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LAPD and the Mishandled Millions

Warnings about how Bill Bratton’s LAPD managed the public’s money percolated out of the grimy walls of Parker Center from time to time, runaway overtime, loose spending controls, the Police Foundation slush fund, secret licensing deals.

But Bratton was untouchable even when Controller Laura Chick reported two years ago that the LAPD’s money management practices were “stuck in the 1950s” and needed to be “completely overhauled” to protect the “fiscal integrity and transparency” of the $1 billion a year department.

That’s what makes the first internal audit conducted in response to Chick’s report so interesting.

It was completed in August and got a management response of sorts by mid-September and got buried on the desk of Police Administrator III Gerald Chaleffchaleff.jpg for three months until his patron, Bratton, was safely out of town so he didn’t have to deal with nasty headlines like “LAPD mishandled millions.”

Chaleff was once a brilliantly successful criminal defense lawyer, who earned fame and fortune protecting the rights of the Night Stalker, the Alphabet Bomber and the Church of Scientology. He became part of the legal team investigating the LAPD after the Rodney King beating, and president of the Police Commission.

Mayor Riordan removed him from the commission in no small part because Chaleff had helped turn the abuses of CRASH Officer Rafael Perez into the biggest scandal in LAPD’s modern history and then used it to justify the federal court consent decree.

“Top Cop” Bill Bratton was one of the consultants on the consent decree which helped him get the job as LAPD Chief and that helped Chaleff get the job as LAPD’s top civilian in charge of the consent decree, risk management and other administrative duties.

Loyalty is important on the thin blud line so it isn’t any wonder that Chaleff sat on an embarrassing audit until Bratton made his getaway or that Bratton’s favorite, Charlie Beck, jumped over so many others to get to be Chief of Police or that Chaleff got promoted to Special Assistant to the Chief.

What is wondrous is that when the day of reckoning came on Tuesday, the team of women cops and civilians from the audit division sat before the Police Commission and tried to explain why their report was suppressed for three months.

But Chaleff was nowhere to be seen.

The point person on the witness stand was Capt. Jodi Wakefield who downplayed the significance of the audit and offered ample assurances that the system was being fixed and the LAPD won’t mishandle its money anymore.

Acting Commission President Alan Skobin and Commissioner Robert Saltzman kept demanding a clear explanation about why the report didn’t reach the Chief’s desk or the Police Commission for three months.

Poor Wakefield stuttered and dissembled and couldn’t get out more than “my boss” had it, by which she meant Gerald Chaleff, the missing man.

It was so bad that the chivalrous Chief Beck came to her rescue by suggesting, with a smile on his face, that  “during the transition period, this got delayed” and promising it will never happen again, presumably because high-flying Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur is now in charge of audits and administration.
“The rules will be
consistently followed by everybody, or we will deal with it the way
supervisors deal with things,” she said. “And if there’s a lapse, we’ll
have to write people up and things like that.”

Leave it to a woman to do a man’s work.

The trouble with this is no one did the people’s work.

Much was made of the fact that this audit looked at 102 small transactions randomly selected to determine how the supply system was working.

It found the LAPD administrators failed to solicit bids from three competitors on 80 percent of large purchases, there were no receipts for more than half the purchases and 10 percent of the time purchases didn’t go through the multiple levels of approval as required.

Why Chaleff sat on the audit is understandable if somewhat reprehensible. Why no one demanded a full and complete outside audit of all LAPD spending when there’s so much smoke defies understanding.

“If we felt there was
misconduct or anything illegal occurring, we would have brought it to
the attention of the chief of police and police commission,” Wakefield told the Commission and they accepted her assurance.

