Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nick Conway Dumped By The SGVCOG: Does It Really Even Matter?

"This gives us the predictability for the organization to move forward." - John Fasana to the PSN on the COG's golden parachute giveaway to Nick Conway

After years of cutting its soon to be former Executive Director Nick Conway a whole lot of slack on some of the crooked sweetheart deals he'd been giving himself there with our tax money, the ethically bereft leadership of the San Gabriel Valley Council Of Governments (aka "The COG") has finally summoned up the nerve to fire the guy. Of course, it did take Conway's arrest on four felony counts of conflict of interest by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office to wake them up to the notion that he'd been stealing our tax money right out from under their noses. Something that up until now didn't seem to bother them too much.

The COG's leadership is hardly going to win any gold medals this year for being faithful stewards of the public trust. Consider this if you will. Nick Conway was hauled into Court by the D.A. late last June, and as a result "The COG" put him on something called "administrative leave." Yet according to today's Pasadena Star News (click here), during the almost 4 months after this momentous event Conway's firm has been paid the lordly sum of approximately $36,000 a month. Or about $124,000 since Conway's being arrested on 4 felony counts of conflict of interest by the D.A.

The question has to be asked. Are these people insane? If you were arrested on a brace of felony counts for stealing from the company you work for, would they put you on a $36,000 a month "administrative leave" while waiting for things to sort themselves out? I really don't think so. You'd be in jail, and in a heartbeat.

And even now The COG is still not properly dealing from the deck marked reality. Check out this quote from the Star News:

"It stops the bleeding," said Fran DeLach, COG interim executive director. 

No, it doesn't. If pumping taxpayer money into the pocket of Nick Conway is to be considered bleeding (and, of course, the COG's sensitivity about spending our tax money to solve its problems is suspect), then that bleeding has only just begun.

I have obtained a copy of the settlement agreement cut by The COG and it shows a whole lot of bleeding. Entitled "Agreement Terminating Management Services Agreement Between The San Gabriel Valley Council Of Governments And Arroyo Seco Associates, Inc.," it details the vast sums of cash being paid to Nick Conway and his Arroyo Seco Associates to leave.

Payment to the Firm: As full and complete compensation ... the SGVCOG will pay to (the) Firm the total sum of $155,000.00, payable in one payment of $77,500 made no later than ten (10) days following the approval of this Agreement by the SGVCOG Governing Board, and one payment of $77,500 made not sooner than January 1, 2013 and not later than January 10, 2013.

In other words, in addition to the $36,000 a month Conway has been receiving from The COG for getting himself arrested, his fully owned company, Arroyo Seco Associates, which plays a huge role in the D.A.'s felony conflict of interest case against Conway, is going to receive $155,000 in our tax money.

Which means that between these two payouts to Conway we are talking about a sum total of $279,000.00. For what? Getting arrested for corruption?

But wait, there is more.

Lease of SGVCOG Office Space: The Parties acknowledge that (the) Firm has a lease agreement with Alhambra Office Community, (LLC) ("the Lease") for office space at 1000 South Fremont Avenue ... SGVCOG agrees to pay the monthly lease payments on the Premises in the amount of $5,024.16 per month.

Throw in some additional assorted payments and it looks like The COG is going to be subleasing office space from Nick Conway for a while, and at the rather posh rate of $5,500 a month.

But hold on, there is also this:

Office Furniture, Furnishings and Equipment: The Parties agree that in the event the parties are unable to negotiate as assignment and assumption of the Lease, there shall be a fair market value appraisal of and the parties will have the option to negotiate the fair market value of the Firm's office assets for possible purchase by the SGVCOG ...

It looks like The COG has even worked out terms for buying used office furniture and equipment from Nick Conway. Nice.

So is that where "the bleeding" stops? Not by a long shot. The worst is yet to come. This from the Star News article cited above:

But left up in the air is whether the COG will help Conway pay his legal fees to defend himself against the felony charges, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a Sept 4 letter, Conway "threatened" to sue the COG if the COG did not grant him defense costs of find a way for its insurance company to cover those costs, according to Jones and documents.

