In stories posted within minutes of each other, one top deputy to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says the office, including the mayor, approved the $1.2 million settlement offer to former Housing Authority chief Rudolf Montiel — and another Villaraigosa spokesperson said they knew nothing about it. The picture began to get murky on Tuesday, when the L.A. Times reported:
Deputy Mayor Sarah Sheahan said the mayor, now on a trade mission to Asia, was unaware of the settlement and severance package provided to Rudolf Montiel until Friday, after The Times began inquiring about it...
Early this evening, KCET's SoCal Connected posted this contradicting Sheahan:
"The mayor was absolutely aware and authorized the settlement in this matter," [deputy chief of staff Matt] Szabo told SoCal Connected. "Although he may not have been briefed on every detail of the settlement, he certainly authorized and encouraged the chairman of the board to move forward with the settlement so that the agency could end an unfortunate chapter and move forward."
Subsequently, the Times asked the chairman of the Housing Authority board, an appointee of Villaraigosa who says the mayor's office certainly knew.
On Thursday, the housing board's new president, Mitch Kamin, offered his own statement, saying "the mayor's staff was advised of the proposed terms."
"The mayor, when he appointed me to this position, asked me to move this agency forward and oversee a turnaround," Kamin said. "The settlement was part of that, and the mayor's staff was advised before the settlement was finalized. And I know we have his full support for the settlement decision."
Sheahan insisted there was no contradiction between her statement and Kamin's.
"The commission made our staff aware they were working towards a settlement. But we were not consulted about the settlement. We didn't know the final dollar figure. We weren't involved in the final details," she said.