By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
West Hollywood city council member Jeffrey Prang, perhaps the ultimate public servant, deserves your vote for Los Angeles County Assessor on Tuesday.
Jeffrey Prang deserves your vote if only for gently easing John Noguez out of the office so the business of tax assessment could go on.
The office of the Assessor has been troubled since current assessor, John Noguez, was indicted in a pay for play scandal set off by disclosures that a top manager in his office reduced property values by about $172 million to lower tax bills in exchange for political contributions to Mr. Noguez during his campaign for that office.
In an odd bit of timing, Mr. Prang had just left a job and needed one; he went to Mr. Noguez before the scandal broke and inquired. Mr. Noguez, a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Prang’s, hired him.
Then came the FBI, LAPD and the raids of the Assessor’s office and Mr. Noguez’s home.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked Mr. Prang to jump into the breach to keep lines of communications open between the Assessor and the Supervisor.
In his lengthy endorsement of Jeff Prang, County Supervisor Yaroslavsky issued a memo calling Mr. Prang “A Proven Reformer”
“Jeffrey Prang has helped lead the efforts to reform the Assessor’s Office following the political corruption scandal, orchestrating the departure of the indicted Assessor and his replacement with a reform administrator, which has stabilized the Office and embarked on an aggressive strategic plan for the future,” said the endorsement.
“When it became necessary to restore integrity and public confidence to the Assessor’s office, Jeff Prang played a key role in helping the County lay the groundwork for cleaning house and bringing honest leadership to that troubled department. Jeff put the public interest first, and for that I am very grateful.”
Putting the public first is the characteristic I happen to most admire about Mr. Prang.
He is sometimes criticized for what critics call a “plodding way,” and admirers call a “prudent approach.”
The key to the characterization is that he will make no hasty decisions.
Since easing Mr. Noguez out, Santos H. Kreiman ran the office keeping Mr. Prang on as a member of the executive staff and as a member of his reform administration.
Since July 2013, Mr. Prang has coordinated the department’s strategic planning process and serves as a key member of the department’s public affairs team, responsible for legislative analysis, communications, intergovernmental relations, community relations, and policy analysis.
“I really wanted to stay there to help clean up the mess that John left,” he told me. “I’d like to bring a level of transparency and accessibility to the office that I have tried to practice here in West Hollywood as a council member.”
He said he was proud of the progress made under Mr. Kreimann’s leadership. “All the issues that led to the ‘pay-to-play’ have been addressed making it nearly impossible for it to happen again,” he said.
Now his project is digitization of the Assessor’s records.
“Right now all the county records are in paper files. There are millions, maybe billions, of pieces of paper that need to be scanned. We’re the largest assessor’s department in the country, and there is no ‘off-the-shelf’ application for us to use,” complicating matters.
I understand there are nearly one dozen candidates vying for the office, almost all from the Assessor’s office (one is a county DA). None of them can tell a tale of helping to right a listing organization vital to our government.
Vote for West Hollywood City Council member Jeffrey Prang for Los Angeles County Assessor 2014.