This is just one more piece of evidence of how City Hall works: Staff protects themselves and each other, the cozy relationships between the commission watchdogs and political apparatus keeps them in line and the result is a government the provides inadequate services despite soaring taxes, raes and fees and still teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

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25 Responses to LAPD and the Mishandled Millions

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Ron for posting. Yeah, leave it to Beck to be an idiot and let the females do his and Chalef’s dirty work. Its obvious they held it until Bratton like a scoundrel left town. I hope people open their eyes and see how the new chief BECK is going to run LAPD down the toliet. MOre corruption and back to the days of Parks. The troops are fuming because if one of them had done this BS they would have been slaughtered woth a personal complaint and more but nothing happens to COMMAND STAFF. WHY???? Beck was at Public Safety meeting on Monday soliciting for gang money. HELLOOOO he’s clueless not knowing the troops hate the gang interventionist because they are still actively gang banging. BECK was endorsed by Village Idiot Jeff CArr and Connie Rice for Chief. Guess who is getting the $200,000 for gang training? You got it Connie Rice. More corruption in another city dept. and the troops are the ones who take the brunt for this BS

  2. Anonymous says:

    Jill Stewart column from 2001 in the (now defunct) New Times LA….
    New Times LA: Scientology attorney not good fit for LAPD Commissoner
    15 Feb 2001
    Beat It!
    Gerald Chaleff was a poor fit as L.A. Police Commission president from day one.
    By Jill Stewart
    God I love it when I’m right. Last week, Mayor Richard Riordan finally woke up and fired painfully ineffective Police Commission president Gerald Chaleff, who proved incapable of overcoming his 20-year history as an anti-cop defense lawyer to act as an overseer of the police brass and police policy.
    As I wrote in my column in June 1999, Chaleff spent his career belittling cops in courtrooms. He did so because he was a well-heeled defense attorney whose job was to save the unsavable butts of some of the slimiest criminals in Los Angeles, including that of the Hillside Strangler.
    Even creepier, in some ways, is the fact that Chaleff is still a top attorney for the manipulative Church of Scientology.
    Chaleff was a poor fit in the commission president’s job from day one. He was appointed by the mayor only because mayoral confidant Bill Wardlaw urged Riordan to pick Chaleff in order to defuse the anger among liberals over the slow pace of LAPD reform. Wardlaw clearly got the idea from his wife, federal judge Kim Wardlaw, who is one of several close powerful female pals of Chaleff’s.
    It is usually a bad idea to practice the politics of accommodation, as Riordan foolishly did in selecting Chaleff. Invariably, if you give power to those with whom you disagree on fundamental issues, you’ll live to regret it.
    One of Chaleff’s worst actions was his effort, as part of negotiations over a possible federal takeover of the LAPD, to strip Los Angeles police officers of their basic rights during criminal trials in which they are the arresting cop. Clearly carrying water for his pals in the Los Angeles-area defense bar, Chaleff wanted to permit all sorts of protected private information about the arresting officers to be provided to defense attorneys. It would have blatantly violated the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights.
    Had Chaleff gotten his way on several fronts he was pursuing during those negotiations, the LAPD would have been virtually run by the feds today. Luckily, the negotiations were put on a more reasonable course by Deputy Mayor Kelly Martin. Now, the “federal consent decree” that will soon be signed, although still far too reliant on micromanaging by a federal judge, at least gives the city day-to-day power over its police.
    At the same time that Chaleff was working to give away the store to the feds, he consistently dragged out and delayed proposed police reforms in the wake of the Rampart scandal. Chaleff was hobbled by his inability to make decisions that might ruffle feathers, unlike his far more decisive predecessors, Ray Fisher and Edith Perez.
    His dithering was crystallized in an exchange of letters last December between Police Commissioner Raquelle de la Rocha and Chaleff’s staff ally, commission executive director Joe Gunn.
    Arguing on behalf of Chaleff’s position, Gunn wanted to delay any action on police reform for two more months so that public hearings could be held to air the findings of the 160 lawyers (that’s correct, one hundred sixty lawyers) who wrote what is being called the Rampart Independent Review Panel. In classic Chaleff parlance, Gunn was worried that “it would be a breach of faith with the Panel and the public if we did not hold immediate hearings” on the panel’s findings, which he said would last from December into February.
    Commissioner de la Rocha, sick and tired of yet more delays, argued that action by the Police Commission was many months overdue, that numerous hearings and expert reports had already been presented, that the commissioners had all read the Rampart Independent Review Panel’s report, and that the equivocating and delaying by the commission had to stop.
    “The time for passive listening and observation has passed,” de la Rocha noted. “We should take action by promptly identifying and addressing the matters we believe are the highest priority. There are too many cooks in the kitchen while the public sits at the table waiting to be served. I say we stop collecting recipes and get to work.”
    Under pressure from de la Rocha and Riordan, Chaleff finally agreed to hold all the hearings on the Independent Panel’s findings during a single day. The Police Commission then forwarded six key reforms to the city council. And that is where everything stopped dead again, in the council’s ad hoc committee on public safety.
