Will Newest City Car Uproar Hit Green Wall Again?
If you've ever wondered about your neighbor's pickup truck having a city seal on its doors, you have only to turn to L.A. Controller Laura Chick's latest cry of outrage to learn of the expanding armada of city cars that are parked in employees' driveways. Chick's audit charges that "a total of 1,131 vehicles, with a purchase cost of approximately $27 million, are authorized for home-garaging."
"Home-garaging" -- that would be your neighbor's pickup. It would also be your other neighbor's Prius, for L.A. has increasingly been purchasing more fuel efficient -- but more expensive -- hyrbrids to replace the gas gluttons in the fleet, such as Crown Vics, Highlander SUVs and LeSabres.
The Chick lit on take-home cars, with its conclusion that "the City lacks adequate monitoring controls over the acquisition and usage of the vehicles," is gaining afternoon traction in the L.A. Daily News, L.A. Times and, we're sure, later on TV. However, it's a recurring story that reliably stokes anger but then fades away. The last time the flag was raised on this issue was two years ago when City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's wife crashed a city-owned SUV she had no business sitting in, let alone driving. Then everyone suddenly got interested about all those city cars and who was driving them. Interested for a while, anyway.
Almost exactly a year ago, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa proposed saving money by cutting most of the 229 cars in City Hall's executive car pool, but ran into green arguments by City Council members that if city execs (themselves included) and off-duty cops gave up their fleet hybrids, these drivers would just climb into their own SUVs and do more damage to the environment.
Chick's audit does not propose a way to concile the two side of this debate, which means it will probably vanish as a topic by the next news cycle.