Chick vs. Rocky: Fight to the Political Death

LA City Controller sets stage for courtroom battle by seeking subpoenas of City Attorney staff

LA City Controller Laura Chick challenged City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to a fight Tuesday that will take their months-long conflict out of the political arena and into the courtroom.

At issue is whether the City Charter gives the Controller the authority to conduct performance audits of programs run by other elected officials. In this case, Chick wants to investigate how the City Attorney's office is handling costly city worker compensation cases.

In a press release headlined CHICK DENOUNCES DELGADILLO GAMES AS "A SLAP IN THE FACE TO TAXPAYERS," the controller accused Delgadillo of trying "to stall" her audit and "evade scrutiny."

Separately, she sent a letter to City Clerk Karen Kalfayan asking that she issue subpoenas to six City Attorney staff members ordering them to appear for questioning on Dec. 2 and 3.

Her action escalates a battle that has been building for months ever since Delgadillo rejected her efforts to conduct the audit, claiming the City Charter did not give her the authority to examine the performance of other elected officials.

City Council President Eric Garcetti intervened to head off a court fight over what the charter says but failed to deliver on his commitment to put the question on a March 3 ballot measure to let voters decide on the question. Other council matters scuttled the ballot measure at the last minute, setting the stage for a courtroom showdown.

Chick said her decision to act now was based on a letter from Delgadillo which she called "a slap in the face to taxpayers."

"The City Council had the issue before them for three months and in the end failed to give the voters the opportunity to clarify this issue of transparency.  As the taxpayers' watchdog, I will continue to pursue conducting a performance audit of the City Attorney's multi-million dollar workers' compensation program," said Chick.

"The question before us is a simple and important one: Should the Controller be able to audit all programs of the City of Los Angeles? That's what this issue is all about-full transparency and accountability.  I certainly believe the public supports scrutiny of how all of their taxpayer dollars are spent. It is unfortunate that the voters will be denied the opportunity to clarify their intentions in the upcoming March election."

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