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.

Cathy Garza July 15, 2011 at 02:22 PM
What do the KPSD bylaws/covenants state per diem or per meal are? Do such guidelines/rules even exist? If they don't exist, it behooves Board members Kosel and Metcalf to propose such limits. I want representatives that think constructively. Ms Kosel and Ms Metcalf do not.
Phillip Mehas July 15, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Don't allow the Directors to whitewash transparency in government. Audit the entire amount and see what results, responsibility or deceit?
ellen mills July 15, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Thanks you, Kosel and Metcalf, for noticing and bringing up these issues.
Chuck Toombs July 15, 2011 at 10:08 PM
I fully believe in transparency in government and am fully prepared to submit this issue to a formal audit to see what was spent, what was reimbursed and to take appropriate action as necessary if there is actionable misconduct. However I am not prepared to engage in a witch hunt where two directors come in and waive around documents that no one else has seen before hand and attempt to claim malfeasance on the part of anyone when no one other than them has looked over the documents or investigated the circumstances they allege. That simply destroys any notion of fundamental fairness and due process and smacks of McCarthyism at its flagrant worst. Chuck Toombs, Board President
Ms. Davis July 16, 2011 at 03:02 AM
I don't believe these accusations against Chief Harman. Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf have been harrasing Chief Harman since Ms. Kosel got sworn in into the Board. I think it is time to have Ms. Kosel investagated for harrasment. Show me the proof before you start accusing a person of wrong doing. Waving a piece of paper around does not show proof. I would like to see actual receipts from the credit card companies and not the amount Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf have made up. Besides hasn't Ms. Kosel been proven a liar over and over again. So why should we belive her. Chief Harman has proven himself to the Kensington community and we support him, we need to give him a chance to clear his name that Ms. Kosel has tarnished. i guess it's ture what they say "misery loves company".
Cathie Kosel July 16, 2011 at 04:26 AM
What is really quite extraordinary is that as a director on the governing board, I was denied access to the credit card statements until I made a request under the Freedom of Information Act and the Public Records Act. At that time, I made the request in public at a board meeting so all directors knew I was interested in them. Toombs received a copy of the transmittal letter to me. As president of an oversight board you would think he would show some interest in reviewing the statements. He did not. Now he claims he never had access to them. If Mari and I had them, what excuse does he have for not doing his job? He thwarted my effort to meet with the KPPCSD CPA though I offered to pay the hourly fee personally. He refused to have the CPA come to a board meeting so that all directors could ask questions, and then last night he attempted to prevent Metcalf and I from asking legitimate questions regarding the spending of taxpayer money for junkets, $200 meals, alcohol, family airline tickets, and so much more. His excuses now are nothing short of pathetic. When the credit card statements are posted to the internet taxpayers can draw their own conclusions. Metcalf and I made no accusations. We simply asked the questions that the voters hired us to do and it seems that people who heard the answers concluded wrong doing. Once people see the source material, let's see if they have some of the same questions we have....the questions that Toombs squelched for 3 months.
Robin M. Blind July 16, 2011 at 03:53 PM
I am not acquainted with any of the people named in this story but I DO echo Cathy Garza's suggestion that IF written expense guidelines do not exist...they are sorely needed...and references to them should be the ONLY bases for claims, by members of the board, that a municipal employee has abused his position. Locks keep honest people honest and written guidelines promote fair dealing and transparency. This meeting sounds like it descended into a proverbial 'p***ing contest'. Not fair to the chief...not fair to the taxpayers...and leaving Mr. Toombs in a 'no win' position.
Robin M. Blind July 16, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Yes, Sir, Mr. Jones! You are asking precisely the right question. The huge company for which I work has a system whereby the authorizer is held responsible for each expense he or she approves. Authorizers have even lost their jobs for not paying attention to out-of-guideline expenses on a subordinate's account. Over certain amounts, two authorizer signatures may be required. Another thing that catches me about this Kensington story is the fact that some of the expenses at issue are four years old? Huh?
