City Council Investigation: Fiscal Me...

City Council Investigation: Fiscal Mess Fuels Crisis in Montebello

There are 107 comments on the www.latimes.com story from Feb 19, 2011, titled City Council Investigation: Fiscal Mess Fuels Crisis in Montebello. In it, www.latimes.com reports that:

Two off-the-books accounts and alleged misuse of millions have city officials seeking answers.

The first mystery involved the discovery a few weeks ago of an off-the-books account at Banco Popular containing $240,000, which showed withdrawals in 2004 and a deposit in 2007. City officials said they learned of the account after Banco Popular contacted the city because there had been no recent activity.

The matter of the unofficial bank accounts came to a head this week, when officials disclosed that about $900,000 from another off-the-books Union Bank investment account could not be immediately accounted for. There's now $5,000 left in the account, which came to light when an employee in the Montebello finance department discovered a bank statement and alerted the city finance director.

The district attorney has two active inquiries into Montebello activities. One is a 2010 bribery allegation against former Councilwoman Rosie Vasquez, and the other is a 2009 allegation of election violations involving a developer apparently working on behalf of failed candidate Giuseppe Veneziano.

"This is crazy, this is just entirely crazy," said Councilwoman Christina Cortez, summing up both Montebello's financial state and her attempt to get city staff to explain it to her. She complained that when she has asked officials for information, they has stonewalled her, handing her Excel spreadsheets instead of actual financial statements. Cortez, who gained office in a recall election last year and has been raising a ruckus about the city's financial dealings ever since, said she has asked the state controller's office to send auditors to "come in here and open the books and try to figure out what we can't."

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“Hilltop Park Above All”

Since: Sep 08

Montebello, CA

#1 Feb 19, 2011
There is a nice listing of the problems in Montebello, both fiscal, political, past and present in this article.

Virtually all of them are the result of the practices of past council majorities engaging in corrupt and questionalble practices that culminated in the gang of three's apparently illegal bunch of special meetings which resulted in millions of dollars of badly spent tax dollars.

You will note Christina Cortez' call for a forensic audit, something that recall supporters have been calling for since the gang of three was unseated. Only a rigorous, outside audit of Montebello's past city council practices can give this and future city councils guidelines on what not to do in future financial endeavors.
mtb877

Orange, CA

#2 Feb 20, 2011
The gang of three were quite interested in a forensic audit and wanted to fire Richard Torres. But Bill Molinari, the long time Councilman and former mayor 7 times, and the man championed by 42 yr North Mtb resident, resisted Torres' firing and actually pushed for Torres to remain at City Hall.

Interestingly, 42 yr North Mtb resident has been highly critically of Christine Cortez in the past.

By the way, 42 yr......, didn't you keep posting that Molinari ordered a forensic audit? What happened to that! You have been conned by Molinari. Admit it!

“Hilltop Park Above All”

Since: Sep 08

Montebello, CA

#3 Feb 21, 2011
As usual, the forces of corruption have selective and defective memories. That comes from not being able to use any objectively verifiable facts to back up their assertions.

There are 5 councilmembers at any one time, so it is impossible for any one councilmember to impose their will on the others without their consent.

I have never been "highly critical" of ANY of the current city councilmembers, but I HAVE said many, many times words to the effect that this council is the right council in the right place in the right time.

I said that Bill had called for an audit of the HUD money. Never have I said that any current or past councilmember has called for a "forensic audit" of any kind. Only advocates of clean government which have spoken before the city council over the last two years have called for forensic audits. If the spokesmen of failure had attended or seen as many city council meetings as I have, they would probably know that, but as that would be an objectively verifiable fact, so I don't expect the forces of corruption to understand that.

If the gang of three was "highly interested in a forensic audit", all they had to do was put it on the agenda and pass it. That they didn't do it shows the lack of truth of that assertion.

