Blowing the Whistle

Selections from correspondence

Walls
Walls

Beginning in May 2008, service-center manager Daniel Lomas began reporting problems in Fleet operations to his supervisors and officials at City Hall. Below is a selection of e-mail and memorandum correspondence, from and to Lomas, regarding his concerns.

May 30, 2008

Daniel Lomas to Jennifer Walls, Fleet Services (deputy Fleet officer)
Re: Police Car Spare Tires

Yesterday I met with Urcha [Dunbar-Crespo, acting deputy Fleet officer], Irvin [Schmidt, Fleet operations manager], and Bill [Janousek] about the spare tire [standard operating procedures] (credits, etc.), during the meeting the Police car spare tires came up, Bill said he sent an undocumented amount to [service center 5] to be used on the police cars, I don't understand why he would let these tires go out with out even an account of them. ... I don't think it is a good idea to just send them over there without some type of tracking, I'm afraid we would only be asking for trouble. ...

June 3, 2008

Daniel Lomas to Jennifer Walls
Re: Tires

I have been thinking about the tire situation I spoke to you about yesterday and I think that at this point, we would be better off letting the Integrity Department handle it from here. ... I am afraid that if too many people start asking questions about the process, Bill might catch on and delay any further activities. ...

Aug. 1, 2008

Daniel Lomas to Jennifer Walls and Irvin Schmidt
Re: Spare Tires

During this week's managers meeting, Bill Janousek said, he had issued 30 spare tires ... to [service center 5], from the 2008 Crown Victoria's, after reviewing M4's records there has been no record of that transaction. ...

Aug. 21, 2008

Daniel Lomas to Jennifer Walls
CC: Gerry Calk, Fleet Services officer
Re: Daily Duties
Calk
Calk

[...] As for the tire investigation, my concerns were that not enough was being done, as you recall I first brought my concerns to you in May and since then there has been other tires disappearing and I have been implicated in their disappearance, while you continue to tell me you have not had a chance to do an inventory in order to verify the problem. When I said it appeared we (the City) were trying to sweep something under the rug, that was a response to you telling me that the tires were missing and that there was not any way you could bring them back and we just needed to make some procedures to avoid having it happen again. ...

Sept. 12, 2008

Daniel Lomas to Irvin Schmidt, Jennifer Walls, Gerry Calk
CC: Urcha Dunbar-Crespo
Re: FSOP 408A Spare Tire Process

Ran into this [standard operation procedure] on handling the spare tires taken from the new Police Cars, looks like we already had a written policy that was not followed.

March 12, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Susan Wynne (assistant city auditor, manager of fraud investigations)
Re: Tire Issue

I have not heard anything about the tire issues I reported last May and the abuse appears to be continuing. ... I am talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars that are not being accounted for and as we found out with the other tires nobody is being held accountable. The issues I am referring to can be easily audited and verified. ...

May 6, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott, city manager
Re: Unethical behavior

I wish I did not have to write this e-mail, however during an ethics training class yesterday, I was told that I could be held responsible if I give up and quit reporting illegal acts observed within the City. Mr. Ott you are my last resort, I have documented many acts of unethical behaviors and have submitted them to my Manager, Deputy Officer's, Fleet Officer, and the City Audit Department. It's been over a year since I first submitted my first report and I have not been informed of any resolve. ... When I [hear] you plea for the City to join together and conserve our resources, it makes me think that you are not aware of the abuse being allowed and the thousands of tax payers dollars that are not being accounted for. ...

May 6, 2009

Marc Ott to Daniel Lomas
CC: Chief Financial Officer Leslie Browder, Ott's executive secretary Rose Marie Martinez
Re: Tire Issue

My, my it sounds like we have some very serious issues in fleet. Other fleet employees have expressed various concerns as well.

Browder
Browder

I will look into the issues you have raised.

May 11, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Tire Issue

[Lomas provides a lengthy "list of the reported abuse along with [his] complaints of retaliation," from February 2008 to December 2008]

June 3, 2009

Marc Ott to Daniel Lomas
Re: Tire Issue

[...] I have a member of my management team, Jeff Knodel, looking into the issues you have communicated.

July 14, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Harassment, Retaliation, and Corruption Rebuttal

I regret having to write this rebuttal, however I have been left with no other option. ... [Lomas describes meeting with managers from Fleet and Human Resources, who he says criticized his conduct and did not acknowledge his charges of corruption.] ... Upper management sent a clear message, which not only were they not interested in putting a stop to the wrong doing, but that they fully supported the perpetrators. ...

