Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel issued a subpoena Wednesday, demanding documents related to the workings of a Gold Card parking ticket review service, saying the transportation department had stalled in providing full access to records.
FOR THE RECORD: Gold Cards:
An earlier version of the headline on this article indicated that the mayor had used the Gold Card service. The mayor's office, not the mayor himself, has acknowledged using the service to help constituents.
The obscure service, known to few outside city government, was highlighted last month in one of Greuel's audits of the Department of Transportation. The service was shut down the next day.
The Gold Card Desk, as it was known, was set up about 15 years ago and provided the mayor and other elected officials a way to fast-track constituent appeals of parking citations. Some had fines reduced or eliminated.
Greuel's audit found that 1,000 tickets had been dismissed — some without justification — through the service over a single two-year period. She raised the specter that some people may have received special treatment, partly because there seemed to be little documentation regarding the reviews.
The transportation agency and some other City Hall officials said the service was simply another way for constituents to request services, comparable to graffiti removal.
Still, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa quickly ordered the Gold Card Desk closed, saying that even the appearance of preferential treatment is unacceptable.
The transportation department and the Gold Card Desk came under further scrutiny from City Hall as Councilman Dennis Zine, chairman of the Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee, ordered a full review and explanation of the 1,000 dismissed tickets. Greuel also declared she would follow through on a complete investigation into the 1,000 dismissed tickets.
Transportation department officials said in a statement that they received the subpoena and that they and their ticket processing contractor, Affiliated Computer Services, "will continue to fully cooperate with the Controller's Office."
But officials in the controller's office said Wednesday that they had been in back-and-forth discussions with the transportation department for about a week, trying to determine how best to get auditors full and immediate access to documents relating to the Gold Card Desk and the dismissed tickets.
During those conversations the transportation department's "actions raised some concerns about immediate access," said Greuel, a possible candidate for mayor.
Officials in the controller's office said they believe they were given access to a small fraction of the records tied to the Gold Card Desk and the dismissed tickets. Greuel said Wednesday that after the subpoena was delivered, auditors were granted access to files held by Affiliated Computer Services.