City Manager responds to comments from last week’s Council meeting

By Michael Matthias
City Manager, Des Moines

In response to certain statements and questions that have been circulating and were brought forward at a recent Des Moines City Council meeting, I offer this letter to clarify what I am able to and to explain why it is not appropriate to fully discuss certain aspects of our investigation at this time.

The first point I would like to make is that the Legacy Foundation is not under investigation by the city or our hired outside investigators. I have repeatedly voiced my support for the foundation and the work that they have done and I continue to feel this way.

The city is reviewing the actions of specific city employees, and some of those actions include their interactions and involvement with the Legacy Foundation. The basis for this review was partially mentioned during public comment at the City Council meeting however, additional information exists that is not publicly known and that cannot be disclosed at this time, due to the on-going investigation.

With regard to the internal review, the City of Des Moines, like any public agency, is a steward of the public trust and of taxpayer dollars. In this role, the city has a moral, financial, and legal duty to protect this trust. Any time the city is made aware of a possible violation of these duties, we are obligated to investigate and determine whether inappropriate actions have been taken. In order to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest or of bias, it is routine for cities to obtain a third party to conduct fact finding reviews and to provide appropriate recommendations and findings.

What I can disclose at this time is that the city retained a third party consultant to conduct an internal investigation into concerns related to financial matters and whether funds that were intended for the city were being diverted elsewhere by city employees. Almost immediately after this consultant was hired, the city became aware that an employee was deleting a large number of electronic records that related to the subject of the investigation.

Additionally, the city obtained an audio recording of the employee which confirmed that they had deleted electronic records and that they were boxing records related to the investigation in order to remove them from city buildings. After learning of these actions, the employee was placed on administrative leave and their access to city facilities and the city’s network was restricted. As of this date, the employee no longer works for the City of Des Moines.

Any time a city begins an investigation of this sort, the hope is that no wrongdoing will be found, and that has never been truer than it is now. For this reason, it would be inappropriate and premature to disclose anything further at this early point in the investigation. No findings or conclusions regarding the initial focus of the internal investigation have been made at this point and the review is on-going.

We will disclose more information when the investigation is complete.


One Response to “City Manager responds to comments from last week’s Council meeting”
  1. Patrick Nardo says:

    There being a conspicuous absence of “comments” on this City Manger Response, it leaves a wonder to ponder. We witnessed some really prominent citizens of our community, voicing opinions, and yes, barbs at Mr. Matthias. While this citizen, with admiration for all the principals involved in this issue, sits back and waits for the only way a judgement can be rendered; when this investigation is concluded, all facts have been examined, and a decision is made as to the guilt or innocence, is proven. All are innocent here, until the inevitable adjudication has been delivered.
    As for our city manager, using the due diligence required of his office, deserves absolutely no further badgering for the performance of his duties. Mr. Matthias did not earn the disrespectful dressing down we saw displayed by anyone, and he too, is innocent until proven otherwise So this comment closes, knowing that each of you who spoke in disparagement, publicly,may wish, at some time, to apologize as publicly. Either way this goes, you will have lost no respect, or admiration as good, right thinking, citizens of Des Moines.

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