Maybe it’s me but clearly I need a therapist . Bare with me for a moment as I try to comprehend as to why District 2 Councilman Alex Padilla felt the need to chastise me as I asked “where did a $63 million dollar budget reserve come from” referenced in today’s mid-year 2020-2021 budget presentation.
I mean, you would think that’s a fairly logical question that warranted a legitimate answer, taking into consideration former employee Barbara Ohno said they were cooking the books, and treasurer Wanda Brown also raised questions about the city’s financial stability too.
In October 2020, Daily Breeze writer Jason Henry penned an article regarding the infighting between Brown and Butts. Butts alleged she was basically spreading untruths about the finances but Butts himself appears to be caught in a lie.
Butts told Henry the city had $57 million in the reserves, in the article dated October 4, 2020, however, the mid-year budget states the city had $63 million in the reserves on September 30, 2020. That’s a HUGE change in FOUR days, especially considering there was ZERO mention of the reserve balance when the council approved the 2020-2021 budget last September. In fact, it wasn’t mentioned this February when they reported first quarter numbers either.
How is the Finance Department off by $6 million? We haven’t heard from our high paid CFO David Esparza in over a year, City Manager Artie Fields hasn’t given a report in just as long, and residents are confused as to why this number continues to mysteriously fluctuate.
When I called into today’s council meeting, to ask how we gained so much, I was laughed at and basically told by Councilman Alex Padilla I should be thanking them for a job well done.
The Daily Breeze pointed out we have been in a deficit for the last five budget cycles. We have a current budget shortfall of nearly $9 million, have had to apply for a line of credit, and only saved $1.5 million in spending.
The logical conclusion is Ohno and Brown were correct in their assessment.
What’s more troubling is Budget Manager Keauonna Buckhanon failed to mention how they miscalculated $6 million dollars.
I remember our treasurer discussing a multi-million dollar error she caught coming out of the Public Works department.
It’s no secret Padilla is quietly trying to position himself as the mayor’s replacement, should Butts be indicted, forced to step down, have another heart attack, or face a rumored third sexual harassment claim.
When a politician dictates how I should act or feel it triggers me to think two things: did I ask the right question, and should I be asking more questions?
Councilman Padilla, Ms. Buckhanon, and Mr. Fields, I kindly ask again, “where did the $63 million dollars come from”?