Roots of L.A. City Council’s leaked audio scandal can be traced back decades.
From the 1970s to the 1980s, there was a small movement within Los Angeles City Council that sought to create “a more democratic and more efficient way of government, and a more responsive, more open government.”
Those who called for change were driven by a desire for government transparency, accountability, and efficiency.
Former Councilman Art Barajas founded the council’s first “tiger squad” in the 1970s to investigate misconduct and to hold people accountable for problems within Council.
“At the time, I thought it was pretty radical,” said Ken Kamii, a former Council president and a senior partner at law firm Baker Hostetler in Washington, D.C.
“We were using the term ‘tiger squad’ and had people who had the authority to take care of public problems like that,” he said.
One of those original tiger squad members was then-Councilman Barajas, who was elected in 1973 to replace the retiring Alderman Ed Norris, who had served since 1941.
Barajas took his first steps toward making Los Angeles a more transparent city.
At the time, he used his powers to investigate the police department. He opened up corruption cases against the department, which he eventually dropped when he was elected to office.
Barajas was also known for creating a city charter called “the Barajas Act.”
The act created the office of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission (LAPE) and gave the commission authority to investigate City Hall.
“It gave me a little more scope to do what I felt was necessary,” councilman Art Barajas was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times in 2008.
“I used the power of the purse to try to close certain things down, but I wasn’t all that successful,” Barajas said at the time.