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Trutanich Sees Much Work Ahead After Visit to Skid Row

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, September 03, 2009, at 10:09AM
Skid Row Walk Eric Richardson [Flickr]

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich talks with LAPD Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph during the September Skid Row Neighborhood Walk.

New City Attorney Carmen Trutanich joined several dozen Downtown stakeholders for the monthly Skid Row Neighborhood Walk on Wednesday evening. As the group returned to the Midnight Mission after a tour of the surrounding blocks, I asked Trutanich what his takeaway was from the night.

"We've got a lot of work to do," he said.

Early on in the walk, Trutanich showed signs of being fresh off the campaign trail. The City Attorney, who took office on July 1, stopped on 7th street to talk to a mother pushing her baby in a stroller, picking up the young boy in a ready-made photo opp.

When it came to the issues faced by the Skid Row community, though, Trutanich was all business. He listened intently as LAPD Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph spoke of the trouble caused by well-intended groups who come Downtown to pass out food on the streets.

Speaking with Central City East Association head Estela Lopez about an issue with neighborhood bars, Trutanich made clear that he wanted to work on the issue personally. "I don't just want my office invited. I want to be invited," he was heard to say regarding a planned meeting. "Let me know the agenda ahead of time so that I can do my homework."

As the walk was wrapping up, Trutanich said that the visit was a reminder of the human situations on Skid Row.

"We tend to drive away from Downtown and forget that there are lives that we leave behind," said Trutanich. "We've got to make it more important that people remember there are people here, human beings that want to retain some sort of dignity."

"I'm in the position to see what the law allows us to do. I'm the City Attorney; I'm not a policy maker. There are things that I can do to help clean these streets, but I'm looking around... We need some enforcement, don't get me wrong, but we need a hand and not a heavy hand."

That soft hand does not extend to drug dealers.

"We need to make sure that those people who prey on the people here -- and there are people who prey on them -- I'm going to prey on them."

The walk, organized by the Central City East Association, takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. The next walk will be on October 7.

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