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Posted on: September 1, 2017

City of Del Mar Releases Public Records from Investigations

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September 1, 2017

City of Del Mar Releases Public Records from Investigation

Leading to Removal of Community Service Director for Mismanagement

DEL MAR – The City of Del Mar today released redacted public records from the third-party investigation that led to the termination of the community services director last week. The released documents reveal improper fee waivers for the Powerhouse and Del Mar parks, unpermitted events, abuse of overtime, use of a city credit card for personal purchases, improperly contracting with a part-time City employee, and related misuse of public funds.

As reported in the news release announcing the findings and the actions, the independent Investigator was retained because of the seriousness of the complaints filed by department employees. She interviewed 20 employees and reviewed thousands of pages of records. The final report covered three years of allegations and consists of 206 pages, with 205 supporting exhibits totaling 1,731 pages. The investigator substantiated ten of the ten allegations against the director and 9 of 11 allegations against another employee in the Community Services Department. Based on the findings, the city terminated the director and a part-time employee cited in the report and began termination proceedings against another employee.

“The community has been asking for more details from the report, but parts are confidential,” said Terry Sinnott, Mayor. “There are issues of employee privacy, confidentiality and potential ongoing legal action. The City Attorney reviewed the report and exhibits to ensure open communications while protecting the individuals involved. Following this legal review, the City has posted public records on our website.

The public records include permits, invoices, credit card charges, contractor invoices, time cards, overtime requests and approved expense reports.

Councilmember Ellie Haviland and Mayor Sinnott serve on the Human Resources subcommittee of the City Council.  Councilmember Haviland said the employees being terminated were extensively interviewed about the documents being considered in the investigation. During interviews, they were given the opportunity to respond and provide information they felt was important to explain their actions for each document. The attorney for one of the employees followed up two days after the interview with additional explanations after further consulting with his client.

Councilmember Haviland said the legal team reviewed all 1,731 pages of exhibits and made only minimal redactions. These included citizens’ home addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses, the City’s account numbers and credit card numbers, documents that would disclose the identity of the complainants and information from personnel files which would constitute an invasion of privacy. The full-page redactions are primarily exhibits that contain disciplinary actions and confidential memorandums of past behavioral issues related to the employees under investigation, and documents that would disclose the identity of the complainants.

Additionally, the City has released a redacted copy of the impartial report, including exhibits, that was completed by a third-party investigator regarding a complaint filed against the City Manager.  “After thoroughly investigating the matter, the investigator determined that the claims made against the City Manager were unfounded.  The City Council stands behind the findings of this report, and will take no further action,” Haviland said.  

“The City made everything publicly available within the limits of the law and in the best interests of the City, employees and residents,” Haviland said. “This has been a challenging time for the City, and some very tough decisions were made.  The Council believes both investigations were handled with the utmost professionalism, and were done in a manner that was thorough and fair to all those involved.”

Investigation documents released by the City can be found on the City’s website at: 

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