Water District Appears to Be Stonewalling For Disgraceful Director

Round round get around...

On April 14, I made a public records request of the Municipal Water District of Orange County to get the travel related expenses of Director Brett Barbre. You remember this fine fellow, don’t you? He’s the guy who was paid $48,000 by Tom Daly to “study” the idea of a sports hall of fame. He also kicked back $1000 into Daly’s campaign kitty. Now that doesn’t look very good does it? Especially for a Republican. Or for any honest man, really.

Part of Barbre’s supposed labors for Daly included a trip to Boston to visit some sports museum there (he never even bothered contacting the folks who started the first one right here in OC!). In his ‘report” he documented a side trip to Fenway Park. Barbre’s later plaint to Jennifer Muir that he paid for that Boston trip himself seems to have made an impression on the lassitudinous journalistic curiosity of Ms Muir, but not on mine. I wanted to find out if maybe the Boston junket itself wasn’t some sort of side trip already paid for by the Water District. I’ve just become so darn cynical when it comes to repuglicans.

And so I asked for Barbre’s travel expenses for the district.

Two week later on April, 28th (four days late) I got the District’s response from someone called Darcy M. Burke, Director of Public Affairs. I received no documents at all. What I got was an e-mail that attached a simple spreadsheet tallying Barbre’s expenses into periodic totals, presumably assembled by Burke. Not a single bit of specific information did I receive although I did get an unsolicited commercial about how much Director Barbre’s junketeering brings home to the Water District. Hmm.

Okay. So now I was really really curious about why they’re not releasing documents – just regurgitated, masticated, and useless pabulum.

Since April 28th I have left several messages and sent several e-mails following up with a demand for the specifics that should have been provided in the first place. All my efforts to communicate with the Water District’s Director of Public Affairs were met with a stony silence, until yesterday when Burke informed me that these things take time. And that only makes me more curious than ever about why she might be stonewalling.

Think they’re trying to hide something?

Moorlach Orders Investigation Into Daly’s $10 Million Nightmare

Was it fraud, negligence, incompetence or just an honest to goodness mistake when Tom Daly approached the Board of Supervisors and asked for $2.1 million to purchase a dilapidated building 433 W. Civic Center Drive?

Did Daly forget to tell the Supes that the building was a tear down and not in turnkey condition? Or did he actually believe that the building was ready to move into?  If he did then he needs to fire his real estate agent! There are many hard questions that remain to be asked and answered.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Supervisor John Moorlach asked County CEO Tom Mauk to bring back a report detailing what happened to the missing information on the useless multi-million dollar building.  Was it lost or intentionally withheld? Did Tom Daly just forget to tell the Board the complete facts about the money-sucking building, knowing that they would have said “HELL NO!” when they found out that it would cost another $7.6 million to make it suitable for the archives and the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame?

Let’s not forget the Sports Hall of Fame was being “brainstormed” by Daly’s BFF Brett Barbre to the tune of another $48,000.

So back to the word “fraud.” What does it mean and how is it really pronounced?



1. deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

433 W. Civic Center Dr. 2 years later, still vacant

Total Buzz Fail: The Shoe Fetish

Um, too much information?

Everybody knows that traditional print journalism is on the way out. Why? Lazy citizens? Sensory overload? More convenient access? All of the above?

Dying papers like the Orange County Register are fighting a rear-guard action by turning their print edition into a dumbed-down website-looking format with lots of pictures and human interest stories for us idiots. And of course they have gone on-line with stuff like their political gossip column “Total Buzz.” Which might be better termed “Total Schmooze.”

Rather than actually dedicate itself to reporting real, relevant news, the Register has decided to dedicate its employees’ talents toward the inane, and to the political flackery of Martin Wisckol and Frank Mickadeit. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the worthies than run the Register that Orange County is a market that is starved for local news and, coincidentally, that it is run by a group of political overseers who operate the place like their own private plantation. Seems like an opportunity to do real reporting, right?

But yesterday the Register hit a new low, even for them.

I just can't help myself.

Consider this, um, monument to  cutting edge journalism as Jennifer Muir shares the embarrassing shoe fetish of Brett Barbre with her breathlessly waiting readers.

