Housing scandal

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The management of the housing agency in Los Angeles is one of the worst examples of bureaucracy at work. Funds that should have been used to provide refuge to our city’s most vulnerable residents were being used to maintain an expensive lifestyle for the agency’s CEO and his close associates.

Rudy Montiel was ousted as CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) because of the excesses that characterized his administration. But even his dismissal was a blemished process. The HACLA Commission awarded Montiel $1.2 million, supposedly to avoid Montiel’s legal claim alleging he was a victim of retaliation for reporting on irregularities by housing board members. What a mess!

Montiel was earning $450,000, in addition to receiving housing and car allowances and 10 weeks of vacation. During his administration, thousands of dollars were spent for lunches and dinners at luxury restaurants for his staff and excessive trips. In addition, travel expenses tripled from 2006 to 2009, increasing from $100,000 per year to $300,000.

And that is not all. In 2010, several public housing residents demonstrated in front of Montiel’s home against his agency’s policies, which triggered retaliatory eviction proceedings of some of the demonstrators.

Montiel is gone. However, it is necessary to look into his severance package and whether it was a move by the commission to buy his silence, as has been implied. This question must be resolved.

On the other hand, we support the thorough investigation Controller Wendy Greuel requested, to expose to the public the excesses of Montiel’s administration that were discovered thanks to media outlets SoCal Connected and the L.A. Times and involve his severance.

The abuse of public functions is sad and outrageous, especially at a time public funds are scarce and the objective is helping the poorest.

All those who appointed Montiel to his position and should have supervised his actions have a duty of transparency. They owe us an explanation.