STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — Tempers flared Friday night among the five major Los Angeles mayoral candidates during the final debate before next week’s primary election.
Councilman Eric Garcetti, City Controller Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Councilwoman Jan Perry, and Emanuel Pleitez took part in the 90-minute roundtable discussion, which was moderated by KCAL9 political reporter Dave Bryan.
Although Bryan asked the main questions—some submitted by the viewers—the mayoral hopefuls also had the opportunity to ask each other about a variety of topics.
KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen said it wasn’t long before Greuel became the center of a stream of attacks and accusations.
Perry directly asked Greuel why she met with the union that represents employees from the LA Department of Water and Power on more than a dozen occasions.
The DWP union has contributed millions to the city controller’s campaign, which Perry believes would hinder Greuel’s ability to reform the utility.
“What would you be discussing with them that would require 13 meetings, and what commitments have you made to them?” Perry pressed Greuel.
Greuel said the answers are in her audits and her allies wouldn’t be immune to them.
“I’ve conducted more audits than my predecessor …who conducted eight audits over eight years. I’ve done eight in the last three and a half years,” she said.
Garcetti went after Greuel’s claim that her audits found $160 million in waste, fraud and abuse in City Hall.
The councilman’s campaign said the city controller has unrealistic projections on ad revenue and parking lot money the city could have brought in.
“Do you know what an audit is?” Greuel asked Garcetti in a heated exchange.
Meanwhile, James, a conservative talk show host, and Pleitez, an Internet executive, said the other three candidates are the reason Los Angeles is on the brink of bankruptcy.
They said Perry, Greuel and Garcetti voted for pay increases for city employees in 2007 and a pay bump for DWP workers in 2009.
“They knew then that the city was spending more money than it was taking in,” said James.
Pleitez said, “They made decisions on numbers they didn’t understand. They messed up.”
The debate, however, wasn’t all serious business.
Bryan asked the candidates whether they ever experimented with marijuana.
Garcetti simply stated, “Yes.”
Greuel also admitted to inhaling. “Yes. In the 10th grade, I tried it once.”
Perry, James and Pleitez said they’ve never tried pot.
Perry said she has allergies, while James said he suffered from asthma.