The last Irvine City Council meeting with the old Republican regime gave newly-elected Council member Mike Carroll a free pass when it came to moving money around to cover the excessive cost of his “COVID19” mailers which were far more about his campaign for city council than actually communicating information about the Pandemic.
I have joined neighbors, friends and city residents in lending my name to this letter sent to the city’s leadership via email and First Class mail this morning.
From the Voice of OC story: “The mailers were not direct advertisements for Carroll’s 2020 campaign, but prominently featured the councilman’s name and information for a series of town halls discussing the city’s response to the pandemic and the election.
The use of official resources by incumbents to boost city spending on mailers that feature their name prominently has been a rising technique used by a number of local politicians in recent years. A few years back, local campaign finance watchdog Shirley Grindle got state legislators to approve legislation limiting such activities at the county level.
Questionable campaign spending at the city level is largely regulated by City Attorney Jeff Melching and local District Attorney Todd Spitzer. Neither has taken any kind of public action in this case.
Carroll has defended his actions by stating that the funds for the mailers came out of his staff budget, but according to city rules that money has to be used for staff salaries unless approved for another use by the entire council by an official vote.”
Then, there’s this from the Irvine Watchdog column:
“It is rather ironic that Carroll is the very man who pledged to protect taxpayers’ money and put it to apt use as guarded by the law. Commenting on the endorsement that he had received from the OCTaxPAC, he had said that, if elected, he would “continue [his] service on the Council” and “support policies to protect our Irvine taxpayers and the local economy”. With the latest revelation of his unethical action, there is little doubt as to what he is actually determined to support – and this is far from the stated objectives of putting people first.
But, one may also think of what amount of accountability we should be expecting from what was an unelected councilmember. After all, Carroll was appointed as Vice Mayor than being elected by the people of Irvine.
This is where more instances of misleading the voters come to prominence – Carroll has wronged in his electoral campaign more than just once. It isn’t restricted to just the misappropriation of funds. Mike Carroll also led the voters into thinking that he was an elected member – cleverly not mentioning the term “appointed” on ballots, was just one of the many devices that he turned to for aid in this respect.
Residents are now angered at the blatant untruthfulness and deceit of Carroll’s actions and are questioning how much this would weigh on our democracy. His array of deceptive electoral politics only gets furthered, the more you read into his campaign. The mailers that were sent from his office under the pretense of connecting with residents and uniting them all in knowing more about efforts to fight the pandemic, were in fact doing more to pitch for a continual term for Carroll.”
Carroll should have abstained from a vote on this matter and was the deciding vote in violating the city’s own rules. If he didn’t vote, it would be a 2-2 vote
Here’s the letter that we sent today:
VIA E-MAIL AND
FIRST CLASS MAIL
City of Irvine
1 Civic Center Plaza
Irvine, CA 92606
Re: November 24th City Council Vote on Agenda Item 3.15 — Demand to Cure or Correct Violation of the City’s Agenda-Setting Policy, FY 2019-2021 Adopted Budget Guideline, and FPPC Conflict of Interest Rules
Dear City Attorney,
Please accept this letter as a formal demand pursuant to Government Code Section 54960.1 to correct the Irvine City Council actions taken at the City Council Special meeting on November 24, 2020.
Agenda Item 3.15 to “approve a budget adjustment to the City Council Budget” was passed 3-2:
YES: Farrah Khan, Mike Carroll, Anthony Kuo
NO: Christina Shea, Melissa Fox
However, there were three procedural violations:
- Violation of the City’s agenda-setting policy requiring two councilmembers to approve agenda items.
- Violation of the 2019-2021 FY Adopted Budget Guidelines for budget adjustments.
- Failure of Councilmember Mike Carroll to recuse himself on an item involving his misappropriation of tax dollars.
Violation #1 – Violation of City’s Agenda-Setting Policy
In 2019, the Irvine City Council approved an agenda-setting policy requiring two councilmembers, or the mayor’s, approval to place items on the city council agenda. However, based on the staff report for agenda item 3.15, this item was placed on the agenda “at the request of Vice Mayor Carroll” alone. Placing item 3.15 on the agenda was in clear violation of our city’s agenda-setting policy.
Violation #2 – Budget Adjustment Proposal Did Not Receive Necessary Approvals Prior to City Council Vote
Per the City’s FY 2019-2021 Adopted Budget Guidelines, page 557, “adjustments to the adopted or adjusted budget must be approved by the City Manager; Department Director; Manager of Budget and Business Planning; and Manager of Fiscal Services, reviewed by the Finance Commission (except when previously reviewed and approved by the Orange County Great Park Board of Directors, or when direction for the budget adjustment originates from a majority vote of the City Council) and approved by a majority vote of the City Council, unless the budget adjustment falls under one of the exceptions below.”
As the budget adjustment originated with the request for City Council Action by Interim City Manager Marianna Marysheva, having not been approved by the Manager of Budget and Business Planning, the Manager of Fiscal Services, nor reviewed by the Finance Commission, the action taken shall not stand.
The Interim City Manager was the only one who approved this budget adjustment request. Notably, this procedural violation remains unacknowledged and unaddressed by the Interim City Manager, who is responsible for ensuring procedural integrity.
Violation #3 – Councilmember Mike Carroll’s Vote Posed a Conflict of Interest
At the November 24th council meeting, multiple public comments preceding the vote stated the need for Mike Carroll to recuse himself due to his obvious conflict of interest in this matter.
Per the California Fair Political Practices Commission Conflict of Interest Rules:
Under the Act, a public official has a disqualifying conflict of interest in a governmental decision if it is foreseeable that the decision will have a financial impact on his or her personal finances or other financial interests. In such cases, there is a risk of biased decision-making that could sacrifice the public’s interest in favor of the official’s private financial interests. To avoid actual bias or the appearance of possible improprieties, the public official is prohibited from participating in the decision.
Mike Carroll did not recuse himself and proceeded to vote on the matter. The budget adjustment was in direct response to Mr. Carroll’s misappropriation of tax dollars, and therefore the decision on agenda item 3.15 had a direct impact on Mr. Carroll’s “personal finances or other financial interests”. Without this budget adjustment, Mr. Carroll would have been personally responsible for paying back over $70,000 of misappropriated tax dollars.
Based on the above violations, the City Council’s vote taken on November 24th on agenda item 3.15 must be deemed invalid and a re-vote must take place by the City Council upon meeting the criteria stated in the Adopted Budget Guidelines, and with Councilmember Mike Carroll recused. If the City fails to cure or correct as demanded, such inaction may leave residents no recourse but to seek a judicial invalidation of the challenged action pursuant to Section 54960.1.
cc: City Clerk (via email)
City Manager Marianna Marysheva (via email)
Irvine City Councilmembers (via email)