Irvine Mayor Steven Choi apparently committed $100,000 of Irvine taxpayers dollars for the $1 million reward at the height of the Christopher Dorner manhunt without the approval of the rest of the City Council. At next week’s council meeting, this matter will likely be on the agenda, but there are sources close to city hall that suggest the council majority might try to find a way to wiggle out of the commitment.
The Register reported this last Friday but what seems to be missing is who decided to put Irvine on the list for $100,000.
From the Register story:
Before the Irvine City Council could vote to approve contributing $100,000 to the reward fund, though, authorities cornered Dorner, who died in a Big Bear cabin in the San Bernardino mountains after a deadly standoff with law enforcement.
Now, the council is expected to vote on the reward contribution at a March 12 meeting.
The Irvine Police Department is among 30 or so individuals and agencies that agreed to contribute, according to the L.A. mayor’s office, which coordinated the reward.
Those contributors ultimately will decide collectively how to award the funds or whether to distribute them at all, said Vicki Curry, a senior press secretary in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office.
If the reward is ultimately distributed, “I think we’re obligated,” Choi said. If it’s not, then it may not be necessary for Irvine to pay in, he said.
Councilwoman Christina Shea said she was told that the reward money would come out of the city’s public-safety budget, not its general fund. “If there was the commitment made, then we’ll have to make sure that is fulfilled,” she said.
Lt. Pat Rodgers, a former Irvine Police office and former city council candidate (and a frequent apologist for Irvine Republicans) offered a platform for the city to back out of Choi’s unauthorized commitment in a comment to the Register story. Rodgers wrote: ”
There seems to be a question as to if there was a legitimate tip which led to Dorner’s demise, or if the persons reporting the matter were just victims of a crime. If it is determined that they were reporting a crime and were not legitimate tipsters, the reward is not merited and the City should not contribute.”The Register story the day after the press conference announcing the reward, Mayor Choi seemed to be on board with Irvine’s share. From the story:Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and Irvine police Chief David Maggard attended Sunday’s news conference to inform the public of that city’s continued efforts in the investigation.“Seven days ago our community lost a wonderful, young couple that was preparing to get married soon,” Choi said. “The offer of this $1 million reward is a clear demonstration that we are collectively committed to solve this tragic case as quickly as possible.”Council member Christina Shea suggested that the reward money come from the city’s public safety budget which doesn’t have a line item for rewards (you’d think she’d know that after her previous terms as mayor and on the city council).In a March 4 memo from Choi to City Manager Sean Joyce, Choi writes: “Although the manhunt has come to a conclusion, I feel the City of Irvine should be a contributor to the reward given the direct impact on our community.…On February 10, I joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, the U.S. Marshall’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Police Chiefs from Irvine, Los Angeles, and Riverside for the announcement of a multi-agency reward. I believe the City Council should approve Irvine’s participation inthis reward…I will suggest the funds for the reward be appropriated from the City’s public safety budget.”The Mayor needs to offer an apology to the rest of the City Council and the taxpayers for acting on his own here. The full council should have been consulted before he drove to Los Angeles. Now, it looks just like it looks — a backwards attempt to do the right thing after you did the wrong thing. It looks like Choi was more interested in getting in the Spotlight of Media activity than good governance.