Connected firms reap big contracts in Atascadero

August 18, 2010

Wade McKinney


Consultants connected to Atascadero City Manager Wade McKinney have profited handsomely from consulting and bond work for the North County city.

Contracts for the work have often gone to consultants listed as associates of McKinney, according to data available through the California City Manager Association website.

Last month, the Atascadero City Council unanimously agreed to take on a 30 year debt plan to pay for its share of repairs to restore its historic administration building.

The payments will increase over the age of the bonds starting at $800,000 and enlarging to $2 million per year. The city is gambling that redevelopment zone property taxes will increase enough to cover the growing payments.

Consultant Mark Curran of the financial firm Piper Jaffray & Co. put together the $16 million to $16.5 million bond package. Curran and Piper Jaffray are slated to make approximately $250,000 for their work on the bond project.

Piper Jaffray has a long history of stockbroker misconduct and breaches of fiduciary duty with 125 complaints of possible securities fraud, according to the FINRA.

In 2009, a Piper Jaffray stockbroker, who spent two years in federal prison for defrauding his clients, filed a lawsuit against Piper Jaffray claiming that his former employer had made a scapegoat out of him to cover for their illegal business practices.

Marcia Torgerson, assistant to the city manager, said that city employees researched Piper Jaffray before hiring the company and that McKinney’s relationship with Curran did not play into the cities selection process.

Curran and McKinney are both on the board of trustees for the California City Managers Association and comments about their after hour socializing are common on the group’s website.

Former Atascadero mayor Mike Brennler said it appears the city is either ignoring prior misdeeds or not doing the proper research before hiring associates of McKinney.

“I certainly question the relationship between McKinney and Curran and I can’t help but worry that Atascadero is going to get the short end of the stick again,” Brennler said. “Having served on the council and seen certain behaviors among certain executive managers and council members I came to realize that deception and self service was the norm in Atascadero.

Dr. Bill Mathis  is another beneficiary of the city payments for consulting work, a manager’s association board of trustee member as well as social comrade of McKinney. The city had hired Mathis to do performance evaluations on the city manager which have lead to significant increases in McKinney’s compensation package.

Mathis had also been hired to oversee strategic planning as well as numerous other jobs which totaled more than $70,000 in 2007.

Atascadero resident David Broadwater discovered and brought to the council’s attention information that Mathis had been double paid for a $6464.90 consulting job he performed in 2007. Torgerson signed off on the double payment.

After the overpayment became public, the money was returned to the city.

Torgerson contends there was not a conflict of interest in the hiring of either Curran or Mathis.

“The city manager has a professional relationship with Mr. Curran and Mr. Mathis, sees them at meetings from time to time, and there is no conflict of interest,” Torgerson said. “Staff interviewed several firms to provide financial and legal assistance for the bond issuance.”


As part of its ongoing investigation of both Kelly Gearhart and the City of Atascadero, the FBI has been asking local contractors if they know anything about Gearhart building a house for McKinney – or at least having his crew perform work for him. Apparently what sent up a red flag was that Kelly wasn’t a typical contractor or home builder. His gig was building on spec. Anyway, at least one friend of mine hung up the phone convince the feds are onto something.


OC, You’re correct, Kelly Gearhart did do some extensive work on Wades house, don’t know if he actually built the house or did a sizable addition and upgrades. I’ve also heard from someone that the FBI was asking questions about that!


Wade is a dirty crook and should be in prison as Gearhart’s cellmate. Don’t think for a second that Wade wasn’t instrumental in having his staff expedite all Kell’y projects through the city much faster than others. I saw it first hand practically.


Sounds to me like Mac practices North County politics: the City Council gets one vote apiece but the City Manager gets ten. Good old boy developers cozy up to their best buddy, the City Manager, take him to lunch at McPhees, buy him some drinks and a few cigars and they get waived through on anything they want. Developments that make no sense and come with tons of trouble get pushed to the head of the class. Let’s see who gets the City Union, Policeman and Fire Fighters support in November and you can bet big money good old Wade got it for them. Padding the Council with his buddies makes the City Manager’s job that much easier. Gets paid more, too!

Booty JuJu

What is most astounding about Atrashcabama’s death spiral is Mr. McKinney’s inexplicably insouciant attitude and the fact that he remains in charge.

What is equally as shocking as Mr. McKinney’s poor management, behavior and the fact that he is awarded anything more than bus tokens for his transportation needs is that the citizens and City Council have sat idly by while he lays waste to the city.


The city is dirty, no doubt. This goes back to rumors that Gearhart and the bunch paying off Warren Frace so Kelly’s projects could go through. They all stink. The good old boy attitude needs to go. There are illegal, immoral, and irrational events taking place at the city every day and it needs to stop.


And one name pops up over and over again in connection with anything questionable, Wade McKinney…


“Marcia Torgerson, assistant to the city manager, said that city employees researched Piper Jaffray before hiring the company and that McKinney’s relationship with Curran did not play into the cities selection process”.

Then what did?

Was it this, “Piper Jaffray has a long history of stockbroker misconduct and breaches of fiduciary duty with 125 complaints of possible securities fraud, according to the FINRA.” ?

Are you people at City Hall NUTS OR JUST LIARS? Oh, and I don’t believe for one minute that Curran isn’t very appreciative to his buddy for the opportunity to provide the city $250K in services. . Hey it’s rough out there but that’s what friends are for. We need an audit FOLKS.

Sorry to be so judgmental but this is so obvious! 125 complaints!


So now that Wade knows how dirty Piper Jaffray is, has Wade terminated the city employee that researched the firm and failed to inform him that they were not reputable? The City of Atascadero contracted with the most unscrupulous brokerage firm in the County and probably the State. Who got terminated for screwing up Wade and all us citizens? Maybe he can find another Tracey or McHarris to scapegoat.

