Some are calling for slapping on members of the newly forming Charter Review Committee (CRC) the requirement to file a Form 700. For the uninitiated, the Form 700 is a financial disclosure formed that an elected officials and certain classes of appointed officials – such as planning commissioners — must complete on an annual basis.
In reality, this proposed requirement is being aimed at a single individual, former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle; if he had not been appointed by Councilman Jordan Brandman, I don’t think anyone can seriously claim the Form 700 requirement would be proposed for a temporary committee with only advisory powers. It has no say over city spending or the awarding of city contracts.
There are a number of reasons why this requirement is a bad idea for a committee like the CRC, but the e-mail below from venomous council gadfly William Fitzgerald, head of the one-man “organization” Anaheim HOME, vividly illustrates one of them. Fitzgerald sent this e-mail to Voice of OC reporter Adam Elmahrek and then forwarded it a number of others:
From: WM D FITZGERALD
Subject: Lucille Kring is Dirty
To: “Adam Elmahrek”
Date: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 11:04 PM
At yesterday’s (Tuesday) council meeting after I spoke at Public Comments, council member Kring spoke (video at 43 minutes) stating that she had never received anything from Disney except some slippers.
I recieved several calls today from HOME members telling me that Kring lied and to go on-line at Anaheim.net for Kring’s form 460.
According to her form 460 for the last three months of last year, she received $1,800 from Disney, $800 of it on 11/2/12 (see attachment).
She also received political donations from Angel Baseball, SOAR itself, and many of the director members of SOAR, including from the hotel owned by Bill O’Connell.
My understanding of the California Fair Political Practice Act ts that an elected official must abstain from voting and discussing any items related to a donor for one year after the donation.
Kring voted for the $158 million giveaway and has not abstained from the Angel Baseball contract negotiations.
Fitzgerald has been flinging accusations of corruption (among other things) at members of the Anaheim City Council for many years, so would think he’d acquired even a basic understanding of conflict-of-interest laws. But like many of his ilk who are more interested in making noise and drawing attention to themselves than in being accurate and truthful, Fitzgerald thinks everything he doesn’t like is a conflict-of-interest.
The e-mail was forwarded enough times to enough people that it eventually made its way to Councilwoman Kring, who sent a response to those she knew had received it pointing out that Fitzgerald’s claim was wrong (which he should have known):
Again William is wrong. According to government code sections 82028 (b)(4) and 82030 (b)(1) campaign contributions are not gifts or income to elected members of a governing body.
I am required to list all contributions on 460’s and all gifts, including lunches, that amount to over $50.00 in a calendar year on form 700.,
As you can see, I’ve complied with these regulations.
This is not the first time I have seen a self-appointed “watchdog” make allegations of corruption based upon easily-rectified ignorance of the law. A recent example comes to mind: the opinion columnist for the Foothill Sentry community newspaper (which serves east Orange and Anaheim Hills) wrote that a member of the Orange Unified School District of having a conflict-of-interest because he simply knew the representing of a partnership bidding on some OUSD property.
Normal, everyday citizens experience trepidation about speaking at a city council meeting, let alone disclosing for the world to see their private financial information. If the latter is made the price for serving on temporary advisory committees like the CRC, how many of those normal, everyday citizens — whose participation in civic affairs everyone would like to see increased — would want to apply and subject themselves to having their reputations assaulted by crackpots like Fitzgerald with no understanding of the conflict-of-interest legalities (or others with more precise agendas)?
Given the fractious and negative state of Anaheim politics, that isn’t a remote danger.
As the VOC’s go-to quotemeister for good-government palaver, Tracy West supports this unnecessary mandate, but acknowledges it is a disincentive to the average citizen:
The reason members of temporary advisory committees probably aren’t required under state law to file Form 700 is the disclosure requirement could discourage residents from volunteering for the committees, Westen said. Another reason is they are only advisory and don’t make final decisions, he said.
OK – since it is unnecessary, doesn’t really serve the purpose for which the Form 700 filing requirement exists and is an additional deterrent to civic participation, then why impose it on CRC other than to strike out a single citizen of Anaheim? How is that good government?