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Members of Los Angeles' housing board say they'd welcome a city audit

Los Angeles housing board members reportedly spent more than $150,000 in the last two years on travel expenses. Several have been asked to repay the agency in some cases.

March 18, 2011|By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times

Several Los Angeles City Housing Authority Board members said Thursday they would welcome an audit by Controller Wendy Greuel of their travel expenses.

The move comes after a CBS-TV Channel 2 report last month that board members spent more than $150,000 over the last two years on extravagant hotels and restaurants, and sometimes double dipped, accepting per diems for expenses while also paying for meals with agency credit cards.

Agency staff has asked several board members to reimburse hundreds of dollars for such double-dipping charges. Rudolf Montiel, head of the authority, also wrote to commission Chairwoman Beatriz Stotzer and Commissioner Margarita Garr and asked them to "strongly consider" paying back thousands of dollars for conferences they attended without approval.

Garr said at a meeting Thursday that she went to the conferences at the request of agency staff. She said she would repay meal charges made when she already had a per diem, which she called an oversight.

The expense-accounts dust-up is the latest controversy to roil the housing authority, which has a $1-billion budget and provides shelter to 60,000 of the city's neediest residents.

Last fall, the agency and Montiel ignited a furious response when they moved to evict nine tenants who had protested outside Montiel's Rancho Cucamonga home over agency policies. The evictions were rescinded.

jessica.garrison@latimes.com

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