UPDATE: the Moreno Valley City Council pulled Resolution 2013-82 at last night’s meeting. Just a few hours prior to the Council’s 6pm meeting, the FBI issued subpoenas for an extensive number of records pertaining to members of the Council and a number of development projects. The City Clerk’s October 22 email to the City Council acknowledging the FBI subpoenas can be viewed here. Further, Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach requested that records from 2008 onward be maintained as to preserve evidence for the ongoing investigations. Zellerbach’s letter to the Moreno Valley City Council can be viewed here.
Three former managers have filed suit against the City of Moreno Valley on the grounds that they were wrongfully terminated in retaliation for carrying out their duties.
The City Council is both under investigation by a federal task force including the FBI and the IRS and still faces significant public outcry for its questionable appointment of a city councilman to replace embattled Councilman Marcelo Co.
Amid all of these ongoing investigations, the city has decided to expedite its retention policy for public records.
The City Council is expected to pass Resolution 2013-82 as part of the consent calendar at tonight’s regularly-scheduled meeting. The resolution will institute citywide record-keeping schedules, effectively authorizing the destruction of earlier public records.
According to the Press-Enterprise, the new policy would allow the city clerk to destroy audio recordings of the council meetings after 30 days, a stark change from Moreno Valley’s current policy of preserving recordings for 6 years.
The new policy would further allow the clerk to destroy video recordings after 90 days and emails immediately.
Attorney Gary Bennett is representing the aforementioned three former Moreno Valley city employees and has demanded that city leaders preserve evidence tied to his code enforcement violation case against Co.
Bennett’s lawsuit was filed in a Riverside County Superior Court yesterday on behalf of former Deputy City Attorney Paul Early, former city Building Official Anne Schneider and former Code Compliance Manager Albert Brady, who allege they lost their jobs in retaliation for carrying out their professional duties. Early, Schneider and Brady claim that these work obligations stood in stark contrast to the will of the city’s higher-ups.
According to the Press-Enterprise, the lawsuit names the city, former Councilman Marcelo Co, Mayor Tom Owings, City Attorney Suzanne Bryant and Co’s and Owings’ attorney Michael Geller as defendants.
Brady alleges that former Economic Development Director Barry Foster used his position to benefit developer Iddo Benzeevi, who also maintained ties to Co. According to Brady, code compliance officers were pressured to use their powers to convince Edgemont neighborhood property owners to sell to Benzeevi so the developer could put in a shopping mall center. Brady also alleges that Foster worked diligently to keep property north of Highway 60 free of industrial parks in order to maintain the appeal and property value for Benzeevi’s proposed shopping mall.
The lawsuit also claims that Foster waived fines and citations for property that was out of compliance, including fees levied against city leaders like Co and Councilwoman Victoria Baca.
In May, Foster stopped working for the city after eight years with Moreno Valley. The City is explaining his swift departure as simply a “personnel matter.”
Several weeks ago, PublicCEO reported on Moreno Valley and the barrage of scandals that have plagued the Riverside County city of nearly 200,000 residents. As reported then, city leaders are under fire for their appointment of one Yxstian Gutierrez to fill the vacancy left by Co.
A more expansive coverage of Moreno Valley’s efforts to speed up record destruction can be found in this article at the Press-Enterprise.