County tax assessor John Noguez is the target of a major investigation by the DA's office into shady tax deals, and has been urged to resign by District Attorney Steve Cooley himself. At least one journalist tried to warn Los Angeles County voters people before they elected Noguez in 2010. That was Jeffrey Anderson, who was reporting on corruption in the unwatched southeast cities long before the LA Times rediscovered Bell and went on to win a Pulitzer. By 2010 Anderson had left CityBeat and the LA Weekly and did his story for the Washington Times.
As corruption charges have spilled out of the Los Angeles-area suburbs of Bell and Vernon, nearby Huntington Park has exhibited similar warning signs of financial mismanagement while largely flying below the radar.
Now, the city’s mayor is seeking to become the next executive in charge of the nation’s largest agency for establishing property tax rates....
Incorporated in 1906, Huntington Park bears a striking resemblance to Bell and Vernon: Its annual median household income is less than $39,000, but its property tax rate ranks sixth highest in Los Angeles County; council members have awarded themselves lavish fees on top of their usual salaries for sitting on an obscure community development commission; salaries and pensions are breaking the back of the city’s finances; and some city officials appear to be grossly overpaid. (Last year, Huntington Park paid its unelected city attorney close to $700,000.)
However, another form of municipal corruption with public safety implications also may have taken root, and the recent history of the Huntington Park Police Department is further complicated by the high salaries and pensions of officers that are straining the city’s coffers....
Former city employees say Huntington Park Mayor John R. Noguez, a candidate for Los Angeles County assessor on Tuesday, has played a key role in allowing this to happen. Mr. Noguez also is the leader of a cabal of elected officials who may have interfered in the hiring, firing and retention of police for political reasons, said former Police Chief Randy Narramore, who was fired in 2004.
In a recent interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Narramore said Mr. Noguez and his allies may have targeted him in part because his detectives were investigating some of the mayor’s most influential political donors.