"The agreement to (to terminate the contracts) does not resolve any issue to pay his attorney fees. We've agreed to disagree to any immediate issue; that remains an open issue," Jones told the board.

So despite the $279,000 or so given to Conway to leave, there is still the very real possibility that he will sue the SGVCOG for the considerable legal expenses he will incur defending himself against those 4 felony conflict of interest charges. Considering the fact that the attorney Nick Conway has employed gets around $1,000 an hour for his efforts, we are talking a huge sum for that lawyer alone. And should the SGVCOG lose this case, you'd have to throw in Court costs, along with whatever settlement costs would be attached to the Judge's finding.

The entire amount of money involved in all of this? Should The COG lose (and being consummate losers they most likely will), we could be talking about as much as an additional $750,000 dollars. All of which would have to come out of the General Funds of COG member cities like Sierra Madre.

Does the bleeding stop there? No, it does not.

Should Nick Conway be convicted, it could call into question past disbursements of money from various government agencies to The COG. That is, the millions of dollars shoveled to the SGVCOG for whatever reasons would be subject to recall should it be shown in Court that they might have been used in practices that would now be viewed as corrupt.

And if it is shown that after the expected litigation The COG must return these untold millions of dollars in badly abused government funds? The burden of paying all of that back would then be on The COG's member cities. Which at this moment includes Sierra Madre.

There was a post made on The Tattler a couple of years back that deserves a mention here. It was about our discovery that then City Councilmember Joe Mosca, Sierra Madre's liaison to The COG at that time, had an attendance record showing he had rarely gone to any of the COG's meetings ("No Show Joe" May 26, 2009 click here). Between March 5 of 2009, and February 7 of 2008, Joe attended only 1 single COG meeting, out of a total of 12. Which meant that this slothful nonentity was not there representing our interests.

This was, of course, during the time when Nick Conway's conflict of interest operation was in full flower. Now it would be a stretch to say that someone as slavishly devoted to the cause of established power as Joe Mosca would have been any kind of a whistle blower. Joe's ethical compass being for the most part pointed nowhere. But isn't that what someone in the liaison position is supposed to do? Watch how our money is being used, and if something didn't appear right, say something about it?

The reason the SGVCOG is on a death watch now is because nobody spoke out about the rampant corruption taking place there. All of the gutless City Councilmembers from (almost) all of those member cities just quietly sat on their fat buffet fed cans and said absolutely nothing. It really is quite an indictment of just how dismal government is in the San Gabriel Valley.

The COG is the most expensively corrupt battery recycling operation in history. Whether Nick Conway is there or not doesn't really matter much now. We need to get away from those people. We are so much better than that.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

67 comments:

  1. LA Times front e-page: bear attacks and kills 50 year old Ojai woman.

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    1. Read it again. You got it wrong.

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  2. Correction due to having to read around times "max free articles" notice: woman alive. But bear gets death sentence for defending cub. :(

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    1. Thanks 7:26. Not only that, but a cub was taken from that area a few days ago.

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  3. Conway and the COG are a disaster.
    Let's get out while we can - or is it too late.
    Will we have to pay his bills forever?

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  4. The COG could easily become a financial black hole that takes member cities down with it. I can't believe that idiots like Fasana are trying to keep it alive.

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  5. Remember when the brilliant Nancy Walsh proclaimed that "the distractions at the COG are over?" Nobody ever accused Nancy of being an intellectual.

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    1. The commission of felonies as distractions. Heaven help us.

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  6. $5,000 rent for office space, $36,000 a month for administrative leave in a tax supported organization, posh indeed. What the hell are those people doing? Living high on the hog because they are in COG?

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    1. Obviously Fran DeLach O. Brains has no concern about where that money comes from or what people have to do to get it.

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  7. Any Sierra Madre Councilmember that doesn't vote to get us out of COG needs to check into a mental hospital.

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  8. If we have to pay Nick's $1,000-an-hour attorney, it doesn't matter that Cog finally woke up from the daze he had put them in. He will bankrupt the organization.

