Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel stepped up her attacks against rival Eric Garcetti Wednesday night at a Sherman Oaks debate, tossing new criticisms at the councilman, who likened the assault to being hit with a kitchen sink.
Speaking to the 200 or so attendees gathered at Notre Dame High School, Greuel, the city controller, framed her attacks as a way to level the playing field.
"Most of you know me...and that matters," Greuel told the crowd. "Lots of charges have been made by my opponent that paints a very different picture of the Wendy Greuel that you know. "
"Tonight is the night that we're going to clear that up. "
Wednesday's event, held by the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, comes about seven weeks before the May 21 primary. SOHA is known for hosting feisty political debates.
Kicking off the back and forth, Garcetti pointed to the Department of Water and Power union, which contributed to a $2 million fund spent on Greuel during the primary.
"I have the independence to make the tough choices that we need in our next mayor," Garcetti told the crowd at Notre Dame High School. "To balance the budget, to create pension reform, and to create jobs. And to solve problems to get the city back on track. "
"In contrast, my opponent is the hand-picked candidate of the DWP union. Someone who has received millions of dollars in unregulated money coming in, and who isn't the independent candidate we need. "
The barb drew a sharp retort from Greuel, who replied with a stream of attacks.
"When they're not chasing business out of town, the politicians, my opponent, is putting their money into special funds, perks, travel," Greuel said. "Things that I believe aren't in the best interest of Los Angeles. And they irresponsibly cut fire and police services. "
She also attacked Garcetti on issues ranging from his ethics fines to a Clear Channel billboard vote that Garcetti took when he owned a related Clear Channel stock. Greuel also slammed Garcetti for raising DWP rates, approving DWP raises, and failing to enact pension reform at the DWP. She vowed to change the pension system at the department if elected.
Garcetti replied: "All of that, that's what I call the kitchen sink. It's an attempt to distract from a record of results, a record of accomplishments. "
Garcetti asked why Greuel hadn't posted DWP employee salaries on her controller's web site, and questioned why Greuel's eight audits of the DWP found zero dollars in waste.
The back and forth over the DWP prompted the moderator to ask the candidates to move on from the topic, prompting nods of approval from the audience.
The acrimonious debate drew criticisms from many in the audience. "It's like watching a couple fight," said Josh Paget, a Hollywood resident.
Paget said he was disappointed that Greuel mentioned tree-trimming three different times, something he doesn't consider a serious issue.
Garcetti laid out more specific ideas to solving the city's problems, Paget said.
Sherman Oaks resident Declan Kavanagh said he felt he was watching a junior high school debate.
"No one talked about the issues," Kavanagh complained. "No one talked about the port, about transportation."
Kavanagh said he blames Garcetti for worsening traffic in Hollywood.
"It's completely overpopulated," Kavanagh said of the neighborhood, adding that he was backing Greuel. ___