Time to Rethink and Reconstitute the OCTA Taxpayers Oversight Committee
A transportation consultant whose company is working on millions of dollars of Orange County projects won appointment this week to an oversight panel charged with protecting taxpayer money on those very same projects. Les Card, the chief executive of Irvine-based LSA Associates, said almost immediately that he would not accept the post and blamed his appointment on a misunderstanding. But the episode exposed a crack in the system that’s meant to safeguard billions of dollars that Orange County taxpayers have invested in transportation.
Irving failed to research and mention that Card is also the Chair Elect of big Lucy Dunn’s OC Business Council — a very well-funded lobbying group that’s been corrupting OCTA’s business for years. As we wrote last week, the OCBC has in the past inappropriately acted as an auditor of the OCTA’s procurement group WHILE Stan Oftelie, a former OCTA CEO was a OCBC’s past President and CEO. Per the union-funded Voice of OC link above, Stan Oftelie’s son is “Andrew Oftelie, the OCTA’s manager of financial planning and analysis” (Andrew apparently worked for Clerk-Recorder Daly as well).
This must be what’s commonly known as a “win-win” — it seems that way for the OCBC that has it fingers in plenty of OC governments via its sister organization, the Association of California Cities – Orange County on who’s Board Lucy Dunn is planted. Dunn helped found the ACC-OC and placed Lacy Kelly, one of her protégés as its CEO, just as she dropped Kris Murray, a former OCBC staffer, on the Anaheim City Council.
What amazes about this transaction with Card is that he had hutzpah to apply for a position on the OCTA’s Oversight Committee given his position running an engineering firm that might potentially be or have in the past been an OCTA vendor (Irving’s story is unspecific re. the “millions” that Card’s company extracts from County projects). LSA Associates also does work for the OC’s Toll Road Agencies.
Card’s relationship with the OCBC’s collection of leeches should have eliminated him as a potential Committee member, and it seems his immediate rejection of the position recognizes the inappropriateness of his candidacy, spoiling Lucy Dunn’s ongoing strategy of placing cronies at all levels of county and city governments. OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer is quoted from the Register article:
“We literally have a situation where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” said county Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who serves on the board of the Orange County Transportation Authority and fought Card’s appointment as a conflict of interest. “This is not personal,” Spitzer said. “This is about the oversight of the agency and being above public reproach.”
Mr. Spitzer is correct, but unfortunately the Taxpayers Committee has proven beyond FECKLESS in
Its purpose is to make sure that the OCTA is spending money raised through Measure M – a half-cent sales tax that voters approved for freeway work and other projects – the way it promised.
This Committee of ordinary but powerless Grand Jury-vetted appointees have FAILED to flag and protest those two Curt Pringle/Kris Murray unjustified and unnecessary projects that we’ve been writing about for years — nearly a half BILLION Measure M-appropriated dollars for the ARTIC Train Station which will receive NO Bullet Trains and the Anaheim Streetcar which will carry NO Bullet Train passengers from ARTIC to the cash registers at Disneyland and California Adventure, and a handful of select Anaheim hotels, including the Anaheim Council-funded Garden Walk.
We’d hope Mr. Spitzer might take this discovery a bit further (along with Anaheim’s Supervisor Shawn Nelson who should also know better) — as OCTA Directors, both gentlemen need to be asking what the OCTA Taxpayers Oversight Committee has not — WHY ARE THESE two projects being built? Where is the justification (the usage and ridership numbers are pure
fiction fraud)? Why have these Measure M Overseers NOT questioned the validity and supposed value of these two white elephants? Have they not seen the analysis and documentation which shows how much more expensive the streetcar “alternative” is to the simple addition of buses for more flexible routing within the Anaheim Resort? Do they not realize that OCTA buses AND the 19-route Anaheim Resort Transit system already service Disney and the train station, making a streetcar REDUNDANT? Have they considered how the OC’s other 33 cities benefit from this $493 million of M1 and M2 money that might alternatively be pavement or freeway lanes that everyone might utilize?
Now without the wisdom and guidance of Mr. Card, Supervisors Spitzer and Nelson need to be asking just what value the OCTA Taxpayers Oversight Committee brings to Orange County and the Measure M taxpayers. The evidence so far is nothing, so it’s time to unload it or reload it with competent people.
Maybe that Ethics Panel that the BOS just rejected wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all — especially if it had the ability to ferret out and uncover everything we found above with just that Google thing.