Taxpayer Money Used To Maintain Million-Dollar Yacht

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — With the city going broke you may be surprised to find out that Los Angeles is the proud owner of a million dollar yacht and it is about to undergo hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations at taxpayer expense.

As the head of the Port of Los Angeles raced down the hall, they tried to block our camera and dodged our questions, not wanting to talk about a yacht owned by the port, which is a city agency.

But the mayor said that it is not what we think.

“It’s not a yacht. It’s a boat,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

But whatever you call it, the Angelena II is 73 feet long and worth about a million bucks — according to a boat broker we contacted — and it is all your money.

The port bought it in 1988. It is used for public relations tours of the harbor, which run about two hours long. They are free of charge for just about any group, like one we observed for students of Banning High.

We obtained the ship’s logs for the past two years, which show cruises with as many as 48 passengers at a time. We also obtained the names of thousands of people who have been on-board.

More than 4,000 took the cruise just last year. Some of the people do business with the port, but many have nothing to do with it.

We found members of the Morongo Indian Tribe, screenwriters from Universal Studios, a YWCA cruise, people from the exclusive Jonathan Club, UCLA students and dozens of the mayor’s interns.

But he said it is all business.

“They’ve gone to see why the port is such an important part of this administration’s priorities. We have got to promote trade. That’s why I was in China, Japan and Korea,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.

“It’s not a perk to get them out on the water,” I asked?

“No. No,” he replied.

Rusty Millar can “almost” see the port from his home in Silverlake more than 20 miles away. But he and more than a dozen others from the Silverlake Neighborhood Council took a tour on the Angelena in 2006.

“I think somebody brought a boyfriend with them,” Millar said.

They brought friends and posed for pictures with the life preserver. But Millar said the tour was beneficial.

“I think it’s just a kind of goodwill kind of thing. I don’t see a problem with that,” he said.

But it is costing the port money — $147,000 combined last year for two captains primarily assigned to the Angelina; $106,000 for two deck hands; and more than $32,000 for fuel and maintenance.

The Angelena is now in drydock at the Port of L.A. and has not been out on the high seas since September. But over the next couple of months they will be spending close to three quarters of a million dollars on upgrades.

The engines have been removed because they no longer meet California emissions standards. They will be replaced by low-emission hybrid motors.

The port is using $489,000 in federal taxpayer stimulus money that is supposed to go create jobs, plus another $200,000 coming from the port — totaling $689,000 for new engines.

“It’s not helping to create any real jobs,” said Tom Schatz with Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW).

He said the Angelena should be sold, not refurbished with taxpayer money.

“It’s a big waste of money both for taxpayers across the country and for Los Angeles residents, who clearly aren’t all going to benefit from this and are spending money at a time when the city is more than $70 million in the red,” Schatz said.

But the port said it is worth it.

“The best way to show people the port is from the water,” said John Holmes of the Port of L.A.

The expenditures are coming even when port General Manager Geraldine Knatz testified before the City Council that she is watching spending.

Councilmembers called her in because they were following up on our investigation last year, which revealed the port threw a $200,000 party in Korea.

Knatz claimed that she learned her lesson.

“I have recognized that public perception is an important part of what we do every day and that we really have to tighten our belt and watch every dollar,” she said.

Perhaps she forgot about the $689,000 in new engines. But she did not want to talk about it.

“Why won’t you talk with me for one second. You talk about public perception being important, yet you’re spending close to three quarters of a million dollars on the port’s yacht. Is that good for public perception,” I asked?

She did not have an answer.

But just last week the port received the final go ahead from the Coast Guard for the new engines and they say the Angelena will be back on the high seas in about 90 days to continue the public relations tours at taxpayer expense.

» RELATED STORY:Port Of LA Spends Nearly $200K On Party

More from David Goldstein
  • eric

    i do not think tax payers should have to pay to maintain a boat used by friends who are connected somehow to the city or port management. they could rent a boat or charter from one of the struggling businesses in the area and save the operation costs. comparing a city bus that actually moves a citizen around for a fee and is available to all with that yacht is stupid. those things are payed for by tax payers and are primarily used by and for tax payers just like cop cars too. this is just another example of our high on the hog living our city managers have been keeping below the radar until the wonderful Los Angeles Times has been exposing all this corruption.

