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The Firing of Kathy Riordan: A Window into the Depths of Corruption at City Hall

The simmering controversy over how and why Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa fired long time Animal Services Commissioner Kathy Riordan finally boiled over into public view today — thanks to a comprehensive report in the blogosphere, not the mainstream media.

The Daily News early in March told the story of Riordan, daughter of the former mayor, being forced out after 14 years on the commission but it was left to animal rights activist Phyllis Daugherty to report the back story of how narcoleptic Deputy Mayor Jim Bickhart arrogantly carried out orders — one that delighted him having long expressed his dismay at Riordan’s independent-minded efforts to provide sensible policies.

When Riordan questioned why she was being when the next mayor can replace the entire commission in July, Bickhart responded to her by e-mail, “If you want to raise a stink or question the Mayor’s logic or authority to make the change, I can only report that to my supervisors and they will just accept your boiler-plate letter and be done with it.”

Daugherty reports the “boiler-plate” letter is “the undated, pre-signed letter required of all Animal Commission appointees and kept on file in case they don’t vote the wishes of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It undermines the original purpose of having a citizen oversight panel to expose questionable practices and proposals” as it was in Riordan’s case.

Her article at opens a window into the culture of the Villaraigosa administration where influence peddlers spouses are appointed to the Ethics Commission, where the six-figure seats on the Board of Public Works are handed to political hacks and insiders, where the highly-paid top executives of city departments are reduced to slavish obedience to order from above.

The result is a city government that is totally politicized, totally corrupted to the point where solving L.A.’s problems and serving the public are no longer the goals of a system that serves itself.

Daugherty’s article provides a glimpse of what went on for a long time and continues to go on in one department but you can look at any aspect of city government from financial management of the never-ending budget crisis to the way the parts and libraries are run and contracts are awarded and you will find the same thing.

Are Wendy Greuel or Eric Garcetti going to change any of that? After all their years as part of it, do they even see what is wrong?

Will the Kantor L.A. 2020 Commission comprised of union bosses who helped corrupt City Hall for their own benefit or the members of the commission who have profited from it or gone along for the ride even take note of fact that the city’s real problem isn’t the economy or the budget.

The real problem is political corruption. You can be sure that no one who can do anything about that is about to stand up to it like Kathy Riordan tried to do time after time.

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46 Responses to The Firing of Kathy Riordan: A Window into the Depths of Corruption at City Hall

  1. Ricardo says:


    How many days left for the Failure Villar? Let’s do a count down like KFI is doing. So many people will celebrate the end of Villar’s corrupt and inept reign that ruined a once great Los Angeles. Villar will have to start using his born name after he leaves office.

  2. anonymous says:

    Bickhart is the puppet master to LAAS. He tells commissioners how to vote and turns beet red (saw it myself) when Riordan strays, which she does in a manner that you wouldn’t even know she was straying. What’s telling is I highly doubt half of the votes Bickhart pushes for are anything the Mayor is even aware of or cares about. The only one that cares is Bickhart and his misguided bullying attempts to assume some semblance of power by enabling incompetent General Managers.

    With all the fiascos Bickhart has orchestrated over the years one has to wonder why the mayor kept him for so long. He is a train wreck and the new mayor would do us all a service by showing him the door.

  3. Say it ain't so!! says:

    What’s this about the mayor running for governor? Can this be stopped? Oh God, I was praying we’d be done with his pearly white mug shots.

  4. teddy says:

    I do not think any of us who live in LA ever guessed how incredibly
    inept our duly elected officials actually are. Ignorant, incredibly inept –
    those are the adjectives I will use.

    The pity of it all is that these same people keep getting elected as if they
    were doing a good job!!! Thank you, Ron, for educating us – and you are
    doing a great full-time job in the process. I appreciate you.

    I, for one, will not vote for any incumbent.

  5. teddy says:

    With Kevin James supporting Garcetti, I am still going to vote
    for him as a “write-in”. If after one term Kevin, if elected, will
    have done a job we will support and re-elect. We shall see.

    I do not think any of us are stupid, I think we are finally understanding what
    we are up against. Hope you all agree and we achieve the CHANGE wwe are
    needing so badly.

  6. anonymous says:

    Check out this link on the Opposing Views article comment. Didn’t you write about this once Ron? I heard the man also partnered with a gal pal and created an “anonymous” blog years ago, targeting anyone who didn’t like him or Ed Boks. Boks was tossed. Bickhart walked away Scot-free.

