By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Glover was incredulous when he got a response back not from Ovrom but from Steinbach, the supervisor who, he says, pooh-poohed his eyewitness complaint in 2005.
When Glover called Ovrom to complain that Steinbach was the person who had ignored him in 2005, Glover tells the Weekly, Ovrom advised him to call the FBI.
Ovrom sees things differently, telling the Weekly that he asked Steinbach about the particulars of the 2005 allegation about the cash-stuffed envelope. "In my conversations with Bob [Steinbach], he took it seriously [in 2005]," Ovrom says. "In point of fact, they pursued it."
Steinbach, a 27-year employee making $176,374 annually, tells the Weekly in a testy response to Glover's allegations, "We conducted an investigation! I'm not going into the details!"
Glover has a reason for questioning whether an investigation was conducted: After he informed his bosses in 2005, nobody ever asked Glover to repeat his whistle-blowing account of the cash-stuffed envelope.
Johnny Yutronich, president of the Municipal Construction Inspectors Association, representing inspectors in five city departments including Building and Safety, says the basic practice has been, "Someone tried to bribe us — they do nothing. That's the way it was, not a big deal. It wasn't high on their list of priorities."
Last month, Steinbach angrily told the Weekly that Glover was "not aware of what details we had," and that all Glover could offer was "an accusation."
But this month, the story from Building and Safety brass has dramatically shifted. On Feb. 8, Building and Safety spokesman David Lara told the L.A. Times that "department officials don't recall such a meeting" with Glover.
And Raymond Chan, who earns about $196,000 annually, wrote on Feb. 6 in an email response to written questions submitted by the Weekly: "Neither Bob Steinbach nor myself is aware of, or has any recollection of a 2005 Greg Glover allegation involving Sam In."
When Chan wrote this, Bob Steinbach had already confirmed to the Weekly that Glover had indeed reported In to his superiors.
There's another troubling problem among the Building and Safety brass: Throughout the time that the now-imprisoned Gonzalez and Germain were being investigated and then found guilty of taking bribes, Steinbach never told Ovrom about the possible problem with In.
When the Weekly asked Ovrom why, Ovrom said, "[Steinbach] just didn't do it."
Steinbach says he didn't report In to Ovrom because he was "reporting the result of the investigation to [Raymond] Chan," the department's second in command.
After the FBI arrested Gonzalez and Germain in April 2011, Ovrom says, he learned that LAPD had investigated In for an unrelated complaint, "but no evidence was ever found of any wrongdoing."
Less than a month later, the department put together what Ovrom calls a "prima facia" case that warranted placing In on administrative leave and probing his past activities.
At least from the outside, it appears that for years, Building and Safety supervisors sat on information against In — then dusted it off when the feds swooped in.
Building and Safety brass never imagined they'd have to publicly defend their practices. But as has been widely reported by Los Angeles media, a private memo written by Ovrom to Mayor Villaraigosa last May was inadvertently sent out to Building and Safety employees by Dave Carter, Ovrom's assistant.
Ovrom's politically embarrassing memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Weekly, explains to Villaraigosa how clever Ovrom was in misdirecting the media so that the public would never know about In.
"As far as we are concerned, [In] has retired and that is all we will ever tell the media," Ovrom wrote to Villaraigosa.
He also noted, of the corruption cases swirling around Gonzalez and Germain: "It is bad enough that these incidents happened. It is perhaps even worse that our supervisors never caught this blatant illegal activity."
Ovrom framed the FBI probe to Villaraigosa in terms of a bothersome PR problem, complaining that the federal investigation had caused him to be "unsuccessful at staying in front of this story."
When the Weekly first spoke with Ovrom late in 2011, he told the paper he was "unhappy" to have been left in the dark by his staff about previous allegations regarding In and another worker, Albert Acosta. (Acosta, a Van Nuys building mechanical inspector, was fired last year after being accused of taking bribes. He could not be reached for comment.)
But more recently, after the Weekly's tense interview with Steinbach, Ovrom said he understood how the department's system of investigating corruption might have left him out of the loop. "When I arrived here, I was not told about any ongoing investigations [regarding] Sam In or Al Acosta. I don't find that particularly unusual. This is a big department and there are always going to be some accusations. ... They would not get to me until they had reached a certain level of confirmation."
Building inspectors and Yutronich told the Weekly that under previous General Manager Andrew Adelman, the push was to complete building inspections as quickly as possible — even at the expense of supervision.
Adelman was a player in Villaraigosa's effort to, as the mayor has repeatedly stated, "make the official bird of Los Angeles the construction crane." But standard accountability practices — like supervisors riding with inspectors, following behind them or meeting them at their last scheduled stop — deteriorated, inspectors and Ovrom say.
This is how incompetent our public official are. They just want the high salary but does nothing. We just pay people to retire with no work needed.
BUD OVROM IS STILL FOOLING THE PUBLIC. NOTICE IN THE FOLLOWING LIST, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE RESIDENT ON ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE COMMUNITY'S QUALITY OF LIFE. IT IS TIME HE IS FORCED TO RETIRE.
From: Bud Ovrom [mailto:LADBS.Newsletter@lacity.org] Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 2:59 PM
Subject: Good News from LADBS!
Listening to our Customers
Development Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) Deputy Mayor, Matt Karatz, at DIAC meeting. During the development reform strategic planning phase, the Mayor established the Development Reform Advisory Committee (DRAC) in order to provide direct industry input to the process. To ensure on-going private sector involvement after the strategic plan was adopted, the Mayor directed that the City formally continue DRAC’s mission via the formation of the Development Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC).The Committee consists of 12 members who are carefully selected to represent small and large developers, commercial and residential builders, architects, engineers, transportation specialists, land use lawyers and consultants.DIAC meets once a month to provide private sector input on development-related issues and serves as a sounding board for process improvement proposals.The current members of DIAC are:•Daniel Gryczman, Chair – Regent Properties•Allyn Rifkin –Rifkin Transportation Planning Group•Ann Sewill – Community Foundation Land Trust•Arpy Hatzikian – Gensler Architects•Arturo Sneider – Primestor Development Inc.•Cindy Starrett – Latham & Watkins•Chris Joseph – CAJA Environmental Services•Renata Simril – Jones Lang LaSalle•Rick Davis – KPFF Engineering•Shawn Evenhaim – California Home Builders•Tina Choi – Englander Knabe & Allen•Veronica Becerra – RA Build Commercial LLCIf you would like to bring any suggestions or criticisms directly to DIAC, you are encouraged to contact the Committee Chairperson at:dgryczman@regentproperties.....
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