    • Tanya

      Eric I agree.

    • Henchman

      well Eric..The LA Times is the most bought and paid for biased newspaper I’v seen – next to nazi and black panther publications. They always do a One sided politically favored story without showing the truth..

      • Cougo

        Oh really? If you can say that then perhaps you can enlighten us with “the truth”?

    • Astonished

      I’ve seen that thing. It is not a “boat,” it’s a full sized luxury yacht! But then you didn’t think the mayor would be seen satisfying his media addiction on a puddle boat did you?

      I think that money could be better spent fixing the City’s road and sidewalks.

      • Robert Miller

        Who in their right mind feels WE the tax payers should be paying for a million dollar yacht in Los Angeles. When, We the tax payers could use the money for real jobs, Our federal goverment needs to get real about jobs and stop spending the tax payers money foolishly.I bet you if they had to pay for it with their own money. They would have second thoughts on what to spend their money on

  • Stuart Little

    This is an incredible story. The amount of money to rent or lease a boat for an occasion like the one’s depicted (tour of the harbor by officials) would be far less expensive to the taxpayers. I have a 40 foot yacht that I rent out for $300 per day. Why would this boat need 2 captains? The amount for deckhands seems pretty high as well. The City taxpayers are really generous employers. Thank you for bringing this to light.

    • myopinion

      Good reporting I am glad he brought it to light too.

  • Squincher

    I agree with Stuart Little.

    The Harbor Commision wants to give tours of the Harbor to visiting dignitaries, school kids and citizens groups…..okay, fine.

    Put out a contract to formal bidding to tour companies that give harbor cruises.

    It’s way more cheaper and effective than having some rickety old boat that needs $689,000 in maintenance and new engines.


    • Tanya

      Exactly…I thought the same thing when I heard this on the news this morning.

  • Robert

    The Harbor, Airport and DWP departments of the City of LA are not funded by taxpayers. They are quasi independent departments of the City. They are known as revenue generating departments where all of the money generated by their independent business are re-invested back into their departments to pay their employees salaries and make facility improvements. They are prohibited by the City Charter from sharing their revenues with the other City departments. The Harbor Department makes a lot of money in its management of the Port of LA and none of it comes from taxpayers.

    • null

      The cost of which is built into what we buy. Almost everyone can see the need for the government to stop wasting so much money, we cannot afford it.

      • Tanya

        I totally agree, they need an overhaul in this area.

  • reply

    The POINT is the headline is INCORRECT, since taxpayer money does not support operation of the Port of Los Angeles. If the Reporter cant’t even get the basic facts correct, it is not journalism.

    • Chris

      With normal port operations, you would be correct. But the story says: The port is using $489,000 in federal taxpayer stimulus money that is supposed to go create jobs, plus another $200,000 coming from the port — totaling $689,000 for new engines.

  • Ralph

    Are you kidding me! almost $700,000 for two engines. I repowered 6 earthmovers with new Detriot deisels with all the CARB junk that goes with it and didn’t even come close too that. I will even bet that when they open that piece of drift wood (thats what it is since there is no engines in her now) up some more they will find alot more that needs to be done, and the final bill will be well over a million dollars. If you really want to place blame on someone, try CARB, they are the ones that are costing ALL of us a SUPER TANKER full of money with all of their stupid rules. thank Mary Nichols and the rest on them up in Sacramento.

    • Cougo

      I just bought a replacement occasional-use chain saw and it has a catalitic converter on it among other changes to make it comply with smog rules and is gutless compaired to the older model. Thanks C.A.R.B.

      Replacing engines to save a little smog is so California, Embarrassing (sorry for the spelling)

      • maria

        The city is embarrassing to ALL the hard working taxpayers. Clean up the city starting with the mayor.

