San Luis Obispo employee accused of bilking city

November 24, 2010

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo Public Works inspector is under investigation for misappropriating public property for his own profit.

Sources claim Ron Faria, president of the San Luis Obispo City’s Employee Association, asked his supervisor if a mower that had been previously used to service city parks and deemed surplus should be sold for scrap.

“Per the City’s Financial Management Policy, Department Heads are authorized to approve the disposal of property that is essentially without value due to technical obsolescence or its unrepairable (or economically unrepairable) condition,” City Manager Katie Lichtig said. “The Batwing Mower was determined to be an obsolete piece of equipment.”

Faria then took the Batwing mower to Chipper Industries, a recycle yard in Arroyo Grande, and sold the approximately two ton mower as scrap metal. The owner of the yard said he paid the city a little over $150 for the mower at a rate of about $80 a ton, in March.

“The check from Chipper’s was deposited into the City’s general fund for miscellaneous revenue on March 31, 2010,” Lictig added.

Without removing it from the truck he arrived in, Faria then paid the owner of the recycle yard almost double what the city had received and took the mower to his home in Atascadero.

He ran an ad in Ag Source Magazine from April through May advertising the mower:

“14 ft. Batwing mower, $3,500 or trade for 4×4 mule/rhino/Toyota pickup?? Ron 805-391-3514, rfaria@charter.net, Atascadero #101509.”

When questioned about the mower, Faria admitted to selling it but said he didn’t think he purchased the mower from the recycle yard.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but it doesn’t sound right, Faria said when asked if he sold the city mower and then repurchased it for financial gain. He then hung up abruptly.

Several frustrated city employees claim Lichtig was informed about the issue at least three weeks ago and had not taken action. Lichtig said she recently became aware of the allegation and has initiated an investigation.

“The intent of the investigation is to determine if any policies or procedures were violated,” Lichtig said. “The city takes allegations involving even the appearance of impropriety very seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating and addressing such allegations.”

However, the owner of the recycle yard said that other than CalCoastNews, no one has inquired about Faria’s purchase of the mower. In addition, staff at the recycle yard said Faria has sold scrap metal several times claiming it is his personal property from “a farm.”

Generally, government entities sell surplus equipment that has value through auctions or to auction houses.

“The City does not currently have sufficient facts to determine whether the city could have obtained greater value for this piece of equipment in its non-operational condition at the time it was sold for scrap value,” Lichtig said. “The City doesn’t allow city employees to use their positions with the City or city resources for personal gain.”

Misappropriation or theft of government property are violations of California government codes.

“Violations of the laws prohibiting misuse of public funds may subject the violator to criminal and civil sanctions,” the State Attorney General’s website says. “These penalties may include imprisonment for up to four years and a bar from holding office.”


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the_watcher

I have been watching this illegal behaviour going on for 20 years,

and could say or do nothing. because so many people in management

just looked the otherway, or smiled and just shook their head at it.

how many of them ? are also guilty ?

because of the graft they gave taken ?


some people think faira is a good guy ?.. just wait when the rest of his indescretions become public knowledge.


viper ( interesting choice, another snake hiding in the grass )


pasopete ( you really think NO one knows what you have been doing ? )


redvines ( not smart enough to come up with a nickname, so you pick something on your desk ? pathetic )


you must think everyone else is stupid,

you don’t even know how many agencies are now investigating this case.

The crooked people have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar,

and when you all fall in disgrace, I am going to “watch” with satisfaction.


