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By Randy Economy
Santos Kreimann, the man charged with temporarily overseeing the operation of the embroiled Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office lashed out at members of the media and Los Cerritos Community Newspaper specifically during a meeting held with the employees last week.
Kreimann now oversees the day to day operations of the complex organization that has been the center of a massive criminal probe.
One former property appraiser has been arrested.
WARNING: Profanity. DISCRETION!
LCCN was provided a audio copy of Kreimann’s address from at least two employees who attended the meeting that was held at one of the Assessors satellite office locations. More than 100 employees attended the gathering which lasted nearly two hours.
Here is the UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT:
Conversation between Santos Kriemann and employees at the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office during the week of June 25 through 29 in West Los Angeles.
Good morning. I wanted to come out and uh to make sure that you all, uh I wanted to introduce myself to all the staff. I know that the last week or so for me at least has been a whirlwind of activity.
Been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing as you all know I don’t really have a lot of experience at the assessor’s office, I’ve never worked at the assessor’s office,
but I have a great deal of county experience. And so, I wanted to make sure I came out, talked a little bit about my background, um, some of my philosophies, uh in terms of management and um where we’re gonna go from this point forward in terms of uh of the department.
And so I know that there’s been a lot of discussion in the press; you all probably read a lot of stories about whether or not I’m qualified to run the assessor’s office, the [unintelligible] office, what sort of background I have, and so there’s been a lot of uh information and so let me just—let me just give you a little background, a little history about my uh my journey [unint.] so I started working for the treasurer-tax collector back in 1990 uh sept. 24 1990 is my official county start date and I’m sure if I asked all of you what your official county start date is you’d probably all know it. um cause that’s the way we calculate our retirement [unint] and uh we’re all looking forward to that. But um I did start in the treasurer tax collector’s office; I was in public finance and so usually when I went into meetings I was usually the most popular individual coming to a meeting because I was the guy that had all the money. And so what I did was, if you as a county department wanted to build a building, construct a building, purchase equipment, do TI improvements, um I was the individual that was charged with packaging it all together and issuing all of the debt. And so I did commercial paper certificates of participation, these whole revenue bonds and so I was responsible for structuring all those financings on behalf of the county and dealing with the direct community on council as well as the county departments, and so from treasurer tax collector’s office, I went up to the CAO’s office. I was in the capital projects section and so I was responsible for the most complex uh large-scale capital projects that the county was constructing. Has anybody ever been to the uh to the Disney concert hall? The philharmonic? Well that was my project. I was responsible for all the financing, the budgeting, the construction, uh working with the the the contractors, making sure payments were made, working with timelines, when those things would be complete and so I started that, it took about eight to nine years of my county career to get that up and running and finally constructed. Has anybody ever been to the LA county USC replacement hospital? 600-bed facility? I’m sure we’ve assessed it. [asks someone to corroborate] we have assessed those? [unint. Answer from audience] brand new facility. So the uh, the replacement hospital was also my project. The the 600-bed project was the largest construction project in the county’s history, it was about 1.2 million dollars, [unint] and so we’ve replaced the old, antiquated uh medicine and so I was involved with that.
I’ve had a lot of experience with construction, I’ve had a lot of experience with financing. And so from there I actually went to, where’d I go from there? I went to the health department and I was actually the uh, the director of facilities. And so I was responsible for the [unint] and operation of all the public health clinics, all the personal health clinics, immunization shots and those particular facilities. I had about 3,000 people that reported to me, um, I supported managers, um I did that um I was also responsible for all the materials management of that particular department, getting the [unint] services and the things back and forth from the warehousing out to the health clinics. And so I have experience doing that. So after the health department, I actually went to—I forget now, I’m getting older—so after the health department I actually went back to the CAOs department and I became the uh the director for the manager of real estate operations, did that for about two years, and so the buildings that you’re in for example, was probably a project that my staff worked on, in terms of negotiating the agreement with owners of this building. And also I was responsible for all the architectural work, the space planning, [unint.] history with that.