Brett Barbre’s Shoe Fetish

Huh? FFFF has recently disclosed a series of embarrassing expenditures by the County Clerk, Tom Daly, including a $48,000 contract to the very same Brett Barbre to “study” an athletic hall of fame, and who then turned around and kicked back $1000 into Daly’s political campaign.

And what about the $1700 as month retainer that has been paid out by Daly for over five years to a Sacramento “consultant” to do – nothing. And how about the County spending $2,100,000 two years ago at Daly’s behest on a tear-down building that was supposed to house County’s archives? Of any interest to the intrepid journalists at the Register? Naw.

It's not just a girl thing...

Instead we get pictures of what shoes the political hacks are wearing at the Registrar of Voters Office. They think we want to look at pictures of people’s feet. Meanwhile a lowly blog is forced to actually do a newspaper’s job.

Well, we can take a certain perverse pleasure in knowing that the Register’s days are numbered and that soon its employees will be doing (paid) PR work, or will be blogging for food.

Still, it does seem shame that nobody in the business is willing to try to fill the void where local news used to be.

Register Picks Up On Daly’s $50K Hall of Shame




– Grover Cleveland

Jennifer Muir of the OC Register picked up on the Brett Barbre hall of fame brainstormin’ fiasco that cost the taxpayers $48,000 – courtesy of County Clerk Tom Daly’s reckless largess with our money. Interestingly, Muir cites a County rule that any expenditure more than $50,000 has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Hmm.

I am a fiscal conservative. I am a fiscal conservative. I am... aw the hell with it.

The funniest quote in Muir’s piece was Daly claiming that the whole deal was within his purview and that he paid Barbre for ideas, not “long reports.” Of course he got neither.

Worked my synapes to the bone, I tells ya...

Hilariously, Barbre claims to have worked 40 hours a month on the project. That would be an average of 2 hours a day. Every working day. For 18 months. That’s 720 hours – with nothing to show for it. Is there a single person in OC stupid enough to believe any of that?

He seemed to be soliciting sympathy with the big revelation to Muir that a trip he made to Boston was paid for out of his own pocket! What self sacrifice!

Barbre also seemed indignant that somebody (us) might imply a nexus between his windfall and the $1000 he gave to Daly’s supervisorial campaign. His self-exoneration? He didn’t even give Daly the maximum amount of $1700! What a guy.

Additionally, we have received an e-mail that really sheds light onto just how feeble Barbre’s and Daly’s “research” efforts really were. Here it is:

Subject: Orange County Sports Hall of Fame

I am a founder of the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame.  We began in 1980 with a huge banquet at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Over the years, we inducted more than 70 athletes, coaches and contributors from Walter Johnson and Mickey Flynn to Jack Youngblood and Jim Fregosi.  We eventually had a museum at Anaheim Stadium that has since been replaced by Angel offices (our artifacts are in storage).  Nobody contacted me or other founders (including Cal State Fullerton Sports Information Director Mel Franks and long-time OC business and political leader Buck Johns) regarding research into a Hall of Fame — that existed 30 years ago.  If someone was paid nearly $50,000 to do research they did an amazingly  poor job.  Sincerely, Pete Donovan

Thanks for the e-mail, Mr. Donovan. Just as we expected.

He Went to Boston But Couldn’t Make a Local Phone Call; Original Hall of Fame Founder Calls BS on Daly/Barbre

The Tom Daly Experience. The closer you look, the worse it gets...

It’s looking like County Clerk Tom Daly figures he can peddle any old bullshit to a Register reporter and get away with it. And he probably figures on an easy re-election this spring. That’s the arrogance of a career politician for you.

When questioned by the Reg’s Jennifer Muir about his sports hall of fame fiasco in which he paid “consultant” and campaign contributor Brett Barbre $48,000 to “study” the notion, Daly said he paid Barbre for “ideas, not long reports.” Not quite right, Mr. Daly. See, we read your contract with Barbre even if you didn’t. He was supposed to be doing research on the feasiblity of the scheme – a scheme, by the way, that falls way outside the County Clerk’s job description. That specifically included contacting similar entities.

Hey, those guys weren't in the phone book!

