Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti's spokesman says the councilman… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti regularly touts his record of job growth on the campaign trail. In Hollywood, he points to cranes looming on the skyline as evidence of his revitalization efforts in his district. In television ads, he cites a report that ranked his district No. 1 in adding jobs.
On Tuesday his opponent, Wendy Greuel, fiercely attacked those claims, accusing Garcetti of "fudging" his numbers and presiding over "horrific job losses" across the city during his six-year tenure as City Council president.
Greuel's campaign blamed Garcetti for a spike in the citywide unemployment rate, which it said rose from 5.9% to 13.3% during his presidency.
"City Councilman Eric Garcetti has been at the center of the paralysis that has brought the city to a standstill in many ways," Greuel said.
Garcetti's campaign said the attacks were baseless. "There has been a nationwide recession," Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman said. Garcetti did plenty to create jobs as council president, including reducing the business tax, Millman said. Greuel, now the city controller, served on the council with Garcetti for seven years, including three years as the body's second-in-command, he added.
"She was Eric's deputy on the council, sitting right there next to Eric," Millman said. "It's a strange attack coming from a candidate who has been an elected official in Los Angeles for the last 11 years."
Greuel campaign spokesman John Shallman accused Garcetti of blaming others "for his failures," which Shallman called "the definition of weakness."
He did not respond to questions about whether Greuel — or Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — bears any responsibility for the high unemployment figures. Over the weekend, Greuel hired a new campaign manager, Janelle Erickson, who has spent the last four years as a deputy mayor to Villaraigosa.
Greuel's campaign also alleged Garcetti has been wrongly taking credit for jobs that were created in his district.
Garcetti often cites a Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce report showing that in 2011 the number of jobs in his district grew by 5%.
But the figures being cited by Garcetti don't give a true picture of 2011 job growth in his district, the Greuel campaign contends, because they are based on new political boundaries drawn last year.
Garcetti told reporters Tuesday that his district would have been first in job growth under either the new or old district lines. "If you actually take the data, even with the old ones, we'd be No. 1," he said. "Anybody who does the numbers both ways, it would still look like that."
Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, said his group hasn't examined the jobs figures for Garcetti's district as it was drawn in 2011.
He also said the chamber, which has endorsed Greuel, had not reviewed "how a specific council member's activities positively or negatively impacted the job growth number."