  7. The Late Ruth Galanter says:

    Bickhart? A comprehensive asshole. He must have so much dirt on Villaraigosa that keeps him from being fired.

    • anonymous says:

      Bickhart would throw his own mother under the bus if it served him to do so.
      I’d venture that he knows a few things little Tony V would rather keep in the closet and Bickhart probably thinks, if he plays his cards right, he’ll stay on in City Hall or follow little Tony to Sacto.

      • anonymous says:

        Speaking of writing an unauthorized letter on City letterhead (isn’t that what got him fired by Galanter?), didn’t Bickhart do the same when writing some accusatory note to Riordan during a public meeting?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The tax payer funded fat, snoring man in the video has forgotten that he is a public servant. He and the rest of the Mayor’s staff need to hit the pavement soon. I’m afraid that Gruel will keep most of them. Think about this when you vote.

  9. anonymous says:

    Funny, I’m afraid Garcetti will keep them. Garcetti said he will make each GM re-apply for the job. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll not re-hire them. Who knows? Maybe they can provide a list of who they will keep and who they will let go. That will sway my vote.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Both Garcetti and Gruel are skunks. Who’ll spray more & stink up City Hall even more–who knows.

  11. anonymous says:

    Antonio`s hacks and insiders will decide who is appointed to what, and they are ALL with Liar Greuel . Do I have to draw a pic of Greuel`s administration? Oh, Mother of all Cheats, M. Waters, endorsed Greuel today. That will play well in the Valley……….

  12. anonymous says:

    We`ll know at the end of the campaign how much the Cheat paid the Mother of all Cheats for the endorsement. I hope the lazy reporters will look into how much M. Waters` daughter got for her
    “political consulting services”.

    • ex valley says:

      Don’t hold your breath. Is not going to happen. Politicos like m waters get a pass (do I need to spell you why?). The la slimes will never touch her endorsement racket. Nor cover her district – why’d she get re-elected easily every time when her district is pits– high poverty, unemplyment, no opportunities, gangs, crime.

  13. Anonymous says:

    For those who haven’t read Ken Alpern’s article in Citywatch, here is an excerpt that corroborates Ron’s contention about the reduction of CITIZEN Commissions to mere rubber stamps by the current Mayor and his petty bureaucrats like Bickhart.

    “Furthermore, it’s to be noted (and this is critical) that the LA City Planning Commission, as with other Commissions and Department Heads, all are appointed with the Mayor but with a presigned and undated resignation letter that the mayor may sign at his will should any commissioner make a decision contrary to that of the Mayor’s personal fiat. In other words, our Commissioners aren’t the village elders with respected opinions that we all need (including our electeds) to hear.

    The LA City Planning Commission is, in fact, a rubber stamp of whatever the Mayor orders.

    As was pointed out to me by Friends4Expo Co-Chair, former Santa Monica City Planning Commissioner and prominent Sierra Club leader Darrell Clarke after we saw all sorts of nebulous promises and plans made for a “Casden-stein” project adjacent to the Exposition/Sepulveda future rail station (entirely unknown to everyone, and entirely without any assurances of benefits to the community or to any transit users), Santa Monica Planners have the ability to say “NO” to bad ideas from the City Council of Santa Monica.

    So when the City Planning Commission heard from the Mayor’s representative that he supported the Casden project (towers 16 stories tall in a 2-3 story tall region, uncertain residences within 500 feet of the freeway, no clue what it will end up looking like), those Commissioners were in effect ordered to pass this project (even when the Commission’s legal counsel recommended continuing the decision, and was prominently silenced by Commission Chair William Roschen).

    If they didn’t pass it, they knew their collective necks would be on the chopping block. It didn’t matter that transit advocates, the Sierra Club, all Neighborhood Councils and both Westside Councilmembers were screaming to stop the project–it was going to happen because the Mayor (in what is supposed to be a democratic city) ordered it to happen…legal implications and threats be damned”.

    • anonymous says:

      I can’t find the article. Do you have a link to it?

    • anonymous says:

      I think Bickhart is more of a rogue liaison. LAAS is not the revenue maker that the mayor or his higher ups watch. Unless it involves Feld, Bickhart can run the show however he sees fit. He can misrepresent the facts to the mayor and no one is really going to look into it. Rumor has it he will stay on in City Hall, probably with LAAS since no one really wants to deal with that department short of occasional puppy dog photo ops.

