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Public Demands Answer to How Yandrasevich Went Unchecked

The Rye City Council said they have a lot more work to do.

Former Rye Golf Club manager Scott Yandrasevich allegedly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the golf club, and the public is demanding to know how they were scammed.  The allegations were outlined in the council’s summary report of a nearly five-month long investigation into Yandrasevich’s conduct as manager at the golf club.  an outside law firm the council retained in October, conducted the investigation.

"He (Yandrasevich) was able to manipulate the system for so long and it got by a great number of people," Mayor Doug French said. "While we will pursue all avenues for restitution, we will also work to restructure our enterprise fund models and restore credibility."

The city council does not yet know the exact sum that they claim Yandrasevich misappropriated because they are waiting for banks to provide subpoenaed information.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, members of the public asked the council to scrutinize how Yandrasevich was able to allegedly steal from the city for six years without being caught by his supervisor city manager Scott Pickup, or anyone else. The council agreed they needed to use the findings to assess how it happened. Rye Golf Club members and the council also discussed a need for more transparency, an effective checks and balances system, and to reconsider city-run enterprise funds.

Because the RGC is a city enterprise fund that operates on membership dues, Yandrasevich reported to the city manager, who reports to the city council. The RGC also operates with a Commission, meant to set rules and regulations and oversee operations, including the annual budget and membership fees. But the commission members have said they felt they had no real authority and often did not receive clear information from Yandrasevich.

No other former or current city employees are accused of personally benefiting from Yandrasevich’s actions, but RGC members had some harsh criticism for Pickup.

Pickup was first criticized in September 2012 when he told RGC members that Yandrasavich’s actions were Pickup later told investigators he said that to calm down the crowd. RGC members and councilman Joe Sack also criticized the city manager for having signed off on many expensive bills and for not taking action when, in 2010, independent auditors noted that RGC’s relationships with RM Staffing should be evaluated and adjusted to require rate sheets.

"(It is) startling and disturbing that the city manager also failed to exercise any meaningful oversight with regards to millions of dollars of invoices coming in over years despite many red flags," Sack said.

Pickup told the crowd that he trusted Yandrasevich, who violated that trust. In 2010, the city had no knowledge of "off the books" transactions or side businesses, Pickup said.

"An assumption of trust is not how you run city government," RGC member and Rye Republican Committee Chair Anthony Piscionere told the council, after explaining he was outraged by the report. 

RGC Member and local blogger Leon Sculti, who investigated RGC on his own and published much of the same information the city-hired law firm found in its investigation on lausdeo10580.com over the last five months, called on Pickup to resign or be fired. 

Members of the council said the released findings are just a first step in a process that will lead to changes that prevent a failure of transparency and checks and balances in the future. 

"We now have a road map to figure out what controls to put in place in the future," councilwoman Laura Brett said. 

Councilwoman Julie Killian said she was deeply disturbed by the findings, and wants the council to focus immediately on what the shortcomings were and how to fix them.  

The council emphasized they were glad that Yandrasevich resigned in January, because it saved the council money in legal fees and allowed them to make decisions to move the golf club forward. The council and RGC members all agreed they want to move the club past the scandal and figure out the most effective way to run RGC. 

"We must restore Rye Golf Club to the jewel that it is," Killian said.

Read a summarized version of the investigators findings here. 

 

 

