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Vote for Kensington Police Protection Special District Board: Yes Kosel, Hausken, No Toombs, Gillette

KPPCSD voters: reject Toombs Gillette. Process for citizens complaints favor police; credit card procedures still missing 2 years after misuse of credit card; raise & pension a give-away.

Citizens of Kensington

Be sure to consider your vote for Kensington Police Department Board members wisely.  I believe the only way to insure that Kensington’s investment in an independent police force is protected is to vote for Cathie Kosel and Jim Hausken.

Chuck Toombs is asking that you enable his vision by electing him and his ally, Patricia Gillette. I am concerned that if you vote for Toombs and Gillette you are endangering our rights as a community. If you empower this slate of candidates, you may be giving up more than you bargained for, including ultimately our independent police force itself.  

Toombs has consistently shown that his idea of government mainly involves civility; questions about accountability are considered to be impolite at best and very possibly illegal. The process for citizen’s complaints against police has a catch-22 that provides police complete protection and provides the citizen who raises the complaint no protection at all *.  An old news item about the chief’s misuse of the business credit card festers because 2 years on the audit recommendations for formal procedures have not been implemented **. Furthermore the recent salary review that Toombs pushed through appears to have been a give-away;  the package includes retroactive pay-raises that go back 3 years, and the most generous pension plan in Contra Costa County.  

The job of General Manager includes budgeting, planning and implementation of common accounting controls. Our chief routinely ignores his responsibilities as General Manager. Toombs lets him get away with this practice. Time and time again, Toombs seems to show that he has only two interests at heart: 1) Protection of the Chief and his staff at all costs; 2) The generation of copious legal bills for San Francisco attorneys, paid for out of your and my money for police protection.  

Our current KPPCSD board has not produced a financial plan. Kensington residents face more and more costs without a commensurate improvement in Police Services. The reckless behavior of Toombs actually is endangering Kensington’s independent police force ***. If state funds dry up, if the district is obligated to meet the pension obligations in the future, the only way Kensington residents will be able to afford an independent police force is to vote for additional assessments, compounding the $200/parcel increase voters approved in 2010. 

Kensington residents should not accept Toomb’s vision and continue the current state of affairs. After careful consideration I have decided to cast my vote for Cathie Kosel and Jim Hausken. I believe they provide the only clear alternative. They represent a valid alternative position to the current board majority. If we elect them Kensington can start to consider the real issues and implement real reforms. As a fellow Kensington resident, I urge you to vote for Kosel and Hausken. I think they are the best choice to best protect our interests as a community, not just the selfish interests of a few.

Thank you, Greg Collis Resident since 1994 
  
* Citizens who have complaints about police conduct have no recourse but to the police; if they are still unsatisfied Toombs has stated they should raise the issue to the General Manger. However the GM is the Chief of Police. Toombs advised that the next step is for a citizen to raise the issue at a public KPPCSD board meeting. However Toombs has state that if anyone raises issues in public that are mentioned in a policeman’s personnel file, they may be liable to be sued for violating the Policeman's Bill of Rights.   Toombs believes that the Chief and he can hire attorneys at their discretion, leading to this absurd position. Does this mean that if you have a valid police complaint, you may be sued by lawyers paid for by our special district for violating the Policeman’s bill of rights? Come on. 

**Several years ago our Chief used his credit card for personnel expenses. At the time no procedure was in place to insure that the credit card was not used for personal expenses. Such procedures are usually developed by a Special District General Manager. Since no procedure was in place, the chief was able to pay back the expenses that he was not allowed to claim.  Based on the lack of procedures, the District Attorney has concluded that no criminal wrongdoing occurred. However the audit clearly stated that Kensington's KPPCSD Special District had not implemented customary and standard accounting controls. Since the audit (2 years ago), it appears that the board has not addressed the issue that the KPPCSD needs to implement well defined business processes. Although they have appointed a committee, not one procedural policy had appeared on the agenda for board approval. As a result we are as vulnerable to credit card misuse now as when the chief misused the credit card two years ago.

As the Outlook admitted in the last issue, 2 years later only “de facto” regulations exist (Outlook Correction, p. 8. Oct. 31, 2012). The Merriam Webster definition of “de facto” is: 1) : ACTUAL; especially : being such in effect though not formally recognized <a de facto state of war> 2: exercising power as if legally constituted <a de facto government>; 3: resulting from economic or social factors rather than from laws or actions of the state <de facto segregation>.

In fact a prior police chief left after questions were raised about his use of funds. It appears no investigation was ever made of the prior chief’s conduct, and we are still paying his pension. 

*** the KPPCSD only manages to pay current obligations using 1) State funds that explicitly say should not be anticipated in the future; and 2) a Special District slush fund. This fund has grown recently because the chief has chosen to delay implementation the 2010 Measure-G promise of a full muster of police.

Chuck Toombs continues to state that future government reforms authored by Jerry Brown will avoid future pension problems; however he has obligated Kensington to the current Pension deal by signing a contract with the Chief that includes explicit pension obligations. He is fully aware as he has stated in other arenas (i.e. the garbage dispute) that once a contract has been signed, its terms cannot be altered.

