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Shredder Grates on Residents : Government: Evidence of the device at City Hall comes in the wake of several alleged official improprieties. The mayor apologizes.

April 22, 1993|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BRADBURY — The private security guards and the city credit card used on luxury purchases were bad enough in the eyes of Bradbury residents. But the new City Hall shredder really got them mad.

Mayor Audrey Hon publicly apologized to residents Tuesday night for toting a shredder into City Hall to chew public documents into confetti after a resident had found incriminating documents in the city's trash bin. The shredder has been dismantled, she assured the audience.

"A resident who wanted to remain anonymous loaned us a shredding machine, and in the current intemperate atmosphere, I apologize for accepting the loan," Hon said at the council meeting, which is held every two weeks. "It was poor judgment on my part."

Only duplicates of sensitive documents, such as confidential correspondence from the attorney regarding litigation or personnel matters, got torn up in the machine, Hon said, but she conceded it didn't look too good to residents already stunned by allegations of impropriety by city officials.

"Is that what you swore to when you took office, to take care of anonymous people?" asked an angry Dudley Duncan Dorman, 78. "It doesn't look good to me. I requested a list of all the items being shredded, and I was completely ignored."

Last month, Bradbury's practiced gadfly, Robert Penney Jr., found that hundreds of thousands of county tax dollars have been funneled to pay for private security guards at the wealthy gated enclave of Bradbury Estates over the past 14 years.

And earlier this month, his diggings in the city trash dumpster turned up evidence that City Manager Dolly Vollaire might have used the city credit card for personal gain, prompting a criminal investigation and her resignation.

Enter the shredder: When Penney took a peek in the dumpster Saturday, he found bags of shredded bits, accompanied by a cardboard sign that read, "Bob: Stay out of our trash this weekend. There's nothing in here."

The scandals have sent suspicious residents flocking to City Hall to file public records requests in search of answers about the way the city has been managed.

Council members agreed Tuesday to seek an independent audit of the special tax district that collected county tax funds for private guard service, and even offered Penney their thanks.

"I'd like to introduce the hero of the month," Hon said. "the indomitable watchdog, Mr. Penney."

Meanwhile, Vollaire's attorney, Rayford Fountain, said she wants to "fully cooperate" with the council. Vollaire remains on stress leave in Texas. She also remains on the payroll for 30 days, beginning Tuesday, unless an agreement is reached with her attorney to cease paying her.

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