Supervisors to Discuss Ethics Commission Proposal

Orange County supervisors are scheduled Tuesday to dive into the details of an ethics commission initiative that political watchdog Shirley Grindle wants to put before voters.

In particular, they are slated to discuss a report on the issue put together by their political aides – who have spent the last several weeks gathering testimony from a variety of ethics advocates and enforcers – as well as the ballot proposal by Grindle and Bill Mitchell, the former chairman of Orange County Common Cause.

The report (written by Chris Nguyen, Brian Probolsky, Denis Bilodeau, Paul Walters, and Joel Angeles) takes issue with parts of Grindle’s proposal, particularly regarding who appoints ethics commissioners and how extensive their subpoena powers should be.

Grindle’s proposal calls for the Grand Jurors Association of Orange County to interview and vet applicants for the commission, and then recommend several candidates that county supervisors are limited to choosing from.

The supervisors’ aides, however, say that the commission should follow the standard practice of ethics commissions across California by leaving the screening process to elected officials.

The report also raises legal questions about whether the county can obligate the grand jurors association, which is a non-governmental organization that requires its members to pay dues, to do what the proposal calls for.

As for subpoena power, the aides warned that “caution and great care should be taken when considering subpoena power to a possible ethics commission.”

(Click here to read the political aides’ full report.)

Under Grindle’s sweeping proposal, an ethics commission would enforce not only campaign finance limits for countywide offices, but also receipt of gifts and unethical conduct by managers and employees.

It would also receive tips regarding ethics issues through a hotline, and have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents, such as bank records.

The discussion comes after a prediction from supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer that Grindle’s measure will likely pass if it gets on the ballot.

He and Supervisor Shawn Nelson have been trying to convince Grindle to change aspects of her proposal, with the idea that supervisors could place a mutually agreed-upon measure on the ballot and avoid an expensive signature-gathering campaign by Grindle and her supporters.

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Jacki Livingston

    They are going to discuss ethics? Will someone be volunteering to spell the big words and draw some pictures, so that the Gang o’ Five can understand the basic elemental concepts? E-T-H-I-C-S, Mister Chairman. I can define it as something that all of you, and all of your flunkies, and your wife, and her appointed judge, and pretty much all of the higher ups in all of the agencies fail to use. It is a concept that not one of you even begins to understand.

    • Paul Lucas

      Whats this you are talking about with a Judge?

      • Jacki Livingston

        Didn’t you know? Spitzer’s wife is in charge of the Worker’s Comp court in Anaheim, and she appointed a judge on my case who was a former client of Spitzer’s. He represented her when she was nearly killed by an attacker, and together they got a new victim’s law passed and she won the civil case. So, of course they don’t recuse themselves for a conflict of interest. In fact, his wife actually appointed HERSELF to my case for three whole days, right at the same time that his Chief of Staff, Martha Ochoa, was trying to get info about my case out of me. Yeah, I bet those three days were just long enough for her to give the hubby all my confidential documents and medical reports. But…then…Todd would never be so unethical…would he?

        • Paul Lucas

          No I had no idea. Was this reported in any newspapers or blogs before?

          • Jacki Livingston

            I went to the LA Times and OCR and stuff, and they didn’t care at all. People have no idea that this is going on, at the same time that the highest rates of employee claims for stress related illnesses are being filed. I had two mini strokes, and was made sick as a dog, for years, only to have to deal with a court that was stacked against me by a conflict of interest. County employees should never be at the mercy of the wife of the Chairman of the BoS, essentially the boss’ wife! She should have recused herself, from anything involving County employees, and so should the judge who was his client and good friend. But this is just par for the course. The fraud and embezzlement that I witnessed was such that they all had to be on the take. There was no way that kind of money was changing hands and that they did not all know about it. No way.

  • David Zenger

    “The supervisors’ aides, however, say that the commission should follow
    the standard practice of ethics commissions across California by leaving
    the screening process to elected officials.”

    Um, yeah, right. look who they put on their “Ethics” committee. Their own flunkies.