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Fuel for Thought: How LA Elected Officials and Their Staffs Are Taking Us for a Ride in City Cars

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.

CD1-Reyes1  CD1-Reyes2   CD1-Reyes3  CD1-Reyes4  CD1-Reyes5


CD3-Zine1  CD3-Zine2   CD3-Zine3  CD3-Zine4   CD3-Zine5

CD4-LaBonge1  CD4-LaBonge2   CD4-LaBonge3   CD4-LaBonge4   CD4-LaBonge5

CD5-Koretz1   CD5-Koretz2   CD5-Koretz3

CD6-Cardenas1   CD6-Cardenas2   Cd6-Cardenas3   CD6-Cardenas4    CD6-Cardenas5

CD7-Alarcon1   CD7-Alarcon2   CD7-Alarcon3   CD7-Alarcon4

CD8-Parks1   CD8-Parks2   CD8-Parks3   CD8-Parks4

CD9-Perry1   CD9-Perry2   CD9-Perry3

CD10-Wesson1   CD10-Wesson2   CD10-Wesson3   CD10-Wesson4   CD10-Wesson5

CD11-Rosendahl1   CD11-Rosendahl2  CD11-Rosendahl3    CD11-Rosendahl4

CD12-Englander1   CD12-Englander2   CD12-Englander3

CD13-Garcetti1   CD13-Garcetti2   CD13-Garcetti3

CD14-Huizar1   CD14-Huizar2   CD14-Huizar3

CD15-Buscaino1   CD15-Buscaino2   CD15-Buscaino3


Cars-Attorney1   Cars-Attorney2  Cars-Attorney3   Cars-Attorney4


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21 Responses to Fuel for Thought: How LA Elected Officials and Their Staffs Are Taking Us for a Ride in City Cars

  1. Anonymous says:

    Take their cars away. The scumbags get enough money.

  2. Ron Finally Gets It! says:

    Nice job Ron. This is information voters can take to the bank. Instead of railing about things with abstract long-winded rhetoric, you are SHOWING us what is really going on. A lot of Council challengers should be doing the same and learning to file public record requests if they want to win by showing how our political establishment is fattening itself daily while throwing the rest of us scraps.

  3. ex valley says:

    Is it a common practice in other cities to provide free cars and gas for city officials?
    And if not, why is the city of LA so generous?

    • MissAnthrope says:

      I’m guessing here, but maybe these freebee cars, gas and insurance started with trying to make civil service jobs on a par with private sector jobs. If that was the case, then they just should have reimbursed for mileage.

      Of course, we’re talking about L.A. here, and most of the city employees are probably LAUDS grads who wouldn’t be able to do the simple 6th grade math subtraction required to calculate how many miles were driven for city business. And it’s a lot of trouble to do all those “complicated” calculations, keep a log of them, make up reasons for the travel, type them up and send them in for reimbursement, wait for approval and for the check to come in the mail.

      So much easier on everyone except the tax payer to just hand over cars!

  4. Teddy says:

    Where is “honesty is the best policy? When I was growing up,
    cheaters were scorned.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey Ron–as an insider, I can assure you that City Hall cringes at your exposes. It is the followers who would make a difference that are missing. You have done more than your part. Will the others?

  6. anonymous says:

    they should use public transit… know….MTA buses, Orange Line, subway….
    real life experience….get to know the people….practice what they preach….
    would be good for the arrogant, indolent dullards…
    and….to further educate the social climbers….politicos and staffers…
    they should be required to live in the poorest zip code within their district….

  7. Anonymous says:

    LA Weekly reports—

    “2. Sued Vons for a slip-and-fall injury.

    In 1976, when Trutanich was 24 years old, he slipped and fell at a Vons grocery store in San Pedro. Trutanich sued, claiming he had suffered damages of $100,000. The case was later dismissed, and may have been settled out of court”.

    • Vote blindly, then complain says:

      There is nothing wrong for suing if someone’s negligence causes you harm. One may not state the amount for which he sues in his Complaint; so the statement that Trutanich asked for $100K is suspect.

      Even psychopathic liars should not be subjected to unfair attacks

  8. Ben Dover says:

    hey Ron -

    KFI and the Times, are endorsing an admitted perjurer, Jackie Spacey Lacey. Is this a first, mainstream media endorsing a prosecutor whom they know lied under oath? That’s very reassuring.

    What has this world become?

  9. Sierra says:

    That’s right keep your eye on the small fry while the big fish make out with the loot.

