City Attorney Candidate Survey: Jack Weiss

4_20_09_weiss.jpgJack Weiss speaks to supporters on election night.

Late last night, 5th District City Councilman and candidate for City Attorney Jack Weiss responded to our candidate survey.  While Streetsblog has been critical of some of Weiss’ transportation priorities as Councilman, there’s a lot to like in Weiss’s responses to our questions.  Some highlights:

"No level of pedestrian fatalities
is acceptable for any city. Aggressively prosecuting negligent
motorists who kill or cause bodily harm to a pedestrian is critical to
send a message that the City will not tolerate aggressive and negligent
behavior, but by then a life has been lost and the damage has been done."

"All too often there is an information gap that needs to be closed
between the directives of the Mayor and City Council and what is
enforced day to day on the street. We witnessed this problem most
recently when LAPD officers detained numerous cyclists based on a
bicycle licensing program that had been terminated by the City Council
weeks earlier. This has to stop.
"

For a full copy of Weiss’ responses, read on after the jump.

Do
you consider pedestrian fatalities a normal state of affairs in Los
Angeles? What will you do to ensure more drivers face serious legal
consequences for killing another person with their automobile?

RESPONSE:
No level of pedestrian fatalities is acceptable for any city.
Aggressively prosecuting negligent motorists who kill or cause bodily
harm to a pedestrian is critical to send a message that the City will
not tolerate aggressive and negligent behavior, but by then a life has
been lost and the damage has been done. Working with LAPD to ensure
that traffic laws are being enforced is an important element but It
doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Motorist/pedestrian conflicts
often reveal deeper issues with the way our city is designed and
operates. In order to be proactive, we not only need to incorporate
pedestrian friendly urban design elements into our communities but we
need to reexamine many state laws. Incorporating provisions that place
greater weight on pedestrian and cyclist safety in determining speed
limits on local streets is an ideal place to start.

What
prevents our law enforcement officers from arresting drivers that have
killed a pedestrian or cyclist? What would you do to see that police
take a more active role in helping prosecute negligent drivers?

RESPONSE:
All too often there is an information gap that needs to be closed
between the directives of the Mayor and City Council and what is
enforced day to day on the street. We witnessed this problem most
recently when LAPD officers detained numerous cyclists based on a
bicycle licensing program that had been terminated by the City Council
weeks earlier. This has to stop. I’ve built strong relationships with
the LAPD as a Councilmember and as Chair of the Public Safety
Committee, and I will utilize those relationships to ensure that LAPD
is kept apprised of changes in laws and enforces the law to ensure
public safety. At the end of the day, LAPD can only enforce the laws on
the books. We need to reassess the penalties that negligent motorists
face and bring those in line with a city that places real value on the
safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

It
takes something extraordinary for a motorist to be charged with a crime
when they hit, maim or kill a cyclist. What will you do to make our
streets safer for cyclists?

RESPONSE:
Making streets safer for cyclists begins with recognizing a cyclist’s
right to equal access to our public streets. As a cyclist, I have
firsthand experience and understanding of this issue, and as a
policymaker I take it seriously. Educating both the driving and cycling
public is essential.  Government and advocacy groups have
to build relationships to bring about long term changes in public
attitudes towards cyclists on our roadways. It is tragic that it takes
a horrific event such as the incident on Mandeville Canyon last summer
to result in an arrest. Allegedly there were prior complaints from
other cyclists that this driver had engaged in the same aggressive
manner on a prior occasion. We must heed the warning signs and be
proactive in pursuing aggressive drivers, investigate complaints of
aggressive behavior, or pursue mediation.  With earlier
intervention, perhaps the horrific injuries that Christian Stoehr and
Ron Peterson ultimately suffered could have been prevented.

There’s
been a lot of discussion of cyclists as a key part of reforming
transportation. Conversely, I hear from drivers all of the time that
cyclists don’t follow traffic laws and are generally a nuisance. What,
if anything, do you hear about cyclists and how would that affect the
way you perceive traffic justice?

RESPONSE:
Cyclists have the right to equal access to the road, period. As a
cyclist I’ve had the opportunity to see both sides of the issue. I’ve
been buzzed by aggressive motorists and I’ve witnessed cyclists running
afoul of traffic laws. But the sins of the few do not negate the rights
of cyclists to equal access and equal protection under the law.

As
a transportation reform movement, it’s exciting to see that cycling is
gaining ground as a viable transportation alternative as people from
all walks of life recognize that cycling furthers the goals of reducing
congestion, traffic calming, improving air quality and reducing
resource consumption. We are at a critical moment where we have the
opportunity to build upon a potential shift in public attitudes to
build a true cycling friendly city. A community that values cycling
will value and respect cyclists.

  • Okay, who wrote this – it could not possibly have been the same Jack Weiss who had overseen the fiasco.with the Neighborhood Protection Plan on Westwood that.removed traffoc calming.

