Hasan Ikhrata
Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata attends a SANDAG board meeting in May. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

After yet another scathing assessment of agency spending practices, a veteran board member of the San Diego Association of Governments wants an early review of CEO Hasan Ikhrata’s job performance.

He’s not going to get it. 

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall asked for a closed-door session two days before the board’s regularly scheduled Friday morning meeting, citing the results of a recent contracts audit and “prior performance issues that have come to light,” according to a letter that inewsource obtained. 

His request was denied by the next day.

“We have a process for setting SANDAG agendas that involves the executive committee’s approval and that process has been followed,” said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who also chairs SANDAG’s Board of Directors. “We are not modifying the agenda based on a board member request.”

Hired in 2018 as SANDAG was already embroiled in turmoil, Ikhrata has led the regional planning agency through a series of internal audits: Along with the recent review on contracts, the Office of the Independent Performance Auditor also found improper severance and bonus payments and misuse of employee credit cards.

The latest audit found officials increased contracts by tens of millions of dollars more than their original amounts. The agency’s 10 vendors with the highest percentage changes originally were awarded nearly $48 million in work, but that total more than doubled over a four-year period to nearly $106 million. 

Vendors are not identified in the audit. While internal auditor Mary Khoshmashrab said more “specifics” will be included in another review that is expected to be completed early next year, she has no plans to name the contractors in an effort to avoid potentially defaming a business or compromising any possible further investigation. 

Read the full article on inewsource.org.

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Ellen Bullock