    On Jan. 29, city council members Cindy Miscikowski and Mike Feuer, both Chaleff supporters, rather incredibly voted to stop the six reforms dead, tabling all of them for discussion at an undetermined later date. This so pissed off City Attorney James Hahn that he wrote a letter to Miscikowski and Feuer pointedly reminding them that “failing to act on needed reforms…is not in the best interest of the city.”
    But the coy political games have continued unabated.
    Riordan, whose last day in office is June 30, clearly has begun to feel panicky. He hardly wants to leave key reforms up to his successor and watch helplessly as the department’s best and brightest cops keep running off to jobs elsewhere.
    Dennis Zine, a former president of the Police Protective League, which represents the rank-and-file officers in labor negotiations, says, “We are officially backing the mayor in his firing of Gerald Chaleff, but on a personal level I would have to say it is too little, too late. A lot more has to be taken care of besides the Chaleff problem.”
    Zine, a city council candidate in the San Fernando Valley’s Third District, ran down a list of problems: the persistent failure of the Police Commission to make police chief Bernard Parks reinstate the popular senior lead officer positions around the city, the decision (promoted by Chaleff) to exclude the police union from the lengthy negotiations over what should be contained in the federal consent decree, and the failure of the Police Commission under Chaleff to address plummeting morale and plummeting arrests despite a noticeable jump in the crime rate.
    “It’s funny,” says Zine. “Chaleff, I thought, was going to be a reformist.”
    I don’t know why Riordan finally realized Chaleff had to go. Maybe it was his own newly revitalized office, featuring hard-charging deputy mayor Ben Austin, who arrived in Los Angeles a few months ago fresh from his job among an elite circle in the Clinton administration. Or maybe it was simply that Riordan finally flipped his calendar forward and realized that Chaleff had run down the clock to just five months left.
    The mayor is not protecting Parks by axing Chaleff, as many have suggested. He’s put the chief on notice that he wants a number of historic reforms out of Parks, and he wants them right now. Recently, a chastened Parks handed Riordan a victory that the mayor had long sought, agreeing to create a set of formal discipline guidelines so that cops know exactly what kind of behavior is not allowed and exactly how much punishment to expect if they foul up.
    Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yet for 20 years, from Daryl Gates to Willie Williams to Parks, every chief had refused to create a specific set of guidelines. In the current Rampart era, the lack of such rules has led to the widespread belief among the rank and file that Parks fails to discipline his own brass but exacts tremendous punishment for the same infractions among the troops.
    That perception has been fueled by the fact that no big “brass” have been disciplined or identified for failing to police their own men in the Rampart Division.
    “Agreeing to discipline guidelines…could not be done under Chaleff because he’d be running to the L.A. Times and bad-mouthing everyone involved and making sure the whole thing was delayed and bogged down,” says a top city hall source.
    Lest anyone get spun by Chaleffites such as Councilwoman Miscikowski, who (along with my misguided colleague The Finger) has decried Chaleff’s firing — and has proposed that Chaleff be hired by the city council as a “consultant” on police-reform matters — it is important to note that Miscikowski and Chaleff pal around together.
    (I am told by a source that Miscikowski, Kim Wardlaw, attorney Leslie Abramson, and several other powerful women make up a harem of telephone buddies that Chaleff assiduously maintains, apparently in order to feed his insatiable need for high-level gossip.)
    As I noted in my column last year, Chaleff was the top background source for the Times during its negative coverage of the Police Commission’s overdue but successful effort to oust Inspector General Katherine Mader. The clueless daily, naturally, sided with Mader.
    Luckily those in power did not listen to Chaleff, and Mader was replaced by the effective and far more qualified Jeffrey Eglash. The moment Chaleff saw the writing on the wall, he began saying he had pushed all along for Mader’s ouster. Yuck.
    Clearly, the firing of Chaleff is Riordan’s shot across the bow intended to wake up Parks to a new way of thinking and a faster way of acting. Although Riordan and most other elected officials respect Parks for being a tough disciplinarian, a strong manager, and an up-front person, his rigid personality and refusal to alter his plans are legendary.
    Some observers were confused by Riordan’s approval of a major raise for Parks just a few days before the mayor started talking tough. But my sources tell me the timing on the raise was “unfortunate but unavoidable” since the raises had long since been negotiated and had to be sent through a months-long bureaucratic process, oddly enough landing on the mayor’s desk just as he was preparing to crack down on the department.
    Parks’ agreement last week to finally adopt a set of formal discipline guidelines will create a tremendous amount of goodwill in the LAPD. But Deputy Mayor Martin notes that “this is just the first step” in Riordan’s effort to fast-track languishing reforms now that the ponderous Chaleff is out of the way.
    For example, she says the LAPD is taking far too long to investigate complaints against officers, spending as much time on the more serious complaints as on the minor ones and in the process unintentionally giving short shrift to “the really serious complaints that would allow us to identify the problem officers. We need to reform the complaint system now, not months from now.”
    So hang on folks. If Riordan stays on his current roll, don’t be surprised to see Parks holding regular press conferences to announce reforms, the city council staging various press events to whine that Riordan has stolen their thunder, and the liberal agenda-istas sending out missives decrying the upending of their beloved “process.” Yes, we’re going to miss Dick Riordan when he’s gone.