slodown2010

As I read through the blogs I recalled many articles during the past few years and it strikes me odd that the City fired two police officers (Officer Limon) for purportedly importing legal pharmaceuticals from Mexico to the US and yet a Union Boss apparently misappropriates City assets for personal gain and nothing happens! One blog in particular indicates that a former Public Works Inspector was fired a few years ago for under the table deals. So I looked up that information and discovered that he was fired for allegedly taking bribes. This Public Works Inspector was fired on the spot based upon public records. My question to the City and Ms. Litdick is why the preferential treatment or lack of parity in treatment? Were the facts surrounding the former public works inspector’s purported bribes for allegedly looking the other way on substandard work so well documented with say a check paper trail (pay to the order of “x” for a bribe to look the other way on substandard work) or the transfer of a Chevy Truck to a City employee to over look the issues more black and white than the conduct of Mr. Faria? So, what is the real story here? Are there so many City employees involved in this kind of conduct that addressing this one issue may open up Pandora’s preverbal box? Why are so many apparent co-workers making blatant attempts to not only protect Mr. Faria, but seem to condone his conduct? Are viper, redvines, pasopete and wwguru engaged in unethical conduct to? To make things worse it appears that these employees in the know (viper, redvines, pasopete and wwguru) are all engaging in this conduct and admittedly retaliating against an apparent co-worker for blowing the whistle which are in themselves criminal acts! It is obvious reading the comments of redvines, pasopete, viper and wwguru that they are city employees that based upon their comments in the blog that they had first hand knowledge of Mr. Faria’s conduct and failed to report that conduct under a duty to report. It is time to clean house Ms. Litdick of bad apples or do you condone this time of conduct?


queensupreme

OK, Watcher,…..Pasopete is not who you think. I have known her for some time now. She and I actually watch from the outside. We are not the insiders that you think we are. You would be really stunned at who viper and redvines are too. Keep your friends close, enemies closer……..and always watch your back because we are watching you, “The Watcher”.


P.S. It pays to listen not watch. I have learned so much from you all, you are not as discreet as you think you are.


Justin

Whether or not someone is after Mr Faria is irrelivant. If this story has any substance at all, it shows that this guy knows what he is doing and to say the least very stupid. He obviously didn’t think he’d get caught or was just ignorant. We don’t need these kind of people getting away with shady dealings at taxpayers expense. I say the snitch (not my word) is doing us a favor. Call him/her what you want. I call them honest and concerned.


justme

The scrapyard owner said Faria has been to his lace selling “farm” equipt. several times.


viper

Cindy I agree. I would like to know if the City took the $150 and did it help subsidize Public Safety overtime. Talk about money laundering. At the most, that’s all they would have got anyway.


viper

Wow! It is very obvious that all this debate has missed the point. The point is somebody is out for Mr. Faria for some reason using information against him to be very vindictive and hateful. I believe their intend is to get Mr. Faria fired. I hope it back fires and we really find out who the snitch is and his stupid child like actions. It is to bad he has to re-direct the issue and bring the City of SLO down with him. He should face Mr. Faria like a man.


pasopete

Thank you Viper. I happen to know who the snitch is and know that he has a personal vendetta against Mr. Faria. I wonder how much time he has spent on the cities dime in this witch hunt. I think he still is a little bitter over a few things. I wouldn’t be suprised if he was posting on here right now in his deffense trying to make it appear as though he has a case. DD you out there? I would love to hear you claim you have no ax to grind with Mr. Faria. XOXO


REDVINES

DD is a total waste of carbon. He sets the best possible example of how NOT to behave. He is petty, selfish and is so self-centered that he is willing to risk bringing down the organization and jeopardizing the integrity of his fellow talented and dedicated colleagues. He has a well documented pattern of this kind of destructive divisive behavior. Yeah, how many hours of company time and company resources has DD spent falsely demonizing colleagues- not just Mr Faria-there are many others too? It adds up to more than the value of a piece of amortized equipment. It would help everyone if Doug could bury the proverbial hatchet; but if his past behavior is any indication, then he will continue to spew his worthless garbage/baggage. It is always important to consider the source and their motivations. In this case they are pathetically transparent.


Cindy

Just give us the facts. Did Faria dispose of the citizens property for $150, buy it back for $300 and then sell it $3500.00? YES or NO? Did he or didn’t he, that is all that we want to know. Just answer the question and save all your drib for someone else.


