Worrell on leave, IWMA fraud investigation continues

August 10, 2018

IWMA employee Carolyn Goodrich and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill listen as IWMA legal counsel Ray Biering reports out of closed session.

By Cal Coast Times staff

The San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to place the agency’s manager on paid administrative leave because of criminal allegations of misuse of public funds. [Cal Coast Times]

In May, several members of the public asked the board to call for a forensic audit of the IWMA’s handling of tax dollars entrusted to it. At that time, SLO County supervisors Adam Hill and Bruce Gibson argued against an audit claiming there had been no improprieties. Legal Counsel Ray Biering wanted to limit the discussion of possible financial wrongdoing to an executive committee, which may not have been legally formed.

Following a contentious discussion, the board nevertheless voted unanimously to place a discussion of an audit on its next meeting agenda in September.

Shortly afterwards, the SLO District Attorney’s Office announced it was investigating the IWMA for possible fraud, prompting the board to call for a special meeting.

At Wednesday’s meeting, many of the speakers asked the IWMA board to put manager Bill Worrell on paid administrative leave and to order a forensic audit .

“Fraud and corruption in the IWMA isn’t going to just go away. It can’t magically fix itself,” said Templeton resident Claire Mamakos. “It is time for your board to take constructive, decisive, and corrective measures to get this agency on a proper course for the first time since its’ inception.”

Charles Tenborg

One speaker, Charles Tenborg, asked the board to weigh the “credibility of the information presented against Bill Worrell especially from biased CalCoastNews supporters, who you have heard today misrepresenting themselves as concerned citizens.” Tenborg claimed he had been horribly defamed by CalCoastNews reporters.

In 2012, Tenborg sued CalCoastNews and two reporters over an article about the IWMA and its relationship with contractors, including Tenborg. It was to be the start of a series focused on the IWMA, which was never finished because of the legal threats.

In the two years leading up to the trial, two allies of Tenborg, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill and online commenter Aaron Ochs, engaged in a campaign of defaming and harassing CalCoastNews reporters, advertisers and reporter’s families.

Hill then threatened advertisers who had business before the board of supervisors. In one instance, Hill sent a CalCoastNews’ advertiser a text that said he was working with Tenborg to destroy CalCoastNews, and the advertiser would also suffer harm if he did not pull his advertising.

CalCoastNews advertising losses left the news site and its staff with virtually no money for a defense.

Two of CalCoastNews’ witnesses died before trial. One died shortly after writing a declaration and the other died before she could be deposed. A third said he was run off the road by another vehicle and was hospitalized during the trial.

In March 2017, most of the reporters’ witnesses and evidence was ruled out of the trial by Judge Barry LaBarbara. Following multiple false statements by Tenborg, the jury returned its verdict, and a judgment was then entered for $1.1 million in favor of Tenborg, an investigator found.

In Aug. 2017, friends of CalCoastNews hired Carl Knudson Investigations to reexamine details of the published article which resulted in the litigation.

During the litigation, Tenborg’s attorney James Wagstaffe failed to inform the court or opposing council that he was professionally connected to the IWMA, a fact only later disclosed by Biering. Generally, attorneys disclose possible conflicts of interest to the court.

“I am not available to meet to discuss the IWMA and the relationship with Mr. Tenborg,” Biering wrote in an email to Knudson. “Also, please be aware that my law firm has a close professional relationship with Mr. Tenborg’s  counsel, Jim Wagstaffe.”

Several months after the citizens’ group retained investigator Knudson, Tenborg’s attorneys proposed settlement offers to Karen Velie and Daniel Blackburn.

Velie’s offer stipulated that Tenborg would abandon his entire financial claim in exchange for the her agreement to never again report on him or his companies.

Kerr Wagstaffe attorneys wanted the same pledge from Blackburn, but that situation was different. Tenborg already had forced Blackburn into bankruptcy, who nearly lost the home he and his wife have owned for 21 years. A trust fund had been established by the bankruptcy trustee and funded by a second on Blackburn’s home. Tenborg offered to divide his “share” of that funds money.

And, in what was described as a “non-negotiable” provision, a similar gag order was proposed to cover Worrell and the IWMA, also. Neither the IWMA nor Worrell were a party to Tenborg’s libel complaint against CalCoastNews.

The offer also would have required termination of Knudson’s investigation, a matter over which neither Velie nor Blackburn had any control. Both rejected Tenborg’s demands.

On Aug. 8, the IWMA Board of Directors voted to immediately place manager Bill Worrell on administrative leave effective until his retirement on Sept. 11, a retirement that was not previously scheduled. In addition, the board voted to have the executive committee hire an outside investigator to conduct a forensic audit.


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Myself

It would be nice if A Hill could be tied into this with proof, then let the beatings begin, as it stands it looks like Teeborg and assoc may have a little problem on their hands now and it may not end here.


NIce work Karen and Dan,hopefully you guys get payback out of this.


Mitch C

It is one thing to indicate displeasure for Adam Hill, it is another to take positive action to have him replaced. A good, energetic, qualified candidate has to be promoted, supported and needs to show the desire to hold the office. We have, Bruce Gibson because his nice guy opponent in the last election did not have the backing he needed: you got Bruce by default.


