Opinion, Fact, Fiction, or Comic Strip? (Lee)

I’m not sure which of the above categories the Daily Press/Apple Valley Review falls into. You all saw the articles by Angela Valles and Mayor Art Bishop’s response to her. One has to wonder what these columns are? If they are merely opinion, then, of course, they do not have to validate what they are saying. That would certainly explain why Mr. Bishop took extreme liberties in his writing.

However, in the case of Mr. Bishop, one would expect, when using his town title of Mayor, and especially when his signature is on a vast majority of warrants issued by the town the past several years, he should have a more accurate grasp on expenditures.

I am not sure the basis of Angela Valles’ statements, but however she did it, she was getting close to the figure on the town’s PR Team costs.

Fact is I spent a long time, about a year and a half, obtaining records from the Town. Thanks to my very adept Pro Bono attorney, I received a lot of records, which included the BB&K invoices and emails of the “PR Team.”

Just a minimal tally of PR expenses for the town’s PR Team, from the BB&K invoices which included BB&K, 20/20 Network, Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, Cloudwalker, and Katz Associates (those later companies are the contracts done in closed session, with BB&K as the contracting party, and billed to the town as expenses on the BB&K invoices), from January 2016 to November 2016 on the ballot measures/water takeover, alone those were as follows:

BB&K $ 49,018.87
20/20 Network $ 165,300.30
Remcho et al $ 83,874.86
Cloudwalker $ 29,000.00
Katz Assoc. $ 17,375.00
Subtotal $ 344,569.03

Note – the only public contract with Remcho et al was for districting, along with National Demographics Corp. two years ago. There have been no public payments to either, nor were the terms of the service contracts fulfilled, nor anything brought forward to the public on districting.

Add to that all the Advertising developed by the PR Team prior to the 2016 election, and run in the Daily Press, on the radio and cable TV, which was in excess of $60,000.00. And let us not forget all the PR ads on the Town’s PEG channel with the money they get from the subscribers after the cable TV litigation, about $130,000, if you believe the town budget document.

The more than $100,000 paid to 20/20 Network from March 2015 to December 2015, which included an overpayment made by BB&K exceeding the contract terms, and town staff failed to catch and correct it.

That brings the Subtotal to $634,569.03.

Then there was all the staff time by Kathie Martin salary ($238,000), Charlene Engeron salary ($88,000) and other town staff as a part of the “PR Team,” and the refreshments at all the monthly PR Team “FLOW” meetings with the public prior to the 2016 election. I would most generously put a total cost of those at $450,000.00 for a period of 1.5 years, and I do mean I am being generous to the town’s benefit.

So that would bring the very conservative total to $1,084,569.03.

What community needs a mayor, who also signs the checks to pay the bills, who is that clueless? Or perhaps his criticism of Ms. Valles was for the low dollar figure she provided? NOT

Bishop has a lot of nerve calling someone else offensive, unprofessional and out-of-line when they are trying to shed light on what is really happening at Town Hall with the people’s money. He is the one, along with four others, who have the fiduciary responsibility, yet they have violated that public trust with their own lack of transparency, disingenuous statements, and corrupt actions. Let us not forget all the gifting of public funds in violation of the state constitution, and double dipping expenses.

The promotion of those useless finance awards, that almost every city gets, and let us not forget the City of Bell also got those awards. Awards which are based on nothing more than the documents “format” and have little, if anything, to do with the actual finances or financial soundness of the agency. The town pays a fee for the award, which generates revenue for the GFMOA. For the Town, they use this as a tool to deflect closer examination of their finances. Kind of like a security blanket that people feel when they live in a gated community with 4-foot walls and think crime cannot get in. But the town sang accolades to the former Puckett felon, but I guess that is what one felon does for another. Bishop committed numerous felonies by using his town CAL CARD (public funds), to pay for his wife’s travel to conferences with him, as did other council members. Like any embezzlement, there is never any valid excuse for such behavior. Those misuses of public funds are a documented FACT!

There is a reason Mr. Robertson does not welcome an audit. I dare say, anyone who manages the money of others on the up and up would welcome an audit, just to keep their name clean. Perhaps it is time for an SEC complaint on the violation of SEC rules that require a change in auditors every five years, and see if they are fooled by the town’s changing auditing firms (Teaman, Ramirez & Smith to Van Lantz and Fankhanel), but keeping essentially the same primary auditing individual Greg Fankhanel for ten years, who was and is, with both firms. And what might the SEC view be on the hiring of two primary town finance management level people that were former employees of the former audit firm? It is highly questionable to see both Kofi Antobam (City Treasurer), and Mark Shaker (Finance Director), were former Teaman, Ramirez & Smith employees.

For Mr. Bishop to attack Ms. Valles on the issue of crime, when she merely repeated the reporting of Supervisor Lovingood on information obtained from the Sheriff, was equally suggestive that the Supervisor and Sheriff, also residents of Apple Valley, were somehow equally offensive, unprofessional and out-of-line in their reporting on crime. I must really question why, since Mr. Bishop was speaking as the Mayor, the Council as a whole sanctioned this deceiving attack on all these individuals. Is this what the Town Council means by their constant emphasis on local control, and professions of their disregard and revulsion to regulations, requirements, and laws at the County, State and Federal level, the absolute declaration that everyone else be damned? Including the disregard for the public in meetings with false statements, attacks, and veiled threats.

NOW, WHO AND WHAT IS REALLY OFFENSIVE, UNPROFESSIONAL AND OUT-OF-LINE?

It is long overdue for the Daily Press/Apple Valley Review to become a real newspaper, with real reporting on the facts and serve the public’s interest. Show the public if you are a Man or a Mouse regarding the council activity at town hall.

Perhaps Mr. Obernolte’s committee should begin looking at the Town of Apple Valley finances, or at a minimum, join with the current FPPC and County DA investigations.

Leane Lee