Commentary: Collins Investigation Should Catch Other Officials

(c) Copyright 2011 Ed Mitchell

I believe I was the first to file a Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) sworn complaint against Steve Collins with my May 5, 2011 delivery to the FPPC office in Sacramento, 5 weeks before the County hired an independent investigator.
MCWRA Gen Mgr Curtis Weeks

MCWRA Gen Mgr Curtis Weeks (photo at Monterey County Weekly)

The breadth and quality of the evidence package I supplied caused the FPPC to decide after 2 weeks review, to open an investigation. I may have also been the first to file a sworn complaint to the District Attorney’s office with my May 12th submittal. And this last Tuesday I notified the Board of Supervisors that public records show other county officials may have violated the Political Reform Act of 1974.

(The 1974 act prohibits a public official from participating in a decision in which he has a financial interest. Government Code 1090 prohibits a public officer from being financially interested in a contract made in both his private and public capacities.)

Below are the comments I made prior to the release of the independent investigator’s report. I was correct with my prediction a year before information came out about Collins that the water purchase agreement’s poor wording could lead to conflicts of interest.

I was correct in notifying the FPPC and District Attorney that he may have violated Government Code 1090. I believe that the FPPC will also eventually confirm that other public officials also violated portions of the Political Reform Act of 1974. Please read my comments below.


Mitchell’s Comments to Board of Supervisors, 21 June 2011:

“My name is Ed Mitchell and I have over 25 years of government contracting experience. The majority of county employees are honest and deliver excellent service. Their job is easier when their bosses enforce laws and don’t violate them.

Unfortunately, public documents appear to reveal that the Steve Collins conflict of interest issue goes beyond him to other county officials who may have ignored violations. So I encourage you to answer for the public this question:

Are there county officials, who knew Collins had a financial conflict but allowed him to participate in contract making meetings they attended or knew that he attended, and did they purposely or negligently cause or aid and abet Mr. Collins in the commission of one or more violations of the Political Reform Act of 1974?

On the overhead is a timeline of conflict of interest events based on invoices, DVDs, minutes of meetings, etc. The timeline stretches across 2010 into 2011. From January through mid-2010 RMC paid Mr. Collins over $79,000 dollars.

During that time Water Resources Agency General Manager Curtis Weeks participated with Mr. Collins in 24 meetings dealing with contracts and funding foreseeably impacting RMC. Deputy Counsel Irv Grant participated in 13.

So did alarm bells go off for Mr. Weeks and Mr. Grant when they heard Collins recuse himself in September 2010 and again in February 2011 because of his financial conflict with RMC?

Like the alarm that went off for me months earlier on April 6th when I warned this board that the wording of the Desalination Water Purchase Agreement could easily lead to conflict of interest behavior.

Or the alarms that went off for the respected Salinas Valley Water Coalition in March 2011 who wrote to the Water Resources Agency stating:

“… we are concerned that the conflict cited by Director Collins may in fact extend to any and all matters having to do with the Regional Water Supply Project, with a potential to jeopardize the project implementation.”

Now that letter was also e-mailed to County Counsel McKee and this Board of Supervisors. So another reasonable question is: WHEN and what actions were taken by Weeks, Grant, County Counsel, and any member of the Board of Supervisors during the 6 month period after September 2010 into March 2011, regarding Collins’ possible jeopardy of water project contracts which could be voided?

Possibly one of the water-experienced supervisors or some other person took some early action — if not, why not?

I hope this information helps this Board protect the best interests of the public by determining, who knew what when. You may want to consider the meetings that occurred between the two recusals and who participated in those meetings and what were the subject of the meetings.”

Mitchell Research Tables

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