Ridley-Thomas withdraws renovations request

LOS ANGELES The plan had been for a pricey remodel, $707,000 to upgrade the offices of L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and his staff. He said the expense was justified earlier this month.

Conditions have not changed in the office. But the politics have.

Supervisor Don Knabe, in a written statement, referred to calls and messages of outrage from constituents.

"Everyone at every level of business, government, and individual households have had to make tough choices ... cutting out those things that aren't necessary," said Knabe in the statement.

Knabe said he wanted to rescind his approval of the project. But in the end, he didn't have to. Ridley-Thomas himself decided to send the project back to the L.A. County chief executive officer to examine the numbers.

The board agreed unanimously, but would not talk on camera afterward about the vote.

So what happens to the office now?

In a statement, Ridley-Thomas affirmed his intentions for an independent review to re-evaluate the renovation. He said the CEO will review the condition of the workspace including building code violations, other safety concerns and energy efficiency.

Eyewitness News contacted the Internal Services Department, which submitted the estimate. A spokesman says by law the county must follow prevailing-wage laws. It may be difficult to cut costs.

Another option being discussed in private: that Ridley-Thomas divide one big renovation into several smaller ones.

Capital improvements under $100,000 out of his own discretionary fund would not require board approval. The office would not be such a target.

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