It was the city of Santa Ana's fault that, for more than three years, Mayor Miguel Pulido received health benefits from both the city and the Orange County Transportation Authority, according to a letter from City Manager David Ream released Wednesday.
In the letter to OCTA Chief Executive Will Kempton, Ream said the city "continued [Pulido's] insurance coverage on an annual basis without his knowledge, participation and/or consent." Ream's letter included a copy of a Pulido letter, written this week, asking Santa Ana to drop his city health insurance.
Yet how Pulido could be unaware that he was receiving health and dental coverage from the city since 2007 is still unknown. The mayor didn't respond to a request to discuss the issue, and Ream, according to an assistant, left on vacation shortly before a reporter called for an interview.
Voice of OC reported last week that taxpayers were contributing a total of about $33,000 to Pulido's health care each year, the $15,000 from Santa Ana and about $18,000 annually from OCTA.
In addition, Voice of OC reported that the mayor is receiving double driving benefits: a $500 monthly vehicle allowance from the city at the same time he's driving a retrofitted, plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius issued to him by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
In his letter to Kempton, Ream enclosed a 2007 form, signed by Pulido, that OCTA directors were required to fill out. Pulido's form, signed and dated Jan. 8, 2007, said he wanted to continue receiving benefits through OCTA and opt out of Santa Ana's program. That form is on file with OCTA, an agency spokesperson confirmed.
But it's not clear how or when Pulido notified Santa Ana that he wanted to drop the city's health coverage. Ream's letter to Kempton simply says Pulido "never authorized reenrollment" in the city plan.
This week, in a letter to Ream dated Aug. 30, Pulido said:
As you are aware, the last time I authorized the City of Santa Ana to enroll me in a medical insurance plan was in 2001. Accordingly, please accept this letter as an official request to have my City of Santa Ana health and dental insurance coverage cancelled effective immediately.
Furthermore, I waive my right to receive any cash benefit from the City of Santa Ana, to which I am entitled in lieu of eliminating my city health and dental benefits.
Ream's letter also said he has asked staff to seek reimbursement for "the premiums paid by the City for coverage not utilized."
-- TRACY WOOD