The mayor also wants an independent consultant brought in to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the L.A. Department of Transportation, which has come under fire on several fronts. The review will be engaged by City Controller Wendy Greuel, whose audit of the parking program turned up the little-known "Gold Card" service that gives constituents a kind of fast track alternative in appealing citations. From Villaraigosa's letter:
Various issues over the past few weeks point to glaring weaknesses at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Details in the current and pending audits by the controller, as well as a review by my office, indicate that there are systemic management weaknesses at LADOT that must be addressed. We are well beyond the point of isolated incidents or a coincidence of events.
Timing of the letter is interesting, given that Villaraigosa is engaged in a pissing contest with Greuel about the Gold Card service. After the audit was announced, the mayor's office suggested that Greuel's office had used the service while she was on the City Council - even though she expressed surprise that the program was even in existence. That Greuel plans to run for mayor - and has taken a few shots at Villaraigosa as of late - makes it more interesting. From the LAT:
Greuel's field staff was also given a PowerPoint presentation in 2008 in which "the Gold Card Desk was specifically identified and discussed," according to an email from the mayor's office. "As chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee then-Councilmember Greuel was briefed on all aspects of the department's operations and was fully aware of the Gold Card Desk," said the email from Villaraigosa's office. "For example, in 2007 and 2008, LADOT staff briefed the Mayor's and City Council field offices about the parking citation process as well as the adjudication process so that they provided better service to our constituents."
The Times story notes that many at City Hall defended the program as a constituent service comparable to asking for graffiti removal. Seems there's a lot more to learn about what the program was all about.