The business scandal involving Arnold police chief Robert Shockey has hit the front page of the Post-Dispatch, courtesy of capable JeffCo beat reporter Leah Thorsen. In the article, we get to read the priceless reactions of city officials. Here’s Shockey himself (emphasis mine):
Shockey defended the work he did for the city, saying he saved taxpayers money by often not taking a profit on items he sold the city and by using his wholesale contacts.
He also said city officials frequently approached him to make purchases and that he didn’t know it wasn’t allowed.
“It’s not like it’s hidden,” Shockey said. “They all know I own these companies. I have for years.”
So, here you have the top law enforcement officer in the city of Arnold pleading ignorance of the law. Would that excuse fly if an Arnold cop pulled me over for speeding? Hell no. Further, Shockey is pleading “everyone else knew about it and was in on it.” My mom wouldn’t accept these excuses when I was a kid. Will the city council accept them, and let this 8-year scandal slide? It depends who gets elected on April 8, I dare say.
From September 2006 through February of this year, the city spent just shy of $20,000 at B & C Retailing. Roughly $8,000 was spent at Fran Ann, Richison said.
I would take this number as a minimum, not as an definite total. Does this include the times purchases from Shockey’s businesses are listed in the general warrants as “card services” or the times there was a 3rd-party vendor in between the city and Shockey? Only a thorough investigation can answer this (and no, not one conducted by Kevin Garrison).
Richison said it appears most council members didn’t know the city prohibits such a business relationship with an employee, and said that most knew of Shockey’s connection to the companies.
“I know some people are trying to act like it was a conspiracy. It was lax procedures, but it was not a secret,” Richison said.
Come on, Bryan, don’t be naive. You seem like a good guy, and I know you’re new here, but seriously. This is Arnold, a crony paradise. Nobody raised an eyebrow over this arrangement? Anyone with the slightest sense of ethics knows that it is improper for a government employee to use his position for profit. I know Arnold is lacking in ethics, but still. This has all the hallmarks of a “wink-wink” arrangement to help a buddy. This is why the regime fights to hard and breaks so many rules to stay in power; for the benefit of its members (e.g. Bob Sweeney’s huge legal bills). Speaking of Sweeney, did he ever weigh in on this arrangement? I look forward to his advice at the next council meeting on this.
“I think that’s good stewardship of the taxpayers’ money,” Shockey said. “It’s about getting the best deal for the city.”
He also donated plaques and gifts for city workers, he said.
Richison said he couldn’t comment on whether Shockey had been formally disciplined because it was a personnel matter; Shockey, who has been police chief since 2001, said he had not been disciplined.
Uh-huh. Shockey’s not another small-town corrupt official, he’s a taxpayer hero. I don’t know about the city, but he sure got the best deal for himself.
Richison said the matter came to light about six weeks ago when a resident in Councilwoman Mary Elizabeth Coleman’s district told her of Shockey’s ties to the businesses.
Before council members vote to pay bills, they see the name of the business, the amount to be paid and the purpose of the purchase, Coleman said Friday.
“We don’t see who the owner of the business is,” she said.
She alerted city officials, who began looking into the allegations.
Good for Coleman, although Doris Borgelt says she has brought it up before and was ignored (which would suggest the city has known this arrangement was wrong for at least a year). Could this be Coleman’s epiphany moment? Just like former council members Cricky Lang and Sandra Kownacki, and current councilman Ken Moss, used to support the regime before turning against it after their eyes were opened, has Coleman looked under the hood and seen what a mess Arnold is? We shall see.
Breaking the Law
We know that Shockey’s actions violate a city ordinance, but do they also violate state law? Section 105.454 seems relevant:
105.454. No elected or appointed official or employee of the state or any political subdivision thereof, serving in an executive or administrative capacity, shall:
(1) Perform any service for any agency of the state, or for any political subdivision thereof in which he or she is an officer or employee or over which he or she has supervisory power for receipt or payment of any compensation, other than of the compensation provided for the performance of his or her official duties, in excess of five hundred dollars per transaction or five thousand dollars per annum, except on transactions made pursuant to an award on a contract let or sale made after public notice and competitive bidding, provided that the bid or offer is the lowest received;
(2) Sell, rent or lease any property to any agency of the state, or to any political subdivision thereof in which he or she is an officer or employee or over which he or she has supervisory power and received consideration therefor in excess of five hundred dollars per transaction or five thousand dollars per year, unless the transaction is made pursuant to an award on a contract let or sale made after public notice and in the case of property other than real property, competitive bidding, provided that the bid or offer accepted is the lowest received;
What message does it send to the citizens, criminals, and defense attorneys of Arnold that the Chief is ignorant of and in violation of the law? This is why Shockey needs to be fired.
Tie to Boone Payout?
A look at the general warrants I have that detail payments to Shockey’s B & C Retailing shows a number of the purchases are related to recreation and tourism, areas that fall under the Parks and Recreation department, headed by Susie Boone. Who was it that pushed so hard for Boone to get a settlement from the city? Bob Shockey. A quid pro quo, perhaps?
Position of Power
Twitter user Ben Declue made a good point. He asked if any of these purchases took place while Shockey was city administrator, “and probably chief purchasing officer for the city.” Shockey was acting city administrator from about June 2012 to August 2013. Well, indeed they did. Here’s one from March 2013 (page 6). During this time, Shockey had ultimate power to get the city to buy from his companies. I’m not sure if that makes it all more illegal, though.
Will There Be Punishment?
As I showed you above, Shockey has yet to be punished for this. Apart from potential state/federal prosecution, will Shockey be reprimanded, or will the council pass this off as a simple misunderstanding, an honest mistake? I think that depends on the April 8 election. Paul Freese and Nancy Crisler will surely support Shockey, and we have every reason to believe Gary Plunk and Brian McArthur will, unless they tell us otherwise, since they are firmly within Mayor Ron Counts’ camp (as evidenced by his donations to them). However, Doris Borgelt and Bob Hohmeier have publicly denounced this conduct, and I feel that Moss and Rodney Mullins will not let it go unpunished. So do with that what you will, Arnold voters.