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.


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Paso_citizen

From reading the original article and the many responses, I would conclude that Mr. Throop probably did not break any law, but there is very little doubt that what he did was not even close to what would be expected of a city official whose task was selling excess city property. Poor judgement, lack of moral turpitude, and maybe just plain arrogance ruled his decision to do this. Nothing wrong with trying to get a good deal on Ebay, but the way it was done stinks like rotten Limburger cheese. We, the citizens of Paso, have the right to expect much higher standards from our city officials. After all, they are the ones that should be setting examples to our children – examples that should be based on actions, not words. What does this teach?? And of course, he could not possibly have been watching the Ebay bids while at work , on the city payroll? Shame, shame, if that was the case. But that will never be known.


Polititian Not

Quit beating around the bush.He has denied the City a proper value for the car by what he did.He has effectively ripped the City of Paso Robles off.


Polititian Not

Could it be that some of the repairs were done to further the value the vehicle at tax payers expense and to benefit him?


brettmx

Really?. What do think the City of Paso Robles would have received from a used car dealer/wholesaler for that vehicle?. Don’t get me wrong, Throop is an idiot for even bidding on the vehicle given the appearance of an impropriety but regardless the City received way more than they could have gotten from a dealer/wholesaler.


Since no one has brought this up, given I don’t know why he would actually want a 2005 Chevy “Classic” which is one of the most f-ugly cars built at any price. Maybe he was “shill bidding” hoping the vehicle would sell for more and oops no others buyers stepped forward and now he owns that f-ugly pos. Shill bidding is against Ebay policy but people do it all the time. One of the problems with Ebay.


Cindy

You don’t shill bid at the last minute which is what he literally did. If you’re going to shill bid, you do it early on and don’t start the bid process at $200 either.


I think someone should have a look at what repairs were done and when they were done. Did he put a couple of extra thousand into the car to make certain it was in tip top shape maybe even making repairs based on items that would need replacing somewhere down the road? I suspect he did as he was planning to purchase the vehicle.


MaryMalone

Actually, it is against the law.



The state code, “California Code – Article 3: Conflict of Interest Codes
” (87300-87313) can be found at:

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/GOV/1/9/7/3


“8302 (c): Specific provisions setting forth any circumstances under which designated employees or categories of designated employees must disqualify themselves from making, participating in the making, or using their official position to influence the making of any decision. Disqualification shall be required by the Conflict of Interest Code when the designated employee has a financial interest as defined in Section 87103, which it is reasonably foreseeable may be affected materially by the decision….”


Dogpound

That code is for STATE AGENCIES, Senate appointed positions, and other areas that are not even close to applicable in this situation. This car was a piece of crap anyway! 103,000 mile Classic is a classic piece of junk. The car went out to bid on ebay, he outbid the lst bidder and won. Who cares? If it would have been sold straight to him at a reduced rate, then you may have something. This is a surplus vehicle that was used and abused and the City got some money for its sale.

The headline is VERY conclusionary also. Just shows that CCN already made up its mind. Good job being impartial. No one actually accused him of a conflict of interest so how can that be the headline? CCN accused him, but they are supposed to be impartial (which they are not.)


pasoman

Why was it abused and by whom? City employees were the only ones driving it. ALL my cars go longer than 103,000 miles, of course it’s my money not public money. Oh, that’s right, public money is free money.


Question number two…. If it was a “POC”, why did Jim T want it.?


What a joke…..


Dogpound

Fleet cars in almost all areas are rotated out of service at 100,000 miles because the maintainance becomes too expensive for the quality of vehicle. Things go wrong with that amount of miles/use to it is smarter to get a new one. Fiscally smarter. These cars go to auction where they are bought for a few hundred dollars, and then sold retail for blue book prices. This car would get maybe $500 at auction, then sold to a little used car lot for low Blue Book of $2,000 or whatever.

This car went to eBay where it sold for more money that at a car auction. There were may bids, a fair competition, highest bidder won. You could have bid on it too.

Why would Jim T. want a POC?? Maybe he has a 16 year old kid?


pasoman

Dogpound, You miss 99% of the point…


Throop made a bonehead mistake.


1) He puts himself in a position of doubt by recommending disposal, then buying it AND then getting Meg to sign it off because he can’t. POOR judgement.


2) Also, he told the CC the car is too expensive to maintain, we need to use public money to replace it because that makes economic sense. You know, it’s a POS car and we, the CIty, shouldn’t keep it anymore. THEN… he personally put it up for auction then he personally buys it because I guess he thinks his economics are different than the public’s. That is, he can afford to maintain it but the City can’t. POOR judgement!


obispan

Is High Blue book applicable to cars sold on eBay? I wouldn’t think so. Government agencies and large companies frequently auction surplus cars, either directly or through a private company. I don’t think they get high blue book. I would like to know what someone in the business of surplus vehicles thinks of Paso’s eBay results for this vehicle. I didn’t even know they sold used cars on eBay. I’d also like clarification on the $4,500 ($900/yr) repair expenses. I’m assuming this does not include mileage-interval service (oil/brakes/smog/them $600+ tune ups w/timing belt replacement) that would also apply during the vehicle’s warranty period, presumably 3 years (2005-07) thus zero “repair” expenses before ’07?


Sherlock

04/17/2012 at 10:22 am

pasoman pasojim marymalone pasoobserver: You all make very, very good points. You show sound judgement and are courteous to others. Perhaps the best place to take this discussion is into a neutral forum….perhaps the League of Womens voters? They take on high profile subjects in a safe / friendly setting

and invite everryone to attend. Removing App at this point in time with all the water / sewage / treatment issues may seem like changing horses in mid stream (or jackasses) :) but the country has gotten through worse things: 911. The City got through the 2003 earthquake. We got through the closing of the Boys School. We got through the devastated downtown when Walmart opened. We got through the 1991 – 1997 recession. We will get through this. First, a resolution stating we can’t go back, we must resolve the issues at hand. Second, a thorough assessing of the actions taken to date and reflection on the path chosen. Third, an honest / open-forum effort to seek new ideas or revisit old ones. Lastly, we forge ahead, like we have always done in Paso Robles.

There is nothing wrong with change, change is good. What does not kill us makes us stronger. Changing the CC, the CM the CA and anyone else is not a bad thing; it is what it is: change. CPRN2012.


HarryMalone

HERE IS THE EBAY BID LIST. Mr. THROOP PLACED HIS BID WITHIN 2 MINUTES OF THE AUCTION CLOSE. Wonder if any of the other bidders were Paso employees.


The vehicle was smogged on March 1, 2012.


CHEVROLET 2005 Smog Date: 03/01/2012 09:47 a.m.PASS, Certificate: OK656319C


Bidder Bid Amount Bid Time

Member Id: 5***o( 21) US $3,383.00 Feb-24-12 16:57:36 PST

Member Id: 5***o( 21) US $3,383.00 Feb-24-12 16:57:10 PST

Member Id: y***b( 19) US $3,333.00 Feb-24-12 16:45:53 PST

Member Id: a***e( 282) US $3,300.00 Feb-24-12 14:55:54 PST

Member Id: y***b( 19) US $3,232.00 Feb-24-12 16:43:32 PST

Member Id: y***b( 19) US $3,131.00 Feb-24-12 09:39:24 PST

Member Id: t***r( 32) US $3,030.00 Feb-24-12 04:12:37 PST

Member Id: a***e( 282) US $3,000.00 Feb-23-12 23:15:17 PST

Member Id: t***r( 32) US $2,900.00 Feb-24-12 04:11:49 PST

Member Id: t***r( 32) US $2,700.00 Feb-24-12 04:11:36 PST

Member Id: a***e( 282) US $2,100.00 Feb-23-12 23:03:48 PST

Member Id: g***8( 49) US $1,705.00 Feb-23-12 20:36:25 PST

Member Id: y***b( 19) US $1,700.00 Feb-23-12 12:58:45 PST

Member Id: 1***n( 0 ) US $1,655.00 Feb-22-12 21:36:47 PST

Member Id: s***v( 7 ) US $1,630.00 Feb-22-12 21:00:42 PST

Member Id: r***n( 3 ) US $1,605.00 Feb-21-12 20:22:16 PST

Member Id: c***1( 0 ) US $1,605.00 Feb-22-12 19:32:48 PST

Member Id: e***5( 753) US $1,555.00 Feb-20-12 20:41:55 PST

Member Id: 6***b( 14) US $1,500.00 Feb-19-12 18:22:05 PST

Member Id: a***2( 7 ) US $1,500.00 Feb-20-12 18:58:18 PST

Member Id: r***n( 3 ) US $1,313.00 Feb-19-12 20:12:04 PST

Member Id: r***n( 3 ) US $1,206.00 Feb-19-12 20:04:59 PST

Member Id: s***c( 158) US $1,000.00 Feb-19-12 09:00:44 PST

Member Id: t***s( 1 ) US $1,000.00 Feb-19-12 17:28:15 PST

Member Id: i***s( 0 ) US $820.00 Feb-19-12 10:48:18 PST

Member Id: a***d( 0 ) US $800.00 Feb-19-12 05:30:02 PST

Member Id: a***d( 0 ) US $750.00 Feb-19-12 05:28:37 PST

Member Id: 7***5( 13) US $701.00 Feb-18-12 10:58:05 PST

Member Id: a***d( 0 ) US $700.00 Feb-19-12 05:28:16 PST

Member Id: d***0( 2 ) US $618.00 Feb-18-12 21:59:41 PST

Member Id: d***0( 2 ) US $517.00 Feb-18-12 21:59:19 PST

Member Id: 7***5( 13) US $500.00 Feb-18-12 10:57:18 PST

Member Id: d***0( 2 ) US $406.00 Feb-18-12 21:58:44 PST

Member Id: 7***5( 13) US $300.00 Feb-18-12 10:57:06 PST

Member Id: i***s( 0 ) US $300.00 Feb-18-12 13:51:44 PST


Starting Price US $200.00 Feb-17-12 16:59:31 PST


SLOBIRD

The City needs to post the winner of these bids regardless who they are. These are public vehicles and since there is not trust in this agency we need full tansparency and disclosure for all transactions at this City – bids, awarded contracts, promotions, etc.


pasoman

Agreed. And, as a result of poor judgement, we now need yet another policy to prevent this from happening again.


