Ex-Cop Relieved That Alleged City Hall, Police Corruption Is Coming into the SunlightBy Letters to the Editor @ 10:00 AM May 09, 2008
From Mike Conzachi
I am writing about Dave McCarthy, City employee, Marine Corp hero, and another in a long list of corruption victims in the city of Culver City.
In December of 2006, I also retired from the Police Dept. after 20 years with the city and 28 overall in law enforcement.
I was forced to retire on medical conditions after being severely injured in the line of duty. I came within a hair of spending the remainder of my days confined to a wheelchair prior to major surgical intervention.
For my more than 20 years of dedicated and honest service to the city, which has resulted in lifetime medical problems, limitations and complications, I have only received one thank you from a fellow city employee, Mr. Dave McCarthy. More than a year after retiring, I received a thank you from City Council candidate Dr. Luther Henderson.
To comment on the recent articles concerning Dep. City Attorney Dave McCarthy, I echo the comments recently made by police Lt. Greg Smith (ret.).
I can make these comments now as I have regained my First Amendment right to free speech.
For the past five years, I have been a vocal advocate in the reporting of police and City Hall misconduct and corruption that is now in the hands of the FBI Public Corruption Unit and a federal Grand Jury.
That probably explains the reason for the lack of a “thank you.”
I have been beating the drum of corruption for this time.
Yet not one person in the Police Dept. or City Hall who is in a position of authority and responsibility, has ever asked me one question as to my knowledge of criminal corruption. In fact, there have been numerous documented instances of actual cover-up and document and computer file destruction in order to prevent the truth from being discovered.
Corruption comes in many forms, shapes and sizes.
The scenario involving Mr. McCarthy — the passing over for promotion while on military deployment and the forced meeting and evaluation from a psychiatrist — is another example of the pattern and practice of corruption involving numerous city leaders and executives, past and present.
This new form is moral and ethical corruption.
We have seen a number of examples in the past few years, such as the well-publicized and documented hiring and Police Academy training of City Manager Jerry Fulwood’s stepson, who left a week after training to join the Upland Police Dept., at a cost of more than $60,000 to city taxpayers, completely ignoring the nepotism and civil service rules.
We have seen the drastic changes in the structure of City Hall, and the vast salary and benefit packages of Mr. Fulwood and City Atty. Carol Schwab, displacing a number of tenured City Hall management employees, while creating lucrative positions for loyal subordinates.
We have heard nothing but silence from Police Chief Don Pedersen on the corruption issue even though the Police Dept. and City Hall have received numerous subpoenas from the United States Attorney’s Office.
No fewer than three dozen current and former police and City Hall employees have been interviewed and interrogated by agents from the FBI Public Corruption Unit, and other federal agencies.
We have seen millions of dollars wasted on non-existent law enforcement services, and the generous $90,000 severance package, cleverly disguised as “consultant fees,” awarded to retired Chief Ted Cooke.
Has anyone ever inquired as to what actual work was ever performed?
I am sure that as a result of this letter, some will be manufactured immediately.
We have seen example after example of silence by past City Councils.
We need to ask the current City Council to conduct an outside, independent audit of the amount of money being paid to outside law firms, such as the law firm of Liebert, Cassidy & Whitmore.
Oh, sure, some would say that outside legal firms are necessary to defend the city, and that is true.
But what the majority of these funds are being used for are not to defend the city, but to defend a handful of corrupt and unethical high-ranking city leaders and managers for their own corrupt and unethical actions.
Just in the past couple of years, the city has spent in excess of $2 million on fewer than five Police Dept. t employees in legal fees, judgments and settlements — with more on the way.
Who knows what has been spent in other city departments.
Millions more will be spent on anticipated litigations involving a variety of other city employees.
Knock, knock. Is anyone there?
Will this new City Council put a stop to this practice before the city becomes bankrupt?
Despite warning after warning, red flag after red flag, they have been blind in identifying where the real problem lies.
As Greg Smith so eloquently put it, at the doorsteps of City Manager Jerry Fulwood, City Atty. Carol Schwab, and city Personnel Director Serena Wright.
If any city resident is inquisitive, I would highly recommend that he or she call or visit the FBI Public Corruption Unit on Wilshire Boulevard or the United States Attorney’s Office downtown.
Or ask any one of three dozen or more current and former city and Police Dept. employees who have been interviewed or subpoenaed about the state of corruption.
If you get a response of “what corruption?” that should be a clue. The feds don’t come knocking on the door unless something is terribly wrong.
Any city resident is also welcome to research and find the L.A. Weekly articles written 8 to10 years ago by Investigative Reporter Adrian Maher, entitled “Culver City Confidential.”