  3. Anonymous says:

    When Wakefield refers to “we” and “her shop” did not feel there were any critical issues or abuses lingering so the delay was ok.
    The purpose of these accountablity audits are just as responsible for the oversight of the “we’s” and “her shop” too. To dismiss that acknowledgement says we have the wrong people in charge of these audits.

  4. Anonymous says:

    L.A. desperately needs a big change. We need to Change Out the Council. Leaders of Commissions, Departments, and the LAPD who is apparently one of “them.” L.A. is going to hell in a hand basket because of coruption and they are covering each others ass, so there is no remedy in sight until we, the people, change them out.

  5. RG says:

    As an LAPD civilian employee, I am not suprised in the least at the “mismanagement” of all that money. It is only the tip of the iceberg!

  6. Anonymous says:

    How the hell can Chaleff be a “special assistant” to Beck and he’s a lawyer? Beck has TWO special community relations people on his staff. One is a captain and is his lapdog going everywhere with him Capt. Romero and the other is a “special assistant” of community relations “Chief’s Office. They both get paid over $100,000 each. C’mon where is the damn logic in this crap. Why does a Chief need 3 special assistants in his office and what the hell do they do??? There are way too many sworn personnel in the new police headquarters. The troops need their lazy butts out in the streets patrolling not doing clerical crap. BECK WAKE THE HELL UP AND GET THOSE BODIES OUT IN THE STREETS LIKE YOU SAID. Beck has something like a ton of guys doing office work with him.

