“MISSPENT FUNDS – NO REPRESENTATION”.
By Emerson Drake
In April 2011, Councilman Dave Lopez went to see Modesto’s City Manager (C.M.) Gregg Nyhoff with concerns about the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project (SCAP) and excessive compensation to Joe Gibbs, the Development Director for SCAP. Joe received $195,860 and was in line to receive $431,471 more.
But we aren’t trying to rehash SCAP or the NSP2 problem, but are here to discuss Mr. Nyhoff’s investigation or lack thereof. We presented Modesto with a Public Information Request to see all of the documents relating to the city manager’s investigation. The extremely sad part is their response contained only one page after four plus weeks of the City Managers investigation. It’s almost as if he were avoiding leaving a paper trail.
I had occasion to discuss this with C.M. Nyhoff and his response was “well I did make some phone calls.” Further inquiries suggested the calls were to city staffers. Can you imagine Councilman Lopez comes to him with a major concern about potential fraud or malfeasance and Mr. Nyhoff, at the very least, sits on his hands? Little wonder the Councilman felt the need to go to the Bee.
The lone page from the email we received is dated May 26, 2011, just two days before the Bee broke the story and more than one month AFTER Councilman Lopez spoke to Mr Nyhoff. So despite the City Manager’s protestations, NOTHING was written down until the city was aware the Bee was going to publish SCAP’s short comings and then only to enlighten SCAP. Modesto City employee Judith Ray is warning SCAP employee Marcia Bradshaw that the Bee reporter has been a “consistent antagonist toward recovery act programs in general and NSP in particular and we can be assured of a negative bias when it comes out.”
So just how thorough do you believe Nyhoff’s investigation was? To my way of thinking all he did from the beginning was circle the wagons to protect himself and his staffers. After all he is the city manager and the buck stops there. At least for a few minutes before the Council gets involved.
Knowing all this and reading the way the City responded to the Grand Jury report was just too much to stay quiet about. If Councilman Lopez hadn’t gone to the Bee none of the malfeasance would have been uncovered. Joe Muratore might have been able to keep the $62,500 he was willing to risk his position on the council for, and indeed his freedom. Profiting from HUD money as a Councilman is a felony and Joe Gibbs would be $431,471 dollars richer and he and his wife would still be in charge of SAP despite their questionable tenants.
Here is Nyhoff’s written investigation.
The city’s response to the Grand Jury
The Grand Jury’s findings
After reading all of the information it’s reasonable to come to the opinion that Councilman Lopez stood up against those who would participate in a cover-up and spoke out to shed the light of day on a serious problem and uncovering a potential misuse of public funds.
The discussion can be heard about 1:10 minutes into the Council meeting. The following link will take you there.