Saturday, March 22, 2014

Furniture Fiasco: City's Internal Investigation

Human Resources Director Lisa Marley was charged with conducting an internal investigation on the City of San Angelo's unauthorized purchase and installation of over $100,000 in Water Department furniture for the new City Hall. The request came after this item spoiled City Manager Daniel Valenzuela's first City Council meeting.

I received the embedded document via a public information request.  It is undated and unsigned.  From the writing it appears someone other than Lisa Marley conducted the investigation (as the second paragraph mentions viewing a City Council video with Marley).

At least two voices are missing from this investigation, Purchasing Director Roger Banks and Interim City Manager (at the time of the unauthorized purchase) Michael Dane.  These two roles are critical and the document indicates neither were interviewed.

Banks could lay out how the process went vs. how it should have gone.  On April 26, 2012 Banks advised Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Grindstaff on proper procedure for West Office Supply furniture (with only $14,000 for Water Department furniture).  He referred to several aberrations in this e-mail.

"There is still nothing in the background memo requesting authorization for the actual expenditures.  Nor do the official minutes (or a written resolution exist) reflect authorizing the Interim City Manager to award the purchase to West Office Supply."

Dane controlled what items went to City Council during this period.  In March 2012 Dane instructed Elizabeth Grindstaff to not give Council the full picture of the "finish out" costs for a renovated City Hall.  Even a parsed presentation to City Council did not go over well.

When Council questioned Elizabeth Grindstaff on the $100,000 in Water Department furniture she said she never had a conversation with Water Chief Will Wilde on their new furniture.  City documents show a number of e-mails and phone calls between the parties.

While I understand Grindstaff and Dane's desire to run from this situation, it does not inspire public confidence, especially as Elizabeth Grindstaff could soon be a City Council representative.

The more the public learns about this situation, the clearer top leadership dysfunction appears between the big three names, Elizabeth Grindstaff, Michael Dane and Will Wilde.  The investigation concluded Wilde responsible.  From my seat it looks like a gang effort.

No comments: