UPDATE: City of Alpine Mayor Responds to Embezzlement Accusations 2/20/12
CBS 7 News
February 20, 2013
The City of Alpine’s Auditor is now in the process of looking over the city’s records for any inconsistencies after last night's meeting that eluded to possible embezzlement by city employees. The City Manager was not present at the meeting according to Alpine Mayor Avinash Ranga. He says the meeting was called to speak on a “preliminary audit report” and he will soon release a statement on the issue.
Last night, 19 February, a special meeting of Alpine City Council was called at the request of Councilman Lujan based upon an alleged ‘Preliminary Report’ of an ongoing City audit.
Through a combination of questions addressed to the Council from concerned citizens in attendance and among Councilmembers, it was determined that NO ‘Preliminary Report’ existed. Councilwoman Bermudez asked City Attorney, John Armstrong if the meeting was based upon the non-existence of such a report, and after the City Attorney’s tacit approval, Councilwoman Bermudez moved to adjourn the meeting. It was duly seconded, and the meeting was so adjourned.
Some members (they are all my friends) in the audience were upset by the adjournment. There was few loud threatening voices, which I firmly believe is an integral part of a thriving, living democratic process.
I would like to take this opportunity to make the following observations:
First, Mr. Shaw Skinner who has done City audit for years, and I believe has done a superb job told me on Monday that the audit is not complete, and he is not aware of any ‘Preliminary Report’ and that no impropriety on the part of any city employee can be determined at this time. I might add that during my six years (2003-09) as a Councilman for Ward 1, City Councils were never given any ‘Preliminary Report.’
Second, City Manager, Chuy Garcia was not present for the meeting. He had informed the Council at its February 5 regular meeting that he was going to be in Austin to testify before a Legislative Committee, and the Council unanimously voted to postpone its regular (February 19) meeting to the following Tuesday. It is odd, is it not that three Council members scheduled this meeting for yesterday when they knew that Mr. Garcia was not going to be present. What was the urgency? Are we a banana republic!
Furthermore the very basis for calling a meeting was based on a non-existent document, which our City Attorney tacitly acknowledged, makes the entire proceedings in violation of TOMA. Had this illegal meeting continued resulting in the termination of City employee(s), I believe the interests of six thousand citizens of Alpine would have been unnecessarily compromised.
I will respectfully suggest to the three Council members to listen to the City Attorney’s advice that he offered at its February 5 regular meeting to wait for Mr. Skinner to complete the audit with all due diligence. If the Council finds after having vetted the audit report that any impropriety by any city employee has occurred, terminate the offending employee(s), and instruct the City Attorney to proceed to take the next legal step(s) including possible prosecution as allowed by Law.
That is the American way. That is the correct way. Law of the land, not the personal agenda must prevail.
With respect and kind regards
Mayor, City of Alpine