Then I after that I actually went to uh beaches and harbors department and I just looked at my resume as a [unint] of my career and I realized that I had no experience in running a department. I have a lot of very good experience in real estate in financing, but I didn’t really understand the county’s administrative apparatus, how do you get things done? How do you contract through uh human resources, [unint] budgets, fiscal side of the shop, uh purchasing, contacting so I learned how to manage the department doing the back-of-the-house type stuff that um is supporting the line of operation. And so I did that for about three years or so. Went back to the CAO’s office again, I was in property development. And you all probably read the paper today that the uh grand park project to have its dedication in july um that was actually developed on an agreement that I negotiated with um [unint. name] and other consultants and lawyers with the county on behalf of the county. And so I was resp. for the negotiations for the grand avenue project which included that park and so I’ve been able to negotiate a lot of development agreements on behalf of the county for um many many years, a large [unint.] from there I actually went back to beaches and harbors and uh was resp. initially for the uh real estate side of the shop and most of you probably know, probably are the ones that were doing the [unint] interest evaluations for the many of [unint] that are there for the county. Um I was responsible for all of the real estate and we uh the county owns that land and we [unint] the long-term leases with the [unint]. And so three years into that [unint] my department head decided to retire and someone thought it was a good idea to give me the keys to the department and I said well I’ll go ahead and do it but I really didn’t want to do it, I wanted to kind of stay at the deputy level of city all [unint], so I was with each of the departments for about four years and I’ll let you guys know the story of how I became the chief deputy of the department.
I was minding my own business, working the yard Saturday morning, about 10 o’ clock. My wife comes out and says, ‘bill [unint. Last name] is on the line for you.’ And I said, ‘bill?’ and she said, ‘yes, bill.’ And when you get a call—bill [unint. Last name] is my boss—when you get a call from your boss on a Saturday morning, uh you don’t think that anything [untint.] like ‘hey, they’re calling me up to say, “hey you did a great job.” So um I actually got the phone I said ‘bill is everything ok? Did uh did a plane fall out of the sky into the water? Is a boat you know, did it wash up to [unint] is everything ok?’ and he says, ‘no no no, everything’s fine.’ And he says to me, ‘uh we’re looking for someone to assist with the assessor’s office to ease the transition. Officer Noguez is taking a leave of absence and we thought you would be a really good candidate. Would you be interested in doing it?’ and I said, ‘do I need to give you an answer right away?’ and he says, ‘no, take a couple of hours, call me back’ [unint.] so um I went ahead and um talked with my wife about it. um, I had promised her that I was going to take the summer a little easier, and take more time off [unint.] spend more time with my three little girls, um, and she looked at me and said, ‘well, if you think you really can help, and you think you can do it, uh [unint.] then call bill back and uh the county really wants you to do it [unint] I didn’t really hear from him again until Tuesday morning that he decided he was gonna nominate me as uh [unint] to run the department. So I walked into his office early in the morning on Tuesday. He looked at me and says, ‘are you ready for your next big adventure?’ and I said, ‘ are you serious?’ and he said, ‘yes, we’re gonna make the nomination today.’ And I said, ‘ok.’
So what was supposed to happen, just so you all know, was that they were supposed to nominate me Tuesday, and they were supposed to appoint me on that Tuesday. So what happened was that [unint] officially got my name on the recommendation wasn’t on the agenda at the time so they had to wait, so that’s why there was this delay. So when there was this delay I decided that uh it was important, I thought for the assessment organization that I gave the senior level managers time so that they could get a sense of who I am uh get a sense of uh cause I didn’t want it to be like all of a sudden I came and I uh—and so I decided to go ahead and meet with them and you probably all read in the paper that ‘Mr. Kriemann meets with the senior level managers and he hasn’t been appointed.’ And then of course ‘he doesn’t have an appraisal license’ and there’s a very good reason why I don’t have an appraisal certificate; it’s because I’ve never worked in the assessor’s office before. There’s no need for me to have one. So—but I have applied for—I have applied, right? [asks for corroboration from the audience. Audience laughs.] for a temporary certificate, I do intend on studying, I don’t have time to study during work hours, I’ll probably be doing it in the evenings, early in the mornings probably, and definitely on the weekends. So I’m hopeful, I haven’t taken exams in probably about 25 years, so I’m a little concerned about multiple guess questions, and uh try and get through that, but I’m pretty confident I might be able to squeeze by with a 71. Apparently I just need 70. So I’ll try to do my best. And so we’re gonna rectify the situation in terms of that license. Um, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
Now I did meet with my senior level managers, um, I’ll share with you that I was a little concerned about meeting with them at first, um, I was concerned about you know, the tone [unint] of the organization, and I had been reading a lot of things in the paper about you all, Mr. Noguez, so I decided to go ahead and meet with them and talk to them I had handed out a piece of paper at the meeting that talked about what I believed was essential and what was important and I knew that as soon as I passed it out that eventually it was gonna get into the press and I just wanted to know how quickly that was gonna do, uh, that was gonna take. So, just to let you all know, it’s about 20 minutes [audience laughs] the meeting [unint] PIO and the department of beaches and harbors started receiving phone call after phone call about what was happening at the meeting, and I told them I don’t really—I’m not really interested in talking to the press at this point, uh, but I have to tell you that uh that I was very disappointed. Very very very disappointed that that happened so quickly.
