Board clears manager in embezzlement, rescinds previous charges of belligerence

By Jack Durham
Press Editor

The McKinleyville Community Services District Board of Directors announced last week that its manager has been cleared of two allegations made against him that were never previously made public – that he was personally involved in embezzling district funds and involved in a collusion in connection with the alleged embezzlement.

The board also voted to drop the discipline/dismissal/release meeting notice issued last September and rescind allegations made against Marking involving alleged belligerence to the board.

Marking cleared 

The MCSD board met in closed session to discuss the issue at the beginning of the Wednesday, April 16, meeting after which board President John Corbett made an announcement. The announcement was difficult to hear, so Corbett repeated it during a break, saying “There were allegations that the general manager was personally involved in embezzling the coke, well the soft drink funds, and personally involved in collusion with (another employee). The board found those were not valid and therefore we’re referring personnel to the general manager.”

The board’s decision means that Manager Tom Marking can handle personnel issues with regard to the alleged embezzlement.

The announcement was the first time that it was disclosed that Marking was accused of embezzlement and collusion. According to Marking, those accusations against him were made in writing by former Business Manager Jim Harding. Harding denies that he made those allegations.

Former treasurer’s accusations


Last month former Business Manager and Treasurer Harding – who worked for the district for 11 years – said he was forced to retire after he suspected financial irregularities and his efforts to have the matter properly investigated were thwarted by Marking. Harding said Marking decided to conduct the investigation himself and wouldn’t provide any details of the investigation or share his findings with him. As the MCSD’s chief financial officer, Harding said he felt he had to speak out or he could be seen as being part of a cover-up.

In an interview last month, Harding made it clear that Marking was not the suspect in the alleged embezzlement. He did, however, say that it looked like a cover-up, as Marking told him to drop the matter. Harding said the embezzlement centered around money from soda machines at the McKinleyville Activity Center. Harding declined to name the suspected employee.

Marking has flatly denied the charges, saying that the investigation was properly conducted and Harding was kept in the loop.

‘A line of bull’

After Wednesday’s meeting, the board’ s announcement from its closed session was posted on the McKinleyville Press Blog. After comments from the public were posted on the blog critical of Marking, the manager responded with criticisms of Harding and his critics.

“You guys are a hoot,” Marking wrote. “You guess at everything but what is so obvious, that Harding has been feeding you a line of bull; but you are so very gullible and want so badly to believe all this drivel. Do you really expect Harding to admit that he has lied to you and done some really stupid and unprofessional things, like accuse the GM of embezzlement, fraud and collusion? Since you all know him so well, go ask him.”
“When it’s put in writing and signed with his signature, there is not much doubt. And go ask about the tens of thousands we have now had to spend because of his ego and vindictiveness,” Marking wrote. “We could have built a playground and finished the soccer fields with less than what this has cost. Go ask him why he has so much self loathing that he tried so desperately to tear down what we are trying so hard to build up for the community.”
Marking continued “Hey Durham, go ask Harding face to face if he ever made written accusations that accuse the GM of embezzlement and fraud. Just because he didn’t publish it with you doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. And ask him about Section 632 of the Penal Code and if has ever done something so sneaky and dishonest as that?”
Harding was contacted on Friday and asked whether it was true that he accused Marking of embezzlement and collusion in writing. “Not true,” Harding responded.

The alleged penal code violation referenced by Marking involves secretly recording a conversation without the other person’s knowledge. Harding declined to comment on the allegation.

On the McKinleyville Press Blog, Marking suggested that perhaps Harding was secretly working for someone to cause problems at the MCSD.

“Go ask some tough questions and ask him what his motives are? Who he is working with and why would he put his career at risk for such a stupid thing. And go ask about his response to the long letter sent to him about the investigation and where is his evidence of all this embezzlement and fraud… or has he finally figured out he is the one delusional,” Marking wrote.

When asked about his motives, Harding said he thought there was a cover-up and felt he had a fiduciary responsibility to let the public know about the financial irregularities.

When asked about Marking’s suggestion that he may have been working for someone, Harding responded “I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Marking’s contract


Also at last week’s meeting, the MCSD board discussed Marking’s employment contract with the district. As of last week, the contract was still being reviewed by the MCSD’s attorney so the board was unable to take action on it.

However, the board did vote 3-2, with Directors Javan Reid and Jeff Dunk dissenting – on some of the terms of the contract.

