Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Wendy Watch: Issue 1: Incompetency, Complacency or Political Expediency?

Dear Friends,

We’d like to welcome you to "Wendy Watch," an informative blog highlighting and fact checking the creative "public service announcements" coming from the incredible spin machine over at Camp Greuel, as well as her official city press operation paid for by the taxpayers. 

Today, we’d like to offer some insightful analysis on Wendy’s latest "audit." We pose some questions we believe Wendy should answer, and we hope you'll ask. 

Looking forward to talking with you along the campaign trail as we fight the broken status quo and work together to deliver real change to LA,

Happy reading,

Jeff Corless

Campaign Manager
James for Mayor

 Yesterday, City Controller Wendy Greuel announced via Twitter that her office discovered through an audit (click here for her release) covering the period of July 2009 through October 2011 that city employees were paid for non-reimbursable commuting mileage, amounting to as much as $35,000 per year. A sum she broadcasts as more than $325,000 in over payments total. As usual, Wendy’s math doesn’t seem to add up, but we’ll let her explain that.
Over-compensation of mileage to city employees has been an ongoing issue for more than nine years.  Wendy has waited nearly a decade into her career at city hall before taking action only publishing an audit roughly 75 days out from the election while she's campaigning for Mayor. Several questions are apparent:
  • First, if this is an ongoing problem at city hall why is she just now conducting an audit? Is it incompetency, complacency or political expediency? 
  • Second, according to the Controller’s own audit report the city spends roughly $4.7 million in mileage reimbursements per year. Totaling $14.1 million in the three years Wendy has been in office. Isn’t that a larger issue to address? Especially with a $222 million budget gap at city hall?
  • Lastly, why does the audit only barely cover the time that Wendy has been the Controller; July 1, 2009- Present? Could it be she doesn’t want to put a spot light on her own record of failed leadership as a Council Member when she has never taken action toward fiscal responsibility?
According to the City Charter, the Controller is the chief auditor and general accountant of the city. It is the Controller's responsibility to supervise the accounts of all offices, departments, boards and employees of the city who collect or disburse taxpayer money.
It’s easy to find proof of Wendy’s inefficiencies. Below are just a few examples, starting with the most recent:
  • In April 2012, Council Members questioned Greuel's ability to conduct her own audit of Fire Department response times by voting to commission an outside audit of the response times, and stated that "there is a limit to fire and emergency services expertise in the controller's office."
  • In February 2012, the Los Angeles Times called out Greuel, along with other officials, for doing a "poor job" at "recouping about a half a billion dollars that [the City] is owed," pointing out that these same officials ignored the recommendations of their own Commission on Revenue Efficiency they created to find ways to improve debt collection.
  • In May 2011, Controller Greuel released an audit on the city's "Gold Card Desk" where city politicians and their staffs improperly obtained dismissals of over 1,000 parking tickets. Greuel claimed she was unaware of the Gold Card Desk. However, according to Mayor Villaraigosa’s spokesman "As chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee then-Council Member Greuel was briefed on all aspects of the department's operations and was fully aware of the Gold Card Desk.”
Now Wendy Greuel, who has failed as the city's chief auditor and general accountant, wants to be Mayor,” said mayoral candidate and former U.S. attorney Kevin James. “Los Angeles residents are living under the cloud of a declared fiscal emergency, which threatens critical city services and a potential city bankruptcy. The voters should take the Controller's record into account when electing their next Mayor this March.”
Wendy Greuel has a record of incompetency as the City Controller dating back to 2009,” said James’ spokesman Jeff Corless. “In a March 20, 2012 article by LA’s former First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, he stated, ‘The Controller's job is to investigate and publicly report problems with city departments. Yet not one of her 49 audits has been a performance audit of the fire department. Public safety doesn't even make her top 50.’ How can the people of Los Angeles trust Wendy Greuel to fix the city’s finances and protect the public when she has been incapable of doing so for the last ten years? Simple answer: they can’t.”