Wild Card Patsaouras Shakes Up Controller's Race
With the March 3, 2009 race for City Controller heating up, and candidates peddling their visions for a more transparent and cost-efficient Los Angeles on their new campaign Web sites, Councilwoman Wendy Greuel promises to "be an independent voice exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government." She emailed her holiday greetings -- along with her intent to run for the job now held by Laura Chick.
Greuel, an unfamiliar and sometimes unpronounceable name to voters outside her Valley district, faces civic leader and longtime transportation guru and city planner Nick Patsaouras, another tongue-twister name who, like Greuel, is also largely unknown to voters.
Greuel has some advantages: She isn't in jeopardy of losing her day job as a Councilwoman during the three months left to campaign, and several downtown powers are endorsing her, including Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton, L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley -- and the entire L.A. City Council.
However, she does have her critics, including Charles Peyton, a.k.a. the ex-porn star Jeff Stryker, whose Web site www.charlespeyton.com, attacks her on a regular basis. But a lot of folks were surprised when a serious rival capable of raising campaign funds decided to take on Greuel -- former DWP commissioner, longtime civic leader and businessman Patsaouras.
A downtown power broker who has served on numerous panels for various Los Angeles mayors, he most recently was asked by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to act as a civic watchdog over construction of the new LAPD eadquarters as well as the just-finished County-USC Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Hospital.
In fact, even though he is neither dead nor has ever held elected office, Patsaouras has a downtown plaza named after him.
The somewhat surprising decision by the voluble and cheery Greek immigrant, Patsaouras, to challenge Greuel, sets up a possible confrontation between some Los Angeles County supervisors -- who are backing Patsaouras -- versus the City Council, which backs Greuel.
Patsaouras was recently dissed by a lesser-known opponent for the City Controller spot, Kathleen "Suzie" Evans, who attacked City Hall for giving Patsaouras's company a $600,000 "non-recourse loan, with a term of 55 years and an interest rate of just 3% to a company whose president was on the DWP Commission."
So who's got the field advantage? The LA Weekly asked a couple of city icons. Former Mayor Richard Riordan was effusive when he told the L.A. Weekly that "Greuel is beautiful and charismatic." Riordan also allowed that Gruel, whom he met in the early '90s, was "by far the brightest young person I ever came across in my life."
Riordan added: "Nick is a good guy but he has been involved in the outskirts and [Greuel] has been involved in the depth and the heart of government. [She] is extremely honest and credible, and tough in a nice way."
Former Daily News editor and blogger Ron Kaye is rooting for Patsaouras, who he says would "do more aggressive challenging of the system." Says Kaye: "I think Greuel has overwhelming connections but Nick is a guy who has been inside the game and got it done. He is a very dynamic, intense guy who can actually pour into the details of things and he has connections throughout the city and county that go very deep in many different directions. If he can raise the money and get the right campaign help. Nobody knows either one of them citywide."