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Posted on December 6 at 10:01 a.m.
There have been 2 investigations and a third in process:
1. Civil Grand Jury released an equally scathing report on the county’s oversight of housing funds awarded to Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation entitled “A Failure of Oversight.” The Grand Jury criticized both the county and the city of Lompoc for failing to enforce LHCDC’s compliance with regulations and contracts. LHCDC announced its intent to dissolve in September 2011.
2. The county is still compiling documentation to respond to the HUD audit findings that were released in August. That process is not expected to be completed until early 2013 — resulting in a freeze of HOME housing funds in the interim — and those records are in addition to the records requested by the OIG auditors....However, according to the HUD spokeswoman, LHDCD housing projects were not selected for previous HOME audits conducted by Los Angeles HUD staff in 2004, 2007, and 2010, in addition to their omission from the 2012 audit
3. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has begun an in-depth review of Santa Barbara County’s administration of the federal Home Investment Partnership Act (HOME) housing program.
The Inspector General’s office is an independent agency within HUD that is charged with detecting fraud, waste and abuse, as well as investigating allegations of misconduct by HUD employees. The investigative OIG agency reports directly to the Secretary of HUD and to Congress
Seems that all investigations are steered away from the LHCDC. The politically connected appear to be well contected.
On Dynasty of the Dog
Posted on October 9 at 10:25 a.m.
The California Whistleblower Protection Act authorizes the California State Auditor to receive complaints from state employees and members of the public who wish to report an improper governmental activity. An "improper governmental activity" is defined as any action that violates the law, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, incompetency, or inefficiency. The complaints received by the State Auditor shall remain confidential, and the identity of the complainant may not be revealed without the permission of the complainant, except to an appropriate law enforcement agency conducting a criminal investigation.
On Housing Scandal Goes Radioactive
Posted on September 27 at 9:56 a.m.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall…
Jimbo and TheoChums year in, year outAt the Coffee Cat was routineThen came the LHCDCAnd came back, again and again, the LHCDCAnd it came to past, Chums, Coffee and Career
If the audit trail leads to the County Assessors Office, can the public have the confidence that an audit has independence, or does the engagement pose a conflict of interest?
The stakes are many, Bob Geis will be retiring, Theo likely has the aspirations to fill the vacancy. How will Theo get Jimbo to cooperate in the criminal investigation and the forensic audit?
Theo and Jimbo have a close personal and professional working relationship. Jimbo is also retiring from the County Assessors Office. Has Jimbo been employed by the Auditor-Controller Office? Lets not forget that a conflict of interest is the essence of this fiasco.
As is the case when the non profit status is revoked, would it be logical for the County Assessors Office to impose and pursue the collections of property taxes that are now due the county?
Will Theo be tough on crimes of the politically connected? Will he be elected to the Office of Auditor-Controller?
...Humpty Dumpty sat on the WallHumpty Dumpty had a great FallAll the kings horses and all the kings menCouldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together, again
Posted on August 23 at 8:01 a.m.
The council discussion, lasting almost two hours, displayed members’ frustration with the staff’s
failure to acknowledge that oversight needed to be improved. The prepared staff response did not report that a policy on contract compliance had been requested by the council several months ago and has yet to be developed by staff.
“We’re missing the boat here,” said Councilwoman Cecilia Martner, who requested the new contract compliance policy last October. “The grand jury did provide information that there was a lack of oversight. The city’s answer is ‘Well, not really.’
“I really don’t want to see us respond that way. I really want to see us say that we’re going to take the following steps to make sure that lack of oversight doesn’t repeat itself,” Martner said
Martner and Lingl, both elected in November 2008, served on the previous council that voted in 2010 to deny extensions to LHCDC on delinquent loans and to foreclose on a delinquent $375,000 loan for a vacant lot LHCDC had failed to develop for several years. At the time, LHCDC had failed to file financial audits for more than three years.
Martner also commented on the Grand Jury’s finding that the county, as the lead agency in a consortium to administer federal affordable-housing funds, failed to enforce compliance with LHCDC’s low-income properties, including property standards and maintenance.
On Lessons from Lompoc Housing
Posted on August 22 at 2:17 p.m.
"Lompoc city staff had proposed adding the theater-related costs to foreclose on the property from the failed Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation, owner of the landmark theater since 2006.
Those estimated costs included roof repair and stabilization, $20,000 in back property taxes, insurance on the now uninsured building, and a structural analysis of the deteriorating structure, for a total of $1 million from the $4 million in reserves held by the former redevelopment agency."
The fact of the matter is that the LHCDC was a County operated enterprise that conducted business from the office of Joni Gray, Board of Supervisor. The enterprise was granted non-profit status. However, after its dissolution, it seems that the property formerly owned by the LHCDC, the historic Lompoc Theatre, now owes more than $20k in property taxes to the Office of Joe Holland.
Its worth noting that while the LHCDC was operated by County staff it was tax exempt. Now that the City of Lompoc is negotiating the foreclosure, property taxes are now due to the County.
Something stinks to high heaven.
Posted on June 29 at 3:59 p.m.
George Wittenburg, husband to Joni Gray is the listed attorney on file for the LHCDC.
Is it conceivable that 2 attorneys, Joni Gray and George Wittenburg, were not aware of the conflict of interest?
Is it conceivable that the District Board Supervisors were also ignorant of this conflict of interest?
On Grand Jury Investigates Demise of Lompoc Community Housing
Posted on March 5 at 2:02 p.m.
Nick, it seems like the legs on this story got taken out as soon as it began gaining momentum. I'm afraid that the Powers got to you, too, as they have gotten to everyone else that has threaten to blow this out of the water.
Its likely we won't be hearing from you anymore on the corruption that has consumed County government.
Nice try, and thank you for your attempt at bring attention to this matter..
On ’Til the Last Dog Dies
Posted on February 25 at 9:07 a.m.
There's no community benefit in protecting the political and business careers of those involved in the leadership of the LHCDC. The community reserves the right to review the list of names of the board of directors of the LHCDC.
This defunct enterprise is now a liability of the County and the taxpayers.
Posted on February 23 at 9:54 a.m.
Supervisor Janet Wolf expressed outrage that LHCDC maintained its rental properties — about 250 of them — in such wretched condition that some tenants felt compelled to seek refuge at Bridgehouse. She demanded a “forensic audit” to find out what LHCDC did with the many millions of taxpayer dollars it received.
Kudos to Supervisor Wolf. The people deserve to know where the taxpayer monies went.
The forensic audit should include an audit of the process to identify where the system broke down, how required filings went, allegedly, un-noticed, and disclosure to the public the list of names of past board of directors of LHCDC.
Posted on February 22 at 9:55 a.m.
Admission is the first step to recovery.
The County has admitted partial ownership of the blunder that was LHCDC. It is the right thing to do.
However, like a drug addict, it continues to deny the failure in the system. The County is doing nothing to prevent it from happening again. At least a drug addict goes into treatment.
Can we expect the County to provide training to the Board of Supervisors on ethics, civil services, public responsibility, business law and conflict of interest?
Perhaps doing so would open up the liability to the County as an admission of guilt.
Without addressing the system failure, corruption is likely to remain unabated in the County. It should not be a surprise if it occurrs again in a few years.
On Supes Mull Options over Shuttered Shelter
The beloved Barry Spacks will be honored as a poet, ... Read More
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