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In today's pages: False steps, botched arrests and phony outrage

September 9, 2009 |  7:52 am

UFW, Change to Win, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carmen Trutanich, Wendy Greuel, President Barack Obama, socialism, paranoia, healthcare reform, LAPD Threats and intimidation enliven the Op-Ed page, courtesy of two former Los Angeles Times scribes who've gone on to pen books.

Miriam Pawel details how the United Farm Workers switched from backing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to increase Central Valley water supplies to opposing it. Backed by the Change to Win union coalition, Pawel writes, the UFW established a $1 million fund to campaign against Schwarzenegger's water bonds in a "clumsy attempt at political blackmail." And Michael Krikorian recounts how five LAPD officers came to train four handguns and a shotgun at him and his girlfriend's son on a recent night in Hancock Park.

The Opinion Manufacturing Division also offers two takes on President Obama's speech Tuesday to students. Columnist Tim Rutten gushes about the speech and the president's Q&A session with a group of Virginia high-schoolers, then urges Obama to take the same approach and tone -- speaking plainly and personally but without condescension -- tonight in his speech to Congress about healthcare. The editorial board, meanwhile, frames the controversy that led up to the speech in the context of "what historian Richard Hofstadter called the 'paranoid style in American politics,' an ancient, exasperating form of discourse."

The board also urges the state Fair Political Practices Commission to adopt a proposed set of rules limiting how public agencies may use taxpayer funds in support of ballot measures, bond issues and other Election Day causes. And it urges the Los Angeles City Council to settle the dispute over the city controller's power to audit functions within the city attorney's office:

City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Atty. Carmen Trutanich have accomplished something remarkable. They have given new life to a dispute between their predecessors that should have expired when the new term started July 1. Each made a campaign issue of cooperating to resolve the case of City of Los Angeles vs. Laura Chick, but each now claims the other is not cooperating. It's as if the contentious ghosts of termed-out politicians refused to leave and now possess the bodies of the new officeholders.

Credit: William Brown, TMS

-- Jon Healey

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