Christopher Deppe July 16, 2011 at 04:53 PM
While I was not at the meeting it seems completely appropriate for the board members who have oversight of the police department to be able to ask questions regarding the credit card charges. It also seems strange that it would take so much effort to get a copy of the charges. I think the best solution to all of this is full transparency and cooperation.
Mr. Jones July 16, 2011 at 04:56 PM
In most organizations all credit card charges need approval before they are paid. If the board was in the dark about these expenses, who was the authority that signed off on these charges?
Paul D July 16, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Pull all city/staff credit cards. Any non-purchase order expenses to be paid by city/staff out of pocket. Reimburse only with on the record approval from the board in public session case-by-case. Believe it or not, there was a time on earth before credit cards and things still got done. Problem solved.
Barbara Dilts July 19, 2011 at 06:14 PM
I was at the meeting reported in the article. Now, as a taxpayer in Kensington, I'm MUCH more interested in how my tax dollars are spent than I had been before attending. Perhaps a number of new policies are needed now that weren't needed in previous years, particularly one with regard to what seems like an unauthorized, interest-free loan for personal expenses of an employee. This seems like more than merely a personnel matter and one that the Board and the public should be very interested in resolving. The Board may also wish to look into other areas that may need additional policies. Directors Metcalf and Kosel should really be commended for at least increasing the interest of citizens in the governance of the community. Thank you.
Jeff Koehler July 20, 2011 at 05:19 AM
Ms. Davis, if you are a Kensingtonian, then you need to behave as though you belong. First off, the article clearly states that no accusations were made -- only questions about the expenses themselves. Second, don't say anything online about someone that you wouldn't say to someone's face. We can disagree on issues without resorting to insults. If you have a case to make, then make it. Throwing out terms like 'liar' and 'nutjob' only makes YOU look bad (never mind the spelling). Also, how about a full name? Or are you unwilling to back up your statement with a real identity? Cathie Kosel and Mari Metcalf are REAL Kensingtonians who care about their community. There is no 'witch hunt' here -- they are there to ask questions as representatives of the community, the members of which, by the way, just got a nice tax increase in order to pay for next year's budget. One would hope that somebody would be asking questions of the Chief/City Manager other than "how much more money would you like?" To everyone else who supports this kind of balanced government, one with members who are free to ask questions without the fear of retaliation -- or having the issues swept under the rug to be discussed in 'closed sessions', never to be addressed again -- PLEASE COME TO THE MEETINGS. GET INVOLVED. For every one of you who doesn't make your voice heard, Ms. Davis' voice gets just a bit louder. Chilling, isn't it? Sleep tight!
Ms. Davis July 20, 2011 at 02:18 PM
What happened to freedom of speech and expression??
Ms. Davis July 20, 2011 at 02:43 PM
First my names is Ms. Davis, second I’ve seen what Ms. kosel can do to people. I remember hearing and reading an article in the Kensington outlook where Ms. Kosel's friend said some pretty insulting things Mrs. Harman on NNO that was initiated by Ms. Kosel. I do tell the truth and if you were at the meeting you'd know that Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf were accusing Chief Harman even though they were saying "we're just asking questions". there's a time and place for everything and just because things are done in closed door session doesn't mean it's being swept under the rug. There are policies and procedures to follow when it comes to board members and clearly Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf do not know them, it took board vice president Linda to put a stop to the violations they were doing. Example when Ms. Kosel mentioned the name of the officer that is being investigated She CLEARLY violated policies and procedures AGAIN!!! It’s time for everyone to know what kind of persons Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf are. Read the Kensington outlook and see for yourself go to the meeting and see how it’s done how Ms. Kosel attacks the public calling them “bullies” and tells them “take your medicine”! we do live in a country where freedom of speech is our right and I’m exercising that right. I’ve seen a lot from Ms. Kosel and that’s how I come to my conclusions. she’s not interested in anything but “witch hunt”. She’ on her blackberry the whole meeting.
