CLICK ABOVE IMAGE TO ENLARGE
In reference to the current audit, what the PE failed to report was that the scope of the audit was to not only include a forensic audit of the sewer, but the electric and water. In addition, community advocates emphasized that the scope of the audit must address inter-agency transactions, not inter-fund transactions (of which we knew the majority of those were fine). Inter-agency loans are those made between to agencies such as the City of Riverside Sewer Department and the State with reference to Redevelopment. Inter-fund transaction happen all day long! From one department to another within that single agency, such as the City. So our question is, who got to the council? We don’t know? Did the best advocate for a resolution of this issue flip-flop? We say, yes!
Let’s take a look at the above transaction. Originally, the City Council approved the $5.4 million as a short term 120 day loan from the Sewer Fund to Redevelopment. What Council voted on was different than what actually occurred behind the scenes under former CFO Paul Sundeen. Council voted for a short term inter-agency loan (not inter-fund) from the Sewer Fund to Redevelopment which is a State Agency. What happened was instead of paying from the Sewer Fund, they drew the $5.4 million from the Workers Comp Fund as indicated. Then what happen next was the Electric Fund paid the Workmans Comp Fund. Then the Sewer Fund paid the Electric Fund. Why did all this happen? We call it money laundering. When the issue was brought forward, the City called it an “oversight,” we called it the “Sundeen Shuffle” (in reference to former CFO Paul Sundeen). The lingering question is how many instances of oversight does it take, to consider the actions fraudulent?
Barber and Sundeen have no concerns about how the City will make payments on debt because : a) they are part of the team that created the enormous mountain of debt, and b) the payments on the debt are the responsibility of City taxpayers/ratepayers. Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan. -whosincharg, Commenter on the PE
CLICK THIS IMAGE TO ENLARGE
How bout this one! Another oversight, as the City is labeling them. The original transaction was to be a $5 million dollar loan from the City Sewer Fund to the State Agency of Redevelopment. What actually happened was the $5 million was drawn from the Electric Fund as an inter-agency loan to RDA, instead of the Sewer Fund. What happened next was that the Workers Compensation Fund payed the Electric Fund. Then the Sewer Fund payed backed the Workers Compensation Fund. Again why was this done? We call this the “Sundeen Shuffle.” No it’s not a dance, as we know it, but a dance in perception. Why did the funds take this turn of event again? Was it nothing more than an attempt to “launder” taxpayer monies?
We noticed in 2011 that City of Riverside was commingling Redevelopment monies with our General Fund, and actually believed the city did this because to give the appearance of a healthy General Fund. This would be important for those such as investors, who would be looking at the financial healthy of our general fund. We asked the question if the City of Riverside was doing what the City of Miami was? In this Press Release by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it states that the City of Miami was transferring monies to their General Fund in order to mask increasing deficits in the General Fund. The City of Miami was actively marketing bonds to the investment public while their primary operating fund was boosted to give the appearance of strength. According to the SEC Press Release, Miami did not disclose to bondholders that the transferred funds included legally restricted dollars which, under city code, may not be commingled with any other funds or revenues of the city.
CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE
As you can see in the first thumbnail listed as June 2011, we have a commingling of State Funds with the General Fund. When we brought this to the attention the following month we saw a visual decrease by approximately 77% in the General Fund, this is thumbnail July 2011. By November 2011, thumbnail three, we noticed the General Fund contains just about $2,000.00. How would this look to an investor? In September 2012, thumbnail four, we find our General Fund was negative $73,412.00, again does not look appealing to investors. We have to remember, that it takes approximately 13 to 16 million a month to run the City of Riverside.
This is an example, of what former CFO Paul Sundeen did in order to give the impression that the General Fund was healthy. A no no in accounting practices, since those assets are from a State Agency, Redevelopment.
