Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tattler Exclusive: Pasadena City Hall Insider Tells All 2

Currently out of the office and under a bus.
(Mod: The first time we posted an article here written by the Pasadena City Hall Insider was on January 2nd. Since then that post has stayed on our Top 10 Most Read list for a 3 full weeks, which for this blog is a very long time. This week's very public firing of Andy Green and Siobhan Foster has caused The Insider to take up his pen and write for The Tattler again. And what we get is a pretty penetrating look into the bizarre culture that lives on beneath the dome, and how it reacts when threatened.) 

The Pasadena Star News is reporting that City of Pasadena Mayor, Bill Bogaard, and the Townie Council have allowed the now un-diversified Andy Green and Siobhan Foster to commit seppeku in defense of the City Manager, Michael Beck. Both department heads came late in alleged culprit Danny Wooten's embezzlement career.

From 2003 through 2014, eleven years, a virtual Human Resources carousel of City Managers, Interim City Managers, Finance Directors, Public Works Directors, Acting Finance and Public Works Directors, and Interim Finance and Public Works Directors held sway over accounting processes that ultimately proved too complicated and unenforceable to properly safeguard Pasadena's vast treasuries of the people's gold.

It is fair to posit that none of the more than 15 high level managers who lounged in those comfy Aeron Ergodynamic high backed office thrones had any idea of what the actual process really was. The only person who seemed to have a clue was Mr. Wooten himself, and he chose to circumvent generally accepted accounting practices to the tune of $6.4 million embezzled dollars.

The real reason the residents of Pasadena and the KPAS-TV viewing audience were forced to sit through January 5th's televised City Council Meeting with its interminable Powerpoint presentations is so the Mayor, the City Council, and the City's Management Team could figure out what that process actually was - because none of them actually knew how to get actual work product done.

Sure, there were protocols in place - some of them implemented prior to the computer age, and all of them updated by some low level clerk who initialed their work, but where was the verification that the employees who did that work actually followed the rules?  All the time?

In a culture where no one is encouraged to ask questions, suggest a better system, or take any sort of initiative, why is it surprising that an enterprising thief with an engaging smile and an air of proficiency could bulldoze his way through a paper trail of defenses most managers never took the time to read, fathom, or even discuss with their clerks?

Ms. Foster came on like gangbusters when she assumed the dictatorship of Public Works.  First she obliterated any scent of her predecessor, Martin Pastucha, by consigning carefully chronicled historical data, and files existing nowhere else, to Reycle bins brought up from the basement.

Oh, let's back up.  How did Ms. Foster come to Pasadena you may have asked (a question seemingly overlooked)?  The dormouse records that the highly esteemed Martin Pastucha confronted Michael Beck over further budget/personnel cuts that the more experienced Director regarded as not only unwise, but departmental suicide.  Within that year Ms. Foster was recruited from the City of Riverside (Michael Beck's former employer) and came onboard (even with a pending employee lawsuit against her), swinging from the rigging of the Public Works ship, slashing her way through the functions, the budget, the headcount, and the goodwill of the more than 250 employees left with only a union to defend them, to make the cuts Michael Beck was unable to pursuade Martin Pastucha to go with.

Teflon Mike
Finance and Public Works are not the only departments where Michael Beck left his imprimature:  actually, Human Resources, Planning and Development, the embattled Police Department, Fire, Human Services, Housing, Transportation, IT, and Transportation Directorships have all turned over since 2008. Only the Library and Water & Power Departments escaped the wrath of Beck.

Twelve of the 14 departments under Michael Beck have come under new management since he began his tenure.  Early in his ascendancy as City Manager, Michael Beck also took on the City employees' deeply entrenched unions, drawing accusations of union busting. There was much speculation that the City Council had brought him on for just such a purpose.

