Furor Over Kensington Police Chief’s Credit Card

Tempers ran high and shouting could be heard at the board meeting Thursday night of the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District as two directors questioned credit card expenses by Greg Harman, the police chief and general manager.

The Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District (KPPCSD) board meeting turned into a shouting match Thursday as Directors Cathie Kosel and Mari Metcalf took turns questioning whether Police Chief and General Manager Greg Harman may have misused his departmental credit card over three years.

The confrontation came up as the board considered a resolution establishing Measure G, an annual supplemental tax for police protection. The two directly questioned Harman as he sat at the staff table.

Holding up a sheaf of papers she claimed listed credit card charges by Harman, Kosel started out declaring, “I believe there are a number of expenditures you could term unnecessary and improper.”

Citing a record of trips on March 9 and March 28, referring to expenses for him and his wife, Yolla, Kosel asked Harman, “Was your wife there on official business?”

“I reimbursed the city for that expense,” Harman replied, then, further prodded by Kosel, acknowledged she had not been on official business.

Metcalf followed, noting $160 per day of travel meal expenses, and asking Harman, “Does that seem reasonable? I work for a company and have a limit of $80 per day.”

Presiding President Charles Toombs acknowledged, “It’s not proper to put personal expenses on city credit card,” but said the two directors were “asking questions that are misleading and inappropriate."

“You’re sandbagging,” he said to Kosel and Metcalf. “You’re throwing out information not available to the rest of us.”

Metcalf grilled Harman on "nearly $500 in overlimit fees, late fees, and finance charges" in one year, calling it a "big mess up." Harman and Toombs said those fees and charges involved a personnel issue and that the board would have to go into closed session to discuss it.

As the accusations continued, Director Linda Lipscomb shouted, “I want to end this. You're accusing him of misusing his office.” She cited a district rule banning oral charges against identifiable district employees outside of closed session.

After interrupting an ensuing shouting match and calling a brief break, Toombs declared the credit card issue off the table; but Kosel resumed, claiming “$16,000 has been spent on this credit card.”

“We will have an audit, and we will see the same information” being cited, Toombs replied. “Until then, this part of the discussion is out of order.”

Not until Toombs threatened to adjourn the meeting and then threatened to order the two directors to leave did the board return to the agenda item. It approved Measure G, on a 3-2 vote with Kosel and Metcalf opposing.The board also split a later vote the same way, defeating a motion by Kosel to change the evaluation procedures for the chief. She sought to include anonymous interviews with employees and exit interviews with former employees in the process.

Metcalf distributed a eight-page listing of expenses on Harman's credit card that she said pointed to questionable use. Metcalf's list — which included more than $16,000 in local meal and trip costs from 2008 through last April — began with the acknowledgement, “I have not been able to confirm that any of these are in fact charges for personal items.”

Among the charges were airplane ticket purchases for both Harman and his wife Yolla on two trips, although she was not traveling in an official capacity; and more than $1,300 spent at local restaurants, including four meals exceeding $100.

Corrections and clarifications: The original version of this article incorrectly quoted Metcalf as saying her company's travel meal limit is  $60 a day. She said $80. The story also said the list of credit-card expenses that she provided showed three meals over $100. It showed four. The article also incorrectly identified the issue which Harman said involved personnel and would have to be discussed in closed session. The story implied that Harman was referring to charges on the card for his wife's travel and meals. In fact, he was referring to questions from Metcalf about finance charges and fees on the card. These three errors have been corrected in the article. Metcalf contacted Patch after the story was published to take issue with the story's description of the action taken by her and Kosel. The original version of the article said that Kosel and Metcalf "took turns charging that ... Harman may have misused his departmental credit card." Metcalf emailed Patch, "I did not charge that Chief Harman may have misused his dept'l credit card. I asked questions about certain charges." The story's characterization has been revised. Metcalf also took issue with the original story's statement that Metcalf provided to Patch her eight-page list of credit-card expenses. She noted she and Kosel distributed a copy to anyone who wanted one. Metcalf gave the list to Patch before the meeting and made copies available to others at the meeting. The story's phrasing has been revised. Metcalf also objected to the article's statement that her eight-page list showed expenses "exceeding $16,000." She noted that expenses for local meals and trip costs alone exceeded $16,000. This section of the article has been revised.

