Los Angeles News

$707K approved for Ridley-Thomas renovations

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved spending more than twice the median price of a California home to renovate Mark Ridley-Thomas's office. And in these tough financial times, the vote to spend more than $700,000 was unanimous. No debate. Spending that amount of money at this particular time is sure to raise questions.

This is the anniversary of Mark Ridley-Thomas's first year in office. The four other county supervisors approved spending $707,000 to renovate their colleague's offices.

"I'm here to celebrate one year of hard work, and it seems to me to work in an environment that's decent is a part of what it means to keep people motivated," said Ridley-Thomas.

Ridley-Thomas says his is the only office that hasn't been upgraded and it shouldn't be a second-class operation.

It isn't exactly a slum. The wooden walls are generally in good shape. The carpet is a little bare. The ceilings aren't very modern. Neither are the electrical outlets.

"It's cramped conditions, as well as people having to double up in offices," said Ridley-Thomas.

An office memo lists reasons to spend $700,000:

  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Healthy lighting levels
  • Cleaning the air-supply ducts
  • Replace carpeting that's more than 10 years old
  • Better power and data distribution
  • Replacing all latches and doorknobs
  • Replace the office kitchenette

Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer Bill Fujioka approved the deal, but he didn't want to go on camera to talk about it.

L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina has been in office 18 years. She's spent less than $100,000 on renovations.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich has been there 29 years and his staff says he's spent next to nothing on renovation.

Supervisor Don Knabe spent some money on carpet.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky renovated some back offices.

"There's no reason to think this office should have anything less than any other office," said Ridley-Thomas. "That day is over. Gone. Good bye."

Eyewitness News asked Ridley-Thomas's office for an itemized list of the renovations but hasn't received it.

Once the $707,000 refurbishment begins it will take an estimated six months to complete.

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