Controversial L.A. Better Business Bureau chief rescinds resignation

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The head of the Better Business Bureau’s Southern California Chapter, William Mitchell, is attempting to revoke the resignation he tendered in December, while under scrutiny of the national organization for alleged misconduct within the agency. At the time, he said he was resigning for health reasons.

Can we really trust someone who resigns, then quickly un-resigns, for vague reasons?

Now he vows to fight charges that he was responsible for the scandal that exposed how businesses were being given higher ratings if they became dues-paying members of the organization. Mitchell had been credited in the past for devising the letter-grade rating system, which has since been dropped by the organization.

In November, an ABC News investigative team signed up phony businesses for membership in the Southern California BBB, and immediately received A grades. The investigation also looked at businesses that were not members and had very few unresolved complaints, and found that they were given much lower ratings.

Mitchell was also heavily criticized for the salary paid to him annually by the non-profit. According to its 2008 tax filing, Mitchell was paid $409,490 that year. His salary was far more than any local heads of the BBB, and greater than the organization’s national president.

“When I tendered my resignation last month, mainly due to my health, I hoped it would clear the path to better relations between the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Los Angeles BBB,” Mitchell wrote in his e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “However, the Council used my resignation as an opportunity to try to put their own people in place of our Board of Directors and to insert their designee as CEO. If this were to happen, Council would effectively control the LABBB and our considerable assets.”

Mitchell says that the National Council of the Better Business Bureaus wants to take over control of the local agency by inserting their own people as board members.

“Rest assured that we will pull out all stops to defend ourselves against Council’s unlawful overtures,” he said in the memo.

In an interview with the Times on Tuesday, Mitchell said that if he were to leave, there would be no one left to defend the local bureau from the national organization. He did not say what that might entail, or why the local office might have to defend itself.

Mitchell also addressed the salary issue, and said his reported salary had been inflated by vacation pay and bonuses, and that his actual base salary was only $340,000.

Los Angeles Times

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