Spitzer’s Proposal to Hire Lalloway Raises Conflict Questions

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Last week, Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway threatened to have his city sue Orange County.

Next week, he might join the county payroll.

On Wednesday, Supervisor Todd Spitzer – whose district includes Irvine – placed a short item on next Tuesday’s supervisors agenda to have the county pay Lalloway $190,000 over the next year as a policy advisor to Spitzer.

There were no other details, other than a promise to provide a copy of the proposed contract by this Friday.

Spitzer’s move is raising questions about possible conflicts of interest, given that Irvine and the county often have opposing interests.

As the Orange County Register reported, the city has sued the county to block a planned expansion of a county jail, and the county sued Irvine a couple years ago to fight the city’s efforts to get a $134 million refund from the Orange County Fire Authority. And Lalloway threatened to sue the county last week to block a county development near the Great Park.

The proposed arrangement “is not a technical conflict of interest, but it impairs [Lalloway’s] ability to provide objective advice regarding some matters,” good government advocate William Mitchell told the Register.

Spitzer said the contract will prohibit Lalloway from discussing or advising on anything related to Irvine.

“Jeff will be walled off from Irvine issues,” Spitzer told the Register. “The burden will be on Jeff to make sure that he doesn’t engage in any conflicting issues, and it will also be on me to make sure I don’t involve him on any conflicting issues.”

Lalloway told the paper that when county-related issues come before the Irvine City Council, he might recuse himself if recommended by the city’s attorneys.

The effort comes as Spitzer has lost two of his top advisors in recent months. Chris Nguyen left this week to take a job in the Auditor-Controller’s office, and Carrie O’Malley left this summer. His previous chief of staff, Martha Ochoa, left late last year.

Update: After this post was published, Spitzer sent the reporter a message saying: “Martha [Ochoa] left to become the clerk of the board at [the Transportation Corridor Agencies]. A promotion and greater pay. Carrie left because her father and sister died and she is the executor of both estates which is a significant full time job given assets and business holdings she had to deal with.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • astar2b

    Did a circus come to town…?

  • Ltpar

    I am very disappointed in Todd Spitzer who I have always thought was a straight shooter. Spitzer’s preference to despicable Jeff Lalloway suggests I may have miscalculated his judgement. If in fact he gives the job to Lalloway, Spitzer will never get another vote from me.

  • John Claxton

    Didn’t he just try to give Nelson a black eye for double dipping benefits? This guy has been the Capone of Irvine politics for decades. Wants to reward him for that with an over the top salary of $200k? Just when I thought your doctor put you on Xanex.

  • Bob Brock

    The most offensive part to me is that Spitzer can hire a consultant at $190k annually and actually save money over hiring two county staffers. Crazy

    • David Zenger

      With benefits it would be about a wash. However two staffers (who weren’t political hacks or useless mirror polishers) might (I use the word “might” very hesitantly) actually accomplish something for the people of OC.

  • Rivett

    Oh FFS. Seriously? I’ll do it for $19K.

    • David Zenger

      I’m reminded of the zombie contract that Barlag got in Garden Grove.

  • Paul Lucas

    This is stinky.

  • LFOldTimer

    I wonder, as Paul Harvey used to say, what the rest of the story is.

    Oh yes. There must a rest to the story.

    Do we have any investigative journalists out there?

    Where’s Elmarek?

  • RyanCantor

    That’s a lot of money . . . bids? Applicants?

    • David Zenger

      You know, Ryan, that’s an excellent point. This is a services contract that has to be approved by the Board.

      So how many procurement policies would have to be broken to make this tasty omelet?

      • @Dan Chmielewski

        why David, the obvious person for the job is…you. Too bad you’ve poisoned the well with anyone in government and have no allies in the county office building. Keep on being a case study in how to screw up your career and remember, everything you know about county government is more than three years old. But hey, Target is hiring seasonal workers. Good luck putting the Target packaging tape on those toilet paper rolls. It is honest work after all.

        • David Zenger

          Hey look! Chemical Lewinski! What in the world would you know about honest work?

          Going to ComicCon as Pinnocchio this year, or some other prevaricating puppet?

          • @Dan Chmielewski

            Stay classy David. ComicCon is a sought after ticket for July. Something you wish you could afford. Any more paint by numbers landscapes to sell. My neighbors have better art at garage sales.

          • @Dan Chmielewski

            Let me know how your job search goes. Bet your wife wish you had a regular paycheck

  • David Zenger

    Because obviously the County is so desperately in need of a divorce lawyer to help advise on policy.

    This guy with ZERO experience in County government will be making almost as much as the Sheriff or the DA – forty grand more than the Supervisors themselves. For what?

    Just when you thought that maybe, just maybe the County cronyism couldn’t get any worse.

    Tone-deaf, egomaniacal, around the bend. That’s our boy.