Greg Collis August 05, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Ms. Davis, thank you for your information, notwithstanding your reference to me as a farm animal. First I am supportive of Chief Harman, as we all should be. I know from observation that he has been responsive to neighborhood issues in the past. Second, simple use of a corporate credit card for private use was a firing offence at Bank of America; I would like to understand the rules that apply to our city officials. Why are they more lax than private corporations and the military? Third, questioning good judgement is not an assumption of wrongdoing; I hope and expect our chief followed the policy and has the appropriate records; Fourth, everyone here has expressed interest in an audit. Instead of lambasting each other how can we insure an audit occurs? In this regard I understand that special districts are required to have yearly audits and also that the auditor must be changed every five years. Do these rules apply to our Kensington police deptartment special district? (cf. http://www.halfwaytoconcord.com/44-of-county-special-districts-violate-audit-rules/ ) Often expense questions are raised. I trust and assume Chief Harman will provide appropriate responses to these questions. Please do not lambaste the people who raise these questions. We are all trying to act in Kensington's best interests. Thanks, Greg Collis Thanks, Greg Collis
R. W. Lloyd October 13, 2012 at 01:14 AM
On Thursday October 12 at the KPPCSD Board meeting Chief Greg Harman often maligned police chief of Kensington by board candidate Cathie Kosel and current director read into the record letters from the District Attorney data 10/11/2012 clearing him of all alleged charges by Kosel and citing her for unprofessional and unethical behavior including mis-use of her authority as a service district director. Kosel now stands accused of harrassment of district employee and for making false accusations against a police officer. The chief received a standing ovation from the very supportive crowd. Audio and visual details of the discussion can be viewed on the KPPCSD website.
Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D. November 04, 2012 at 11:36 PM
As some who have written here rely on the Outlook for their information I believe some might regard the below as relevant: This is the Joel Koosed, the Outlook editor, (better named the “Overlooked”) the propaganda organ of the Kensington Clique, of which Vida Dorroh is a prominent member, and where they give "truth" a bad name. I appreciate how discriminating your services are Mr. Koosed. His photo is on the web site. Joel Koosed “ Founded San Francisco Roommate Referral Service, Avenue Ballroom, Kicks Magazine, and The Meeting Game® Salon. Editor: Kensington Outlook ” Interested in new Meetup Groups about Drummer, dating, Dating and Relationships, Make New Friends, from all Walks of Life, The Over 40 Gang, Speed Dating, Meeting New People, Dating Women, Divorced, Widowed, Never Married, Singles, Single Professionals looking to Meet other Singles, Professional Singles, Single Parents, Hiking, Social Networking, Writers, Artists & Musicians, Creative Circle, creating a creative community, East Bay International Creative Community, East Bay Creative Community, Dinner Party, Singers & Songwriters, Performing Musicians, Dance, Drum Circle, Drumming, Recreational Drumming, Open Relationships, Polyamory, Alternative Lifestyles, Socializing with other Singles over 50., Show less... Albany, CA Sept 2012 http://www.meetup.com/members/6449445/
Leonard Schwartzburd, Ph.D. November 05, 2012 at 12:02 AM
They did ask for them about 18 months ago and the team of Lloyd and Lipscomb, with Toombs aiding and abetting have stone walled it and so far it has not been done. That is misfeasance, From Wickpedia "...misfeasance and nonfeasance are most often used with reference to the conduct of municipal authorities with reference to the discharge of their statutory obligations; and it is an established rule that an action lies in favour of persons injured by misfeasance, i.e. by negligence in discharge of the duty; but that in the case of nonfeasance the remedy is not by action but by indictment or mandamus or by the particular procedure prescribed by the statutes. This rule is fully established in the case of failure to repair public highways; but in other cases the courts are astute to find evidence of carelessness in the discharge of public duties and on that basis to award damages to individuals who have suffered thereby." All of Kensington has and is suffering from the misfeasance of the Toombs Board Majority.
Cathie Kosel December 14, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Poor Tony. The letter was from Harman's own attorney Mike Rains. He wrote what Harman hired him to write. The letter was not from the District Attorney. And it was all scurrilous lies. Why do you tolerate incompetence where public safety is concerned? Your fraudulent resume that you presented to the voters in 2010 is more accurate that Rains' letter.


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