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Gov.-elect Brown to abolish Chick's Inspector General office

December 20, 2010 |  1:11 pm

One of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown’s first official acts will be eliminating the state office of Inspector General, the position held by former Los Angeles Controller Laura Chick, who has been responsible for overseeing more than $50 billion in federal stimulus money sent to California.

In a statement announcing the elimination of her office Monday afternoon, Chick wrote: “The governor-elect faces an extremely difficult job in grappling with the severity of the state budget crisis … I wish him the very best during the months ahead.”

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created the office and appointed Chick in April 2009, he promoted it as the first state agency in the nation devoted to making sure the federal funds would be used with “accountability and transparency.”

Schwarzenegger proposed making the $2.8-million office permanent in this year’s budget, but legislators rejected the notion. They put the money into the governor’s office budget. Brown apparently decided to use it for another purpose.

Brown’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chick entered public office in 1993, unseating an incumbent city councilwoman to represent a district in the San Fernando Valley. Eight years later, she was elected controller, turning that office into a political powerhouse that criticized the contracting decisions of then-Mayor James K. Hahn. Chick's audits of the airport, harbor and Department of Water and Power eroded Hahn's standing, dealing with topics that were the subject of state and federal corruption probes.

Chick became a kind of celebrity in Los Angeles, not just for her dogged efforts to root out governmental waste but also for her insistence on doing it with public fanfare. One of her last audits exposed a backlog of untested DNA rape kits at the Los Angeles Police Department.

-- Jack Dolan in Sacramento