REDVINES

Cindy, are you one of those who wants to hear and see only what fits your needs or do you want ALL of the FACTS?


slocorruptionhater

REDVINES…I think most of us do want to know ALL of the facts. As reported, Mr. Faria appears to have done something that is less than honorable. If I understand your posts correctly, you seem to have information that would exonerate Mr. Faria. Please feel free to post the facts as you know them.


slocorruptionhater

REDVINES….I am still waiting :-)


slocorruptionhater

Well REDVINES, we’ve waited long enough…I guess you don’t want to share “ANY of your FACTS”…


Iwanafreechevy2

Hey REDVINES, obviously you cant supply “ALL of the FACTS,” but maybe you can shed

some light on the Chevy Pickup you received from Mr. Faria… What was he bribing you for?

Is the reason your so defensive of Mr. Faria simply because you are up to your neck in this

as well? Could it be that once an investigation is conducted your name could surface as

well?


I take it you are a city employee, considering you know these people so well. I also assume

that your post at 3:47pm was on city time… Thank you for your failed attempt at defending a

guilty man on the city dime!


Waterman

Me thinks Pasopete has spent to much time listening to those discrediting the corruption within local government. If these elected officials did as good a job doing their job as they do hiding nepotism this county would be an example of efficiency, instead its a prime example of corruption and good ole boy politics.


pasopete

Me thinks you liberal caveman…..


pasopete

Oh dear Karen, please check your facts before publishing such non-sense. This is a story that is dead in the water. You and Doug Dowden make a real pair stirring the pot. If I were you, (knowing that this is an issue that has been dropped by the city and Mr. Faria was found to have done no harm) I would be real careful……. seeing that this would be considered libel in its most sincerest form. An apology is due to Mr. Faria. And for all you creeps that think you know everything and have nothing better to do than leave lame negative comments about people you don’t know, GET A LIFE!


Nancy

I have no doubt that the city decided to drop this. That’s why we need CalCoastNews to pick these items up. Thank You CCN and lets not let the city drop this item a second time. We want answers.


pasopete

Seriously? Why doesn’t CCN look into something worthwhile. This was an obsolete piece of machinery that was sitting in the city yard. As far as I’m concerened you should be happy the city got the $80 per pound that it did get. And Karen if you want a real story look into the $3 million that public safety spent on overtime last year. Why worry about the little stuff? Go after that big wasteful fish. Answer me this….Why is a $3 million overtime budget needed and why can’t they fix it to help a city that is being drained of all its funds? Nancy it was not dropped, it was NEVER a story, and that is that.


KatieEvans

pasopete, This is a clear example of $3,000 of the taxpayers monies being misappropriated and going into the pocket of a public employee. We all expect better fiscal management than that. If the piece of equipment could be sold for $3,500 then that is what the taxpayers should have received for “OUR” mower. I can assure you that this matter isn’t closed and is but one example of many improprieties that have been ignored by those who otherwise sport themselves as our trusted overseers. Currently there is far too much of this illicit behavior to make a clean sweep but I can assure you that the people intend to clean this up, one person at a time and that starts at the top.


slocorruptionhater

pasopete…the point is that most municipalities and government entities have obsolete equipment that they need to get rid of from time to time. This opens the door to improprieties. If the market value of any piece of equipment is X, and someone within that government entity purchases the equipment below that value, then they are clearly shortchanging their employer (a form of stealing). I get your point that there are bigger fish to fry, but how can anyone look the other way if what was reported here is true?


If the City had sold the piece of equipment for the same price during an advertised surplus equipment public auction and Mr. Faria had made the same profit, then there would be no issue.


viper

Good for you pasopete! Wow 3 million on OT. And people are worried about a 1970 era mower. I think I saw on an episode of the Flintstones and Fred pulling it with Dino..


Newsie

Pete, I would guess that the reason CCN isn’t doing a piece on the $3M in OT is that no one will speak up and provide substantiation. I applaud those standing up to the Man and bringing to light the wrongdoings of our leaders.


danika

PasoPete, you are posting here along with everyone else…do you need to “get a life” as well?????


pasopete

I post facts not BS!


danika

Fact is simple: Did he take the equipment and resell it at a higher price? YES he did or No he didn’t. Which is it?


bulwark

“Publishing such nonsense”?


