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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Mantle Poses Tough Questions During Tuesday’s Mayoral Debate

Mantle Poses Tough Questions During Tuesday’s Mayoral Debate

by Pasadena Independent
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Photos by Terry Miller

Photos by Terry Miller

By Nick Kipley

On Tuesday, the 31st of March, a Mayoral Candidates debate held at Marshall Primary School saw responses from both Terry Tornek and Jacque Robinson that defended the City’s current model of government. These answers were very similar to ones originally issued from the dais by Tornek and Robinson during the Special Meeting of the City Council held on January 5th of this year.
When posed during Tuesday’s debate, the question was: “What does it say about Pasadena’s leadership when a city employee allegedly steals $6.4 million in funds right out from under the noses of city officials?” Ms. Robinson suspected—as she did on the 5th of January—that the sort of negligence that multi-million dollar embezzlement suggested meant that “City Council needs to play a greater role in the day-to-day of City Hall, recognizing that the City Manager is the administrator of the City.” What this means is that city employees must report to the City Manager, and the City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council.
“As Mayor,” she said, “I would ensure that I had a greater role in ensuring that we had the mechanisms in place across all departments, not just the finance department and public works department where this particular instance took place. … As Mayor I look forward to continuing to making sure that we have the necessary protocols in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.” These protocols included making sure that the City hired staff capable of detecting such wrongdoing so the problem could be caught earlier on and addressed if it were to be attempted again.
When posed the same question, Terry Tornek responded similarly to answers he gave the Independent earlier this year: “What we’ve suffered from is–what I think is–a lack of accountability in the city,” he began, “if people don’t follow the rules, if they don’t do their jobs properly—there haven’t been any real consequences.” Tornek then explained that the embezzlement boils down to a crook who found a particular wrinkle in the account in question and was able to exploit the system.

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What Torneck found most appalling, both in January and in the March debate, is how this one deceitful individual was able to slip past so many department heads, city managers and city council members. “We need to take a long hard look at our procedures, and our attitudes and make sure that we can assure the public that we are taking their money seriously and doing a good job with the scarce resources that we have.”
During the final April 7th Tuesday Mayoral Candidate Debate held at the Pasadena Convention Center, moderator Larry Mantle asked the candidates point blank, “So you think it’s not enough that the City Manager had people working down the line for him who missed something this major? Because we know that happened. That’s not enough to fire him? It would have to be something deeper and more systemic than that?”
Torneck responded much in the way he did when questioned for an article that the Independent ran mid-January on the subject, “No, I think it calls into question the whole leadership style and how he holds his executive leadership team responsible.”
Jacque Robinson said that it wouldn’t be enough to fire the City Manager over two instances that took place in the Finance and Public Works department. “The City Manager is responsible for the entire city,” she said, “I think we’re going to have to make that decision on a grand scope and not just discuss it in the singular.”
The rest of the debate touched on the Police Department audit, strengthening the local economy in a way that helps job seekers break into the trying employment market, the question of affordable housing, transportation, and the moratorium on mansionization in Lower Hastings Ranch.

JUMP/ Mayoral Debate Asks If Candidates Would Fire City Manager Beck

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