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City Attorney's Office Investigating Feuer's Statement to Neighborhood Council

The former Assemblyman's campaign statement during public comments violated ethics rules, alleges city attorney's chief deputy.

A member of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s staff is alleging his main opponent in the March 5 primary election, former state Assemblyman Mike Feurer, violated ethics rules by making a campaign statement at a Studio City Neighborhood Council meeting this week.

Feuer made the statement during a public comment portion of the meeting Wednesday night (see attached video), during which citizens were given two minutes each to address the council.

Sitting in the front row of the audience was William W. Carter, chief deputy of the city attorney’s office.

After Feuer completed his speech and the audience of about 40 people applauded, Feuer leaned over to Carter and said, “You can applaud, too, Bill.”

Carter replied, “Not if I think you committed a violation.”

When contacted on Thursday by Studio City Patch, Carter said rules for neighborhood councils state that a candidate cannot make campaign statements at a council meeting without opposing candidates also being given an opportunity to speak.

“His action was a violation of the rules,” Carter said. “I will ask our ethics counsel to review the matter.”

Feuer, whose term in the Assembly ended in December, said Department of Neighborhood Empowerment rules, which are written by the city attorney's office, gave him the right to speak.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I am careful about following every rule,” Feuer said. “Why, all of a sudden, are they concerned about what I say during public comments? It was my First Amendment expression during that time.”

Feuer also came to the Studio City meeting, held on the Radford Studios lot, to see that volunteers on the neighborhood council received certificates of appreciation that were prepared during his time as Assemblyman. Feuer had an aide hand out the certificates to avoid violating campaign rules.

Studio City Neighborhood Council President John Walker said Feuer originally had intended to present the certificates at a meeting toward the end of last year, but a time couldn’t be found because of scheduling conflicts, canceled meetings during the holidays, and Feuer’s involvement in a car accident that landed him in the hospital for several days.

“This was the earliest time I could get Mike Feuer here and when I put him on the agenda I got a call from the city attorney’s office,” Walker said. “I was told that I can’t put him on there because he can’t campaign at our meeting like that.”

Walker said he changed the agenda so that Feuer could make his statement during public comments.

Carter said the city attorney’s office received a tip from a Studio City resident last week that Feuer had been placed on the agenda, and the matter was referred to the office’s ethics attorneys to follow up with the neighborhood council.

Carter said he attended Wednesday’s meeting to assist City Councilman Paul Krekorian with his presentation about possible regulations on digital billboards, and then to stayed to hear Los Angeles Police Senior Lead Officer Mike Lewis’s presentation about crime in Studio City.

“I did not come to hear Mike Feuer specifically, but I did stay,” Carter told Patch.

In fact, Carter stayed well after Krekorian and Lewis left the meeting.

“I do not blame the Neighborhood Council, nor Mr. Walker,” Carter said, “they didn’t do anything wrong. But what [Feuer] did was inappropriate. If this was going to be a campaign speech, there should have been all the candidates running for the office. I believe Mr. Walker thought that he was only going to present the certificates, and didn't know about the campaigning.”

Carter said he did not hear Walker open the public comment period before Feuer spoke. He said he was recusing himself from the matter, which would be handled by Deputy City Attorney Renee Stadel head of the office’s Ethics, Elections and Governance team, and Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores, who works on neighborhood council issues.

In the past, candidates for mayor, city controller and other races have come to the Studio City Neighborhood Council to give stump speeches. In fact, Krekorian did so while he was running for city council.  Jan Perry, Kevin James and Wendy Greuel were all allotted at least 20 minutes at the board’s meetings over the past year.

“I think it’s important to give a voice to all the candidates, and our stakeholders are very interested in what they have to say,” Walker said about the occasional candidate visits. None of the meetings have been in a debate format, but they all allowed questions from both the audience and the board. None of the past speeches included more than one candidate at the same time, but in some cases, rival candidates came to listen. 

Feuer pointed out that no one stopped him during his two-minute speech or indicated that what he was saying was inappropriate.

"Mr. Trutanich has tried to bully everyone from City Council members to peaceful protesters, but I will not allow him to misuse his office to silence an opponent,” Feuer said. “Candidates for city office speak to neighborhood councils all the time. In fact, the rules governing Neighborhood Councils require that candidates wishing to do so be allowed to speak during public comment periods. I was pleased to do so for two minutes [Wednesday] night at the Studio City Neighborhood Council meeting. I believe in the First Amendment, I believe in following the rules, and I believe in fairness. Unfortunately for the residents of Los Angeles, the current city attorney believes in none of these values.”

Feuer said he plans to continue speaking before other neighborhood councils.

"Throughout this campaign I will continue to reach out to voters throughout Los Angeles, including attending neighborhood council meetings,” Feuer said. “Mr. Trutanich may not want to defend his record of misplaced priorities and failed leadership in our city's neighborhoods, but he will not prevent me from communicating my message to L.A.'s voters and neighborhood leaders."

Larry January 18, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Perhaps Deputy City Attorney Carter is correct, but then Neighborhood Councils around the City are violating the rules, because City Council candidates have been showing up to their meetings and announcing their campaigns during public comment time. In general, the City does not enforce the law equally or consistently, even when it is brought up. And the current City Attorney, loves to use the "attorney-client" excuse for protecting LA City Officeholders, but doesn't seem to have a concern about the fact that he is running for office and one of his attorneys on City payroll has filed a complaint against his opponent in a race.
Christopher Thom January 18, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Whether or not Feuer violated rules Trutanich is still a power hungry bully, liar, and horrible human being.
Elke Heitmeyer January 18, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Isn't it the S.C NC that violated the rule of not inviting the opponent? I think Carter is wrong on that point. It is great to see Feuer back up and "running"!
Kent January 18, 2013 at 05:04 PM
i was going to vote for Mike Feuer until I saw him speak. He seems like another City Hall insider with a self-righteous pitch. Knowing the kind of crime that takes place every day in our community, quite frankly, he doesn't seem tough enough to deal with the complex problems that confront our city. He came off like the kid in class who always wants the teacher to see how smart he is. Quite frnakly, he seemed like another politician looking for another job.
Judy Price January 18, 2013 at 05:53 PM
Mike Feuer has my vote. Actions speak louder than words. Mike has always followed thru on his campaign promises unlike Trutanich who is a self-aggrandizing, blowhard. It is not illegal or unethical for any candidate to speak during public comment. Every candidate has the same equal opportunity to speak, as does every citizen. Free speech is critical in a democracy. Beware of politicians who are trying to usurp this. ---Judy
Miki Henderson January 18, 2013 at 05:55 PM
You are so wrong! Mike Furer has fought for us and our communities in the state when no one else would!! He is a Maverick in every good sense of the word, and did a good job for us in Studio City. Some of the stuff you can't see (but the parks and things like that you can), but he worked on insurance issues and stuff like that which benefited me personally I know. I am glad that our next City Attorney will celebrate Free Speech rather than try to stop it!
Cary Adams January 18, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Please, it's PUBLIC COMMENT! He can say as he wants. Get over it.
Laura January 18, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Trutanich must be running scared. I've always found Feuer to be a decent sort, and will definitely be voting for him in the election. Time for Carmen to just slink away.
Bruce Mitchell January 19, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Mile Feuer has got my vote. Trutanoch is nothing but a schoolyard bully using his office and employees to make a fuss over an insignificant matter at taxpayer expense.
Tony T January 19, 2013 at 01:46 AM
I was at the meeting. When Feuer spoke, it wasn't public comment yet. He was on the agenda as a speaker. Public Comment came much later. I was surprised he gave a campaign speech when we were led to beleive he was just going to hand out some certificates from his assembly office. Something seemed off, but everyone was afraid to say something. If nothing else, I'm glad to see the City Attorney attempting to enforece the DONE rules. If they don't, what's the point of having rules. To all my fellow Neighborhood Council Board Members, if we don't enforce our own rules, we're asking for chaos. We need to encourage the enforcement of our rules, rather than situationally make excuses.
Mike Szymanski January 19, 2013 at 03:38 AM
