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Timing of Killeen document shredding 'brazen'

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On Nov. 7, 2016, the city opened bids from prospective auditors.

On Nov. 17, 2016, some Killeen managers had a refresher course in records management.

On Nov. 18 and 19, 2016, some Killeen managers authorized destruction of boxes of city documents — 74 of them from the Finance Department alone.

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74 documents shredded

A city destruction log from November 2016 documenting 74 boxes of city documents eliminated.

The shredding, routine in some years, was significant in November because the city was in the middle of choosing firms for an audit of its financial records going back to 2005, and many destroyed records could have been evidence that helped the financial investigation. See the timeline: http://bit.ly/2u8qpyT

First Amendment Attorney Joseph Larsen said it was “astounding” that the city department heads would proceed with document shredding.

Documents should not be destroyed when an audit has been initiated, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, which sets the rules:

“A local government record whose retention period has expired may not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, public information request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated; its destruction shall not occur until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it.”

Any common sense interpretation of the term “initiate” would show the audit was initiated when the request for bidders was published, Larsen said.

On Oct. 9, the Killeen City Council advertised the request for bids. On Nov. 4, 2016, the bids were due and on Nov. 7, a council committee began scoring the 11 bidding firms. A committee that included three council members evaluated the bids and presented the findings to the council Nov. 15, 2016.

“So, was this audit initiated? Well, it sure looks like it to me,” said Larsen, a board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

“To me it’s kind of brazen, to tell you the truth, to go ahead and shred documents,” Larsen said.

“They were obviously aware of all of these problems, aware that questions had been raised and aware that the documents they were destroying could be the subject of an audit.”

Council members had discussed the audit starting in August and the subject was frequently covered in Herald news reports.

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Killeen audit firm

Marlon Williams, left, and Odysseus Lanier, of Houston-based McConnell & Jones, present to the city its case at City Hall in November 2016, about why it should be hired.

Mayor Jose Segarra previously said the council gave direction to seek auditing firms with a request for qualifications at a workshop Sept. 20, 2016, when council members agreed the time frame should go back no further than 2006.

Attorney Bill Aleshire of Austin described the shredding as an “improper cover-up.”

“Since City personnel were aware, at the latest on October 9, 2016, that an audit was going to be conducted, I don’t know of any other words to use than ‘improper cover-up’ to describe them shredding the audit (potential) evidence after they knew the audit was coming,” Aleshire said in an emailed response to Herald questions.

Aleshire, who focuses on government transparency and accountability, had represented former city Finance Director Barbara Gonzales in her lawsuit against the city.

“That conduct does not show they learned much from the prior controversy and whistle-blower lawsuit (by Barbara Gonzales) and should worry taxpayers about how the city is going to be managed,” Aleshire said.

Gonzales lost her suit but her file is insightful because she collected copies of city documents showing controversial financial decisions made by some city managers and department heads and described their responses to her objections. See these stories for more: http://bit.ly/2sIJj3f and http://bit.ly/2waaTE7

City Attorney Kathryn Davis had sent the Gonzales case discovery documents to the shredder. That was in April 2016, some 10 days after then-City Manager Glenn Morrison suddenly retired amid questions about the city’s financial condition. Gonzales, as part of her lawsuit, had collected city documents showing her concerns about financial decisions made by Davis and Morrison.

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Kathryn Davis

Killeen City Attorney Kathryn Davis discusses the investigative audit of city finances during a council workshop in October 2016.

All Killeen department heads are trained in records retention and take refresher courses biannually in sessions taught by the state’s governing agency, said Hilary Shine, Killeen’s executive director of public information. Staff members trained include department heads, division heads, city managers and support staff.

DOCUMENT DESTRUCTION

The Killeen City Council approved the investigation of city finances March 14 of this year, voting to hire Houston-based public accounting firm McConnell & Jones. The vote, which came about four months after bids were reviewed, was delayed by resistance to an audit by some council members, discussions about keeping the scope of the audit manageable and the selection of a new city manager and city auditor. See the story about resistance: http://bit.ly/2uwdZRV

On May 2, auditors told the council they had trouble finding older documents. It is not clear if the auditors’ challenge was because documents were destroyed or because the city doesn’t keep a master list of stored documents and has documents stored in several locations. See story about document problems: http://bit.ly/2u9bZhS

The Herald received retention logs from the city showing the department heads’ authorizations for document destruction. Department heads authorizing destruction in November 2016 included Davis, Information Technology Director Tom Moore and Community Development Director Leslie Hinkle.

The signature on the Finance Department destruction log for Nov. 18, 2016, appears to be that of Karen Evans. Shine said Evans is the assistant finance director and was either acting in Finance Director Jonathan Locke’s absence or as his designee.

The finance department authorized shredding of documents in 13 categories. A note said 67 boxes were sent to the Killeen Arts and Activities Center site and seven boxes to the Skylark Field site.

