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OPINION: Assessor John Noguez Must Resign

At this week’s LA County Supervisor meeting, LA County Assessor John Noguez told the supervisors that tax revenue for the quarter would be “off by $50 million” and that “he did not see it coming”.

As you have read in this newspaper since February, the only one who could not see this coming was Nogeuz and anyone who defended him. There were plenty of warning signs that this deficit was coming, including articles citing the slide in the LA Times.

It all adds up; Noguez must resign.

First, he hired an ex trash hauler executive, Dr. Chris Carlos with no experience in appraisals or property tax assessments, named him his chief of staff, and then paid him more than anyone else, over $16,000 per month. Carlos ex-company, Athens Disposal, was under indictment when he was hired. Carlos has since resigned due to the revelation of pay and inexperience in articles published by LCCN.

Second, the operations, policies and procedures inside the assessor’s office-and this is before the $50 million deficit was revealed-is in shambles, no doubt in large part due to Carlos. Assessor’s representative Scott Schenter was able to secure large tax reductions for over 170 properties, 20% of those properties reduced by the “Shadow Assessor” Ramin Salari who banked 50% of each reduction. An assessor’s supervisor should have reviewed the properties in question, but mysteriously they were not.

Third, LA County DA’s Public Integrity investigation of his office, two are ongoing right now.

Fourth, the pay-to-play politics-run by Carlos-that is rampant at every level, including inside the office. It was revealed that many large political donors to the Noguez campaign have received preferential treatment by Noguez and his cronies. There were even donations from internal staff at the office to his campaign.

Fifth, the subpoena recently issued to Noguez by a San Diego attorney representing a client suing Salari. Salari, under oath during a deposition, said he did not know Noguez . When asked repeatedly, Salari finally took the fifth. After LCCN revealed that Salari knew Noguez, the San Diego attorney subpoenaed Noguez. Not surprisingly, the case was settled by Salari in about a week.

Sixth, Noguez allowing a private company to come into his office and shoot a video that promoted a private company. LCCN revealed this gaff the next day and the private company immediately pulled the video, probably at the behest of the assessor’s office. The next day LCCN received a letter from Noguez attempting to explain the video.

Lastly, the current $50 million deficit, the damage that will be caused to cities, schools, public safety, etc in Los Angeles and the upcoming internal audit. None of the Supervisors, with a combined experience of over 100 years had ever seen anything like this deficit, or the arrogance displayed by Noguez at the meeting.

It all adds up – unlike Noguez’ tax revenue projections – that he must resign.

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