‘Cleaning up’ San Luis Obispo County agency’s missing money woes

January 14, 2019

Charles Tenborg

By Cal Coast Times staff

The county’s waste management board voted last week to begin “clean up” of fiscal issues which have generated ongoing criminal investigations by law enforcement into alleged misappropriation of public funds by former employees. [Cal Coast Times]

Among those issues discussed by members of the San Luis Obispo County’s Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) board of directors are unauthorized “gifting” of trucks to favored outside entities, and failures to execute required contracts and approve bylaws.

In one 2014 example, a one-time favored contractor with the IWMA, Charles K. Tenborg, ordered a $63,405 Isuzu truck from a dealer in San Jose, and then sent the invoice to the IWMA. Former IWMA administrator Bill Worrell paid the invoice, and then provided the truck to Tenborg under a purported lease agreement — a document no one has been able to produce, according to an IWMA staff report.

Worrell took early retirement last year following disclosure of his questionable fiscal practices during his 20-year career at IWMA. Worrell approved the truck’s purchase without board approval, then gave the keys to Tenborg. Worrell’s daughter Emily Worrell was a key employee of Tenborg’s company.

Beginning in 2008, the IWMA began passing ordinances that required local retailers who sell items such as batteries, needles, florescent lights and paint to take them back from the public for free. The IWMA required the retailers to pay for Tenborg to pick up the items, then applied for state grant monies which it used to purchase the truck for Tenborg’s use.

In 2012, Tenborg sued CalCoastNews and two reporters over an article about the IWMA and its relationship with contractors, including Tenborg. Tenborg testified that he sold his contract with the IWMA to Stericycle in about 2014, and that he was no longer transporting waste for the IWMA.

In the recently approved lease agreement for the Isuzu truck Tenborg ordered, the IWMA and Stericycle agree to affirm the terms and existence of a lease agreement to “avoid confusion.”

However, IWMA staff claims to have no knowledge of when Tenborg handed the truck over to Stericycle.

In addition to cleaning up issues with the truck lease, the IWMA board also discussed fixing failures to operate its hazardous waste facilities under legal contracts. The IWMA’s contracts to operate the household hazardous waste drop off facilities at six locations including Heritage Ranch, the Cold Canyon Landfill and the Chicago Grade Landfill expired in 2012.

The board voted to create new contracts with the owners of the six locations and to approve a conflict waiver for legal counsel Jeffrey Minnery with Adamski Moroski Madden Cumberland & Green, which has also provided legal counsel for Heritage Ranch, a conflict local attorney Stew Jenkins questioned.

“These interlocking conflicts of interest in your legal counsel representation is no longer collaboration, but corruption,” Jenkins said during public comment.

As a final cleanup measure, the board voted to approve bylaws for the IWMA’s executive committee. For more than 20 years, the three person committee has promoted operational procedures, or a lack thereof, to the full board even though the committee’s existence and bylaws had never been approved by the full board.

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Bill Worrell should hang for the plastic bag ban alone…