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Special handling of some parking tickets under scrutiny at L.A. City Hall

May 19, 2011 |  6:26 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef01310f95455e970c-600wi

A special program that allows the mayor and City Council members to expedite constituent appeals of parking citations -- and possibly have fines reduced or eliminated -- is coming under fire from Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel. 

In an audit to be released today, Greuel is expected to provide details on an exclusive "Gold Card Desk" that operates under the auspices of the Department of Transportation. The desk has been responsible for dismissing approximately 1,000 tickets during a two-year period covered by the new audit, Greuel told The Times.

"It's unclear to us exactly what percentage were done for reasons they could justify ... there really weren't clear policies," said Greuel, who is a possible mayoral candidate. She said she first learned of the program's existence during the audit.

It was not immediately clear which officials' offices had used the service. Greuel said she had not during her time on the City Council.

Councilman Dennis Zine said he had heard of the service but had not used it. He said he understood that the special citation desk offered officials a way to expedite investigations of tickets for constituents who had lodged complaints.

"If we can establish or reduce fines, that's news to me," he said, adding, "I don't know how appropriate that would be."

The new audit is the second in a series of three focusing on the city Transportation Department. The first audit, released in April, found that the department had missed out on up to $15 million in revenues because it had gone easy on chronic scofflaws who rack up multiple unpaid parking tickets.

Thursday's report will also show how lax oversight and poor policies "led to tremendous missed revenue opportunities," according to a Greuel news release. She says the department failed to "investigate or follow-up in a timely manner on contested citations."

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Parking meters in Los Angeles. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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