Being a LA County Supervisor has its perks: a high-profile position in the most populous county in the nation, a salary of $181,292 a year and apparently, taxpayer-funded renovations for one’s private home.
Last week, the LA Times revealed that county crews had done work on Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ home, including the non-permitted conversion of his garage into a personal office.
Ridley-Thomas had originally taken advantage of a program where the county foots the bill for the installation of private security systems for its five Supervisors. The program was originally meant to protect the politicians from the threats they received from members of the community.
According to the LA Times, worker crews also installed a wall-mounted AC and heating unit, a refrigerator and a flat-screen TV on Ridley-Thomas’ property. According to John Thompson, a manager within the LA County Internal Services Department, Ridley-Thomas paid for both the cooling/heating unit and the refrigerator. Thompson also believes the television is owned by the Supervisor.
County crews further replaced wood paneling with drywall and installed new electrical wiring amounting to nearly $10,000 of work.
Some are saying that installation of drywall was necessary.
“It’s a county supervisor and I’m going to make it look nice,” Thompson said to the LA Times. “Our function is to keep the supervisors happy. They’re our boss.”
Thompson was present for the duration of the seven day project while four county workers and two contract employees were involved in the construction project at varying times.
“He’s not unfamiliar with what it means to be a public official or the state ethics code,” stated Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who studies governmental ethics. “He’s the person who said yes to the work. Whether or not the idea started with him, he OK’d the project.”
Ridley-Thomas has yet to respond to the allegations.
Read more about the renovation at the LA Times.