  7. david barron says:

    I agree with you “Anonymous 1:23pm”
    I’m chatting with as many voters as I can to inform them of the importance of paying more attention to the actions of our city leaders.
    I’m david barron

  8. Anonymous says:

    As a city employee, this kind of waste is rampant in all departments. Millions could be saved if anyone cared to highlight the waste and come up with better controls. The city is mismanaged, and no one is in control. The Controller position under Gruel will reach new low depths, cause she is more interested in fighting the City Attorney than doing the job she was elected for. She will get more headlines if she did her real job.

  9. Retired says:

    This is a giant Red Flag! So let’s audit all the spending since Jan 2003 right up to the appointment of Chief Beck. Turn on the bright lights with a full audit of everything. Include all the slush fund spending!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Not only did Chaleff sit on the audit, but he also did not send it to Assistant Chief Papa. She is not part of his fan club and he has gone out of his way on many occasions to attempt to discredit her. He knew she would not have sat on it and by holding it, he and Beck can now blame her and deflect all attention away from Bratton’s flagrant flaunting of rules to spend money in the manner he saw fit. He did not support the hiring of a Chief Financial Officer but instead pursued an additional Deputy Chief position so he could promote Sandy Jo MacArthur (0ne of Chaleff’s favorite people). His friends have always been his priority. Someone needs to audit the amount of money Bratton funneled to his consultant friends through the cover of the Police Foundation if they have any doubts. Bratton was a great crime fighter but has never had to work with financial restrictions. His exit as the money dried up confirms that.

  11. anonymous says:

    How can Chief Beck call himself a Cops Chief when he has a liberal, defense attorney that represented the Nightstalker as his special assistant. Chaleff is number two in command and everyone knows it. Chaleff had a hand in demoting Chief Doan so he could get his girl Maggie into the position and then he took out Chief Bostick and now he has taken out Chief Papa. That being said the blame has to go to Beck who is a puppet of Chaleff. When is the useless Commission or better yet the Mayor going to start asking questions. The Command structure is quietly seething as Charlie’s Command selections continue to smack of friends and favor payments instead of the best person for the job. The question is what other skeletons are in Chaleffs closet. Heartless Bastard!

  12. Anonymous says:

    TO Anonymous on December 16, 2009 11:10 AM: Next time, post the link and maybe a few sentences, not the whole article.
    Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The troops dont’ have a chance in hell when they have a Chief not strong enough to make his own decisions and being led by the nose by Chaleff and Bratton from NY. Beck soliciting money for gang bangers is a big red flag. With a loser like Chaleff calling the shots in no time LAPD will be destroyed with his lame ass mentality of supporting the criminals. How the hell did he get to be on the 10th floor. Why isn’t the media writing about this crap?

  14. Anonymous says:

    WTF???? the LAPD now has a right hand guy who is not sworn and who defended a murderer who killed 5 women one who was only 12 years old. Command staff are furious at Beck for hiring Chaleff. He’s an ACLU loving liberal who doesn’t support cops. Where are all those victim families so we can tell them to speak out. This is total bullshit. If anyone questions Chaleff’s special assistant position to BECK just read this site.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The man who thinks he’s Mayor just keeps screwing us. The choice of Chief was altimately his. He’s proven he can be bought which is no big surprise since he is a gangster himself. Don’t ever pay any attention to anything he says or promises because all he gives is lip service. It would be better if he just kept his mouth shut and stayed out of L.A. along with his latest squeeze. It’s proven his type of “service” isn’t needed. Gangs will continue to give money as long as all these crooks are on L.A.’s payroll. They all need their ass kicked out of town. We need to quit being sheep and help accomplish that task for our own sake!

  16. Anonymous says:

    C`mon, Skobin wants to know why the audit was supressed?
    First, he should had followed the status of the audit all along. Second, are we to believe he did not know that the audit was complete and was circulating for comments? Hmmmm. If he really did not know, then he should not be overseing the cops….But, again, he has acted as an apologist for the status quo.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Connie Rice is the biggest shark in this town under” the civil rights activist” cover. Millions of taxpayers money go for her b.s. studies and surveys.

