Police looking into city contracts

Costa Mesa police confirmed Friday that they are helping investigate allegations that fiscal policies and procedures were not followed during planning for the city's 60th anniversary celebration.

A department spokesman said he couldn't speak to whether the investigation could include criminal charges.

"It's not uncommon for the Police Department to assist other [city] departments with investigations," Lt. Greg Scott said.

City officials have called the situation a personnel matter and offered few specifics. Concerns about anniversary event preparations emerged

when two employees were placed on leave last month.

Public Affairs Manager Dan Joyce and Special Events Coordinator Christine Cordon — the two tasked with planning the event — were put on paid leave Aug. 6 pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Assistant City CEO Rick Francis said at the time.

Francis later confirmed that the investigation was related to possible improprieties during planning for the three-day 60th anniversary celebration in June at City Hall.

Costa Mesa police recently asked the Daily Pilot's advertising staff for a copy of the newspaper's contract with the city regarding the 60th. The Pilot was an event sponsor, trading online and print advertising for banners, a booth and other representation at the event. The newsroom was not involved in the agreement.

Scott said he could not comment on any details of the investigation.

The Daily Pilot in August filed a Public Records Act request seeking copies of bids, invoices, quotes and purchase orders related to the event and was informed by the city Tuesday that the vast majority of those documents would be withheld.

The Pilot's editor and legal counsel have asked the city attorney's office to discuss why documents that the newspaper believes to be public record were not released.

At Tuesday's council meeting, city CEO Tom Hatch said attorneys had advised the city to withhold some public documents until an independent audit of the event's finances is complete.

The city requested that audit on July 31, according to Hatch.

Staff writer Bradley Zint contributed to this story.

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