THE CITY OF PASADENA’S $6.4 MILLION EMBEZZLEMENT WOES POINTS TO ONE CITY EMPLOYEE, WHILE THE COMMUNITY POINTS THE BLAME AT CITY MANAGER MICHAEL BECK FOR HIS LACK OF OVERSIGHT AND ASK FOR HIS FIRING! Former Assistant Riverside City Manager Michael Beck, now City Manager of the City of Pasadena, is on the hot seat for a lack of oversight which the community resulted in the embezzlement of $6.4 million which lead to the arrest of three people, including a city employee, and the suspension of four other city hall employees.
Danny Ray Wooten was a management analyst with the City of Pasadena’s Public Works Department who is now accused of embezzlement, and is being charged in a 60 part felony complaint, according to the DA’s office.
The clincher here is that Mr. Wooten is also known as Pastor Wooten of the New Covenant Church in Pomona. Even that church is scrambling to check and audit their finances to see if they have been scammed by pastor Wooten in any way. But don’t sit down yet folks, it gets better, what the press has yet to mention is that former Public Works Director for the City of Riverside was Siobhan Foster… she is currently now the Public Works Director for the City of Pasadena, under the direction, of course, of Michael Beck. So what was Ms. Foster’s excuse for her inability to catch this criminal act? Possibly because she is not qualified? While Director of Public Works in Riverside, employees mentioned that she would asked the question of what a “pot hole” was.. Foster also had her bout with fuzzy math and the bid process which were the brunt of employee complaints.
Both Michael Beck and Siobhan Foster when they both worked for the City of Riverside, were under the direction of disgraced City Manager Brad Hudson, who’s decisions that were made will cause our City to confront treacherous financial waters as the years pass. But what many in the community are asking, is why did she resign in order to go to the City of Pasadena?
Incidentally, former interim City Attorney Christina Talley was the former City Attorney for the City of Pasadena during the years of 1994-1996, cities do recycle their employees! She came here to Riverside, while we sent former Public Works Director Siobhan Foster and former Assistant City Manager Michael Beck to Pasadena. Kiss that $6.4 million good bye Pasadena, it will cost another $6.4 million in legal fees to attempt to recover it! Beck and Foster need to go down for this one.
UPDATE: JANUARY 9, 2015: PAUL ZELLERBACH PLEADS “NO CONTEST” IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT: Of which many in the community are just considering a favor by Riverside County Superior Judge Beck Dugan, according to the Press Enterprise, Zellerbach pleaded no contest to following:
· Vandalism Under $400 (594(2)(a) California Penal Code)
· Trespassing to Place Unauthorized Signs (602(f) California Penal Code)
· Trespassing with Intent to Cause Damage (602(k) California Penal Code)
· Embezzlement (504 California Penal Code)
· Theft of Public Funds (424(a)(1) California Penal Code)
In lieu of the seriousness of the charges, Judgy Duggy didn’t throw the book at Zelly Baby but gave him a cushy ruling! 1.) pay various fines totaling $1,070.00, 2.) Take part in 60 hours of community service and 3.) One year of probation, (and this is cushy probation, not the hardball probation everyone else must take). There you are folks…
And of course, as is good practice with the PE, besides blocking commenters, is to bring the story out, and quickly bury it into the anal of internet ink.. Corruption runs deep from this trash we call Paul Zellerbach, to the Judges, Grand Jury, County Sups, Sheriff’s Unions etc. etc.
SHOULD SKIN COLOR BECOME AN ISSUE IN RIVERSIDE? LEE MCDOUGAL, FORMER RETIRED CITY MANAGER FOR THE CITY OF MONTCLAIR HIRED TO BE INTERIM RIVERSIDE CITY MANAGER.
It is unfortunate that we must make race an issue regarding these announcement, as if this has any bearing on ones job position. According to the PE City Spokeshole Phil Pitcford said that McDougal would be the first African American to lead Riverside.
Shouldn’t ethnicity not matter, and shouldn’t we be choosing people by their experience, qualification and the content of their character, and not bring skin color into the mix? We did this again when our first black Fire Chief for the City was hired, Michael D. Moore, the PE notated his skin color.
