Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is there a whitewash or cover up coming?

Any day now, City Manager Tom Aspell is expected to release his report about possible wrongdoing by employees of CCTV, now called ConcordTV, as well as former City Councilor [and now County Attorney candidate] Kathy Rogers, according to sources. The report is due to be in the Council's packet later this week and may be taken up by the Council on Aug. 11.
The investigation was requested by Rick Watrous, the former executive director of CCTV, after the Rules Committee rejected all but one of the complaints he brought to it. In a voice vote, the council instructed Aspell to investigate the matters by a slim margin.
However, according to Watrous, Aspell has never spoken to him and has not contacted him about numerous documents in his possession that not only prove the case but also contradict testimony by witnesses who testified at the hearing, leaving many to wonder if Aspell's report will be a complete cover up or whitewash.
"As the citizen that brought this matter to the city council's attention, I'm astounded that no one in the city administration ever contacted me during this investigation," Watrous wrote in an email earlier this week.
Back in March, Watrous requested that the Council have the city's administration finish the original investigation, as well as look into Rogers' influence over the proceedings when she was chairwoman of the Rules Committee. He also asked the administration to investigate whether Rogers instructed the Concord Police Dept. to investigate Watrous concerning a public document that he submitted to the Rules Committee and whether she violated city charter in this action, as well as other matters.
"I have much pertinent information and documentation that would help determine the facts of these specific issues of alleged city rules violations," he wrote. "I don't understand why the city manager would issue this report without even bothering to request or examine this important information."
The one charge remaining before the Rules Committee is whether or not Doris Ballard, the current development and outreach director for ConcordTV, host of "Coffee Chat" on WKXL radio, and a candidate for County Commissioner, used her position as an at-large city councilor to attain a full-time job at CCTV.
Some of the other issues which were to be covered in the report included: Whether or not Rogers violated council rules by chairing the investigation in which she had a personal interest; whether Rogers misinformed the council, concealed, or suppressed evidence, or otherwise misdirected the investigation; and whether Rogers withheld evidence concerning her own nonpublic weekend use of the channel's studios.
Other questions included whether or not CCTV employees tampered with public or private documents under the investigation by the Rules Committee and whether those employees or board members provided false testimony to the committee; whether CCTV employees provided false information to the police concerning Ballard's employment contract; and whether the full-time position which Ballard attained was ever advertised to the public and if so, how many candidates applied for the position.
In looking at this entire mess, one has to wonder that if Watrous were anyone else, would his concerns - and the concerns of others - fall on such deaf ears? That's doubtful. It is questionable to think that if Watrous were someone more connected and had levied such charges against the council or its processes, that he would be treated more legitimately by councilors and the media. This issue never would have gotten so preposterously out of hand. This is not a slight against anyone who is "connected" and manages to get what they want out of our community; it's just one of those things that happens in small cities from time to time.
In the end, we'll all have to wait and see what the Aspell report says.
If it says that there needs to be more investigation, bring it on, finally.
But since Watrous was never contacted and documents proving his points were never accessed by Aspell, we suspect that Rogers and everyone else will be cleared ... and that means the report, not unlike the Rules Committee before it, is a total sham.

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