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Gambling in Casablanca? Corruption in City Hall? Shocking, Isn’t It?

Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that
gambling is going on in here.”

Croupier: “Your winnings, sir.” gambling.png

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. goldcard.jpg

“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
the case.”

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.

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16 Responses to Gambling in Casablanca? Corruption in City Hall? Shocking, Isn’t It?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t a ticket considered a legal document and if so where is Steve Cooley or even Trutanich on this issue? Community members are asking can’t we file a class action lawsuit because wasn’t this discrimination at best and corrupt at worse?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Otherwise, why are we paying these

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree. Otherwise why are we paying them?

  4. Anonymous says:

    What can we expect under the most corrupt Mayor this city has elected?

  5. Anonymous says:

    What can we expect under the most corrupt Mayor this city has elected?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Exposing the corrupt is meaningless if there is no punishment. Do we see a savior? Nope.

  7. In Eagle Rock says:

    Wendy will reveal “scandals”- up to a limit.
    Since she wants to keep in good with her former Council colleagues for mayoral campaign support, she really has to be careful in her manipulations.
    Otherwise, you’d probably have another few CMs with indictments besides Alarcon.
    Too bad.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Is the Mayor’s entertainment unit working and helping Hollywood bring their business downtown to LA Live? gossip around hallways is yes they are. The Mayor has a couple of Hollywood agents on salary now and they got the studios to donate for his $1million trees. How much and where did that money go? LA Film Festival is downtown and the Young Hollywood Awards was last week at Nokia. Is the Mayor doing pr for AEG Tim Lieweke’s place to get Hollywood business for him? Ask his staffers and they’ll tell you.

  9. Sandy Sand says:

    “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.”
    OF COURSE, she missed the memo. She was probably too busy on her cell or gossiping with her council buddies just like they do during regular council sessions…especially during public comment.

  10. Hank says:

    Tell me, all you lawyers out there – how did the Mayor simply “cancel” the contract?
    Then tell me why he can’t simply cancel all of the contracts with those companies who run the City’s parking lots and don’t forward the proceeds to the City?

  11. Wayne from Encino says:

    How did this Gold Card story get traction?
    We’ll, seems City Parking Enforcement has been very VERY NAUGHTY in it’s very VERY AGRESSIVE writing of extra parking tickets. So, The City in it’s infinite STUPIDITY starting citing MEDIA NEWS VANS AND CARS WITH MEDIA PARKING CREDENTIALS because the City Meter maid determined the vans ‘WERE NOT ENGAGED IN VALID NEWSGATHERING ACTIVITIES!!!!” Thus, Villaraigosa and Co. pissed off everyone from KABC, KCBS, and KNX! They were having to “fight” these tickets!
    Now, HOW MANY OF THESE WERE PUT THROUGH THE GOLD CARD SCHEME? The Media didn’t like being TARGETED for City revenue, and thus, they decided to make this scandal very public, I believe.
    I have several parking fines this year, totaling more than $450!!! In two of them, I was legally parked, yet the City Scumbag wrote me for “parking in a loading Zone” and the best one:
    In another case, I was in the car, yet the Parking Vultures slapped the ticket on my windshield AND THREATEND TO HAVE ME ARRESTED IF I DIDN’T MOVE THE CAR!!!
    Trutanich could become Governor in 4 years if he would do the following:
    This story will have huge implications, because everyone has been victimized by the L.A. Parking Nazis and I mean VICTIMIZED. A friend of mine just got towed away by the Nazis and it cost him over $400 bucks just for parking past 3pm!
    Imagine all the Grand Jury Members, Judges, and Prosecutors who have returned to their cars on L.A. City streets, only to find one of those tickets on the windshield!
    This story has legs, because it really pisses off the People, and they’re going to want much much more than some “audit” or “investigation.”

  12. anonymous says:

    May 23, 2011 3:27 PM hit that nail on the head.
    This means nothing because the politicians get away with it. The prosecutor won’t touch them, unless it’s a safe distance or campaign time.
    So, now what?

  13. My Parking Ticket Story says:

    In the mid to late eighties I lived in a bungalow that was on a major street. No parking was allowed between 4PM and 6PM due to rush hour.
    I went out to move my car at ten minutes to 4PM. Neighbors (witnesses) were outdoors. A ticket was on my car.
    For what it’s worth, that particular day didn’t have a “rush hour” because it was the day of the Whittier earthquake and the surrounding area (in South Pasadena) was rubble.
    So, the witnesses agreed to accompany me to court. I was ready for a fight. The officer didn’t show. The judge dismissed the ticket and said I was free to go.
    Exuberant, I shouted, “breakfast is on me.”
    Shoot-treating all my witnesses to breakfast was more expensive than the ticket.

  14. Anonymous says:

    What needs to happen is a good investigative reporter like David Goldstein, Dave Bryant, John Schwada or the Weekly to dig and find out which politicians USE and helped friends with this card. They’re saying there is no paper trail but give me a break there has to be something around. I bet all the Mayoral candidates have used it for themselves, friends, developers etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg. What other perks are inside City Hall still waiting to come out? The Mayor knew about this for 6 years

  15. anonymous says:

    How long has this card/perk been around? 6 years? More?
    Do they have a get out of jail free card? What about a felony card? Oh wait, I forgot, the DA is the felony card.

  16. Anonymous says:

    6:13 AM If Dave Goldstein and KCET do not give up on HACLA, I’ll bet it goes way beyond HACLA.
    The only question- does Andre Birotte have the political will (and the you know what’s) to follow thru?

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