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  9. My question is, how did he fool people for so long?

    They're paying for the privilege of being suckers, and using our money to do it.

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    1. Conway did it right in front of these fools. And they did nothing except stuff their fat faces at the buffets Nick fed them with our money.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Somebody's tab at the Buc must have tapped out early.

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    2. Huh.
      Looks like 8:25 doesn't care about criminals, or taxes being used to fund them.

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    3. Maybe it is one of Nancy's buffet buddies.

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  11. So Mosca never went to the meetings when Conway was stealing from the taxpayers? What a prince our Joe is.

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    1. I suspect that Nick took up all the face time and PR energy in the room. What would that leave for lyin' Joe?

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    2. A room without proper mirrors would leave Joe feeling lonely.

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    3. Joe was too important to attend those meetings.

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    4. One meeting out of 12? I wonder what the special occasion might have been. Maybe Bob Matheson was being honored?

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  12. Must have been Steve

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  13. I heard a rumor that at Tuesday night's City Council meeting Nancy Walsh is going to ask that we pay double dues to help the COG through its tough times.

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  14. What exactly does the COG do?

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    1. Steals tax money and lies about it.

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    2. And setup Housing quotas for Sierra Madre

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  15. I believe there is an old saying..."Government is the last refuge for scoundrels".It's better than having a real job!(All that tax money up for grabs.)This is the reason I support this Blog!Thank you Crawford for exposing these villainies!

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  16. A rush to a partial settlement seems odd.

    If he and his companies were illegally benefiting financially, why didn't the COG turn off the spigot AND sue him and his companies for any illegal gains? Sure he would likely sue COG in return, but the the pressure of paying his enormous dual track criminal and civil defense fees and the uncertainty of ever recovering those fees would have created quite a bit of leverage for COG in any settlement negotiations.

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    1. Great remarks 9:22!
      Why don't they sue him?

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    2. It seems clear to me that Nick Conway's activities there were not completely frowned upon, and that he still enjoys the support of key people in the organization.

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    3. Is he blackmailing people?
      Not the usual thing that comes to mind, but given the article about the FBI investigating the extortionists the Dirts and Downtown Investment Club members hired....

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    4. Nothing would surprise me. Why did Nick's wife of many years divorce him?

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    5. Perhaps just old fashion "Hush Money"?

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  17. The COG and this Fasana person support Measure J and the 710 tunnel.

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  18. Another one bites the dust. But the COG members are cowards, breach of contract is breach of contract. But they allowed him to do it, and voted for most of his plans. "For a seat at the table", isn't that the selling point repeated by the coggies that set the COG in motion? Get your seat at the table, who owns the table now? A banquet of crumbs.

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  19. I remember Maryann and Don had tried to withdraw from that organization years ago when they were on the council, but were out voted. Thanks to Mosca and Buchanan.

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    1. With No Show Joe that was virtually a blank check.

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  20. The COG remains tainted with corruption. They are, as predicted, still trying to hold ACE hostage because that's the answer to their financial woes. They just demanded $50k deposit to "review" a document and warned there may be the need for more . So predictable.

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  21. Nick Conway has taken down the cog..one lawsuit at a time. Shame on all you cog members for letting this go on for so many years.

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    1. If the liaisons had been doing their jobs this wouldn't have happened. It is a disgrace.

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  22. It really is a simple matter of the efficient use of public funds and accountability by our elected officials. The COG Board has authorized close to a half million in payments to Conway's company SINCE he was indicted by the public corruption unit of the DA's office.

    Several member cities have offered office space for use by the COG, instead the Board has authorized paying Conway for his space? So while Conway is "gone", his staff has now been hired as employees of the COG and the COG continues to pay his rent payments?

    Doesn't seem like much of a change to me??

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  23. Let's take a look at how the COG intends on hiring a new Executive Director - first the duties and role of the position have not been discussed in public, instead being formulated largely in secret. Next the Board will be conducting it's discussions, review and determinations of who to hire.....in meetings closed to the public.