In a move which happened with lightning-like speed, the official City of Pasadena organization chart now reflects three vacant positions (Walsh, Green, and Foster).  Didn't even pause to catch up with William "When PIOs Fly" Boyer's official announcement, which hasn't yet been posted to the Invoice Investigation tab.  But lookey here, obliterating their names will not make the debacle that is the City of Pasadena's vast sum of embezzled taxpayer money reappear. Neither will playing a freakish game of whack-a-mole in PSN comments sections anytime Frank Girardot and his crack investigative team surface with another hard hitting expose.'

So all you folks clamoring for Beck's head on a pike tout suite, be assured Teflon Mike isn't in danger of losing his job anytime soon.  Not only has he bought the allegiance of Green and Foster by allowing them to take leave of the City "without cause," and with a severance package the likes of which you and I will never ever see, T-Mike is also providing cover for the Rose City's elected treasures.

Was Beck himself assured of his term of office when he was hired by the Mayor (in collaboration with Council) as a guarantee against his union tactics and budget gutting leadership?  We'll probably never know that answer, right up until the end.

Mayor Bogaard, or Torneck, or Robinson, or any other potential mayors may ultimately get to announce the resignation of Michael Beck, and to great personal advantage. But it is highly unlikely he will be summarily fired as a result of any recent events.

After all, he is Teflon Mike, and he has lots more work to do.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

57 comments:

  1. Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!

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    Replies
    1. Beck: I'm not dead yet!

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    2. Bogus: Me too!

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    3. Pasadena gov workers remind me of a Monte Python Show, P S, I'm not dead yet!

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    4. Each department has its own color coded toe tag.

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  2. You couldn't ask for a more entertaining mess.

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  3. Well, I think we know who the Man Behind The Curtain is.

    I weep for the screwed taxpayers of Pasadena.

    Beck should be fired. Tornek & Robinson, the alleged "oversight" council members, should resign in shame. If they have any shame. I doubt it.

    Is there another candidate for Mayor besides Tornek & Robinson? Gawd I hope so.

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    Replies
    1. Someone named Morgan, I think.

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    2. If he/she isn't a convicted child molester, Morgan should get elected.

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    3. Pasadena needs to go outside of the political establishment and bring in someone from the outside who will clean house. This is disgraceful!

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  4. From the City website, candidates for elected mayor are:

    Allen Shay
    Don Morgan
    Terry Torneck
    Bill Thomson
    Jacque Robinson
    Jason Hardin

    Naw, other than Torneck and Robinson, I've not heard of any of them either.

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    Replies
    1. Bill Thomson is a former Mayor of Pasadena back when the CC rotated that position

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    2. So we should support this guy?

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  5. Vote for an outsider. Don't elect domies.

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  6. My guess is Beck knows there are other embezzlement investigations going on and the political class is scared he will talk.

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  7. Look to the massive overruns for the Rose Bowl project for starters! Or the Convention Center. Both were ripe for the plucking by contractors and development types.

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  8. Pasadena Water and Power brings in millions of dollars a year. In fact, PWP provided the funds for the City Hall Seismic Retrofit Project, $130 million.

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    Replies
    1. Big time slush fund there. By law that money needs to stay within that department, but my bet is it is funding all sorts of shenanigans. Who knows, maybe some churches, too.

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    2. Ever check out the cars in the city hall parking lot?

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  9. Any idea what Beck's bonus pay will be for damage control?

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    Replies
    1. Yeah. His continued employment.

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    2. Quite a tightrope for domie campaign managers to walk. Act like your candidate is completely offended by and separate from what is going on at City Hall, yet dependent for political cover upon the person who is running it. I guess that makes them rough tough poodles.

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  10. Thanks, Mod, for running the Arcadia, Monrovia, and Pasadena posts. I may not live or vote in those cities, but my kids are PUSD students, I buy groceries in Monrovia and Pasadena, I'm a PCC graduate, my husband's elderly parents live in Arcadia. All of these issues have an impact on our bank account. Getting across or out of town becomes a nightmare when traffic is impacted by their public works projects. It's easy to focus on little Sierra Madre and think our political lives begin and end right here but actually we're part of a much larger pond, Los Angeles County and the State of California. Life is sometimes overwhelming.

