Reporting David Goldstein
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The director of the Port of L.A. Tuesday had to explain to the L.A. City Council why she spent nearly $200,000 to wine and dine people at a lavish party, which was exposed by a CBS2 News investigation.
Because of our investigation, L.A. Port Director Geraldine Knatz was called before a City Council committee.
They were responding to videotape we obtained of the port throwing a nearly $200,000 party in South Korea, complete with dancers flown in from L.A.
It happened earlier this year at a ports and harbors convention.
The port threw the party to try to entice people to come to the next convention, which is in L.A. in 2013, and they spared no expense.
City Councilman Dennis Zine wanted to know why.
“In the real world people are saying that’s an exorbitant amount of money when people are camping out at city hall and don’t have a place to live — that’s the reality of the times we live in,” Councilman Zine said.
During our investigation Knatz was quick to point out to me that I had it all wrong.
“It was not a party. It was a professional promotional event,” she said.
“It was a party,” I responded.
“It was a professional promotional event,” she said.
But she never corrected the councilpersons, who called it like they saw it.
“The fact is it’s an expensive party.”
“To the general public when we’re millions of dollars short each year and laying people off and cutting services, $200,000 for a party is just a pretty party.”
While Knatz did not dispute the description, she did defend the costs.
“We felt comfortable. It’s a reasonable amount for the type of event and number of people that attended. It wasn’t excessive,” she said.
Knatz said the city will make the money back or even more when the convention comes to L.A. in two years. Councilpersons said she should come back then and prove it.
But Councilman Zine told me he thinks he put the port on notice — stop spending excessive money and stop the partying.