L.A. paid fired housing chief $1.2 million when he exited
Records obtained by The Times show that the L.A. housing authority board has quietly agreed to pay Rudolf Montiel, the director it ousted earlier this year, nearly $1.2 million in connection with his dismissal.
News of the agreement, reached in meetings over the last six weeks, sparked swift, sharp criticism of an agency already buffeted by a criminal investigation, probing auditors and allegations that officials have lavishly and improperly spent taxpayer funds intended for the poor on travel and entertainment.
Critics described Montiel's hefty departure package as a symbol of misplaced priorities and poor management at an agency that spends $1 billion a year in state and federal funds.
"How many people can you house for $1.2 million?" asked Larry Gross, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival. "It's outrageous."
Councilman Dennis Zine compared the agreement to pay and retirement-package excesses unearthed in the city of Bell. The "language I would use is not appropriate for publication," he said.
Montiel, 50, was unavailable for comment. His lawyer, Michael Posner, defended the settlement, saying Montiel's contract entitled him to 18 months' pay if terminated. Posner said his client deserved additional compensation because he was fired for telling investigators about wrongdoing.
"There's no doubt that Rudy blew the whistle on several of the commissioners for engaging in inappropriate conduct, and his termination was in retaliation" for going to prosecutors and federal auditors, Posner said.
-- David Zahniser and Jessica Garrison
Photo: Rudolf Montiel in 2007. Credit: Los Angeles Times