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Ironhouse Sanitary District May Have Overpaid Directors

In reviewing the time sheets submitted by Directors Doug Hardcastle, Michael Painter and David Contreras, the Ironhouse Sanitary District may have overpaid some of its Directors and certainly reimbursements to the ratepayers may be required while resignations may be in order.

According to Section 3.3 of the Bylaws, each member of the Board of Directors may receive compensation in an amount not to exceed $170 per day for each day’s attendance at meetings of the Board or for each day’s service rendered as a Director at request of the board, not exceeding a total of six days in any calendar month, together with any expenses incident thereto.

Either Directors Hardcastle or Painter do not know how to fill out a time card properly or they are pulling a fast one over on the ratepayers by charging multiple meetings for the same day and getting paid as they left off dates or simply list the month.

In reviewing the time sheets, had you or I been submitting them to our boss in the fashion Ironhouse has accepted them one of two things would have occurred.  First, a correction would have been requested immediately before payment. Or, you would be fired after the second or third time you made the same error.

Here is a couple of samples I pulled from the nearly 300+ pages of time sheets (all PDF’s are below).

First up is Doug Hardcastle who is running to be your next Oakley City Councilman.

Here is a sample of Hardcastle’s August 2012 time card. Under the date 8/14 – he has listed City Council Meeting. Underneath it, he has no date but it says Check Signings. This likely occurred on the same day as the City Council meeting which would make it ineligible for payment. Meaning he should pay back the $170 for the check signing.

A month earlier, Hardcastle did the same thing where he had a date, with two more listed below it without dates–again, I assume these three events occurred on the same day. Hardcastle should have to pay back $340 from July 2012.

Throughout his time cards, he simply list the month of an Oakley City Council meeting and not the date (I know what you are thinking, why is he getting paid to attend a City Council meeting). He should be including the date–therefore, should forfeit that pay as well or issue corrections.

You can review all of Mr. Hardcastles time cards by opening the PDF at the very bottom.

Moving on, we now have Michael Painter who is up for re-election where the same thing occurred. Under a check signing, its date is left blank so its unclear if this occurred on the same day as a budget workshop or if occurred on a different day–that $170 should be reimbursed to Ironhouse and the ratepayers.

In December of 2011, same thing as there is no date or verification unless you go back and look at the dates of when the checks were signed.

In November of 2011, you have three items that may have accrued on the same day. This would require $340 be paid back to the ratepayers.

Again, in July 2011, another $340 that may need to be paid back to the ratepayers.

In reviewing Director Contreras, I found no errors and none of the meeting dates charged to the District occurred on the same day. Kudos to him for being able to fill out a time card properly.

While $170 or $340 here and there may not seem like much, it adds up pretty quickly when you have five directors and its over a period of service in some cases dating back further than 2000.

Keep in mind, I only pulled time sheets from three directors. I’ve not seen Directors David Huerta or Chris Lauritzen.

While I am sure Ironhouse will respond with a financial error or lack of oversight, this is pretty unacceptable for a District to make payments without much quality assurance. It’s our money and the  ratepayers deserve better. We also deserve to have directors who will not take advantage of us just because few people are checking their time sheets from the pubic.

In any other organization, had this error been found out, people would be fired.  Knock yourself out and see just what these three Directors are charging you over the years, some of it will simply make you want to shake your head.

PDF’s of Director Time Cards

Request 1 D hardcastle time sheets

Request 1 M painter time sheets

Request 1 D contreras time sheets

Below is a sample of just how these Special Districts operate as a Director even admits to scheduling meetings on different days. Why? You guessed it, to be able to charge it to the ratepayers and the District for their “time”.

Santa Clara Valley Water District

NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit exposes a water district board member charging to serve on volunteer boards that appear unrelated to district issues.

Santa Clara Valley Water District Director Richard Santos wears a lot of hats.

He’s a board member of several organizations in the South Bay community. Many of them are on a volunteer basis.

However, the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovered that Santos has found a way to get paid by taxpayers for this service by billing the water district for activities related to other boards.

We found he charged Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) $6474.08 in less than two years to attend meetings and events for three other organizations, which appears to violate district policy.

Full article

Here is the video link

East Palo Alto Sanitary Board

Board directors were in “criminal jeopardy due to the illegal overpayment of public funds,” Scherzer said, which is why he pushed to find out how much had been overpaid and rectify the error as soon as possible. According to a memo given to the directors last month, the current board had been overpaid a total of $4,518.

Here is a response of a Director at their meeting:

Director Savage questioned the amount of overpayments shown for her; she advised that she has been adamant about not having two meetings in one day and would reschedule a Committee meeting if it were to be on the same day as a Regular Board Meeting. She asked that staff look at the blue forms that were filled out by the Directors.