Are we attempting to describe as a City, something about our future and something about our past? Have we arrived as municipality that has no restrictions? Shouldn’t skin color never be an issue to began with? I think so. Now that I placed skin color to the way side, why do we have so many public servant retirees coming back for a second round of benefits? That is the question which needs to be answered. Both McDougal and Moore are retirees, who continue to work. Is the age for public retirement just to low? Of course it is, who are we fooling? Why is the public sector now the best gig in town? Because you as voters and residents allowed this to happen. You must be part of a Democracy or Republic in order for this exercise to occur. It is not free, you must be part of it in order for true Democracy to exist. This dysfunction seems relevant to the public sector. This seems to be a phenomenon relative to the public sector as opposed to the private sector, and gives individuals a second opportunity to feed at the taxpayer trough? That is of course, being able to retire at 55 years of age, and get a second attempt to repeat the process within a lifetime is just a misappropriation of taxpayer funds.
It is again unfortunate that we need to look at the outside for individuals to guide our City forward. We all know for example, that Interim Chief Mike Esparza should have been the Fire Chief. But did they all leave in order to solidify their pensions before the flow of money becomes less within the City in the coming years?
OUTSIDE LEGAL HELP PROBLEMATIC? DID WE HAVE A ROGUE FORMER CITY ATTORNEY WHO BY PASSED THE CITY COUNCIL TO APPROVE OUTSIDE LEGAL HELP WITHOUT COUNCIL AUTHORITY? ABSOLUTELY YES! With the new article in the PE regarding the hiring of outside legal help, which has been a common practice in the City of Riverside to do it without any sort of binding agreement or contract. Not only was the contract issue a concern for many in the community, because no one knew what was really being spent by former City Attorney Greg Priamos’s office. In many cases we felt that he used the taxpayers monies for his own legal agenda and agenda’s of the very few which in the long run, did not benefit the taxpayer, only cost them more.
One good example of Gregory’s contempt, was violating the will of the voters by blocking a ballot measure to be voted on, and of course, at taxpayer expense, as in the following PE article.One good example of Gregory’s contempt, was violating the will of the voters by blocking a ballot measure to be voted on, and of course, at taxpayer expense, as in the following PE article.
Former City Attorney Gregory Priamos
How would Christin Talley respond to this? I would imagine “No Comment.” Of course, Talley has had her own set of problems with competency with other cities whom hired her through Best, Best & Krieger Law Firms.
In any case, we don’t know how this one fell through the roof, but we did manage to receive one arrangement between BB&K and the City of Riverside to represent Former Chief of Police Russ Leach. What a surprise, it’s signed by former City Attorney Greg Priamos and Grover Trask, former Riverside County District Attorney now in the employment of BB&K. Oh lets’ just call it a “contract”, or correctly a “retainer agreement”. Tomato, tomahto, oh let’s just call the whole thing off… Wish we could, but it gets better.
CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW WHOLE DOCUMENT
This was an article we posted back in May of 2012 when we requested all contracts for outside legal help by the City Attorney’s office. There were no documents responsive! This was recently brought to the forefront with a new article by Dan Bernstein from the Press Enterprise, “Riverside: The (Hidden) Cost of Business.” Bernstein refers to all the non contractual outside legal services which are not documented, a hidden cost as he calls it, but not hidden to taxpayer monies. One of the most striking documents we at TMC found a couple of years ago was one which Best, Best & Krieger had their own charge card, to charge the City of Riverside as they needed to for legal work rendered. Charges to the tune in excess of six figures?
CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW FULL DOCUMENTS OF CORPORATE CARD
The writers of the below public records request were trying to determine by what authority did the City Attorney’s Office claim their right to hire outside legal without City Council approval. The following first two documents are the letter of request to the City Attorney’s Office asking them to answer the question of no contracts. The last letter is a response by City Attorney Greg Priamos stating there are no documents responsive.
CLICK ON ABOVE DOCUMENT IMAGES TO ENLARGE
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE REFERENCING SECTION 702
The question then arose was because of Section 702 Eligilbility, powers and duties of the City Attorney, from the City of Riverside City Charter. This section of the charter stated, “The City Council shall have control over all legal business and proceedings and may employ other attorneys to take charge of any litigation or to assist the City Attorney therein.” We were also told that state bar requires a lawyer to provide a contract for any work done for a client. We ascertain that Section 702 makes all outside legal services require approval by the majority of the City Council.