And here’s the kicker: we already had a hall of fame in the County – which apparently was located in Angel’s Stadium in the 80s and subsequently mothballed. And we got an e-mail from a gent who says he was one of the founders: Pete Donovan. Mr. Donovan asserts that nobody ever contacted him or fellow founders about this idea. Here’s Donovan’s e-mail:

Subject: Orange County Sports Hall of Fame

I am a founder of the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame.  We began in 1980 with a huge banquet at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Over the years, we inducted more than 70 athletes, coaches and contributors from Walter Johnson and Mickey Flynn to Jack Youngblood and Jim Fregosi.  We eventually had a museum at Anaheim Stadium that has since been replaced by Angel offices (our artifacts are in storage).  Nobody contacted me or other founders (including Cal State Fullerton Sports Information Director Mel Franks and long-time OC business and political leader Buck Johns) regarding research into a Hall of Fame — that existed 30 years ago.  If someone was paid nearly $50,000 to do research they did an amazingly  poor job.  Sincerely, Pete Donovan

Gee. Barbre had time to go to Boston to “study” the issue at Fenway Park, but not not enough time to make a couple of local calls to people who had already given it a go. Come to think of it, maybe those were exactly the people Barbre and Daly didn’t want to talk to!

Well, that pretty well sums up the incompetence and/or corruption of the whole stinking pile.

Want your $48,000 back?

Tom Daly’s $50K Hall of Shame

Will it have a football wing?

As we reported last week, here, County Clerk/Recorder Tom Daly paid almost $50,00 in 2008 and 2009 to a campaign contributor to “study” the feasibility of developing an Orange County athletic “hall of fame.” We opined upon the irresponsible expenditure and questioned why the County Clerk would even embark on such a lame idea in the first place.

At the time of the post, our request for public records had resulted in scant documentation that this “consultant” Brett Barbre, had actually done anything at all to justify his $3000 per month bill. We were informed by the County that we didn’t have all their “work product” documents.

Now we do.

I don't remember and you can't make me.

The sum and substance of Mr. Barbre’s efforts for Daly is reflected in brief periodic memorandums sent  to Daly’s office informing them of what he had been up to in the previous month. Even these cursory, written updates ceased after September 1, 2008, although Barbre continued to be paid by Daly through June, 2009.

The lack of accomplishment was clear; but the invoices kept coming in.

Curiously, in the summer of 2008 Barbre and Daly had gotten it into their noggins to create something called a prep sports honor roll dinner, some sort of tie-in to the original concept, presumably. They had even picked a date for the inaugural event. Amazingly no one seems to have even questioned why the County Clerk would be organizing such a blatanly non-public function that had absolutely nothing to do with his job responsibilities.

The other scant fruits of Barbre’s labor were a photo montage of the New England Hall of Fame and a facsimile of a brochure from the Newport Sports Museum. Material collected and scanned and submitted as somehow substantive.

We will probably never know what was actually discussed verbally between the parties involved – including why they thought this hare-brained idea was in any way justified; or how they could ever defend the $50,000 paid to Barbre to do almost nothing. One thing is evident from the documents: by the summer of 2009 Barbre was no longer at the public trough, although by then he had already collected regular monthly payments of $3000, totaling $48,000 with nothing to show for it.

Almost fifty thousand dollars. Squandered. Wasted. Flushed down a rathole and into the pocket of a Daly campaign contributor.

Does anyone in the County government even care about this total dereliction of responsibility and breach of the public trust? Do the folks at the Orange County Register care? Do you?

Monkey Business at the Clerk/Recorder’s Office? Why Did Tom Daly Pay His Campaign Supporter $50K?

Tom Daly, in happier times...

UPDATE: Allan Bartlett has helped close the circle on the Daly-Barbre financial connection. Here is the link that shows a $1000 campaign contribution from Barbre back to Daly. Even if there is no overt kickback here it sure stinks like Hell.

– GC

Has there been fiscal misfeasance by Tom Daly at the County Clerk/Recorder’s office?  As we previously indicated, here, OC Clerk Recorder paid self-styled public relations “consultant” and Municipal Water Board member Brett Barbre tens of thousands of dollars in 2008 and 2009 to assist in the creation of some sort of OC sports “hall of fame.” A public records search has turned up invoices from Barbre to Tom Daly’s department for almost $50,000, with almost nothing to show for it. Interestingly, as early as March, 2009 Barbre, who is  a Republican, made himself conspicuous as an endorser of Daly in his now defunct campaign for 4th District County Supervisor.

What the records show is that in February 2008 the County Clerk’s office engaged the services of Barbre in a contract for $15,000 and later in a $3000 per month extension, to delve into the subject of creating a sports hall of fame museum.

What the consultant selection process was, why Mr. Barbre was chosen, what his qualifications were, and why the taxpayers were put on the hook for this dubious concept project may never be known. But what is known is that from May 2008 through June 2009 the County paid Barbre $48,000 with virtually no evidence of any accomplishment at all.

Our request for “all activity status reports” and “lists of work completed” turned up three short memorandums and an incomplete spreadsheet listing Orange County High Schools and their mascots.

We have been provided with no evidence to suggest that any of the activities outlined in Barbre’s contract were ever achieved. Added to the evident lack of accomplishment seems to be a reluctance to publicize the hall of fame brainstorm at all. Very telling is a sentence from a January 15, 2009 memorandum from Barbre to Tom Daly, in which Barbre says about the whole idea: I would suggest keeping it fairly low key until the budget mess at the state and the county are behind us.

Right. No sense in letting the public know that the Clerk/Recorder Tom Daly is squandering public money on such a hare-brained scheme during a recession, including giving Barbre $3,000 a month to ponder the sports hall of fame concept, while county employees are about to be laid off.

A very big sports fan.

We have been informed by the County Public Information office that we are not in possession of all the work product documents, and that something else is forthcoming. This strikes us as particularly odd since Barbre’s questionable “services” were concluded nine months ago and our records request was made several weeks ago. We can’t help but consider the possibility that something is being fabricated up after the fact to make it appear as if the $48,000 slipped to Barbre by Daly produced more than a few short memos and an incomplete list of Orange County’s High Schools and their mascots. Well, we’ll soon find out.

The final disturbing piece to this puzzle is the fact that Brett Barbre’s name appears on Tom Daly’s March, 2009 fundraiser host committee list – the event in which he launched his abortive campaign for County supervisor; and that later, in the summer of 2009, Barbre assumed the office of ambassador to the OC GOP Central Committee for newly-minted Republican Renee Ramirez, Daly’s employee and hand-picked successor for the County Clerk’s job.

First column, six down.

Ironically, we note that Daly pulled the plug on his supervisorial campaign last Friday – the very same day we presented ourselves at the County to pick up the Barbre documents.

That’s the story so far. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of either competence or probity within Tom Daly’s bureaucratic regime. The self-styled fiscal conservative seems to have been anything but conservative with public funds, and, as will become painfully evident in subsequent posts, this episode is not a lone example.

Hall of fame? Really? Maybe what we need in OC is a hall of shame – for politicians who abuse the public trust. We’ve got a recommendation for the first inductee.

Monkey Business At Daly’s Clerk/Recorder Office?

A source inside the County government has directed our attention to a contractual relationship between the County Clerk’s department and a “consultant” that bears closer scrutiny. Our source has indicated that monies were paid out for questionable or dubious “services.”

This contract involves Barbre & Associates; Brett Barbre is a former County employee, a Water District official, and now a self-styled political public relations guy. It appears that Mr. Barbre received at least $36,000 through last summer to do something (see vendor report, above). What did he do? Our source tells us it was supposed to have something to do with organizing an Orange County Hall of Fame memorabilia display. We’re not buying into that just yet since such an inconceivably profligate waste of money, especially in a recession, is hard to ascribe to anybody – even a big spender like Daly.

Nevertheless,  Barbre’s name immediately piqued our curiosity since he claims to be in PR, a function that Daly supposedly hired former reporter Jean Pasco to perform. Furthermore, Barbre, a nominal Republican, was an early and public supporter of Democrat Clerk/Recorder Tom Daly in his quest to be our County Supervisor. Check out the “host committee” to Daly’s 2009 fundraiser. Yes, Brett, we see you right there, #6 in the first column. Later in 2009 Barbre also took on the job of introducing Daly’s hand-picked successor and Clerk Department employee, Renee Ramirez, to the OC GOP Central Committee. Coincidences?

Since Daly and Ramirez run the Clerk/Recorder’s office, we immediately started to wonder just what Barbre did, to pick up that 36K. We have such suspicious minds, you see.

And so we have made a public records request with the County to find out the scope of services that were supposed to be rendered by Barbre and just what was accomplished for all that money.

And when we do find out we will certainly share the information with you.