LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A city of Los Angeles employee who we caught on a workday leaving a spa after getting a massage is earning your taxpayer money, but you would never know it.
The truck he is getting into doesn’t have any logos because it is rented by the city.
No one knows he’s on duty with the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, getting a massage in San Dimas, 25 miles from his office, except CBS2. He’s one of several city employees CBS2 saw driving unmarked rented trucks, using them like their personal vehicles, which is against the rules.
Many city trucks are yellow with city seals on the side. However, since Jan. 1, 2016, Los Angeles has spent $3.1 million to rent trucks to supplement its fleet.
Some of those include garbage and panel trucks. Some have a temporary city seal pasted over the Hertz logo. Many have no markings at all.
CBS2’s David Goldstein caught Francisco Pena, an electrician with street services who made $100,000 in 2016, driving around in a $50,000 2017 Ford pickup rented by the city. He wasn’t just driving around for work.
CBS2 saw him park the truck at Costco. Without any city markings, no one knew he was shopping while on duty. That’s against the rules that state, “City vehicles are to be used by employees to conduct city business.”
In fact, CBS2 even found a city memo that addresses this problem. It states, “Citizens and taxpayers quickly notice and criticize the unauthorized and improper use of city owned automobiles.”
CBS2 witnessed Pena driving back and forth from downtown Los Angeles to his home in San Dimas.
Many times, Pena went well above the speed limit.
When Goldstein confronted him, Pena said he was using the truck because his “car broke down.”
However, CBS2 saw him driving the truck for a few weeks. At one point, he stopped by a day spa. He admitted getting a massage.
“This just reflects how poorly managed the city is, nobody has responsibility for anything,” political watchdog Jack Humphreville said.
“It’s impossible to watch everyone,” says Kevin James, president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.
When asked why the city is not monitoring and reporting the personal use of these vehicles, James responded, “I don’t know.”
“Does that trouble you?” Goldstein asked.
“Of course, it troubles me,” James responded.
Pena is reportedly on paid administrative leave while officials investigate.