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Villaraigosa and City Council 'asleep at the switch,' Greuel says

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa walks on Capitol Hill in Washington early this month to a news conference to call for quick passage of the surface transportation bill in the Senate. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / A.P. Photo

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel on Thursday accused Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council of being "asleep at the switch" when it comes to monitoring fuel usage by city employees.

Greuel made the remark at a news conference where she released an audit showing that more than $7 million in gasoline and other fuel has gone missing from the city in recent years. According to the audit, millions of gallons of fuel were pumped at dozens of city fueling sites without any record of where the fuel went, despite a $12-million tracking system put in place more than a decade ago.

Every fuel transaciton is supposed to be tracked, either manually or electronically. But there are ways to bypass those systems. Bypass mechanisms are supposed to be used only when normal systems fail. But auditors found they were used to dispense millions of gallons of fuel over a 22-month period beginning in 2009.

In the best case scenario, Greuel said, the discrepancies noted in the audit were simply the result of user error. But in the worst case, she said, "it's theft."

Greuel said she has turned over the audit to the city attorney's office for further investigation. And she called on city leaders to hold a hearing on how to fix the problems.

A spokesman for Villaraigosa did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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-- Kate Linthicum at Los Angeles City Hall

Twitter.com/katelinthicum

Photo: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa walks on Capitol Hill in Washington early this month to a news conference to call for quick passage of the surface transportation bill in the Senate. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / A.P. Photo

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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