Mayoral race heats up at USC debate

C. Megan Diskin

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The third televised debate of the Los Angeles mayoral run-off race became heated when Eric Garcetti called out Wendy Greuel on her relationship with the Department of Water and Power union that invested $3 million into her campaign.

University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, NBC, KPCC and Telemundo52 co-hosted Monday’s mayoral debate, which sparked tensions when Garcetti mentioned the millions of dollars a DWP union has invested in Greuel’s campaign.

Garcetti was attempting to prove his success in economic development after panelist and KPCC political reporter Frank Stoltze pointed out a laundry list of complaints from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ve done things in this campaign that make me the independent candidate. I am not the hand picked candidate of the downtown power brokers,” Greuel said. “I don’t have $3 million from the Super PAC led by the DWP supporting my campaign and at the same time I don’t have the Chamber of Commerce but that’s okay. That means I can be a mayor who will do the right thing for the residents of Los Angeles.”

Greuel’s strong union backing has been a recurring topic of conversation throughout her campaign. She recently tried to redefine her campaign by altering her staff in order to get away from the DWP funded labor union Working Californians.

“I don’t know if I’m amused or scared that Mr. Garcetti has been hypocritical about this issue,” Greuel said.

The city controller said that Garcetti has also taken money from the DWP along with voting to raise DWP rates and to increase DWP wages. She also said that Garcetti took a trip paid for by the DWP.

“He keeps bringing it up. He’s questioning my integrity. I’ve been independent,” Greuel said.

The San Fernando Valley native swung back at Garcetti saying that Garcetti is being investigated after committing 13 ethics violations because of a conflict of interest with billboard companies.

“I’ve audited the Department of Water and Power. I have said we should look at the pensions of the Department of Water and Power. No pension reform was done by my opponent on the Department of Water and Power,” Greuel said.

Garcetti rebounded by saying that the attacks Greuel used were desperate cries of a losing campaign.

“Attacks like you just heard are the sort of attacks you hear from a desperate campaign. Ms. Greuel said that I was not the independent.  There is a huge difference between a few thousand dollars given in the limits and millions of dollars,” Garcetti said.

The city councilman said that, just last week, the DWP union gave $500,000 in one day.

Garcetti also attacked Greuel’s eight different audits of the DWP in which she found no money in fraud, waste or abuse then neglected to post the DWP employee salaries.

“I will be able to be independent coming in and will make sure we’re doing the right thing for the ratepayers,” Garcetti said.

Greuel responded by saying that she only attacked Garcetti because he attacked her integrity first, but Garcetti insisted that Greuel’s punches indicated her recent slump in the polls.

A poll done by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Los Angeles Times illustrated a 10-point lead Garcetti has over Greuel.

“The reason Ms. Greuel keeps talking about these things is she wants to distract away from my record, a record of being number one in job growth. There is no ethics violation. Let’s get back to the issues instead of throwing these negative attacks back and forth about one another,” Garcetti said. “I just think it’s the sign of a desperate and losing campaign.”