The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The OC's no-bid contracts - a news black-hole
Here's a story from OC Weekly that you would struggle to get to via Google News in a million years, with the snappy lede:
Minutes after celebrating their honesty, Orange County Great Park board members ignored their own procurement rules and okayed a contract that will pay $441 an hour to a law firm with ties to the park’s CEO.
Basically, it seems that the CEO of OCGP, one Wally Kreutzen, handed a million bucks a year legal services contract to long time buddy Robert Thornton. (Yeah, that Robert Thornton...)
And the the governing faction of the OCGP board were happy to flip off those who found this a tad malodorous.
OK, it's not Watergate. But even these days, in Orange County, a million bucks can get you quite a decent dinner for two. And - you have to wonder whether, in the thousands upon thousands of similar boards, executives and other instrumentalities, similarly cosy contracting arrangements are not winked at or passed over. Including by the local media.
The list of Pulitzer Prize winners in the Public Service category (which, unlike most, runs from 1917 to date) includes fascinating slices of American history  including several awards for coverage of local government scandals.
Those for 1931-35, for instance, were all about, or included, municipal corruption; and 1939 and 1940 also.
Now, there's no indication in the story that anything the OCGP board has done is illegal. One wonders, though, whether, if there were to be illegality to be dug up, there are the resources and will in the local media to do so.
Of course, back in the 1930s, there were many more titles than there are today , with competing titles (morning and afternoon papers, say) in many markets in which only one remains today. More feet pounding pavements, too, I suspect.
You could understand if insurgency - making a business of being against the powers that be - could be made a paying proposition for a third or fourth newspaper in a city. (With the first and second being part of, or friendly to, the machine that ruled the city.)
OC Weekly has an even juicier piece on the TV movie that is the Orange County Sheriff's Department: sex, politics, corruption...
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