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    1. Thanks. One of the changes I am thinking about is turning The Tattler into a three town blog. It would still be called The Sierra Madre Tattler, but the byline would include Arcadia and Pasadena. Sierra Madre is hardwired to both of those towns, and we need to work a little on bringing that into the mix.

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    2. GREAT IDEA MOD

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    3. Uh oh. The Tattler contagion is speading. Beware little government people!

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  11. New hire following along from a previous city that the manager worked at is nothing new. Sierra Madre suffered that with the Walnut connection for years. Then we had a city manager go off to Yorba Linda and our development services director followed her. She got fired for overstepping grounds with promises to developers. Not sure where the developments services director is now. Drat these people.

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    1. Kurt Christiansen is currently the Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Azsa, so you'e right. A group of tiny ducks swimming in the big SoCal pond. In circles.

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    2. Azusa better watch out. There's some hungry developers headed their way, and they don't want to build any moderate income housing....

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    3. Azusa is loaded up with half empty SCAG housing. I guess that makes them sustainable.

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  12. President Obama during his State of the Union address: "It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love."

    Pasadena City Hall: "Fire the bitch."

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  13. Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho,
    Michael Beck has got to go!

    Green and Foster are on the street
    while Michael starts to feel the heat.
    Those 2 heads are not enough,
    Michael needs to pack his stuff.
    City Council needs to make it clear,
    when 6 million walks,
    Beck's bucks stop here!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Hey! Hee Hee!
      Council is covering its fanny!

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    2. 10:24 --- see comment at 11:23. You are chanting in the wind.

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  14. I'd second 10:06. Thanks Moderator for even considering the expansion. Now that I discovered The Tattler, other sources pale and I've learned more in my few months of reading than ever reading the locals. Thanks for the hard work.

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    1. Thanks. Will work for comments.

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    2. Yes, PLEASE expand to cover Pasadena.

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  15. Off subject for a moment. The Watchman has a letter to the editor in the sierra madre weekly. He says the sierra madre preservation group has it all wrong. He says if we really cared there would be more volunteers for the social activities in town. He states we should all do our shopping here. Okay Mr. Watchman: I do most of my purchasing for gifts and such in Sierra Madre. My husband I both have tried to volunteer for various things in town. We have yet to recieve a call back from the float people, the police department, the library and a few others. It appears all these committees select and choose whom they want. The Preserve Sierra Madre Group allows everyone to join. We have trouble with volunteers, every organization does. I, as an individual, have propert rights. If I do nothing to protect those rights, then I am remiss. I am guilty of not wanting a 5 bedroom, 6 bathroom home built next to mine. Just because the house next to me is old, and well maintained, doesn't mean a greedy developer has the right to buy and build a house that has no yard, is too tall, etc. I value my sunlight and breezes. Years ago, greedy developers built monlithic condos in back, I only have a view of the tip of the mountains now. So, I suggest Mr. Watchman, that you keep watch on more important things. No one says they can't build, they just feel that moderation is needed. Oh, did I mention what an idiot I think you are?

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    Replies
    1. The Watchman is a good ally when it comes to things like fighting utility tax increases and water rate gouges. Where he is off his rocker is with this "proprty rights" nonsense. He is all for the property rights of predatory out of town developers, but if property owners who actually live here defend their property rights against McMansionization, he loses his mind. A very mixed bag this dude.

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    2. Old slanders die hard - slow growth activists have, do and will volunteer. They just don't issue press releases about it.
      There's an ancient article about this in the Tattler.

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    3. Thanks to the Tattler's fine search engine, I found the article:
      http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2009/07/whats-in-it-for-me.html

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    4. The Watchman's name is John Govorchin. The premise about volunteering for the good of the community is ridiculous. Preserve Sierra Madre is a volunteer organization, and nobody works harder for the good of the community. His letter to the Weekly is one very long contradiction.

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    5. The Watchman only talks with you as long as he thinks you have influence. If you don't, then crickets start chirping.

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    6. Whatever you do, don't walk on his lawn.

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    7. it distresses me that the blogger said they have called the library, police, and rose float and never received a call back. Since I am heavily involved in those organizations, I hope that the writer will try again to volunteer - we welcome every one, not just a select few. The police especially is looking for volunteers for their volunteer program.

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  16. Bill Bogus quoted in the Pasadena Weekly:

    “The city manager is under direction from the City Council to accelerate a review of personnel who might have any involvement or responsibility in the misuse of the public funds,” Bogaard told the Weekly. “I have complete confidence in Michael Beck and believe he has reached a good judgment regarding the two department heads. Both of them have been hard working and effective in their various ways in their positions. However, a new direction is called for in those departments, a strengthening of the work culture, and it is important those difficult steps be taken as quickly as possible.”

    Bogus (and probably most of the CC) thinks Beck is the fixer. He ain't going nowhere, kids.

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    1. See how the shell game works? Tornek and Robinson can slam Beck all they want because Bogaard is standing by him. There is nothing they can do. Yet Tornek and Robinson are as dependent on Beck as the Mayor. They think the voters are idiots.

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    2. The votes can show how smart they are. Don't vote for Tornek (no matter how "smart" his campaign manager allegedly is) or Robinson.

      Clean house!!

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    3. As my dear old dad used to say at times like these, "Time to flush the pot and the handle is the ballot box."

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  17. Anyone who has listened to Michael Beck before this last week knows that he prides himself on his financial management and budget expertise. He is down right arrogant in telling you how much he knows and how smart he beleives he is. I watched him very closely during financial fisaco of the Rose Bolw Renovations and he managed to escape any responsiblity for the millions of dollars in cost over runs to that project. It was simply amazing how that was swept under the rug by the City Council and Beck.
    Now the news breaks of this embezellment, which has been going on during Bogaard's entire tenure as Mayor and Beck's leadership as City Manger. The most shocking thing about all of this is the fact that it would have continued on for years had someone not asked at the simple question during a budget review that prompted the review of the fund. Beck had all of the information but he never asked the basic managment questions.

    As the CEO and compenated over a half of million dollars annually, Beck should have submitted his resignation to the Mayor immedialtey after the embezzlement findings were submitted to the City Council. I would have respected him for taking that moral responsiblity and leadership Instead, Beck once again is trying to isolate his responsiblities as CEO and blame others for his own executive failings. This is an outrage and this coward must go. It is unbelieveable that he is still with any government today.

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    1. Then why are the elected officials of Pasadena letting him keep his job? Everything you've said here is correct. But you need to take the next step. This is bigger than Beck. Look wider. It isn't just a management issue. It is also politics. And for the politicians he is their fixer.

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  18. How can Beck be a leader when the employees of Pasadena want him to go? How mortified we are. We are embarrased...we want him gone....does anyone care about those of us who do our job with integrity....honesty and ethics? He does not represent us....he never has....and now most certainly he never will....why is he still here?

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    Replies
    1. He is protecting the politicians. And Bogaard is protecting him.

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  19. I am not voting for any current seated city official running for any office unless they come out in favor of firing Michael Beck.

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  20. No one seems to be bothered by the fact that the City Council and the City Manager had the report about the fraud in October and hid it from the public until after the filing dates passed for the City elections coming up in two months.During this same period they gave raises to the City Manager and the very department heads who the report named as the executive in charge of those organizations where the fraud ocurred. This is the height of government corruption and if the residents and businesses in Pasadena don't rise up and recall everyone and fire their exeutives, then they desrve whatever they get!

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  21. Any talk about a grand jury investigation? Unfair political actions? Brown Act violations? Do the people have no recourse? If the malfeasance is so egregious is there no remedy available?

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