  • Maven’s Morning Coffee

    […] CBS 2 hits the Port of Los Angeles for owning a 20-year-old boat, the Angelena II, that is used to view the port complex from the water. New engines are currently being installed in the boat to the tune of $689,000, thanks to federal stimulus and port funds. […]

  • Norco Wayne

    A good story; a million dollars 70+ feet long – and is not a yacht.
    It is the people’s money.
    These people are so corrupt they no longer know the meaning of corruption.

    • Tanya

      Exactly GREAT story..keep them coming I am watching.

  • Don

    OMG! The port has a boat! This is not a news story, it’s hyperbola and sensationalism masquerading as investigative reporting. Why not look into this other news scoop: The Port Owns Oceanfront Property!

    • Tanya

      WRONG….This is news I want to hear about what is going on with money that is given by our president to help the economy, many others that I have spoken to regarding this story are equally interested.

  • Jim Steele

    For that kind of money they should be taking people on a three hour tour

  • OilBurnerBob

    To call the Angelina a yacht is a stretch – it is a tour boat. The Port of Los Angeles is a business that brings billions of dollars through the city of LA.

    Why spend stimulus money that is supposed to be spent ‘creating’ jobs? That tour for the screenwriters from Universal Studios created jobs in the City of Los Angeles. The writers saw the the port and can now write scripts with the port operations portreyed. CSI Miami is filmed in the port as are countless films and commercials. The film industry creates thousands of highpaying jobs and the port brings them to Los Angeles.

    I’m personally disappointed in CBS for airing this bit of sensationalism. Had this been a piece of real journalism it would have been on how hard the Port of Los Angeles works to bring business to the area.

    • Tanya

      Rent a boat when a tour is needed. I am OUTRAGED by this mayor and his behavior. The movie industry can afford to provide their transportation on the water not the TAXPAYERS STIMULUS money.

    • sean

      OilburnerBob the city worker, I am sure you are disappointed in this airing of corrupt people that work for the city.

  • Micho Rizzo

    This article is garbage.Get your facts straight.

    • sean

      Are you that city worker Rizzo? you know the one from Bell that stole ALL that money?

  • Morning Buzz: Tuesday 2.7.12 | LA News Talk Radio

    […] Channel 2 discovered the port’s longtime PR boat, the Angelena, and did an investigative report. CBS LA […]

  • Jorge A. Becerril

    Charge the Mayor for his crooked business endevousrs.!

    • Tanya

      Jorge I totally agree, this is not the first time he has misused taxpayers money.

  • Cocoa Lensington

    Just admit you got caught wasting money and make a change! Sell it! Come on Mayor V!!!

    • jackie

      He has proven to be wasteful, hopefully the voters will get smarter and start voting wisely…oops I voted and many others but not for Mayor V.

  • Tanya

    I am OUTRAGED by this report the mayor needs to be investigated. How the heck is he going to take stimulus money that is meant to create jobs for unemployed Americans I am so disappointed in this mayor’s behavior. If a boat is needed for business rent one, it cost us taxpayers to much money to repair and maintain that old boat. I have written everyone that matters regarding this mayors tactics.

  • Tanya

    Jon, you are WRONG the public is extremely interested in this story, they can show off the city to visitors by renting a boat for the day, regardless if it is a boat or yacht it isn’t important, what is important it is the misuse of stimulus money that is meat to create jobs. The mayor needs to be removed, period point blank.

    • TG123

      Completely agree Tanya. These idiots are going to sink California faster than the rest of the country is sinking. We are hemorrhaging money and it is unsustainable. I am glad I found this guide on how to survive after the California economy collapses, cause it is going down hill!

    • D

      If your point is about fiscal responsibility then you really do need to look at the full cost of this vessel to the city and then see what it would cost the city to rent a boat in order to conduct the necessary city business that it needs to do. With out knowing that you would not know if you are getting a better deal now. Your concern about the stimulus money is also important and needs to be contextualized in a larger frame. What is clear is that, jumping to conclusions and demanding resignations without all of the information does not win people to your side.

      • maria

        There is NO jump to conclusion here, EVERYONE knows that mayor needs to GO!!!!

  • Joe

    This would be a good way for the mayor to get illegals from there little boats to the shore so they don’t get by the coast guard.

