Brown Pushing Twin CA Pension Probes.

October 21, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has asked a court to appoint a monitor to oversee finances and management in the city of Bell and has subpoenaed testimony in a related excessive pension probe against the city of Vernon.

A Brown news release said the subpoena seeks sworn testimony from Vernon officials about compensation and pension benefits for six highly paid city officials, one of whom received more than $1.6 million in a single year. In the Vernon subpoena, Brown asked the city to designate one or more persons most knowledgeable to testify about compensation and retirement benefits given to Eric T. Fresch, former city administrator and deputy city attorney; Donal O’Callaghan, former city administrator and utilities director; Roirdan S. Burnett, city treasurer/finance director; Jeffrey A. Harrison, former city attorney; Bruce Malkenhorst Jr., former city clerk; and Bruce Malkenhorst Sr., former city administrator.

In the case against Bell, Brown filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Court asking for the appointment of a monitor to oversee the city’s operations to safeguard city finances and ensure the city is run in an open and transparent manner until next year’s election. Bell is a “city in crisis,” Brown said, and the appointment of a monitor is “imperative to aid in the recovery of funds and restore transparency and trust-worthiness to city operations.”

“In both cities,” Brown said, “independent scrutiny is essential in restoring public trust. The public has suffered from raiders who plundered the city treasuries.”

On September 15, Brown filed a lawsuit against former Bell city manager Robert Rizzo; former assistant city manager Angela Spaccia; former police chief Randy Adams; council members Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabel; and former council members Victor Bello and George Cole. The suit charges fraud, civil conspiracy, waste of public funds and breach of fiduciary duty. It also alleges the defendants deliberately misled the public about the true amounts of their compensation.

According to the Brown news release, the court-ordered monitor for Bell would have complete and unfettered access to all matters relating to the city, the right to participate in all meetings and discussions of city affairs, and the right to examine all of the city’s financial affairs and transactions.

The monitor would also have the authority to investigate everything relevant to the civil lawsuit filed by Brown and subsequent criminal complaints filed by the Los Angeles District Attorney, and to report to them at least once a month any indications of fraud, dishonesty or mismanagement in the affairs of the city, according to Brown.

The position of the monitor would be temporary, lasting until one month after certification of the results of the city’s municipal election in March 2011, the Attorney General’s announcement said. .  

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