    Finally, the COG has decided the position warrants compensation on par with local city managers, in other words close to $250,000.00 between salary and benefits. This is for a "manager" who will supervise three employees and oversee a budget of approximately 2-3 million a year- compared to City Managers who oversee hundreds of employees, 40-100 million budgets and are required to attend MANY public meetings each and every month.

    Oh well, it's not their money - it's yours.

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  24. The last COG meeting gave some insight as to how the Board Members feel about the public and their right to observe and participate in COG activities. There was a "training" class held on the Brown Act and Public Records Act (of course, the training was not voluntary but instead a requirement imposed upon the Board in their recent settlement of a lawsuit)

    Few questions were asked, but all seemed to center around how they could avoid having to release sensitive records....such as their text messages and emails. It was particularly comical to hear the representative from South Pasadena, Cacciotti inquire if used "his" phone vs. a city provided phone to conduct the people's business would those records then be shielded from disclosure - he thought it might be good for him to turn in his city provided phone and simply have the city pay him a phone stipend....1500.00 was the number he mentioned!

    These guys, and gals, simply don't get it....

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    1. A bunch of small town pols with a very large sense of entitlement.

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    2. Cacciotti was Nick's inside man at CALTRANS leading to the cover up that King exposed when he was at the COG. He is a lawyer at CALTRANS. Nick's useful tool and major Conway enabler

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  25. Too little, too late. The COG is finished.

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  26. Do any of the words : Swindler,Racketeer,Extortionist,Con Man come to mind? Just think, this is only one out of hundreds of such government entities that Taxpayers support!Do the Math!

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  27. They are really big on green practices and social equity at the COG. As they are where all the worst people meet.

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  28. Doesn't the COG have offices in an Edison owned building? Aren't they afraid someone is going to go postal?

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    1. Nobody says "going postal" anymore, 1:18. It is now called "going Edison."

      Thank you.

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  29. You would have a hard time finding a more incompetent and unworthy group of elected officials anywhere! The COG will remain the useless agency it is until each and every delegate is replaced!

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  30. This just in......the COG will be sponsoring a float in the Rose Parade honoring the service of Conway to the San Gabriel Valley.

    Don't laugh, they might do it.

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  31. I think Sierra Madre quietly paid their dues and did not put dropping from the COG like was scheduled...am I correct?

    Secret government wanna be's these COG clowns.

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    1. The really smart guys. You know, like the ones that invested their life's savings in the Downtown Specific Plan.

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    2. Residents should attend the next Council meeting and demand to know if the dues were paid to the SGVCOG, and if so, why a public meeting was never held to discuss the matter or the city's continued participation in the organization.

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    3. COG is on the next 10/23 Council agenda. Look online for the staff report.

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  32. 2:32 that's very insensitive. There was a life lost that day and many people who were affected. That's not something to make fun of.

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    1. Edison is widely recognized as being a cruel and abusive employer. Telling people that they cannot talk about the horrifying consequences only enables the true guilty party.

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  33. Aren't several of the COG delegates Edison employees? I know Fasana works for Edison and makes some pretty big dollars, yet he spends much of his time (if not all) working on various legislative bodies? I am sure Edison isn't docking his pay for time spent on these various bodies, to the contrary he gets paid for those activities as well.

    Oh well, Edison shouldn't worry if they are getting their monies worth - cause it's our money they are spending. If it isn't enough, just raise the rates.

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    1. Ever notice that Edison employees that go into local politics all support the same things? Try and find one thing that Fasana and Buchanan ever differed on. You can't. They are given their orders and off they march.

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  34. Speaking of Edison, drove by Buchanan's house on Grandview, they were having a big garbage sale....I mean yard sale.....wonder if they are moving? That would be nice.

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    1. Maybe they'll be joining the Boscas in England.

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    2. Wherever they may "really" be!

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    3. He has probably finished his dirty work in our town, and has been assigned to dirty another town.

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  35. Just read the staff report related to the City membership in the SGVCOG. The item will be discussed at this weeks council meeting. Show up, voice your concern and outrage over the way the SGVCOG has, and is, being run.

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