The fall out from the Cunningham Blog Controversy is the gift that keeps on giving this Christmas. It appears that the insanely insensitive blog post could lead to much needed reform in the practice of handing out government consulting contracts. Of course, it is shameful that such a good thing had to come at the expense of the mothers Cunningham mocked for trying to keep the memories of their sons alive.
Today, Cunningham was forced to resign from the Orange County Parks Commission. In addition, lucrative contracts Cunningham has with the Orange County Transportation Authority will apparently not be renewed.
Until Friday, Cunningham’s consulting firm Pacific Strategies had two contracts with the Transportation Authority. One expires in the coming weeks and will not be renewed. The other has been put “on hiatus,” according to OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik.
The contract that is to expire without renewal is for local government outreach services and pays Cunningham up to $50,000 annually. According to contract documents, tasks include monitoring public meeting agendas, cities’ transportation developments, and developing a matrix of “stakeholders,” among other things.
The contract placed on hold, dated Sept. 25 and totaling $48,775, calls for Cunningham’s firm to identify county “thought leaders” and obtain feedback from these “thought leaders” regarding “transportation priorities and opinions.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson, a Republican, has led the charge against the blogger/consultant within county government. He criticized Cunningham as an attack blogger who fails to exercise good judgment. Supervisor Nelson’s leadership stands in contrast to Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s conduct in recent days. Spizter is responsible for Cunningham’s appointment and has failed to provide his position, or thinking, as to whether Cunningham should continue to serve at the post.
You might be wondering, as am I, why did a political consultant, who runs a blog for a lobbying organization, sit on a county commission while being party to contracts with the county worth $100,000? It goes deeper; the Voice of OC also reported on a contract the transportation authority has with former Anaheim Mayor/present day mega-lobbyist Curt Pringle. The former mayor is paid $21,150 for providing “strategic advice”. Perhaps the attention now being payed to these contracts will compel elected leaders to speak out for reform.