  14. Rita-of-Sunland says:

    First of all, we’ve GOT to spay and neuter BOTH Greuel and Garcetti! {rim shot} (As if THAT isn’t already a done deal!) This is retaliation on Tony’s part for Riordan’s pension reduction measure the old man tried to get on the ballot, pure and simple. Ya just KNOW The Midget Mayor was PIG-BITING MAD when he got wind of that good news! Riordan’s measure didn’t qualify for the ballot (And what reason does the City Clerk’s office have for counting the signatures accurately, anyway?)
    “But YUSTICE weel be SWIFF’!”vowed El Villar.
    And then Riordan went and rubbed GMO salt into the wound by endorsing KEVIN!

    • anonymous says:

      Did Tony want the pension reduction measure on the ballot? I can’t remember. It’s not like he’s around much for us to know what he thinks. Oh wait, that’s right, he doesn’t think.

      • Rita-of-Sunland says:

        Of COURSE the Migdet Mayor’d be against ANY measure that would even slightly trim the outrageous benefits promised to these stupid, lazy, FAT-ASSED city workers.

        • Anonymous says:

          The first workers to be axed are the SEIU members who have fungible jobs & skills & command more union clout than they are worth.

  15. Wayne from Encino says FIRE ALL RIORDANS!! says:

    Good-Fucking-Riddens!!! Jesus, look at that pathetic pic with the BLACK CAT (Add a broom and a pointed black hat and that Riordan-Evil-Spawn could have flown away on her own without being fired. Why did she get a City Gig? Hmmm??? Oh, she’s got that LAST NAME, RIGHT.
    Good for the snorning, fat, lazy, PIG—Get rid of all these children/girlfriends/whores/lobbyists/ex-wives/ex-husbands/nephews/cousins/nieces, etc. of all these insider City Hall RATS.
    The Riordan family needs to go to Florida, play golf, and live in a State with NO STATE INCOME TAXES and UNLIMITED HOMESTEAD EXEMPTIONS (for all those unpaid American Express credit cards.)
    Kevin James should also go to Florida.
    Ron, Myself, and Teddy, Cat-in-The-Hat-Field, and Rita-From-Sunland and a few others will have to remain and observe, opine, and write as the Downfall of L.A. City continues it’s strident pace. But all these other WOBBLERS and FOOLS

    • anonymous says:

      So Wayne, she’s guilty by association. Never mind that she actually stood up to the crooks. Better to put in political wannabes than someone who just wanted to help (as in volunteer/no pay). I can say I’ve witnessed her work and she earned a good reutation. She’d be best just to leave. Why fight a system that’s going to hell and fast.

      But, that is a good idea about going somewhere without state income taxes ’cause this state ain’t woth paying for anymore.

    • L.A. Voter says:

      Wayne, sweetie, time to get back on those meds. You clearly know nothing about the Animal Services Commission, or much else, from the contents of your post. The fact is that for 14 years (or several Mayors past her father) Kathy Riordan fought for the homeless animals of this city. And your objection to the simple fact of her last name makes even less sense than anyone’s appointing her because of her last name. She may have gotten on the Commission because she had access to the Mayor, but she could also have used that access for personal gain, instead of an upaid 14-year gig of dealing with unions, a succession of know-nothing General Managers, and the largely insane rescue “community.”

      But you’re right, we should absolutely judge and condemn people based on the color of their cats. You need a pill, Wayne, a BIG one….

  16. KS says:

    “Daugherty reports the “boiler-plate” letter is “the undated, pre-signed letter required of all Animal Commission appointees and kept on file in case they don’t vote the wishes of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It undermines the original purpose of having a citizen oversight panel to expose questionable practices and proposals” as it was in Riordan’s case.”

    General Managers are forced to sign these, too. Keeps them “team players” for Tony Villar.

    The Mayor has way too much power. It would be helpful to have a City Manager like Glendale does to protect GMs somewhat from having to kowtow to politics rather than actually managing their departments.

    • anonymous says:

      Good point KS. Yes, the mayor has way too much power.
      No mayor will back a Charter change. Once they get a taste of being a dictator, why give it up?

    • anonymous says:

      “team players” is euphemism for
      corrupt bureaucrats and corruptible social-climbers
      willing to sacrifice public’s welfare and quality of life.
      We have witnessed “team players” refer to
      non-team players as “trouble makers”. Really.
      please tell the monitor (censor)
      to stop editing (censoring) our opinions.
      Thank you.