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16 Responses »

  1. Normally I’d say you are full of it Burke, but with the time sheets being provided, Some serious questions needed to be asked of Tom Williams and his staff. Having skimmed over the time sheets, some money should be paid back and ratepayers should be pissed off at this type of activity and how long it has been allowed to go on for. This is unacceptable for any government entitiy to act this way. Nice work on this one.

  2. So basically what is happening is Directors on purpose schedule meetings on different days so they can get a full days $170 instead of having say 2 or 3 total meetings on 1 day? Why does Ironhouse not track the time at each meeting? Could 15-minutes of work result in $170? I would hope not

  3. This makes me sick to my stomach. As a manager, its ones responsibility to dot the I’s and cross the T’s. These directors did not fill out proper time sheets and getting paid for dates that are blank is insanity. I hope you folks in Oakley and Bethel get upset pretty quickly!

  4. Why anyone would vote for Doug Hardcastle for City Council after seeing those time sheets is scary! Mike Painter should never be elected to Ironhouse again! Where is Aaron Meadows and Doug Scheer in fighting for the rate payer?

  5. HELLO CONTRA COSTA TIMES AND BRENTWOOD PRESS!!!!!! What Burk just did was do your job! This is the types of things you are supposed to write about!

  6. I am no fan of yours and truly dislike this site and what you have said on it at times, but you are onto something here. This is an abuse to the ratepayers and the time sheets prove it. It does not matter if they make a correction or pay back the money, the damage to the rate payer has been done. I would hope people do speak out against this issue like they did the Oakley City Manager issue, this may be worse because money did exchange hands.

  7. So for a two minute job of signing my name to a check, i can get paid $170?????? Something is seriously wrong with this and needs to be corrected ASAP.

  8. $170 to sign a check is the greatest job in the world! Isn’t that part of the job duty of the President of the Board? Instead, its as if its an added benefit. Mr. Hardcastle and Mr. Painter need to repay that back ASAP and correct this misuse of public funds!

  9. This is a great effort by Mr. Burkholder. As I have commented earlier, this topic goes to the motivation of these local politicians. I’ve spoken with some who feel that they “deserve” all the perks they can get because they are putting in so much time and effort. They feel “entitled”. They also point to other examples where others take as much or more as a sort of skewed justification for their own actions. As far as I’m concerned, those politicians should be identified and removed from this “public service”.
    These ISD directors may have bigger problems as there may be other deficiencies on their part regarding these stipend claims, including the chance that some of the meetings may not be valid for stipends at all. This is not just a matter of the ISD Bylaws, but Government Code that also discusses criminal and civil penalties.
    Ultimately the District Attorney as well as the community decide to what degree these directors were incompetent, greedy and clever, or actually and willfully violated the law. The District Attorney’s job is very difficult not just because intent can be hard to determine, but also because of the number of local officials who stretch the rules in their favor (that’s putting in nicely!).
    The good news for these ISD directors is that even in the Discovery Bay illegal stipend episode, the District Attorney has not yet seen fit to bring charges against those who violated the law and ultimately were forced to return ratepayer funds to the district. This despite specific advice and warnings from the DB-CSD’s own attorney warning of the legal requirements and penalties for violating them. The flagrant violations in the face of these warnings is strong evidence that their actions were indeed informed and willful. However, it was shown that the largest recipient of illegal stipends in Discovery Bay was County Supervisor Mary Piepho’s husband and it remains to be seen if the ISD has similar “friends” in high places.
    Here’s hoping that Mr. Burkholder is successful in shining more light on these issues. Violating the public trust is indeed serious. I know that the public at large doesn’t appreciate finding the hands of petty local officials in the cookie jar. The problem as I see it is an “entitlement mentality” that some of these people have, and the belief that they have a right to whatever they can get away with.
    Even some of the supposedly legal perks are outlandish. Why, for instance, should our county supervisor claim and receive $550+ monthly car allowance AND claim and receive mileage reimbursement at more than 58 cents per mile? Anyone else get that sort of deal from their employer? Unless we taxpayers are your employer I doubt it.
    Mr. Burkholder, please go on the record and commit to forgo stipends, mileage reimbursement and any other perks from ISD if you are elected. Show the community that you are in it for the right reasons – and not just raising this issue to attack the current board to help get yourself elected.

    • Don,

      While I understand your beef with Piepho, that’s cool man, but you also need to acknowledge he cut a check while the legal team credited the district for their own error.

      As for going on record, that statement is coming depending on how tonight’s meeting goes. I will tell you this, I will refuse medical, dental, vision even if its enticing, its not the appropriate thing to do! I’ve stated that in the past. Some of this Mickey Mouse meetings should be abandoned from any future claims on time sheets.

      • Mike,

        Like you, I have a beef with so called public servants who abuse their position and the system for their own benefit.

        Mary Piepho claiming $550 per month car allowance PLUS $.58 per mile is abusive just as her husband illegally taking over $6k in stipends is abusive.

