SLO County waste management agency spent thousands on luxury items

December 17, 2018

By KAREN VELIE

An agency created to help San Luis Obispo County government entities with recycling reporting requirements, has diverted funds from that mission to purchase luxury items for the benefit of staff and board members. [Cal Coast Times]

Over the past 20 years, the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) has spent public funds on seemingly unrelated expenses such as handmade dishes, a satellite phone, an electric car charging station, large screen TV sets and a luxury toilet. Government funds purchased these items for IWMA staff to use while at the Osos Street office.

While many charges are listed on the monthly IWMA credit card statements, it is often difficult to discern the cost of each item as most records held at the agency were recently destroyed.

As part of a criminal probe into misappropriation of funds, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office asked for IWMA credit card statements and demanded staff not destroy records, according to an email from the district attorney’s office to the IWMA. Even so, before beginning an extended medical leave in September, IWMA secretary Carolyn Goodrich allegedly shredded many agency documents, according to staff.

The spending controversy ultimately led the waste management board to place former administrator Bill Worrell on administrative leave before accepting his retirement. But spending issues at the district go beyond the credit card and vehicle expenditures that cost Worrell his job.

Wall mount unit for toilet

Findings from a review of luxury items at the IWMA office:

Toto Washlet toilet: For the user’s nether regions — includes a heated seat, warm water cleansing, warm air drying with adjustable temperature, pulsating spray optional and an air deodorizer. Currently priced at approximately $3,000, with an additional $500 installation fee.

Fire and Light handmade glassware: Worrell spent thousands at the Arcata showroom purchasing a set of dinner plates, bowls and glasses for the staff and board members to use at the office. Dinner plates run $40 a piece while water glasses cost $35 each. In an apparent gift of public funds, Worrell also purchased at least a dozen candy dishes with lids to give out as gifts, at $42 a dish.

Fire and Light candy dishes used as gifts to board members

Satellite phone: Satellite phones are mobile devices that receive their signal from satellites in orbit around the Earth and work outdoors in many places cell phones do not have service. While satellite phones have been around for decades, they are not affordable for many people as charges can run up to $16 a minute.

Electric car charging station: After Goodrich bought an electric car, on Oct. 9, 2017, the IWMA credit card was used to buy an electric car charging station. The charging station was then placed in an IWMA staff only parking lot.

A 70 inch flat screen television adorns a wall in the IWMA conference room. While wide-screen computer monitors are uncommon in government offices, Worrell purchased them for the IWMA.

While members of the IWMA board of directors have a legal and fiduciary duty to steer the agency towards sound financial management practices, board members accepted stipends but failed to examine or question the agency’s spending.


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JordanJ

Corruption in local government is out of control. It is time for the DA to come down hard on everyone involved in the theft of money from the IWMA and all those who lied to cover up the theft.


kayaknut

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dan Dow to do something, he is turning a blind eye to it, for some reason. We will have to hope for the state or feds to help clean of this criminal activity.


Jorge Estrada

Lately the news is filled with people who are going to jail for not telling the truth to the FBI. If the FBI came here, we could negotiate better contracts for the likelihood of some replacements. Some in the context of termites.


jdchem

There is no reason for this agency to exist except to provide unemployable people with jobs.


kayaknut

Not just jobs, but a lifetime pension with benefits after retirement.


Jorge Estrada

Misappropriation of public funds is obviously legal so what’s the beef? We all pay our gas taxes to support safe roads but danger is not fixed until enough people die and that’s ok too, right?


Jorge Estrada

I overlooked the turbo toilet, I thought the photo was for a car wash we paid for?


what the

Is Dow making arrests or was he getting his cut?


kayaknut

Do you really have to ask?


azuresees

Soooo flipping Orwellian. They really are “more equal” than us lowlings.


IronHub

Looks like this waste agency is most adept at wasting other people’s money.


RalphKane

Looks like the feds aren’t the only ones buying $3,000 toilet seats!


analyticone

Who covered the cost of the electricity at the charging station? I wonder if the electric bills increased after it was installed.


Didn’t Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee have the credit card files at his home? Was he involved in the shredding, or just in hiding them away at his house?


scoopone

Please tally all this up and send the bill to the board members !!