“Hilltop Park Above All”

Since: Sep 08

Montebello, CA

#4 Feb 21, 2011
At one of Rosie's council meetings, she made the startling assertion that "we don't have to worry about spending too much, as the city has many, many accounts. If one runs out, then all we have to do is take the money from another", and that is almost an exact quote. I guess we now have a better idea what she was talking about.

I have several questions that might be answered by a forensic audit:

1. Why is a past councilmember apparently living in a home built with redevelopment funds that there was reportedly a long waiting list for?

2. Is the COPP assertion that the numerous, unnecessary and expensive special meetings held between the end of the last election and the swearing-in ceremony were not legal correct?

3. Is the signing of the Athens' contract by the mayor pro tem under the allegedly false assertion that the mayor was unable to fulfill his duties legal?

4. Is there any illegality in Athens' providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds immediately after those councilmembers voted for the trash contract?

5. How much money went to councilmembers' cronies from the redevelopment agency, and how much did those cronies then contribute to those councilmembers?

6. How much influence did councilmember cronies have on the daily operations of the city, especially the disbursement of city funds?

7. Did any past or present councilmembers vote on monetary funds paid to businesses or enterprises in which they had a past or present financial interest?

These are questions that I believe the gang of three would probably not want examined forensically.
Trash Talk

United States

#5 Feb 22, 2011
MTB877
I have not seen where 42 g=resident has been critical of Cristina
please post links
The City (new council) recently hired an auditor
When can we expect results
I do not see where a "financial statement" would be available till the auditor finishes.
The auditors can review the canceled checques of these accounts and see f they match any council action.
Too early to tell if there has been misuse
keep digging
Theolona has been asking for a forensic audit for years
serious

Los Angeles, CA

#6 Feb 22, 2011
Montebello is being compared to Bell thanks to the interim city administrator's stellar skills as a spokesperson. Since he didn't do a good enough job laying people off, cutting salaries, and reducing lifesaving services, he is now proposing raises for directors and the city attorney. Check the agendas online for tomorrow's City Council and CRA meetings. How will your Council decide?
Trash Talk

United States

#7 Feb 22, 2011
Get serious
The comparisons to Bell all involve the former City council (gang of three)
how do YOU propose to balance the Budget?
How do YOU plan on paying back the approximately $30 million in debt engendered by the Vasques administration?
Theolona was in favor of Pay and benefit REDUCTIONS not layoffs but the Unions would not go along.
Really short sighted as when the CITY pays health benefits they are non taxable to the employee.
When the unions make the employees pay more of their own health insurance those payments are made with after tax dollars
Why give a bonus to the Feds?
All it does is cost the employee more than a pay cut (the amount of taxes on his benefit payments).
Duh
Wonder why

Long Beach, CA

#8 Feb 23, 2011
mtb877 wrote:
The gang of three were quite interested in a forensic audit and wanted to fire Richard Torres. But Bill Molinari, the long time Councilman and former mayor 7 times, and the man championed by 42 yr North Mtb resident, resisted Torres' firing and actually pushed for Torres to remain at City Hall.
Interestingly, 42 yr North Mtb resident has been highly critically of Christine Cortez in the past.
By the way, 42 yr......, didn't you keep posting that Molinari ordered a forensic audit? What happened to that! You have been conned by Molinari. Admit it!
"The gang of three" (your term, not mine) VOTED to rehire Richard Torres as Montebello's city administrator. Actions talk.
Trash Talk

United States

#9 Feb 23, 2011
mtb877 wrote
"The gang of three were quite interested in a forensic audit and wanted to fire Richard Torres. But Bill Molinari,... "

The gang of three had the votes- if they had wanted to fire Torres they could have

The gang of three had the votes, If they had wanted an audit or investigation (or a budget, or records) they could have accomplished
It is now pretty obvious now why they did not
$30,000,000 reasons.
Please post where (if) 42 has been critical of Christina...
she smells smoke- she yells fire
she does not wait till it's scientifically proven that there IS smoke or if there really is a fire
Just gets the FD rolling
we can all hope they are all false alarms
but if there really is a fire...
Trash Talk

