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Former aide to L.A. mayor also used special ticket review service

July 1, 2011 |  5:46 pm

An aide to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got quick action in September 2009 when he sent an email to a city transportation official, asking that someone review a parking ticket he thought had been unfairly issued to a friend.

The email from Jimmy Blackman -- now chief of staff for City Councilman Dennis Zine -- showed up this week in documents from the Gold Card Desk, which transportation officials set up as a way to handle ticket appeals sought by City Hall officials.

In May, City Controller Wendy Greuel cast a spotlight on the service with an audit, finding that many citations reviewed by the Gold Card Desk lacked supporting evidence and documentation -- a situation she said raised questions about special treatment. The mayor shut the desk down the day after the audit was revealed.

Blackman said Friday that he had never heard of the Gold Card Desk when he messaged the City Hall administrator about his friend’s ticket, hoping she would pass it on for review.

What followed provides a window into how such citations were handled.

After Blackman emailed Rita Robinson on Tuesday, Sept. 15, she responded that the department would "look into this and get back to you."

Five days later, the $50 citation was approved for dismissal through the Gold Card Desk after officials gave a short explanation of why the citation was not valid -- because the parking meter appeared to have been broken.

Some at City Hall have said they acted similarly to Blackman and sent requests for citation reviews to administrators at the transportation department without knowing they would be shuttled through a specialized service.

Greuel has maintained, even though requests for ticket dismissals were also made by a member of her own staff, that she never knew of the Gold Card Desk before conducting her audit and believes that "no one should go around the normal process."

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-- Ari Bloomekatz and Ricardo Lopez

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