That something like that would be um presented. I did uh, unbeknownst to the managers I did uh provide the beach with a different set of talking points um, I put typos in it purposely, to figure out where the leak was. Unfortunately, the uh, the letter wasn’t printed as part of the message but uh, I had a lead on them and uh, I just want to let you know that—each and every one of you can hear me out there right?—
I want you all to hear this: there is a policy, in the department, that requires all employees to trans-transfer all media inquiries to the executive office. Everybody knows that right? It’s still in effect. So if anyone in the room and I’ve said this to everyone that I’ve spoken to, ok, so don’t feel like I’m picking on you or anything, ok? I’ve already told everyone, in the department that that rule is still in effect, that um I think that uh that when we have discussions with the family so to speak or the inner circle, those things should stay within the inner circle. It’s not that I’m trying to hide anything, uh there’s nothing for me to hide, I’ve just arrived at the uh the department and uh I was really surprised that something like that actually happened.
So if anyone in the room, or anyone in the other room feel the need to talk to the press, uh I ask two things and two things only. The first is, make sure you tell the truth. I’m gonna add a third thing. Tell the truth and please, whoever is talking to the Los Cerritos folks, tell them to spell my name right [audience laughs]. They spelled it wrong like six or seven different times! And in the same article. So how about spelling my name right? And the third thing I ask is, make sure I don’t find out about it, ok? Because if I find out about it, there will be consequences. K? so everyone understands that? We all understand that? so don’t let me find out about it. But just don’t do it, because I really believe that it’s highly unprofessional to do something like that. There’s no reason for it. whatever happened in the past is going to be part of our past. And Mr. Noguez’s situation is gonna be taken care of by him and his attorneys. And the district attorney’s office. It has nothing to do with the assessor’s office any longer. We’ve taken steps to make sure that we’ve divorced ourselves from that situation the first thing I did is I spoke with county council, told all PRA requests, public record access requests will be going to county council. They’ll take care of it. they’ll look at them, the email, or letters, or memos, whatever it is, they’ll redact whatever needs to be redacted and then they’ll send it over to the newspaper. We have nothing to do with it. Nothing. K? We have to divorce ourselves from that situation. We need to figure out what we need to do to from here forward. From here forward. This is about the organization. It’s not about one individual, or a group of individuals. It’s about what’s best for the organization.
And I’ll tell you all something very very important: k? we have a distinct window of opportunity. A short window of opportunity to do some amazing things here, to change the culture, to change some of the policies [unint.] that we think need to change. Now we’ve allowed the politicians to run the department for the last couple of years, now it’s time for the professionals of the department to stand up and start making some changes and suggestions that we can implement. That fair? [agreement from audience] so the professionals in the room and outside of the room need to understand that that’s what I’m here for. That’s what I’m here for. Very first question I got when I became the deputy director believe it or not was ‘are you going to run for the assessor’s office?’ and I said, ‘damn. I’m worried about tomorrow, not worried about three years from now. I’m worried about next week, I’m worried about the people in the room right now, how you guys are feeling about yourselves, how you guys are feeling about your organization. Let’s face it. it hasn’t been real fun working for the assessor’s office lately, right? Am I right? You’re going to a barbecue, your family comes up to you, ‘hey what the hell’s happening over there?’ right? Am I right? You know how I know? Because when my name came out, I got painted with the same brush! And all of a sudden it was, ‘what are you gonna do about it?’ I said ‘damn, I’ve only had one meeting. Give me a break.’ So like I said, we have a small window of opportunity. When I asked you the question about whether or not I’m going to run for the assessor’s office ok, so everybody knows. What I said was, ‘I’m not answering that question.’ And the reason I say that is because I felt, or I feel, strongly, that if I say that I’m going to run for the office, that I’ll become a politician and lose all credibility whatsoever. That the function I have now, and the job I have ahead that’s not what we need right now. K? it’s about your organization. It’s about the people in it. if I say that I’m not going to run, I become a lame duck, right? And then no one’s gonna do anything I ask and everyone’s gonna sit back, [unint.] and take your chances with the next guy. Or next gal. right? So I’m not answering the question. I may love being in this office. I may want to do this the rest of my county career, however long that may be. But I’m now answering the question. The only one that really knows is my wife. And I’m still a little [unint.; audience laughs] so I’m not answering the question what I’m here to do, or what I’m I’m expected to do is to stabilize the organization, make sure that the press starts to try to find a story somewhere else, the story in the assessor’s is, There is no story. There is no more story. K? we have to concentrate on our jobs, we have to concentrate on evaluations, we have concentrate on the things that we do best.
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