Former San Bernardino Redevelopment Finance Director Files Claim Against City

In a development rich with irony, the woman who guided a key portion of the city of San Bernardino’s efforts to keep its red ink-hemorrhaging books balanced for the last several years before it abandoned all pretense of fiscal normalcy and declared bankruptcy last summer, has filed a claim against the city.
The now-bankrupt city has denied her claim, which seeks $2 million in damages.
Lori Tillery was San Bernardino’s former finance director for redevelopment. She was terminated on May 18, 2012.
In a claim filed on November 1, Tillery alleged her sacking was the culmination of  a “well orchestrated and unlawful campaign and pattern of practice designed to force her to resign or be demoted.”
Tillery has six months from December 10, the day the city council rejected the claim, to file a lawsuit. She will have to stand in a rather lengthy line to do so. Scores of the city’s vendors and creditors have been stymied in their efforts to collect the money they are owed. Claims for damages and lawsuits are procedurally stayed due to the city’s pending bankruptcy, although would-be litigants can ask the bankruptcy court for leave to sue.
According to Tillery’s attorney, Sanford Kassel, she was a diligent employee who uncovered evidence of financial misfeasance and malfeasance as a consequence of her work. Beginning in July 2008, according to Kassel, she coordinated with and assisted mayor Patrick Morris, city attorney James Penman and the police department in looking into time card falsifications involving multiple employees, misuse of public funds, and the use of underpaid part-time employees to do work full-time without receiving proper pay or benefits over a substantial amount of time.  The information turned up by Tillery, according to Kassel, comprises the gist of an investigation into activity at City Hall that is currently being carried out by the district attorney’s office.
Tillery is a whistleblower who was subjected to unlawful employment practices as a result of her conscientious dedication and she is now being scapegoated for the city’s dire financial circumstance, according to Kassel.
The city has dismissed Tillery’s claim as “entirely invalid” and maintains that Tillery was actively engaged in falsifying data relating to the city’s true financial state in the months and years leading up to its bankruptcy. Officials intimated, without directly stating, that Tillery had knowingly and purposefully deleted financial information from city computers.

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