Inch By Inch…

…MORE INFORMATION DISCLOSED

One of the desirable personality traits of being a “Community Activist” is its processing patience.

Unlike elected officials, who need only to influence or convince two other persons (on a five person council), community activists must toil and wait for their opportunities to have an impact on their community, or publish Wildomar Magazine.

As we have seen recently in Wildomar, patiently waiting for events to unfold can occasionally produce significant changes.

A large part of the impact of activism is achieved when local newspaper reporters vigorously investigate and report on the unfolding events, and their implications for their readers.

And, while recent coverage of the resignation of Wildomar’s Community Services Manager has generally “tiptoed” around the specific elements which resulted in a resignation, mitigated somewhat, in part, by the appropriate constraints of personnel disclosures by City of Wildomar executives, yet out of which, little by little, factual information has been disclosed, from which the citizens of Wildomar can, if they desire, make their own conclusions.

Saturdays Californian article on the issue, continue to add incremental information to the story (with my commentary in blue), as follows:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/mar/02/wildomar-cash-handling-policy-santa-breakfast/

Apparently on February 11, 2013, the former Community Services Manager returned a total of $685 to the City of Wildomar, in the form of a  personal check in the amount of $286, and  $399, in a cash form.

Quite naturally, to my mind, this creates subsequent issues of the potential circumstantial evidence of “co-mingling “of City funds with the personal funds of the former employee.

In addition, the return of $399 in cash, separate from a personal check for the additional amount of of $286, suggests, in my opinion, two separate transactions, one possibly involving the initial transfer of that cash to another person. Otherwise, why not write one check in the amount of $685?

According to the aforementioned Californian article,  City Manager Gary Nordquist has implemented cash handling procedures in response to the recent revelations.

You may view the entire newly-instituted cash handling procedure by clicking on the following City of Wildomar link:

http://www.cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/finance/cash_policy.pdf

A more detailed examination of those procedures can shed additional light on what may have occurred, as follows:

3.7 LOSS OF CASH

The term “loss” can mean either theft or cash short. Theft means the unlawful act of taking cash from the City of Wildomar. Cash short means error or mistake in taking the required amount of cash on behalf of the City.

A single incident and subsequent disclosure of an “error or mistake” does not normally result in a resignation.

3.10 RECEIPTS

a) All-cash collections must be recorded at the time of receipt by means of cash register tapes; pre-printed, pre-numbered on City of Wildomar cash receipt book forms…

City-sponsored events, in the future, such as Breakfast with Santa, will not lend themselves to having folks waiting in line for a hand-written receipt. Nor should the City of Wildomar purchase a cash register for anything other than the front counter at City Hall.

3.12 OVER/SHORT PROCEDURES

a) A cash overage or cash shortage occurs in the cash received is more than the amount recorded by the cash register receipts (“over”) are less than the amount recorded by the cash register receipts (“short”).
c) Employee performance evaluations may be based in part on the frequency and/or magnitude of over/short occurrences.

The current situation appears to be a matter of magnitude.

BANK DEPOSITS

c) A Finance department staff person must be present at the special event to handle the cash transactions and return the cash box to City Hall.

The expense of having a Finance department staff person present at a special event may force the City of Wildomar out of the breakfast  business.

d) The Finance department staff person will complete a Special Event Cash Summary form, detailing the amount of sales and cash reconcile to the amount of cash collected. Any expenditures pertaining to the special event shall not be made using the cash collected.

In this particular case, most of the “pertaining expenditures” were paid for, prior to the event, with a city credit card, making the return of $286 by personal check more problematic, potentially elevating the mishandling of funds to the level of “theft,” rather than simply “cash short.”

PROHIBITED TRANSACTIONS

a) Cash that is collected at City sites be cannot be used to pay vendors, staff, instructors, umpires, referees, contractors, reimbursements or other expenses of any kind.

A representative of Friends For Wildomar Parks ( “FFWP”) was told (according to the e-mail in my possession) FFWP  would earn as much as $700 for several hours work, if they participated as volunteers in the Breakfast With Santa event.

I remain suspicious that approximately $685, in cash, was transferred on December 15, 2012 from the City of Wildomar to a currently anonymous representative of FFWP.

I would invite any representative of the FFWP to contact me and dispute/refute my suspicions.

3.15 REPORTING THEFT, ROBBERY, FRAUD, EMBEZZLEMENT

d) If a city staff person is suspected of embezzlement, theft, fraud or any malfeasance, misappropriation of City funds, it must be reported to the Controller and City Manager, or to the City Attorney, immediately with sufficient documentation to support such claim. An investigation will be conducted if deemed necessary in the appropriate actions to be taken, up to and including termination if deemed warranted.

Or, if you are suspicious Community Activist, simply request a copy of your requested documents  under the Public records Act, sit back, and watch events unfold.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

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