Aliso Viejo Councilman Phil Tsunoda looks to have stepped in one fresh cow pie per this OC Register story from January 29th: Aliso Viejo website arouses security, cost questions.
Tsunoda, a Democrat, convinced his City Council Members to spend $37,500 on a very flashy website which offers all sorts of liability for the city to deal with. It’s unclear if this work was ever bid, and the experts quoted in the Register’s article strongly suggests they’ve paid three to four times what it should have cost to attract a variety of questionable types to the city looking for free labor from community groups, and potentially children. The site also costs $1,000 monthly to maintain, plus additional hours in city staff time — apparently to vet the incoming requests for free child labor via this automated “community outreach”.
Conservative activist and newly elected AV Councilman Mike Munzing was said to be “concerned about the potential for a bad situation. “What if…something nefarious happens and we’re out there promoting it,” he said. “You hear the horror stories on Craigslist.”
Tsunoda’s been knocking around county politics for years in six-figure make work jobs scored via his crony network like PR-focused “external affairs” and “government relations” positions. His well-maintained, but out-of-date Wikipedia bio touts his resume:
Phillip serves as Chief of Staff to Orange County Supervisor and Orange County Transportation Authority Chairman Chris Norby. Prior to joining the Chairman’s staff, he served three years as the Director of External Affairs for Orange County Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly. From 1997 to 2004, Phillip was the Manager of Government Relations for the City of Anaheim and was responsible for all external governmental affairs for Anaheim including serving as liaison to all levels of government, local, regional, state and federal.
Phillip’s background also includes work with County of Orange Health Care Agency, Orange County Board of Supervisors - 2nd District and others. He has a wealth of experience in municipal and regional issues dealing with land-use, transportation and law enforcement-related programs, policies and projects. Phillip represents the City of Aliso Viejo on the Board of Trustees for the Orange County Vector Control District. He also serves as an Alternate on the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) – Foothill/Eastern Board of Directors. Phillip is an Alternate on the Orange County Council of Governments Board of Directors.
Apparently no where along the way did he learn any critical thinking, common sense or respect for his taxpayers’ money.
His website is a ridiculous example of government meddling in an area where it has no business, and opens his city up to a abundance of lawsuits.
We just came across this review of the Aliso Viejo website: Overspending in Aliso Viejo. The author runs a successful web development business in the OC and has the technical knowledge to offer a cogent opinion on the time involved and costs to put up AV’s three simple templates which point to a handful of links. In part, Steve Zehngut writes:
…my initial reaction was that this does not feel like a site that would cost $38k to develop. This is a very simple directory site that looks like it was built with an existing template. Even if it was built from scratch, the whole site is comprised of three page templates: The home page, the detail page and the static content page. Oh and let’s not forget the sweet YouTube video splash screen!
As a developer, I can basically concur with this — simply put, there’s nothing to this site, and NO WAY it should have cost $37,500.
Joanna Clay, writer of the Register story, contacted us and answered the question we posed re. if this work was competitively bid — it was, she said, and she’s asked for the city’s documentation which we hope she’ll share with us as we have plenty of experience in reviewing such proposals and their pricing. Clay also mentioned that just because the site’s maintenance budget is $1k/month, that doesn’t necessarily mean they city will spend that much on it. Our experience has been that these funds DO get spent, otherwise they’re not reallocated in subsequent years as there’s no incentive for city staff to actually save any money.
We also appreciate some of the comments that followed this post and encourage the Register to perhaps have a look at the Clerk-Recorder’s “12d Fund”. If Tsunoda had his fingers in it, that’s suspicion enough to have a look or suggest an audit. That he now works for CalOptima, subject of a nasty audit recently by the Grand Jury, tells us that Tsunoda indeed up to his old tricks, working his political Rolodex (Tsunoda succeeded Eric Norby as Chris Norby‘s Chief-of-Staff when brother Eric went to work for the County Health Care Agency) for six-figure do-nothing jobs and deserves some scrutiny. We’re still curious about Ron Norby’s sudden departure from the Health Care Agency as reported by the Voice of OC last September: Top Official Abruptly Departs From County Health Care Agency. The connections between all these government leaches aren’t hard to find via a few Google searches — CalOptima’s Board Chairman is Mark Refowitz, the Director of the OC Health Care Agency.
We also noted this morning that ex-Assemblyman Chris Norby’s applied for the County Clerk-Recorder position, so Phil has another place to go back to — after all, in Orange County government, it’s all in who you know.