Paso Robles administrator accused of conflict of interest

April 16, 2012

By KAREN VELIE

The Paso Robles city administrative services director  purchased a Chevrolet which he asked the city council to approve for sale for about half of its Kelley Blue Book value, prompting allegations of a conflict of interest and misuse of public funds.

Last year, Jim Throop began promoting selling the city’s surplus goods on eBay. Throop then said that staff time required to manage the eBay listings would be kept at a minimum. After purchasing vehicles, the purchaser is required to bring cash to the city’s administrative office where Throop usually signs the vehicle release.

In December, Jim Throop asked the council to approve the sale of a 2005 Chevy Classic with 103,893 miles for sale, noting that since 2007 the city had spent $4,503 repairing the vehicle, according to the city website.

In his request, Throop said that the city no longer had a need for the vehicle and “it was highly desirable to sell or dispose of the surplus equipment for the highest return possible.”

However, while the car’s Kelley Blue Book value in top condition is $6,211, Throop paid $3,383 for the car.  According to city records, he asked Assistant City Manager Meg Williamson to sign the release so that he could transfer the car into his name.

Last week, following several CalCoastNews’ records requests regarding Throop’s purchase, Williamson sent an email to council members and executive managers claiming there “was a defined seven-day open competitive bid process,” in the selling of the Chevy on eBay, a claim several employees who asked not to be named contend did not occur.

When asked for the car’s bidding history, Williamson replied, “The city does not keep records for an auction process that occurs on eBay (please refer to its website for details as might be available). However, as a matter of practice, when a surplus item is placed on eBay, the city utilizes eBay’s standard auction procedure of a seven-day open bid process, with a $200 opening bid and no ‘purchase now’ price.”

Emails to eBay requesting the bidding process were not answered.

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.”

Throop is the city’s second highest paid employee with a combined salary and benefit package of $202,930.


Loading...
Sherlock

I guess $202,000.00 isn’t good enough to make ends meet…


Staff will consult with Iris to come up with a plan to put a spin on this to make it all ok and hope it fades away. Delay, delay, delay. First rule of negotiating your way through a crisis. This City is in crisis, now just watch Staff, CC and the CM “delay”, “suspend”, “continue”, or “postpone” any ruling or punishment for this pork barreling project.


To the City Council: “Actions speak louder than words”.


Vagabond

Thank you again PR for making even the most hillbilly run parishes in Mississippi seem like paragons of virtue. I Get great pleasure passing this website around to friends all over the country.


Cindy

I bid $4,000. That is considerably higher than Thropp paid, now give me the car.


paragon

The bigger question is why would a guy who makes $202,930 a year want to buy an old $6,000 car that had been used (and no doubt abused) by city employees for the past 6 years? Did he want a beater car for his kid or something?


Cindy

Yep, th twas my first thought, he wanted the car for one of his kids or a friends kid. These hotshots pride themselves on being able to impress their friends and relatives. Ever see what happens when an attorney is in charge of an estate sale?


bobfromsanluis

Perhaps he was thinking he could then sell the car himself and make a tidy, personal profit?


Cindy

Yep, My first thought was that he wanted it for one of his kids or for a friends kid. These sycophant “high ups” pride themselves on getting all their friends great deals. It makes them feel important rather than embarrassed that they took advantage of their position and the trust of the people they serve. Ever see what happens to a clients property when an attorney is in charge of an estate sale? All their friends and relatives get a great deal. Its like a give away, disgusting, never leave your estate to be managed by an attorney or to the courts. Never leave the fox (public Officials and cronies) in charge of the hen house (your property) without proper oversight and record keeping.


BeenThereDoneThat

It’s sounding more and more to me that Paso is becoming the City of Bell north.


MaryMalone

Ah, yes.


Their new motto: “Paso Robles: San Luis Obispo County’s Answer to the City of Bell.”


Myself

Looks to be more problems for Paso.


There is a web site that is specific to citys,schools and districts that they can auction there equipment off on called public surplus, there you can find stuff from all over the state. I peruse it from time to time its too bad more entities don’t use it.


WiseGuy

If the buyer of the car had anything to do with setting up the ebay auction, there was likely a conflict of interest and a breach of fairness and ethics. Ebay auctions can easily be set up so that only those “in the know” are likely to bid on an item.


One way to make something like this work fairly would be to contract with an independent agency to set up the auction with that agency’s fee being based on the final sale price of the item; i.e., the more the item sells for, the more the agency earns.


MaryMalone

The idea that a CITY would sell one of its vehicles on e-Bay is just plain sleazy.


And, of course, Throop is a sleaze for what appears to be illegal taking advantage of a conflict of interest.


Let’s not forget Lisa Solomon Chitty’s years of sleaze in the PRPD, culminating in her Sleaze-O-Rama years as Chief of Police.


And App? He’s not only a sleaze–he’s a douchebag.


Cindy

WOW Mary, having a day or what? Actually, I don’t see anything sleazy about selling city surplus on e-Bay, it reaches a wide audience. App is a “douchebag”, woman don’t usually bring attention to things like douche-bags but OK. LOL…….


