LBREPORT.com Moves to Protect 30+ Years Of City Auditor Docs From Destruction, Seeks Lists Of Docs Designated For Destruction, Disputes Incumbent Auditor Doud's Offered Rationale For Her Proposed Action
|(Nov. 12, 2020, 11:40 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com (now in our 21st year of independently reporting LB news online) has taken steps to protect over 30 years of City Auditor documents from destruction.
LBREPORT.com has asked City Clerk Monique de la Garza to provide the "lists" indicated as accompanying nearly each of 56 boxes of documents slated for destruction. City Clerk de la Garza indicated her office will do so. The boxes are currently only vaguely described as "working papers" (going back to 1986) and as "administrative files" (going back to 1987) along with some contract files.
"LBREPORT.com plans to review the content of the lists, report it as newsworthy and respond accordingly," said LBREPORT.com publisher Bill Pearl. "We will not allow the incumbent City Auditor's proposed action to proceed in darkness or without an appropriate response."
On Nov. 11, LBREPORT.com reported (first again) placement of the document destruction request on the City Council's Nov.17 "consent calendar," a list of 48 items (unusually long for the Nov. 17 meeting) that the Council can approve without individual discussion in a single vote unless a Council member requests an item's separate discussion and a separate Council vote.
The item, agendized by the City Clerk, says in an accompanying memo that the Clerk "worked with [the City Auditor office] to review the records destruction" and the "City Attorney and the City Auditor's Office concur" in the recommended destruction.
Document destruction requests appear to have been routinely been placed on the City Council's "consent calendar" for at least ten years, if not longer...but they have escalated in number recent years.
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A few hours after LBREPORT.com publisher our Nov. 11 story, the City Auditor's office (through a spokespeson) emailed us a statement contending:
Please note that the City Auditor’s Office is required and complies with City policy on retention and disposition of City records. Each department is required to adhere to the retention schedule. This is a standard, routine, and transparent process for each City department, and it is required to be approved publicly by City Council.
LBREPORT.com responded by asking the City Auditor's office to cite exactly what part(s) of the City's policy that the City Auditor contends requires that she seek destruction of over 30 years of her office's documents.
This morning (Nov. 12), the City Auditor's office (through a spokesperson) emailed a statement contending in part:
The City Auditor’s Office is required to follow the City’s retention and disposition policy. The City’s policy regarding this can be found here.
Key portions of the City Auditor's statements provided to LBREPORT.com on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 were and are false.
City management's administrative policy doesn't require subservient compliance by the City Auditor's office. The City Auditor's office is supposed to be independent of city management and city electeds. By its own terms, the City's policy isn't mandatory for the City Auditor's office. It states: "This regulation shall be applicable to all City departments and offices directly responsible to the City Manager. [emphasis added.] But the City Auditor's office isn't responsible, directly or otherwise, to the Council-chosen City Manager. Auditor Doud isn't supposed to answer to the City Manager. Her office is supposed to be independent of city management and elected offices.
It would fly in the face of LB voters' expected independence of their City Auditor's office to bow to "the interest of uniformity, effectiveness and completeness" requested -- but not required -- in the city administrative policy "that elective offices and other independent offices, commissions, boards and departments also comply with this regulation."
The documents slated for destruction may be inconsequential or may provide a treasure trove of information covering over three crucial decades in LB's history. The periods involved encompass the loss of Disney Sea, the exit to Signal Hill of many of LB's auto dealerships, the loss of the LB Naval shipyard, the loss/demolition of the Naval Station (demolished for a Port container facility), plans for the Aquarium (which hasn't performed as LB taxpayers were told), the "Queensway Bay Entertainment and Retail Project" (which didn't deliver a promised regional attraction), an LBPD "strategic plan" that included a "preliminary staffing strategy" to reach 1,024 officers by FY2000 (never delivered), years of city employee agreements that imposed generous pension costs on LB taxpayers, the notorious 2002 "pension spike" (that 2006 Mayoral candidates Doug Drummond and Bob Foster said left LB with "pension potholes"), and perhaps most telling: the Queen Mary in which years of operators/lessees were allowed to defer maintenance items that have now left LB taxpayers facing millions in unbudgeted costs.
Doud is the only remaining citywide LB elected in office for the Queen Mary operations period from mid-2006 to the present.
Shortly after Mayor Foster's election, Doud supported his proposal to modestly increase sums that incumbents could collect in LB-allowed "officeholder" accounts." (Allowing LB electeds to maintain "officeholder accounts" was denounced by critics from their mid-1990's inception as de facto "slush funds".) In 2015 and 2017, Doud remained publicly mum when a Council majority agreed to roughly triple annual amounts collectable in officeholder amounts (2015) and politically weaponized the accounts (2017) for use in electing others to political offices. (Mayor Garcia was the major beneficiary of this since his citywide officeholder account was roughly three times the size of Councilmembers.)
In 2018, Auditor Doud joined Mayor Garcia in supporting four Charter Amendments (AAA-DDD), one of which allowed Council incumbents and the Mayor to seek third terms but no further and erased LB's voter-enacted write-in requirement for third terms and beyond. (Doud portrayed BBB as "closing a loophole" that let incumbents continue to run.) Doud's stance on BBB angered a number veteran civic activists and led them to found LB's Reform Coalition..
Auditor Doud frequently boasts of her independence but the Council sets her salary each year. The FY 20 budget (adopted by the Council in Sept. 2019) was the first budget following the November 2018 Measure BBB election. She received a $8,057 raise in FY20 from $219,429 to $227,486.
In response to an inquiry from LBREPORT.com, city management said Auditor Doud’s FY21 budgeted base salary is $234,383.23...and thus includes a not publicly visible raise of $6,897. Auditor Doud’s office replied that she "is planning to voluntarily participate in the furlough program in line with the city attorney’s recommending in a council item (agendized for the Sept. 8 council meeting) consistent with other city employees." Her office added: "The budgeted salary information is per the City’s Salary Resolution Section 16 which covers the salaries of all elected city officials and is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index."
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