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Time to Cage Street

Street Watch

Despite the Treasurer’s blithe dismissal of the allegations and their impact upon his office, it is imperative that the Board of Supervisors take immediate and decisive action in the matter, if it is to minimize the charges that the Board “fiddled while Rome burned.” 

Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino in a letter to the Board of Supervisors today, asks that the Board rescind Treasurer Chriss Street’s investment authority.

Nick BerardinoHere’s the letter.

August 20, 2007

Dear Chairman Norby:

I am writing this letter as the General Manager of the Orange County Employees Association, which represents in bargaining the vast majority of the County’s 18,000 employees.  In the past, it has been the County’s employees which have borne the brunt of various County financial problems.

The continuing revelations concerning Chriss Street’s alleged activities in the course of his duties as County of Orange Treasurer-Tax Collector, as well as the allegations concerning his activities before coming into office, have raised serious questions about his ability to manage the County’s investments pursuant to the Board of Supervisors delegation of its investment duties.

The news stories and concerns by participants in the investment pool have not abated.  Nor are they likely to do so at any foreseeable time.  The nature of the problem can be seen from Orange County Register headlines in their newspaper and website over the past few days.  Examples:  “D.A. joins list of Street investigators:  The county is examining a possible deal between the treasurer-tax collector and an architectural company” (August 18), and, even more ominous, “Investors giving Street a closer look:  New questions about the county treasurer raise concerns among cities and water districts” (August 20).

The present situation has portentous parallels to the diminished confidence of investors in the County investment pool during the County bankruptcy.

In the bankruptcy, there were no real outward signs observable by the general public, until it was too late.  In the present case, the apparent misbehaviors of Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street are all hanging out for the public to see, making any failure of our Board of Supervisors to take any action all the more dangerous.

It doesn’t take an eagle eye to see that the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office now suffers from an acute case of internal decay.  Unless the Board of Supervisors takes action on this matter, the collapse of the Treasurer’s Office is inevitable.  The verifiable problems are numerous and appalling.

Despite the Treasurer’s blithe dismissal of the allegations and their impact upon his office, it is imperative that the Board of Supervisors take immediate and decisive action in the matter, if it is to minimize the charges that the Board “fiddled while Rome burned.”

Among the logical steps would appear to be that the Board should consider rescinding its delegation to the Treasurer of its authority over the investment of County funds.  We also have grave concerns over the Treasurer’s role in investment decisions made by the Orange County Board of Retirement, of which the County Treasurer is an ex officio member.

Sincerely,

ORANGE COUNTY EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
Nick Berardino
General Manager