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Garden Grove officials handed over records to Orange County District Attorney’s Office investigators last month related to an ongoing criminal probe into the hiring of former Mayor Bruce Broadwater’s son as a fireman and a secret employment contract for the former fire chief.
According to Interim City Manager Allan Roeder, “98 percent” of the records were personnel files, records exempt from public records disclosure laws but obtainable by the District Attorney’s office.
The city has been dogged by criticism over alleged nepotism in the hiring of Jeremy Broadwater and the deal with former Fire Chief David Barlag, who resigned publicly but continues to work for the city in a new position that pays a six-figure salary.
Correspondence from the DA’s office shows it began investigating “allegations of Brown Act violations and other possible criminal misconduct” after the secret employment deal and nepotism were exposed in media reports.
So far, the city has only received one request for records from the DA, said Roeder, who has been corresponding directly with Assistant District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh.
According to an April 2 letter from Roeder to the DA, the city turned over records responsive to the following DA requests:
- All personnel records for Jeremy Broadwater including HR documents, interview materials and records, notations, ratings and related matters.
- The letter communicating the Fire Union’s Vote of No Confidence in Dave Barlag.
- All written correspondence between the City and Fire Union pertaining to Dave Barlag.
- Work product generated by Dave Barlag from September 30, 2014 to March 20, 2015.
In February, City Council voted unanimously to cooperate with the investigation and waive its attorney-client privilege, opening up closed session conversations between council members and their attorney to DA investigators.
Barlag publicly resigned in Sept. 2014 after facing pressure from the city’s fire union, which protested Broadwater’s hiring and Barlag’s management of the department. But privately, Barlag never left the city.
Two weeks before he resigned, Barlag and former city manager Matthew Fertal negotiated a settlement giving him two years of additional employment with a $214,614 annual salary, in exchange for dropping any litigation against the city, an agreement that only came to light when Voice of OC reported it.
Barlag never filed a lawsuit and the city was not served with any written notice.
According to Roeder, Barlag was not reporting to work at City Hall on a regular basis until February, after Roeder requested a meeting with the former fire chief.
Roeder has since added additional responsibilities to Barlag’s job duties as Public Safety Administrative Officer, in an effort to “insure that the City [is] receiving benefit from that position,” Roeder wrote in his letter to Baytieh.
“The position, in my estimation, is still evolving and I expect to be using Mr. Barlag in other areas beyond those identified in [the original job description],” Roeder’s letter continues.
“It is not an arrangement I professionally would have constructed by choice but in light of circumstances existent, I do feel we are making good use of Mr. Barlag’s skills and abilities.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jeremy Broadwater is working in a desk position at the Garden Grove Fire Department. For a short period, Broadwater worked in a desk position at the department, but has since resumed working as a firefighter.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.