With this in mind, an new issue arose, this was of the City Manager, Scott Barber. The PE reported that the city has hired, with two contracts of $49K each, a law firm to conduct an investigation of two councilman, Davis and Soubirous. The $49K is significant because it is just below the $50K cap that the city manager can spend without seeking council approval. We don’t contest that the City Manager has the right to spend this money without council approval, but we don’t believe that Section 701 of the City Charter gives the City Manager the authority to hire outside legal without City Council approval.
Section 703 of the City Charter says: “The city clerk shall have the power and be required to: (c) maintain separate books, in which a record shall be made of all written contracts and official bonds.” We believe the intent of this charter requirement is for there to be a publicly accessible record of how public funds are being spent. The practice of hiring outside legal services circumvents the intent of this section.
Section 1401 of the city charter states: “the violations of any provision of this charter shall be deemed a misdemeanor and be punishable upon conviction by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars or by imprisonment of a period not exceeding six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.” We can therefore ask the question, “Is it per incident?” If it is, it certainly can add up for some individuals. When we are talking about millions of dollars, as indicated in the Press Enterprise, we have to ask the question, “Does it become a felony?” How then can one account for such mismanagement of taxpayer monies without a legal rationale for the beneficial purposes of those monies? What is the real truth here that appears to have been circumvented by City Attorney and City Managers by a document called a City Charter? A document which appears not to be abided by when it should.
We say this because of the circumstances. We bring the incident which involved our current City Manager Scott Barber. Just in September of 2012, City Manager Scott Barber decided to take his City Manager hat off and play Council by authorizing a change order of $2.5 million without council authority for the Fox Performance Plaza. He brought the issue to Council and basically appeared they would rubber stamp the idea, after-the-fact. Had this type of shenanigans been done before by the prior City Manager? The City Manager’s discretionary spending cap is at $50,000.00, anything over that amount must go to council. Certainly violated the Charter Amendment. What made Barber think that he had the authority to act as an elect and ferret it out without them? A complaint should have been filed against him with Human Resources, and Council should have fired him immediately.
Or the time, which involved City Attorney Greg Priamos denying that he had anything to do with the command for the arrest of public speaker, Karen Wright. Officer Sahagun was commanded by the City Attorney to arrest public speaker Karen Wright. Then Priamos calls the police report “inaccurate”, this then implies that officer Sahagun is s liar. Brian Smith, RPOA President states, “we call that a lie in the profession, and the State of California calls it lying in a police report a crime.” So if it is in fact a lie, will Priamos prosecute Officer Sahagun for falsifying a police report? To this day it remains unclear what Priamos meant by referring to the report as “inaccurate.” In addition, has yet to give an explanation of what was actually said between himself and Officer Sahagun. Again is City Attorney Greg Priamos a liar?
The question is, “Why should the taxpayer put up with what appears to be “rogue” activity? What should be done about it? Why isn’t anything being done about it now?” It is appearing that by default we are experiencing the “two sets of rules syndrome.” So why does the house always win, when the taxpayer should be in charge? When will Council take the reigns of power they were given to them by the taxpayer and defend them?
MAY 2012 ORIGINAL TMC ARTICLE: CITY OF RIVERSIDE: OFFICE OF CITY ATTORNEY: “WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING CONTRACTS!”
It has been apparent to the community of the close working relationship between the law firm Best, Best & Krieger and the City of Riverside. What’s quite evident in fact is that the working relationship between the two entities involves oral contracts. According to City Attorney Gregory Priamos no hard contracts exist not even a retainer agreement, when a public request act is initiated. When it comes to a public accounting of the expenditures of the City Attorney, as requested by Mayoral Candidate Dvonne Pitruzzello, a rejection letter below, for the request was sent. According to the letter Gregory sent, there is no such accounting that has been prepared, and according to law, the law does not impose any duty to create such a record. Therefore, non is required. Since when has the taxpayer not be allowed to know what their money is being spent on? This should be disturbing to many people, because it states that they treading waters they should not be treading. And according to the law, the City Attorney’s office is not required to disclose the spending of taxpayer monies. You have to know there is something very wrong with this picture. Common sense would tell you there is something to hide behind the dark glasses of City Attorney Gregory Priamos.
