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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Los Angeles County, CA March 5, 2013 Election
Smart Voter

Noel Weiss
Answers Questions

Candidate for
City Attorney; City of Los Angeles


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. What is the single most important issue facing the City Attorney’s Office today, and how would you deal with it?

The single most important issue facing the City Attorney's office is how best the office can be used to ensure that there is a proper 'check and balance' on the political excesses often exhibited by the City Council. Well-connected insiders and their expensive lawyers and lobbyists work to try to 'rig' the system in favor of their particular special interest against the broader public interest. The City Attorney, who is chosen by the people, and paid by the people, has a duty to the people to represent the broader public interest in all matters. As City Attorney my first allegiance would be to the people's rights under the social contract they have with their government. Protecting the political 'backside' of council members is not the City Attorney's job. Representing the broader public interest implemented through the public trust that is 'The City of Los Angeles' is the proper role of the City Attorney.

To accomplish this objective, the City Attorney would not represent conflicting legal interests as is now the case. That means all the proprietary Departments (Harbor, Airport, and DWP) would have their own counsel. Likewise, the Pension Plans and other related separate City 'Authorities' (like the Housing Authority, the Convention Center Authority) would have their own counsel. Strict conflict of interest guidelines need to be debated and enacted so the City Council gets the best legal advice possible; advise which is not compromised because the City Attorney represents all legal sides of every issue (as, for example is the case now as between the pension plans (a creditor of the City) and the City (debtor to the pension plans).

I would assign full-time one deputy City Attorney to serve in each of the 15 Council offices full time. . To provide legal advice directly to the Council member on every issue that arises. This would be a prestige position for each of the 15 Deputies chosen for this assignment. The individual so appointed would be a key catalyst in getting problems solved at the grass-roots level, including code enforcement violations, acting much as your individual attorney would act for you. The person so assigned would also draft ordinances. This would aid in getting ordinances drafted faster and facilitating Council debate when proposed ordinances are presented to the Council for passage.

On the criminal side, monies could be saved and efficiencies generated by having the District Attorney prosecute state penal misdemeanor laws, much the same way the District Attorney does for most of the Cities in LA County. Deputy City Attorneys could be deputized as District Attorneys for this purpose. Much time would be saved by LAPD in dealing with one criminal enforcement branch. The City would also obtain the benefit of the investigators employed by the County in connection with such matters.

2. The City Attorney’s Office has various roles – prosecution of misdemeanor offenses, legal guidance for City departments and Council, and defense attorney when the City is sued. How would you prioritize these roles? How can all of these roles be fulfilled given the current budget situation?

State penal misdemeanor prosecutions can be prosecuted by the County District Attorney using specially deputized City Attorneys. This would promote efficiencies within LAPD and the City Attorney's office. I would place a Deputy City Attorney in each Council office. . a prestige position where the Councilperson's needs and those of his or her constituents could be dealt with directly. That would also aid in the prompt drafting of ordinances and providing legal guidance. I would also have the City Attorney's office operate more like a law firm where each attorney would keep track of his or her hours and each department of the City would be 'billed' for the time spent on legal matters. This would identify areas where efficiencies could be generated by the City Attorney's office and all City Departments.

3. What are the main areas in which you would proactively seek to enforce existing ordinances?

Code enforcement violations need to be more vigorously enforced. I would be proactive on the following twelve fronts: (1) creating settlement protocols in land use cases where enforcement of conditions attached to land use entitlements would occur via mediation and binding arbitration; (2) involving neighborhood councils in a mediation process as it relates to the enforcement of code violations; (3) initiating small claims actions against violators on an aggressive basis, then expeditiously procuring judgments which would be immediately enforceable; (5) making more effective use of the mediation protocol in use now by the City Attorney's office; (6) forming City Attorney Task Forces throughout the City to identify enforcement needs and provide recommended solutions; (7) redrafting ordinances which are the most confusing and poorly written to provide clarity and better ease of execution and enforcement; (8) encouraging the City Council to invoke Section 908 of the Charter to empower Neighborhood Councils to hold hearings Citywide on important, key issues, then identify the facts and provide recommended solutions, all backed by proposed ordinances; (9) using the office to promote the passage of an effective 'whistle-blower protection law' modeled off of Federal law to reward and protect whistle-blowers whose efforts result in savings stemming from waste, fraud, and abuse; (10) establishing an 'inspector general' division of the office to ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse by City contractors and employees; (11) requiring anyone making a claim against the City to do so under penalty of perjury, and implementing a requirement for mandatory mediation and advisory arbitration of the claim, with a further proviso that reimbursement of the City's costs would be required if the claimant failed to better the arbitration award at trial; (12) insisting upon the City being repaid the sums owing on account of time spent by the City Attorney's office and City Planning in defense of land use entitlements obtained by speculators and developers when those land use entitlement grants are challenged in Court, as per the indemnity provisions which currently attach to the entitlement grants, but are not enforced; along with requiring the indemnity promise be secured with either cash or a cash bond as a condition for the grant of the land use entitlement.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. 

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: January 4, 2013 20:27
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