The Finance Department destruction log included city credit card documents in 2010 and 2011, journal entries and budget amendments from 2010, the 2005-2006 budget worksheet, 2010 bank statements and reconciliations. The city credit procurement cards, or P-cards, have been the subject of investigation. A city auditor’s April 12, 2016, report found that one employee misused his city credit card 15 times between January 2008 and April 2014. See the P-card story at http://bit.ly/2vhTDA7

Among destroyed city attorney’s office files authorized by Davis were Gonzales’ personnel hearing board exhibits and miscellaneous notes regarding Gonzales. The review board had recommended Gonzales’ reinstatement after Morrison, whose financial decisions Gonzales had criticized, fired her.

Morrison overruled the review board recommendation.

Two of the entries typed on Davis’ log were listed as convenience copies. Also, a handwritten note at the bottom said all documents on the log were convenience copies. It didn’t specify whether originals had been retained.

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Kathryn Davis document destruction log

A log of destroyed documents authorized by City Attorney Kathryn Davis shows what was purged in November 2016.

The police department log for Nov. 18, 2016, authorizes shredding a variety of documents from 2001 to 2013, including the following grants: tobacco, bulletproof vests, speed STEP and JAG.

Two public accounting firms that audited Killeen’s finances had identified major violations in the way the city handled some federal grant money, such as its 2014 Community Oriented Policing Grant. For more, see the story at http://bit.ly/2sIZCxf

RESPONSIBILITIES

Each department handles its own records, Shine said.

“The department head is the responsible party, but may have assistance with records handling. The city secretary is in charge of the document retention logs, but department heads are in charge of the documents in their departments,” Shine said in an emailed response to Herald questions.

At the time of the shredding, former Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin was interim city manager, and Ann Farris, who had been over the Finance Department for three years, was deputy city manager.

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Dennis Baldwin

Dennis Baldwin

Farris had been interim city manager before Baldwin, when the audit was discussed and approved by the council.

Attorney Larsen wondered if any city managers had raised objections to the shreddings or if they had been ordered to shred.

Shine said no one was ordered to shred.

“I am not aware of any objections raised,” Shine said.

On March 31 of this year, City Manager Ron Olson, who joined the city in February, ordered the city to halt shredding of city documents to preserve potential evidence while the firm investigates.

Baldwin did not respond to an email Friday asking why documents were shredded in November 2016, as steps were being taken on the audit.


HALT DOCUMENT DESTRUCTION

“A local government record whose retention period has expired may not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, public information request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated; its destruction shall not occur until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it.”

Source: Local Schedule GR - Retention Schedule for Records Common to All Local Governments

From the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

http://bit.ly/2tN3rxC


COMMISSION'S AUTHORITY

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is given the authority to develop and provide records retention schedules to local governments under Government Code 441.158, said Craig Kelso, director of State and Local Records Management Program at the commission. Further interactions with the commission are governed by the Local Government Records Act which is Local Government Code Chapters 201-205.

- Craig Kelso, director of State and Local Records Management Program at the commission

Sec. 441.158. LOCAL GOVERNMENT RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULES. (a) The director and librarian, under the direction of the commission, shall prepare and distribute free of charge to records management officers of affected local governments the records retention schedules for each type of local government, including a schedule for records common to all types of local government. The commission shall adopt the schedules by rule.

(b) Each records retention schedule must:

(1) list the various types of records of the applicable local government;

(2) state the retention period prescribed by a federal or state law, rule of court, or regulation for records for which a period is prescribed; and

(3) prescribe retention periods for all other records, which periods have the same effect as if prescribed by law after the records retention schedule is adopted as a rule of the commission.

(c) In preparing the records retention schedules, the director and librarian shall consult with custodians and other local government officials whose records are affected by the schedules and with appropriate state agencies.

(d) Repealed by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 983, Sec. 26(7), eff. September 1, 2009.

(e) After the adoption of a records retention schedule, a retention period for a record prescribed in a new or amended federal or state law, rule of court, or regulation that differs from that in a records retention schedule prevails over that in the schedule.

(f) Expired.


SHREDDED NOV. 18, 2016


Authorized by: Police Department, Handwritten signature authorizes shredding

Destroyed: A variety of documents from 2001 to 2013, including the following grants: tobacco, bullet proof vests, speed step and JAG.

Authorized by: Deputy City Manager Ann Farris

Destroyed: KEEPR policy drafts from 2013, the year Farris joined the city.

Authorized by: City Attorney’s Office, no specific person authorizing

Destroyed: Open records responses and payment receipts, July 2010 to April 2014.

Authorized by: City Attorney Kathryn Davis

Destroyed:

– City and Army leases and TCAA meeting agendas shredded were listed as convenience copies when they were logged in. A handwritten note says all documents were convenience copies.

– Barbara Gonzales personnel hearing board exhibits, 2012

– Barbara Gonzales misc notes, copies of employment records, 2011

– Barbara Gonzales, random extra docs, misc notes, 2012

– Folder of BG random copies, newspaper articles, 2012-2014

– A-Drive computer disks: Agreements, memorandums, Disks 1-29, 2000-2003

– Airport security plan, 2007, was handwritten at the bottom of the Nov. 18, 2016, log without a corresponding shred date.

City Secretary Diana Barker, who is in charge of city records retention, shredded her own.

