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Who is Jack Chiang?

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On Monday, not many people in Los Angeles knew the name Jack Chiang, a city planner overseeing a project in Valley Village. Then on Tuesday, The Daily News published the Department of Planning staffer's name. Come Wednesday, the LA Times caught on. Why all the sudden popularity? Sometimes when you pick up the phone and dial a number, you call the wrong person and leave a message.

A Los Angeles City Council panel voted Tuesday in favor of a proposed 78-unit condominium project, despite hearing a recording of a Planning Department employee attempting to leave the developer a phone message that his project would be approved "no matter what." Van Nuys resident Marcelle Duncan told council members that Jack Chiang, a Planning Department staffer, mistakenly left the message weeks ago on her answering machine, thinking he had reached the developer of the project planned for Magnolia Boulevard.

In the call, Chiang asked for developer Gary Schaffel and discussed Duncan's effort to challenge the project.

"You will have the council office's support and our support," he said on the tape. "You'll win the appeal no matter what, OK?"

While the planning department says the tape should not influence the council's decision (and obviously it didn't), Chiang has been taken off the project and his mistakes are being used to teach other employees to learn how to dial the correct number a code of conduct.

In a nice little public relations move, the City Attorney's office told the Daily News "the call was made after the city Planning Commission decided to allow the 78-unit proposed development." The commission is made up of appointed community members and their decisions are recommendations to the city council, but are not final. Therefore, the call was still made before Tuesday's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee where final decisions really count.

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And yes, that's the same City Attorney's office where City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo was caught driving without insurance, used city staff to pick up kids and do chores on city hours, didn't pay his electric and water bills, let his wife drive a city issued car, have her bang up that car, not report that bang and various other fun mishaps including claiming to play pro football by mistake (Los Angeles Magazine has a lovely Rocky list on page 156 this month).

On second thought, John Chiang is looking like a saint again.

Photo by Mister-E via Flickr