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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.

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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.

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Comments
9

Shameless got rid of all the records he could eliminate that would incriminate him. Those boxes and cabinets full of "smoking guns" could put someone away for decades. But if they are destroyed there is no evidence, except for evidence of destroying evidence. Yeah, this gets worse every day. Someone is going to jail for the UCAN mess; it is just a matter of time.

Sept. 14, 2012

Shames claims that COO Bob Ames had control of the records by 2011. Ames isn't talking. Both are lawyers. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 14, 2012

But didn't part of that "wistleblower" episode involve destruction of files and mysterious goings-on with records? And didn't that precede Ames in 2011?

Sept. 15, 2012

In March of 2011, one whistleblower told the board of numerous irregularities, and shortly thereafter added more complaints. The alleged irregularities preceded Ames's arrival. Ames was brought in after the whistleblower complaints were made known to the board. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 15, 2012

NOTE: UCAN, SHAMES, AMES, DOCUMENT DESTRUCTION. According to the Superior Court suit filed by whistleblowers David Peffer and Charles Langley, on March 4 of 2011, Peffer sent a letter to the board, with supporting documentation, of suspected misconduct by Shames. The next month (April 26), the board revealed that it had hired Ames. According to the whistleblowers' complaint, Ames went through documents and marked them for Shames's review. UCAN staffers allegedly saw Shames taking boxes from the office, loading them into his car, and leaving. In August of 2011, UCAN moved to a new location. Ames said so-called "excess documents" had to be destroyed. Ames hired Total Secure Shredding, a professional shredding company, to destroy UCAN documents, according to the suit. Peffer and Langley vocally objected to Shames's access to documents and the destruction of potential evidence, the suit says. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 15, 2012

UCAN probably paid the bill from Total Secure Shredding that was for destroying its own records.

Sept. 18, 2012

I would presume UCAN paid the shredding bill. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 19, 2012

I find it strange that UCAN came under all this "HEAT" just as SDG&E is trying to justify its part in the San Onofre rip off of over a BILLION dollars that rate payers have paid and received nothing in return from SCE and SDG&E...

That Debacle makes the UCAN case seem like chump change in comparison, yet nothing is written in the UT about it, I wonder why?

Kudos to KPBS.org for following the real THEFT STORY in SoCal http://is.gd/4Ly1Bk and http://is.gd/sAxArw

Sept. 17, 2012

I broke the UCAN story in a column in July of 2011 -- well before the San Onofre ripoff. I continued writing about UCAN in more columns and numerous blog items before the San Onofre attempted scam. Best, Don Bauder

Sept. 18, 2012

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