Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that
gambling is going on in here.”
Captain Renault: “Oh, thank you very much.”
Bribery, favoritism, freeloading – I’m sure we are all just
as shocked and dismayed as the Mayor, Controller and their fellow elected
officials to find out there is rampant corruption in City Hall.
Surely they must all be deaf, dumb and blind not to know
high-priced lobbyists bundle fortunes in cash into their war chests in exchange
for tax breaks and subsidies so their clients can build luxury condos, hotels
and entertainment complexes, or win lucrative city contracts.
Shocking indeed to learn city workers feel entitled to inflated wages, pensions and
benefits after years of sweetheart contracts bestowed on them by officials put
into high office with their generous campaign contributions.
The “Gold Card” fiasco brought to public attention last week
by Wendy Greuel is laughable in its
relative insignificance compared to the widespread abuses of power and position
that have gone on so long in City Hall, compared even to the tens of millions of dollars in parking tickets that go unpaid without consequence.
“You should not need political pull to expedite the investigation of a
ticket … “There were no
specific policies to guide the review of these citations,” wannabe mayor Greuel declared in announcing she had discovered a 20-year-old scheme by which elected officials have been fix parking tickets for friends, family, contributors, even sometimes for ordinary constituents if they complained loud enough or had a real good sob story.
The mayor himself was shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn of this ticket-fixing scheme run by an outside contractor at public expense, he immediately canceled it and went on the attack against Greuel for daring to bring to light one of the hundred ways City Hall does favors for those in favor.
Greuel not only used the scheme and voted to award the contract for it to
Affiliated Computer Services.
“As chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee
then-Councilmember Greuel was briefed on all aspects of the department’s
operations and was fully aware of the Gold Card Desk,” said Villaraigosa’s office. “For example, in 2007 and 2008, LADOT staff
briefed the Mayor’s and City Council field offices about the parking
citation process as well as the adjudication process so that they
provided better service to our constituents.”
There you have it: No less an authority on quid pro quo favors than the mayor himself reports they all knew about the scheme, condoned it and availed themselves of it some 500 times a year, according to the Controller’s audit.
KCET’s SoCal Connected looked at emails involving the 40 fixed tickets that Greuel sampled out of the 1,000 dismissed over two years and found they were handled as a matter of routine business by staff members.
“Complaining to city council members or sharing a sob story may have
been the best way to get gold-card treatment under the city’s secretive
parking citation hearing program, at least according to the picture
emerging from internal e-mails obtained by SoCal Connected,” the website reported.
“The e-mails depict conversations among staff members and public
officials, including the former head of the city’s transportation
department and even a staffer for a California Assembly member. In some
cases, staff were told to dismiss tickets without any written
justification. In others, they actually discussed the relative merits of
Talk about the tip of an iceberg — if Greuel or anyone wanted to know who is getting this favored treatment, they would look at all the tickets and the links with politicians.
They would take it a lot further and look at all the special treatment that the favored few get from the politicians and their staffs.
They would check all the contacts with the Police Department, Planning and every city agency and see how the Mayor and the Council and their staffs routinely use their influence to advantage contributors.
Why they’d even seek a grand jury investigation and put under oath the political fund-raisers, the lobbyists and the staffers who connect the special interests to special treatment by city agencies.
What would be exposed would surely be shocking and dismaying to us all.