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Web Feature | Government

Interactive: HACLA Expenses Database

Looking into the spending habits of city Housing Authority officials led us deep into the agency's vault of records. What emerged from an analysis of thousands of receipts and credit card statements is what some might consider a propensity for lavish meals, gifts and employee incentives.

The database below contains many of these records, including copies of receipts where available. Our public records request turned up too many documents to publish them all. For an explanation of which records we decided to include and why, see the notes section below.

Click the tabs at the top to see just one type of expense. You can sort the data by date, name, vendor or cost using the column headers, or use the search box. Click a green "plus" to see a copy of the original receipt. If you really want to dig deeper, check out our tips below.

For another way to crunch the data, check out our timeline of fine dining expenses for 2010.

Reporting: Miguel Contreras, Lata Pandya, Rocio Zamora; Development: Kevin Andexler, Jason Bazalar, David Egen, Brian Frank

• "Shift-click" on headers to sort again by a second, third or fourth column.

• Click the name of a vendor or person to see only results for that item.

For practical reasons, we limited the dining category to "sit-down" establishments. Also, we reasoned that any spending that might be deemed excessive or inappropriate for a public agency was more likely to turn up at a full-service restaurant than at a fast food or coffee chain.

For some of the meals, the tab may have been higher because of the number of people dining. Handwritten notes often indicated these were business meetings or possibly community meetings. However, we decided to omit the size of the party, because in most cases there was simply no way to verify it.

For expediency, we have limited the expense reports on employee incentives and gifts to the people who charged the most to their company cards. We also showed only those incentives and gifts that were themselves clearly noted as such or appeared similar to records that were.

Some of the receipts we received from HACLA were illegible, but we decided to include them anyway. For accuracy, we cross-referenced them several ways and matched them up with credit card statements.

To be fair, expenses on dining, gifts and other activities after the firing of HACLA chief "Rudy" Montiel appear in some cases to have decreased, but our records after March 2011 are incomplete. In addition, many of the entries in this database are certainly legitimate expenditures. We leave it to the public to determine which those might be.

Questioning the Expenses
In the course of our investigation, we did come across a few examples of HACLA staff raising the alarm. In one case, a staffer reminded John King, HACLA's director of planning and policy development, that his purchase card could not be used to buy alcoholic beverages. She requested that he reimburse the agency.

Reminding executive staffer alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased with agency card.

In another example, also involving King, a staffer questioned whether Roy's Restaurant was an acceptable place to use his company credit card. Executive assistant Tiffany Prescott replied by e-mail: "It was approved by Mr. ["Rudy"] Montiel so why is it being questioned." The expense, which appears in our database above, appears to have been approved. Questioning whether a restaurant was approved under purchase card rules.

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