Southern California breaking news and trends

Parks employee charged with theft at recreation center

Recreation and Parks logo

The director of a Recreation and Parks center was charged with grand theft and misappropriation of public funds for allegedly stealing $17,000.

A longtime city employee is facing charges of grand theft and misappropriation of public funds for allegedly stealing $17,000 from young athletes and campers who used a Recreation and Parks center.

Carol Brandt was placed on leave in May 2011 after the Controller’s Office turned over evidence of the alleged crimes to the District Attorney. Brandt was the director of the Montecito Heights Recreation Center. She is accused of misappropriating cash payments from adult basketball teams, a soccer team, day campers and the recreation center’s snack bar. 

“It just is unfathomable to me for any city employee to misuse the public’s trust and steal money," Controller Wendy Greuel told KPCC. "What makes it even worse is they were taking this money from children’s lunch money. Just is unbelievable to me.”


Three high-profile Angelenos back Wendy Greuel for mayor

Courtesy Wendy Greuel

Controller Wendy Greuel's mayoral bid is backed by former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg, labor leader Dolores Huerta and John Mack, formerly of the Los Angeles Urban League.

Controller Wendy Greuel is a leading candidate to be the next mayor of Los Angeles and on Wednesday she announced the endorsements of three prominent Angelenos, which she hopes will show her support in three key communities.

Supporters of the controller's mayoral bid include former assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg, labor icon Dolores Huerta and John Mack, the former president of the Los Angeles Urban League and a member of the Police Commission.

The Greuel camp is hoping the endorsements reflect support in the San Fernando Valley, African-American and labor communities.

"Wendy Greuel’s authenticity, her passion and drive for excellence in city government, coupled with her proven ability to deliver tangible results for the residents of LA are why I’m pleased to give her my enthusiastic endorsement," Hertzberg said in a press release from the campaign.


Audit: Los Angeles officials don't know how many parking lots are in the city (updated)

Los Angeles City Hall

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

An audit from Controller Wendy Greuel finds the city is unable to track the true inventory of parking lots in Los Angeles.

The City of Los Angeles receives $85 million a year in taxes from parking lot operators, but an audit released today finds the city could be entitled to more funds if it knew how many parking lots actually exist.

The audit from Controller Wendy Greuel identifies 1,900 parking lots in the city. However, officials are unable to say if that is a complete inventory. The Office of Finance contracts with a company called The Parking Network to track unreported parking lots or lot operators who are not paying their fair share of the parking occupancy tax.

“One of my greatest concerns for the city is the uncollected debt owed to the city, including parking lot operators who owe the city millions of dollars,” Greuel said. “The city needs to have processes in place to ensure, with a high degree of certainty, that uncollected money isn’t being left on the table at a time when the city needs it most.”


Mayoral donations pour in from outside Los Angeles and out-of-state (updated)

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

A new report finds 42 percent of donations to Los Angeles' top four mayoral candidates came from outside the city limits.

More than 40 percent of the contributions to Los Angeles’ top four mayoral candidates have come from outside the city limits and is money that would not be eligible for the city’s matching funds under a proposal being considered by the Ethics Commission.

A report from Common Cause concluded that 42 percent of the donations received by City Controller Wendy Greuel, council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, and attorney Kevin James were from individuals living outside of Los Angeles. Nine percent came from donors outside California.

In June, the Ethics Commission agreed to a proposal that would only provide matching funds for donations made by Angelenos living within the city limits. The rule, which requires approval from the Los Angeles City Council, would not take effect until the 2015 primary.


Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti tie up the money race for mayor

Mayoral Candidates

Photos courtesy of candidates' campaigns

Candidates running to be Los Angeles' next mayor, in order from left to right: Wendy Greuel, Kevin James, Jan Perry and Eric Garcetti. Campaign finance reports show Greuel and Garcetti are neck and neck in the money race.

Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel are neck-and-neck in the race to raise funds for their 2013 campaigns, with just $322 separating the two leading candidates.

The latest fundraising report filed with the Ethics Commission shows Greuel, the city’s controller, with $2.2 million. That means from Jan. 1 to June 30, she doubled her campaign warchest. Garcetti, the former council president, also has $2.2 million--plus that additional $322.

“These rock-solid fundraising numbers show that Wendy Greuel has continued to attract an extensive and vibrant audience of supporters throughout the city," said John Shallman, chief strategist to the campaign. "It also demonstrates that she’s amassed substantial resources very early on in the race to be L.A.’s next mayor.” 

Also running for mayor is Councilwoman Jan Perry. She now has $1.1 million, having raised $327,000 in the past six month. Attorney and former talk radio host Kevin James reported a total of $222,145 in his campaign finance report.