UTILITY SCANDAL : Banning Chamber Received $ 32,000 In Free Utilities
9/24/14 – During public session of August 12, Councilman Don Peterson released a true bombshell : he asked City Manager Homer Croy for a formal explanation, why the Banning Chamber of Commerce has not made a utility payment in 7 years ; the Chamber currently owes over $ 32,000 in utility payments.
While many Banning residents cannot afford to run their a/c, the Banning Chamber of Commerce has been immune from such worries – at the cost of the rate paying public.
7-YEAR FREE RIDE AT RATEPAYERS EXPENSE
The Banning Chamber of Commerce is no different from any other utility customer. They lease a City owned building , and under the lease agreement are obligated to pay for their own utilities (view Sec. 9 of lease).
Yet for some reason, the Chamber got away with never paying for their utilities in 7 years, leading to an accrued bill of over $ 32,000.
In the meantime, an equivalent amount had to be taken straight out of the pockets of Banning ratepayers, who keep wondering why their utility bill has been going through the roof.
RESPONSIBLE : MAYOR DEBBIE FRANKLIN AND ART WELCH
Once again the blame for the Chamber’s 7-year free ride falls on the “usual suspects” : the unaccountable duo, Mayor Debbie Franklin and Art Welch. With 8 years in office, Franklin was on the Council for the entire time the
Chamber received free utilities. Franklin had an obligation to safeguard the people’s money, but – yet again – failed to do so.
Welch, on the other hand, was President of the Chamber until 2 years ago, when he became a Council member. As President, Welch had to have knowledge of the lack of utility payments, but did absolutely nothing about it after he came on the Council.
Welch had a motive to cover up the free ride. So did Franklin, who’s picture is prominently displayed on the Chamber’s website , alongside Art Welch and other officials. Franklin never misses an event her cronies at the Chamber put on – most recently she attended their installation dinner (source).
Both Franklin and Welch have either knowingly condoned this obvious theft from the public, or they have failed miserably in their duty to safeguard and account for the people’s money.
ILLEGAL SECRET “HANDSHAKE AGREEMENT”
Current Chamber Executive director Don Robinson has suggested that a secret, behind-the-scenes “handshake agreement” is the reason why the Chamber got away with receiving $ 32,000 in free utilities (see Robinson’s letter to City Manager).
However, in public administration all agreements must always be fully documented. Verbal agreements are not allowed. The suggestion of a “ handshake agreement” clearly points to illegal dealings on the part of the City’s administration.
Incidentally, with his statement Robinson implicates himself for not overseeing the City’s finances. He was a Council member during the time in question (2008 to 2012) , but obviously failed miserably in safeguarding public funds.
A secret handshake agreement at the expense of the people – this is how business is done in a corrupt City, folks !
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY : CHAMBER DIRECTOR PROPOSES 41-YEAR REPAYMENT PLAN
To add insult to injury, Chamber Director Don Robinson has proposed to make up for not all, but just half of the $ 32,000 bill. The other half he expects to be waived.
And for the remaining half, don’t expect a check tomorrow, nor next week , nor even next year ! Robinson believes that paying the balance over the next 41 years (!) is perfectly reasonable – without interest, of course, just in case you wondered.
Don Robinson’s pompous attitude should not surprise anyone. He knows how to dodge utility bills. When he was a City Council member, Robinson used to bounce checks to the City’s Utility (story).
Now, as Chamber Director, this deadbeat actually proposes to make payments over 41 years, but only on half of the mount owed. Any questions ?
WATCH OUT FOR THE FINAL SHAFT – AFTER THE ELECTIONS
According to sources close to the Chamber, Mayor Debbie Franklin, Art Welch along with Council candidate George Moyer may be secretly planning to waive the entire bill, right after the elections. Knowing how Franklin & Co have run City Hall in the past, this seems entirely possible.
It is noteworthy that – despite the magnitude of this scandal – Moyer has not demanded that the Chamber pay their bill. What does that tell you ?
At the end of the day, Banning ratepayers will have only one way to ensure that the $ 32,000 bill will be collected upon : voting for Jerry Westholder.
Along with Council members Ed Miller and Don Peterson, Jerry Westholder wants to hold the Chamber 100% accountable for their entire utility debt.
Once again, Banning’s unaccountable administration, overseen by Mayor Debbie Franklin and Art Welch, has shown complete contempt for Banning ratepayers. Don’t expect this self-serving duo to stand up for you – their loyalty will forever lie with their good-ole-boy cronies.
The people of Banning owe a big “thank you” to Council member Don Peterson, who’s ever so watchful eye uncovered this unprecedented scandal. Without him, the Chamber would continue to leech off the public – with no end in sight !
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