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.

The Tom Daly Experience. The Longer You Look, The Worse It Gets

Just keep saying "fiscal conservative."

UPDATE: FYI, our document request only extended back to 2005.  Any retainer payments to GFR in 2004 are not included in the spreadsheet, below.

– GC

Yesterday we reported on the dubious contract between Tom Daly’s County Clerk office and a Republican PR man and campaign agent, Brett Barbre, that put a cool $48,000 in Barbre’s pocket, and produced no evident accomplishment. We also learned that Mr. B was not only a political supporter of Daly, but a big contributor, too – to the tune of one thousand bucks.

Today’s revelation is just as startling. Starting in the summer 2004 Daly made an agreement with an operation called Government Finance Research from Rocklin, CA, and it’s principle consultant, Peter A. Lauwerys, for a retainer deal that would cost the County $1695 per month, each and every month with special projects billed separately. Consider the implications: over twenty grand a year to some sort of research firm in order to do….well, nothing.

In the documents provided to us through our request for “all activity status reports” and “lists of work completed,” we have identified two principal GRS project proposals: one was to do a “push” survey to support Daly’s desire to expand his empire by opening satellite offices. The survey project as outlined in a September 2004 proposal would cost $16,200. Apparently that project was not finished per the original contract because in January 2005 Mr. Lauwerys proposed a nine-week extension that would cost the County another $14,000 – a whopping 86% increase. The survey was finally produced in April 2005 – a meager twenty-two page double-spaced report, including tables, plus photos and appendices.

One year and twelve more retainer payments later, in June, 2006 Lauwerys submitted a second proposal: $15,800 to “prepare and complete” the California County Recorder Association’s Statistical Report for 2006, a job that Daly apparently decided to take over from the County of Riverside. Why the County of Orange and not the Association paid for this “report” is unknown.

Finally in November, 2007 and another year and a half of retainer payments later, GFR did some sort of analysis of the benefits of “outsourcing” data entry clerks and found a savings. We do not know if Daly implemented the recommendation contained therein.

Since then two more years of monthly retainer payments have been made by the taxpayers of Orange County to the lucky boys at GFR.

The County’s invoice and billing records pertaining to GFR appear to be incomplete and somewhat confused. But one thing is perfectly clear: GFR has been receiving a monthly retainer of $1700 a month for over five years, and counting. The latest check was cut on January 15, 2010, so presumably the GFR spigot has not been turned off. Not yet, anyway.

The total payout to this operation to date has been $113,810, including the 2006 California Recorders Association project. But the billing for the original satellite office survey contract and its extension in 2004 and early 2005 seems not to have been included in the material that we received; that total was $30,200, as proposed.

Of course we question the utility of these projects as even necessary; Daly’s die-hard devotees would probably disagree. However what appears to be incontrovertible is the evidence of a complete and frivolous waste of public funds in the retainer payout to a Sacramento area firm to essentially do nothing – for over five years.

As with the Barbre contract we ask: what was the consultant selection process? Was this a no-bid arrangement? What are GFR’s unique qualifications that justify a retainer agreement, and for that matter, what are the Clerk/Recorder’s needs that justify it?

Maybe one of Daly’s supporters who have been pitching his fiscal conservatism can help us out here.

Daly To Drop Out of Supervisor Race; Art Brown To Jump In

A little while ago we received the following e-mail from Art Brown, the avuncular councilmember from Buena Park:

Subject: 4th District Supervisor

I just got off the phone with Tom Daly.  He is pulling out of the race for supervisor today and filing to run for his current position of Clerk-recorder.

As it had been my intent to run for supervisor in the past but stood aside for Tom I am filing for the supervisors race on Monday.  I feel with my experience in local government over the past 24 years and my record OCTA representing the 4th district that I am the best candidate for the job.

You what??!!

We have not yet verified this information, but it sure has the ring of truth. Daly’s desire for the job may have been tempered by the reality of abandoning a great paying job with no requirements, no performance standards, and no term limits. The idea of a rough and tumble campaign may not have been too appealing, either; but if Tom think he’s out of the woods, he’s may have another think coming: he has well-endorsed opponent in the Clerk’s race and eight years of office baggage to haul around with him.

But we will say this for Daly in parting the Supe race: AT LEAST HE LIVED IN THE DISTRICT.

And to Art Brown: thanks for the heads up and welcome to the party. Supes on!

The Hypocrisy Deepens at Mauve County

Over in the purpling swamp of what used to be the “Red County” blog, Matthew J. Cunningham just topped himself, hypocrisy-wise.

Oops! I did it again.

