The Desert Community College District Board of Trustees will consider conducting comprehensive forensic audits

PALM DESERT — Concerns continue to exist and grow regarding expenditures of Desert Community College District money. To that end, the Desert Community College District Board of Trustees will consider on Friday, Dec. 16 whether to conduct comprehensive forensic audits.

Concerns center on the cost of developing campuses and facilities in Cathedral City, Coachella, Mecca/Thermal, Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

Concern exists with respect to who and what prompted the west valley campus in Palm Springs be paused, project management teams eliminated, immediate removal and termination of planning team members, and new facilities plans redirected when it was at approximately 60% schematic design, according to the draft resolution. In addition, the Roadrunner Motors project was canceled.

A forensic audit is an examination of an entity’s financial records to derive evidence which can be used in a court of law or legal proceeding.

Bonnie Stefan, Area 5 Trustee, requested the resolution be placed on the agenda, Nicholas Robles, public information officer for COD, told Uken Report.

This will be the first board meeting for Joel Kinnamon, who unseated incumbent Aurora Wilson in the Nov. 8 election to represent Area 4. The area includes the eastern side of Cathedral City, the western side of La Quinta, and most of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells.

Though it will be his first official meeting as a trustee, Kinnamon is no stranger to COD. He served as COD’s superintendent/president from July 2012 to March 31, 2021. He was sworn into office on Dec. 9 and got to work.

The proposed resolution also states that concerns have been expressed by constituents that have
requested public records that have to date not been provided and the city of Palm Springs has sued the District for planning documents, which has cast a shadow of secrecy on the District.

The Resolution is rich with claims, including:

  • that despite the substantial funds expended to modernize District Technology (IT) systems it remains vulnerable and inefficient.
  • that the District did not provide a consent waiver to the Palm Springs attorney allowing him to provide legal advice other than the North Palm Springs property given to the district for the purposes of developing an educational campus.

If the Community College District approves the resolution, a forensic auditor will be retained to report directly to the Board of Trustees through its subcommittee established for the purpose, to investigate each and every construction contract granted in the past 36 months by the District.

The goal is to determine whether the price was fair and just to the District, were there any conflicts of interest involved in granting the contracts and whether any public official benefits personally by virtue of the construction planned or implemented pursuant to such contracts. Also, were any of the projects not listed on the college’s Facilities Master Plan on file with the State Chancellor’s Office.

If approved, the subcommittee would be comprised of Trustees from Area 3 and Area 4. That would be Kinnamon and Fred E. Jandt.

If approved, the resolution requires that all departments and personnel of the District and any current or prior consultants, contractors, elected officials and employees are instructed to comply completely with the requests for information made by the forensic auditor and any who does not cooperate with the forensic auditor will be subject to discipline or any legal remedies available to the District.

The forensic auditor would be empowered to bring additional areas of inquiry to the attention of the subcommittee.

A Request for Proposal shall be completed and approved by the Board sub-committee, posted
by the District administration, and sent by the District administration to potential bidders approved by the Board sub-committee no later than Jan. 9, 2023. The subcommittee will be provided all proposals and an auditor retained no later than Jan.   20, 2023.

The board meets at 9:30 a.m. at College of the Desert, 43-500 Monterey Ave., Building C — Boardroom. Pursuant to Senate Bill 361, the meeting will be conducted by teleconference and there will also be in-person public access to the meeting. In-person public access will be limited to 18 individuals to accommodate for social distancing.

For the convenience of the public, the live stream may be accessed College of the Desert YouTube Channel.


Image Sources

  • College of the Desert: College of the Desert