Controller warns of consequences of CAO and City Attorney’s proposals

 In a memo to City Council today, Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia called for the Council to remove proposed charter reforms, citing that they are rushed and could have unintended consequences for the Controller’s Office and the City.

“As the City’s elected Controller with the Charter-mandated authority and responsibility to be the City’s chief accountant, auditor and paymaster,” Mejia wrote, “I wanted to express my concerns about several Charter reform recommendations presented by the City Administrative Officer (CAO) and City Attorney for possible inclusion on the November ballot.

“While these proposals were presented to the Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance Reform as “technical” and “non-controversial” seeking only to “clarify” what is already in the Charter, in reality, they could have far-reaching effects that have not been adequately considered by Council, subject-matter experts, and the people of Los Angeles.”

The Controller requested that the City Council amend the May 30, 2024, CLA report to strike items  10, 10a, 11, 11a, and the last sentence of item 32 before being referred to the City Attorney to develop ballot language.

These items propose:

1. Making the CAO the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the City

2. Allowing the CAO to conduct performance audits

3. Requiring ALL Controller work be conducted under “Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards”

In his response to these proposals, the Controller noted:

1. The CAO Is Not the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the City.

2. The City Already Has a CFO.

3. The CAO Does Not, And Should Not, Conduct Performance Audits

4. The Controller’s Office Does More Than Audits, So Auditing Standards Can’t Apply to All Their Work

Controller Mejia concluded, “Our Office supports much of the great work being done by the Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance Reform, especially their proposal to create an independent redistricting commission, even though such a commission removes appointment power not just from Council and the Mayor, but from the City Controller (and City Attorney) as well.”

He added, “Our Office is happy to cede that power to create a fairer, more independent redistricting process. However, as we make these important changes to the Charter, we believe that it is essential that we not detract from effective reforms with contentious proposals that haven’t been adequately debated or analyzed. We look forward to working with the Mayor, City Council, City Attorney, and the appointed Charter Reform Commission to identify structural changes to the organization and administration of our City in order to make Los Angeles a better place for all.”

Photo by trekandshoot on 

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