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Mayoral candidates trade barbs on campaign stops

Perry supporters decry attacks by Greuel on Perry's personal finances. Greuel is critical of Garcetti's investment in an oil and gas firm. Garcetti says Greuel is beholden to special interests.

March 04, 2013|By Michael Finnegan and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • City Councilwoman Jan Perry meets voters Sunday at a home in Venice.
City Councilwoman Jan Perry meets voters Sunday at a home in Venice. (Anne Cusack, Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles mayoral hopeful Wendy Greuel traded barbs with rivals Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry on Sunday as the leading candidates dashed around the city in a final burst of weekend campaigning, from Encino and Eagle Rock to Venice Beach and South Los Angeles.

The top contenders to succeed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sought to shore up support with morning visits to churches and afternoon stops at a taco stand, farmer's market and art gallery.

With the election just two days away, acrimony erupted anew between Greuel, the city controller, and the two City Council members she sees as her most formidable opponents, Garcetti and Perry.

Perry released an open letter from a dozen women saying they were angry and disappointed by Greuel's "morally reprehensible attacks" on Perry over her personal bankruptcy filing in the 1990s.

"Wendy we expected much better from you," they wrote. "As a woman and mother you should know that there are certain lines you simply do not cross."

The group, which included former state Assemblywoman Gwen Moore and local Democratic club leaders, was denouncing, among other things, a Greuel mailer detailing Perry's personal "financial mismanagement." It tells voters: "Don't Let Her Bankrupt L.A."

Perry and her ex-husband, Douglas Galanter, have blamed their financial troubles of the 1990s on the failure of his law practice.

At a campaign stop in Pacoima on Sunday, Greuel voiced no regret for highlighting Perry's bankruptcy, saying the mayor was responsible for a $7-billion budget.

"It's for the voters to decide if that plays into their decision-making," Greuel said.

Earlier, during a visit with volunteers at her South L.A. office in Hyde Park, Greuel renewed her attack on Garcetti over his financial stake in potential oil and gas drilling in Beverly Hills. Garcetti and several family members authorized a lease with Venoco Inc. for drilling rights beneath a Wilshire Boulevard retail property that the councilman co-owns through a personal trust. The company's oil extraction operations involving other properties, via a site at Beverly Hills High School, have drawn criticism from some alumni, residents and environmentalists.

In an interview, Greuel called the matter "a very serious issue" that voters should keep in mind about Garcetti, whose supporters include the Sierra Club.

"If you don't believe that you're ever going to drill for oil, if you don't believe it's going to make you money, then why not terminate the lease?" she asked.

Garcetti, on a stop at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles on West Pico Boulevard, declined to respond to that question or to Greuel's suggestion that he had ignored audits by the controller's office calling on the city to take action against wasteful spending at the Department of Water and Power.

"This is just a distraction from two facts — that Ms. Greuel's audits of the DWP have turned up zero dollars, and that as a reward, she's gotten more than $1.7 million from the DWP union," he said.

"I think there's a clear choice in this race between myself, a candidate who has independence, and one who is beholden to special interests. This money wouldn't be behind her, and she wouldn't be lobbing these grenades, if she didn't feel something is wrong in her campaign."

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, a union that represents more than 8,600 DWP workers, is the main force behind Working Californians, an independent committee that has spent $2 million on Greuel's behalf.

A USC Price/Los Angeles Times poll taken last week found Garcetti and Greuel effectively tied heading into Tuesday's primary. If they finish first and second, they will face off in a May 21 primary. The survey found Garcetti at 27%, Greuel at 25%, lawyer Kevin James at 15%, Perry with 14% and former Villaraigosa aide Emanuel Pleitez at 5%, with 14% undecided.

James had a lighter day than his rivals, making just one campaign stop at Vermont Kitchen and Bar in Los Feliz and another at his headquarters. Pleitez, the most exuberant in the field, raced from Westchester to Watts on the fifth day of his trek biking and running around the city. He plans to finish Monday in San Pedro.

Greuel, Garcetti and Perry each crisscrossed the city, but by car, crossing paths Sunday at black churches in South L.A.

Perry, who is African American, invoked President Obama as she appeared with City Councilman Bernard C. Parks and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) at Holman United Methodist Church in West Adams.

"I beseech you, turn out like you turned out for Obama," Perry told worshipers. "If you do that, you will deliver me."

At St. James AME Church in Vermont-Slauson, Garcetti reminded the congregation that he had served as Southern California chairman of Obama's first presidential campaign. Greuel, too, mentioned Obama, saying that it was "good karma" that her Crenshaw Boulevard campaign office used to be local headquarters for the president's reelection campaign.

But so far, the mayoral race has captivated few of the city's 1.8 million voters, as Greuel was reminded at one of her church stops.

"The woman in church behind me this morning was like, 'You look familiar, who are you?' " Greuel said.

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

Times staff writer Catherine Saillant contributed to this report.

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