That will give residents an indication where the city is headed.
I no longer work for the city. Nor do I live in the city. But I believe that any city resident would be outraged, as I am, that Police Chief Pedersen has been mum on the corruption issue.
I would be outraged that a dozen or more police command and management employees are pilfering city coffers by working off-duty jobs while on city time and then benefiting from additional salary considerations.
I would be outraged that Police Dept. command and management staff are using city time to work on their privately owned personal internet or legal businesses or playing golf.
I would be outraged that certain city leaders have manipulated the entire structure and make-up of city government to facilitate and enhance their salary, benefit and retirement packages.
I would be outraged that City Hall structure and make-up has been manipulated to reward cronies at public expense.
I would be outraged that hundreds of thousands of dollars of city funds have been spent to defend and to settle sexual harassment lawsuits of current and former high-ranking police and City Hall employees.
I would be outraged over the costly and cleverly disguised reprisals of city employees for doing the right thing.
I would be outraged by two distinct levels and policies of treating injured employees, based on who you are, and the manipulations of the Worker’s Compensation system that has cost legitimately injured workers thousands of dollars plus untold and unlimited personal medical complications.
AND, I WOULD BE COMPLETELY OUTRAGED AND REPULSED THAT CITY LEADERS WOULD SUBJECT MR. DAVE MCCARTHY — A TRUE AMERICAN MILITARY HERO, A RESERVE MARINE CORP LIEUTENANT COLONEL WHO HAS PUT HIMSELF IN HARM’S WAY, WHO HAS RUN TOWARDS GUNFIRE NOT AWAY FROM IT — TO THE TYPE OF HUMILIATION AND DISRESPECT THAT HE HAS, WHILE THEY HAVE HIDDEN THEMSELVES BEHIND THE SHIELD OF FREEDOM AND PROTECTION HE PROVIDES, UNDER THEIR DESKS, WHILE THEY DEFEND THEIR REPREHESIBLE ACTIONS THROUGH TAX- PAYER-FUNDED LAW FIRMS.
The residents of the city of Culver City need to demand of the current Council the need to publicly disclose these matters, not simply disregard the issues and explain them away as being “personnel matters.”
Translated, that means we screwed up, and we will pay for it with your money.
So keep the Utility User’s Tax and parking ticket fines coming.
To the new City Council, you can either address this problem or ignore it, then later pretend to be surprised, as was the case of the Orange County Board of Supervisors when disgraced and corrupt former Sheriff Mike Carona was indicted for doing the same things that I have described in this letter.
If I recall, I believe that former Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. Lt. Bill Hunt — who openly and publicly disclosed corruption issues in the department but was vilified, demoted, humiliated and ultimately had his career ended prematurely — proved to be 100 percent correct.
The current City Council can continue down the path of prior Councils. They can ignore the problem and then be faced with unrelenting negative news media coverage, millions in litigations and federal government intervention.
To the new City Council: The manner and the pattern and practice of the past and current form of city government and law enforcement services in the city of Culver City, must come to a stop.
We have dozens and dozens of examples of the gluttonous greed of a handful of past and current city leaders and management employees who have gorged themselves at the public trough.
The new City Council must make a written and public statement that serious ethical and criminal corruption issues have existed for more than two decades, and must pledge complete cooperation with all federal law enforcement agencies currently conducting various corruption investigations.
The new City Council must proclaim that all corruption issues will be dealt with and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in order to promote public trust.
It is true in a criminal case once someone has been formally charged with a crime that the government has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to insure a conviction.
In the court of public opinion, based on facts, warning after warning, red flag after red flag, we are free to form our own opinions.
In the case of elected officials charged with the responsibility of governing a municipality, they, too, must make those decisions based on facts, warnings after warnings, red flag after red flag, to insure the proper functioning of that municipality.
Due to the vast expanse of the issues, it would be logical, practical and intelligent to create a city office of Inspector General, responsible to the general public, to investigate and publicly report acts of unethical behavior, misconduct, criminal conduct and criminal corruption.
It is a must to publicly report these acts and findings to the taxpaying public.
They are, after all, paying the bill.
Do they not deserve to get their money’s worth?
Maybe Mr. Fulwood and Ms. Schwab will volunteer to forego and donate some of their lucrative salary and benefit packages to the cause.
Maybe Mr. Fulwood will reimburse the city for his stepson’s Police Academy training.
I doubt it,.
If that doesn’t bother the average city resident when they write that next check for the parking ticket, traffic ticket, building permit or utility bill, then I don’t know what will.
Mr. Conzachi, formerly of the Culver City Police Dept., is a retired homicide detective.