Through the end of 2011, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) received a thorough spanking from press and politicians alike.

L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel scrambled to play catchup with an Earth-shaking investigation by local news station KCET — revealing swanky dinners, limo rides and overflowing gift baskets at an insulated city department.

And even now that HACLA's top dog has been replaced amid the controversy (for a second freaking time), Greuel refuses to quit. It almost seems HACLA has become her grand finale of a pet project…

… to wow the voters before her big 2013 run for mayor of Los Angeles.

We've had a couple gripes with Greuel's handling of HACLA so far: 1) That she didn't demand all these records a long time ago, and 2) That the probe hasn't gone deeper than the credit-card misuse of senior executives, already outlined by the KCET report.

Now, at least, Greuel is improving on gripe No. 2 by taking her investigation to the heart of the matter: HACLA's mysterious batch of non-profit organizations.

She gives herself a hearty pat on the back in a new press release:

Today, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel revealed that she is requesting financial records and information related to the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles' (HACLA) nonprofit organizations.

In a letter to HACLA's interim President and CEO Doug Guthrie, Greuel indicated that her probe will expand to the enterprise activities run by the Authority that together produce a profit of more than $15 million a year. These activities include rental income for the 2,500 units owned and managed by HACLA's nonprofits as well as the activities of the LOMOD Corporations and their subcontractors, which oversee the administration of HUD contracts.

It was off the top of these hugely profitable “non-profits” that former CEO Rudy Montiel, second-in-command Ken Simmons and their team of pampered employees enjoyed a 1-percenter lifestyle while thousands of Angelenos struggled to make rent.

Most offensively, Simmons — who may not even end up leaving HACLA, in the end — has used the success of HACLA's independent orgs as an excuse for all the extravagant personal expenditures.

As if, because the $400 steak dinners didn't come directly from taxpayer pockets, they were totally legit/deserved. Watch Simmons make that infuriating case to the L.A. City Council:

Not sure why it took so long for Greuel to target these under-the-radar cash cows at a public agency so suspiciously “flush with cash.” But uh, better late than never, right?

[@simone_electra / / @LAWeeklyNews]

LA Weekly