I think the citizens are RIPPED OFF more than we know of with the selling of OUR SURPLUS PROPERTY and its sickening. Its time to set policy and let our Officials know what WE WANT and HOW WE WANT THINGS DONE. We all need to take a stand here, get in their faces (in every town and city) and tell them we aren’t going to take it anymore and then FOLLOW THROUGH.


Hopefully CPRN2012 is just the beginning and they will set an example. Their success is very important and I KNOW that they will be successful and in so doing, they will send a message not just to the people to WAKE UP but to the “elected morons” and their cronies who think we’re all so absent minded.


Fire and charge this guy if he is guilty of what is alleged and send App packing with him.


MaryMalone

Well, we disagree on this one, Cindy. Selling city property on e-Bay is just low-class. Plus, there is the possibility for fraud–as we see with this vehicle–because the city is putting the burden of proving that there was actual bidding, and what the bidding was, on the residents.


I mean, why not just sell it at the local swap meet and be done with it?


And who would buy a car from e-Bay, anyway? Financial advisors, including Clark Howard on KYNS, repeatedly recommend that you never buy a vehicle from an internet board, service, or other group unless you can physically see it first and have it checked out by the mechanic you would anticipate taking the car to for repairs if you purchased it. Even then, it is not considered a good idea. This is especially true when spring rolls around because cars that were flooded in winter storms, which have been superficially rehabbed, start showing up on websites, at very attractive prices.


Cindy

I do get your point, I’ve never thought about buying a off e-Bay so I didn’t think about all that but its true that you wouldn’t want to purchase a car sight unseen. In fact that is what all these used car lots do is purchase at auction and they sell a lot of lemons to people. If a person has a good car for sale that has been well maintained I would think e-Bay might bring the lowest price as compared to advertising it locally. OK, I agree that you’re right but I wouldn’t call poor e-Bay sleazy, people do find lots of cool stuff there ;)


danika

I suspect it was sold on Ebay to keep the appearence of propriety without opening the bidding up to the masses. How many people look to Ebay to buy a car locally? Some do, no doubt. Most do not. It was an efficient way to get the vehicle at the price he set. It isn’t his fault if few bid on it, right? Who determined the price of the car at the onset?


danika

Cindy, I assure you we are in contact daily with city officials, asking questions, taking notes, researching the heck out of everything we find. CPRN is obviously touching not one, but several nerves inside city hall. Keep watching. You are about to hear some very interesting facts…


doggin

Well lets see, at $100 + an hour shop rate the new brakes,tires,smog check and that new trans, and its all ready for an a city employee to purchase knowing its in top shape and ready to go. Every municipality Ive ever known/worked for strictly prohibited employees from being allowed to participate in the bidding process for the exact reason,to prevent a conflict of interest. Guess Throop felt sorry for the city and the “turd” realizing they’ed never sell it for what they have into it in a advertised to the public closed bid, “as is” sale, so he graciously took it off their hands for a bargain price.


danika

A bargain price that bettered himself…


BeenThereDoneThat

Felt sorry for the city and took it off their hands??? Really????? Please for the LOVE OF GOD tell me what color is the sky in your universe??


OldNed

Maybe it is time to find a new horse to flog. Unnamed sources and citing top value for a car that sounds like a turd? Happy Monday, everyone.


danika

Ned, what improprieties ARE acceptable? If this allegation is true, this is one of a list of many “wrongs” having been done by PR city officials. They cannot better themselves at the cost of the taxpayer. Our rules are their rules too. When he gets to set the price, and no bids are open for competition, he is clearly “bettered”. Yes, it might be a POS car, but…it gives pause to the question: what else are they doing like this that we don’t YET know about?


BeenThereDoneThat

Car that sounds like a turd? Ned get the head out of the sand buddy. Go to Kelly Blue Book. I priced this car. Excellent which is the top of four tiers puts it at just shy of 6 grand. The bottom, which would be fair shape puts it at $4500. So the employee still payed $700.00 less than bottom end.


As far as the money spent. That doesn’t imply the car was a turd. That could be tires, oil changes and seeing it is around 100 k, a new serpintine belt and water pump. That is general maintiance. Now if someone has done all those things it doesn’t lower the value, to me it would make me more apt to buy it knowing that I now don’t have to spend the money anytime soon and the car should be good to go.


Sorry Ned this is another case of Paso city employees cheating the people (like me) of Paso who pay taxes.


CPRN2012 is my responce to all of this bullshit.


viamagnolia1

BTDT- CPRN2012 hears you loud and clear!


takeabreath

Ahh Ned and Happy Monday To You,,,Once again unnamed sources but alas this could be true. Just food for thought though, Gary Nemeth our now running for mayor in Paso Robles, accused Mike Gibson of taking away his Roblan of the Month Award but he um “deleted” this voice mail when Gibson denied making the call……Daniel Blackburn on April 12, made a “mistake” by posting that Cal Coast News was the registrant of CPRN on the domain site….I am not saying Paso is in the right I too live here and want change, just saying, its not just the sulphur in Paso that smells funny right now…Let the mud slinging begin….


danika

TAB, and your point is? Please make it specifically and we will openly address it. There is no need to “hint” at anything. We have nothing to hide.


1 2 3 4