Thursday, September 29, 2011
A TEACHABLE MOMENT… Squid would’ve made a good 19th-century teacher, able to wrist-slap eight out-of-line students at once. Likewise, that skill could’ve served this cephalopod well were Squid counsel for the Monterey County Water Resources Agency back when former board member Stephen Collins recused himself from voting on a contract involving RMC, his employer-by-night. There are rules against that, like Government Code Section 1090 and the Political Reform Act. Part of the problem: Though Collins didn’t vote on the RMC contract, he stayed in the room, a big no-no.
At least outgoing GM Curtis Weeks seems to have learned his lesson. At the agency’s board meeting last week, Mike Scattini – Collins’ replacement, appointed to the Grower-Shipper Association seat – recused himself from voting on Don Chapin Company’s over-budget contract to turn a portion of the Salinas River into an underwater parking lot to keep the Rubber Dam from washing away. When Scattini asked County Counsel Patrick McGreal about recusing himself because of an outside deal with Chapin, Weeks wasted no time in saying, “Yes, yes, yes,” with vigorous nodding. All eyes watched Scattini walk away, and shut the door behind him.
Squid wishes Weeks luck in future business dealings. His joint venture with Collins went south, with only $100 left in CollinsWeeks Consulting LLC’s checking account. The erstwhile consulting firm’s first big deal failed, according to a report from the county’s outside counsel, after the backer was accused of defrauding the federal government. A word of advice to agency board members and staff: Next time you’re planning a revolving door private enterprise, wait till you’ve already left your public gig.
CHECKS AND BALANCES… Squid enjoys trolling city websites in search of little bits of comedy buried in boring public documents. Earlier today, Squid tapped a tentacle on a Salinas City Council agenda item, and poof! A financial claims report appeared, full of comic gold. $100 for a “magic clown” at the library! $52.68 for “Nut Set Fire Station”! (?!) And $658 for meals at an “Intelligence, Basic Elements” course! (If you don’t already have the basic elements of intelligence, will a class with pricey food help?) The city’s also plunking down bucks for print: $132 for The Monterey County Herald, $172.07 for The Salinas Californian, $829.24 for the Gray Lady at the library, and… where’s Squid’s favorite publication? Sad but true: Salinas doesn’t subscribe to the Weekly, not even for the paltry price of $52 per year. True, the Weekly’s free on the streets, but if you’ve got $100 for a clown, surely you can spare half that to support independent journalism.