Just let Rebecca Polizzotto fade away into the sunset

Aug 02, 2018

Editor's note: Due to some editing errors, some of Chuck's column previously didn't read correctly. We have re-edited and, hopefully, fixed our mistakes.

After scores of exceedingly knowledgeable residents’ constant input and a well-documented state Auditor’s report, it is clear our City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto has some big-time explainin’ to do.

Answers should be provided by our elected officials, along with explanations from another group that has remained highly supportive of Rebecca, despite facts that contradict their constantly parroting that there was no fraud found. This group of not-so-objective observers apparently believe their superior city manager is being harassed by some disgruntled residents who only want to get rid of their Rebecca.

Yes, at this moment there has been no fraud proven in a court of law.  But there is the collection of major managing errors, which brought Rebecca front and center into the negative limelight.

First there is her long history of apparent abuse of power when dealing with her subordinates. She was often identified as a bully, and when Rebecca’s abusive management style was brought to our City Council’s attention, our council’s response was to give their bully, of all things, a unanimous, strongly-worded support letter!

Then there is her financial paper trail of abuses that were brought to our attention by the state Auditor.

Although it appears the state audit somewhat concluded there wasn’t any fraud, the audit did document that Rebecca inappropriately charged the city for a crab-cakes topping entrée, two cosmopolitan cocktails and a mouthwatering Crème Brulee.

Those above delights were in addition to her Ruth’s Chris Steak House ribeye main course dinner. Of concern to the state is that Polizzotto’s cuisine pampering was unlawfully paid for by the Mill Creek taxpayers.

Then it appears that soon after this dinner she had the room service butler bring her an order of s’mores cupcakes, ice cream and coffee.

The state documented our city manager had both the steakhouse and room service payment charged on her Mill Creek City’s credit card. Our state’s formal write-up specifically noted these purchases were not for a “public purpose.”

Any reasonable person would have to ask, “Was this feast put on the tab of our city so Rebecca could save some of her $173,825 yearly salary, or was this just a self-applied bonus? But no matter what the answer is, we taxpayers were responsible for her $158.14 bill!

What else is in the state Auditor’s schedule of Audit Findings and Responses?

The audit found the city “continued to have inadequate internal controls over monitoring credit card (u)sage, … Specifically, the City did not require detailed or itemized receipts,” nor was there any explanation of why the charges were for a “public purpose.”

The Auditor wanted the city to take heed of the fact that all city cards (Note: the city has 10 of them) had glaringly lacking detailed support, “with the highest dollar volume occurring on the card assigned to Polizzotto.

The State’s “… initial testing found 24 purchases that totaled $2,048 that did not have itemized receipts, with $992 of that total charged onto the city manager’s credit card.

Our city monies had to be used so the State could fund more resources to retrieve the vendors’ detailed accounting slips. When the State did find them, “Those records showed charges for alcohol and meals….”

Polizzotto charged her alcoholic drinks to the city. That is a clear violation of city policy and accepted behavior, which is that a person cannot charge the city for ANY inebriating drinks.

The State report also notes, “As a result of not effectively monitoring credit card charges, the city cannot demonstrate all expenditures were for a valid public purpose.“

As concerned residents we must ask ourselves, “Why are those gleeful supporters who are preaching there was no fraud just ending their story there?”

We the public should know that the state Auditor did give the city a “finding,” which in the auditing world means there was a “significant financial issue(s) found.”

Or to put it in layperson’s words, their finding came to “Holly crap! This is a big negative finding.”

In my 30 years serving the residents of Washington as a state probation and parole officer, I have investigated literally thousands of financial abuse cases. I cannot remember one of those offenders who didn’t tell me, “I gave the wrong credit card for my transaction,” or “I was just borrowing the money. I was going to pay the money back.”

Those being the common financial abusers' responses, I wonder what Rebecca Polizzotto would say?

Apparently, Rebecca does plan to reimburse the city for her personal charges, but in one case it took her almost two years to repay the cost of a dinner with a beer. And when she did, her motivation may have been over her illegal charges and not for the public good.

Darn right our city councilpersons must cut their losses and admit once again they blundered in the hiring of a city manager and let their abusive and grossly overpaid Rebecca Polizzotto just fade, fade away.

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