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TIMES ENDORSEMENTS

Feuer for City Attorney

March 11, 2001

Each of the four candidates for the post of Los Angeles city attorney offers unique experience and a vision for the office, but The Times endorses Mike Feuer in the April 10 primary. A City Council member since 1995 and formerly the director of a public interest law firm, Feuer would bring to the city attorney's office a track record of problem-solving, solid leadership and management experience, as well as creative ideas to improve the quality of urban life.

The city attorney is the lawyer for the City of Los Angeles. With more than 400 attorneys and 500 other staff members, the office has wide responsibilities. The city attorney prosecutes criminal misdemeanor cases, defends city employees and departments in civil suits and provides legal advice to the mayor and the City Council on policy issues.

Big challenges face the next city attorney, with police reform topping the list. The office must also begin to get a handle on the city's crippling payouts for worker's compensation and liability settlements. These claims have pushed the city's current and projected payouts to an estimated $1 billion, according to the city controller, a 52% rise in constant dollars since 1994. That figure may or may not prove accurate, but the city must begin to rein in these expenses. A tougher settlement stance by the city and better feedback to city departments--for example, about cracked sidewalks that cause trip-and-fall accidents or about city employees whose boorishness results in large sexual harassment settlements--could make a big difference in the city's budget. Quality of life issues--graffiti, vandalism and petty crime--also figure prominently on the agenda.

Feuer's opponents include Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo, Mayor Riordan's point man on a number of redevelopment deals, and Lea Purwin D'Agostino and Frank Tavelman, both deputy district attorneys.

Feuer is the best of these good candidates. As a council member, Feuer has pushed for tougher city ethics laws, police reform, gun control, development limits and neighborhood empowerment.

As city attorney, Feuer promises that he would take a tougher litigation stance on police misconduct cases, doggedly ensure full compliance with the federal LAPD consent decree and help to rebuild the police department. He says he'll make tougher gun limits a continuing priority, step up prosecution of environmental crimes and create what he calls "quality of life" teams linking city attorney staff with the Building and Safety Department, police and neighborhood council representatives to go after slumlords, vandalism and graffiti.

As a city attorney, Feuer would bring to the office creative ideas, solid experience, integrity and enthusiasm. The Times endorses Mike Feuer for city attorney.

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