Embattled City Manager Michael Beck – Photo by Terry Miller
By Terry Miller
Mayor Bill Bogaard announced plans to file a civil lawsuit to recover funds lost in the $6.4 million embezzlement of the utility funds at this week’s City Council meeting. The announcement followed a closed-session prior to the regular council meeting Monday night.
Bogaard also announced the formation of an ad hoc committee comprised of City Councilmembers who will probe the case as well as a citizens’ task force which will also consider if a review of the city’s 131 separate funds is needed in an effort to ensure no other city funds are being abused.
City councilmembers Steve Madison, Victor Gordo, Margaret McAustin and John Kennedy will be on that committee. Members of the citizens’ task force, which will meet publicly, have yet to be appointed. Under state law, ad hoc committees are not typically subject to California open meeting laws.
The Mayor’s plan to do this is designed to consolidate, “input and assistance from outside consultants and city staff in looking in to activities related to the embezzled funds as well as the extent to which the investigation leads to discovery of any problems with systems or payments beyond that particular fund.”
“The council received legal advice from our attorneys and as a result of the discussion instructions were given to the city attorney to pursue and retain outside counsel and pursue prompt and full recovery of losses and damages city has suffered in the problem,” Bogaard said.
Last year Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office arrested Danny Ray Wooten, 51, a management analyst in the city’s Public Works Department. He and two others, Tyrone Collins, 55, of Altadena and Melody Jenkins, 46, of Pasadena, are charged with 60 felony counts of felony counts of conflict of interest, misappropriation of funds among other charges.
However, much heat is falling on city manager Michael Beck, who is the CEO of the city.
“What I’m seeing is the same actors, recycling themselves throughout the different communities, going from community to community to community, spreading this very negative culture which is not servicing the public,” activist Jason Hunter said. Pointing out that the City Of Riverside had similar problems when Beck was there as Assistant City Manager. “And Mr. Beck is one of those.”
Interviews on a local TV station, Michael Beck was asked outright if he’s considering resigning after so many have called for his resignation. Beck’s answer was somewhat ambiguous – ” Right now, I’m not considering that. I will evaluate those considerations later…”