UPDATE: Are you keeping your eyes on them and reporting their abuses? Here’s one for you from a citizen paying attention: “Last night at little Tokyo a library worker st 8 pm buying pinkberry and parking the city car in a red zone.” Help stop abuses, report the wretched excesses of City Hall.
The gardener did it!
Wouldn’t you know they would find the fall guy for the massive theft and widespread abuses of the city’s policy of providing take-home cars to more than 1,000 elected officials, their staffs and other employees and 1,000 more assigned to various departments for work and fun?
Yep, the $7 million in gas stolen every year is the fault of Rec & Parks gardener Michael Lee who was caught when a citizen spotted him selling gas off a city truck and police later watched him filling up 5-gallon cans at one of the city’s 141 fueling sites.
Lee’s alleged crime involves only 800 of the missing 2 million gallons of gas but what the heck nobody cared for years about what was going on until then Controller Laura Chick blew the whistle in 2009, calling her audit “the most stunning example of how this city does business in an un-businesslike way.”
Despite the unending cycle of massive budget deficits — what citizen fiscal watchdog Jack Humphreville calls “kicking the can down the road” — nothing was done until Chick’s successor, Wendy Greuel, the leading candidate for mayor, followed up with another audit two months ago.
So now we got an arrest of a gardener who was sent home with pay pending what could be a long proceeding to actually fire him.
Meanwhile, the car abuses on a grand scale continue which is why I asked under the California Public Records Act for a list of all the more than 100 cars assigned to our elected officials and their staffs, and records of their gas use and repairs.
Dig into the links below and see what you can find out about how your taxpayer money is being spent in these tough times when services are being slashed and you are being hit with huge increases in fees, rates and penalties with tax hikes planned for your voting pleasure come November.
The king of repairs during the 12-month period from April 2011 to April 2012, is the wannabe elected fiscal watchdog and successor to Chick and Greuel, West Valley Councilman Dennis Zine who racked up $6,370.93 in bills to the 2005 Mercury Mountaineer taxpayers bought for him.
Like most electeds, Zine prefers an SUV while the six or seven staffers of each Council member get Toyota and Honda hybrids, also older models when it must have been OK to support foreign rather than local and domestic businesses.
Zine also is the king of gas consumption with 120 fill-ups at city pumps, more than two a week on average with a peak of 14 fill-ups during the holiday month of December when he went through179.1 gallons of the people’s gas.
To his credit, Zine is a hard worker but was every drop of that gas used in service to the public or is he like the mayor where everything he does is an official duty?
The mayor with some 200 staff members provides take-home cars to a dozen staffers while City Attorney Carmen Trutanich looks after himself and seven staffers.
Greuel, for her part, is the Queen of Frugality, with only one car for herself and one for her “staff.” The records do suggest she lives in fear of running out of gas, like going to the city pumps five times in eight days last July to put 1.4 to 4.9 gallons in her 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid.
The King of Frugality is clearly Paul Krekorian since he doesn’t supply city cars to anyone on his staff and only hits the pumps once every six days on average. Still, repair bills on his 2008 Toyota Camry run roughly $200 a month.
Perhaps the fact that Greuel and Krekorian are so politically ambitious has something to do with their frugality as appears to be the case with Eric Garcetti’s decision last July 31 to turn in his 2007 Honda Accord Hybrid and take away cars from six staffers three weeks later.
He did reassign five of the cars to “staff,” which meant in one case at least a take-home car that had been filled up 24 times in four months was only filled up six times in the eight months after it became a staff car.
Ed Reyes, in contrast, with nowhere to go except into retirement with his $150,000 a year pension and extra income as a “planning” consultant, apparently went through a change of life experience last November of a different sort.
He turned in his 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid for a brand new 2011 Dodge Charger muscle car so instead of filling up with an average of six gallons twice a week, he now needs more than twice that.
So play the “Fuel for Thought” game with me and dig into the documents yourselves and maybe we’ll learn more about how they are taking us all for a ride and having a lot of fun at our expense.