Mar 18 2011

Investigation of $2+ Million Undergrounding Loss Continues

On March 15, 2011  the Piedmont City Council Audit Subcommittee met to continue their investigation of the Piedmont Hills Underground Assessment District (PHUAD) bailout of $2.2 million by the taxpayers of Piedmont, considering extensive public comment.

At its prior meeting on January 26,  2010, the Subcommittee asked for public input on individually written reports by  Subcommittee Members.  (See Chiang Report, Kawaichi Report, Barbieri ReportNumerous comments were submitted by individuals and organizations, including a report from the Piedmont League of Women Voters Task Force and detailed Commentary from the Piedmont Civic Association. Comments focused on contract administration, issues requiring further investigation, and suggested policy changes.

This led to a consensus to produce a report in two parts: issues not involving litigation as Part I and, after the legal issues are settled, the remaining issues as Part II.

The Subcommittee concluded their brief meeting without  substantive discussion of the voluminous community input.  It was unclear how each member would consider the community input.

The Subcommittee members comments were varied:

  • Barbieri indicated his interest in closing out the matter and concern about inappropriate community input being included in the report.  He also repeatedly cautioned the Subcommittee regarding pending litigation and settlement with companies implicated in the problems.
  • Kawaichi expressed concern that the community wanted answers and noted information was not yet available to the Subcommittee because ongoing litigation impeded their ability to complete their work.  He was accustomed to determining facts and then applying the law to the facts. His report suggested the Subcommittee use subpoena powers to ask questions of individuals under oath prior to preparation of its final report.  Taking the various public comments and listing them for a substantive discussion he had counted approximately 100. The issue of what was feasible from the stand point of time, cost, effort and political considerations needed to be a part of the recommendation to the Council.  He wants a final report to go to the Council following the completion of City legal actions.
  • Chiang indicated an interest in the community input.  He will prepare a matrix of the three committee members individual reports. He also will include the suggestion of Elizabeth Schultz to show how public 20A funds have been spent.

In clarifying time lines, the City Administrator stated outside counsel had been brought into the Piedmont Hills undergrounding process by him in October of 2009.  The Council considered the matter in closed session in November of 2009. For both of the meetings in November of 2009 outside legal counsel was present.

A question arose as to who had submitted the Piedmont Civic Association commentary.   The PCA letter sent to the Subcommittee had been duplicated by staff omitting the letterhead with the PCA email, website and street address.  An audience member described PCA as a large volunteer organization.  In addition, a letter was subsequently sent by PCA to the Subcommittee describing the organization in detail.

The Subcommittee took no votes on any issues.  By consensus, the members agreed to submit individual final Part I reports by April 1, 2011 to the Interim City Clerk, John Tulloch, who will combine the three reports, including Chiang’s matrix, into the final Part I report and add an executive summary.  Tulloch will then provide the report after April 15 to Chiang who will work with Tulloch.  This draft will be “circulated” to all of the members of the Subcommittee prior to its release to the public at the next Subcommittee meeting. The City Attorney will also review the draft report prior to public release.

Editor’s Note: The process of circulating the consolidated draft report prior to public release is governed by the Brown Act, which does not permit an intermediary to be used to communicate or reach a conclusion or edit the document prior to next meeting.  California Government Code Section 54952.2 (b)(1).

The Subcommittee plans to meet again in May.  All Subcommittee meetings are open to the public. Residents can receive updates from the City on the Subcommittee’s work and reports by emailing and requesting this information.




One Response to “Investigation of $2+ Million Undergrounding Loss Continues”

  1. I no longer live in Piedmont, but

    What a wonderful job you are doing!!!!! Keep up the good work

    Susan Schroeder

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