Just a point of clarification, the PUBLIC COMMENTS are usually held at the beginning of the meeting, just after the president's comments, and John Walker announced early at the meeting that he would be moving things around. In fact, he said he would have other public comments come later when others would arrive, and he did. Also, I have published the agenda, as always, in the EVENTS area, and Mike Feuer is NOT on the agenda...and Walker CLEARLY noted when Public Comments were moved and he introduced it again before Feuer talked. And he kept Feuer to the two minutes (see the video.)
Todd January 19, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Mike - I received an email from John Walker that describes the agenda. It said: We have some very special guests: City Councilman Paul Krekorian, Former Assembly-member Mike Feuer, Senior Lead Officer Mike Lewis, along with some very special presentations. We also offer a light buffet dinner and social time, starting at 6:30 pm. The agenda included was the following: 1. Call to Order & Roll Call (2 min). 2. Approval of October Board Minutes (2 min). 3. Comments by the President (10 min). 4/ Public Comments on non-agenda items within the Board’s jurisdiction (2 minutes each) [Remy Kessler]. 5. Responses to comments from the Board (2 minutes each). 6. Introduction and Seating of our Youth Board member Pasha Vafaee. 7. Special Presentation and Update from Council District 2 by Geoffrey Yazzetta (5 min). 8. Special Presentation to the Board from former Assembly-member Mike Feuer (10 min). 9. Special Guest Speaker: City Councilman Paul Krekorian (45 min). It's right there in black and white. If the City Attorney's office gets its hands on this agenda, they will have incontrobertable proof. I wish everyone would wake up and just admit when a violation occured. Not everyone knows all tthe rules, including apparently Mike Feuer who's not a resident of Studio City. Remember, it's not the crime that gets everyone in trouble, it's the cover-up.
Cary Adams January 19, 2013 at 05:21 AM
If these remarks were under Item #4, Public Comment, he can campaign. If speaking under Item #8, Special Presentation, he can't campaign. So which is it?
Mike Szymanski January 19, 2013 at 05:42 AM
If you read the story that is attached to this, it says that Walker was asked to take Feuer off the agenda, and the one that was passed out AT THE MEETING did not have Feuer on it, as per the City Attorney's instructions.
Teddy January 19, 2013 at 06:39 AM
Mike - I watched the video. It seems as though the begining is cut off. Can you post the whole thing starting from before John Walker introduces him. That will settle this once and for all. We'll see if John mentions anything about Public comment and how introduces Feuer. It's either there or it isn't, and then we can all go back to something more important, like mobile billboards.
Mike Szymanski January 19, 2013 at 06:44 AM
We didn't tape the whole speech, just the middle of it, that's all we have. I'm sure there are others at the meeting who will recall what took place.
Cary Adams January 19, 2013 at 07:36 AM
I see, so Item #8 was removed from the agenda. And ofcourse he is out of office. Nevertheless, one can speak to whatever they want under community comment. When I was president at MTNHNC, one fellow spoke for three minutes about how God saved him. If another spoke about little green men in North Hollywood Park, we'd have to provide the same number of minutes . That holds true for candidates' campaigns as non-agenda items. Though best at the start of the agenda, community comment can be put just about anywhere on the agenda. Much depends on the secretary and president or board rules. Unless I'm missing something, Walker didn't do anything wrong as long as the remarks are community comment.
John J. Nazarian January 19, 2013 at 09:30 AM
Mike? A nicer guy you wont find, it just appears to me that he is doing what he has always tried to do and that is to help. Always reaching out to try and give access to those of us who have little. John
Barry Cullison January 20, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Quite frankly you sound incredibly uninformed. I have worked with Mr. Feuer and found him to be the kind of politician one dreams about. He's informed intelligent and he LISTENS. Trutanich is scared to death of the guy. You come off like some one who is owned or indebted to Trutanich. I want some one who is for the PEOPLE and folks that is NOT Trutanich but it IS Feuer. Tough enough?????? Look in the mirror and name 3 politicians in this town that are tough. You can't. There are two and Feurer is one of them. He's got more than my vote. He's got my trust.
Barry Cullison January 20, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Trutanich is high on his own press and office. He has always made me scratch my head and wonder why he made his wrong headed decisions. See ya Carmen. Wouldn't wanna be ya.
Frank Mihelcic January 22, 2013 at 05:20 AM
I was at that Studio City NC meeting. I was surprised that Mike Feurer made a campaign statement during his comment time. I am please this matter is not being over looked and he is being held accountable for his actions.