Rye10580 February 28, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Jovanovich, Pickup and French came across as three clowns that accept no culpability for their lack of oversight and willful ignorance in this matter. And Pickup's line about managing in an environment of trust was pathetic....who hired this guy? Pickup should be fired immediately and with the exception of Joe Sack, who seems to be the only competent member, the council should be voted out.
Committee for Election Equality February 28, 2013 at 01:10 PM
As in any scandal, it is for the good of Rye to continue to see how high it went, if any higher. I know it is a huge, huge legal expense, but I speak from personal experience: backbone, enabling video patent applications disappearing at USPTO...come on, greed is a very ugly thing.
HEALtheHARBOR.com February 28, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I think we need to take a look at the only two that were trying to defend Mr. Pickup for his lack of oversight and his many attempts to protect Mr. Yandrasevich. 1.) Mayor Doug French who was accused with stealing tax money from Rye. http://rye.dailyvoice.com/news/records-implicate-mayor-french-tax-fraud 2.) Deputy Mayor Jovanovich who was accused of sexual harassment and violating securities laws. http://www.kroplaw.com/win_hill.html http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1992-03-13/business/9203130427_1_preferred-stock-suit-jovanovich Need we say more?
Common Sense February 28, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Sadly this is a typical outcome for government in general and we should not be surprised. Government is most often caught on its heels by arguably predictable crises. I don't blame individuals.... it is the nature of bureaucracy and has played out time and time again. The only way to restore credibility to Rye Golf Club is meaningful member oversight. A board with term limits and members knowledgeable about financial matters which is given the authority and mandate to follow the money trail in detail going forward would be a step in the right direction.
Suki van Dijk February 28, 2013 at 03:45 PM
No, as a matter of fact this is not government - this is the absence of government.
Common Sense February 28, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Suki I disagree. Look at the last 100 yrs alone in our country. The Great Wall St Crash of 1929, Pearl Harbor, 911, Katrina, the real estate debacle of 2008, Bernie Madoff etc, etc. All "surprises" despite substantial warnings. The current social security, medicare, and budget "crises" were all predictable, preventable and brought on by the pursuit of short term gain that continues even today despite all evidence and against all reason. Remarkably the problems are even worse in many other countries. Government is necessary but does best when limited in scope and cannot routinely solve the community's problems. Hence my point... only the people can solve Rye Golf's problems.
Charmian Neary February 28, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Not to veer off topic and get into a debate about "government" versus "the people", but I agree with Suki. During the time I served on the school board's finance committee, if a budget line item looked high, I sat down with a calculator, or more often just a pen, and scribbled simple arithmetic in the margins. There was a tremendous dereliction of duty here that these enormous staffing costs were just signed off on, and no one took a moment to figure out the cost per hour per employee. An outside auditor apparently handed city government a road map in early 2010. It was ignored. Everyone on the council is responsible for this oversight. Why have a council - of the people - at all, if they are only going to rubber stamp the findings of the "professionals"? Whenever a citizen questions from the lectern, we're treated to a stern lecture about second guessing "professionals". On our school board budget items are routinely questioned, and rightly so. Why can't our council do likewise? I think this is a time to renew my call for non-partisan city council seats. As long as any member believes, wrongly, that her responsibility is to her party or her faction, and not to the people of Rye, we have problems. I believe all of us should run for the council as individuals, as we do for school board. Then there is less pressure to stay quiet so as not to offend one's party,and legitimate public criticism does not get viewed through the prism of "sour grapes" from the minority party.
Committee for Election Equality March 01, 2013 at 12:04 AM
So, what Brune & Richard is saying that Yandrasevich set out upon a 6 year quest to misappropriate and convert Member dues while at the same time he raising Member dues a full 40% in that same time period? Did anyone conduct a background check in 2002?
Suki van Dijk March 01, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Far more likely is he stole a little, didn't get caught, stole a little more, no one noticed, stole a lot, still no one seemed to be looking over his invoices, until one day he convinced himself he wasn't really stealing at all. I think we all owe a huge thank you to the Rye citizens and Council Members who forced the City Council to dig into this.
HEALtheHARBOR.com March 01, 2013 at 05:13 AM
@ 2:15 into this video Mr. Jovanovich states; “The council is forbidden to get involved with enforcement matters.” “We are not allowed to directly communicate with department heads other than thru the City Manager because of the fact that we have a City manager form of government.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=nCRJfm3CJv8&feature=endscreen At last night’s council meeting as Councilman Jovanovich was trying to deflect the blame from Scott Pickup, Mr. Jovanovich stated that the entire City council was at fault. It is my contention that Scott Pickup is responsible for each and every failure at the Rye Golf Club. Who in their right mind signs authorizations for literally hundreds of thousands of dollars without checking and rechecking? In my office we issue anywhere from 50 to a 100 checks a day, not one of them is issued without two staff members approval and then they are checked again at the end of the week and again at the end of the month. Each time by a different staff member, it only takes minutes.
Balar Gazor March 02, 2013 at 11:34 AM
But the rules are different for public sector ? all is excused because it is done in the service of the public. And the private sector is held to the highest standard because of greed, infamous greed. Well, there is 2pc less money to be wasted or misused in the Fed Budget from today, that's a start.
Common Sense March 02, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Exactly my point Charmian. Rye City Government is not expected to run the school district... imagine how that would go? The people of Rye select a separate and independent board with meaningful "authority and mandate to follow the money trail." Government is inherently beset with endless political bickering and cannot reasonably be expected to effectively run a multimllion golf course.
NY Firefighter March 07, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Just wanted to repeat my post/opinion. "At the center of the scrutiny is City Manager Scott Pickup, who suggested during a September 2012 Rye Golf Club Commission meeting that the relationship between RM Staffing and Mr. Yandrasevich had been vetted by the city attorney and found to be above board. Pickup told investigators that his comments were made in an effort “to calm everyone down.” Pickup told investigators he knew the city attorney had not reviewed the staffing contract when he made that remark." So Pickup LIED to the public to "calm everyone down"? A city official LIED to the public. The public should NEVER be LIED to. Will anything be done about this unethical conduct? If I want to be LIED to, I will listen to someone from the federal government.... Not my local officials..... who I thought I knew better
Rye10580 March 07, 2013 at 02:11 AM
That LausDeo fellow should start a petition to have Pickup fired. The city council is tone deaf and the only thing they will respond to is the will of the public.

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