Controversial City Manager Andrew Takata Finally Resigns
1/16/14 – As of Tuesday, January 14, City manager Andrew Takata has tendered his resignation.
Finance Director June Overholt will be acting as temporary City manager. There can be little doubt that on a personal level, many people liked Andrew Takata: he was very personable, had a great sense of humor and was friendly to everyone.
But Takata was also highly controversial due to his unaccountable management style, lack of oversight and for being a reliable ally of Banning’s good-ole-boys.
Has Andrew Takata served the citizens of Banning well ? Or can the case made that during his 4 year term as City manager, Takata gave one of the worst performances of any City manager in recent memory ? Lets take a look at his record ….
LEGACY OF FAILURE : THE LONG LAUNDRY LIST OF ANDREW TAKATA’S PERFORMANCE AS BANNING’S CITY MANAGER
The following is a (partial) list of Andrew Takata’s performance as City manager. It includes neglect, lack of oversight, financial unaccountability, lack of leadership and even serving good-ole-boy-style special interests.
TAKATA LEGACY #1 : SEVERE PHYSICAL NEGLECT OF THE CITY OF BANNING
About 3 months ago, we published an article (view) about the deplorable lack of upkeep within the City of Banning. With the City of Banning presenting itself in this manner, it could not be more clear that Andrew Takata did not take pride in the City he was running.
This fact alone should have led to his resignation, as nothing like this ever occurred under any other City manager in the past. The pictures in the article speak for themselves.
TAKATA LEGACY # 2 : SERVING SPECIAL INTERESTS – HAVEN COFFEE
During 2010/11, throughout the course of over one year, Andrew Takata allowed the Haven Coffee house to operate without permits, without a business license and without fire or safety inspection. Needless to say, no legitimate business would ever be allowed to operate this way.
But the business owners were tied to former Mayor Barbara Hanna, as well as her political allies, former Council members Bob Botts and Don Robinson.
Since no business license was issued, the business was not paying City taxes at the time. Of course this was all fine with City manager Andrew Takata, who had no problem looking the other way. Instead of serving the public as he was sworn to do, Takata chose to serve special interests. See details here, here and here .
(Note : The current owners of the Haven have no affiliation and are completely unrelated to the issues raised here – they are running a very respectable business)
TAKATA LEGACY # 3 : SERVING SPECIAL INTERESTS – THE “BANNING WHITE HOUSE”
For almost the entire year of 2011, a private residence pretentiously calling itself the “Banning White House”, engaged in full blown commercial activity within a residential area. The operators rented out the residence regularly for events like weddings, conferences etc., often with several 100s of guests attending .
Despite having been made aware of code violations early on, Takata waited almost an entire year before he finally took action. Reason : former Mayor Barbara Hanna was friends with the operators of the “Banning White House” and used her office to provide immunity for them.
TAKATA LEGACY # 4 : UNACCOUNTABILITY – IGNORING GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATIONS
In March of 2010, the Riverside County Grand Jury conducted an investigation of the City’s Redevelopment Agency. The Grand Jury found severe fiscal abuses in regards to funding the Banning Cultural Alliance (see report).
The Grand Jury recommended that the City ask for the return of $ 162,000 that were given the the Cultural Alliance for services they never performed. In addition they recommended a “cease and desist” of the City doing any more business with the Alliance.
Right from the start, Andrew Takata recommended to the Council that they should ignore these recommendations. In particular, Takata made sure that the return of the $ 162,000 was not being enforced and that the Cultural Alliance was even paid several hundred thousand dollars in additional City funding.
Of course he did so on behalf of a City Council majority, made up of Barbara Hanna, Bob Botts and Don Robinson. Bob Botts was the original founder of the Alliance, while his and Robinson’s wife were board members.
Again, this episode goes to show that Takata could not have cared less to serve the people of Banning, but used his position to aid and abet Banning’s good-ole-boys. Needless to say, taxpayers were left holding the bag, to the tune of $ 1.3 Million in total. See article here and here
TAKATA LEGACY # 5 : UNACCOUNTABILITY – NOT COLLECTING RENT ON CITY OWNED PROPERTY FOR 2 1/2 YEARS
Only after a new City Council was elected in 2012, was Takata finally forced to take action and evict the organization. Needless to say, the taxpayer was left holding the bag here as well. See story here and here.
TAKATA LEGACY # 6 : LACK OF OVERSIGHT – MRAP VEHICLE ACQUIRED IMPROPERLY
In late 2013, the story of the MRAP armored military vehicle made lots of headlines. Not only was it acquired without the knowledge of the Council, but Takata himself said he had no idea about it. This goes to show that Takata failed to oversee the responsible department head, former Police Chief Leonard Purvis.
The improper acquisition of the vehicle subsequently led to a severe accident, costing the City over $ 40,000 in property damage alone. Much larger personal injury claims may still follow, as victims have one year to make such claims. See story here
TAKATA LEGACY # 7 : INCOMPETENCE – LEAVING POLICE CHIEF IN OFFICE DESPITE SEVERE MENTAL ISSUES
About 6 months ago, Takata showed very poor judgment, bordering on incompetence, when he left Police Chief Purvis in command for several weeks, after Purvis had claimed to be suffering from “severe anxiety” and “stress”.
Takata should have immediately removed Purvis, as he posted a severe risk of liability for the City as of the day of his claim. See story here .
TAKATA LEGACY # 8 : UNACCOUNTABILITY – CITY EMPLOYEE TAKE-HOME-CARS
During the entire time he served as City manager, Andrew Takata failed to oversee the use of 16 take-home-cars assigned to City employees. Most of the cars were operated in clear violation of existing City Policy : required log books were not kept ; not a single written permission, required to take the cars home, was on file.
Under Andrew Takata, the take-home-car situation in Banning has gone completely out of control. See article here.
TAKATA LEGACY # 9 : MISMANAGEMENT – TAXPAYERS LOSE $ 1.2 M DUE TO OVERPAYMENT OF OIL SPILL BILL
Probably the worst example of Takata’s mismanagement is his overpayment of the $ 1.8 million oil spill cleanup bill. In
2011, an oil spill of about 300 gallons occurred in Banning, emanating from a private property on Ramsey Street. See story here
Consultants hired by the City took issue with over $ 1.2 million of the $ 1.8 million bill, pointing out that the contractor was overcharging and that the bill should not be paid until further notice (see report).
Nevertheless, Takata went before the City Council and falsely stated that the consultants had validated the bill in its entirety. He stated that the bill must be paid. Watch 4 minute youtube video of Takata’s public address here
Subsequently, the City Council voted to pay the over inflated bill, without ever being provided with the consultant report by Takata. Andrew Takata even went so far as to suppress the release of the report to the City Attorney, who learned of it after the fact, when he saw it published in the Banning Informer.
As a direct result of Andrew Takata’s actions, the Citizens of Banning lost $ 1.2 million.
Even Takata supporters like Council members Art Welch and Debbie Franklin will have a hard time defending Andrew Tatata’s dismal record as City manager. But it should come as no surprise, that none of them has ever questioned any of Takata’s actions. After all, accountability and transparency is not something these two Council members are known to encourage.
Nevertheless, everyone knows that any free ride eventually must come to an end : the time has come for Welch and Franklin to kiss their beloved, unaccountable ally goodbye.
For the rest of the Council, and for the hard working citizens of Banning, Andrew Takata’s departure will come as a breath of fresh air – it couldn’t be more clear that he never served them in the first place.
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