Viewpoint: Herb Wesson, LA Mayor for Almost a Year Now

Our story, “Herb Wesson, L.A. Mayor for Almost a Year Now,” was printed in CityWatch in October.

The L.A. City Charter requires that when the Mayor of Los Angeles departs the state of California, he or she stops being Mayor . . . with the role passing to the City Council President.

It’s a serious rule. Since he was inaugurated on June 30, 2013, whenever Mayor Garcetti has left the state, he has sent a formal letter to City Council President Herb Wesson announcing the precise date and time of departure and return—down to the minute.

A public records request we made recently produced a stack of every notice of absence sent by Eric Garcetti to Herb Wesson to date. Add up the days on which Herb Wesson took over the role as Mayor of Los Angeles and you get 336—just a few weeks shy of a full year (and that’s not including any travel the Mayor may have done during the past few months).

Herb Wesson

When Garcetti’s out of town, Wesson has— and uses from time to time— the power to approve ordinances and legal settlements. It was Wesson, for example, who signed the recent controversial $6.5 million dollar payout to an injured cyclist named Peter Godefroy. There was plenty of time for the Mayor to sign that settlement himself after getting back in town, so it’s not clear why he had Wesson do the signing, but that’s not the issue at hand.

The real question is, should Herb Wesson get paid for his 336 days of service as Mayor of Los Angeles? Mr. Garcetti’s annual salary with benefits is $241,000, which comes out to $660 dollars per day. That translates into Garcetti owing Wesson about $221,852 dollars. Tip not included.

On December 14, another Preven piece titled “RFPs . . . We Don’t Need No Stinking RFPs” was printed in CityWatch.

We pointed out that “In California, public agencies are required to put major contracts out to bid,” and ask, “So why did the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles just award a seven-year, $64-million contract to Motorola Solutions, Inc. with no Request for Proposal (RFP)?”

We wrote:

“The Council Resolution which authored the deal offers no explanation, asserts no exemption to the competitive bidding requirement, cites no precedent.

“Sixty-four million dollars.

“The annual lease payment of $9.2 million will begin in Fiscal Year 2018-19 and continue until Fiscal Year 2024-25.

“The purpose of requiring governmental entities to open the contracts process to public bidding, according to an important CA appellate case Konica Business Machines U.S.A., Inc. v. Regents of University of California, is to: eliminate favoritism, fraud and corruption; avoid misuse of public funds; and stimulate advantageous market place competition . . . The importance of maintaining integrity in government and the ease with which policy goals underlying the requirement for open competitive bidding may be surreptitiously undercut, mandate strict compliance with bidding requirements.

“Strict compliance with bidding requirements is not handing out a seven-year, $64-million contract with no RFP.”

(Eric and Joshua Preven are public advocates for better transparency in local government. The CityWatch articles are reprinted with permission.)

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