Following the embarrassing discovery last December of the longtime practice of dumping reusable surplus materials at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to increase county oversight of such taxpayer-bought materials.
Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who represents the Antelope Valley, the board directed county Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen to deliver quarterly reports to the board on the handling of surplus goods.
"We have evidence of lax regard for property and we must be certain that it stops," Antonovich said. "Today's decision will provide the accountability and chain of responsibility to safeguard against this abuse in all county departments. Any surplus assets must be reused, recycled, sold or donated to worthwhile charities."
An aide to Antonovich responding to calls about the dumping last December found items such as old hospital beds, desks, IV stands and a small cement mixer among the debris piling up in a lot adjacent to the hospital.
During the time they had remained in the lot--perhaps up to 10 years--the materials had deteriorated to the point of uselessness, said Cam Currier, a spokesman for Antonovich.
It is unlikely that anyone will face criminal charges in connection with the dumping, Currier said.
Mel Grussing, administrator of High Desert Hospital, declined to discuss details of the case, citing an ongoing internal investigation due to be completed later this month.
The five-building hospital complex, including two clinics and a rehabilitation center, has an annual budget of $52 million, Grussing said. About one-third of that money comes from the county.