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Mountain View Voice

News - December 7, 2012

Community briefs

Local performance of The Nutcracker

Children and teens from Mountain View and surrounding communities are performing in Western Ballet's Nutcracker this weekend at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Four of the five shows kick off with a short, pre-show performance of Tchaikovsky music by the Teen Guitar Quartet, led by Los Altos resident Ashwin Krishna. Ashwin has played at Carnegie Hall and has been on NPR's radio show "From the Top," according to Western Ballet's Eileen Zubiria. His mother is the ballet school's costume mistress, Zubiria said.

The classic holiday ballet, featuring toys that come alive and heroine Clara's adventures in the Kingdom of Sweets, takes the stage at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. Matinee performances are at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and include a chance to meet the cast following the show.

Tickets are $30 general admission, $27 for students and seniors, and $25 for children 12 and under. For more information, call Western Ballet at 650-968-4455, the MVCPA box office at 650-903-6000 or go to westernballet.org.

—Andrea Gemmet

Supervisor owes county $13K

Supervisor George Shirakawa must repay the county $12,772 in expenses he wrongly charged on his government credit card, the Santa Clara County Controller-Treasurer Department reported Monday.

The county's Finance Agency, after auditing 240 charges Shirakawa made his procurement card, or P-Card, from 2009 to 2012, found that he had failed to comply with county rules on using the card for personal expenses, travel, charitable donations and business meals.

In its review of $36,837 in charges the supervisor placed on the card, the agency said Shirakawa violated the county's travel policy by upgrading the class of rental vehicles without justification, overcharging for hotel rooms and not turning in expense receipts.

Shirakawa, who represents part of San Jose, also charged taxpayers $10,354 for 174 business meal transactions without providing itemized receipts as the county requires, the audit found.

"In numerous instances, the county-issued P-Card was used to pay for the cardholder's personal expenses, pay the registration fee of a political event, donate county funds to non-profit entities without (approval), or to purchase items that are either strictly prohibited or restricted under various county policies," the agency reported in its audit released Monday.

Shirakawa, however, disputes the allegations, posting on his website that he had reimbursed the city for charges made by mistake or made upgrades using personal funds. Some receipts and copies of checks accompanied the response as evidence.

The county auditors said that Shirakawa must reimburse the county $12,772 in donations to charity and other unapproved charges on the procurement card.

The Controller-Treasurer Department said it would also perform a detailed audit of expenses charged by people working for Shirakawa in his District 2 office over the same period it reviewed the supervisor's expensing.

The auditors recommended that the county consider revising policies and procedures to remove confusion regarding expense reporting and making sure the policies are implemented the same way for all county employees.

—Bay City News Service

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