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Veteran NLB Activist Pressburg Tells Council: Lower City Mgr's Contract Authority to $25,000

(January 3, 2001) -- Veteran NLB activist Dan Pressburg has publicly called on the LB City Council to lower the City Manager's threshold for authorizing contracts without City Council approval from $100,000 to $25,000.

Salient portions of Mr. Pressburg's comments, delivered during the public comment portion of the January 2, 2001 City Council meeting, are reproduced below. Councilmembers listened silently and did not publicly comment in response to Mr. Pressburg's statement.

In September, 1999, the City Council agreed to a city staff requested change in LB's Municipal Code that raised to $100,000 the City Manager's authority to bind contracts without City Council approval. Prior to this, the maximum level the Manager could bind without Council approval was $50,000.

Other media outlets also reported, and requested under the Public Records Act and posted, a City Hall "purchase order" for up to $86,000 for services by Kristy Ardizzone.

To view the purchase order, and city staff's 1999 memo to Council seeking an increase in the Manager's contract authority to $100,000, click on: City Hall/K. Ardizzone purchase order & 1999 staff report re City Mgr $100k purchase order authority

Apart from the purchase order City Hall financial relationship, Ms. Ardizzone is a member of City Hall's "Airport Advisory Commission" (Mayor nominated, Council approved). Ms. Ardizzone is also the wife of LB Firefighters Union president Bill Ardizzone.

The purchase order for Ms. Ardizzone's services was not publicly agendized or approved by the City Council because it was below the financial threshold requiring Council approval.

Reducing the level for Manager-approved contracts to $25,000 would likely result in more consultant contracts with City Hall being routinely publicly disclosed.

Salient portions of Mr. Pressburg's statement to the City Council follow:

Madam Mayor and Councilmembers. I am here before you tonight to request an agenda item in the near future for lowering the discretionary level of $100,000 for the City Manager.

In that discussion, I hope that contracts will go through some administrative process to make them open for public scrutiny, very similar to RFP's and RFQ's.

The ability to make at-will contracts in that amount without review seems very excessive...

Councilmembers, I am a consultant who provides financial services for financial institutions. We review portfolios, lending practices, loans, investments, foreclosures, debts of all sorts...As an officer, I have discretionary power of up to $150,000. That encompasses my duties. However, my actions are subject to review by a board of directors and a supervisory committee.

I am also subject to two audits annually as well as a federal audit. I would presume that the City Council would act as such a board in the case of the City Manager, since the citizens elect Councilmembers to each of their respective districts...

A simple agenda item or an entry on the consent calendar would suffice and allow the public to review these exclusionary contracts for better accountability.

Prior to [1st district Councilmember] Miss Oropeza leaving for the Assembly, she openly used her discretionary funds from her office in open Council session. This allowed for no confusion and public comment regarding exactly what the funds were being used for.

I suspect that a $25,000 threshhold would be more adequate to handle the day to day emergencies and services and have lesser impact for the public. Even then there should be a review process taken into account, to prevent damage control or any misunderstandings...

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