Street Roams Free; County workers placed on leave

Peggy Lowe and Ronald Campbell report [HERE] in todays OCRegister that two employees from the county’s building and facilities department have been placed on administrative leave while the agency does its own investigation into a contract already being examined by the district attorney.

The two employees placed on leave on Thursday are Clark Shen, a manager in the building and facilities department – called Resources and Development Management – and Antonio “Epoy” Pascual, who works in that department’s architectural-engineering projects, said Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

The Register reports:

The $18,000 contract with Ware Malcomb, an Irvine architectural firm, has been at the center of a growing number of questions about when and if the company was evaluated and whether the deal was properly conducted. Because of the many questions, the contract was never awarded and Ware Malcomb wasn’t paid.

Street has said he sought the contract because he wanted to remodel the outside of the Hall of Finance and Records, where his office is located. He invited Ware Malcomb, among others, to do a walk-around the building in March to seek ideas about how it could be rehabbed.

Berardino sent a letter [HERE] to each of the five supervisors Friday asking to place the issue of the county workers on next week’s board agenda. But Supervisor Chris Norby, the board chairman, refused the request, saying it is a personnel issue.

“Until we know all the facts and have some kind of recommendation from human resources and the department itself, it’s premature to talk about it,” Norby said.

Berardino said the board was using “a double standard” in allowing Street to stay on the job while forcing the workers to go home.

“I find it to be extraordinarily curious that it was premature to take action on Street that kept him in and it’s premature to take action on our guys to get them back into work,” Berardino said. “Premature seems to be a very convenient term around there these days.”

It really is no wonder that the Board of Supervisors will have nothing to do with controlling Chriss Street.  Four of the five members share the same attorney as Street, Phil Greer.  The conduct of some of the board members and their staff during the discussion of Street’s investment authority at Tuesday’s Board meeting was quite revealing and disturbing. Board members’ staff were in the chambers talking and joking with Phil Greer. In addition to this behavior the board allowed Street and his crew to manipulate the three minute speaking rule. Speakers were allowed to yield all or a portion of their three minutes to other people.

Berardino put a good bottom line on all of this in the Register story.

“The big guys basically get away and the little guys pay the price.”