Just such poor judgement, App just simply can’t stay. His arrogance has infected almost the entire City staff. Not all, but almost.


pasoman

MM, do you know how long Throop set for bids to be received until bid closing. That is, how long was this up for bid?


Guy_Wise

From the above, it looks like the auction started 2/17 at 5:00pm and closed 2/24 at 5:00 pm


pasoman

Lol, yep, see it now. Thx!


MaryMalone

Me? Nope. I didn’t post the bid list. That was HARRY Malone. I’m not HARRY Malone.


MaryMalone

How many accounts can one have on e-Bay? He could have been the only bidder, just changed screen names for each bid.


manmouse

Harry,


Do you have the Ebay auction item number on this car? Ebay will investigate if they have the member’s user ID and the item number.


danika

Tonight is the PR city council meeting. CPRN2012 will be in attendance and encourages all who post here and support our commitment to bring change to Paso Robles to attend as well. If you are going and do support our group, please see us before the meeting begins.


We at CPRN2012 appreciate the support we receive from not only the PR community but many other communities in SLO county. Please check our website often, as we are making it interactive to best serve you. You can find us at: www.http://cprn2012.webs.com/ or http://www.CPRN2012.com


Thank you!


Sally & Karen


pasoman

Jim Throop, I don’t know what the car is actually worth. But, that was a stupid move even in the best of times. Don’t EVER give anyone any reason to doubt your interigty. You did.


Jim App, you should know better. You should had avised him to re-think his decision. REALLY? If he wanted a car he should have bought one from someone else. Even if it was all on the up and up, poor decision by both Jims.


Meg, you got duped into something you shouldn’t have done. Learn from that mistake and don’t do anything like that again. If you want to be a City manager some day, you really need to work for someone else, somewhere else. ‘Cause the training you’re getting isn’t how it’s suppose to be. It is good training, but it’s the “how not to” example.


SuperDave

What a sleaze! He knows people are onto corrupt Paso officials, and he still runs a scam…

Sally, Karen, here’s a slow pitch right over the plate. Go ahead, knock this one out of the park!


pasoman

Come on super Dave, name calling? Really? We all can do better than that.


pasoparent5

pasoman, if you want to lecture someone about word usage, e-mail Lisa Solomon.

After all, she’s the one who called some city council members f***ing morons.

THAT’S name calling.


pasoman

Calling people names, reduces the effectiveness of this forum. Because when CC or App read this, which they do, they’ll just discount us as lunatics if we’re not careful.


So, while I agree with Super Dave that this is a slow pitch, his first sentence doesn’t add ant value. So, we all will be much more effective here if we’re rational.


That’s all I’m trying to say.


pasoparent5

pasoman, I see your point.


But the councilmen will discount ANY detractors as “lunatics” because they’ve grown arrogant, secretive, and downright dishonest. It doesn’t matter how we say it. We could use the most polite, wishy-washy words in the dictionary and they will still discount their growing number of detractors.


Picanco/Hamon/Steinbeck/Gilman/Strong and ESPECIALLY App haven’t listened to the public for a long time. Now things are getting exposed and they’re not becoming transparent; they’re circling the wagons and trying to keep their sinking ship a float.


MaryMalone

The only power in words is the power you give them.


It IS sleazy. If you don’t like Paso Robles acting sleazy, go talk to them about it. Don’t come harping at the messenger.


Paso_citizen

Yes, that is name calling. By the way, shouldn’t this count as disparaging remarks, which

both parties agreed not to do as part of the SWEETHEART deal she got?


MaryMalone

She made the comment, I believe, before she was drop-kicked from her chief-of-police position.


danika

Thanks, SuperDave. We are watching the ball closely.


Bluebird

Cindy, The trees cut down at Atascadero city hall were not pine trees and they would not be considered old growth!


Cindy

Well they were very large and I would think trees that large are old even if you don’t call them old growth as compared to Oak Trees that grow very slow and live long.


I thought they were in the pine family, I don’t recall exactly what they looked like. So what kind of trees were they, why do a post correcting me and then not inform us?


SuperDave

My goodness, with all the focus on Paso City bigwigs, this idiot still tried to pull a fast one…

Reminds me of all these teachers being arrested for having sex with students. They are so corrupted, they can’t stop their behaviors even when they know the Citizens are on the look out for sleazy behavior. Karen, Sally, another slow pitch put right over the plate for you. Go ahead, knock it out of the park!