    • D

      Figures, I cant imagine a comment board where at least one person did not take an story that was totally unrelated to immigration and write something about “illegals.” Good grief.

  • Hunter Ellroy

    musta been a slow news day . . . .

  • Kevin F

    The Port of Los Angeles (in conjunction with the adjoining Port of Long Beach) is the greatest economic engine in LA County. If the aerospace industry were to vanish, it would damage LA. If all of Hollywood were to pack up and leave today, it would hurt LA. But if the Port were to vanish, it would finish LA.

    Yet I can’t imagine any of you freaking out if Being owned a jet that demonstrated for potential clients and interested parties its avionics and capabilities. None of you would freak out if Universal owned a fancy bus to drive important business partners around its lot. But you all go crazy that the port, which generates more income than the film and aerospace industries combined, has a tour boat to showcase its capabilities.

    • Tanya

      Kevin, I have no problem with the port and the business they conduct. I have a problem with stimulus money that should be used to create jobs being spent on a boat this boat is NOT used frequently a few times a year. Rent a boat for those few times that it is needed, NOT stimulus money,period and point blank.

    • jackie

      You need to READ the story KEVIN!!!

  • The Skipper

    Hey Don, you idiot..Im willing to bet that youre som kinda lazy over paid city or state worker.hell youre probably overweight as well! stay off this channel you idiot!!!

  • John

    Well what do you know?? Another way for the city to waste taxpayers money!!. I worked for the city in the Harbor Department for 27 years before I retired, and I can attest to this department doing lots of wasteful things!!! David , I will call you…

  • Luci Flores

    Kevin, the film and aerospace industries are not using taxpayer money..You need to pay attention to how life works before you make silly comments that mean nothing.College grad? Not!

  • John C. Boyce

    Not to sound like a broken record, But. I thought this was settled by the US Suprem Court in Gibbons v. Ogden 1824, Putting all bodies of water connected to an ocean as far inland a can be navigated(Transportation of passengers or freight for hire according to the US Department of transportation) is the juristdiction of the US Congress. Based on US Constitution Artical 3, sec 3 Admiralty Law, But quoting article 1 section 8 Powers of Congress(International commerous, Treatier with indians * forein powers(don’t tell the governor)) Lets not forget the statment The pertection of the US Constitution ends at the median tide line, & all bodies of water as fare inland as they can be navigated, are the JURISTDICTION of the US Congress. That Makes the harbor a US Teritory doesn’t it? CFR 33 1.97-5. (CFR 33 80.1118 / CFR 36 327.22 But then all that money was claimed by the Federal government As I read it)
    Oh lets not forfet Artical 1 section 10 Powers prohibited of a State, Collecting Taxes.
    Confused Code of Federal Regulations tittle 33 sec 80.1114 is the point the US Congres states the harbor changes from international law to Federal Law.

    The Yacht (A vessel not used for work. is not in the state so the 2 Cycle engines (Probably 871) Isn’t in the state, so it doesn’t have to meet state requirments. Unless they plan to take it inland, Oh they can’t.
    My question is why didn’t they sell the yacht in this falling market & buy one with 4 cycle engines, as so many people are doing. International commerous is the Congresses TERITORY. The founding fathers were so determined they put it in the constitution in 3 places. & the money is to go to the US Treasury department. How many jobs would that fund.

    • Cougo

      I think the point is that boat IS used for work. It is certainly not a pleasure yacht, it is being used as a tour boat obviously.
      If L.A. wants clean air they can change their engines if they want, even if it makes no practical sense. (I’d like to know who gets the huge kick-back for this job).

      • jackie

        you know the answer to that..the mayor of course.

  • Taxpayer Money Used To Maintain Million-Dollar Yacht | Yachts

    […] Taxpayer Money Used To Maintain Million-Dollar Yacht February 7th, 2012 | Author: admin Tweet Taxpayer Money Used To Maintain Million-Dollar Yacht LOS ANGELES (CBS) — With the city going broke you may be surprised to find out that Los Angeles is the proud owner of a million dollar yacht and it is about to undergo hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations at taxpayer expense. Read more on CBS Local […]

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