Kevin James hammers defunct parking-ticket program
Mayoral hopeful Kevin James on Tuesday called for a criminal probe of a disbanded parking-ticket review program and an expanded audit by his campaign rival, City Controller Wendy Greuel, of tickets that were voided by city officials.
“Every parking ticket that is handed out in the city of Los Angeles has a proper procedure and process written on the back for everyday Angelenos like me and you to fight a parking ticket if it warrants it. But if you are a council member of a favored constituent, a donor, or a friend or relative then you don’t have to do that. You get a gold card and you can call in and they will erase your ticket,” James said, speaking to reporters outside of the city Department of Transportation. “In City Hall, membership has its privileges, obviously.”
James raised the “Gold Card Desk,” which fast-tracked review of parking citations for the mayor, City Council members and others, during a debate Monday night. The practice first came to light in an audit Greuel conducted in 2011, placing James in an awkward position Tuesday as he simultaneously sought to castigate Greuel and repeatedly cited facts her office uncovered in its examination of the program.
The audit reviewed two years of tickets that were dismissed through the Gold Card Desk, finding that 43% of the 1,026 tickets canceled during the time period did not have sufficient documentation to justify the dismissals. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered the desk shut down immediately after the release of Greuel's audit.
“First things first –- Wendy is the one who uncovered and put an end to the Gold Card scandal,” said Greuel spokeswoman Shannon Murphy. “…. Kevin James is grasping at straws here. If he would have actually read the audit and paid attention to Wendy’s audit findings, he would be aware the city attorney was forwarded this more than a year and a half ago.”
On Tuesday, James’ displayed poster-size photos of his mayoral rivals' pictures on credit card-like gold cards. He noted that as a council member, Greuel voted to renew a contract with the company that operated the Gold Card Desk, and that she had received campaign contributions from the firm.
James claimed that Greuel failed to audit tickets processed during the time she served on the City Council, but the audit did cover the last year Greuel served as a lawmaker.
-- Seema Mehta
Photo: Mayoral candidates Kevin James and Eric Garcetti chat at an education policy discussion held on Sunday. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times