Santana: OC Supervisors Get Ethics

The ink was barely dry on a proposed county ethics plan last Friday before allegations of political foul play were already at fever pitch.

Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer called out Supervisor Andrew Do as a plagiarist on the issue.

Do shot right back at Spitzer in a phone interview with me late Friday, accusing him of “straight out dishonesty” about the timestamps on submitted legislation for the ethics panel, calling him a “liar” – and promising a public confrontation on Tuesday’s public dais.

All of this comes as Orange County supervisors appear poised to approve a county ethics commission Tuesday, with a majority seemingly willing – after years of resistance – to create a county agency with subpoena powers and tasked with regulating and enforcing local campaign finance rules passed in 1978 – called TINCUP (Time is Now, Clean Up Politics), and widely considered among the strongest at the local level.

After lengthy negotiations and collaboration with proponents of an ongoing ballot initiative to establish an ethics panel, Spitzer and Supervisor Shawn Nelson on Friday introduced an ordinance to establish an ethics panel.

That ordinance immediately received the full support of the citizens’ ballot drive led by longtime campaign finance activist (and TINCUP author) Shirley Grindle, Chapman professors Mario Mainero and Fred Smoller and attorney Bill Mitchell, a longtime Common Cause leader in Orange County.

The ordinance would set up a staffed, 5-member Ethics Commission and amend the county’s charter and campaign finance ordinance to allow the panel to enforce those laws. A key component of the commission, all agree, would be to engage and educate primarily and view enforcement as secondary – reserved for only those who ignore polite warnings in private.

While acknowledging the work of activists like Grindle, Do said he submitted his own version of an ethics ordinance Friday morning in order to make clear distinctions about his own views on the issue: such as a lifetime ban for anyone, like Grindle, who advocates for the panel ever serving on it.

Do said he wanted to arrive on Tuesday with clear positions acknowledged on the issue, rather than just being seen as one supervisor offering random amendments on the floor.

He said the negotiations with the campaign finance activists involved all supervisors.

“They met with all of us,” Do said, adding that because the Brown Act largely prevents elected officials from discussing issues before open session, he could not discuss details with his colleagues and thus chose to release his own version.

Yet Do – who faces reelection sooner than of any of his colleagues – immediately got out in front of those very same colleagues Friday, flooding media channels with a release touting his support for his own ordinance to set up a taxpayer-funded, countywide campaign finance watchdog.

Any media nibbles would make a nice campaign chit. Good mailer material.

And Do’s presser indeed got reporters calling.

Except Spitzer labeled Do’s ordinance as plagiarism, his press release, a “freshman mistake.”

“I think he plagiarized Shawn and my proposal, which we put together after months of hard work with the proponents,” Spitzer said, adding that Do should say he supports the deal worked out by him and Nelson.

There are two very different stories about who turned in ordinance drafts first.

Do said he walked over his proposal to Spitzer’s office around 9:30 a.m. because he had a meeting later that morning. He said he gave Spitzer a copy of his ordinance in the morning in front of Spitzer’s staff, which Do said he may call to testify on Tuesday.

“It’s dishonest to timestamp mine an hour and half after his,” Do said, stressing that he delivered his ordinance to Spitzer on Friday morning. “That’s factual. That’s not up to interpretation.”

Spitzer described Do’s effort as last-minute, barely qualifying under board of supervisors’ rules for placement as a supplemental item on the agenda.

“At 11:45, Andrew comes up and hands me his document,” Spitzer said.

Spitzer said he only authorized Do’s ordinance for discussion as a courtesy to him.

Then he saw Do’s press release.

“It looks like he’s trying to bootstrap and plagiarizes to take credit,” Spitzer said.

“He’s giving the impression’ I’m Wonder Dog and I’m here to save the day’.”

Yet after watching a week of emergency deliberations to save Karma the wolf dog led by Spitzer, Do said he’s stunned to hear Spitzer complain because a freshman supervisor beat him to the punch on a press release.

Yet the fact that board members are stepping out in front of themselves to be Wonder Dog on campaign finance regulation – a far cry from where they were just a year ago when they tried to cut grand jurors pay because the panel raised questions about an ethics commission – really says something about how Orange County citizens have begun to turn around their government and how elected officials react when citizens present just the threat of a viable punch delivered through the ballot box.

  • Ed Romero

    An Ethics Committee, what a joke. I remember while I was employed by the Orange County Probation Department, this Asst. Chief Probation Officer was selected by the Board of Supervisor’s to represent the County of Orange at a Seminar on Ethics in Government. I can still hear my co-workers LAUGHING about that. Who would select someone that was caught shoplifting 8 times, who was on Court Probation for a year, who Smoked so much Marijuana while on duty that the entire 5 floors of the Probation Department were full of Marijuana fumes, who had her very own Gang of Drug Dealers, most of them Deputy Probation Officers, who FIRED a Hispanic Male for reporting to work late, but REHIRED one of her Drug Dealers who was caught Snorting Cocaine (a Felony) at our Los Pinos Detention Center, (aka/the Lesbian Drug Den because of all the Drug Abuse up there), she ordered the Director to destroy all the records and to keep his mouth shut. Someone was destroying Probation Adult 1000 PC Files (Most of them are Drug Cases), on 2 different nights me and another employee caught that Asst. Chief Probation Officer removing files and linedex’s after hours. I also caught her stealing an employee’s wallet (lots of wallets were missing), I also caught her stealing a County Money Bag. So you see this is the last person the Board of Supervisor’s should of selected. I understand that when she was attending that Seminar, she was snubbed by the other attendee’s and her vehicle was posted with Lesbian pictures. I want anyone reading this to know that when I was FORCED to resign, I was first replaced by 2 full time employee’s, then 2 part-time employee’s and now they have add 3 more full time employee’s, it took 7 employee’s to process the work that I did ALL BY MYSELF, with no assistance from anyone, in fact one day I saw that corrupt Asst. Chief Probation Office STEAL a envelope full of Adult Record Checks from my mail slot, when I complained nothing was done about it. Like I said before an Ethics Committee WHAT A JOKE.

