City Hall

Mayor Garcetti on defensive about DC fundraising trip

garcetti-protesters-getty-house.jpgGarcetti and protesters blocking his SUV outside Getty House last week.

Coming to the midpoint of his first term as mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti is suddenly facing a more skeptical press corps. Last night there was the story by the LA Times' reporter on the mayor, Peter Jamison, catching Garcetti in not telling the whole truth about his trip to Washington last week. Garcetti explained to the Black Lives Matter protesters outside Getty House that it was an essential trip for meetings with Obama Administration officials. But those meetings took all of an hour, and it's difficult to say how vital they were in this era of teleconferences and, you know, long-distance telephone service. What Garcetti did have to show his face for in Washington was a reelection fundraiser at the Georgetown home of Harold Ickes. But when Jamison began asking about the fundraising aspect of the DC trip, Garcetti and his spokespeople hemmed and hawed.

This morning on KNX's regularly scheduled Ask the Mayor segment, host Charles Feldman set up the piece as being about Garcetti's evasiveness.

During the interview, Feldman asked some pointed questions about the trip and Garcetti's explanations. "Can you see why some people might come to the conclusion that some of your answers are just a little too clever?," Feldman asked, per a tweet by the LAT's Jamison.

The interview also centered on Garcetti explaining on a previous visit to KNX that he skipped a Venice community about the police killing of Brendon Glenn due to a family commitment. The Times looked at Garcetti's calendar and found that the mayor held a reception for diplomats and went to the opening of a video game company that evening, and concluded the family commitment would not have conflicted with the community meeting.

From CBS LA:

The mayor did have a response when KNX 1070’s Charles Feldman asked Garcetti during Tuesday’s regular “Ask The Mayor” segment whether he neglected to mention to protesters that he was headed back East for a fundraising trip because it would cast him in a negative light.

“No,” the mayor said. “I could’ve easily canceled that and it was not the main reason I was going.”


The allegations follow Garcetti’s decision to skip a community meeting in Venice about the fatal shooting of a homeless man because he had a family commitment.

According to The Times, Garcetti had a reception for diplomats and went to the opening of a video game company that evening, and the family commitment would not have conflicted with the community meeting.

Garcetti defended his decision, saying breaking two commitments that would potentially benefit the city in order to go to Venice didn’t make sense.

“Looking back…I don’t know that I would’ve attended that meeting, I don’t want the question to be that I need to go to every single meeting,” said Garcetti. “Most people that went there said it was a very unproductive meeting.”

In the Daily News story last night following the LAT's disclosure of the Garcetti fundraiser in Washington, the mayors campaign adviser, Bill Carrick, says he doesn't see the issue.

Garcetti’s D.C. meetings and fundraising event drew him away from Los Angeles before the Police Commission ruling on Ford’s death, which came amid renewed attention on police shootings of unarmed black men across the country.

Carrick said the mayor attended a 40-person event at the home of Democratic fundraiser Harold Ickes last Monday. The airfare to D.C. was paid for by Garcetti’s re-election campaign, Carrick said.

“I don’t understand what the flap is,” Carrick said of the interest in the fundraiser. He added later, “There are people protesting all the time.”

After Garcetti flew to Washington on the eve of the Ezell Ford hearing at the police commission, and before it came out that the mayor attended a fundraiser there, Jamison framed a piece in the LAT on how Garcetti did not shine in his handling of the controversy around the police shooting of Ford.

In a city with a smoldering legacy of civil unrest, voters prefer mayors who can summon a commanding presence in times of trouble, said veteran Democratic strategist Darry Sragow….

"It's obvious that L.A. is a very big and complicated place, and there's an expectation on the part of the people who live in the city that the mayor is going to play a visible role and have a guiding hand," Sragow said. "This is a city with a lot of underlying tensions and problems that could rise to the surface without that kind of strong hand."

Arnie Steinberg, a former Riordan advisor, said Garcetti's on-camera encounter with the protesters outside his home showed that he had not yet mastered the art of projecting strength in moments of controversy.

"It's a counterproductive visual to be seen as evasive and not confronting things forthrightly," Steinberg said.

Loyola Marymount's Fernando Guerra disagreed, and Garcetti explained that he didn't want to be seen as influencing the police commission.

"Short of an explosive situation in this city where I think it is my responsibility to speak out," he said, "I'm the son of a prosecutor, and I'm going to let that system work and make sure that it is as clean as possible."

But the LAT's Cathleen Decker also columnized that Garcetti has to walk a fine line.

Garcetti came into office in 2013 as the earnest proprietor of a massive to-do list of would-be civic improvements: filling potholes, picking up trash and creating jobs. He has proposed billions in spending for earthquake preparation, worked to draw tech types here from across the country, and espoused a data-driven approach to measuring the city's successes and failures.

But this week, he was caught in the debate that has confounded Los Angeles repeatedly over the years: whether the police force is an occupying army, as it long was; a reliable ally for the community, as it has tried to become; or something in between.

And its mayor was in the same spot where mayors have long been in this city: walking the knife's edge to maintain relations with a Police Department whose loyalty he needs and a community whose loyalty he wants.

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