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Deputy Mayor Nominated To Fix LADOT Spending, Porn Scandal

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Jaime de la Vega has been tapped by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to take over the Dept. of Transportation. (courtesy of LA City Hall)

Jaime de la Vega has been tapped by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to take over the Dept. of Transportation. (courtesy of LA City Hall)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa nominated one of his top deputies on Friday to take over the embattled Department of Transportation, which has been the subject of a scathing audit and a scandal involving employees interacting with an adult film star.

The mayor nominated Deputy Mayor for Transportation Jaime de la Vega to head the department and partner with City Controller Wendy Greuel on a top-to-bottom audit of the department.

“Jaime is an experienced public policy leader and manager with extensive experience working in city government, reforming department operations and developing and implementing transportation projects at both the local and regional level,” Villaraigosa said.

The mayor said Interim General Manager Amir Sedadi will stay with the department as an assistant general manager.

When asked why Sedadi was passed over for the top spot in the department, Villaraigosa said “it’s time for a change.”

As deputy mayor, de la Vega implements surface transportation and aviation policy at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Los Angeles World Airports. The mayor said he has nearly two decades of experience on transportation issues and has shared ideas on how he plans to clean up the department.

“The Department of Transportation is home to some of the hardest-working and most innovative employees who are advancing cutting-edge projects throughout the city,” de la Vega said. “I look forward to working with them to fix what is broken within the management system.”

LADOT was the subject of audits that found the department failed to police a “Gold Card” desk for city officials to challenge parking ticket violations and improperly managed the collection of parking ticket fines from the worst offenders in the city.

Additionally, two on-duty traffic officers were caught taking part in an adult film and letting an actress in the film perform lewd acts in an LADOT car.

The head of the parking and traffic enforcement bureau, Jimmy Price, was expected to resign this week, in part due to allegations of widespread misconduct among traffic officers. Villaraigosa temporarily assigned Los Angeles police Commander Michael Williams to replace Price and review the parking enforcement division’s management policies.

De la Vega said the Greuel audits pointed to problems that are “fixable” and that his first task, if confirmed, would be a broad look at management and systems. He also acknowledged he has a morale problem to fix.

“I’ve heard from employees directly and indirectly that the recent reports have not been good for morale, and that’s something the Commander and I will be working on,” de la Vega told City News Service.

De la Vega will remain the acting general manager until his appointment is approved by the City Council.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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