Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Eric Garcetti avoids schoolyard tussle with Wendy Greuel

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Los Angeles Mayor race 2013It had all the hallmarks of a playground throw down: Meet me in two hours and we'll settle this... 

On the heels of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calling on the two mayoral candidates to step up and communicate their education platforms during his State of the City address Tuesday night, Wendy Greuel stepped up with a challenge to Eric Garcetti.

In a press release emailed at 12:12 p.m. Wednesday, Greuel's campaign invited Garcetti to meet her for a debate at 2:15 at Camino Nuevo Charter High School, where she already had an appearance planned with LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia.

A spokesman for Garcetti declined, saying he would keep his previously scheduled 2 p.m. news conference. 

"This is another political stunt from [City] Controller Greuel," said campaign spokesman Jeff Millman, "just like her claim to have found $160 million in waste, fraud and abuse.  Let's end the political games and get serious about education." 

The Garcetti campaign has agreed to an education debated hosted by the Urban League and KCRW in May. Greuel campaign spokeswoman Shannon Murphy said, "The students of Los Angeles should not have to wait until May." 

It should be noted that the mayor of Los Angeles does not have any formal role in the Los Angeles Unified School District. During his first term, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to take over the schools. He settled for starting a non-profit that has responsibility for about two dozen schools.

Was Greuel trying to lay a trap for Garcetti? Two of the moderators she chose for the instant debate, Garcia and former LAUSD board member Yolie Flores, are Greuel supporters. The third invited moderator, Warren Fletcher, is president of United Teachers LA, which has endorsed Garcetti. 

But if Garcetti had shown up, he surely would have tossed out this tidbit: he directed $700,000 in city funds to build the soccer field at Camino Nuevo.

Perhaps education will come up at the first debate since the March 5 election, scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. It will broadcast on ABC 7. 

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