Bradley Studies Report on Allegations Against Head of City’s General Services

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley received a report from the special panel he appointed to investigate civil and criminal allegations against Sylvia Cunliffe, the head of the city’s Department of General Services, but he will not act on its findings for several days, mayoral aides said Monday.

The three-member committee, named by Bradley to assess Cunliffe’s performance as chief of the city’s fourth-largest agency, wrapped up the inquiry and kept its findings secret.

Ali Webb, Bradley’s press secretary, said the mayor spent an hour reading the report before turning to other matters. “We hope that he will have it reviewed and have a statement on it by the end of the week,” she said.

Bradley, who has refrained from commenting on the Cunliffe matter, must decide whether to take disciplinary action against his 54-year-old appointee, whom he placed on a leave of absence in June.


Possible Violations

According to a source familiar with the report, the committee said it found evidence that Cunliffe may have violated criminal and administrative codes, including cases involving the rental of city property, the award of city leases and the disclosure of an employee’s arrest record.

But Robert B. Dodson, a business executive who chaired the panel, refused to divulge his committee’s findings.

“We’ve now finished our report, and it’s been signed,” he said, adding that it is Bradley’s decision whether to disclose the contents.


Although he would not comment about the specifics, Dodson indicated that the panel had stopped short of advising the mayor whether to take disciplinary action against Cunliffe.

“I don’t want to take away from the mayor his ability to do that, and I’m very cognizant of Mrs. Cunliffe’s rights,” he said. “Under the circumstances, it is a matter between the mayor and herself.

“We’ve never viewed our jobs as making recommendation for action,” Dodson added. “Our job was to review facts drawn from reports and observations and to make some conclusions.”

‘Very Negative’

Dodson would not spell out those conclusions, but a source said the report is “very negative” toward Cunliffe and that the committee was troubled by some of the evidence against her, including:

- Her apparent involvement in the rental of a city-owned house in Pacific Palisades at below-market rates to an employee of the Street Scene Festival, which Cunliffe also runs.

- Her use of confidential information from a department employee’s police arrest report in a memorandum to Bradley and the City Council. In disclosing the arrest record, Cunliffe had sought to discredit the employee who had first reported the Pacific Palisades rental to a city hot line.

- Her reported intervention on behalf of a company partly owned by one of her top aides that led to the firm being declared the winner of a contract to operate a city-owned parking lot. All the bids were later thrown out because of reported irregularities in the bid.


Denied Any Wrongdoing

Cunliffe, who has denied any wrongdoing, has vowed to fight any attempts to discipline her and she criticized the committee for not interviewing her, which Dodson said was unnecessary.

According to city officials, Bradley now has the option of reprimanding Cunliffe, suspending her, firing her from her $90,243-a-year job or doing nothing at all.

If the mayor decides to impose any discipline, Cunliffe would be given an opportunity to respond before the mayor acts. Any suspension or dismissal, however, would have to win the approval of a majority of City Council members.

Because of her civil service status, Cunliffe could also appeal her case to the Civil Service Commission and seek a hearing.

In a separate criminal investigation into Cunliffe, the district attorney’s office has completed its initial investigation but a decision to file criminal charges has not been made, according to spokesman Andy Reynolds. He added that no decision was expected before next week.