Former city finance manager Jennifer Hennessy was authorized to purchase a bridge in Brooklyn last year, in an attempt to bolster our city’s finances with revenue from bridge traffic. Hennessy presented favorable reports on the solvency of the investment time and time again to the city council. During one council meeting, she even held a presentation showing pictures of the bridge in various types of weather, full of cars supposedly paying the tolls. She convinced the dais that the city could potentially make a fortune controlling access to the roadway, and that bridges like this don’t come up for sale very often.

Unfortunately, not every member of the Chico city council was on board with the decision, and suspected that perhaps our ex- city finance manager and ex- city manager were trying to “sell us a bridge.” Councilmember Mark Sorenson incited a Grand Jury investigation into the monumental purchase to get to the bottom of it. However, Hennessy was prepared with documents stating that the bridge was a favorable and profitable investment and that the city’s finances were quite in order, nothing at all amiss, look over there.

After submitting several of these revenue-positive reports to the Grand Jury, Hennessy suddenly folded up her suitcase full of bridge pamphlets and left town. She tendered her resignation and headed for Temecula while the Grand Jury investigation continued. Hennessy was last seen hopping on a freight train south, wearing a bowler hat and sporting a handkerchief full of dollars tied to a stick.

New city Administrative Services Director Chris Constantin, upon reviewing the books, realized that the purchase of the bridge left a 20-million-dollar hole in the city’s coffers, with no incoming revenue to replenish it. “I kept wondering where all the revenue from the bridge traffic was, looking for any kind of evidence that we were making money on the deal,” said Constantin. Shortly thereafter, the Grand Jury returned with devastating news. The bridge was never for sale.

Upon the release of the verdict, the Synthesis contacted the City of Temecula to ask if they’d been considering any large bridge purchases since Hennessy came on board, and the city manager laughed, “Don’t be ridiculous! We just bought the Statue of Liberty.”

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