Jeff Koehler July 20, 2011 at 04:43 PM
Ms. Davis, if you really aren't hiding behind a pseudonym, how about you show up at the next meeting, look Cathie Kosel and Mari Metcalf in the eye, and identify yourself as the person who has been referring to them as 'nutjobs' in a public forum. Stand by your words. Freedom of speech isn't about getting to say whatever you want, whenever you want. That's a child's mentality. You want to make your community a better place, then start by treating people with the respect they deserve. Carry yourself as though you deserved the same respect.
Charles Burress (Editor) July 20, 2011 at 08:51 PM
A note to readers: We at Patch are staunch defenders of the First Amendment and free speech, and we welcome healthy debate and constructive criticism on our web site. Yet, at the same time, one of the conditions that users agree to when registering on Patch and posting comments is to abide by our Terms of Use (http://elcerrito.patch.com/terms), which call for respect toward others and avoidance of defamatory or abusive language. We rarely remove comments, but we reserve the right to do so when they do not conform with the Terms of Use.
Greg Collis July 25, 2011 at 01:48 AM
I am a long-term Kensington home owner. First, it appears data has surfaced that causes me to question our police chief's good judgement about legitimate financial expenditures. How can we force an audit around these expenditures? In the corporate world the line between public and private expenses are clear. I have had an employee of mine fired from Bank of America for using the corporate credit card for private purposes one time. Why would our police chief think that private use of a public credit card is appropriate? I do not want my money misspent. As I understand it, several years ago at least one policeman took home neighborhood investment funds to his home neighborhood. Is police malfeasance more broad based than I first imagined? Second, some of our elected officials and others in our community seem to have taken aim against the two people who uncovered this data. I applaud Mari Metcalf and Cathie Kosel for their proactive efforts on behalf of the citizens of Kensington. The two members of the gang of 3 who are protesting Metcalf and Kosel's actions would scare me- except that their critism is transparent and self-serving. The tactic to smear Metcalf and Kosel seem reminiscent of the old legal adage- if the opposing side has a bad case- attack the case. If the other side has a good case attack the the opposing counsel. I for one applaud the efforts of Metcalf and Kosel.
Ms. Davis July 26, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Last time I checked, in the USA you’re innocent till proven guilty. But it doesn’t look like it is in this case. Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf are Sure of themselves that Chief Harman is guilty. Kosel and Metcalf failed to mention that Chief Harman has said that he has reimbursed the district and he welcomes a full audit to clear his name. Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf forgot to mention that there are other people in that department that use the credit card for training and buying supplies for the department. They made Chief Harman look like he went out and used the credit card for his own enjoyment. Sad day for all of you who believe that Chief Harman did something wrong or illegal. Sad day for all of you who are lead like sheep by the wolves before reading and waiting for the real facts to come out. Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf are on a smear campaign against Chief Harman but when the truth, THE REAL TRUTH, comes out it will show what kind of women they are.
Jeff Koehler July 26, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Ms. Davis, my offer to you still stands: come to the next meeting and stand behind your insults and misrepresentations. Otherwise, nobody will know what kind of woman YOU are --- you'll just be some anonymous poster hiding behind a pseudonym, debasing yourself and this process alike. Meanwhile, those such as Mari Metcalf and Cathie Kosel, people who volunteer their time to help their community, continue to fight to have very simple questions answered -- a fight which, from the looks of things here, has a lot of support from other clear-headed Kensington residents.
Diana August 04, 2011 at 03:42 AM
I agree with Ms. Davis. I believe Chief Harman is a great asset to our community, he is a great Chief. I also would like to add seems to me that "someone" wanst to remove Chief Harman to get his job. Ms. Kosel and Ms. Metcalf needs to show proof and get to to work, that way you can to prove what you are saying.
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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