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L.A. city controller subpoenas 'Gold Card' ticket service records

June 1, 2011 |  5:27 pm

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel issued a subpoena Wednesday demanding documents related to the workings of a "Gold Card" parking ticket review service, saying the L.A. Department of Transportation had failed to provide immediate and full access to records.

The obscure service, which was known to few outside city government, was highlighted last month in one of Greuel’s audits of the transportation department. The service was shut down the next day. The Gold Card Desk, as it was known, had been set up about 15 years ago and allowed the mayor and other elected officials to fast-track constituent appeals of parking citations. Some had fines reduced or eliminated.

Transportation officials said in a statement that they have been "and will continue to fully cooperate with the Controller's Office."

Greuel’s audit found that 1,000 tickets had been dismissed -- some without justification -- through the service over a two-year period. She raised the specter that some people may have received special treatment, partly because there seemed to be little documentation regarding the reviews.

The transportation agency and some other City Hall officials said the service was simply another way for constituents to request services, comparable to graffiti removal.

Still, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa quickly ordered the Gold Card Desk closed, saying that even the appearance of preferential treatment was unacceptable.

Greuel’s office said Wednesday that it had been in discussions with the transportation department for about a week, trying to figure out how best to get auditors full and immediate access to documents relating to the Gold Card Desk. Specifically, they wanted records on the 1,000 ticket dismissals.

Greuel said that during those conversations the department's "actions raised some concerns about immediate access" and that her intention was "to provide transparency" about the dismissed tickets.

Officials in the controller’s office said they had been given access to some documents, but believe those represent only a small fraction of the records tied to the Gold Card Desk operations.

Greuel said that after the subpoena was delivered Wednesday,  auditors were granted access to files held by the transportation department's ticket-processing contractor, Affiliated Computer Services.

-- Ari Bloomekatz