Did Public Works Director Promise Free Landscaping to Private Citizen ?
6/12/14 – A contractor for the City of Banning has come forward, complaining that Public Works director Duane Burk was unable to provide his daughter with what appears to be free landscaping for her new Banning home, due to the actions of the Banning City Council.
CONTRACTOR’S BIZARRE STATEMENTS
During a City Council meeting on May 13, Banning contractor David Thornton came out in support of Duane Burk. Thornton expressed his discontent with the Council for launching an investigation into anonymous accusations of corruption made against Burk (see previous story).
Thornton stated that, had it not been for the investigation, Duane Burk would have provided his daughter with landscaping at her new Banning home. But he, Thornton, “refused to have him come over”, because of concerns over a Private Investigator possibly following Burk around, in connection with the ongoing investigation. Thornton said he did so in order for Burk not to be “thrown under the bus”.
Visibly outraged, Thornton went on to complain that due to the ongoing investigation, he was forced to “pay somebody” for the landscaping which Burk allegedly agreed to provide. Thornton seemed to suggest that the Council immediately stop the investigation of Duane Burk.
At this point, many of our readers may wonder if we are reciting an episode of the “Twilight Zone“. This just cannot possibly be happening, right ?
So let’s watch the video – it gets interesting at the 1:20 min mark :
Note : In the background one can see friends and family of Duane Burk, most of which reside in Yucaipa. They are present to protest the ongoing investigation of Burk. But if Duane Burk did nothing wrong, why do his relatives feel the need to engage in this public stunt ? Are they worried that the truth may not set him free ?
CONTRACTOR RECEIVED NUMEROUS CITY CONTRACTS IN 2013/14
Public record shows that David Thornton’s company, DJT Construction Corp, has received numerous contracts from the City of Banning, (view contracts). Were these contracts the basis for a “side agreement” with Duane Burk, calling for free landscaping to be provided by City workers ?
In order to answer this question we have to remind ourselves of the following facts :
- The City of Banning is not in the business of providing landscaping to private individuals
- Neither Duane Burk nor his immediate family are in the landscaping business, according to public disclosure (view Burk 700 filings)
- There is the remote possibility that Burk may be pursing landscaping as an after hours personal hobby. But to landscape a brand new home costs thousands of dollars. It would seem rather odd for anyone to give away this kind of value. More importantly, however, why would the presence of a Private Investigator keep the parties from going forward, if what they were doing was legitimate ?
We emailed Duane Burk to ask him to explain what David Thornton was talking about. Burk did not respond. Failing to explain certainly does not look good for Duane Burk. Does this mean he is taking the 5th ?
We also need to remind ourselves that the City of Banning, in this case represented by its Public Works Director Duane Burk, had an obligation to set the record straight. If the City gives away public funds, we certainly are entitled to know about it. Stonewalling the issue only makes the problem worse.
INTEGRITY CALLED INTO QUESTION
So, at this point, where does all of this lead ? What lends itself as the most probable scenario ? Again, if this was a legitimate deal, why is the presence of a Private Investigator given as the reason for calling it off ?
We can only come up with one possible answer : Duane Burk most likely planned on sending over a City crew to landscape Mr. Thornton daughter’s house, free of charge. Nothing else makes any sense.
In the final analysis, Thornton’s statements seem to call into question the integrity of Banning’s Public Works Director, Duane Burk.
It appears that City contractor Thornton may have inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, and thrown his good buddy Duane Burk “under the bus”.
Thornton’s bizarre statements give rise to more questions about the integrity of Burk, as they seem to be right in line with previous anonymous allegations. The City’s investigator may want to take notice of what Mr. Thornton had to say.
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