@THE GUSS REPORT-Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin finally woke up from the slumber he has been in during his first term in office regarding alleged LAFD fire inspector fraud, a subject about which he and Mayor Eric Garcetti have long since known, but failed to remedy. Or even address.
It was here on CityWatch where the alleged fraud was first exposed in 2016, followed by stories in the LA Weekly by Hillel Aron and then on KCBS by David Goldstein. The LA Times has yet to correct its fallacious story on Deputy Fire Chief and fraud whistleblower John Vidovich.
While there is proof that Galperin’s office is finally poking around the edges of the story, you wouldn’t know it by speaking with anyone there.
Deborah Hong, Galperin’s Assistant Deputy of Communications, a week ago denied knowledge of an investigation. Then, late last week, she said “our office’s policy is to neither confirm nor deny whether we are investigating.”
But when asked why that rule didn’t apply to Galperin’s abundance of public appearances on radio and television during his investigation of the $40 million that disappeared within two LADWP non-profits, Hong said that she wasn’t with Galperin at the time and didn’t know the answer.
Instead, she referred me to Ted Rohrlich, Galperin’s Deputy Controller, Policy and Internal Affairs.
Rohrlich, too, sidestepped the issue of LAFD fraud, the LADWP, LA Animal Services and other cases where the rule didn’t apply.
The other questions which Galperin’s office refused to address are as follows:
- Why is the Controller’s office investigating the LAFD now, even though there is documentation that they have long since known about the fraud allegations?
- Did Galperin’s delay have anything to do with the $350,000 that the firefighter’s national union donated to local incumbents up for re-election?
- Did the delay have anything to do with LAFD firefighter trainees being allowed – for the first time – to vote in union leadership elections?
- Does Galperin acknowledge that his failure to proactively pursue a fraud investigation, and make referrals of any wrongdoers to District Attorney Jackie Lacey for prosecution, resulted in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed last week in which several of the plaintiffs were fire inspectors implicated by Vidovich?
According to FireLawBlog.com:
“The suit was filed yesterday in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Battalion Chief Jerome Boyd, Captain Gary Carpenter, Captain Andre Johnson, Captain David Riles, Inspector Aaron Walker and Inspector Glenn Martinez. The complaint describes Chief Boyd, Captain Carpenter, Captain Johnson, David Riles, and Inspector Walker as African American and Inspector Martinez as Hispanic.”
Martinez and Walker are two of the inspectors identified as fraudsters by Vidovich, who is a co-defendant in the lawsuit along with LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas, Assistant Chief Kwame Cooper and the City of Los Angeles, which is sure to cost the taxpayers a fortune to defend.
In what may be the ultimate irony, the lawsuit alleges that the LAFD is an “all-white boys club.” Terrazas is Latino and Cooper is black.
Instead of a good, proactive performance as City Controller, Galperin now has the City of Los Angeles playing defense.
An even bigger breach of civic duty might have been committed by the LA Times, which does not appear to have reported on the discrimination lawsuit or Galperin’s investigation at all, based on a cursory search of its website.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a contributor to CityWatch, Huffington Post, KFI AM-640 and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.