  17. KS says:

    No comment about the highly-conflicted Brenda Barnette, Ron? Hopefully you’re saving another entire expose for this wretched so-called City “manager”.

    • anonymous says:

      Bickhart and Koretz protect Barnette. Bickhart thinks that making her happy makes his clueless boss happy and protects his job, even at the cost of employees and residents. His agenda is her agenda until he finds out it doesn’t serve him. Koretz has to save face because he pushed for her to be hired. The city pays Barnette over 200 thousand dollars. In the last three years she got a 30 thousand a year raise.

  18. Aurora says:

    We live in a City that has lost its way to corruption. Has anyone noticed how many sleazy Hollywood developers have the City Planning Commission President, Bill Roschen, on retainer to do “work” on various projects? The worst of the worst is the pending Millennium Project that Eric Garcetti is pretending to oppose on behalf of constituents…. at least until after the election. Bill Roschen has a big contract for Millennium. At the hearing before the City Planning Commission, Roschen was declared to have an disqualifying interest in the Millennium “development agreement” and in response, the City Attorney declared that because Millennium withdrew its request for a development agreement, the entire City Planning Commission had the authority to still consider the Millennium Project.
    But how is it that if Roschen works for the developer, the City Planning Commission was not also barred to consider the Variances, Conditional Use Permits and other matters in which Roschen also had a financial interest?

    Our City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, caved once again to the monied real estate interests instead of being the People’s Attorney. Hypocrite. Mike Feuer ought to be shouting from the rooftops that Trutanich “helped” the Millennium monster stumble into City Hall by ignoring glaring illegalities in allowing the City Planning Commission colleagues of Roschen to vote on the matter. This Commission has opened itself up to a corruption prosecution.

    Oh wait. I forgot. The District Attorney in Los Angeles County no longer investigates any significant corruption matter. Just the little punk cities of Southeast Los Angeles County. Please, pay no attention to Jackie Lacey behind the curtain ignoring this blatant criminal violation. We live in a city and county reeking of criminal corruption of our governmental institutions.

    • anonymous says:

      I’m telling you, the only solution is the one that will never happen–eliminate ALL campaign contributions, PAC ads, etc. Use existing matching funds to cover campaigns (debates, etc). It will only get worse. As it stands, these people are no longer hiding their corruption. They know they can get away with it and they do.

      Can someone please tell me if there is an honest town or state somewhere in the US?

      • LA Moderator says:

        Funny you should mention that…

        The problem with the campaign financing that has us teetering near a waterfall of debt, is that we’re spinning out of control because we’re only trying to row with the Left oar.

        I congratulated the blue t-shirted folks who helped pack the room at LANCC on Saturday…for choosing something besides the usual Red (e.g. UTLA) or Purple (SEIU) as they proposed that LANCC (and our NC’s) consider joining LA City officials in sending a symbolic message to…um, Congress? I don’t think that MOVI’s crew (Money out Voters in) were local unionista’s per se, but merely cast locally to support Proposition C (coming to ballot along with the May runoff).

        What could be wrong with shouting down Citizen’s United?

        Brought to us by California Common Cause, the Local chapter of the national org…(predictably, there’s a Soros connection), I’m not sure how high on the agenda is determining if union dues being used for dominating campaign finance.

        Shall we tag along with “honest towns and States” such as Montana, Colorado, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and elsewhere who have decided to just be wary of the ripple astern from corporate sharks, ingnoring the 800 lb gorrilla in our boat that’s pointing to it?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Don’t hold your breath for Feuer. He is worse than Trutanich. As for Roschen, in any other city, he would have been removed from the Commission due to his conflict of interest. Our Ethics Commission, however, is filled with the Mayor’s cronies.

  20. Wayne from Encino says FIRE ALL RIORDANS Part II says:

    One poster said it best: “We live in a City that has lost its way to corruption.” Carmen Dumbtanich had the best chance in 40 years to turn the tide in the cesspool of corruption at City Hall. Then Kevin James wouldn’t face off against him and RUN FOR CITY ATTORNEY. Kevin EASILY would have been elected City Attorney had he done things the way I told him to do it. Instead, he goes off the air, goes to the quasi-criminal gang of lobbyists, monied interests, and other dummies, and runs for mayor of which he had nearly NO CHANCE OF WINNING. His run for City Attorney vs. the Man he greatly helped get in would have been a genuine push-back of the corruption and SELLING OUT we constantly see in this 2nd largest city of 3 million.
    That’s why the firing of Riordan’s kid was in a way A GREAT FAVOR. This obviously intelligent and caring person for the City now realizes it aint HER city no more–it was sold and sold out to the 75 largest campaign donors and their minions. She’ll spend her time more wisely than trying to reform a broken and corrupt City Government from WITHIN. Jane Usher used to know that too. But when you get a six figure salary, staff, free car, free healthcare, and those large tax-payer free offices, well, surely you can tell the rest of the world to GO TO HELL. And that’s the problem we have with our voting—we vote for Shit and get the same in return.

