A response to Mayor Walker’s letter:

Mayor Walker:
As has been your habit for many years, your communication is deliberately misleading, to the point where it can fairly be characterized as a lie. It’s not possible for you to tell “the rest of the story” when you can’t seem to get the basic story right. Allow me to place this story into its clear, accurate historical context.

Our last city auditor was instructed not to begin his pre-audit work back in early July. Larry Pennell did not seek council authorization for an RFP (Request for Proposal) until August 23. At that meeting Pennell told the council that regional auditing firms would be allowed to submit bids for the work (he had earlier recommended a search for a new auditor, another of his “re-sets”).

City staff sent RMS the previous auditor’s invoices, which common sense tells us resulted in a non-competitive bid (completely contrary to the intent of a “re-set”).

For several weeks Councilman Conaway asked Pennell and Bartels to produce the RFP. Both Pennell and Bartels would not respond to this email. Conaway also requested a list of companies that received the RFP. This was not provided. Conaway asked the city’s previous auditor if his firm had received the RFP; his answer was at that time, “no”.

The RFP states that the bid process is open until late October. There seemed to be no urgency to the matter. However, at the last council meeting Pennell and the new council majority stated that it was imperative to give the work to Pennell’s preferred company because time was of the essence due to “excessive” fines charged for late completion of the work. This urgency was caused by the mistaken decision by Pennell and Bartels to inform the previous audit firm to halt all pre-audit work back in early July.

None of this should have been a surprise to Pennell or Bartels.

I have to ask why any experienced city manager or assistant city manager would halt the extremely important audit work in July, and then proceed to do nothing for 6 or so weeks before having to declare an emergency which, they claim, necessitated choosing their preferred audit firm and ignoring the others. Some “re-set”. This was a sham.

What makes this whole matter even more suspicious is the fact that before our former City Finance Director, Barbara Smith, was provoked into early retirement after 23 years (due to gross disrespect from Bill Bartels, you as mayor, as well as Council persons Washburn and Brooks) she had repeatedly warned of this situation. She had a list of 13 critically important financial issues that had to be undertaken in a short timeframe. Smith did everything in her power to convey this message but was completely shut out of all communications with Bartels, Pennell, and you, Ms. Mayor. Smith told me of this in an interview shortly before this gross disrespect caused her to retire prematurely – she had expressed her desire to work two more years to full retirement. In an interview with the Ventura Star, Smith characterized Bartels in these words: “That gentleman doesn’t know what he is doing” (this is a close paraphrase of her words).

Ms. Mayor, you state that Ms. Young was not adequately trained, yet you voted to give her a 5 percent raise for her excellent work. Why wasn’t Ms. Young provided temporary assistance by Pennell? Mr. Pennell was provided the above mentioned list of 13 critical tasks (which needed to be completed prior to the pre-audit work) before Finance Director Smith retired.

This entire situation is the direct result of gross incompetence on the part of Mr. Pennell and Mr. Bartels.
Tapes of most of these statements are available to corroborate my remarks.

Nice try, Ms. Mayor.

Had Ms. Smith not been so grossly disrespected, ignored, and insulted By Pennell, Bartels, Washburn, Brooks, and you, Ms. Mayor. she would have continued with her job another two years and none of these problems and new expenses would have occurred. How badly was she treated? Ms. Smith volunteered to assist in finishing-up the pre-audit work FREE OF CHARGE. What was the Katzenjammer's response to this generous offer: They DECLINED the offer.
That's how poisonous the atmosphere had become after the new council majority took over.

It's becoming clear to me that a RECALL election would prove to be far less expensive than letting these arrogant Bozos continue in office.