The investigation into a roughly $74,000 check that was issued to Jose Torres, the city’s former mayor, which presumably began some three months ago, will not be completed until mid-December, according to Charles Thomas, the city’s business administrator.
During Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, Thomas was asked to provide an update on the investigation, by Andre Sayegh, council president and 6th Ward councilman. “Sometimes in December I will have a full analysis report distributed,” said Thomas, who previously stated, back in September, that he would have a report prepared within two weeks, which came and passed in silence. “Report is going to be issued next month,” responded Thomas, when Sayegh attempted to extract an exact date.
A speaker at the meeting suggested that the delay in the investigation is a cynical election technique being employed by Jeffery Jones, the city’s mayor, to damage Torres’ chance at a 3rd run for the mayoralty in May 2014. “Jeff Jones believes by holding this investigation, and letting it out in a timely period, will assistant him in his election,” said Ernest Rucker, a city resident.
Thomas denied the accusation, saying, “This has no connection to any upcoming election.” Thomas stated that the delay in the investigation is due to the large number of papers and interviews that must be reviewed prior to the compilation of a full report. “There are a number of employees that requiring interviewing,” said Thomas. The business administrator said he had four interviews lined up tomorrow; he also stated that in order to do a thorough investigation, he has to reach out to individuals that once worked for the city but no longer.
The amount of $73,996 which was pocketed by Torres during the last week of his administration, was made public by his political foe Aslon Goow, former 2nd Ward councilman, who floated a document in a council meeting in August, evidencing his assertion that the former mayor stole from taxpayers.
Torres explained that the money was accrued to him over a period of 25 years working as a city employee; however, that explanation was put to doubt because a great deal of the years Torres worked for an agency and not the city. The council intended to complete the investigation into the check, however when employees of the administration were requested to come before the council, an email was dispatched from the mayor’s office making it clear, that no one would be coming before the council to testify; the council offered the administration two choices: do a report or the council will form a Committee of the Whole to get to the bottom of the matter; the administration accepted the report option.
Goow, Torres, and Jones have stated that each of them will make a run for the city’s top office next May. Thomas stated the investigation is being completed “way before the next municipal election.” Sayegh bargained with Thomas to have the report prepared for the council by the regular meeting that is to be held on December 17th, 2013.