  • To be fair, that proposal was tabled for more public process at Weiss’ urging. I would have done a follow-up earlier but I had a killer stomach virus last week. Look for a lot more on that later this week.

  • Having been represented on the city council by Jack Weiss for the past several years, I haven’t exactly been a fan. But his comments here may make me take a second look at him, after I thought I’d made my decision in this race. I want to see what Trutanich has to say, but Weiss is saying all the right things here.

  • The problem with Jack Weiss is that you really cannot believe anything he says. He is a career politician who will do and say whatever he thinks you want to hear. The trouble that when you actually look at his record, it is replete with reneging on promises, a whopping 38% absentee record from City Council meetings, as well as a very disturbing record of disdain for his constituents. Disdain for constituents is one of the reasons that sparked the recall effort against him – Jack flat out refused to meet with homeowners associations who were upset by his support for out-of-city big developers building high-rise condos in already over-crowded neighborhoods.

    One developer in particular had made money-laundered illegal campaign contributions to Jack’s campaign. To this date Jack has refused to follow the law and pay those illegal contributions to the City Treasurer. This was fully covered by NBC’s expose “Laundered Elections,” just Google “Laundered Elections” and you’ll find out the truth about Jack Weiss and who he actually represents.

    Traffic congestion in West LA makes bike riding really dangerous as irate motorists often fail to see us. Jack Weiss’s support for so many big developments made the traffic worse, so I cannot see how anyone can take Weiss at his word. It’s really his fault that traffic congestion has worsened and he really does not care of the adverse effect his developer supporters have on the lives of everyday people. How can someone who lives in a $3M mansion in Bel Air even begin to know what matters. To him it’s all about power and money.

  • “Government and advocacy groups have to build relationships to bring about long term changes in public attitudes towards cyclists on our roadways.”

    But how does he propose this happen? Answering as he has in these responses, for Streetsblog, to Streetsblog readers, is one thing, and advocating these positions over time is another.

    With his responses, Weiss is asking cycling Angelenos to trust his words over his record, if ubrayj and bicyclingla are right.

    Is he to be trusted?

  • Phred

    That anyone who reads (or writes) this blog could believe that Jack Weiss means what he said in this interview is beyond comprehension. Weiss is one of the people behind the Pico East-Olympic West plan that was so aptly dissected by Damien Newton in this very Blog on March 30. Go back and read that posting, which describes Jack Weiss’s modus operandi and the total lack of concern shown for cyclists and pedestrians. Then tell me if you can believe a word he said in his interview. Weiss will go to any length to get elected. But if you don’t take my word for it, read what Damien wrote.

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2009/03/30/what-you-need-to-know-before-this-weeks-pico-olympic-meetings/

    or try http://tinyurl.com/c9v2jl

  • I kinda wondered if the traffic calming issue in west la was just tabled until after the election

  • Harry

    Overall, I think Jack Weiss has done a lot for the City of Los Angeles, he has done great things to advance and protect the City as a whole. Just think about it, I rather have Councilman Weiss who writes laws that get enforced than Mr. Trutanich who represents environmental polluters like the ones in the LA Times articles.

  • Phred

    Harry: Have you considered that perhaps Trutanich has done more to clean up environmental polluters than most of us ever dreamed of? Think about it. Some jerk gets caught dumping sludge. He comes to Trutanich for legal help. What would be the first thing Trutanich, or any other lawyer, would tell him? “Clean up your act right now. Clean it up completely and thoroughly. I can’t go to court and defend you if you are still so much as spitting on the floor because we’ll be laughed right out”. That’s the only workable defense strategy. Also consider that Trutanich teaches courses to prosecutors, to train them in environmental law.

    As far as Jack Weiss, I have lived in his district for 8 years, even voted for him in 2001. And I cannot name ONE “great things to advance and protect the City as a whole” that was initiated by Weiss, fought for by Weiss against opposition and implemented. Not ONE.

    If you think Weiss “writes laws that get enforced”, think about the Billboard Ordinance – that is not enforced, that has so many holes in it that Billboard comapanies were able to sue and tie it up in court where it still sits. Or the ban on the sale of large-caliber ammunition. That one’s really enforced, so criminals now have to travel to Culver City for their ammo supply.

  • Kate

    Hey Phred, if you think Trutanich is such a great guy tell that to probably the hundreds of animals and people who are dead or suffering from disease brought about from his clients. I never said Jack Weiss was perfect but he works hard and is tough on guns and really cares and strives to do something for environment. He’s not just talk…. Trutanich is what I believe a politician is in the worst case “a smooth talker”

  • mickey

    People should know that “Phred” and David are Trutanich hacks who pop up with the same anti-Weiss propaganda everywhere they can, so should be discounted. They just prowl the blogs to say the same things over and over in their smear campaign — thanks to Damien for actually trying to get to the substance and educate the public.

