City of Modesto refuses to comply with Public Records request

City of Modesto refuses to comply with Public Records request – censors documents requested by Back Story News

It is tough to know where to start.  We have completed a thorough review of documents surrounding the recent HUD/CDBG scandal at the city of Modesto.  We use the word “thorough” loosely as so many innocuous paragraphs and entire pages are blacked out for no reason (other than secrecy).   What is revealing is that the City of Modesto inadvertently released two versions of the same document.  One was redacted and one was censored.  See below:

 

Documents reviewed
We did a public records request of documents relating to the HUD/CDBG issues between 1/21/17 and 5/31/2018.    One document we were able to gather from the council packet regarding the overspending crisis (pacific management groups 1/23/18).   Unfortunately the majority of the docs are similarly entirely blacked out.   The one document from HUD is public record and is uncensored.  A synopsis of what HUD found was:

What are CDBG HUD Funds?

  • The City of Modesto, CA, receives annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) entitlement allocation funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • HUD awards grants to Modesto to carry out a wide range of community development activities directed toward revitalizing neighborhoods, economic development, and providing improved community facilities and services.
    • provide benefit to low- and moderate-income persons,
    • aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or
    • meet a need having a particular urgency
  • The City received the following CDBG program funds for its fiscal years 2015 and 2016
  • 2015: July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016
    • $1,848,449
  • 2016: July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017
    • 1,871,328
  • Total CDBG funds
    • 3,719,777

City of Modesto’s HUD audit.

  • HUD audited the City of Modesto’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
  • They selected the City based on a hotline complaint
  • The objective of the audit was to determine whether the City used CDBG funds in accordance with HUD requirements, focusing on its rehabilitation activities.

What HUD Found

  • The City did not use CDBG funds in accordance with HUD requirements. Specifically, it
    • (1) did not follow HUD’s and its own requirements for its rental and homeowner rehabilitation projects,
    • (2) drew CDBG funds in advance,
    • (3) provided false information to HUD,
    • (4) spent HUD funds inefficiently,
    • (5) misclassified some delivery costs, and
    • (6) Did not include all recipients in its monitoring plan.
  • These conditions occurred because of
    • the City’s desire to show HUD that it was close to meeting timeliness requirements,
    • its disregard for HUD’s and its own requirements,
    • its lack of sufficient knowledge and capacity, and the failure of its policies and procedures to ensure that it monitored all of its recipients of CDBG funds
  • As a result, the City was unable to support that its use of more than $1.6 million in CDBG funds met HUD requirements, and it improperly used $257,737 for duplicate costs.

What and who is involved in trying to fixed Modesto’s broken system.   See below

Documents reviewed
We did a public records request of documents relating to the HUD/CDBG issues between 1/21/17 and 5/31/2018.    A few observations:

Multiple companies, same billing consultant – Bob Dies:

  • Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai
  • Pacific Management Group
  • Renne Sakai

Unable to find the contract or agreement or even a financial arraignment between the City and Pacific Management group – it should have been in the council packet.

With all these financial auditors and purchasing consultants, the City should soon be operating in correct, acceptable procedures.    What we will never know is what is behind the endless blocked out pages (violation of the spirit of true redaction procedures.)