Cunningham has been throwing out backhanded support for Tom Daly, a Democrat, in the campaign for 4th District Supervisor for a year now. Lately he has employed a pro-Daly blogger to actually promote Daly outright. That struck some people as odd for an allegedly “right of center” blog. Of course we know that Cunningham is just a gofer for John Lewis, the political impresario and lobbyist who is the mastermind of the Daly effort. That explains a lot. Including the lame post the other day by some fat-headed goon called Thomas Anthony Gordon attacking the race’s only real conservative – Shawn Nelson. And of course Daly’s campaign manager also chimed in, again using different aliases, to try to reinforce the theme.

Cunningham has been spinning the whole Daly thing by proclaiming that his is not a Republican blog, just a right of center one. When (and if) you get past the obvious discordance of a right of center blog supporting a union-backed Democrat and attacking a real conservative, you’re likely to find  some real hypocritical treasures –  as an alert Friend did today.

Opining in a comment in post thread  about the Mission Viejo recall of RINO Lance MacLean, Cunningham has the nerve to criticize the recallers for causing the replacement of a Republican with a Democrat!

Say what?

Isn’t that exactly what John Lewis & Co. are promoting in the 4th Supervisor campaign? Replacing Republican Chris Norby with a County employee union backed  Democrat – Tom Daly. For fun, check out last year’s Daly’s fundraiser host committee.

The union bosses and lobbyists arm wrestled for front row seats...

Lest you think a Democrat can be a real conservative just take a look who’s backing Daly – County union bosses Nick Berardino (OCEA), Wayne Quint (AOSD), and Joe Kerr, head of the County OC Firefighters. Of course they could be backing Daly because of his fiscal conservatism, huh?

Oh well. It’s not as if this were something we didn’t already know. Still, the hypocrisy is quite remarkable.

The Horror! Hideous Doppelganger Roaming Streets of Orange County

Here’s some free advice for the guys in the John Lewis/Daly for Supervisor Shop. Next time you dredge up a goon to do your dirty work you might want to make sure he has no embarrassing body doubles with the same name wandering around Orange County.

A real one of a kind talent

Yesterday we reported how the Mauve County blog raked up some slob from Santa Ana named Thomas Anthony Gordon, who, out of the blue, attacked Fullerton’s Shawn Nelson for being a defense attorney, therefore “soft on crime,” and hence unfit to be a County Supervisor.

As we pointed out, this was a theme Daly’s campaign manager has been pushing on blogs using an alias.

But back to Gordon. Maybe TAG wasn’t the best choice of hit men on the subject of crime, softness-wise. You see poor Gordo shares the identical name of another Orange County resident.

According to the Orange County Superior Court records, one Thomas Anthony Gordon has been arrested twice in Orange County. He is listed as 6’4″ and 230lbs in 1996 and 240lbs in 2005.

Both of the misdemeanors were for Vehicle Code Section 14601.1 (a) driving on a suspended license. The “.1(a)” part means the license was originally suspended for some type of reckless driving resulting in injury to someone.

The 2005 case was reduced to a lesser offense of driving without a license. He also has some failure to pay issues with the court.

Imagine that: two Thomas Anthony Gordons in Orange County.

What’s that you say? It’s just the same guy?

Naw, couldn’t be. Nobody with that scofflaw’s record would start throwing around his own mud on somebody else would he? And there’s no way the upright Lewis team at Mauve County would let that sort of individual on their blog in the first place, now would they?

Of course we have to wonder about Thomas Anthony Gordon #2’s opinion of defense lawyers. Maybe he’ll stop by and tell us.

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.

Santa Ana Goon Enlisted to Attack Shawn Nelson

The Tom Daly For Supervisor campaign being operated out of the back of the Mauve County blog offices enlisted an unlikely stooge today in an attack on Fullerton’s Shawn Nelson.

The individual’s name is Thomas Anthony Gordon (pictured, below), a participant in the byzantine and highly bitter world of Santa Ana politics. We had to do some digging to find out who this individual even was, and why he has all of a sudden taken an interest in the 4th Supervisorial District election.

When you get beyond the personal appearance issues things really start to get unattractive...

The gist of Gordo’s post is that Nelson is a defense attorney, and because Nelson works to get his clients acquitted he is “soft on crime”  and hence unfit to be a Supervisor. Some logic, huh?

This attack really isn’t too surprising. Daly’s campaign manager Chris Jones kept popping up here recently (until we busted him) using aliases trying to say the same thing. And it’s been obvious for a long time that Mauve County was just a vehicle for political promoter and Repuglican John Lewis who has been setting up the Democrat Daly as a lobbying target for years. But who orchestrated this little Valentine? It’s not very likely that Lewis, or Jones even know this Gordon character.