  21. anonymous says:

    Good points Wayne. She did her best and gave a lot of her time for free and never wanted to seek higher office. It’s quite the irony that she’s a victim of her father’s Charter change. I can’t say the old one was all that good; but the new one definitely needs to change. It gives the mayor too much power. But, even then, as you say, the elected and their staff get these six figure salaries, healthcare, free car, staff set ups and more. Sooner or later something gets lost, starting with their integrity (if they had it to begin with). A person has to be willing to risk losing those perks and pay to do what’s right for the City. I really do not know what will change it because people just keep on voting for the same ol’ and it doesn’t make sense. Maybe they are comfortable with the bad they know. Hell if I know.

  22. MBLA says:

    So even the best intentioned commissioner’s integrety is compromised the day he or she is appointed due to the resignation letter that’s required to be signed on day one. I guess it’s downhill from there.

  23. Anonymous says:

    MBLA–No Commissioner’s integrity is compromised because of the resignation letter. If they had integrity, resignation would be a badge of honor. The fact is they want to be on Commissions for their own self-interest rather than the city’s interests. Most of them are worthless people undeserving of an honorable position.

  24. MBLA says:

    Hi Anonymous–They are required to sign a resignation letter when they are appointed. That letter is on file for the mayor’s office to use when the wish. The commissioners that are presently serving sign an undated resignation letter the day they are appointed and not the day they “resign.” The letter is available for the mayor’s office to use at a moment’s notice and usually for those commissioners that do not do his bidding. The mere action of signing a letter in advance is the compromise. Yes, you are right, for those self serving appointees it is probably a non-issue. However, the few that actually serve because they are foolish enough to think they can make a difference are the ones who compromise their integrity when they sign a letter of resignation before they ever resign.

  25. Wayne from Encino on the undated resignation letter says:

    The last few posts GOT IT 110% CORRECT! Riordan’s kid is a fine human and did what she needed to do—tell THE TRUTH. That, however, in City Hall IS ILLEGAL, thus the date was put on the resignation letter and the boot given! It’s a blessing for Cathy, as she now can spend her time living life rather than being a cog in the machine of rot that makes up The City Hall Machine.

    • a friend says:

      Good call Wayne. Kathy was told they were going to use her undated boiler plate resignation letter (which she told me about years ago). She asked if she could submit her own letter and Bickhart said okay. Nowhere in her a letter does she resign. She just thanked everyone and signed her name. I think it’s at the bottom of that Opposing Views article.
      I know the job was eating her up and she couldn’t and wouldn’t, in good conscience, walk away. She just kept fighting the fight for the animals and the people despite the amoral self serving Bickhart and disgusting dead wood mayor whom we better make sure doesn’t make it past the gubernatorial primaries.
      She still donates to the shelters, the animals and people. She’s that anonymous donor you never hear about. I hope she can learn to spend her time (and money) living life rather than being that cog in the machine of rot (well said). As she put it to the Daily News, she was going to do something to cleanse off the stench of politics–she was going to go “shovel manure.”
      I really don’t think this city can be saved. Once it was considered the trend setter for good. Now it is the trend setter for the demise of a nation.
      And, by the way, I thought about what you wrote regarding Kevin James. I think you are right. He could have won the City Attorney’s race. It would have been nice to see him there. He could have done a good job and, after proving his worth, run for mayor. I wish he followed your advice. Such a loss.

  26. Anonymous says:

    As an animal lover and adopter of several dogs from LA City Shelters, can we have Ms. Riordan be more vocal about the rot in LA & City Shelters. We need her more than ever to not only expose the mismanagement of the shelters but the entire rotten commission system co-opted by this wretched Mayor who thinks he deserves a promotion. Be brave Ms. Riordan and tell us all. We need serious change & we better impress the in-coming Mayor that we mean it.

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