Toll Roads Chief Offers to Resign

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Facing intense scrutiny over a series of secret contract approvals that have upset board members, the chief executive of Orange County’s toll road system has offered his resignation.

Transportation Corridor Agencies CEO Neil Peterson, who was placed on leave last month, has offered to resign in exchange for receiving about $79,000 over the next 90 days while not working.

Additionally, TCA would be prohibited from telling any of Peterson’s future employers about the contracting issues or any other concerns about his work.

The proposed settlement is up for a vote this Thursday by members of TCA’s twin boards. The meetings start at 9:30 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters, 125 Pacifica, Irvine.

(Click here to read the proposed settlement.)

One board member has already made clear that he’ll vote against the proposed deal.

“I will not be supporting the settlement,” board member and county Supervisor Todd Spitzer told the Orange County Register. “It’s utilizing the 90-day, no-cause severance provision of his contract. I believe we should be utilizing the for-cause provision.”

Peterson and much of the TCA leadership came under heavy scrutiny earlier this month after Spitzer grilled him over $600,000 in contracts that were authorized without board approval.

All of the contracts were approved under the CEO’s or the CEO-plus-board chair’s signing authority but drew significant criticism because of the nature of the contracts and their amounts.

One contract with Gable PR started at $20,000 but grew to $518,000 without full board approval. Another with Canyon Strategies started at $27,000 but was later increased to $243,000.

There are also questions about whether some contracts were signed outside the CEO and board chair’s authority.

If the proposal is approved on Thursday, Peterson would officially resign on June 5.

The proposed settlement, along with the other agenda attachments, wasn’t included in this week’s online meeting agendas.

TCA spokeswoman Lisa Telles said her agency will start including agenda attachments, possibly as soon as next month.

Please contact Nick Gerda directly at ngerda@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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