Anonymous Letter Alleges Deep Rooted Corruption in Banning
4/10/14 – The City of Banning has received an anonymous letter alleging severe corruption and bribery by a City official.
Providing great detail, the letter accuses Public Works Director Duane Burk of severe improprieties and names Council member Art Welch and Mayor Franklin as being “part of (the) scam”.
In particular, the anonymous letter alleges the following :
- Contractor buddies of Burk gave him free Lakers, Dodger and Clipper tickets
- Contractors buddies paid for Burk to take a trip to Las Vegas
- Contractors buddies paid for Burk to go on a houseboat vacation on Lake Mead
- Contractor buddies paid for a lavish Burk family trip to a Marriott Resort
- Burk – in return – gave away contracts to his favorite contractors, (example given is Merlin Johnson of Mentone), by faking other bids
- Burk built a recycled water line from nowhere to nowhere
- Burk entered into repeated $ 25,000 contracts in order to bypass Council approval
- Burk had consultants duplicate other consultant’s work for which the City had already paid
These are only some highlights, please click here to read the entire letter.
Given the level of detail outlined in the letter, it appears that someone on the inside may have been the author – someone who is very familiar with the inner workings and even the after hours private life of Duane Burk..
The Banning Informer asked Duane Burk for his comment on the allegations. He did not respond.
TRANSPARENCY VOTE : COUNCIL MEMBER ART WELCH RESPONDS WITH AN ANGRY “NO ” !
Only a few weeks ago, on March 25, 2014, Duane Burk asked for approval of a City contract with Land Engineering. The discussion of this particular agenda item is also mentioned on page 2 of the anonymous letter.
During the Council’s discussion it became clear that Burk had not attached the other bids he supposedly received, to the agenda packet. Also, other inconsistencies came to light that indicated that his paperwork was questionable. Council member Ed Miller eventually made the motion for Burk to bring the item back before Council with all bids attached.
In the following video, one can hear an angry Council member Art Welch object to Miller’s request for full transparency :
Why would Council member Welch vote against seeing all bids ? Why does he become so irate at the idea of added transparency ? Could it be that, as the letter alleges, Welch is indeed “part of (the) scam” ?
COUNCIL MEMBERS WELCH AND FRANKLIN : “NO COMMENT”
The Banning Informer emailed all Council members asking for their comments. But with Council member Welch acting as seen in the above video, it should not surprise anyone that he did not respond at all.
Mayor Debbie Franklin replied that she had “no comment” as this was a non-public “personnel matter” – Say what ? Is the Mayor serious ? Here we have “Bell” level crimes of corruption and bribery alleged against Public officials in Banning – yet we should not scrutinize this openly ? A “personnel matter” – isn’t this what you would call it if you wanted to sweep this issue under the rug ?
The question must be asked : can Banning residents feel well represented by the likes of an Art Welch and Debbie Franklin ?
Are we supposed to believe that they really have our best interest at heart ? Or are they part of the problem and maybe even – as alleged – “part of (the) scam ?
COUNCIL MEMBERS WESTHOLDER, PETERSON AND MILLER CALL FOR FULL INVESTIGATION
Fortunately for the citizens of Banning, not all Council members think like Art Welch and Mayor Debbie Franklin. These remaining three Council members have responded to our request for comment. “Frankly, I am completely shocked by these allegations. This needs to be investigated” says Jerry Westholder.
Don Peterson states : “There needs to be investigation to either substantiate the allegations or exonerate Mr. Burk. We cannot leave this ignored”.
Finally, Ed Miller comments : “Continual scrutiny of the actions of public officials is a vital part of our democracy. Therefore, any serious allegations should always be investigated”.
Duane Burk, and anyone else implicated by this letter, must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The public, however, has every right to know if there is any substance to the allegations.
The last thing Banning needs is to have this matter swept under the carpet “Franklin style”, by labeling it as a non-public “personnel matter”. The City needs to openly investigate all allegations.
It is a sad state of affairs when only 3 out of 5 Council members support this idea.
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