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Audit finds city vehicles used improperly

January 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick believes some employees are abusing their right to take city vehicles home from work. Chick released the results of her audit Thursday.The city of Los Angeles spends about $10 million a year on take-home cars. The question: Are they sometimes being used for personal business?

"This is the most stunning example of how the city does its business in an un-businesslike way," said L.A. City Controller Laura Chick.

Chick says some people who have city cars shouldn't, and some use them to run errands on their way to and from work.

Controller Chick says some of the worst offenders are those who have city gas cards. She says they're only supposed to be used for emergencies, but the city really has no way to monitor them, and some cards are used as much as 20 times in a single day.

"This is what over 200 city employees need to do now," said Chick.

In a separate issue, the Los Angeles Police Department has increased its take-home cars 40 percent in the last five years. In the last month the LAPD began calling back some of those vehicles.

"I'm very comfortable that those people who are assigned take-home vehicles have significant enough responsibilities to justify that expense," said LAPD Chief William Bratton.

"Each department has requirements and they should follow those," said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge. "They should pay attention to the controller's message there. But having a mobile force, having take-home cars is important for a city of our size."

But Chick says the city has a surplus of cars, dozens that are rarely used, and yet there is money set aside to buy even more cars.

"We should be asking ourselves, 'What's the rationale for giving gas-guzzling or non-gas-guzzling cars to city employees and have the public paying for those employees to go to and from work?'" asked Chick.


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