  18. Anonymous says:

    OMG I was emailed this. Beck has a lot of explaining to do to the troops who are livid Chaleff has been given the high spot of 2nd in command. I was outraged reading he has defended a lot of murderers in his career. The evidence speaks for itself.
    LA Magazine, Feb. 1998
    IF you kill someone and Cochran can’t squeeze you in, murder specialist Gerald Chaleff can help. Charleff 56, as the best at protecting a client faced with the ultimate criminal charge. A Harvard law grad who toiled in LA public defenders office for 10 yrs Chaleff has defended the Alphabet Bomber, Muharem Kurbegovic, the Hillside Strangler, Angelo Buno, the Ninja murderer, Neil Woomdan and many others.,+who+defended+Buono&source=bl&ots=kTIpSiJ0q1&sig=vpF8yQFnVocKtNRP5Z0By2nolao&hl=en&ei=-NcrS_qgIYnWtgPAqf28BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CA4Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Gerald%20Chaleff%2C%20who%20defended%20Buono&f=false
    AND HE’S A SCIENTOLOGIST….WTF!! This is the link the above poster should have posted.
    Scientology attorney not good fit for LAPD Commissoner

  19. Anonymous says:

    For a moment I thought they were talking about the Mayor but come to find out its BECK. He’s following in the footsteps of the idiot Mayor we have catering to the illegals. A report is stating that more people have left California and guess who are the ones coming? ILLEGALS
    ……in his continuing community outreach efforts Chief Beck was on the national morning shows of two Univision Radio stations – Recuerdos (Memories) KRCD/KRCV 103.9/98.3 FM and “La Nueva” (The New One) 101.9 FM. Chief Beck was interviewed by Amalia Gonzalez, program director and on air personality of Recuerdos and was a guest on “El Piolin Por La Mañana

  20. Anon says:

    Bratton got his slush fund Police Foundation to pay for Beck’s “speech lessons” prior to the selection process. Doesn’t that tell you the “fix” was in? Based upon his public comments since the appointment, however, they should ask for their money back.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Beck is being called “Farmer Boy” cause he acts like he’s from the farm with no class, no professional appearance, speaks to the floor, doesn’t know how to interact with people. Beck desperately needs a class in something. Troops are embarrassed by this guy. Beck needs to get rid of his lapdog Capt. Romero.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of slush fund, how much does the LA Police Foundation dedcut off the top of donations and where does it go?
    Needs to be looked at.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Parks never trusted the Police Foundation but they have been audited a couple of times and no negative issues found. Why aren’t other foundations or unions like the Police Political League audited?

  24. Anonymous Too says:

    Another civilian employee speaking up here. Have you seen the new building? All new furniture, flat screens in all the offices, lunchrooms, conference rooms full of hi tech equipment. Of course, who was in charge of signing off on all this equipment and paying for it while the City Council was saying it had no money to pay us? The building was WAY over budget and I didn’t hear anyone calling out to scale it back.
    The Police Department is full of sworn who are hurt and can’t do the jobs they were hired to do. Instead, they are sitting at desk trying to do civilians jobs and are collecting BIG salaries, but can’t write a report or figure out the new phones. Yet it’s the civilians the Mayor is calling “deadwood”.
    One more thing, if there is no money to pay us, how does the new Chief keep getting all his pals promoted and how did the Council get this “Special Projects Coordinator” position passed for a (of course!) retired LAPD Lt? We’re slackers for wanting to be paid for the work we are doing, yet it’s okay for this guy to rake in a sworn pension and then get a new job at $100K + that was NEVER opened up to anyone else who might be qualified?
    There’s a lot more corruption going on at LAPD than anyone is guessing.

  25. Valeria Keet says:

    I like the blog, but could not find how to subscribe to receive the updates by email. Can you please let me know?

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