OPINION PIECE BY DONNA WESTFALL
Have you heard about the former manager at Madoff’s firm being sentenced to
six years in prison? Apparently, Annette Bongiorno worked nearly 40 years for
the firm and was indicted in 2010 not as a coldly calculating participant in
Madoff’s Ponzi scheme but willfully blinded herself to the “corrupt illogicality”
of what was going on. Five days ago the Judge pronounced sentence. So, it’s
taken her four years of legal maneuvers, but she’s toast and many believe that’s
a light sentence.
Just trying to say illogicality is a tongue twister. Here it is broken down
It makes me reflect on those four miserable years I sat on the Crescent City, City Council. It was during the time of the upgrade and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. While I was the only council member watching out for the ratepayer in that I was the only one asking questions about falsified payroll by Colburn Electric, (which turned out to be true and the City lost $165,000 in penalty money), possible double and triple billing by Stover Engineering, the expansion component on the system whose reports and documents have now been destroyed….it should be obvious now that the Willdan Financial Services 2008 report was erroneous in their predications of sewer rates being able to sustain payment on the loan. Otherwise, why is the city in default on their State Revolving Fund loan?
And during those four year every inch of the way, former Council member Kelly Schellong, Council member Kathryn Murray, former Council member Dennis Burns and former Council member Charles Slert would berate, argue, and accuse me of a power grab. After all their machinations, guess what? I predicted this would bankrupt the City. Today we all know that I was right. I predicted in 2007 that the City would be bankrupt in short order because this small community cannot support a $43.8 million loan. I predicted that they would continue to raise the rates? And they are and I was right again. Were they and former Council member Irene Tynes willfully blinded? Or were they stupid? Or were they part and parcel of the corruption? And, finally, who benefited the most from the sewer upgrade? Former Public Works Director, Jim Barnts?
While several in the community sent Schellong off the city council with flowers and plaques and applause, there are even more in this community that would like to see her sharing a cell with the convicted crooks from Bell, California because we can’t afford politicians like her and her cronies.
If the sewer rate calculation report(s) were faulty, why isn’t the city demanding a refund of up to the $60,000 they paid to Willdan? Why isn’t the City Council asking questions of Willdan? Isn’t there one brain between the five of them to explore what happened? Or are they going to continue to be willfully blinded to what has taken place and what is sure to take place in the future in light of Utilities Manager, Eric Wier’s, November 18th request for another $36 million for more work at the sewer plant from the same State Water Resources Control Board that condones their own negligence and culpability in loaning money to a city that can’t afford to repay it?
Once people understand the importance of Prop 218 they will realize the relationship between expansion being paid for by developers; and operations and maintenance being paid for by ratepayers. They will then be crystal clear on the number one problem with our sewer rates. The City needs to come up with a formula that is fair to ratepayers. But, the City has been negligent in properly calculating the expansion rates. The City Council has demonstrated to me malfeasance in not taking their roles seriously. The City would never come up with a formula that states in black and white that the lion’s share is to be borne by developers; NOT THE RATEPAYERS. Even though I asked. They never produced the reports to show how they came up with their 12% expansion figures. Matter of fact, based on our August 19th meeting, they destroyed the reports. The two pages that were provided to us were undated, faulty and finally the numbers were wrong.
And then there’s this: did you know that the City is supposed to keep all records having to do with the $43.8 million SRF loan for 36 years? Did you know that the City has destroyed all video recordings of Council meeting prior to June 2010? So, pay close attention. Because when the City destroys reports which could be used in court that’s a sign. Here’s the verbiage from the City Council agenda: