Bob Botts : “Progress” anyone ?

Bob Botts : “Progress” anyone ?


click to enlarge



9/15/10 – With his re-election campaign already underway, Bob Botts claims that we should vote for him so we can continue our “Progress”.

Doesn’t he know that Banning is facing one major crisis after another ? Or is Bob Botts just trying to insult the intelligence of Banning voters ?

.Here is a reality check :  the following 10 examples go to illustrate some of the “Progress” Bob Botts has created :


“Progress” # 1 :  Utility Rates out of control  – City in fiscal crisis

2008 : Botts spends $ 15 million from a Water Bond on an expensive Police Station

Botts’ fiscally irresponsible policies cause a major financial crisis and force City Staff  to propose water rates to rise up to 75 % over the next 5 years (view chart).  As of  9/14/10 the issue remains unresolved.

One of the problems : on June 24, 2008, Bob Botts with the rest of the Council votes to spend 15 million dollars of water bond money on the new “Taj Mahal” police station ( construction cost over $ 500/sqft.). The bond was placed in 2005 without the vote of the people and spending it on a police station violates constitutional law (Prop. 218) – view story. If this money would have not been spent, no shortfall would have occurred in the Banning water utility. As a consequence of the spending, interest payments now begin to overwhelm the  City’s finances.

Massive rises in electric rates are also part of Botts’ legacy. Since Botts was elected in 2006, City Hall is now closed on Fridays, massive layoffs of City employees have reduced services to a bare minimum, talks of closing the Senior Center,  Community Center and swimming pool are all evidence of fiscal mismanagement. Yet at the same time , Bob Botts orders a $ 65 filet mignon and charges it to the taxpayer (receipt) ; he also repeatedly stays at luxury hotels and uses Valet Parking (story).


“Progress” # 2 : Buying property without appraisal

Botts buys this vacant property WITHOUT AN APPRAISAL !

In 2009, Botts along with the other 4 Council members vote to purchase the defunct All Star Dodge dealership for $ 1,200,000 without an appraisal. The Grand Jury faulted the Council for this (see report), but ALL Council members replied that they WILL CONTINUE to buy property without appraisals (view reply) ( full story)  !

Amount spent  : $ 1,200,000

Estimated loss to taxpayer : $ 600,000 +

Monthly payment on Promissory Note : $ 7,307.60

Jobs created : 0

Sales Tax revenue generated : none   – no property tax revenue due to City ownership.


“Progress” # 3 : Accounting Irregularities discovered

Auditors : "significant deficiencies"

During Botts’ term, independent auditors find “significant deficiencies” in the City’s accounting for FY 08/09. The audit ( view ) also indicates that account balances for the General Fund and Redevelopment Fund had to be “restated”. Translation : money has disappeared from the City’s coffers and nobody has any idea where it went.


“Progress” # 4 : Ignoring  Grand Jury Recommendations

Botts ignores Grand Jury

In February of 2010 the Riverside County Grand Jury issues a report on Banning (view). Botts, Hanna and Robinson ignore the Grand Jury’s recommendations. They waive a valid claim for repayment of $ 162,000 + interest ( = apprx. $ 180,000) against the Banning Cultural Alliance.  They also ignore further Grand Jury recommendations to “cease and desist” doing business with the Banning Cultural Alliance and instead give them even more money ! – another $ 111,500 went to the Cultural Alliance only 2 months ago ( story ).

Cost to the taxpayer in 2010 alone : about $ 300,000 Total funds paid to Cultural Alliance to date:  almost One Million Dollars, with no comprehensive accounting available for the vast majority of this money !



“Progress” # 5 :  “Art” instead of Jobs

Botts buys Art Gallery

In 2008 Botts buys an art gallery with taxpayer money. Price tag : $ 450,000 . The City vastly overpaid – the building is pretty much a piece of junk. Botts now has authorized money for an architect to draw plans for a complete remodel of the gallery  – anticipated additional cost to taxpayers : between $ 250,000 and $ 500,000 ( story )

Estimated loss to taxpayer : $ 250,000 to date

Jobs created : 1

Tax revenue created : No significant tax revenue from sales ; no property tax revenue due to City ownership


“Progress” # 6 : Key industry leaves town

700 - 900 jobs are lost when the Deutsch plant closes

Between 700 and 900 jobs are lost when the Deutsch plant closes in 2009. Deutsch was Banning’s largest private industry employer.  No redevelopment funds were used to keep the plant in Banning. Since Botts took office, Banning utility rates have skyrocketed ; with  rates 30 % higher than surrounding communities, Banning can no longer compete.

Jobs lost : 700-900


“Progress” # 7 :  Spending millions on useless land – without any plan whatsoever

Botts spends $ 2,854,550 on useless land

Botts loses at least 2 million dollars in  taxpayer money after he and the rest of the Council purchase  40 acres of unimproved land at the airport for $ 2,854,550.00 in 2007 (  source /Scharff property / APN 532-130-008).

Botts , nor anyone on the Council,  ever had a plan for this land : it is just as useless today as it was on the day he bought it.  The property once belonged the developers of a (failed) drag strip project. Who benefited from this outrageous transaction ?


Amount spent : $ 2,854,550

Estimated loss to taxpayer : $ 2,000,000 +

Jobs created : 0

Tax revenue generated : none ; no property tax revenue due to City ownership.


“Progress” # 8 :  Bringing us the Liberty Energy  toxic sludge  Incinerator

$ 430,000 for more useless land

Botts spends $ 430,798 on Sludge Incinerator site

Botts threatened the health and safety of Banning residents when he tried to bring us the Liberty Energy Sludge Incinerator project. He spends $ 430,798 in taxpayer money to purchase land for the project to locate on ( source / seller : Banning Airport Assoc., APN 532-180-034 ). Again, there was no appraisal.

This shows that he  – and the entire City Council at the time ( Botts, Salas, Hanna, Machisic, Franklin ) – were all in favor of bringing this insane project to Banning. Only due to the leadership of Ed Miller and Lyndon Taylor could the project be stopped when over 4,300 signatures were collected against it. However, the citizens of Banning now are stuck with yet another useless piece of land that creates no revenue whatsoever – with no plan whatsoever.

Amount spent  : $ 430,798

Estimated loss to taxpayer : $ 230,000

Jobs created : 0

Sales Tax revenue generated : none  : no property tax revenue due to City ownership.


“Progress” # 9 : Allowing Haven Coffee to operate without any permits ; 1.2 million in taxpayer dollars spent on the location

Botts spends $ 1.2 million, creates ONE job !*

Botts , along with Hanna, Robinson and Machisic, funded the building as well as the Haven coffee business with a total of approximately 1.2 Million dollars in taxpayer money. No credit checks, references or personal guarantees were ever obtained. Botts knew that the Haven opened and continued to operate without any of the required permits : there was no health permit, no safety inspection and no business license ( story ).

But Botts pushed for the opening anyway – he apparently figured that the average voter would never find out.  He was wrong. The taxpayer’s total return on investment (ROI) on 1.2 million spent : one job *! (the Haven is volunteer operated *)

Amount spent : $ 1,200,000

Jobs created : 1

Sales Tax generated : no significant sales tax revenue

* according to a Press Enterprise article of September 10, 2010, the Haven now is no longer volunteer operated – however, claims of creation of additional jobs could not be verified


“Progress” # 10 :  The “Banning Business Center”

Botts loses $ 500,000 on the "Banning Business Center"

The Banning Business Center is a 150,000 sqft commercial project that is located on 4th and Lincoln St.. On November 28, 2006 the City of Banning funded the project with $ 500,000 in taxpayer money. Since that time the project has remained unfinished ; the 2-story structure has no windows and weeds are now engulfing the property everywhere.

At the time the project was represented by Michael Bracken, the same individual who also acted as President of Liberty Energy 23 (sludge incinerator). During Bob Botts’ entire 4 year term the project was never completed (no building code or OPA contract enforcement). Banning  taxpayers are now faced with a loss of their entire investment in the Banning Business Center ( $ 500,000). Botts – and the rest of the Council – failed to safeguard the investment.

Amount spent  : $ 500,000

Loss to taxpayer : $ 500,000

Jobs created : 0

Sales Tax revenue generated : none


CONCLUSION : Botts so-called “progress” has cost the taxpayer millions and has enriched special interest groups who received millions in City funding . Seeing his chances for re-election diminishing, Botts is now trying to sell the voters a bill of goods : “Progress” anyone ?