|"Bogaard, McAustin, Tornek are on Municipal Services and Finance committees. Gordo is fourth member of Finance. Were they asleep or were they deceived?" - InvoiceGate Pasadena|
Pasadena City Hall employees know who's absent and why they are missing. Rumor has it that among the people placed on administrative leave are Finance Department personnel - George, Hasmick, Flo, and Patty. If not yet, then perhaps soon? You know how rumors go. Why the clerks? Least likely to be missed when they're replaced. All four technically overstepped their authority in processing payments and blatantly disregarded accounting procedures put in place to make sure abuses of the system didn't take place - or did they?
- Confirmed Finance Department employee Larry Hammond, Purchasing Administrator, and Public Works-Engineering manager, Bonnie Hopkins, Principal Engineer, are among the disappeared.
Before the Special Check Request was presented to them by their boss for processing, it would have first been signed by Wooten himself, and Siobhan Foster, Public Works Director, and walked to Larry Hammond, Purchasing Manager - who acted as gatekeeper for all Special Check Requests. Larry would personally hand the document(s) to Andy Green, Finance Director, for approval, and only at that point would it be returned to the clerks for inclusion into the special check request run.
At what point would an accounting clerk rise up from their desk and say, "Wait a minute, Ms. Foster, this is an illegal transaction," "Wait a minute, Mr. Green, your Accounting Prcedures say I must have a payment authority." It's just a lot easier to place the blame on the clerks.
It's the "we've always done it this way" mindset that created the climate for the financial abuse to occur. Why would Wooten think after the first sham invoice was presented and paid that he would be challenged? Suddenly, it became, "We've always done it this way." Wooten wasn't the only person misusing the Special Check Request system; perhaps he wasn't even the only embezzler - just the one that got caught.
Steve Mermell, Assistant City Manager, was for years Deputy Finance Director, under Jay Goldstone. No one in the City knows more about the accounting system than Steve. No one's asking Steve on the record how this could have happened. Steve put in place procedures and protocols so that it couldn't happen.
Had those very same procedures and protocols been followed by the four people placed on administrative leave, had they been enforced by Larry Hammond, Siobhan Foster, and Andy Green, Danny Wooten would not be in a jail cell and his cohorts would not need to be free on bail.
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Sheri Stevenson, a laid off Management Analyst in Public Works, spoke at the January 5th City Council Meeting. She talked knowledgeably about employees who lost their jobs, who had been laid off during cutbacks. Many of those who left were vocal in their opposition to the loss of benefits and pay negotiated by Michael Beck shortly after he arrived in Pasadena. Not a single employee union escaped his take no prisoners methods
What Stevenson didn't mention was the work climate as a result of the layoffs: long term employees who are afraid they, too, will lose their jobs if they complain or speak out.
Danny Wooten was not an island within the Engineering Division of the Public Works Departments. He, himself, supervised a clerical person, his assignments and work product were overseen by a manager, a fully licensed civil engineer; that manager would have reported to the City Engineer, who in turn would have worked under Siobhan Foster, the Public Works Director.
The wagons have been circled; women and children to the middle; sacrifices made and others identified just waiting for the next bloody chapter. You can be assured that it is siege mentality within the fabulous Beaux Arts edifice that is Pasadena City Hall.
Who's next they ask one another? When will the other shoe drop?
Where two or three gather Under the Dome, a conspiracy is suspected.