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Feuer Makes Pitch for City Attorney to Venice Residents

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By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch

City Attorney candidate Mike Feuer made his pitch for becoming the top prosecutor in the nation’s second-largest city during an informal meet-and-greet held Saturday afternoon with about 20 people at a Venice walk-street home.

Feuer, 54, spoke for about an hour during an address that started with a story about his Jewish father surviving being captured by the Nazis in World War II after his bomber was shot down. Feuer then gave the audience a recap of his prior service as a public official, listed his priorities if elected and also fielded questions.

Feuer is running against incumbent City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and attorney Greg Smith in the March 5 citywide primary election. Los Angeles voters also will cast ballots for a new mayor, new controller and to fill seats on the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education. The primary election will be followed by a May 21 general runoff election.

Feuer currently is a member of the state Assembly representing the 42nd District, which is made up primarily by West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Feuer has been re-elected to three two-year terms in the Assembly, the maximum allowed by term limits. He formerly was a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1995 to 2001 and unsuccessfully ran for City Attorney in 2001.

If elected, Feuer said he would double the size of the neighborhood prosecutor program to help connect law enforcement with neighborhood council leaders, clergy and community activists; establish a gun violence and prevention unit and would fast-track the drafting of any ordinances that would create jobs or revenue for the city.

He also told the audience gathered at the walk-street home of Venice resident Helen Stotler that he would approach the job differently than Trutanich.

“The current city attorney’s priorities are just different from mine,” Feuer said. “As you probably know, he has gone after ticket scalpers very famously and cancer patients seeking medical marijuana and street artists and people protesters. These are not the focal points for our city. They are not the most important issues in our city.”

Feuer said his priorities would be fast-tracking ordinances that lead to jobs, promoting economic development, fighting gangs and curbing gun violence.

“These are the things that should be at the top of the charts rather than ticket scalpers,” he said.

When asked about the homelessness issue in Venice, Feuer said he would try to seek a balance and use his experiences as a lawyer representing businesses and running a poverty law program to seek results.

As for medical marijuana, Feuer said there’s been a lack of leadership from the current city attorney on the issue.

“People who are sick need to have access to medical marijuana to alleviate their suffering and at the same time there are too many dispensaries. It’s too easy to get marijuana at many of them. They are sources of criminal activity in some locations,” Feuer said. “That does not mean you get rid of all of them. It means you say there will be a smaller, finite number of them and they’ll be closely regulated so we can ensure the public is safe, that the people who use the facility are safe and at the same time there’s access.”

Feuer also said he would prioritize fighting street gangs, if elected.

He criticized Trutanich for having more attorneys assigned to medical marijuana cases than both gangs and the neighborhood prosection program combined and said he would make gang prosecution and prevention a priority.

Feuer said he also would like to see neighborhood councils have more authority, particularly on land-use and development issues.

Feuer, who holds a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Harvard University, said the campaign was going well and that it was his first time facing an incumbent.

Feuer was the leading fundraiser among the three candidates with contributions of $898,439 reported between Oct. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012, according to data released Thursday by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. Feuer accepted the maximum of $300,000 in city matching funds and had cash on hand of $940,064 at the end of the reporting period.

Feuer, who received more than 2,800 contributions, had about three times the amount of money on hand as Trutanich, who was third-leading fundraiser with $381,882 in contributions reported during the quarterly period. Smith reported raising $718,381, including a self loan of $618,000, and was the second-leading fundraiser, according to city data.

Feuer said that during the past week he secured the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, who served as co-chair of Trutanich’s transition team, also announced his support for Feuer.

The League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club also have endorsed Feuer, along with former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

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