July 14, 2009

Marc Ott to Daniel Lomas
CC: City Attorney David Smith, Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald, Leslie Browder
Re: Fleet Issues

Ok Mr. Lomas I will take a more direct look into your concerns. I am very disturbed by what you have described. ...

Smith
Smith

David, please see me re the attached. I am very concerned about the allegations described below.

July 23, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Fleet Issues

Since we last communicated the harassment has increased and has become even more blatant. I understand that some investigations take time, but I have to ask you if there is anything you can do to stop the harassment. ...

Aug. 2, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Fleet Issues

[Lomas recounts more information about Victor Almaguer, Vic's Tire Service, and Bill Janousek, alleging corrupt and unethical practices in the scrap tire program] Mr. Ott, I first reported over one year ago to Jennifer Walls, Urcha Dunbar-Crespo, and Irvin Schmidt, my concerns about the services we were receiving from Vic's Tire Service. ... In the close out meeting with Emilie Hall, Sharon Huckabee, Carla Scales, and Randy Moore from [human resources] and Urcha Dunbar-Crespo from Fleet, I was informed of their determination of no wrong doing in any of their investigations. As I have stressed before, it has been clear to me that there have not been any efforts to unveil the truth about the corruption that has taken place at Fleet. ...

Aug. 2, 2009

Marc Ott to Daniel Lomas
CC: David Smith
Re: Fleet Issues

I have received many complaints about Fleet lately and I'm very very concerned.

I assure you that we are going to get to the bottom of it. If what you're saying is true those responsible will be held accountable.

Aug. 24, 2009

Gerry Calk to Daniel Lomas
Re: Written Reprimand
Ott
Ott

The purpose of this Written Reprimand is to bring to your attention your recent behavior that is unprofessional and inappropriate. ... [Reprimands Lomas for "confrontational and unprofessional" behavior toward Bill Janousek at a May 7, 2009, evaluation team meeting, during which Lomas alleges Janousek attempted to disqualify the winning bidder in favor of Vic's Tire Service.]

Aug. 26, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Harassment Issues

I have attached a letter of reprimand I was given from Gerry Calk and Sharon Huckabee. ...

Previously, I have made you aware of the fact that Bill Janousek has been involved in illegal activities that include; fraud, theft, purchasing violations, along with other ethics violations. I have also made Gerry Calk, Jennifer Walls, Urcha Dunbar-Crespo, Irvin Schmidt, Kathie Harrison, Susan Wynne, and David Smith aware of the corruption.

This letter of reprimand demonstrates to me that the City of Austin is not interested in resolving the issues within Fleet, but acts to intimidate, harass and eventually get rid of those [who] expose them. ...

Aug. 26, 2009

Marc Ott to Daniel Lomas
CC: David Smith, APD Chief Art Acevedo, Austin Human Resources Director Mark Washington, Leslie Browder, Jeff Knodel
Re: Harassment Issues

Daniel, I appreciate the update and the additional information. I assure you that these matters are being investigated in the most serious way. ...

Aug. 26, 2009

Daniel Lomas to Marc Ott
Re: Harassment Issues

[...] Keep in mind that I first brought these tire issues to Jennifer Walls and Urcha Dunbar-Crespo in May of 2008, so it's been over a year since I first reported the wrong doing, and Bill Janousek continues with his illegal [activities] as recent as two weeks ago. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help resolve this matter.

The Chronicle published Jordan Smith's first story about the scrap tire program on Dec. 4, 2009; on Dec. 8, CFO Browder made a report to City Council:

Dec. 8, 2009

Leslie Browder to mayor and City Council
Re: Disposal of Scrap Tires

[...] During the process of researching and compiling the records to respond to the Austin Chronicle's requests for information, management at Fleet Services became aware that there was a breakdown in the recordkeeping process used to track tire disposals. ...

  • More of the Story

  • Kicking the Tires at Fleet

    City whistle-blower confirms that the trouble at Fleet Services has been much worse than scrap tires and bad record-keeping. And nobody in charge wanted to hear it.

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READ MORE
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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Fleet Services, Marc Ott, Leslie Browder, Daniel Lomas, Victor Almaguer, Bill Janousek

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