Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kern County Supervisor McQuiston dinged for use of county purchasing card

BY JAMES BURGER, Californian staff writer | Friday, May 21 2010 12:18 PM

Last Updated Friday, May 21 2010 12:18 PM

A report released Friday by the Kern County Grand Jury sharply criticizes Supervisor Jon McQuiston for letting a county technician use his county credit card to pay for a technology work-around that let the supervisor and his staff access e-mail and calendars from mobile phones.

"The Committee was alarmed by the lack of awareness of policies, procedures and laws governing the use of taxpayer dollars when using a County purchasing card," wrote members of the grand jury's ad-hoc committee.

The staff time cost the county an estimated $8,200.

That contract, billed to McQuiston's card, cost the county $1,368.28 in 2009 alone, according to the grand jury.

McQuiston responded in an interview that the use of the money was a completely legitimate expenditure of public funds.

He said he asked information technology staff to help him in 2007 when the county's mobile communication system was incapable of integrating with his Blackberry.

He could receive e-mails but couldn't tell where they were from, McQuiston said. And, he said, the service was very unreliable.

McQuiston said remote communication was critical for him and his staff, who are trying to serve 2,538 square miles of mountain, valley and desert.

"We needed it for us to be effective in serving our constituents. We needed it then when I had a staff of four," McQuiston said. "I have a staff of two now."

The grand jury also criticized McQuiston for using his county-paid purchase card to fund the contract with

McQuiston said he has asked both Kern County Administrative Officer John Nilon and County Counsel Theresa Goldner to conduct independent investigations of whether he violated county purchasing card policies.

"If either of them come back and say it wasn't appropriate, I will remedy the situation immediately in accordance with their recommendations," he said.

McQuiston also said he will prepare a full, point-by-point response to the grand jury inquiry by the end of June.

No comments: