Jeff Smith noon, March 8
UCAN Looking for New Executive Director
Deeply troubled Utility Consumers' Action Network is looking for a new executive director, a source extremely knowledgeable about the watchdog's operations, confirmed to me today (Sept. 14). Kim Malcolm, who was brought in to replace Michael Shames as executive director, has become a part-time consultant, she says. "It was too big a cesspool for her to be swimming in," says the source who knows the inside operations well. This week, the Union-Tribune revealed that Kendall Squires, UCAN chairman, wrote to Michael Shames, former executive director, about years of missing records. Shames says that Robert Ames, who was brought in to be chief operating officer, was in charge of records. Ames would not comment to the U-T.
My knowledgeable source says, "People were throwing boxes of records in a car and disappearing. One of those shredder trucks showed up." The lawsuit filed by whistleblowers charged that documents had been destroyed, as the Reader reported in March. The whistleblowers have a photo that they say shows documents being destroyed.
My source says that when the whistleblower complaints were filed, the board "should have hired a private investigative organization that looks into financial weirdness." Instead, it hired lawyers who were close to those on the inside. My source says that as far as is known, the U.S. Attorney's investigation into irregularities at UCAN is still going on; an FBI investigator is still collecting documents.
Malcolm says an accountant is looking into money that was entrusted to UCAN for its privacy rights program, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. "We asked the CPA to give an estimate of what is left of restricted funds," Malcolm says. She wants an internal audit; also, the state has authorized an audit of UCAN and other organizations that get intervenor fees from the California Public Utilities Commission.