Irwindale, California Officials Party on City Funds

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Charges have been filed against Irwindale officials in connection with lavish personal travel expenses paid by the city, ostensibly for attempting to get the city higher bond ratings. Councilman Mark Breceda, retired City Manager Steve Blancarte, finance director Abe De Dios and former Councilwoman Rosemary Ramirez are accused of travelling to New York and charging the city for Broadway shows, sporting events, limousine rides, five-star restaurants and luxury hotels.

The four are accused of misappropriating public funds for expensive activities that had nothing to do with city business, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. Officials spent $205,678 on five trips to New York between 2001 and 2005 according to records obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “Mostly they partied quite a bit,” said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Nipa Cook. “When it comes to public funds there has to be a public purpose…. It wasn’t a business dinner or business lunch.”

The information was revealed as part of a Times investigation of communities throughout the State of California who routinely ignored laws to build affordable housing, while squandering hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayers monies. Irwindale managed to build or rehabilitate only about 100 homes over eight years, but spent about $87 million in public housing funds over that period.

Los Angeles Times

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