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City Controller Dodges Records Request From Investigative Reporter Who Exposed Tax Assessor Scandal

Posted: 07/09/2012 3:24 pm

What is the City of L.A.'s chief accountant hiding?

Randy Economy, an investigative reporter at the Los Cerritos Community News ("LACCN"), is making quite a name for himself for exposing the mega multi-million-dollar County Tax Assessor scandal that has already landed one appraiser in jail facing 60 felony counts with numerous other officials likely to follow. As a result of Economy's work, County Tax Assessor John Noguez was forced by public pressure to take a leave of absence while the criminal investigation of his office continues.

L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley told Economy that the tax assessor scandal "is the biggest in his 40 years as a prosecutor."

After breaking the story months ago, Economy has been hot on the trail of numerous emails linking public officials to the growing scandal that the L.A. Times says has increased to multiple targets and will result in grand jury indictments in the near future. Economy has become an expert at using the State's Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250) to request and obtain the records that are at the center of this rapidly-expanding investigation. The investigation has already revealed hundreds of millions of dollars in unlawfully lowered property values from potentially hundreds of properties located in and around the City of Los Angeles.

In order to continue his probe, on June 11, 2012 (four weeks ago), Economy sent a Public Records Act request to Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel seeking the calendars and agendas of the Controller. According to Economy, his records request has been completely ignored by the Controller -- even though state law requires the Controller to respond. Economy said, "Controller Greuel's office has ignored my records request and my attempts to follow up in search of a response." Economy added, "I am interested in seeing if the City Controller, who is the City's chief auditor and accountant, met with any of the key players in this investigation and I also want to know if Controller Greuel participated in any meetings relating to any of the key properties that are now at the center of this scandal." Economy reiterated that "County officials also ignored my requests at the beginning of my search, but good government requires a response by the Controller and production of the documents."

The public is entitled to a timely response by Controller Greuel. The fact that a full month has passed and LACCN's records request has not even been acknowledged by the Controller is inexcusable. The Controller's website states that one of her missions is to be "the taxpayer's watchdog" and she regularly touts "transparency" and "accountability."

How can Controller Greuel claim to be the taxpayer's watchdog and carry on about transparency and accountability when she is unwilling to follow state law that requires her to respond to investigative reporter Economy's records request and to turn over the responsive documents?

Economy has already proven that he will not back down. If Controller Greuel has any doubt about Economy's commitment to exposing this corruption by public officials she can ask her friend, former Tax Assessor John Noguez, to whom she provided a "key endorsement" in 2010 and from whom she has received campaign contributions dating back to 2007 and 2008.

 
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