Culligan of Blythe

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4/10/2014 10:00:00 AM
Grand Jury recommends policy/procedure training for city council
Times file photoA March 25 Riverside County Grand Jury report recommends better, clearer ethics training for city officials, closer control of city spending and stricter adherence to open meetings laws.
Times file photo

A March 25 Riverside County Grand Jury report recommends better, clearer ethics training for city officials, closer control of city spending and stricter adherence to open meetings laws.
Jaclyn Randall
Associate Editor

BLYTHE, Calif. - A March 25 Riverside County Grand Jury report recommends better, clearer ethics training for city officials, closer control of city spending and stricter adherence to open meetings laws.

The Grand Jury reported that sworn testimony showed that an unnamed city council member had instructed a Public Works Department foreman and crew to grade a city park May 14 in preparation of the Blythe Chamber of Commerce sponsored music festival without prior consent from then City Manager Dave Lane. The following week, the report says the same city council member told the same foreman to do additional work on the adjacent county-owned property.

The foreman refused to do the work on county property without consent from his immediate public works supervisor. The grand jury said the public works supervisor told the council member to get approval from the city manager, Dave Lane. The council member then asked Lane for approval. Lane told the council member the city could not do any work without county approval. The council member then sought approval from Riverside County Board of Supervisors, which granted it. In addition to granting the approval, the county told the city manager that although it approved the grading, the county would not provide any help in the project.

Subsequently, the city manager let the public works department grade the county property.

The report noted how the League of California Cities provides ethics training to all local elected officials. It said all elected officials had taken the mandatory training through the League of California Cities, except for one the report didn't name. The report did say the council member did receive the mandated training from the city attorney.

The report also said the city council agreed to give the Blythe Chamber of Commerce a $6,350 donation of city promotional money at a Feb. 26 council meeting. The money was to pay for the bands and other expenses for a music festival. The city manager told the grand jury under oath that the event cost the city $16,500 instead of the agreed upon $4,000.

The report also discusses the purchase of Quechan Marina and Park from the county and how the city never established provisions for operating the park. Plus, it let a volunteer "park host" live on the property devoid of sewer and hook-up fees in exchange for janitorial work, light housekeeping, and litter clean-up. And the city agreement with the volunteer, made the volunteer responsible for paying for personal electricity invoiced by the city. The grand jury discovered the council never conducted a first reading of the agreement and the park host never paid for the electricity.

The final issue the grand jury discussed was an incident between an unnamed city council member and the police chief. The report says a new council member asked for the firing of the police chief at a Dec. 13, 2011 meeting. The report says the council member made baseless accusations against the police chief. In a closed session meeting the next month, the police chief, mayor (at the time), and the city manager met with the city council member along with the city attorney, in an effort to "repair" bad feelings between the council member and the police chief.

During the meeting, the grand jury reported that the city council member intiated an interrogation against the police chief, which is illegal under California Government Code. The allegations against the chief included:

• a huge divide within the department

• that the majority of the department is dysfunctional

• that the majority of the department is filled with officers who feel threatened or intimidated by a "bullying" chief, and;

• the situaton was compromising the safety of Blythe residents.

The report said the council member could not provide documentation or proof of the accusations, saying that his sources were "secret." The Blythe Police Organization Association president reportedly looked into the allegations and reported them as "inaccurate" and "erroneous."

The council decided to drop the issue during a Jan. 31, 2012 closed session meeting because of lack of evidence.

The council member raised the issue in February 2012 but the city lawyer stopped the unnamed council member.

Grand jury recommendations include:

• Blythe City Council and the city manager need to ensure that each new member receives proper policy and procedure training about the correct channels of communication. In addition, the council should continue with an annual "refresher" course.

• The city council is responsible for city money and the way the city spends it on promotional events. And the city must grant advance permission for spending any more money than the original allowance.

• The city council needs to prepare and implement an operations manual for Quechan Marina and Park with the add-on that the city must read the electric meter before the volunteer or "park host" uses it.

• All informal meetings must stop if the topics change to or include personnel matters. The meetings can reconvene under formal meeting guidelines.

The city has 90 days to respond to the grand jury report. Current interim city manager Frank Luckino said that the city plans to respond to the grand jury's report. The city's response will become public June 23.

Read the 2013-2014 Grand Jury Report - City of Blythe City Council by clicking on the link below.

Click here to read the report (Adobe PDF)



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• TIMES EDITORIAL: Grand Jury report reads like a bad movie


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: You too?