CLICK THIS LINK TO VIEW DENIAL LETTER
Above is a letter sent to Dvonne Pitruzzello regarding her request for an accounting of the City Attorney’s from Gregory Priamos. The law does state that if no documents are responsive to ones request, they, the city has to help you identify the request.
On 05/15/2012 at City Council, Mayoral Candidate Dvonne Pitruzzello stated to City Attorney Gregory Priamos, “how many denials of public records act does it take to get disbarred”? What’s a real contradiction is that the City of Riverside has ‘retainer agreements’ for services with every other law firm they do business with. Though an excess in millions of dollars have been paid out to BB&K, there has been no pertinent or rational explanation to the taxpayer. We were even denied BB&K’s billing hours under the public records act. As taxpayers, should we believe that we should expect anything less than a written contract? I would say not. When individuals ask for a rational explanation regarding no contracts, the city’s implication to the community is that “we don’t need no stink’n contracts”? Is this an act of arrogance or defiance by a public servant toward their employer, the taxpayer? If anyone has dealt with lawyers there is always a contract, but it appears that the City is the only entity that is allowed to perform this “verbally”, or as we understand it, not even with a “memorandum of understanding.” One of the biggest law firms in the nation, Best, Best & Krieger is hands down an exception with the City of Riverside? What is it between the two? As community residents, are we also to accept the fact that Best, Best & Krieger is allowed to dictate carte blanche their legal fees to the taxpayer via their own credit card? It seems so, according to the following documents, but what else is the public to otherwise believe?
CLICK LINK TO VIEW FULL DOCUMENT
And we’re not talking nickels and dimes, but six figures and more. So the question is, who’s in charge and watching taxpayer’s coffers? It appears the city council is not, not even the mayor, it definitely appears that the city attorney’s office isn’t according to the excessive litigation cost. So who’s minding the store? Inquiring taxpayers would like to know. But just maybe, the store has an open door policy, right to the cash register. Why? Quite possibly as a direct result of their incestuous relationship between this law firm and the city that has grown over the years.
Such a cozy arrangement between certain ex-city of riverside employees as well as BB&K employees who are strategically now on city committees. Conflict of interest? The cast of BB&K characters interlaced with City of Riverside, who previously worked with the city, or on their boards and committees are numerous. Former Grover Trask (former Riverside County District Attorney), Michelle Quellette (City of Riverside’s Charter Review Committee), Jack Clark (Committee to name City Hall after Mayor Ron Loveridge) or Charity Schiller (Vice Chair of Riverside Downtown Partnership), now of course, our interim City Attorney Christina Talley. BB&K has also been in the media with the City of Bell, whereby the city is now suing BB&K attorney Edward Lee for faulty legal advice. Even Governor Jerry Brown subpoenaed BB&K records regarding pay packages in Bell, California.
Measure A… The City of Riverside used taxpayer monies to bankroll their campaign against citizen advocate groups! The scam that continues to continues to give, masterminded by former City Attorney Gregory Priamos!
OUR NEW INTERIM LAWTINA CITY ATTORNEY CHRISTINA TALLEY NOW SUING HER FORMER EMPLOYER THE CITY OF ANAHEIM. According to OC Weekly Talley states that she is victim of council majority’s war on Latinos. In this suit she is using the race card by claiming discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment. The majority of the lawsuit is aimed at Council member Kris Murray, who incidentally, is a white female, which Talley says was “extremely rude, condescending and sarcastic” in personal dealings. Talley has a hearing set for January 5th, 2015, but in a prior hearing in November 2014, District Judge David O. Carter ordered both parties to try to resolve the dispute through mediation.
