Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido is paid by three separate agencies to drive.
As we’ve reported previously, Pulido receives a $500 monthly car allowance from the city of Santa Ana while at the same time driving a plug-in Toyota Prius issued to him by the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
And we just found out that the Orange County Transportation Authority paid Pulido a total of $365.61 in 2008-2009 in mileage reimbursements, according to his OCTA expense accounts.
Pulido acknowledged receiving all three driving perks in an interview late Wednesday afternoon. But he he said it’s a good thing because he is helping clean the environment.
He said the plug-in hybrid he’s been driving since 2006 has helped him help the automotive industry develop cleaner autos.
“I have volunteered to be the test driver for this technology,” he said in a telephone interview. He said when problems develop with the car, he notifies those working on the technology.
And even though it has bumped up his home electricity bill some, he said he doesn’t file an expense report for the added electric costs. “I’m so much an advocate” for clean auto technology that “I feel it’s my contribution” to pay the added electric charge.
He didn’t say how much his monthly bill has increased but did say he’s working with Edison to find a way to separate the costs of charging electric vehicles so they don’t increase home electric bills.
His work as mayor and as a director of the OCTA also are aimed at improving the environment, he said, like his advocacy of natural gas, which now fuels the county busses.
The OCTA expense reimbursement is “a very small amount,” Pulido said, “not to belittle it in any way.”
Besides, he said, “I’ve got a couple of private cars that have nothing to do with the prototype from AQMD.” He said he sometimes uses those cars on official business.
Overall, he said, he believes his contribution to promoting clean driving technology “has been very significant, way beyond any of the expense reports.”
On another topic, Pulido said he never intended to have two health plans, one from the city and the other from OCTA. “I never authorized the city since 2001 to re-up me. It happened automatically. My mistake.”
He said if he deliberately wanted to profit from the system he would have taken a $500 monthly payment in lieu of the city health insurance coverage. “I’ve chosen not to do that.”
He said the money he gets each month for attending transportation authority meetings — $100 per meeting up to a maximum of $500 — is turned back to the agency to help cover his health insurance costs.
— TRACY WOOD