John Walsh January 22, 2013 at 05:21 AM
DEAR MIKE, HOLLYWOODHIGHLANDS.ORG blogs what others are merely thinking but are much too polite to say to you in public! So... Here goes: You are hardly in shape for a come-from-behind victory over "Nuch".What's the matter with you,Mike? The lingering after-effects of that serious auto accident? Did you check out of the hospital a bit too soon? You came of Thuyrsday night as weaker than your main opponent and distracted. Mike ,after closely observing you debating your healthy opponents at Temple Israel last week and then the follow-up at the Taglyan Ballroom on Vine Street , you are not the same man you were before this serious accident of yours! Go ask your closest friends about your fading chances against the incumbent City Attorney. Honestly, your prospects for whipping Mr. T aren't very good. What's even worsevyou are acting as if you know what your fate is ! Your situation may be worsening. You didn't come off feeble last week at Temple Israel. But unfortunately that's how you presented yourself on Thursday. Nuch was so in charge during the latest debate that he seemed to be actually going easy on you! The mainstream press is not going to level with you, Mike. Carmen was practically oozing self-confidence in the Tinseltown face-off . Trutanich firmly believes he is going to lengthen his lead as the race and continues to wear you down. Sincerely, John Walsh HOLLYWOODHIGHLANDS.ORG
Barry Cullison January 22, 2013 at 05:58 AM
Nuch eats his buggers Walsh. Mike does not. Nuch had his chance with being city attorney. It's time to get a real thinker in that position and not some blow hard who goes after the weak. Yo Walsh It takes brains not brawn to be a good leader. Me thinks you insult to much. I think you're running scared.
Greg Nelson January 24, 2013 at 04:35 AM
If there are such rules they should be posted on the webiste of the Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment and/or the Office of the City Attorney. Neither sites appear to include a list of any such rules that apply to neighborhood councils. It doesn't seem fair to make it nearly impossible for the public to know about the rules. In a list of legal advice given by the Office of the City Attorney to neighborhood councils, which has been removed from both websites, the City Attorney said that if a candidate is allowed to speak during public comment time, all candidates should have the same opportunity. The advice wasn't clear if it meant at the same meeting, or subsequent meetings. The City Attorney advised that if a candidate spoke on a specific agenda item, that all other candidates wishing to speak should be given the ability to do so. It appears that the onus of adhering or ignoring the advice is on the neighborhood council, and not a candidate who wouldn't know what other invitations the NC may have presented to the other candidates.
flo c. January 30, 2013 at 05:59 AM
Mike Feuer is an outstanding character, extremely respectful of the law. A neighborhood council has the right to invite future candidates, and usually invite one at a time as agenda for neighborhood councils are usually heavy. So there was in fact no fault anywhere, and Mr. William Carter, I am sure is aware of it, though perhaps blinded by his... devotion to Mr. Trutanich... I know that process, as I sit on the board oh a neighborhood council. We just invite every month a different candidate to have the opportunity to get to know them each, and give every one then the opportunity to make a choice..
Barry Cullison January 30, 2013 at 06:08 AM
They are afraid of Mr. Feurer. They trump up charges in order to sling their childish mud. Have you noticed that they call him Nuch and not True. I think they all know that that would be stretching the truth to far.
flo c. January 30, 2013 at 06:12 AM
@ Greg Nelson Totally agree with you. What is more, each of us working at neighborhood councils know that we have always heavy monthly agenda, it is then a wise decision to have one candidate per meeting and not have to set up a whole lengthy debate.
Barry Cullison January 30, 2013 at 06:25 AM
Old time smear politics being used with Nuch thinking we the people are to stupid to see.
flo c. January 30, 2013 at 06:37 AM
@ Barry Cullison, totally agree. Mike Feuer has been an outstanding and wise rep for us in Sacramento, hard worker, kind, and pushing laws that have helped both the state and the individual. A really remarkable person.
Scott Zwartz March 15, 2013 at 04:40 PM
After he started running for re-election, Trutanich started to use city money to send out campaign material. He now regularly sends out emails about what a great job he is doing as City Attorney under the false guise that he is merely informing citizens. Everything in his emails sing his praises and there is never a single critical word or any assessment of any problems. According to these mailers from the City Attorney's Office, everything is lollipop land as long as the wonderful Nuch Jong-il is at the helm.

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