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By Brian Hews
A series of exclusive articles in 2016 by Hews Media Group-Community News has resulted in the California state auditor asking to take a closer look at Montebello’s finances for possible “waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.”
The series of articles included the explosive report by HMG-CN on JCS Construction who was handed $500,000 in no bid contracts by City management.
JCS’ attorney later filed a countersuit alleging that City Manager Francesca Tucker-Schuyler and two other officials were part of for the fake bidding scheme.
Tucker-Schuyler was subsequently placed on paid administrative leave.
The revelation follows the series of exclusive articles by HMG-CN that triggered an audit of Montebello Unified School District.
Next week, the office will ask a legislative committee for approval to audit. The auditor’s office cites the state’s “high-risk local government” program as justification for the audit.
Sources told HMG-CN that auditor’s office wil likely approve the audit and will not only look at the $3.5 million structural deficit but also the waste and fraud “that was reported by the media.”
Linda Nicklas, co-founder of Montebello Activists to Clean House 90640, welcomed the audit.
“There is no transparency, we haven’t got it from the council, I hope this helps,” Nicklas said.
Nicklas is particularly concerned about contracts that have been approved without putting out a call for bids as reported exclusively by HMG-CN.
She cited the JCS fiasco and the Nationwide Environmental contract as examples.
Also pointing to waste and fraud was that 10 highly paid department heads have left the City over the past four years, without explanation.