retail lot in the 9600 block of Wilshire Boulevard where Garcetti's grandfather had a clothing shop. The mineral rights from the lot earn Garcetti's family trust foundation almost two dollars a year. Well, $1.25. More, potentially, if oil is ever taken from under the lot.
The reporters who drove out to Van Nuys to listen to Greuel, then had to track down Garcetti, sounded unimpressed by the controversy.
Gene Maddaus at the LA Weekly:
It's getting into the final days of the primary campaign for L.A. mayor, which means it's time for the campaigns to start slinging whatever mud they can find.
Today, Controller Wendy Greuel held a press conference to attack Eric Garcetti for holding a Venoco oil lease in Beverly Hills that pays him $1.25 a year. The attack bore the hallmarks of her campaign strategist, John Shallman, who has a track record of attacking opponents by linking them -- however tenuously -- to the oil industry.
This time around, Garcetti has the Sierra Club's backing. Greuel, meanwhile, has received more than $1.5 million in support from a group funded by IBEW Local 18, the Department of Water and Power union, which has a history of opposing or dragging its feet on green energy initiatives.
In addition, Greuel has also accepted thousands of dollars from oil companies in her various campaigns, including $3,000 from Chevron for her first race for City Council. Occidental Petroleum has contributed the maximum $1,300 to Greuel's race for mayor. (Occidental has not given to Garcetti, though the firm's chairman, Ray Irani, has given him $1,300.) Greuel also took $250 in 2009 from a Venoco lobbyist.
Maeve Reston in the LA Times says that Greuel sought to discredit Garcetti's credentials as an environmentalist.
"He has promoted himself as an environmental champion, but he has never mentioned his oil interests,” said Greuel, alluding to a Times article this week detailing Garcetti’s interest in a 20-year lease with Venoco, a multinational oil company.
“Who is the real Eric Garcetti? The fact is, nobody knows,” Greuel said. “Every day we get a new Eric Garcetti, someone who tries to be everything to everyone.”
Garcetti called Greuel’s allegations “a desperate attack from an increasingly desperate Wendy Greuel” during a news conference Thursday afternoon. He noted that Greuel accepted a $250 contribution from one of Venoco’s lobbyists during her campaign for city controller in 2009 and has accepted at least $11,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies.
“There is one candidate in this campaign who is focused on cleaning up the environment, and there is one who is focused on flinging mud,” Garcetti said. “There is one candidate who is focused on the facts, and there is one whose numbers don’t add up. This is just the latest example of Ms. Greuel’s numbers not adding up.”
Garcetti was introduced by David Haake, vice chairman of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, who said the lease was a “non-issue” and a distraction from the real issues in the campaign.
Here's the original Times story blowing the lid off the Garcetti oil interest, such as it is.
Amusing headline on the CBS2 web story: Greuel, Garcetti Drill Each Other Over Oil Operation
Amusing follow-up press release: Councilman Bill Rosendahl issued a statement, through Greuel's campaign, calling on Garcetti to "sever his ties with Venoco."
And in the mail today: When I got home this evening, there were two Greuel hit pieces on Garcetti: an Oscar-themed mailer giving Garcetti the statue for "Worst Performance by a Politician in a Leading Role," and another with Garcetti as the star of a fairy tale "The Tall Tales of Prince Eric Garcetti." There was also a Garcetti hit piece on Greuel, asking "Why can't City Controller Wendy Greuel keep her numbers straight?"
Greuel at press conference: LA Observed