Politician Spends Excessively!

Katy Grimes: Alert the media! A Sacramento politician spent record amounts of money while a county supervisor.

And now, that county supervisor is in the State Assembly.

An exposé done by the Sacramento Bee over the weekend is only two years late; this information might have been helpful for voters in November 2010, when they were trying to decide whether or not to elect Roger Dickinson, a Democrat, to the 9th Assembly district.

“In his last 30 months as a Sacramento County supervisor, Roger Dickinson spent almost $70,000 in county funds on expenses – nearly as much as the county’s other four supervisors combined” the Bee reported.

“Dickinson, now a state assemblyman, went on 16 taxpayer-funded trips, bought almost $4,000 worth of furniture and paid about $30,000 to a consultant for work on a youth violence committee, records show.”

I knew what he was. I complained loudly about his behavior when I  wrote a weekly column for the Sacramento Union. My stories focused on what he had been doing as county supervisor.

Sports Arena Part l

“Mr. Dickinson most recently made a name for himself with his flaccid handling of the proposed Sacramento Sports Arena” I wrote in September 2007. Despite Sacramento Voters soundly defeating initiatives Measures Q and R which would have raised taxes and spent the money on a sports arena, Dickinson continued to push like crazy to build an arena.

The back room deal was put together by Dickinson, and Senator Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. They hurried Measures Q and R onto the ballot, leaving voters only a few days to vote on the measures which were missing crucial information. Dickinson continued withholding the information until two courts overruled him. But the measures failed anyway.

Steinberg and Dickinson also tried to get the measures passed by 50 percent simple majority vote instead of the two-thirds vote required for tax measures. Already strapped by county taxes, taxpayers smelled a rat and told arena supporters to pay for their own sports complex.

The Sacramento Grand Jury slammed City and County Sacramento officials in a scathing report about public officials’ attempts in Sacramento to build a sports facility with public money, and asked “Have the City and County deceived their citizens regarding their dealings with the Kings?”  They wrote, “Sacramento County breached the good faith of honest and open communications by placing Measures Q and R on the ballot asserting a deal which did not exist.”

Library Board

Dickinson was Chairman of the Sacramento Library Board of Directors when $800,000 was stolen by three employees in an over-billing and kickback scheme. In 2008, the Sacramento Grand Jury investigated and found gross mismanagement and financial conflicts of interest within the Sacramento Public Library Authority. The Grand Jury skewered the library’s board, of which Dickinson was chairman, for not overseeing the management, as well as the library’s finances.

But the real eye-opener was that despite the Grand Jury findings of gross mismanagement, even after the library director and two library officials were charged with felonies in the billing scandal, Dickinson stubbornly stood by the library director, Anne Marie Gold, after the Grand Jury recommended that she step down. After the scandal, Gold opened up her own library consulting firm and was hired by County Supervisors as a consultant to a county-led joint powers agency.

Grand Jury Get-Even

In what many have said is a vindictive move, Dickinson  proposed and passed  a bill last year that will neuter the very effective California’s Grand Jury system, which expose and prosecute government corruption, and root out waste and abuses of power by elected officials, boards and commissions. It is highly questionable how government officials can alter the Grand Jury process, when they are often the subjects of the investigations.

“Underhanded, sneaky behavior should not be rewarded with higher office,” I wrote in 2007. And I received a great deal of feedback from angry Sacramento residents about Dickinson’s arrogant behavior. Had they only know the extent of it, we might not be calling him “Assemblyman.”

FEB. 13, 2012

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