As recently reported by the Ledger Dispatch, “nagging questions” are raised by the latest “Special Investigation Report by the Grand Jury.” This report details how in 2008, the Amador County Board of Supervisors used “deceptive methods” to hide an LLC money trail and shift tax liabilities, possibly wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money. It describes how the BOS prevented the County Auditor from executing the Auditor’s duties, and how the BOS deliberately ignored County ordinances, written policies and procedures and State and Federal healthcare laws.
“It was obvious that the $400,000 paid to the County was a “Kickback” so that the developer could sell the HHS building. The BOS made the choice to put a building developer before people.” Senior County Staff Member [G.J. Report, at 84-85].
“Consideration was paid to the County to ensure that the BOS would approve a 20-year guaranteed HHS building lease without the mandatory early termination clause contingent on available County, State or Federal funding”, “Mostly done through a “Consent Agenda” without public discussion.” [G.J. Report, at 90 -40].
The report reveals how each BOS Member has claimed not to recall much about this lease and how its onerous terms came to pass. Having run for County Supervisor myself, I am being asked to comment on the conduct of my own district’s elected official, former Supervisor Ted Novelli. I recommend that everyone read the report for themselves. It shows that Ted Novelli was familiar with the first HHS building lease in March, 2008. He then “…voted to approve the contracts between the County and the CDAP. He also voted to approve to renew the CDMH contract for MHSA Funding in May 2008.” [G.J. Report, at 86] Then as the BOS Chairman, Novelli “…signed the June 3, 2008 Subordination Agreement [Amended and Restated Lease] between the County and a bank that requires the County to continue paying the lease payments to the bank [for twenty years] even if the new owners default.” [G. J. Report, at 86].
These highly questionable actions locked us into now owing millions in back taxes, plus $135,000 per mo. lease payments for 20 years, which will end up costing us 35-40 million dollars. How did we get from having a 5-year lease that could be renegotiated in the event of a lack of funding, to the manipulation of $500,000 of inducements, $400,000 in cash money and a 24% tax reduction?
It took six years to reveal how our County officials may have used a “pay to play” cash kickback to create a “balanced” budget, with $200,000 of the $400,000 going right back to the developer. We have now learned that certain officials may have engaged in a dubious “give-away” to benefit a building owner ahead of the interests of the people they were expected to serve. The possible illegality of using this secret loan to cover a County budget deficit just before an election, and the hidden negotiations of this questionable lease should be further investigated.