Another Executive Scandal for County of Orange

Image from ABC TV series Scandal. Not at all related to OC Scandal

Image from ABC TV series Scandal. Not at all related to OC Scandal

Carlos Bustamante goes on trial in November for allegedly assaulting several women he supervised as a senior executive at OC Public Works. Bustamante was arrested on those charges more than two years ago. In addition to the heinous acts Bustamante allegedly committed, there is the horrifying level of executive cover-up and botched investigation by the most senior levels of county administration. Well, fasten your seat belts, we’re back for a new episode of OC Scandal.

Voice of OC reported yesterday about an scandal involving senior executives in OC Parks who apparently directed almost $1 million in consulting contracts to a friend of former Deputy Director of OC Parks, Michael Brajdic. When the matter finally came to an investigation, they had the then subordinate of Brajdic, current OC Parks Director Stacy Blackwood, conduct the investigation. She apparently determined nothing was wrong with the contract awards. According to the Voice of OC story several senior OC Parks executives are implicated in the Internal Audit report on the matter.

From 2009 until 2014, OC Parks officials authorized 13 consecutive consulting contracts totaling $913,095 to BPM Advisors, which is owned by Ahmad Iqbal, a grad school friend of former OC Parks Deputy Director Michael Brajdic.

In all, four top OC Parks executives — including Brajdic, Scott Thomas, Doug Berry and then-director (now Chief Operating Officer) Mark Denny — had a hand in approving the contracts, which were all for amounts under the $100,000 threshold for requiring a vote by the supervisors, according to an Aug. 13 report from the county’s Internal Audit Department to County Counsel Nicholas Chrisos obtained by Voice of OC.

You’ve got to read the rest of this story here.

  2 comments for “Another Executive Scandal for County of Orange

  1. Morty
    August 26, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    A poorly-reported hatchet job. 1500 words and Norberto misses the journalistic basics: what does BPM Advisors do? What was it hired to do for OC Parks? Was it successful in accomplishing its scope of work? Absolutely relevant info is withheld from the reader, but an irrelevant, gratuitous comparison to the Bustamante scandal is included.

    This article is an attack on county management for contracting out work to the private sector in order to improve public sector performance. OCEA hates that and has been waging a long battle against contracting out. Voice of OC is funded by OCEA. How is THAT not a conflict? Why isn’t that disclosed in the article? Why did Voice of OC removed all their IRS disclosure forms, listing their donors, from the website? This article complements OCEA’s attack strategy. Are we supposed to believe that is a coincidence?

  2. Editorial Staff
    August 27, 2014 at 5:47 am


    It doesn’t really matter what BPM Advisors does. The issue was that the investigation was improperly conducted within OCCR, and that the contracts were sole sourced and manipulated in value to avoid Board approval.

    Norberto Santana at Voice of OC quoted from the report:

    “There was no indication that either BPM or OC Parks prepared any detailed time estimates or associated budgets for any of the stated deliverables or elements identified in the contracts’ scopes of work as a basis for setting the contract award amounts,” auditors wrote in their 23-page report.

    “The ‘Self Investigation’ conducted by OCCR and OC Parks lacked the requisite investigatory, fraud and procurement expertise for such a complex manner,” the auditors wrote.

    “Mr. Brajdic initiated and continued to strongly support the hiring of Mr. Iqbals’ company, BPM Advisors, LLC as a consultant for OC Parks without following the county’s standard competitive bidding process,” the audit states. “Rather, OC Parks repeatedly hired BPM through a non-competitive Cooperative Purchasing Agreement system known as the California Multiple Awards Schedules (CMAS).”

    This doesn’t look like a hatchet job to us. Santana reported on a damning Internal Audit report that would never have seen the light of day if CEO Giancola and COO Denny had their way. Instead of defending the actions called out in the IA report, they chose to remain silent. We’re sure that if they tried, Santana would take their call.

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