A faction of the City Council escalated its war of words with City Manager Michael Ciaravino over allegations that tens of thousands of dollars in public money was spent on an investigation into disability fraud by a now-resigned police lieutenant.
At Monday’s Council meeting Councilman Cedric Brown and Councilwomen Cindy Holmes and Gay Lee took turns bashing Ciaravino over an investigation involving former Lt. Peter Leach.
Ciaravino says a district attorney’s office probe into the matter has left him unable to share information concerning the case, but Brown, Holmes and Lee say they have a right to know how money is being spent.
Brown says a resolution asking the Council to approve the transfer of $40,000 between budget accounts is related to the investigation.
“That transfer has something to do with depleting one of our funds,” he said. “We’ve been getting push back from the city manager not to tell us where that money was spent.”
Mayor Judy Kennedy acknowledged at the meeting that Leach investigation began when she asked the city manager to begin looking into disability fraud by firefighters and police officers, a subject she heard about while at a state conference.
Disability fraud is one place the city’s “money is bleeding,” Kennedy said. This year the city paid $100,000 for a retiree on disability. She also said that Leach ended his fight for disability.
“If he really deserved it … why did he recant,” she said.
Lee accused the city of spending money to investigate something that should have been investigated by someone other than the city. She vowed to hold up the requested budget transfer until Council members received more information.
“We want to know how these funds were spent,” Lee said. “We have a right to know and we are going to know or no money will be moved anywhere into that line.”