Destroyed: Voting machine documentation, provisional ballot envelopes, unofficial tabulation reports from May 2014

Voting machine documentation, unofficial tabulation reports, provisional ballot envelope and other documents from May 2015

Note: Her log also contained documents destroyed earlier in 2016.


SHREDDED NOV. 19, 2016


Authorized by: Community Development Director Leslie Hinkle

Destroyed:

– Log of eight pages included FY 2006 Program amendments/CAPER/HUD grant agreements/action plan from Oct. 5, 2006

– Financial files, drawdowns and purchase orders from Oct. 1, 2008

– Federal cash transaction reports, drawdowns and contract/subcontracts from Oct. 1, 2007

(4) comments

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
@centexdave: I have already tried contacting the authorities; Wrote to Texas Attorney General, the FBI, and the Texas Rangers. It would be nice if I had some backing coming out of Killeen. Why don't some of you give it your best shot.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

centexdave

Maybe time for a real audit - call in the FBI and be prepared to bid adios to more than a few of the city government as they head off to prison.

Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Copy: 'On Nov. 17, 2016, some Killeen managers had a refresher course in records management.
Continuation of copy: 'On Nov. 18 and 19, 2016, some Killeen managers authorized destruction of boxes of city documents — 74 of them from the Finance Department alone.'
Continuation of copy: 'A city destruction log from November 2016 documenting 74 boxes of city documents eliminated.
End of copy.

And so it goes in the land of OZ that the city can, and will, not be bothered by a simple act of 'destruction of city documentation' realizing that the act, so broad in nature, will only result in a 'slap of the hand' and nothing else.
Copy: 'The shredding, routine in some years, was significant in November because the city was in the middle of choosing firms for an audit of its financial records going back to 2005, and many destroyed records could have been evidence that helped the financial investigation. See the timeline: http://bit.ly/2u8qpyT'
Continuation of copy: 'First Amendment Attorney Joseph Larsen said it was “astounding” that the city department heads would proceed with document shredding.
Documents should not be destroyed when an audit has been initiated, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, which sets the rules:'
Continuation of copy: “A local government record whose retention period has expired may not be destroyed if any litigation, claim, negotiation, audit, public information request, administrative review, or other action involving the record is initiated; its destruction shall not occur until the completion of the action and the resolution of all issues that arise from it.”
Continuation of copy: 'Any common sense interpretation of the term “initiate” would show the audit was initiated when the request for bidders was published, Larsen said.' End of copy.
There you have it, once the contract was signed, the word went out 'to shred any and all documentation as per request'.
Copy: 'City Attorney Kathryn Davis had sent the Gonzales case discovery documents to the shredder. That was in April 2016, some 10 days after then-City Manager Glenn Morrison suddenly retired amid questions about the city’s financial condition. Gonzales, as part of her lawsuit, had collected city documents showing her concerns about financial decisions made by Davis and Morrison.
Continuation of copy: 'Killeen City Attorney Kathryn Davis discusses the investigative audit of city finances during a council workshop in October 2016.'
Continuation of copy: 'All Killeen department heads are trained in records retention and take refresher courses biannually in sessions taught by the state’s governing agency, said Hilary Shine, Killeen’s executive director of public information. Staff members trained include department heads, division heads, city managers and support staff.' End of copy.
But something that I don't understand is 'why if they had shred all pertinent documentation, why the delay of ending the drama except for 'just wanting to drag out
the whole process until the city became tired of wanting the information and just wanted an end to it all. The high state of drama into which this city has become embroiled, for years.
Copy: 'The signature on the Finance Department destruction log for Nov. 18, 2016, appears to be that of Karen Evans. Shine said Evans is the assistant finance director and was either acting in Finance Director Jonathan Locke’s absence or as his designee.'
Continuation of copy: 'A log of destroyed documents authorized by City Attorney Kathryn Davis shows what was purged in November 2016.'
Continuation of copy: 'The police department log for Nov. 18, 2016, authorizes shredding a variety of documents from 2001 to 2013, including the following grants: tobacco, bulletproof vests, speed STEP and JAG.'
Continuation of copy: 'At the time of the shredding, former Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin was interim city manager, and Ann Farris, who had been over the Finance Department for three years, was deputy city manager.
Continuation of copy: 'Farris had been interim city manager before Baldwin, when the audit was discussed and approved by the council.' End of copy.
So there you have it in a nice little tight bundle, Dennis Baldwin, former Chief of Police and interim city manager, finance director, Karen Evans 'standing in for finance director Jonathan Locke, City Attorney, Kathryn Davis, and Ann Farris'.
Copy: 'Baldwin did not respond to an email Friday asking why documents were shredded in November 2016, as steps were being taken on the audit.' End of copy'
I wonder why???? Lets face it, as I've said many times in the past, 'With friends like these of the city government, you don't need any enemy's'.
This has been the personal opinion of this writer and nothing shall be used, in context or without or changed in any way without first notifying, and receiving explicit approval from this writer.
One of the 4.58 % who voted.

maddogg69

Looks likes someone has something to cover up. It is also something the DNC member would do. Oh wait hillary did the same thing with 30.000 emails and untold numbers of i phones and i pads. Criminals all think alike

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