April  2010  

Rancho Santa Margarita’s Council Member Thompson’s Suspended Contract


Posted By CotoBlogzz 03-11-2010

Rancho Santa Margarita – CA.  The Menifee City Council has suspended Finance Director Gary Thompson’s contract and will hire an auditor to probe the city's internal financial controls.  The audit is supposed to focus on the city's supplier management process and controls. Mr. Thompson is an incumbent Rancho Santa Margarita council member seeking reelection

Audits are rare even when required, and usually only considered when there are wholesale changes or someone knows or suspects where skeletons are buried.  Take for instance the audit ordered by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)  Chief  Bratton’s replacement Charlie Beck.  The internal LAPD audit found that department officials made more than 80 percent of their purchases without the required competitive bids.  Keep in mind this is not an independent audit.

In the case of the City of Rancho Santa Margarita, the state is supposed to 

G. Thompson

conduct audits to make sure that the taxpayer is getting the return on his intended investment in public safety services, So far, there has not been an audit since the city was founded

In the case of Laguna Woods Village, residents for months, if not years, have been calling on every city, county, state and federal agency that may listen, about conducting a forensic audit.  So far, not dice.

To be sure, this is not to say there is any wrong doing in the case of Mr. Thompson and one data point not a trend makes.  Serendipitously; however, we recently asked Mr. Thompson a question related to the City of Ranch Santa Margarita supplier management practices, summarized as follows:  As a public servant, how can you assure the taxpayer, in the absence of state audits, that the $8.5 million/year  spent by RSM on public safety is being spent the way the taxpayer intends it to be? Mr. Thompson did not respond to any of our questions.

Still no compelling evidence of any wrongdoing.

Now, according to the RSM’s website, Mr Thompson is “self-employed as a municipal government financial consultant providing local government municipal service consulting to several local government agencies. Gary specializes in fiscal studies for local government agencies, including fee studies, consolidation studies, municipal service reviews, and incorporation and annexation studies, and provides municipal staff augmentation services. “  In this capacity, Mr. Thompson has worked on cityhood issues, not unlike the one currently facing Coto de Caza residents, including drafting studies that laid the financial groundwork for Menifee and Wildomar becoming cities and he is now putting together the fiscal analysis that will determine whether Jurupa Valley can financially sustain cityhood.

Specific to Coto de Caza, the local governance has for years worked to annex the community to Rancho Santa Margarita, despite overwhelming opposition from Coto residents. The  Coto’s president went as far as to announce that then supervisor Bates had approved $30,000 for a study-  in essence  sales collateral to convince Coto residents that annexation was the logical choice.  When we checked with the county, Supervisor Bates’ office denied the funds were promised.  Now, the local Coto governance with the support of Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) is using resident’s funds has been working on such sales collateral.  LAFCO decides municipal boundary issues in all 58 California counties, including spheres of influence and annexation issues.

It is no secret that we have been sounding the alarm about California’s Triple Threat:  1)  Organized labor in the public sector 2)  Parasitic bureaucracies and 3)  Lobbyists. 

  Lobbyists make up California’s Third House outnumbering lawmakers by a ratio of 8-1.  Just consider the recent Fair Political Practices Commission’s  (FPPC) report detailing over $1 Billion spent in the past ten years by special interest groups to influence California's voters and elected officials.  The top three spenders are

  • ·         California Teachers Association—$211,849,298

  • ·         California State Council of Service Employees—$107,467,272

  • ·         Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America—$104,912,997

This type of lobbying is bad enough, but at least, the extent of their contribution is a matter of public record.  However,  there are the tax-payer funded unregistered lobbyist such as California Law Revision Commission (CLRC) and or LAFCO.  The first one regularly promotes the interests of lobbyists ahead of residents, not unlike the ones in Coto de Caza, while LAFCO tries to dissolve common interest development (CID) communities, such as Coto de Caza.

What does this have to do with Mr. Thompson, you may ask?  We are asking the same questions.  So far, we have  asked Mr. Thompson to comment on two different cities with supplier management issues – he is involved in both.  We also asked him about his role with LAFCO and the Coto de Caza’s local governance drive to annex Coto.  The latter has the appearances of a conflict of interest.


We also asked Orange County LAFCO’s Executive Director Joyce Crosthwaite and Coto de Caza President Xochitl Yocham to comment on Mr. Thompon’s involvement with annexation.  We did not get a response from anyone by the established deadline.












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From the Jesse Petrilla for City Council Campaign:

Please see the following article originally posted in Orange County's Red County blog:

By Don Draper | 03/14/10 | RedCounty.com
Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Gary Thompson has found himself under fire in recent days, but not because of anything he's done in any Rancho related capacity.

Rather, Gary, who has set out his own shingle as a consultant to municipal governments in the western parts of Riverside County, finds himself under the microscope of investigative journalists for conduct that led to his recent suspension as Finance Director in the City of Menifee. According to accounts, Gary appears to have badly bungled his duties as Finance Director, overpaying contractors to the tune of around $100,000 over the past year - bungling which last week resulted in his suspension.

Making matters worse, this report (coming all the way from the North County Times - a San Diego paper) notes that one of the companies that benefited from the overpayments had contributed $1,000 to Thompson's RSM re-election campaign just days after inking a contract with Menifee.

And after being asked about the whole ordeal, what was Thompson's response to a reporter? "I'm going fishing. I've got things to do."

Before this is over, I'm going to guess that Gary is going to have to do a little better than that in explaining this whole ordeal.



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