Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman last week submitted the final version of a report to the clerk-recorder's office that in a previous draft was heavily criticized as inadequate and containing an entire section largely plagiarized from the Wikipedia entry on Orange County.
And while the report has more than doubled its page count and includes over 250 pages in supporting documents, Supervisor John Moorlach remained unimpressed.
Moorlach contended that the report — a study of whether the clerk-recorder needs a branch office in west Orange County — does not provide information essential to the decision.
“Would I put my stamp of approval on it to help me make a decision? Probably as a CPA [certified public accountant], no,” Moorlach said.
Tom Daly, former clerk-recorder and Brandman political ally, granted the councilman a contract to complete the report Jan. 31 last year, the same day Brandman left the clerk-recorder's employ as the department's manager of external affairs and just as he was beginning his council campaign.
Brandman received two contract extensions and a $1,500 compensation increase and was paid at least $24,000 for submitting draft sections of the report. The last extension set April 30 as the deadline for the final draft.
County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said payments for draft sections were inappropriate under Brandman's contract.
Moorlach estimated that the county grossly overpaid for the work and questioned whether the contract was merely a guise to make payments to Brandman of county funds. A leading government ethicist said the work product raised numerous questions regarding the county's contract standards.
Interim Clerk-Recorder Renee Ramirez gave supervisors few answers to their questions, arguing only that the contract adhered to county rules. She asserted that Daly had made most of the decisions regarding the contract, an answer that did not satisfy supervisors' concerns.
After Voice of OC reported on the issue, prompting the county counsel to demand that Brandman finish the report or refund compensation, Brandman agreed to a March 22 deadline to submit the final report.
The final report's additional information includes, among other items, various tables on demographics, regional maps, pictures of branch offices and a graph showing the growth in document recordings. An expanded facilities overview and needs section provides a synopsis of the state's laws curbing pollution and a calculation of how a branch office could help reduce vehicle gas emissions.
A final section, not included in the draft report, titled “conclusions of analysis/recommendations,” summarizes the report's findings.
Moorlach said that after seeing the additional information, he didn't think much more time was spent assembling the report. And he noted that the report needed a proofreader to weed out typographical errors.
Information essential to deciding to open another branch, such as the cost of a satellite office and an explanation of how it would be managed, is missing, Moorlach said.
Instead, the report states only that opening two other branches would be cost neutral because staff would be moved from the central office location. “There is no reason to assume otherwise,” the report concludes.
“I would think somewhere in the body of the report it would say this is what it costs to run the [existing] office in Laguna Hills,” Moorlach said. “It doesn't go into that kind of detail. From an accountant's standpoint, I'm missing out on that.”
Supervisors next week will ask Ramirez questions in public as they interview her for the permanent clerk-recorder position. Interviews are scheduled for April 2, Moorlach said.
Brandman has not returned phone calls since Voice of OC first began reporting this story earlier this month.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly identified John Moorlach as the chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. We regret the error.