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Two City Races, One Endorsement : Why Controller Tuttle deserves reelection

April 14, 1993

So much attention has been focused on the Los Angeles mayoral campaign that many voters don't even know that ballots will also be cast for two other citywide offices. Another reason those races are not getting much coverage is that entrenched incumbents are facing only token opposition. Both City Controller Rick Tuttle and City Atty. James K. Hahn are likely to win another term, but we choose to endorse only Tuttle.

The city controller is charged with what could be merely a ministerial function--handling the city's money. But in his eight years on the job Tuttle has shown that a good controller can do many more things.

Tuttle has been a watchdog on public spending, disclosing lavish spending by city officials at restricted private clubs and on junkets abroad. He has also helped find ways for the city to raise money without always having to raise taxes, such as by tapping the funds of hitherto sacrosanct city departments like Airport and Harbor.

Tuttle created a program to allow city employees to make child support payments through payroll deductions. Although his predecessors in the job--former City Atty. and Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner and current City Atty. Hahn--left the controller's post quickly to run for other political jobs, Tuttle has decided to run for a third term as controller. He has done a good job and deserves to be reelected.

James Kenneth Hahn is blessed with a well-known political name (he is the son of retired Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn) and has raised almost $200,000 for his campaign while his opponent, Deputy City Atty. Michael Guarino, has raised less than $1,000.

Hahn's oft-lackluster tenure as city attorney took an especially worrisome turn last year when the new city Ethics Commission made his office the target of its first major investigation. Hahn himself was not accused of wrongdoing, but a top aide and other employees were found to have conducted political activity on Hahn's behalf on city time. Charges were not filed because the commission does not have the independent authority to hire a special prosecutor and because former Dist. Atty. Reiner chose not to pursue the case.

Hahn rejected the commission findings, refused to take disciplinary action against the employees involved and insists that the matter is closed. Ironically, the one person who may yet be affected by the commission probe is Guarino. Hahn claims the commission probe found that Guarino made $2,000 worth of personal phone calls at city expense and that the matter has been referred to the district attorney. Whatever the outcome of that investigation, we choose to endorse neither Hahn nor Guarino.

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