Rudy Montiel lived like a king in Rancho Cucamonga while the poor people he was supposed to provide decent housing for often lived in squalor in substandard buildings.
In his seven-year reign of the perpetually troubled Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles drew multiple salaries and bonuses amounting to nearly half a million dollars a year from an ingenious scheme involving separate low and moderate income housing entities.
He also got 10 weeks vacation plus a San Bernardino County house.
He should have been fired a long time ago for the excesses of his self-service, the long stream of lawsuits and critical audits, and the failure of his $1 billion-a-year public housing empire to provide decent living conditions for the poor.
The end came Monday night, the LA Times reported, when the HACLA board fired him, saying they had lost confidence in his leadership — an action that comes days after Montiel said the board members should repay the agency for their own extravagances at the expense of the poor.
CBS-TV Channel 2 reported last month that HACLA board members took their daily travel allowance while on junkets for the agency plus charged extravagant meals and booze to their agency credit cards — $150,000 in all in the last two years.
The board did the right thing for the wrong reasons in firing Montiel and now should do the right thing for the right reasons in resigning themselves for failing to provide oversight to this state-created city agency — much like the Community Redevelopment Agency — and abusing their positions.
The mayor naturally has been invisible throughout this controversy under his watch and the City Council only stepped in briefly in November when the complaints of protesters were aired and Bill Rosendahl, summoned all his moral outrage, to ask over and over, “Where’s Rudy? Where’s Rudy?” (watch video)
What’s wrong with HACLA is no mystery.
Montiel himself was brought in from Texas after a long succession of scandals involving abuses of employees and theft of public money.
Critical federal audits and other abuses well documented here continued under his reign even as complaints grew about his outrageous salary and benefits and the agency’s failures to meet the needs of the poor.
None of that mattered to anyone at City Hall until protesters surrounded Montiel’s home last September and harassed his family while he took video of them and called the cops, eventually retaliating against some of those involved by having them evicted from their units.
Therein lies the moral of the story if you want City Hall to respond to your concerns: You have to engage in acts of disruptive civil disobedience to get their attention. At least, it has worked for the poor, the homeless, the minorities and the unions.