Anaheim Council Hires New Building Department Head

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The Anaheim City Council Tuesday night approved a contract with Jon Traw to replace Scott Fazekas as the city’s part-time building division head. And a city staff report states that checks were made to ensure Traw doesn’t have similar conflict of interest issues as Fazekas.

Fazekas resigned in October after Voice of OC articles showed that his firm, Scott Fazekas & Associates, had been receiving the majority of the city’s outsourced plan review work, raising conflict of interest questions from good-government experts.

And before Fazekas, the firm Charles Abbott Associates received most of the outsourced plan check work while company employee Steve Ahuna was the city’s contract plan-review supervisor.

These revelations played a role in the City Council’s decision earlier this month to ask former City Manager Thomas Wood to resign, according to City Hall insiders. Wood’s resignation, which is effective in December, came after the City Council slashed his contract-signing authority from $250,000 to $100,000.

While council members approved Traw’s contract without discussion, it’s clear from the staff report that Traw’s lack of ties with plan review firms contracting with the city was a major factor in his selection.

“None of the employees of the firms on our plan check consulting list were considered due to the potential appearance of a conflict of interest,” the staff report reads.

The staff report notes that Traw owns a firm, Traw Associates Consulting, which specializes in fire safety design. The report also points out that the firm does not do plan check work for other cities.

“While there could be the appearance of a conflict of interest, Mr. Traw is fully aware that he cannot endorse, promote or otherwise introduce Anaheim customers to this product,” the staff report reads. “During his service to three other cities as Building Official, there have been no instances where he has used his position to benefit the fire retardant company. In fact, he has earned no income from this company for the past three years.”

Traw was given a contract in an amount not to exceed $156,000, according to the staff report. He was also president and CEO of the International Conference of Building Officials, the organization that “prepared building codes for the West Coast and Midwest portions of the United States until 2002,” the staff report says.

In other council action, council members set a Jan. 24 public hearing to consider a 20-year contract with the city’s trash hauler, Republic Waste Services of Southern California.

The waste hauler invested $40 million in expanding and modernizing its materials recovery facility and is seeking a 13-year extension of its seven-year agreement with the city, according to a city staff report.

Republic is lead by William Taormina, one of the city’s most prominent business leaders. His firm was known as Taormina Industries before merging with Republic Industries in 1997.

Council members also selected Councilwoman Lorri Galloway as their new mayor pro tem. The title, which is largely ceremonial, means Galloway will be presiding over council meetings when Mayor Tom Tait is absent.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

 

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