BY DONNA WESTFALL
Item 5.4 was voted on and the count was 3 to 1 in favor of releasing the confidential report by Donald Scanlon dated July 16, 2013. This report will be made available for viewing to the public at the Solid Waste Management Authority. Absent at the Board meeting was Martha McClure.
Background: Originally in October 2012, information was revealed regarding “missing funds” from the Solid Waste Authority. A complaint was filed with Del Norte County Sheriff’s Department. Detective Bob Barber was assigned to the case. His report consisted of 1- 1/2 pages. See memo dated May 21, 2014 by legal counsel, Martha Rice.
I called Diana Stanley at the Sheriff’s Department and got in to review the report. Included in the report were two suspects listed; Kevin Hendrick and Ellen Brown. Both were employees of Solid Waste Management Authority. Kevin Hendrick was the Executive Director and had worked for Solid Waste Authority for about 20 years.
Detective Bob Barber is no longer with the force. One reliable source stated he resigned upon hearing that Erik Apperson won the election for Sheriff. Former Det. Barber did not interview Kevin Hendrick. As of this date, I was unsuccessful in contacting either Hendrick or Brown. Recall that Barber was responsible for the egregious actions against County resident, Dave Egan, of the BlackHawk Pistol story published here months ago.
The picture that is emerging is this: cash and possibly bad checks seem to be at issue. Information is being released in dribs and drabs. The EXCEL spreadsheet is in evidence someplace, and I did not have access to it.
I was told that the confidential report by Don Scanlon confirmed that funds were missing. Who hired Scanlon? Kevin Hendrick. Why should the authority consider releasing it now? Mr. Scanlon passed away November 30, 2014. According to his obituary, at one time he partnered up with Chowell, Benz and Hartwick. Kevin Hartwick has been in the news lately with two alleged sexual assault lawsuits against him, plus there’s a complaint recently filed with the Health Department/Code Enforcement by two eye witnesses concerning his Flying B Ranch property. Is there any other connection between Hartwick and any of the people involved in the Solid Waste Management Authority? There’s a connection between Kevin Hartwick and Treasurer/Controller of the Solid Waste Management Authority, Richard Taylor. They also used to partner together in Chowell, Benz and Hartwick.
During public comment, county resident, Lori Markel, said Hartwick would tell her that Ritchie Taylor taught him every dirty trick in the book. She ended her public comment with, “It is my belief that Kevin Hartwick runs this entire town.” In response, Chairman Gitlin asked that if there was any valid proof to please present it, otherwise they are only allegations.[cincopa A4KAzQ832D3O]
When did the theft occur? That’s hard to pinpoint. What is easy to pinpoint is the fact that tabulating money at the gate was done in pencil for years and years. Even former Mayor/Councilman Charles Slert and I were aware of that back in 2008-2009. It’s surprising that the Treasurer/Controller, Richard Taylor, didn’t see fit to mention that huge red flag as a source for theft. Taylor’s been in that position for over 20 years. Did he ever demand that those procedures be corrected?
We already know that former Det. Barber never interviewed the suspects listed. He didn’t do his job. Why?
Board member Ron Gastineau did not get back to me about a meeting apparently he felt more comfortable deferring my questions to Acting Director/Program Manager, Tedd Ward. Ted Ward does not get to vote on agenda items, Gastineau does. I’m disappointed in Gastineau’s lack of communication. But pleased he voted YES to releasing the report. In addition to his “yes” vote were Mary Wilson and Roger Gitlin.
Rick Holley, another Board member, did meet with me. His reasoning for not releasing the report made sense citing his days back to working in Probation. He was more in favor of having a rock solid case. He was the only dissenting vote.
This vote was a vote about transparency.