A taxpayer-funded project to provide a home security system for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas included extensive improvements to his garage that involved a week of work and upgrades to the building’s electrical service, according to interviews and records. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / March 24, 2013)
By Jack Leonard and Paul Pringle
January 19, 2014, 8:50 p.m.
A taxpayer-funded project to provide a home security system for Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas included improvements to his converted garage that involved a week of work and upgrades to the building’s electrical service, according to interviews and records.
County-paid crews installed the security system in Ridley-Thomas’ detached garage, which earlier had been turned into an office, apparently without permits. Workers replaced the garage’s interior walls and dug a 60-foot-long trench across the property to bury conduit and make more electrical power available to the structure, the manager of the project said.
In all, about $10,000 worth of work was done at the supervisor’s Leimert Park residence as part of the security measures, L.A. County records show.
Supervisors, who make an annual salary of $181,292, are entitled to home security systems provided by the county, but not to unrelated improvements to their property at government expense. Experts on alarm systems said they doubted that all of the work performed last September at Ridley-Thomas’ residence was required by the security installation.
John Thompson, who oversaw the work at Ridley-Thomas’ property, said that in addition to an alarm system, workers installed a wall-mounted air conditioner and heating unit as well as a refrigerator and flat-screen TV. Thompson, a manager with the county’s Internal Services Department, said he suggested the supervisor get the air conditioner because the converted garage was hot inside. He said Ridley-Thomas paid for the cooling-heating unit and the refrigerator, and that he believed the television came from the supervisor’s office in the county Hall of Administration.
It is unclear whether Ridley-Thomas reimbursed the county for any other costs.
Thompson said he previously worked on the supervisor’s county offices and that Ridley-Thomas asked him to oversee the garage project. “He is the nicest guy,” Thompson said. “I will do anything for that guy.”
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