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The Controller v. The City Attorney: Dueling Facts?


Last week I again reported on the large and ongoing legal spat between
LA City Controller Laura Chick and LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo over whether or not it is legal for Ms. Chick to do performance audits of city programs, most specifically, an audit of the workers’ compensation methods being used in Delgadillo’s office.

Now the fight is also continuing through their surrogates.

to wit: after my post, the City Attorney’s director of communications, Nick Velasquez, wrote me with some corrections , which I put up here. (Note: You must scroll to the bottom.)

Velasquez wrote, among other things, the following:

With regard to oversight of this office, the Controller has conducted more than 20 financial audits of this office over the past 8 years, and we have passed each one with flying colors. Any suggestion that there is no oversight of this office or accounting of its spending is totally false. It is an effort to confuse the issue and the voters.

The Charter allows the Controller to conduct financial audits of other elected officials. The Charter does not, however, allow the Controller to conduct performance audits of other elected officials – which would allow one elected official to evaluate the performance of another elected official. The Charter reform commission correctly saw that evaluation as the job of the voters. They also recognized the potential for political mischief-making by a politician charged with evaluating the performance of other politicians.

More recently, I received a note from Laura Chick’s director of communications, Rob Wilcox, in which he took issue with what Mr. Velasquez had written. Here is the main part of the note:

I must respond to Nick Velasquez ‘s unfounded comments on behalf of the City Attorney’s Office and set the record straight..

The Controller’s Office has not performed 20 fiscal audits of the City Attorney in the last eight years, it has conducted only two. They are as follows:

*** ICCP Follow-up Audit
*** Financial Audit – Report on Dispute Resolution Program

These reports are posted on the Controller’s website with all the over 150 audits released by Controller Chick at .

Each and every one of those audits is impeccable and have stood the test of time bringing important improvements, efficiencies and savings to the City of Los Angeles.

It is unfortunate that the City Attorney’s Office feels it necessary to impugn Controller Chick’s integrity and character by personal attacks. The public deserves more than this kind of mud-slinging.

The City Controller is the independently elected Taxpayer Watchdog, and though Mr. Delgadillo would like this watchdog muzzled, she will continue her fight for transparency and accountability wherever that may take her.

Clearly both men cannot be right. So perhaps some neutral party would like to clarify?

In any case, with rare exceptions more transparency is always better.


  • Your picture infers that it’s a cat fight.

    Either Rob Wilcox is overreacting or I’m missing something, because I didn’t see anything from Velasquez that rises to a personal attack or mud-slinging. Wilcox should keep the debate on the issues and not make this a personality or character dispute. The facts would clear up those things.

  • This is embarrassing to Los Angeles. Why isnt’ the city council backing up Chick? Because if they do then they will also be included to be audited. A lot of programs need to be audited that are wasting millions of our tax dollars. What I don’t like is Chick did an audit of the gang programs but failed to include all the money they have donated to political campaigns. Why didn’t she report those figures????

  • I see the City Attorney’s point, about financial vs. performance audits and how that can be arbitrarily interpreted when the controller doesn’t like another elected official. In this case, it sounds like the case, even though I think Rocky might have something to hide (people have called on nothing less than the FBI to check out his various other allegedly nefarious dealings) and the workers comp issue seems at least half a financial audit, not performance.

    Chick seems to be partly relying on the public’s general distrust and dislike of Rocky to carry her case, but she’s produced very one-sided “audits” ticking off even those like Greig Smith, at great expense and so it’s beyond this personal issue between the two of them. (After her taking on Cardenas/ Hahn on the gang issue, they’re no friends either.)

    They need to find a way to separate financial and more vaguely motivated audits — since Chick allegedly hired outside auditers we pay for anyway, maybe the city should just select outside auditers they mutually agree on when it’s not clear if it’s performance or financial. That seems to be what the council tried to get her to agree to, in how they tried to word the ballot initiative, but she said she’d write the argument against if it they put that on the ballot. That’s lost in the blame of the council for not putting the issue on the ballot, whatever their faults in delaying things. Maybe some of them did want to stall until she was almost out of office (with a May ballot initiative) but she’s not coming off very well either.

    And suing the city/ taxpayers with a highpriced lawyer whose bill she’ll try to stick us with anyway, even though she was denied permission to hire a city-paid lawyer, is wrong-headed for the official who’s supposedly very concerned abut fiscal responsibility. Too bad there’s no outside mediator who wouldn’t cost much. Plus there’s the image problem: as you’re doubltless aware, L A has been named by some taxpayer watchdog group one of the top-six worst cities for excessive jury awards and city payouts.

  • Enough with the straw man fallacies, Mr. Wilcox.

    Let’s stick to the facts.

    Over the past 7.5 years, the Office of the City Attorney has been subjected to 33 fiscal audits by the City Controller. That’s right, 33.

    The majority of these audits fall under the Controller’s Internal Control Certification Program (ICCP) — a comprehensive audit of various components of our Office’s financial operations.

    The ICCP provides Departments/Offices that successfully pass the audit with more flexibility and independence in the way they do business.

    The ICCP is not a one time deal. The Controller reviews and scores the Departments’/Offices’ fiscal operations several times each year in follow-up audits.

    If a Department does not pass, fiscal certification is taken away and more restrictive financial controls are put in place.

    Prior to 2001, the Office of the City Attorney had failed its ICCP audits and had not achieved fiscal certification.

    In 2002, under a new administration, the Office of the City Attorney became certified (passing the ICCP audit) and has maintained such certification since, passing every one of the many ICCP audits conducted in subsequent years.

    The Controller’s Office has conducted the ICCP reviews/audits more than two dozen times over the last 7.5 years in the City Attorney’s Office alone. All data released by the Controller’s auditing staff is available upon request.

    In addition to these ICCP audits, a petty cash audit, Dispute Resolution Program audit and Bank Account audit have been conducted as well, bringing the total number of audits to 33 over the past 7.5 years. 33 audits.

    Nick Velasquez
    Director of Communications
    Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office

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