Also note that basic police costs and additional measure G cost increases are indexed based on property assessments. Some residents are blessed with old pre-proposition 13 assessments. For the rest of us, we face the full brunt of the impact of increased costs, based on the post- proposition 13 assessments. Why do we need to accept continued additional costs simply to provide the most generous pension payments and retirement health benefits in the county, if not the state?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Eyleen Nadolny November 03, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Thank you, Greg Collis, for you excellent and articulate argument. I second that argument wholeheartedly. The combination position of general manager/chief of police of Kensington constitutes an inherent conflict of interest that I believe should be addressed as soon as possible.
LONG TIME RESIDENT November 03, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Dear Mr. Collis. Thank you for your thoughtful article. I am a long time Kensington resident. With respect to the police chief's use of a government credit card to buy airline tickets for his wife-- I believe that constitutes a "gift of public funds" prohibited by the Cal Constitution. I looked at the police chief's contract. There is a clear conflict of interest in that it requires him to be a policeman and requires him to advise the Board on negotiations for police salaries. I reviewed over 120 pages of the community service district's policies. They show that Toombs has no more authority than any other Board members, yet he has shut their & the community's access to information. Please see http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/view-kensington-board-s-failure-to-disclose-information. Conclusion: Toombs has without authority taken over our elected government-history has seen such people before. He has handed it to Harman, without any checks on Harman, and Harman controls Koosed-the editor of our village paper. A neighbor said to me: “It looks like a police state.” We need to take back our village from Toombs’ autocratic control. FIRST STEP IS TO REMOVE TOOMBS.
Greg Collis November 04, 2012 at 07:54 PM
YES! 1- conflict of interest exists if a decision maker can benefit from his decisions. 2- obviously as GM Harman advises on policy decisions; as chief his benefits include salary and expenses. So a conflict exists. 3-LAFCO has a form to identify these situations; KPPCSD LAFCO Conflict of Interest form only addresses citizens complaints!
Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D. November 05, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Dear Greg and KR, Bravo
Resident November 05, 2012 at 06:05 AM
There are considerably more important injustices in the world than ONE, ONE-TIME expenditure put on the wrong card. Or whether a police officer was given *GASP* a 3% raise!!!! Does that even keep up with inflation? So he has a good pension; I'd say all police officers deserve one and I wish more jurisdictions recognized that. "A police state"? Really? Are we having a flashback? Honestly, it feels to me like some Kensington folks need to get a hobby. Take that "brick in the wall" knee-jerk response to authority and put it to use somewhere that matters. Or take up knitting.
Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D. November 05, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Dear Resident, whoever you are. Open your eyes. By magnitude the comparison I am making here is totally out of proportion, but when it comes to the way perceptual data is organized, your attitude is reminiscent of "Hitler made the trains run on time." But still metaphorically speaking, even then, Toombs and company are managing the trains in a way that's speeding towards them colliding at full speed. And Harman is the engineer driving the trains by remote control so that the shock of collision will not affect him as he sips drinks on his porch enjoying a very fat retirement. And when folks feel too intimidated to speak out that's the first step towards a police state. But here's the good news, to quote Dylan, "A new winds a blowing."
Resident November 05, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Thank you for proving my point. If you are (still) quoting Dylan, and in reference not to the (50-year-old) global change he sang about, but to something this tiny (and um, it's also not the Holocaust), I find that vicariously embarrassing. A neighbor left a 7-page printed diatribe on my porch that was almost incomprehensible. After wasting my time trying to unpack it, I could only find that a meeting had been extended by 15 minutes without the proper quorum. Vote the way you want to, but this tempest in a teapot and all the melodrama around it is neither helpful nor appropriate. But apparently, it provides a needed cause for those lacking others.
AB November 05, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Dear Resident: Please consider the post at http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/view-the-kensington-election-does-it-matter. And also the post at http://elcerrito.patch.com/articles/view-kensington-board-s-failure-to-disclose-information Thank you.
Resident November 05, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Thank you, I have already read them. I have also read countless letters, articles, and posts by this same handful of rabid folks short on facts. I am an informed voter. Again, I strongly suggest that the vigilante group involved step back and get some perspective. Fears of retaliation? Police state? This is a person who implies the Kensington police could cause 'something to happen to my friends or family.' Listen to yourselves for heaven's sake! You do not sound credible. This is not rational discourse. Please put this great energy into something real and important. And join us here in 2012. Signing out.
Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D. November 05, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Well Resident, you have proved to my satisfaction that you are probably a member of the clique. "Rabid" is a rather rabid word to use to describe a characteristic of your political opposition. The one credit card charge by Harman is the tip of an iceberg, a tip that was exposed by Cathie. It's the only one Harman let slip out. He then covered his rear end with lawyers and for whatever reason, Toombs folded. When not properly attended to icebergs sink ships. So on his own authority, an authority seeming not to legally exist, based on the ignored PRA requests of Mr. Behrsin, Harman hires lawyers, paid for by the people of Kensington to protect him from accountability for what I have no doubt is his misuse of public funds. Don't be so arrogant "Resident" from behind a shield of anonymity. Don't ridicule the well founded fears of many. Your approach is consistent with the cowardly attacks the clique has perfected.
LONG TIME RESIDENT November 06, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Dear Resident: I am surprised that you find it so easy to dismiss the police chief's use of public funds to purchase airline tickets for his wife. The California Constitution, Article 16, section 6 prohibits the"gift of public funds." This constitutional provision prohibits the making any gift of any public money or thing of value to any individual. I urge you yourself to go thru the published credit card statements and determine for yourself whether you have any questions about the use of public funds we as Kensington taxpayers have entrusted to the Toombs-led council. Were it not for the diligence of Ms. Metcalf and Ms. Kosel, no one would have uncovered this abuse. I think that it is important that we all press for transparency and accountability. We deserve that. You may be alright with allowing abuse of public trust, but many of us in our little community are not. I suppose it is just a different point of view from yours.

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