One blog site defends Talley regarding her advice to Council members, and states that her advice on the issue of the Gardenwalk project was sound. But one commenter on the Orange Juice Blog made this comment.
IS GENERAL MANAGER GIRISH BALACHANDRAN OF THE RIVERSIDE PUBLIC UTILITIES IN CONFLICT BY BEING A BOARD MEMBER OF THE GREATER RIVERSIDE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE? What has been brought to the attention to TMC is that the newly christened General Manager of our Riverside Public Utilities is also a board member with the Greater Riverside Chamber Commerce. We find this a conflict of interest in that it directly impacts the public he represents without our input. Checks written to the Chamber by Public Utilities for what ever supportive reason is not in the best interest of the public and the rate payers, especially if they are approved under the General Manager Mr. Balachandran.
WHAT STAYS IN VEGAS DIDN’T STAY VERY LONG? FORMER RIVERSIDE GENERAL MANAGER DAVE WRIGHT TAKES JOB WITH LOS ANGELES DWP. Wright retired from the City of Riverside Public Utilities as
the political heat got to him their General Manager in July 2013 to take a job in Las Vegas, Nevada. Who retires to take another job? If you say you are going to retire don’t you just retire? Who retires at 53years of age? The common phenomenon with public workers is that you are set to retire early to take a pension, then you can go on to double and even triple dip into public taxpayer monies even more. Then you are set to buy that mansion in Bel Air. Now, Mr. Wright will begin work with the LADWP this coming February, 2015 as their Senior Assistant General Manager. Good Luck Dave! you’ll probably fit in with all the scandal with LADWP, god knows what you did in Riverside. The scandal of course involved inaccurate customer rates and $40 million in revenues that were mysteriously spent by then General Manager Ron Nicols and the head of DWP’s biggest union. Brian D’Arcy, union head continued to skew the issue of how public monies were spent in the form of non-profit trust.
IS IT A TAX OR FEE? THE QUESTION DEFINED BY THE WASHINGTON POLICY CENTER. The question arises many times the definition of a tax and the term “fee”, and is a fee a tool utilized by Cities to create revenue. But are they doing this illegally or getting around the law by calling a tax a fee?
NEXT UP: ONE OF RPD’S AND RPOA’S FINEST…AND WE HAVE TO THANK SERGIO FOR THIS ONE!
TMC, RATED RIVERSIDE’S MOST “OFFENSIVE,” “INAPPROPRIATE,” “HURTFUL,” “MEAN SPIRITED,” “DISTASTEFUL,” “EMBARRASSING,” HORIFFIC,” “SLANDEROUS” AND
MEZZSPELLED, “MISSPELLED” AND “OPINIONATED” BLOG SITE! TEMPORARILY BLOCKED BY THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE AT PUBLIC ACCESS SITES WITHIN THE CITY, THEN UNBLOCKED. I GUESS YOU CANNOT DO THAT ACCORDING TO THE ACLU. RATED ONE TWO ONE STAR OUT OF FIVE IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY APPROVAL RATINGS.. TMC IS NOW EXCLUSIVLY EXCLUSIVELY ON FILE WITH THE COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE (WE BELIEVE THIS WILL END SOON, SINCE THE FOCUS IS NOW ON THE IMPROPRIETIES OF MR. “Z”, WE TRIED TO TELL YOU, BUT NOBODY LISTENED), AND DON’T FORGET WE ARE PROSSIBLY POSSIBLY ON FILE WITH THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE’S POTENTIAL SLAPP SUIT LIST… A STRATEGIC LEGAL MANEUVER THAT CAN BE DONE ONLY IN RIVERSIDE WITHOUT A CONTRACT… AGAIN, THANK-YOU COMMUNITY OF RIVERSIDE AND THE CITY OF RIVERSIDE EMPLOYEE’S FOR YOUR SUPPORT! COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOMED, ESPECIALLY SPELL CHECKERS! WE JUST CAN’T SPELL! EMAIL ANONYMOUSLY WITH YOUR DIRT BY CONTACTING US AT: THIRTYMILESCORRUPTION@HOTMAIL.COM