Monrovia has not lost $4.5 million in grants.
My opponent says that the City lost that amount in grant money during my term as Mayor due to what he calls “part-time management.” It’s hard to see how he came to his conclusions – either about the cause or the amounts involved – given the following facts:
- Decisions made regarding a $927,000 grant for the Historic Depot were all done before I was elected Mayor in 2009 and before our longtime City Manager left in 2011.
- The loss of a $1.9 million Old Town improvement grant occurred in 2008 and was discovered and dealt with just weeks after I became Mayor in 2009, two years before any “part-time” management. There are safeguards in place to see that such an oversight does not happen again.
- The alleged loss of $1.8 in street improvement funds hasn’t happened and won’t.
The Historic Depot reimbursement grant: In 2005, $927,000 was earmarked by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) for the rehabilitation of Monrovia’s historic Santa Fe Depot, adjacent to a planned Gold Line light rail station. The money was offered as partial reimbursement for a $1.2 million “concept project” if the City of Monrovia would do the work and put up $300,000 of its own. There was a four-year time limit on the offer, requiring that the work be done by 2009. As the City did not own the building at the time nor have a plan for its use after rehabilitation, and as progress on the Gold Line had slowed considerably over regional political and financial issues, very little of the rehabilitation work was completed by 2009. The City did spend approximately $140,000 on the project and received a reimbursement from the grant of a little over $100,000. The remainder of the grant lapsed that year. Rob Hammond was Mayor and Tom Adams, Joe Garcia and Dan Kirby and I were on the Council. Scott Ochoa was City Manager. The City acquired the Depot in 2013 and we once again have funding to complete the work.
Old Town streetscape grant: This was a $1.9 million grant from Metro awarded in 2006 to reimburse the City for street, curb and sidewalk improvements, new lighting and increased electrical service in Old Town. The work was carried out in 2008 and paid for with Proposition C (transportation) funds with the expectation of reimbursement from Metro. However, an employee of the City had failed to file documentation of the work at appropriate times and then attempted to cover up his failure by falsifying reports. When his malfeasance was discovered in 2009, a few months after I became Mayor, he was fired and subsequently prosecuted for fraud. Because the deadline for filing documentation had passed by the time the fraud was discovered, the City lost the $1.9 million reimbursement. I and all members of the City Council at the time – Mr. Adams, Mr. Garcia, Clarence Shaw and Becky Shevlin – were informed of the situation by Mr. Ochoa and participated in discussions leading to its resolution.
Huntington Drive improvement grant: A $1.8 million Metro grant earmarked for improvement of Huntington Drive was received in 2011, with a deadline for the work set at 2014. For a variety of reasons the work was delayed. A formal request for an extension of the deadline was filed in a timely fashion, as is routine in situations where projects have been delayed, and the City has been told that the Metro board will approve the extension. The $1.8 million is expected to be available when the work begins later this year.
Facts always outweigh sound bites! Facts matter!