  • Phred

    I agree with Mickey 100%. Damien actually gets to the substance and educates the public. That’s why you should read his article on the Pico-Olympic traffic measures referred to above. As far as Phred, Phred has a weight problem, wears glasses, has an awful taste in clothes, and has been accused of snoring. For those reasons, like Mickey, I don’t read anything Phred writes.

  • So David and Phred are Trutanich “hacks” according to “mickey.” I suppose it’s not possible that “mickey,” and “Kate” and “Harry” are “hacks” for the Weiss campaign, is it?

    For the record, I’m a supporter of Carmen Trutanich. I was a former candidate for City Attorney and ran alongside Trutanich where I got to know him as an honorable person and the best candidate to take the fight to Weiss – who, and I make no bones about, I hate. I did not conceal that fact, because unlike “mickey,” “Kate” and “Harry,” if you click my name in the post, you will be taken to my website. I’m not hiding anything.

    “mickey’s” argument makes no sense. He advocates ignoring anything said by anyone who supports Trutanich. By the same crazy logic, “mickey” would have you ignore his posts too.

    That’s the problem with the Weiss camp and it’s why they, like Weiss cannot be trusted. They’re hiding their identities and posting all the hate-filled propaganda that Weiss is dishing out.

    By the way, did anyone read today’s LA Times? It seems that Jack Weiss was caught holding an illegal fundraiser in Beverly Hills on Monday night. The illegality? Oh just a minor ‘mistake’ according to Weiss – the fundraiser was hosted by Kelley Canaele, he’s not only one of Jacks elitist buddies (that’s not illegal), but he’s also someone who was apointed by the Mayor to a paid position on the Retirement Board. That’s a big “No No” City Ethics laws prohibit City employees such as Candaele from holding fundraisers. It’s illegal, and Weiss has to give the money back. Don’t you think, “mickey,” that if Jack Weiss were such a legal expert, expert enough to be City Attorney, he should have known he was breaking the law?

    Either Jack didn’t know the law – not a good thing for a City Attorney, or he knew and violated it anyway. Neither is a very good sign is it “mickey,” “Kate” and “Harry?”

    What’s your answer? Oh yes, Trutanich defends criminals. That’s a great one, problem is that it rather sounds like Jack needs a defense attorney now. Wonder if he’ll give Trutanich a call…

  • Susan

    I have lived in CD5 for 26 years and worked closely with Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Feuer, who preceded Jack Weiss as our Councilman, on a variety of important community issues. Jack is NO Zev OR Mike. He has been WITHOUT A DOUBT the WORST Councilman we have had in the past 30 years. I would not vote for him for dogcatcher, let alone City Attorney. I would not trust him for a minute. I fear for the future of Los Angeles if he is elected our next City Attorney. Somehow Jack failed to learn the very foundation of our legal system, which is that BOTH sides of a case have a right to representation. There is a huge development in the works that threatens to completely destroy our residential neighborhood. Jack sided with the developer from day one and refused to listen to the homeowners. We went to his office for help and instead we quickly learned that he was the enemy, and had pledged his full support to ensuring that this massive, inappropriate project would be built. To call Weiss arrogant, insensitive and a total hypocrite is an understatement. Almost every other homeowner association in CD5 has had the same experience with Jack. On the other hand, I will say: READ TODAY’S (May 4, 2009) LA TIMES EDITORIAL, ENDORSING CARMEN “NUCH” TRUTANICH. Nuch is the real deal, an honest lawyer, a REAL lawyer with 30 years of experience in the courtroom (vs. Jack who has tried perhaps 8 cases in his lifetime), a lawyer with integrity and a vision to clean up the City and City Hall. We have an opportunity in Trutanich to CHANGE L.A. for the better with Trutanich, or to flush it further down the toilet with Weiss. Take your pick on May 19th.

  • Jack Weiss lost the election by a landslide. In the final days of the campaign, the LA Times realized that Jack Weiss was running and increasingly negative campaign and had absolutely nothing to positive to say about his 8 years as CD5’s council member. The Sunday LA Times called Jack Weiss “unfit” for the position of Los Angeles City Attorney. It doesn’t get much worse than that.

    Jack Weiss had most of the progressive voters fooled with his promises that he would be their champion, that he shared their views. But that was just a lie. The residents of CD5 knew Jack Weiss better than anyone else; in 8 years Jack Weiss had routinely turned his back on his constituents in favor of big business interests that made traffic worse for motorists, and more hazardous for cyclists.

    Thankfully, on May 19, 2009, Jack Weiss lost his bid to be ‘crowned’ as City Attorney. He lost by a landslide 11.5% to Carmen ‘Nuch’ Trutanich.

    It’s a great day for all Los Angelenos to have a City Attorney who has pledged to fairly represent all of us; not just the big business interests who trample over us with the blessing of the likes of Jack Weiss.

    Farewell Jack Weiss, on July 1, 2009 you’ll be gone but not forgotten.

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