Between a Rock and a Hard Place
As some of you know things are getting interesting in City Hall. I missed the city council meeting where some upper echelon members of the staff took to the podium as “private citizens” and blasted me for implying they are lazy, and was called a “malicious bully” by soon to retire Redevelopment Agency Manager Marty Ackerman who got a little over-animated. This was all because I wrote a column (R-P and Sentinel) about how much these members of city management staff earn. I compared their wages to those of the City of Pasadena which unbelievably, position by position, earn not much over what we compensate our city employees. But, instead of taking exception to the fact of how much they earn and that they receive car allowances they resorted to talking about Pasadena. Real soon they will find out why I used the city of Pasadena as an example. Maybe you can tell them.
As many of you know I am a private investigator and have been an investigator for the majority of my life. It is difficult to turn on, or off, investigative instincts acquired through education, training and experience. As the result many times I find myself between a rock and a hard place which is going to happen more often now because as I become better informed how our city works, the more questions I have.
REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY FUNDS (you know, the money to be used for redevelopment of blighted areas) Eleven city employees and other “personnel costs” for Code Enforcement, Planning, and Accounting, are being paid over a Million Dollars from Redevelopment Funds. Marty Ackerman led this team of employees with $107,774 and add another $44,021.00 from another unknown source of funding for a grand total of $151,795.00 for a year’s pay. There are several others in the $100,000 Plus Club. Doug Mattos, a Sr. Administrative Analyst, earns a total of $104,867.00, almost $40,000 of it coming from redevelopment funds. Tamara Vides, another Administrative Analyst, earns $108,948, $54,474 of it from redevelopment funds. Kurt Overmeyer, Redevelopment Economic Manager earns a total of $116,760 with $17,514 coming from “other funds”.
Here is the kicker; have we been paying Jan Davidson as an “Assistant Redevelopment & Housing Director-Temp, Part Time” $57,801 from Redevelopment Funds for this past fiscal year? Is this is the same lady that City Manager Carlos Palacios recently announced that she was coming back on an interim half-time basis? If we have been paying Ms. Davison that amount of money it may be possible that we may have been paying $209,596 a year for 2 people to manage our Redevelopment Agency. So we are paying around 2 million per year to 20 city employees?
MEANWHILE, BACK IN PASADENA
Where is our fire truck, I asked. I found that our city wrote a check in the amount of $225,000 back in April 2008 for a ladder truck that we still don’t have possession of. After I asked about the location of the truck, we finally purchased it on December 8th, 2010 and received the title, but not the truck. But why, for over 2 years and 8 months, did $225,000 of our federal tax dollars inexplicably sit in a fire truck dealership’s bank account gaining interest while we were asking both our fire and police departments to take cuts in pay? But, this isn’t the worst of it. After conducting due diligence, I found out that the truck we “purchased” still belonged to the city of Pasadena and not the dealership. This left me little choice but make a public records request from the City Clerk in Pasadena. They provided me a document that was produced to their city council whereupon it was reported that the fire truck, which our city council was led to believe was in “excellent condition” by Fire Chief Mark Bisbee, could not be sold because it did not meet state safety requirements and standards. And, as the result the Pasadena City Council was told that the value of the fire truck was $20,000, if that much, and could only be used as a trade in.
What our city council was led to believe, what we paid for the truck, or that the money sat in a bank account other than our city’s, for almost 3 years, may seem astounding. But what is additionally concerning is that it took me since November 29, 2010 until a few weeks ago to determine the majority of the facts. An elected official should not have to spend 3 months and over one hundred hours of due diligence, and require the use of the Freedom of Information Act because of a simple question; “Where is our money”?
I have been accused of being a “malicious bully” by RDA Manager Ackerman, and currently being investigated for a Code of Ethics Violation by an Ad-Hoc Committee appointed by Mayor Dodge all because a lobbyist (Elias Alonzo) for a multi-millionaire developer wanting redevelopment agency money with direct connections to our city manager, mayor, and some council members, is demanding that somehow I have to go. What’s next, another smear campaign or as Antonio Rivas demanded a recall?