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Housing Department Fiasco

At the last Turlock City Council meeting an audit of the Housing Department was presented.  It was devastating and outlined what many consider a decade-long misuse of millions of dollars of public funds. 

Vice Mayor Franco made these comments summarizing the situation:  “I had concerns and questions and fears about this department, and the audit we did revealed that my worst fears were reality.  Staff was running amok.  Generally accepted accounting principles weren't followed.  Nothing was followed from HUD.  We lacked policies and procedures.  Funds didn't go out timely. We didn't follow conflict policies.  We didn't properly document most facets, purchase contracts, rental contracts, rehabilitation contracts, invoices, change orders, etc.  Each property that was audited was a nightmare. Everything had multiple problems.  And they didn't audit (all properties) so we don't know exactly the extent of our problems.

“We've lost tens of thousands of dollars because we had no idea how much rehabs were gonna cost.  They ended up costing us in some cases more than the property purchase price was.  We didn't make sure the work was done. We made payments before invoices. We had payments without invoices.  We're sitting on two vacant properties (and) didn't have any policy or procedure or even idea what we were gonna do with the properties. 

“No checks and balances. So I know beyond a doubt that we can't ignore obvious problems anymore.  And when someone says, I think that there's a problem here, then someone needs to say, let's investigate it because I said it time and time and time again.  And guess what? There was a big problem here. It's a fiasco.” 

It is clear there is a cultural problem at City Hall and significant change is needed. So why has the
Turlock Journal not reported on this?

— Ron Bridegroom