Aha! I think I’ve got it.  The Mauve editor Matthew J. Cunningham is a prize pupil of Lewis and, of course a backroom Daly supporter. He’s been over here a lot lately commenting anonymously, too. It seems quite plausible that Cunningham stirred up Gordon, probably with the fact that their mutual enemy Art Pedroza has an ad for Nelson on his blog. What an idea! The stooge can do the dirty work and Cunningham can (try to) keep his hands clean.

Just call me up and I won't explain everything.

Sound sort of weird. Of course it is. But the mission of Mauve County is now clear. Promote the career politician Daly, and attack Nelson.

For a blog that keeps pretending to be right-of-center it’s pretty sad that they evidently will be working against the only true conservative in the race. And all so that John Lewis can make money lobbying his boy Tom Daly in the County Hall of Administration. Repuglicanism at its worst.

NUFF Forum Comes, Goes. A Little Learned, But Not Much

If avoiding specifics, dodging straight answers, and putting ignorance on public display were virtues, then the crop of 4th District supervisorial candidates at the NUFF forum were virtuous in the extreme.

An hour and half of questioning produced almost nothing in the way of inspired leadership and mostly cliched responses to pretty specific questions directed by the Register’s Jennifer Muir. They all agreed that north County was getting screwed on park funds (or lack of same), that yacht owners should pay something toward patrolling Newport Harbor, and that there was going to have to be a multi-tiered pension system in the future. Well, that’s just stating the obvious.

Here’s a brief and summation of the candidates and how they comported themselves.

He may be slow getting warmed up...

1. Richard Faher. Incapable of constructing a concise, intelligent answer. If someone really wanted an excuse to get drunk they could do a Richard Faher Drinking Game and take a shot every time he starts a sentence with the word “okay.” Faher did provide the amusing highlight of the evening when he thanked “Friends for Fullerton” for putting on the event. Gee, you’re welcome, Richard!

Wait, let me go collaborate with my city manager...

2. Rose Espinosa. Despite the attempts by the Local Left to paint her as some sort of credible politician, she came across as, well, just plain dumb. And by dumb I mean a sack of door knobs kind of dumb. And ignorant. She appeared perfectly clueless about County issues and kept deferring to what others had said. She spoke in the lamest sort of generalities about every single question put to her. She repeatedly referred to getting her information from her city manager, and that’s bad. She talked about “collaboration” several times. Ouch.

Speak with confidence and they'll follow you anywhere...

3. Shawn Nelson. Came across as pretty articulate and knowledgeable about the ongoing harbor patrol budget scandal. His statements about getting County government smaller and less intrusive was cliched stuff right out of the GOP playbook, but his comments about why the Clerk/Recorder performs marriage ceremonies was right on. He also may have surprised some by his observation that the County’s current lawsuit against the Deputy Sheriff’s retroactive pension spike was a sure loser, and that he would share information on-line about all meetings with lobbyists. But he dodged answering the specific question about supporting regulating those lobbyists.

Nelson also took credit for courage in supporting Sharon Quirk to be mayor of Fullerton. That elicited snickers from many of the NUFFsters and maybe even from Pam Keller who was sitting toward the back of the room.

Knowing the County ropes can get you tangled up in blue...

4. Tom Daly. He appeared to have popped too many quaaludes before the program, but maybe that’s just his style. He talked a lot about all that he got done as mayor of Anaheim, perhaps hoping that the NUFFsters were unaware that the Anaheim mayor is simply one of five votes. He appeared to be the the most knowledgeable about the way the County government is actually constituted, but that sort of familiarity comes with a price tag: career politician; and it did not produce any inspired ideas of reform, restructuring or right-sizing. 

Daly took some oblique shots at Chris Norby for failing to deliver park funds which was fun because Norby was hovering in the back of the room like the amiable chorus in an Aristophanes comedy. Whether Norby was even paying attention is unknown, though unlikely.

At the end Daly rolled out his big guns. 1) He was opening his satellite office in Fullerton on Sunday, Feb. 14 to perform bureaucrat weddings (no mention about paying employees overtime to do it); 2) he had worked out a deal with the Lincoln Library to host a road show of Old Abe memorabilia. This produced some chuckles later in the FFFF editorial room as we recalled our post on Daly and another dead Republican.

Harry and Lorri ponder the perplexing crossing of the 91 Freeway

5 & 6. Harry Sidhu and Lorri Galloway both took a powder. They were not missed. Their presence would no doubt have simply added another half an hour to an already pretty depressing evening. Still, credit to the NUFFsters for putting the event together, and shame on Sidhu and Galloway for blowing it off. Were they afraid of having to deal with the carpetbagging issue, or just their inability to talk cogently about bedeviling County problems? They needn’t have worried.