When Rudy Montiel, former CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, was fired last year, it appeared the agency's Board of Commissioners was finally holding him responsible for years of lavish spending.
But Montiel's lawyer tells the Los Angeles Times today that "Rudy blew the whistle on several of the commissioners for engaging in inappropriate conduct, and his termination was in retaliation." So Montiel sued, and was recently paid $1.2 million in settlement.
Jesus. Is there anyone left at HACLA who hasn't leeched of L.A.'s poor?
KCET revealed in March that Montiel had been throwing around the company card at $400 dinners and personal shopping sprees. And a new SoCal Connected segment last Friday showed that Montiel's executive staff -- all still employed -- were guilty of the same.
The LA Daily News warned in March that the newly terminated Montiel's contract "included a provision that he receive 18 months worth of benefits if he was fired."
That would have been $405,000. Tack on the "wrongful termination" and "whistle-blowing retaliation" settlements, and you've got a Robert Rizzo-worthy $1.2 million Christmas gift for the man who apparently instigated this wide-reaching culture of corruption at an agency who could have housed thousands for that incredible sum.
Mitchell Kamin, new president of the board, tells the Times that there's nothing HACLA can do about the insane provisions that somehow ended up in Montiel's contract, and everyone should just move on.
The commissioners who approved the settlement (all appointed by the office of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) are Kamin, Lucelia Hooper, Alicia Maldonado, Daisy Lopez, Dennis Hernandez, Kimberly Freeman and Margarita C. Garr.
Of those, Garr, Hooper and Maldonado were on the board when Montiel was fired. Props for firing him, of course -- but if Montiel's departing allegations held any weight, which the scared new million-dollar settlement would imply, commissioners' spending reports might not be any cleaner than the HACLA norm.
City Controller Wendy Greuel is trying her best to hold them accountable, reports the Times:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Greuel said she believed that the questionable expenses found by her auditors are "the tip of the iceberg" and that the agency's spending is marked by "multiple irregularities." She said authority officials have been hostile toward her inquires thus far, adding that a more comprehensive audit is needed.
In addition, a Deputy District Attorney for Steve Cooley's office says, "We're looking at multiple commissioners on conflict-of-interest issues and double-dipping issues."
Sounds more like a job for a fearless journalist without City Hall ties. Ahem, Laurel Erickson.