Newsmaker of the year: John Drayman

John Drayman’s connection to a number of investigations — federal and local — continued to make headlines this year, keeping the former city councilman in the spotlight long after he lost his seat on the dais in April.

Investigations into his ties with an affordable housing developer accused of massive fraud and his alleged role in embezzlement of funds from the local farmers market dominated the news cycle this year — a fall-from-grace story that left his voter base in North Glendale bristling.

Throughout the developments, Drayman has managed to maintain a loyal following, but for much of 2011, the Montrose star has seen his shine dim.

Drayman’s woes began when the manager of an affordable housing developer accused of bilking Glendale and other cities of millions was tied to a remodel of his condominium a month prior to the 2011 election.

His connection to Advanced Development Inc. — which is under federal investigation for allegedly inflating the costs of affordable housing developments in Glendale and other cities — was aired during the campaign. He landed in third place in the two-seat race after rising to office in 2007 as the top vote-getter.

Several ADI subcontractors worked on his condominium last summer after a pipe burst, including National Fire Systems & Services Inc., which led the renovation project. Drayman has said he was unaware of any connection between the subcontractors and ADI.

But in June, subcontractors that worked on the renovation said federal investigators questioned them about the remodel.

The same month Drayman lost reelection, National Fire filed a nearly $98,000-lien on the condominium, claiming it hadn’t been fully paid for the remodeling work. Drayman countered that there was a dispute with National Fire over payments.

Another storm broke in May, when Glendale police served a search warrant for his home. Drayman has been under investigation for allegedly embezzling money from the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. and its weekly farmers market. He served as president for the board through 2007, a position that helped launch his political career.

As a business-improvement district, the city collects about $120,000 a year from nearly 200 stores in the shopping park. The board uses that money for promotional purposes. The group also runs the Montrose Harvest Market, a Sunday affair that Drayman helped organize even after being elected to the council.

The event had been logging steady losses. As early as this year, organizers had forecast that they would lose $52,000 on the venture. But after the board removed Drayman from the equation, the association suddenly started reporting massive revenue spikes — a turnaround that Executive Director Dale Dawson called a “wonderful mystery.”

In its latest budget, the board said it expects the market to bring in $140,000 this year, or about half of the association’s revenue.

Neither police nor Drayman have commented on the ongoing investigation.

City building officials also have been eyeing Drayman.

The former councilman didn’t have the proper permits for renovations done to his condo, and permits that were filed understated the scope of work. For about six months, building officials have been working with Drayman to get his project into compliance.

Drayman said National Fire was supposed to handle the permits, but he claimed ultimate responsibility as the homeowner. He’s had to pay double fees for permits, or $2,271.96.

Inspectors also required Drayman to cut holes in an exposed wall and two closets so they could review the completed work.

“Drayman has made some progress,” Glendale’s Building Official Stuart Tom said, adding that the former councilman has been cooperative during inspections.

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