SLO IWMA Board calls for special meeting to discuss criminal investigation

July 25, 2018

SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill hiding his face while a reporter took pictures.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a multi-part series of articles about San Luis Obispo County’s waste disposal agency. The first reported on the agency’s free-spending use of a public credit card and the lack of credit card documentation of nearly a half-million dollars.

By Cal Coast Times staff

District Attorney Dan Dow has launched an investigation into dubious spending practices at San Luis Obispo County’s public waste disposal agency, a board member of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) has reported. [Cal Coast Times]

In an email to fellow IWMA board members, Arroyo Grande council member Tim Brown confirmed the district attorney’s investigation and called for a special meeting of the IWMA board to confront the issue. Even though SLO County Suprvisor Adam Hill attempted to squash Brown’s request, a meeting has been tentatively set for Aug. 8.

“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss allegations that have prompted the district attorney’s office to open an investigation. Board members have a legal obligation to inquire and can be held personally liable for not doing so,” Brown wrote.

Part of the board’s discussion will center around a call for a forensic (deep) audit of the agency’s fiscal affairs, made initially by an individual who helped write the original agreement forming the IWMA.

Wayne Hall, a former county official who helped author the Joint Powers Agreement creating the IWMA two decades ago, said IWMA’s manager William (Bill) Worrell has exhibited “blatant disregard for statutory requirements for spending, contracting, and accounting.”

“What does it say when Worrell is buying trucks and forklifts without authorization and giving them to select garbage companies and questionably contracted vendors?” Hall asked in an April letter to the IWMA board. Hall wondered if the IWMA Board is providing proper oversight of Worrell and the agency.

SLO District Attorney Dan Dow

As part of the probe, district attorney investigators recently secured documents from the IWMA’s Osos Street offices, according to IWMA officials.

The district attorney’s actions follow on the heels of a recent report by private investigator Carl Knudson into IWMA’s financial situation underwritten by a local citizens’ group. Knudson, whose career includes more than 25 years as an IRS forensic investigator, found “huge accounting discrepancies and irregularities” in IWMA records involving its entire budget, he said.

Knudson’s final report was forwarded to both the district attorney and the FBI at their requests.

An in-depth probe by Knudson into tax-money abuse at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District resulted in criminal charges and an eventual guilty plea by the district’s chief engineer, John Wallace of the Wallace Group.

Just weeks into his investigation, Knudson informed his local clients that even after a cursory glance, the IWMA’s financial condition “appears much, much worse” than that of the sanitation district.

Knudson completed his most recent investigation despite efforts by Worrell, who often dragged his heels on Public Records Act requests, obfuscated many responses, and even admitted to destroying all agency records from 2013 back.

Ironically, many of the emails sent by Worrell to Knudson declining to provide specific information contained a quote from German artist Paul Klee: “Should all be known? Oh, I think not.”

The IWMA is comprised of the five county supervisors, representatives of the county’s seven cities, and one at-large member. It is the result of a formal agreement among the government members, and is funded by grants, a “tipping fee” assessed on tonnage of garbage delivered to the county’s waste disposal sites, and additional per-household charges for special programs.

Knudson’s report — the last of three prepared for the citizens’ group — noted that Worrell has managed the agency for the entire 20 years of its existence. In addition, its legal counsel Raymond Biering, and its auditing firm have never changed.

Last year’s audit of the IWMA by the Glenn Burdette firm contained a remarkable disclaimer that despite its “responsibility to express opinions of IWMA’s financial statements,” the firm could “express no such opinion on the effectiveness of IWMA’s internal control.” The firm said it could not “provide any assurance on the information (provided by IWMA) because limited procedures do not provide us with sufficient evidence to express an opinion or provide any assurance.”

Knudson also noted what he called “the more serious issues that I uncovered deal with the relationship between Charles K. Tenborg (a former IWMA contractor) and William Worrell.”

NEXT: Charles Tenborg’s history with Worrell and the IWMA.

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My good neighbor hauled off a mattress that someone dumped before a garbage heap followed. Hopefully the same proactivity will cleans government.

Adam Hill is involved so the Tribune and New Times are playing dumb. Attention all REAL news organizations in SLO and California, the SLO DA has started a criminal investigation of a county agency and Adam Hill is attempting to make it go away! Isn’t that an additional crime? Come on Dow!

Don’t count on Dow, if anything comes of these it will be bargained down to a slap on the wrist, any fine will be nothing compared to what this agency has stolen from the taxpayers and there will be no consequences for their actions. If they feel there may be some hot water, a “retirement” will be announced with a quick departure, similar to what happen recently with county health. But Dow will get to count it as a win when we all will know the taxpayers lost again.

Unfortunately for the most part you are correct. It appears that the crimes are either pleaded down to next to nothing or the government separates their employees with very large severance, payoff, amounts. End result is that everyone is quiet, nobody knows what happened because documents have been made to keep everything confidential. It looks like everyone has won. Well I guess everyone includes all of those who are involved with the corruption that appears to be continually going on with no repercussions on anyone.

So will this end like the Wallace/San Dist debacle? Four felony charges settled with a $60,000 fine which was unquestionably money stockpiled from public coffers anyhow? Disgusting what SLO county has become, or perhaps always been but nobody cared to expose the corruption and incompetence as CCN continues to do.

Surprise, surprise! Adam Hill attempted to squash Brown’s attempt to have a special meeting. That should be enough for everyone that this whole thing stinks. The dump is turning into another SLO swamp that needs to be drained.

No kidding, rukidding! No record of a half a million dollars and Adam Hill is running around trying convince everyone not to meet about it! Ha! How much embezzled county money did you take from the IWMA, Adam? Do you think Bill will tattle on you when he is charged? What about Charlie?

It is great to have a DA who cares about the taxpayers and corruption. I hope he can make a dent in what many call the most corrupt county in California.

Finding fraud in SLO County is like shootin’ fish in a barrel for Mr. Knudsen.

And who’s surprised Adam Hill doesn’t want a meeting to discuss the issue?

Oh Tribuuuune, are you listening?