Some Expense Records Were Not in District Files


Documents detailing some of Michael P. Lord's expense reports--including at least $2,700 worth of hotel bills--were not contained in files provided to The Times by the Santa Margarita Water District.

In a formal public records request earlier this month, The Times sought access to the expense account files of the district's top administrators. When those files were presented to The Times, they did not contain five hotel bills that were among the records when the entire files were photocopied earlier by an individual who provided copies to this newspaper.

Lord was shown copies of the hotel bills in question and he did not challenge their authenticity. He repeatedly demanded to know how a reporter had come to possess them.

Lord said that he did not instruct anyone to remove the hotel bills. "I generally just submit the charge receipts," Lord said.

State laws governing the Santa Margarita Water District require that "all documents pertaining to district affairs shall be filed in the office of the district with the secretary and shall be open to inspection at all times by any person interested."

The hotel bills in question were:

* A Dec. 9, 1992, bill from the Essex House in New York City for $1,301.22. It included $270.53 for beverages and a $21.65 purchase from the gift shop.

* A July, 21, 1991, bill from the Park Hyatt in San Francisco for $585.86. During that two-day stay, Lord ordered $56.84 in beverages and $58.60 in room service, all at district expense.

* An Oct. 7, 1992, stay at the Marriott in San Francisco. That $195.98 bill contains $34.79 worth of drinks and $28 in phone calls.

* A May 15, 1992, trip to Sacramento for a business conference. The hotel bill shows that Lord brought his wife and stayed a day beyond the convention. The extra night cost the district $143.

* A July 1, 1991, stay at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento that cost the district $246.19, including $15.90 in movie charges and almost $26 in room service.

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