ANDREW DO, SUPERVISOR, FIRST DISTRICT, ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
PHONE (714) 834-3110 FAX (714) 834-5754 firstname.lastname@example.org
October 20, 2016
The Honorable Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Orange County Board of Supervisors
Dear Chairwoman Bartlett:
I am writing to immediately and unequivocally reject the baseless claim and last minute political campaign smear by activists Shirley Grindle and Bill Mitchell, served up 19 days before my re-election. As you may recall from the Board Meeting approving the placing of the Ethics Commission Ordinance on the 2016 Primary Election ballot, these are the same individuals who attacked me personally in open forum.
As co-author of Orange County’s landmark ordinance to establish a local ethics commission, I take my commitment to open and ethical government seriously. I am proud that we, as a Board, have brought sweeping ethics reform and sunlight to Orange County. Therefore, the spurious and baseless attacks by Ms. Grindle and Mr. Mitchell against my county office and the County’s contract with John Hrabe, without any basis In fact or law, is an affront to good governance, especially since Ms. Grindle was one of the proponents of the Ethics Commission Ordinance.
Ms. Grindle and Mr. Mitchell fabricated an inaccurate narrative without investigating fully into the matter and have done so with the apparent purpose of generating election-year headlines to advance their political agenda. Their choosing to publish their letter, which was addressed to you, on a political blog, before you had received the letter yourself, further demonstrates the base nature of their intent. Undoubtedly, this hatchet job will be cited by others as “fact” in political mailers against me. While the lack of integrity and willingness to sacrifice personal reputation for political gains is amply displayed by the authors of the letter, it is necessary that their dishonesty be expressly and publicly repudiated by facts.
Mr. Hrabe began working for my office more than a year ago. In accordance with the requirements for consultant service contracts under Section 3.3 of the County’s Contract Policy Manual, the County’s contract with Mr. Hrabe was vetted In the most public way possible via the only established process available. Exactly one thousand four hundred and ninety eight registered County vendors were notified of the contract solicitation via the County’s public BidSync bidding process. Sixty-one vendors clicked through to view the on-line solicitation and nine vendors downloaded the entire RFP package for further review. After fully complying with this Board-approved process, the contract was awarded to Mr. Hrabe, who was the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. County Counsel has confirmed that, per section 3.3-102 of the Contract Policy Manual, Board approval is required when, for any year of the contract, the
annual value to any one contractor exceeds $100,000, or if the total contract value exceeds or is anticipated to exceed $500,000. These thresholds (requiring Board approval) were not met.
It is beyond hypocrisy that another Supervisor’s recent attempt to “sole-source” the hiring of staff at an annual salary of $190,000 was not discussed by Ms. Grindle or Mr. Mitchell. Yet, they chose to engage in dishonest mental gymnastics to assert a “contention” that my office’s RFP for an on-call contract, with an annual not to exceed total of $97,500 without benefits, was actually a sole-source contract. They make this argument even while acknowledging that the solicitation for bids was sent out to over 1,500 vendors on the County list through the official “BidSync” system.
Mr. Hrabe’s qualifications Include two master’s degrees in communications, one from the London School of Economics and the other from the University of Southern California, where he served as a Graduate Fellow at the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.
The OC Weekly named Mr. Hrabe Orange County’s “Best Freelance Journalist” in 2013. Ms. Grindle and Mr. Mitchell intentionally ignored Mr. Hrabe’s years of honorable public service, including his work for the California State Legislature and the California Board of Equalization. In fact, as early as 2002 Mr. Hrabe had served as an aide to the 68th Assembly District office which represented Garden Grove, Westminster and Fountain Valley, most of my supervisorial district. Therefore, Mr. Hrabe is eminently qualified to be selected by me to serve as my communications director, and the procurement process my office went through to contract for his services complied with all County policy and regulations. And should there come a time when Mr. Hrabe’s services are no longer needed, his contract Includes a rolling 30- day termination provision.
As you know, there is no more transparent process to procure a contract for service at the County than through a competitive RFP process. Such process was followed here. If there is doubt as to the propriety of this contract, ethical and objective observers would demand that an investigation be completed before publishing false and defamatory accusations, as Ms. Grindle and Mr. Mitchell have done here. Since the letter was addressed to you, I am sure you will respond accordingly. However, I would like to recite the above facts for your review and to state publicly for the record my responses to Ms. Grindle’s and Mr. Mitchell’s letter.
If you need any further Information, please feel to contact me.
Orange County Supervisor, First District
Cc: Supervisor Michele Steel, Second District
Supervisor Todd Spitzer, Third District
Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Fourth District