    Christine Essel has teamed up with Brown’s appointees to continue the theft of public funds giving those funds to politically connected contractors.

    And the amount given away is compounded by the interest and principal required to pay back these Redevelopment bonds.

    The small level employee in building and safety goes down instead of turning him to go after the head of the organization, Bud Overum and his boss, the Mayor.

    Its “hands-off” elected officials in LA City. From the DA to the AG to the Feds. LA officials are protected and their public corruption can run free out in the open. The FBI turns the other way because they know, LA officials have a free pass.

    AEG and Jan Perry, CIM group and Herb Wesson/Eric Garcetti, Tutor Perini and Dennis Zine, Katersky and Garcetti. It all out in the open, we all know about it, and so does law enforcement.

    • Vote blindly, then complain says:

      Dear Sierra,

      I see you know exactly how the city council operates. Zuma Dogg is correct when he calls the a RCIO enterprise.

  10. Ricardo says:

    Wake up people this type of abuse happens all the time. Council staffers go to a community meeting, say hi then leave in city car to go to dinner, shopping, personal errands etc. WE all know its been happening for years. To nail them next time you see a city staffer at a meeting take a pic with your cell phone when they leave. We should have a web site dedicated for this abuse of all types. Wendy should AUDIT ALL NON PROFITS. Why hasn’t she done that? With the millions they get in State, City Federal grants no one knows what they do.

  11. Meterman says:

    Once again our elected officials show us how they take advantage of our taxpayer money. We should ride these perk offenders out of town. Voter apathy is the downfall of Los Angeles. Please vote and vote for someone new with fresh ideas not a professional politician. Voting these hacks back into any city office is asking for bankruptcy and further abuse and scandal at our city of angels.

    • Vote blindly, then complain says:

      You cannot vote for some one with new ideas when no one has a new idea. Here’s a new idea and I bet it is dead before I finish writing.

      Each council district needs 3 councilmembers each elected “at large.” “at large” means the top 3 vote getters become one of three councilmembers each responsible for the entire geographic area of the district.

      That way each cm has to try to please voters. While The Garcettoid would be sleeping with the good boys at CIM Group, councilmember #2 could be cozying up to some small businessmen or women whichever they prefer, and that would leave councilmember #3 to pay attention to the real needs of the people who live in Hollywood.

      In each council district, at least one councilperson would find that his political life depended upon trying to make life for Angelenos rather than for mega developers and other assorted felons.

      Then — and here’s the vital part — when it came time to vote in council, councilmember #3 from CD #13 would vote for the residents and that would break this corrupt 99% identical voting. Then, his/her counterpart in all the other districts could vote with the CD #13 dissenter — the entire corrupt system where each councilmember is the Lord/Lady of his fiefdom would crumple.

      Let’s face it, when 1/3 of the council can vote however they want, you know others councilmembers are going to demand the right right. Three “at large”councilmembers per district will destroy the corrupt system that has ruled Los Angeles.

      That is what holds together the RICO behavior of the council — corruption. Any member who votes against what any other councilmember wants knows that he/she will get nothing passed as all the other 14 will retaliate. In fact, every action take by the City Council violates the Brown Act as all decisions are made behind closed doors and the system requires that everyone vote in unison.

      So who’s gonna fight for 3 “at large” councilmembers per district in order to stop corruption?

  12. Anonymous says:

    City Hall is the Versailles of Los Angeles. It will never give up its privileges. They have to be taken away.

  13. anonymous says:

    just imagine your life, your future with this group representing YOU…
    Senator Villaraigosa,
    Congressmen Berman/Sherman and Cardenas,
    Mayor Garcetti-Greuel-Yaroslavsky, Controller Zine, DA Trutantich etc etc etc
    sends chills down your back, makes you ill at ease…fearful…..sick….
    masochists, have you suffered enough already?

  14. Vote blindly, then complain says:

    It’s all so exhausting. The grandiose hubris of the arrogant ones who inhabit city hall require so much monitoring — it’s like trying to corral a pride of psychopathic pussycats who are hyped up on meth.

    Of course, if they discover the culprit it’s like the gardener. Remember who that lone Gay French guy, the Fabulous Fab or something like that, was blamed for the entire Mortgage Meltdown of 2008? Naturally, one of the main architects of the disaster, Timmy Geithner was rewarded b y being made Sec of the Treasury — and we wonder why the economy still suck!

