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City Attorney Sues City Controller Over Transparency

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The funny thing is, its City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo that is trying to stop accountability and transparency. He is suing to halt City Controller Laura Chick from auditing his office over how the city settles workers compensation cases, something that costs millions with lots of outside legal counsel hired.

"It was something that hadn't been looked at before," the City Controller told LAist. The City Controller not only audits money, but also audits programs to find if things could be run better and more efficiently. The City Charter, voted upon by the citizens in 1999, allows the elected City Controller to "exercise a general supervision over the accounts of all offices, departments, boards and employees of the city charged in any manner with the receipt, collection or disbursement of the money of the city."

Pretty plain and simple, right? But Delgadillo has a different opinion on the matter, even without the support of the written law. He thinks that if politicians (the City Controller is elected too) start auditing each other, there could be an abuse of power for political purposes. Problem is, only the City Controller has the power to do that, not other elected officials.

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This all started last summer and the two were headed to court at the taxpayers' expense before the City Council stepped in saying they would put the issue of clarifying audit powers on the March 3rd ballot so the people could vote on it. But when came before City Council to vote on what initiatives should go on the ballot, the council voted it down with the naysayers worried that they too would be audited. It is now too late to put any item on the March ballot.

Disappointed, Chick picked up where she left off and subpoenaed workers comp documents from the City Attorney's Office last week which led to today's suit filed by Delgadillo.

"When someone fights so hard to evade scrutiny that makes me want to go in and look even more," Chick said in a statement today. "Mr. Delgadillo and the City Council do not want greater transparency and accountability."

Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Dennis Zine, Bill Rosendahl and Wendy Gruel, who is running for City Controller in March, all voted to side with Chick. But there needed to be more "yes" votes, which did not happen. Councilman Jack Weiss, who is running for City Attorney in March, was absent during the vote.

Photo of Rocky Delgadillo by Tom Andrews/LAist