With FBI Investigations into L.A. City Hall corruption involving elected and appointed officials and developers, and the recent arrests of two veteran Council Members, one might believe there are additional investigations brewing at City Hall.   

With an annual salary of nearly $214,000 along with many perks, one might think that only people with the core values of Honesty and Integrity would consider entering the political arena and work for municipal government.  The basic lesson of Honesty and Integrity apparently has not been a characteristic for everyone engaged in city employment.

In past years, it was ATF Special Agent Elliot Ness and the ‘Untouchables” that went after Al Capone and others who broke the law.  Today it is agents with the FBI and U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna and his team of attorneys that are going after corruption at City Hall and beyond.  When  FBI agents arrive in their raid jackets, people pay attention and word spreads throughout the Los Angeles region and around America.          

Former Councilmember and Reserve LAPD Officer Mitchell Englander pled guilty following his arrest on political corruption charges… without going to trial.  That is very unusual and demonstrates the strong case against him.  On the other hand, Councilman Jose Huizar has asked for the Federal Public Defender to represent him as he prepares to fight the multiple corruption charges he is facing.  As we know, the justice system is slow and cumbersome at the best of times. With Corona-19 the entire criminal justice system has slowed to a glacier pace. 

While some members of the City Council and other high-ranking city officials have been implicated in various forms of corruption including the Office of the City Attorney, Federal Investigators have kept busy with search warrants and “Raids” at various locations and at least one residence.  

Los Angeles has attempted to keep a watchful eye out for corruption at City Hall.  There is the City’s Ethics Commission.  An expensive city bureaucracy that is basically useless in discovering corruption.  They levy fines for various technical violations that are not even close to corruption.  One former commissioner of the Ethics Commission was recently taken to court and removed from running for a council office when they attempted to run for the seat in violation of the restriction required after resigning from a city commission.  Talk about dishonesty and lack of character!  

There is also the Controller’s Office.  Controller Galperin has done a good job with his personnel in conducting audits.  Unfortunately, the Mayor and council usually dismiss the findings brought forward by Galperin.  If given additional resources and investigators, the Controller’s Office could launch more investigations and be a useful tool in uncovering City Hall corruption.       

Councilman David Ryu has introduced a motion calling on the city to considering establishing “The Transparency Office” to handle corruption at City Hall.  Establish another multi-million-dollar department to try and keep dishonest people honest.  The Office of Anti-Corruption and Transparency would oversee, investigate and have the ability to subpoena city officials.  It is also proposed that an Inspector General be established for Land Use and Development.  We will see where this motion goes.  Since the city is running on limited and reduced funding, is it time to develop a new department that will cost millions of dollars to operate to keep elected officials honest?