    Stealing gas is bad, but while Garcetti was Hollywood councilman and President of the Council something like $1.5 BILLION disappeared into the CRA!!! Yes, let’s ignore the $1.4 Million fraud on the Cesspool on Vine, about which Ron has written, and instead let’s spend our time on the gardener and his $2,800.00 and ignore the $1,500,000,000.00.

    “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.” By that I mean, we elect these bozos and we ignore the massive frauds which would shake the Federal Government while pursuing the gas siphoners. Solyndra was 1/3 the loss of the CRA since 2000.

  15. Wayne from Corruptopia (aka L.A. City) says:

    Zine has a BLACK PORSCHE that he drives, what is the gas milage on a Porshe Targa?
    HA HA HA HA!!!!!! Maybe the City Gardiner was filling those 5 gallon gas cans for the Party-Harty Car? HA HA HA!!!!!
    Zine has that old Silver Mercury Mariner that has about 175,000 miles on it. But people have seen a nice new BLUE city-paid car he takes home with those “exempt” license plates (so he park in the red and take car pool lanes solo while traveling from woman-chasing event to woman-chasing event, etc.)
    Here’s a fun “project” you at home can play:
    1/ Dial 311 AFTER 5 PM AND BEFORE 8 AM. Try it like 2 am.
    2/ listen to the prompts and one says “For after=hours take home cars.”
    3/ Press that garage button and see if the City will allow you a free car for your “business?” Why not, every scumbag who KNOWS a council-clown seems to get a free take home car with free gas, WHY THE HELL NOT YOU?
    4/ Post your results if you get lucky enough to drive a free car!
    Why is all this crap allowed:
    The other 49 states (or is it 57 if you use Obama’s numbers?) have tons of Welfare Cheats, corrupt contractors, pediphiles, drug-addicts, pick-pockets, felons, thieves, liars, cheats, and of course the catch-all “Mentally Disturbed.”
    These other 49 states need to THIN THE HEARD and find ways to get rid of the SCUMBAGS. Thus, if California is FIXED, then all of OUR MILLIONS OF SCUMBAGS would flee to the other 49 states!!!! Thus, Zine, Trutanich, Garslutti, LaBonge, Cardenas, etc. are allowed to rule over California AS LONG AS THEY KEEP THE “FLOCK” INSIDE CALIFORNIA AND ENCOURAGE AND BRING OVER THE SCUMBAGS FROM THE OTHER 49 STATES!!!! GET THAT?
    California is America’s SEWER PROCESSING CENTER for the MORONS!
    So you all need to either 1/ Wake the fuck up or 2/ Stay and be taxed to death 3/ flee and 4/ Become a welfare-recipient mooch (with great weather.)
    Zine I think has the whole thing figured out. HE GAVE UP ON THE HUMAN RACE COMPLETELY! That’s how he lives with himself while guzzling that gas WE pay for.
    Oh, and Zine’s successor—Mr. Blumenfeld: He voted with his fellow ASSEMBLYCLOWNS and SENATE-CLowns TO HOLD A SPECIAL FRIDAY MEETING. Why–To get 3 FREE PER DIEM PAYMENTS OF COURSE OVER MEMORIAL DAY! And all of you in CD3 are just lining up to send this TERD back in June to Sacramento, so he can then RUN FOR ZINE’S SEAT NEXT MARCH!!!
    The big SHOCK however is comming—-METRO’S NEW PAY-AS-YOU-GO DEDICATED LANES AT $1.25 PER MILE ON OUR “FREEWAYS.” I went to a special meeting Wed. and got all the HORRID INFO. Want to see how YOU’LL PAY $50 A DAY TO DRIVE TO WORK?
    This DOOZIE will be the crown jewel of Corruptopia. It will begin first on the 110 freeway and the 10 freeway San Bernardino. THEN THE HATCHET WILL COME FOR YOU—YOU KNOW THE BLIND AS BAT DEMOCRAT VOTING BLOCK!!!
    Anyway, time is wasting. Choose your one of four options: wake up, flee, stay as a personal ATM for the Democrats, or become a welfare mooch. GOOD LUCK!

  16. Anon says:

    What is criminal about the use of city vehicles is when misuse is reported, no action is taken by the Controller. I’ve reported numerous cases of misuse of city vehicles to the whistleblower “hotline” by LADWP employees who do not have take home vehicle authority taking a DWP vehicle home on a nightly basis. These are usually lower-level managers who claim a need to attend community meetings or events relating to work without any verification. They feel entitled to these perks and, to boot, this benefit is not reported to the IRS! The arrogance and abuse of authority is the worst at LADWP.

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