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 IF IT'S BROKEN...FIX IT

Getting Serious about LA’s Sidewalk Repairs: A Five-Point ‘Let’s-Get-On-with-It’ Plan

Ken Alpern
FIXING LA-Last Tuesday night's City Council Board of Public Works and Budget Committees met and allowed a lot of good public input to a series of concerned and available Councilmembers and City officials. The attendance and input were both outstanding--I want to thank Councilmember Mike Bonin, in particular, for allowing the outreach and advice to…

Latino Politicians Putting Climate Change Ahead of Constituents

Joel Kotkin
POLITICS-Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward…

Worlds Apart on Kathryn Steinle: When Political Opportunism Reigns Supreme

John Mirisch
MUSING WITH MIRISCH-The small Swedish Jewish Museum in Stockholm is tucked away on a side street. Discreet signage instructs would-be visitors to push a button which activates a camera, so they can be screened before they are granted entry. The museum's permanent exhibition fills one fairly small room. Most of the objects on display are Jewish…

Garcetti Passes, Wesson Fails

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Our Los Angeles Times has issued midterm letter grades for Controller Ron Galperin (B-) and City Attorney Mike Feuer (B+) and will be posting grades for City Council President Herb Wesson this Sunday and Mayor Eric Garcetti the following Sunday. Our City is facing many difficult issues, ranging from a lagging economy, relatively high…

What LA Really Needs: A Part-time City Council and a Part-time Mayor!

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-There are so many serious and pressing problems facing the City of Los Angeles and few if any real solutions are being proposed or implemented by our elected and appointed leaders at City Hall. I will start with the current city budget. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a $7.7 billion total budget in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.…

Why Don’t the City’s Women Managers Hire More Women?

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN-Perusing the web is a little like the soap operas of yesteryear. You get suckered in! One link leads to another link and then one is exposed to a barrage both facts and idiocy. The reason for this discussion was my attending a July Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) meeting with the Department of Water and Power. General…

Cleaning Up LA City Hall: ‘It’s What’s Legal That’s the Problem’

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-Everyone understands that developers own our city government. Sure, there are some officials here and there who are upright and independent, but recent history shows that the developers typically get their way in spite of public opposition. Whether it is a zoning change for an office tower or the required permits for a new mall,…

Not So Fast LA! Let’s Consider the Real Costs of Hosting the Olympics before We Jump In

Greg Nelson
SPORTS POLITICS-On Monday, Boston withdrew from its offer to be the nation’s bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In January, Los Angeles finished second to Boston when the U.S. Olympic Committee made its decision. After Boston was selected to polish up its bid before submitting it to the International Olympic Committee for a final decision,…

Party Crashing for Political Access: Schwarzenegger and My Pantsuit

Charlotte Laws
CALIFORNIA ACCESS POLITICS-Party crashing—or gate-crashing, as it is sometimes called—is an art form that I stumbled upon as a teen. I taught myself how to finagle into any event, anywhere, anytime. It required being part private eye, part actress and part chutzpah machine. I had to think outside of the box, throw myself into the role, and whip my…

 

Reynolds Rap Video: Joey has hope for the pope in Philly.





Art or Ad? LA’s mural law written in gray ink

Escape the Room-Conan goes for the record … and the laffs


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

LA Coliseum Scandal and Wendy’s Taste for Cash & Carry Accounting

PERSPECTIVE - CACA:  that’s my unofficial abbreviation for what I call cash and carry accounting. It’s the dark flipside of GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

I watched Goodfellas for the umpteenth time the other night.  CACA worked well for the wise guys; maybe for the wise guys who run our city, too.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Coliseum officials paid cash to a representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, usually in straps of $100 notes stuffed in suitcases.  Give the officials credit – at least the cash was not tucked into their waist bands.

These payments, totaling at least $1 million over several years, were to cover wages and benefits for services performed by union members for rave and other events.

Whether the cash was used for the intended purposes may never be known, even with an audit.

The LA Weekly reported some extra details the Times either missed or failed to disclose:  City Controller Wendy Greuel told the Weekly before the facts surfaced that “IATSE clearly followed the rules on so many levels.”

I guess large cash payments must be part of the rules.

I am not suggesting Greuel would condone such a practice. However, by openly stating her trust in an organization that could play a major role in her mayoral campaign without really knowing how it conducts business, she displayed her  lack of judgment and blatant disregard for the public good.

It is fair for us to ask just who Greuel represents.

An article in an IATSE publication quoted an official as saying. “The locals here have worked side-by-side to help elect pro-labor candidates like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Wendy Greuel [LA City Controller-elect and President Pro Tempore of the LA City Council, who has been a strong advocate for the entertainment industry in Los Angeles].”

Knowing the scandal-plagued history of the Coliseum, she should have been auditing payments to the organization and reconciling them back to bank records.  Such an audit would also have involved requesting independent confirmations from the union verifying the receipt and application of all payments.  If the union had failed to provide confirmations, it would have raised a red flag much earlier.

Instead, Greuel has wasted too much of her staff’s time on performance audits, the benefits of which have not been substantiated.

It is apparent that the city condones a culture of corruption.  That alone should dictate an audit strategy that focuses on operations at risk for significant fraud.

But Greuel is a friend of the city’s establishment, so her avoidance of a full-scale attack on fraud should not come as a surprise.

Other elected officials may have to come clean as well.

The Times reported there were no reports of the payment activity provided to the Coliseum’s nine-member board, including County Supervisors Yaroslavsky (a possible candidate for mayor), Ridley-Thomas and Knabe. City Councilman Bernard Parks also sits on the board.

Commission members have the same responsibility as CEOs and boards of directors.  They must insure that there are adequate internal controls in place to identify suspicious activities.  Certainly, a system that permits large cash payments in this day and age would fit the tag of suspicious.

It is time we question the capabilities of officials appointed to commissions.  Experience from serving as an elected official or mayoral appointee does not necessarily constitute the right skill set for managing an operating entity.

Didn’t we learn that lesson from our experience with the DWP?

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village, contributes to CityWatch and can be reached at:  phinnoho@aol.com) –cw

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CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 10
Pub: Feb 3, 2012

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