On May 18, 2018, the Hawthorne City Councilmembers voted 4-0 to terminate the employment of their Finance Director Rickey Manbahal.
Manbahal received an “emergency loan” for $25,000 loan that wasn’t approved by the city council but instead by the City Manager.
Related: Hawthorne fires finance director after learning he obtained an undisclosed, $25,000 loan
After the firing of then City Manager Mike Goodson, Manbahal admitted he had lied to the council and public about the true state of the city’s finances.
On May 21, 2018, the Daily Breeze reported the city of Hawthorne were set to turn in findings, of their own investigation, to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review. That never happened.
District Attorney spokesperson Greg Risling confirmed to 2UrbanGirls that their office was never in receipt of any investigative findings concerning Manbahal.
Related: Hawthorne to send probe into finance director’s undisclosed $25,000 loan to the D.A.’s office
On May 30, 2018, Manbahal submitted his first repayment in the amount of $8,333, according to documents produced by the city of Hawthorne after we submitted a public records request on status of the loan. By October 2018, the full $25,000 was no longer outstanding.
During this time, Michael Antwine was serving as the Deputy City Controller/Budget Officer at the city of Compton.
Compton Mayor Aja Brown and former Hawthorne Mayor Chris Brown refer to each other as “brother and sister” on their respective social media pages. It wouldn’t be a stretch for Antwine to be aware of Hawthorne’s financial problems.
After leaving Compton in May 2015, Antwine spent two years working for two different employers, before settling in as Assistant City Manager for the City of Novato in September 2017.
According to Antwine’s LinkedIn page, he oversees various city departments including Human Resources.
In 2018, Manbahal was hired as a financial consultant to the city of Novato and earlier this month was made the Interim Finance Manager, despite his past with Hawthorne.
The Marin Independent Journal appears to have concerns about Manbahal’s appointment as well.
“We’ve got excellent city staff and a (Human Resources) Department that thoroughly vets all candidates for all city positions,” Lucan said. “I fully trust them with those hiring decisions. The only hiring decision that the council makes is that of a city manager.”Novato Mayor Eric Lucan
The city was well aware of Manbahal’s past after performing background checks and conducting interviews with former colleagues and I’m satisfied with the information the city received.City Manager Regan Candelario
Concerned Novato residents have reached out to 2UrbanGirls with their own concerns.
What caught our attention about our previous Finance Director quiting is he was conservative with our money. The Chamber of Commerce wants to spend disproportionate amounts of money Downtown although we are struggling to bring money into the city. Antwine and Manbahal have been plumping up our reserves, over 30%, by moving money from fund to fund. We have a projected deficit by the end of the year. Isn’t this the same Manbahal was doing in the city of Hawthorne?Concerned Citizens of Novato
It is exactly what Rickey Manbahal was doing, in the city of Hawthorne, and at the behest of its City Manager, possibly in exchange for money out of the public’s eye.