Booty JuJu

So, the greasy thieves want the shirt off your back, do they? Then do what I do – SEND IT TO THEM. Literally. Send the dirty, corrupt, sniveling little punks the shirt off your back. I don’t see how this goes on much longer. Peak pretending now joins peak oil, peak credit, and all the other peaks visible to us humble valley dwellers. Pretending bought America two years of respite from the consequences of fraud and mismanagement, but now the true condition of this society is revealing itself like the disfigured sewer ghoul that it is. Further pretending is unnecessary now. When nothing is believable, what’s the point in even pretending? Just send them the shirt off your back and get it over with.

The failure of leadership extends through government from top to bottom, from sea to shining sea. All authorities are suspect. All are dishonest and cowardly.

Here are some truths which I believe to be self-evident: That the USA has been running on fumes since the beginning of the 21st century. That you can’t get something for nothing, and attempts to do so always end in tears. That massive expenditures of energy produce equivalent globs of entropy – which you can translate to “bad ju-ju” or the tendency of whatever can go wrong will in fact go wrong. That because we’re unwilling to re-scale and reform the things we do, nature is about to do it for us. That America has transformed itself from a nation of earnest, muscular, upright citizens to a land of overfed, bilious, bloated, barbarous morons ruled by grifters. That what has been economics is about to turn dangerously political.

The collective failure of authority, whether of intention or mental deficiency boggles the mind. It’s hard to tell whether our elected officials and their appointees have a clue as to the scale of misconduct in the public sector and are just too stupid to understand what is going on all around them, or if they are just outright bought off plain and simple.


Booty, I love the idea of literally sending them the shirts off our back. That could actually become a National movement. Citizens by the millions sending politico’s the shirts off their backs. Your on to something here. We need to get that started in Atascadero and get some press about it. Considering that the Annie story has already started going national and people from out of state were calling into Congalton today. Can you imagine what we could all do with a campaign to send the politicians the shirts off our backs? It would spread across the country in no time.

I love it, I’m going to do it. Who else? Come on, get on board, lets get this thing started. I want to see a million shirts end up in the white house and everywhere else.


The SOOB movement begins…I would love to participate in this, Nancy! Just tell me where to send it and I will.


What’s to say, it’s another egregious caper and fiduciary failure and it’s right there in our face complete with the standard condescending rhetoric from the staff. I see Attorney Pierik has been advising them again with the all so typical “deny, deny, deny” but he probably doesn’t have to remind them, they know the program.

Speaking of Dr Mathis, a few years ago I requested copies all the “top dogs” city credit card receipts and the monthly statements (6 months worth). I ran across a dinner at the Carlton Hotel charged on Wades credit card with the notation Mathis on the receipt. Wade has terrible writing (or he did that day) and I thought that the notation said “Mathias”.

This wouldn’t have been a good thing for Wade because any meetings that Wade had with Keith Mathias (VP from the Rottman Group) had to be disclosed in the public meetings and this meeting hadn’t been disclosed. As it turned out the staff was very pleased to inform me that Wade had not dined with “Keith Mathias” but rather “Dr. Mathis”. Well heck, take your pick, Mathis was in town to direct Wade’s annual performance review and to advise the CC accordingly. Wade got a raise, and a vote of confidence, of course.

As for the city paid credit card receipts, yes there was stuff, foolish waste and indulgences but nothing to make a racket about. Lot’s of lunches with no indication who they met with or why. Over a $1,000 spent on prepaid Von’s grocery cards to reward the staff for working (literally it was just to reward them for whatever) and that sort of stuff.


Do a reality check! O’Malley isn’t going to have explain anything.The only people running for City Council are part of the “rubber stamp in group” who will be supporting McKinney. There is one outsider but I hate to say it, he really doesn’t know anything about the process or what is going on. Sandy Jack and Chuck Wade are on the Planning Commission. Guess who placed them on the commission? Jack along with Fonzi (and probably Clay are Tea Party people. Chuck Wade shares some of their ideas. (Remember O’Malley endorsed Katcho while Fonzi and Jack were at the Tea Party rallys.) FYI Luna suported McKinney also. Beraud has been squeezed so hard that she even goes along with McKinney. And then there is Bob Kelly he flops around all over the place.


“There is one outsider but I hate to say it, he really doesn’t know anything about the process or what is going on. ” Bluebird

I believe that I know who you are talking about. I think he is doing a great job, there is a lot to learn and the PC isn’t exactly tasked with the overwhelming agenda’s that used to confront them. It takes longer to get up to speed when the PC agenda is only two pages a month.

I find Bob Kelley amusing, he isn’t a bad guy after all, I guess he votes according to what he believes is correct and it doesn’t appear that he is anybody’s boy. Now that there is no longer a call for rezoning prime commercial property to residential and 10 to 1 lot splits on the agenda, I can see the real/other Bob!

To the frustrated cadre, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”! Forrest Gump ;)



WALMART IS COMING TO TOWN, like having Santa Claus year round, bringing all the goodies for all the people.

Made in America products, boy sure will be nice to see that again.

bet it’s going to take a heep load of minimum waged employees to pull off and replace all those made in China tags.

Oh well, what can anyone really say that would make a diffeence.

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Mr. Holly

How much more of Wade McKinney can Atascadero take? Hiring your own job evaluator in order to justify your raise. And Tom O’Malley has been there the whole time endorsing everything that Mr. McKinney has done. The people of Atascadero need to rid themselves of the likes of McKinney and O’Malley and return honesty to city government. Mr. O’Malley should have a lot of explaining to do during the campaign and before the election. In the past O’Malley has taken credit for EVERYTHING that has happened in Atascadero. I wonder if he will stand up for his buddy McKinney and take full credit for his doings?