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County supervisors criticized for use of chauffeurs

August 22, 2012 |  7:19 pm

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas  Patrick T. Fallon--Los Angeles Times
One of the proudest achievements touted by Los Angeles County supervisors is that thrifty decisions have helped the bureaucracy avoid layoffs and major cuts in service. But some say the frugality hasn't extended to the board members' own perks. 

Eric Preven, a Studio City resident and frequent board antagonist, used the California Public Records Act to obtain records showing the supervisors spent thousands of taxpayer dollars for chauffeurs and Lincoln Town Cars while traveling on county business. 

On a four-day trip to Washington, D.C., in June, the tab for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas came to $2,069, and $1,733 for Supervisor Mike Antonovich. On another Washington trip in May, the only supervisor who made the journey and did not use the chauffeur service was Zev Yaroslavsky, who relied on cabs, the Metro subway and walking. Supervisor Gloria Molina was not on the trip. 

Spokespeople for Ridley-Thomas and Antonovich declined to discuss the reasoning for using the car services and referred questions to Assistant Chief Executive Ryan Alsop. 

Alsop emphasized that the supervisors had busy schedules with back to back meetings and that there was rainy weather for a portion of their visit. "You don't want to be late for a meeting with some of the important lawmakers they have to see," he said. 

"Ever heard of a taxi or the Metro?" Preven asked.   

Supervisors Antonovich, Don Knabe and Ridley-Thomas have also received criticism for employing staff chauffeurs in Los Angeles. The Times reported in 2010 that Knabe's driver earned $90,000 a year. 

-- Garrett Therolf  

Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark-Ridley-Thomas, pictured here at a meeting last year, spent $2,069 on a chauffeured Lincoln Town Car during a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. Credit: Patrick T. Fallon / Los Angeles Times