L.A. college board to name inspector general

Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District voted Wednesday to name an inspector general to guard against waste and corruption in its $5.7-billion bond construction program.

The vote came after the district’s bond counsel, Lisalee Anne Wells, told the board that large sums of bond money had been spent on matters not directly related to campus construction, such as travel and public relations. The state Constitution does not allow such spending of voter-approved bond money, she told the board. Wells said she did not know how much bond money had been misspent.

Board President Mona Field said the trustees had no experience running a large bond program when it began rebuilding its nine campuses in 2001. She described the program as a success, but added: “We missed a few details, clearly.”

The seven-member board voted unanimously to establish the position of inspector general.

“Bond counsel has made it clear there are many unauthorized expenditures being made every day,” said trustee Georgia Mercer. “We’ve got to stop that as soon as we can.”

Before voting for the measure, trustee Sylvia Scott Hayes voiced reluctance to support it, saying the district did not need another “layer of bureaucracy.”

The board also voted to establish a whistle-blower complaint program to collect reports of “potential illegal activity, fraud, waste or corruption” in the bond program. The reports would be investigated by the inspector general.

Los Angeles-area voters authorized the bond program by passing ballot measures in 2001, 2003 and 2008.

The district’s colleges are City, East Los Angeles, Harbor, Mission, Pierce, Southwest, Trade Technical, Valley and West Los Angeles.