    • Jacki Livingston

      I know JUST HOW YOU FEEL. At SSA, I reported corruption and abuse within nursing homes, and wound up being put under the thumb of a “rising star” in the Agency who drank at lunch, and who threw chairs at employees. He had legendary affairs, trading promotions for sexual favors, and got caught by his first wife (an employee of the agency) in the parking lot of the office getting sexual favors from a subordinate (his eventual second wife). He had the second wife raised up in a meteoric leap up the ladder, so she would be locked into her job in one place, which kept her out of his hair while he indulged his “funtimes” at a different office. He surrounded himself with fawning females and computer boys, who thought he walked on water. He referred to coma patients as “bean bags” and he destroyed anyone who dared to challenge him. He assaulted me, and destroyed my career, because I refused to accept his offer to “play ball”. But because he was well connected to very high ranking officials, he was bulletproof. He falisified expenses and all kinds of federal reports, so we could get higher funding by lying on reports. He sexually harassed women, all the time. He made crude jokes about weight, menopause and health. He is nothing more than a lowlife scumbag who would never be able to compete in private sector, but he flourished in public sector because of the cronyism and nepotism that the powers that be encourage, protect and support. In fact, so much so that Todd Spitzer used his wife and a client who is a judge to rig up a workers comp case to the County’s advantage. This is not news. This is how this entire system works.

  • Jeffrey Dickman

    I look forward to reading the two drafts. A good example of an Ethics Ordinance is the one used by the City of Los Angeles. It is a compreshenisve text. It mostly educates elected officials about the law. It also provides for enforcement and penalities and how these are employed and applied.

    I’d suggest comparing the competing drafts to the LA City version to see how robust Supervisor Do’s and Supervisors Spitzer’s and Nelson’s stack up.
    Neighbors and I hosted some several meetings about the LA version a few years ago because it is so compelling of a tool that it was worth the time to become acquainted with it.
    Let’s hope the OC ends up with a usable, worthwhile Ethics ordinance with real teeth.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Such Infantile behavior

    I was first, no I was first, don’t copy me, don’t copy me, I’m gonna tell on you, I’m gonna tell everyone what you did, you want attention, your just want to be in the spotlight. Mom!!!!! Dad!!!!

    Andrew – get in that corner you are on a time out. Toddy – get in that corner you are on a time out.

    Write 50 times, ” I will act like a big kid.”

    It would be funny if Do and Spitzer were toddlers. Sine they are elected officials this is pathetic

    They could care less about ethics. Sadly, they will turn this into a big phony show to get something shallow and ineffective in place that they can evade and manipulate.

    • David Zenger

      “Toddler” Spitzer?

      Hmm. Delusions of grandeur. Self-centered universe. Megalomania.

      Check, check, check.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        And, this Toddler has no teeth – like the proposed ethics ordinance.

        • Jacki Livingston

          But he does have a gun! And handcuffs! And Karma!

  • occynic

    “a far cry from where they were just a year ago when they tried to cut grand jurors pay because the panel raised questions about an ethics commission – really says something about how Orange County citizens have begun to turn around their government and how elected officials react when citizens present just the threat of a viable punch delivered through the ballot box.”
    Not really, Grindle and company did not have the money nor the volunteers to get an ethic’s commission on the ballet. It would have died, save a deal with the Sups to agree to a term limit extension on the same ballot. Spitzer and Nelson are looking to add a third term with a life time ban. Just wait for it.

  • David Zenger

    All very pathetic and all very comical.

    It’s too bad OCs ethical problem has virtually nothing to do with campaign finance reporting, and everything to do with a metastasizing culture in which politics has completely replaced governance. It’s no wonder the Board has come to embrace a toothless “Ethics Commission.”

    Nothing personal, but Ms. Grindle has been shuffling index cards from the outside for so long that she doesn’t seem to have a clue how to address the real problem.

    Part of the real solution is to make ALL the County electeds report their accomplishments annually in a required format that is reviewed for accuracy and honesty by a completely independent auditor. No PR, no BS. Just a published statement of accomplishment.

    The other part is to have our independent auditor review all Board agenda items for accuracy, veracity, and unintended impacts. Then let our friends on the BOS vote.

    Sure the megalomaniacs can still have their wolf-dog comic operas, and they can wander around their districts looking for photo ops and stray TV cameras. But watch what their future political opponents do to them.

  • Paul Lucas

    This is kind of funny. And kind of not.