Days after a televised report contended that city employees were eating breakfast and taking other breaks while billing the city for fixing potholes and sidewalks, the Los Angeles City Council sought an investigation into the claims, saying they were troubling and could jeopardize Angelenos' trust.
CBS2 reported Tuesday that investigative reporter David Goldstein had followed some Bureau of Street Services crews and discovered that workers were fixing streets for only a few hours of their shifts.
One crew stopped to eat breakfast before heading to fix a Plummer Street pothole, but one of the employees never noted the break on a timesheet, the station reported on its website. Another crew in West Los Angeles followed by the station worked to fix streets for only two hours of their eight-hour shift, according to the online report.
City leaders were especially troubled because the televised report comes as the city is poised to ask residents to pay a new half-cent sales tax to mend its broken streets and sidewalks. Several council members expressed concern that the report would unfairly taint other city employees hard at work.
"Nothing could be more corrosive to the public trust than what Mr. Goldstein uncovered the other day," said Councilman Mitch O'Farrell. He said that if the televised report about the workers was true, "they should not be working for the city of Los Angeles."
Bureau of Street Services director Nazario Sauceda said he was launching an investigation. Sauceda said that after reviewing the televised report, he had already put together a list of allegations and determined which rules might have been broken if its claims were proven true.
Possible punishments could range from "a simple notice to correct to full termination," Sauceda told the council.
"Falsification of documents is a very serious allegation," Sauceda said. "But we must act based on facts."
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who introduced the motion seeking an investigation, said he was angered that the reputation of hardworking employees might be tainted by the televised report. His motion also sought a report on how the Bureau of Street Services verifies that work is completed on schedule.