        And yes, I clearly acknowledged that Piepho paid back over $6k in illegally claimed stipends, but only AFTER he was caught, and even then only after many closed sessions.

        Is a bank robber any less guilty of a crime if he returns the money only after he is caught?

        And despite the legal and moral obligation, he failed to pay back interest or reimburse the district for the cost of the investigation.

        The “legal team” did not accept responsibility for acts of the directors who received the illegal stipends. But even if the attorney did make such an admission to exonerate his client, would you not question it’s veracity? Unless the attorney was self-reporting his incompetence to the State Bar Association it would seem a bit self-serving to protect a client he wants to retain.

        Yes, I have a beef with people like Piepho.

      • @ Don,

        I understand your concerns, but i think you are comparing apples to oranges. Public servants are hired such as police and fire. Elected officials are elected by voters. You are also getting off topic because I am pointing out ISD clearly has an abuse going on that they know about and are not willing to fix it. Out in Discovery Bay, the error was brought forward and corrected immediately. While you may not agree with the punishment, the error was corrected. Ironhouse knows about the errors and is choosing not to correct it.

        Mary Piepho is given the car allowance and mileage as part of her employment package–it’s not a benefit nor a perk as you claim. This mileage is no different than an ISD director who travels to a conference or on board business. There is also four other directors who get nearly an identical package.

        As for David taking the funds, that was due to his service on the Board. The error was spotted and he paid it back before any formal investigation took place. Did the other board members? You need to look at the law where it states that interest and jail time “COULD” be imposed but is not mandatory. Clearly if he paid it back that was unneeded. You sound like you are out for blood rather than trying to correct an error.

        I checked with Discovery Bay, the fact you claim legal took no responsibility is a lie. Go pick up your public records request which has been sitting there for a while now. The accountability and credited hours will be shown. Law firms (or anyone for that matter) simply do not credit $12,000 for fun or to be nice!

        You can have a beef, but please talk with fact and not half truths. Your time may be better spent on more productive items like pointing out the Ironhouse fraud or other government abuses.

      • Mike,

        I should have been more clear. I’m specifically concerned with the elected/appointed officials who abuse the public trust. Sorry about that.

        However, I take exception with you claiming I lied when I said:
        “The “legal team” did not accept responsibility for acts of the directors who received the illegal stipends.”

        I stand by that statement and don’t know why you would say I lied when by claiming that “legal took no responsibility”. You are putting words in my mouth and then saying those words are lies. Sorry, that’s not fair. If someone did that to you, you may even accuse them of fibbing.

        I specifically said the “legal team” did not accept responsibility for the acts of the directors, which is true.

        But since you said I lied, please enlighten me. What specific acts of the directors did the legal team accept responsibility? Put aside the innuendo. Put aside the inferences. Provide the facts that support your accusation that I lied. Perhaps a written statement in which the legal team accepts responsibility for the directors breaking the law. I would like to see that! I’m sure you can get that from the CSD if it actually exists.

        The best you will come up with is a $12K credit over the following 12 months that the law firm provided in order to keep the business because they were embarrassed with the number of hours they billed for their handling of the issue/investigation. That does not refute my statement that “The “legal team” did not accept responsibility for acts of the directors who received the illegal stipends.”

        Your issues in ISD are egregious, but so is the fact that in Discovery Bay the officials were provided with written legal advice that they chose to ignore. Years later with the public called them on it a virtual duplication of the original advice was presented by the same lawyer illegal stipends were then returned. They didn’t bring this up on their own, the public brought it up and expressed outrage (much as you are doing now at ISD).

        But more importantly, I agree that the ISD issues need your attention and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I read your report on last night’s meeting and it is sickening to hear those directors protecting what they took from the ratepayers.

        On another note, I suggest you refrain from accusing people of lying or fibbing. There are many possibilities for your understanding of a situation to differ from your understanding of someone else’s statements. And there are also many possibilities for someone else’s statements to be incorrect without anyone fibbing. For instance, I don’t think you are fibbing about what I have said, I just think you are mistaken. I think you jump to conclusions too quickly with too little information and without enough effort to understand the cause of the disconnect. That is not something future director of the ISD should take lightly.

    • @ Don Flint,

      You are one bizarre individual.

      It’s no wonder that everyone I know in Disco Bay is embarrassed by your transparent activities and attacks on the many individuals that have bested you.

      Burk, don’t waste your time with this clown.

  10. If Burke is so smart, he would have contacted the State Attorney Generals Office or the Contra Costa County District Attorney and filed a complaint. The truth is he has no case here because I am sure Ironhouse verified the timesheets before payment.

    Nice ploy Burke in blowing smoke. No one listens to you anyway and people who complain about the papers, if there was an issue it would have come out long ago. Vote for anyone but Burke for Ironhouse.

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