How about the misuse of our money? Are any of you getting the picture? Evans is a full of hot air and BS, where is the improvement or the growth? Ain't seen nothin yet. And won't. And the new City manager is out sourcing everything he can. City of Bell lead by the law firm BB&K here we come. Get out while you can folks.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: I do love the Chief

I do like Steve Smith, he is not a member of the redneck corner gang. That works for me. This little group of "leaders" clearly does not play well with others. Shame on you for your treatment of new blood in to a dying community. Bring on the inbreeding. Have we not had enough of the Wades, Weetes, and Webbers?

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: She did it! and it was not legal!

Director (deleted). at PVH got a exit bonus of $33,000.00 after 3 months of working there at a job she had never been trained for. We, the community, can thank Jim Carney and the CEO, Pete Klune, for that waste of money. CA labor law states that it is one week of severance pay per year of service. This serverance pay was NEVER VOTED on by the board. Where is the Grand Jury on this topic?

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. 1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Palo Verde Valley/Quartzsite Times encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Who ate the pig?

The differance in the "famous hospital board member" and the "Mayor" is that the board member had board approval.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Gray Clouds

It's about time we have an elected a councilman who actually stood up to the police chief and city manager who were both collecting outrageous paychecks while doing absolutely nothing for the community. How does a city manager and public works director go an entire week without knowing that their crew is grading the city park?If what Lane said was true, then this just shows his incompetence and thankfully, the council saw through his failed philosophy and rid us of his presence. As for Smith's bullying tactics, there's plenty of evidence available if the Times' would just do its job (deleted), which are also well documented. Didn't he once throw a Times' reporter out of his office while having a screaming fit? It's ok f you cut the criticism of Smith out of comment. We know he's one of editor Debbie White Hoel's sacred cows.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. 1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Palo Verde Valley/Quartzsite Times encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: To @@MR ED

I know isn't it awful to hear about public officials spending public funds. Something like when our famous Hospital Board member bought over $10,000 in fair animals with District money back in 2010???

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Concerned Citizen

Sounds like if you check the finger prints of the letter the Grand Jury got, it would tie two of the very same people it talks about into this. I'll give you two guesses, and the first two don't count. Most of the people that work for the City know the two management tag team are very vindictive in themselves, they always want names, so they can go after the informing people. But, the Councilman they are talking is not innocent either, he is very power hungry, a glory hog, and and if he cannot get credit for something, he wont bother to do anything. He claims the Blues Fest is a success, but, gives away half the tickets just to make it look as if it is going well. As you can see, it is far from successful. he is indeed solely trying to bring back the Good Ol Boys syndrome, he offers favors, in the hopes all his events look good. back to the other two, they themselves are guilty of intimidation, misleading, and harassment of employees, and of Councilmembers.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: @@MR ED

Some what like the City of Blythe...wasting tax payers money. I'm sure with all the Grand Jury investigations, the city fathers have been getting their fair share of 'suggestions', but looks like nothing has been done even as someone setting an example...Who gets monies allocated and expects tax payers to have an open check book? And how do you explain that again...it cost more, you say--who writes these checks? Did any profit go to paying back the city when it obviously was an erroneous 'donation'.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: :ook who is watching now

Mr. Ed.
Maybe the GJ will look into the hospital dealings with personal vendettas. They all can use some ethics training as well and maybe learn how the chairperson should conduct a meeting instead of allowing Dr. S run the show!


Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: @ Mr. Ed

The grand jury doesn't "make" any agency do anything. All they do is make "suggestions and recommendations". They have absolutely no power. Another form of wasting taxpayer money.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: Mr. Ed

Well, looks like the grand jury is making our officials behave like true leaders instead of "Gimme some glory baby" fools with personal vendetta's. I hope this does lead to mature management in Blythe. Blythe doesn't need to get as bad a Quartszite.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: smith lost

(deleted)

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement. 1. You may not post, upload, or transmit any material or links to material that is libelous, defamatory, false, misleading, obscene, indecent, lewd, pornographic, violent, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, racist, vulgar, invasive of anotherís privacy, illegal, constitutes hate speech, or harms minors in any way. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated. Debate, but donít attack. The Palo Verde Valley/Quartzsite Times encourages vibrant discussions and welcomes active debate in its discussion forums. But personal attacks are not tolerated, and are a direct violation of these Terms of Use.

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: @well what did you except

what abuse of power? you speak of rumors. i want to know why the chief went crying about how someone yelled at him? isn't he the chief of police? sounds pretty lame and a little on the soft side to me...

Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: Just another NOTHING GJ report

This is Grand Jury report number what 3 in the last 5 or 6 years. Every time someone has a beef with the city they file a complaint with the Grand Jury. Means nothing, has no effect, just hot air.
When have you ever seen the City of Blythe not violating some procedure?
Just file it with the rest of them!!!


Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Article comment by: @well what did you except

The council member wasn't named because the grand jury didn't name the person. Read the report before you jump on the "we love the chief" bandwagon. Because it is a bandwagon of a very few people.


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