To correct the situation a qualified candidate needs to be supported that can mount a successful campaign against Adam Hill. Other than finding and supporting a good person for the office of supervisor all the negative comments against Hill is just noise.


Chance

Mitch, we are counting on Adam Hill’s arrest, not another election. Stay focused. 


Mitch C

Good luck with that. Waiting for Adam Hill to be arrested is like holding your breath u til you get your way.. it appears that this approach waits for “someone else” to take action. If there is a serious call to replace Hill there is recall and the election of an acceptable candidate.


Smith

From what I hear, Adam Hill is going down with the rest of them. 


kettle

“I don’t understand the purpose,” Adam Hill said. “Every time someone comes forward, we should give an audit?”


“There is no need for an audit,” Bruce Gibson said. “There have been no improprieties.”


After board vice-chair Tom O’Malley, an Atascadero council member, suggested an audit be conducted by their usual auditor and IWMA counsel Ray Biering, Bruce Gibson responded, “Why even go with an audit?” May 25, 2018


“A month after a citizens’ group retained investigator Knudson, Tenborg’s attorneys, Kerr Wagstaffe of San Francisco, proposed settlement offers to Karen Velie and Daniel Blackburn. The offers stipulated that Tenborg would abandon his entire financial claim in exchange for the reporters’ agreement to never again report on him or his companies.


And, in what was described as a “non-negotiable” provision, a similar gag order was proposed to cover Worrell and the IWMA, also Neither the IWMA nor Worrell were a party to Tenborg’s libel complaint against CalCoastNews.


The offer also would have required termination of Knudson’s investigation, Jul 31, 2018″


horse_soldier

This headline should read: Worrell on paid leave, IWMA fraud continues


News flash, all the rest of the cookie monsters still have their hands in the jar!


1965buick

Adam Hill: We’re not going to be able to hide the stench of this corruption, boys.


PolyInsider

Holy Cow! Did you look at Worrell’s contract? The guy gets 3 days a month vacation plus 5 admin days a year plus 13 holidays so he gets 54 paid work days off a year. That’s 11 weeks off every year with full pay. Plus he gets $400 OVER what other county managers get for medical insurance allowance. Plus he gets $450 a month car allowance. Plus he gets a 5% a year raise when most other county employees are lucky to see 3% these days. Plus the half million on the credit card that can’t be accounted for.


My High School guidance counselor never told me about THESE kind of job opportunities. Oh, and the county has been paying an additional 20% of his salary into a retirement program PLUS matching his contributions to a deferred comp package. Does nobody monitor these kinds of contracts? Nobody at all? Just shovel money at some guy. Then, when they send him off on PAID administrative leave, assure us that the “haulers” will be able to do the work with him gone. Well, what did we need HIM for in the first place, if other people can and will do his “job?” I guess I know what job I’m applying for next month after he retires to the Cayman Islands and builds his mansion out of gold bars.


rukidding

Regarding this contract and others like it, and there are many, are usually written by the person getting the job. Really, that’s true. During the hiring process, since they have always selected the best, then the pay must be adequate or they may lose them. I can tell you from first hand experience this is how it is done. And since the elected officials and/or Boards who hire these people don’t really care about the taxpayer’s money these contracts are rubber stamped and on they go. If you thinks this is an isolated case just take a look at all of the ZCity Manager’s contract in the County and they will be just like this. By the way how are your benefits going?


PolyInsider

I can believe that Worrell wrote this contract for himself. It’s a “grab all the cash you can” document, obviously written by someone who doesn’t know much about contracting. No indemnifications. No mention of insurance for either party – liability issues are completely forgotten. What I have a hard time believing is that the IWMA’s attorney would have reviewed this document and approved of their board executing it.


I’m curious as to who their contracting folks are. I would guess they would use the County’s purchasing department. I certainly hope we don’t have a situation where Worrell was writing contract specs, issuing bid docs, reviewing bids, awarding bids, signing contracts, and paying the bills from those contracts, all without an external control entity checking on all of that. If that’s what happened, I’m afraid the forensic auditor will have a heart attack on his first day on the job when he discovers it. I guess we should also look at the new Air Pollution Control Officer’s contract, as that’s an agency in a similar situation – they don’t really report to anyone except a “Board” concocted out of local politicians. No professional oversight at all, just like the IWMA.


kettle

“I have a hard time believing is that the IWMA’s attorney would have reviewed this document and approved of their board executing it.”


Ray Biering was there when the agency was formed, he signed the joint powers agreement and what we see now happened during his watch, I’d wager he knows most everything about the Iwma.


” I guess we should also look at the new Air Pollution Control Officer’s contract, as that’s an agency in a similar situation”


Just guess who the apcd district counsel is.


George Bailey

S C A N D E L 


what the

Good point, Smith. The board hasn’t done anything but allow this to happen. Now they do not even want to oversee the hiring of an investigator? The only members of the executive committee on the executive committee minutes are Adam Hill and Jeff Lee. So you are saying Adam Hill will pick the investigator? 

How could the board not take some responsibility at this point? Can’t the board be held personally accountable? 


Smith

And who is Tenborg to speak on Worrell’s integrity? Tenborg has been proven to be a liar, perjurer, conspirator and serial polluter. This is better than Netflix.