United States

#10 Feb 23, 2011
serious wrote
"Since he didn't do a good enough job laying people off, cutting salaries, "
EXACTLY
The unions prevented the workers from taking an "across the board pay cut" which would have affected everyone equally
Nor would they support benefit cuts.
Instead they forced layoffs and unilateral "impasses"
Who benefits?- the union old timers
who gets hit hard?- all the new guys get laid off
The Unions did not give the administrator or council much choice given that there is NO MONEY.
Trash Talk

United States

#11 Feb 23, 2011
mtb877 wrote
"By the way, 42 yr......, didn't you keep posting that Molinari ordered a forensic audit?

Post where 42 year ever said/ wrote/ posted the Molinari ORDERED a forensic audit
Fact is
Randy did and the New Council hired an auditor
It was Theolona that early on requested an audit- got nowhere when the gang of three was in power.

MTB877 wrote
"What happened to that!"
Good question- ask it tonight
Time to quit putting words in other peoples mouths
serious

South El Monte, CA

#12 Feb 23, 2011
serious wrote:
Montebello is being compared to Bell thanks to the interim city administrator's stellar skills as a spokesperson. Since he didn't do a good enough job laying people off, cutting salaries, and reducing lifesaving services, he is now proposing raises for directors and the city attorney. Check the agendas online for tomorrow's City Council and CRA meetings. How will your Council decide?
Raises to directors and attorneys in times of cutbacks in public safety, staff, salaries, benefits, and on the cusp of bankruptcy, and you want to obfuscate with past elections?! I'm talking about tonight's city council and cra agendas!
Monteghetto

South El Monte, CA

#13 Feb 24, 2011
MonteBELLo is embarrassment

Get that rat bill out of office and see if the city can get on track
Theolona Ranger

United States

#14 Feb 24, 2011
The city has "directors"???
serious
you can't be

"and you want to obfuscate with past elections?"
serious- you are quoting yourself
Are you related to "Be Happy"???
Law Abiding Citizen

Downey, CA

#15 Feb 25, 2011
That heifer was once Miss Montebello?! Wow!!

Must have been an off year for beauty queens. LOL!!
The Beaver

Inglewood, CA

#16 Feb 25, 2011
Gee, Thealona, I looked at the agendas, and it looks like "serious" was right. There really are directors and they're listed in the agenda.

I hope people really start worrying about Montebello's future.

“Hilltop Park Above All”

Since: Sep 08

Montebello, CA

#17 Feb 25, 2011
I was waiting for anyone else to notice, but no one has said it, yet. The last city council meeting was a year to the day from when Christina was first elected, so she wore the same "power suit" she wore that night. She did have different pearls, however.

The friends of the forces of corruption apparently have the same trouble with English that their comerades do. "Heifer" refers to a young cow which has not yet had a calf. Obviously, that has no relation to Christina, who only appears to be young, and has borne children.
Theolona ranger

United States

#18 Feb 26, 2011
They are now called directors
OK
What's this about raises?
All or some?
Montebello is one of the lower paying City's
Are they not able to fill positions with quality people?
I thought Hefners were Playboy material.
It takes a year of OJT to get a grip on being a councilman.
Christina is off probation.
no more pal

United States

#19 Mar 3, 2011
I feel so sad on all this happening in the city were I resided for 15 yrs..so don't kn how this scandal if it does or did effect the city not having pal basketball this summer...what's really going on
mtb877

Orange, CA

#20 Mar 4, 2011
Wonder why wrote:
<quoted text>"The gang of three" (your term, not mine) VOTED to rehire Richard Torres as Montebello's city administrator. Actions talk.
Indeed they did. But when they found out our secretive he was and working with Molinari only, they wanted to fire him.

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