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LA audit: 'Gold Card Desk' dismisses parking tickets

May 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel claims her audit has uncovered a program to dismiss parking tickets without going through the normal procedures.

Most people get a parking ticket and they pay it. But according to Greuel, the L.A. Department of Transportation (DOT) has a so-called "Gold Card Desk" where someone could expedite the investigation of a ticket and maybe not pay.

Greuel says during a two year period the DOT canceled about 1,000 tickets handled through the so-called VIP process. Apparently if someone knew the right people, they could get their tickets fixed.

"We believe there should not be a Gold Card Desk at all," said Greuel.

The city controller found that the DOT wasn't being aggressive enough in collecting money from citations. Gruel says she was stunned to find out the Mayor's Office and City Council had access to a Gold Card Desk, which could reduce citations or cancel them all together.

The DOT says it was designed to help people who had difficulty resolving problems and deny there was any special treatment.

"What it does is provides an avenue for those constituents who have citations that have extenuating circumstances that fall outside of our normal business processing rules," said Robert Andalon from the DOT.

"This isn't a way for public officials to have an upper hand," said DOT Interim General Manager Amir Sedadi. "I assure you. And again as mentioned in the [Request for Bid], if we can eliminate the Gold Card we will. And in the new contract we will not have it."

Gruel says most of the canceled tickets she found had no paper trail to find out who canceled it or why.

"It doesn't matter whether you call the Gold Card Desk or the city Department of Transportation," said Greuel. "There should be a paper trail for any reason why you cancel a ticket."

Belinda Jenkins paid her ticket Thursday and says everyone should be treated the same.

"I think that's absurd because we all need to pay the ticket," said Jenkins. "If you get a ticket you pay it."

The Mayor's Office said that the Gold Card Desk was used, but only with constituents who may have called with problems with their citations. They say it was never used to dismiss the citations.

The DOT is trying to dismiss the program all together.


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