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For Greuel and Garcetti, no beef but a lot of roast at fundraiser

The L.A. mayoral rivals put aside campaign attacks to get in some good-natured digs at the Los Angeles Political Roast at the Beverly Hilton, an annual fundraiser for diabetes research.

March 22, 2013|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel are the final candidates in the race for Los Angeles' next mayor.
L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel…

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti have traded bitter campaign attacks for months. At an annual fundraiser for diabetes research Thursday night, they traded jokes.

The rivals took the stage at the Los Angeles Political Roast, which brought hundreds of elected leaders, lobbyists and other City Hall power players to the Beverly Hilton to have fun with serious issues like low voter turnout and the city's financial crisis.

Their target this year was Councilman Tom LaBonge, who was ribbed for his love of television cameras and his rather ample waist size. But the real draws were Greuel and Garcetti, who poked fun at themselves and each other.

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Greuel, whose campaign has benefited from millions of dollars in independent spending, said she appreciated the opportunity "to say something so utterly inappropriate that no amount of PAC money will be able to undo the damage."

She joked that one of her supporters had gotten valets to affix Greuel campaign bumper stickers to every car parked at the hotel. She said the supporter couldn't have done so with Garcetti stickers because "nothing sticks to Eric."

Garcetti jabbed back, complaining that while the fundraiser raised half a million dollars for charity, Greuel, the city controller, "somehow identified $160 million in waste, fraud and abuse."

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Garcetti, who has been teased for claiming ties to many cultures, told the audience he is Korean and Filipino (he's not). "And because I like to connect with my audiences," he said, "I want you to know my great-great-great-grandfather was a lobbyist."

The candidates avoided sinking to the off-color depths that have made the roast famous. In previous years, City Council President Herb Wesson has joked about sexually transmitted diseases and Councilman Dennis Zine has appeared in women's clothing, dressed as his alter ego, Denise.

The fundraiser, which benefits the American Diabetes Assn., is hosted by lobbyists Arnie Bergoff and Harvey Englander and Englander's nephew, City Councilman Mitchell Englander.

The program for the event included a list of major donors, including companies with business before the city.

Anshcutz Entertainment Group, which sought and won city approvals to build an NFL stadium on city property last year, was listed as one of the event's "Fat Cats," meaning the company contributed at least $10,000. Also in that category was Clear Channel, which has been lobbying to keep its digital billboards across the city.

"Power Brokers," who contributed $5,000 or more, included several lobbying firms, labor unions and additional billboard companies.

As lobbyists glided from table to table during the dinner, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joked about the power they wield at City Hall.

He asserted that LaBonge, who is better known for his L.A. boosterism than his legislative record, never understands what he's voting on. "What city councilman really knows what you're voting for?" Villaraigosa quipped. "Isn't that what you lobbyists are for?"

Low voter turnout in the primary race was also grist for humor.

"I'm a third-generation Angeleno, I'm not voting," Villaraigosa said. "Hell, I'm not even registered to vote."

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