It’s only nonsense if it’s not true. As of now CCN’s accusations are out there and according to you the issue has been “dropped by the city”. How can the city drop something that they never “picked up” in the first place?


Standard practice for public agencies with assets that are beyond their service life or that don’t comply with new operational standards, safety, environmental, etc. is to accumulate the assets in a secure storage area until a properly advertised public auction can be held, once a year or whatever. Then everybody has a fair opportunity to purchase the assets, including agency employees, and the surplus asset usually brings the highest return to the agency. If no one wants it then perhaps it gets sold off for it’s scrap value.


Maybe there were other circumstances in this case, who knows? Without any public comment by the city, none of us know for sure (including you) and that’s what stinks about all of this.


At the moment, I imagine the city is just waiting for all of us to exercise our usual short attention span and just let the entire matter evaporate. The city council is the only group that can force this issue into the limelight.


Paperboys

OK he took the mower to the scrap yard in March and then advertised it for sale in April-May. The city said it was an “obsolete piece of equipment,” I assume that meant they couldn’t fix it.

I used to work at Taylor Rental and our mechanic and I took one of these mowers apart and fixed it when everyone said the thing was useless.

It took some time, and was a real mess (all that grease don’t you know) but in a single day we’d fixed it and rented it out again.

These mowers run on a hydraulic system (PTO) so they don’t really have many moving parts (a gear box, shaft and blade is about it).

Now it could be that the city’s mower had a broken mount or bent shaft, or some other thing wrong with it, my point is that it definitely could be fixed (where are all the McGivers these days?). And these mower attachments are not cheap.

Why fix something, when the taxpayers’ money is so readily available to BUY a NEW one.

One little thing breaks on a mower and BOOM sell it for scrap! People say Americans are wasteful, but we are NOTHING like government wastefulness on ALL LEVELS.

I do applaud this guy for his ingenuity and ability to recognize that SLO was throwing something away that could be fixed and being able to fix it and sell the useless piece of equipment. That said, he should still be fired.


wwguru

Before we start blowing off on City employee’s Karen needs to do a through job of investigating. There is a RAT in the woodpile at City of SLO who continues to give false information about people who crosses his path including people from other Cities. This person needs to be dealt with as he is trying to cost people thier jobs for his own gain. It is my understanding that Mr. Faria purchased this piece of equipment from the auction that it was sent to which any one of us could do. I don’t believe that there is anything in the charter or mou that prevents a person from doing this. Of course this is all from my source within and hopefully is as reliable as Karen claims of her sources????


Cindy

“Without removing it from the truck he arrived in”, “Faria then paid the owner of the recycle yard almost double what the city had received and took the mower to his home in Atascadero.”

LMAO


SLOBIRD

If this is true, why is Ms. Lichtig not responsing as such. It is her job to set the record straight one way or the other. If your story is true, shame on her for not coming forward immediately upon getting the facts right and not allowing this to happen IF he is innocent. The problem still comes back to Lichtig, set the record straight…


MAD HATTER

It’s called a conflict of Interest. And yes, City employees are not allowed to buy back city equipment. That has been in force for quite a few years. Maybe Faria tried to go to the well too many times and this “RAT decided to do something about it. Local governments need more Rats out there.


wwguru

City employee’s are not allowed to purchase directly from the City. There is nothing that says you can’t buy it from auction as you or I could. And NO there shouldn’t be rats if the rats can’t tell the truth and hurt innocent people. I am not defending Mr. Faria but the facts should be correct before plastering all over the paper or news.


Crusader

@wwguru: Classic! You’re trying to spin things in order to shift the blame. Sorry, no dice. I hope this situation does not simply disappear…


wwguru

@Crusader: No shift of blame here… If Mr. Faria is guilty then he should have to be dealt with accordingly. I’m just saying that make sure all the facts are out there before passing judgement. What I heard from reliable sources is a whole different story. Typical of what this person has been trying to do to several other people who work for the City. And NO I don’t work for the City of SLO.