LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The city of Los Angeles’ pothole-repair numbers may be filled with holes, CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein has learned.

His revelation could punch holes in the city’s claim that they filled 22,375 potholes in fiscal years 2011 to 2013.

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Goldstein showed Kevin James, the president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, a video that captured a city pothole crew filling cracks on Goleta Street and Sharp Avenue in Sun Valley.

Goldstein later obtained the crew’s worksheets.

On the entry of Goleta and Sharp, the crew put “X’s” in the column “PH,” which means they claimed to have repaired a pothole.

“It’s inaccurate. What you showed me was not a pothole. Those were cracks, so those should have been listed as cracks, not potholes,” James said.

The crew in question and others were found claiming to fill potholes as small as one foot by one foot, which James said is a red flag.

“One by one by one should not qualify as a pothole,” he said. “We actually have a nice technical definition of a pothole. It’s an indentation of roughly 2 feet in diameter in the shape of a pot. Thus, pothole.”

Asked about the accuracy of the city’s claim, James said: “It’s obvious. Looking at this, David, the accuracy of the number provided by the (Bureau of Street Services) is off. No doubt about it.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti claims pothole repairs are up, even though the numbers may be flawed.

“Whether they’re using a bad methodology this year and past years, we know we’ve done more potholes. I want to make sure the number is an honest number, though, too. If it’s a crack repair, call it a crack repair,” Garcetti said.

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Meantime, Goldstein reports that an investigation is underway into whether pothole repair crews have been doing their jobs in a timely manner.

Last month, hidden cameras captured a crew going to breakfast just after they left the yard in the morning.

Another crew arrived back at the yard an hour and 40 minutes earlier than they claimed on their timesheet.

Both instances apparently went undetected until Goldstein exposed what was going on.

Since the investigation, James said, crews have been supervised both on the ground and electronically.

The city has started to deploy a smartphone GPS tracking system called mComet.

So far, seven of 12 pothole crews have been issued the phones.

The system will show the route of each truck in real time and collect data on where it stopped and for how long.

“All it takes is one or two people to spoil it for everybody else, and if we can make sure the people know they’re being watched and being tracked, we can have that accountability,” Garcetti said.


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David Goldstein