The terms included the following language “The discipline/dismissal/release notice of Sept. 19, 2007, including accusations and charges are rescinded.”
Marking was accused of belligerence to the board, in part due to letters he sent to the board. In one letter, he accused Director Jeff Dunk of “arrogance” and “grandstanding” and wrote that “his entire manner is offensive.” In another letter, Marking accused former Director Ron Coffman of having a “lack of character and ethics.”
After the letter regarding Coffman, then-President Reid called for a closed session to discuss the alleged belligerence. That meeting was canceled after Marking announced his “intent to retire” effective May 1, 2008.

The dynamics on the board changed last November with the election of Helen Edwards, which meant Marking had three supporters on the board – Edwards, Bill Wennerholm and John Corbett. All three support Marking’s proposed contract.

Under the terms approved by the board, the manager’s annual salary of $108,600 would be increased by the same amount as received by his fellow district employees for their cost of living adjust this fiscal year. Marking would also get six months of his annual salary after he leaves the district.

The proposed terms included a stipulation that Marking’s contract would have a termination date of May 1, 2009, with no allowances made for renewal or extension. Wennerholm made a motion to remove the word “no,” which would allow for the board to renew Marking’s contract next year if it so chooses. Wennerholm’s motion was followed by the 3-2 vote.

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17 Comments

Filed under embezzlement, Marking, MCSD, Sodagate, Uncategorized

17 responses to “Board clears manager in embezzlement, rescinds previous charges of belligerence

  1. Anonymous

    Dump Marking. This guy is bad news.

  2. time to sharpen that pencile. your apology will take some splann’n

  3. HumRed

    Got to love the anon’s. Dump marking, bad news. based on what, some shit u read on a blog. Forget things like performance, 10 years greatly expanded services, high employee moral, great customer statisfaction, and sound fiscal management.

  4. monocot

    Marking needs to go based on his inability to perform his job. An employee for a municipality, who’s job it is to treat wastewater, announced to the MCSD board that the “new” permit is lenient! Of course Marking will deny — what is obvious is that he has been IGNORING the pending permit, based on his inability to understand the new requirements. Now all ratepayers in McKinleyville will have to pay, literally, for Marking sticking his head in the sludge. ….. and then there is the employee moral….

  5. Anonymous

    hey monocot,you on the local solutions payroll? or are you in bed with the dummy that had corbet recused? you know of course that marking is the evil behind our high fuel prices. what would we do with out your keen insight?

  6. dave

    First there was Peyton Place, then there was the updated version called McKinleyville Place 2008 starring those wacky people on the MCSD board!
    Thank you for the daytime drama folks…

  7. Anonymous

    Thanks for bringing up moral, monocot. The empolyees love marking and with the exit of one really bad apple in the office and on the board the employees are again loving their work place. Way to go MCSD!

  8. HumRed

    “an employee, for a municipality, who’s job it is to treat wastewater”, well—- how about that his city is in fact up to its ass in fines. That the employee is not management, some level 2 waste water guy who is always running his mouth about shit he knows little about, kind of like old waller, a legend in his own mind.
    monocot u know shit, just another mouth with no brain repeating the party line. Marking has more brains in his little finger than you ever could hope to have, he has been trying to get the state to do something on the permit for 2 years. If you had sense, read the manager report in the minutes on the web site for MCSD for the last 2 years.
    Now that the accountant is gone employee moral is tight is the word I hear for my meter guy, parks and rec staff, and a office staff lady. Oh and it helped a lot that they know Marking will be around

  9. David Couch

    Thanks Humred you seem to know me, funny I dont know you. I thought this thread was about the embezzlement issue, on which I have no opinion , should be confidential employee matter. I will continue to run my mouth at MCSD meetings. I am honored to be compared to George Waller. Thank you so much. I will post later about the permit issue.

  10. HumRed

    nice to see you use your name . how about your status as a water specialist and the amount your city is into fines. Also position in the department. As for waller how about his qualifications. I don’t get out much so I just know whats online.

  11. beachg

    Now let’s remember that Marking is an employee as well. He does supervise others and is ready to describe people he works with a “stupid” and “delusional”. He was rude and inappropriate to the board with pen and tongue. We might go to our employers and use the same language and see if we get a pass. Then tell them it’s just research to see if Marking is getting reasonable treatment for his unreasonable behavior. Humred, when you attest to his performance, I would say, he’d better be performing. That’s what we pay him $$ for. He is replaceable and for the same $$ the next manager might avoid calling people names–at no extra cost.

  12. HumRed

    another anon who know’s shit. He is paid and does perform, look up the minutes of past meetings. Just solid performance reviews, increased income, lower rates, great service, and if you paid attention to what was happening his letters were in response to attacks from current and former board members. In fact I would not have responded as politely. Why is it the people under him respect and like him. Seeing the actions of some of this current board stupid and delusional don’t go far enough.

  13. Duarmorry

    I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…

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