December 3, 2009By Brooke Edwards
Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • Councilman Ryan McEachron has called for a “forensic audit” of the city’s finances, investigating its books “to make sure that nothing was done wrong and that there were no criminal or fraudulent acts.”

In particular, McEachron asked during Tuesday’s council meeting for a third party to take a closer look at the city’s payroll and accounts payable records, plus all contracts the city has been involved in.

“There are a lot of people in the community that feel that the council in the past has been doing things that were criminal or that we’re crooked,” McEachron said Wednesday. “I have no concrete evidence that any of that has taken place,” he said, and he’s hopeful the process will vindicate the council and show there were no improper dealings.

“But if there was,” he continued, “at least it will be discovered and it will be put out there and there will be no more hiding of what went on.”

McEachron said he’s been continually frustrated since taking office a year ago with how the city’s financial position has halted his ability to move forward on campaign promises to build the Nisqualli interchange or to add 50 deputies to city streets. Even worse, he said, that position has forced them to layoff dozens of employees, with the potential for more cuts in the future.

“And a lot of it stems from things done without council knowledge or approval, or things not formally approved at council level,” McEachron said. “We continue to find contracts that have been entered into outside the approval limits of city staff, and money’s being spent that were never approved by council.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Rothschild denied that charge — or any hint of illegal dealings — during Tuesday’s meeting.

“If there’s anything been secret it’s because there’s contracts or deals that were being worked on and the final solutions would have been detrimental to that project,” he said. “…I can tell you right now as I’m sitting here right now there is not one single contract or agreement or thing that we have done that has not been approved by this council collectively.”

Still, though he admitted to not knowing exactly what a forensic audit was, Rothschild said he’d be fine with doing one if it helps clear up the public’s perception of the city.

But don’t expect the results to come in anytime soon. The idea of doing a forensic audit will have to come back to council for approval, spokeswoman Yvonne Hester said. If they vote to do so, staff will go out for bid for a firm to perform the audit and then come back to council to approve the expenditure before the actual investigation can even begin.