Culver City government enjoys spending other people’s money, and its culture of unaccountability continues. Unfortunately, the “other people” are us—Culver City taxpayers.
Last year, I served a Public Record Act (PRA) request on Culver City to learn whether employees were abusing their privilege of using City-issued credit cards. The results were horrifying. I reported it to the City Council. Unfortunately, the misbehavior and unaccountability continues.
Culver City’s response to a recent PRA request (concerning only a few employees) reveals many credit-card charges worthy of investigation:
● During the past few months, John Nachbar, City Manager, has charged $14,194.56 at the Rodeway Inn Culver City for “temporary housing for homeless individual.”
● Serena Wright, Assistant City Manager, continues her spendthrift ways, e.g., “Employee Ice Cream Social” at Coolhaus – $3,008.49; “Farewell Celebration for Civil Service Commissioner” at Kay and Dave’s – $228.53; “Breakfast–Creative Economy Connect Shareholders meeting” at Akasha – $228.53; “Raters Appreciation Gift ‘Swag Bag'” – $3,351.19; “Lunch–Special Meeting–’Yoga in the Courtyard Event'” at Panera Bread – $310.88; “Office Supplies–Lap Top” – $1,488.45; “Holiday Party” at Ugo Café – $621.15; “All City Staff Holiday Party” at Boston Market – $3,848.14. Ms. Wright has probably never heard of potluck luncheons.
● Scott Bixby, Chief of Police, continues his $100 per month payments to “The Toll Roads of [Orange County].” He spends to improve the comforts at the Police Department, e.g., “Guest Chairs for Chief and Captains Office” – $1,986.18; “Guest chairs for Assistant Chief and Captains Office” – $1,134.84; “Refrigerator for Department Employee Break Room” – $571.10; “Television and mount for Department Break Room” – $490.98. Also, he spent taxpayer funds to identify his staff, i.e., “Customized magnets for org chart board” – $792.15. Does this kind of spending make you feel safer? Soon, CCPD will ask us to purchase an unneeded $450,000 BearCat War Wagon.
● Culver City continues to spend thousands of dollars on symposia, conferences, conventions, seminars and training sessions. Last year, we learned that attendance at those events and associated travel and lodging expense did not generate even one documented idea for the improvement of Culver City.
Who is watching the store for us? Should I report these apparent shortcomings using the new Culver City Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline? But the FWA Hotline is managed by the alleged abusers or those who report to them.
Then, there are expenses associated with Culver City’s Municipal Fiber Network. The June 30, 2019 Proprietary Funds statements show Capital Asset of $11,593,313 with Total Liabilities of $15,511,950, i.e., the MFN is now worth $3,918,637 less than what it cost taxpayers. But there is better news. Last year, Customers and Users paid $35,655 to use the MFN. However, against that amount, there were Payments to Suppliers of $1,161,621—leaving negative funds flow of $1,125,966 for the one year period. The City states, “the City Manager reports that the City is months away from finalizing several agreements with various companies that will generate a positive cash flow for the Municipal Fiber Network Fund.” Six months? Sixty months? Also, he may have ocean side property in Arizona to sell you.
Did I mention that a senior official owes Culver City $1,033,346.36 on their residential loans?
Now, Culver City has the audacity to ask residents to raise taxes to cover its current and futures spending sprees. It’s time to say, “Enough is enough.” We cannot shame these government officials to be efficient, but we can restrict their access to our money.
Culver City wants to raise our taxes. Vote “No” in March and November.
Les Greenberg, Esquire