Is Jimmy Fitzy Out At The Sanitary District?
As anticipated, based on a review of previous meeting minutes, the regular monthly meeting of the Costa Mesa Sanitary District found itself, figuratively, knee-deep in effluent Thursday night.
JIMMY FITZY "INCOMPATIBLE"?
The issue that prompts my characterization is the presentation of a legal opinion - the second such opinion - that District Board Member Jim Fitzpatrick's position on the Board has been determined to be "incompatible" with his position as a Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner.
Although I was not present, reports from the scene indicate that the discussion on this issue was, to put it mildly, animated. Apparently Fitzpatrick is not happy with this decision because it could cause him to lose his position on the Sanitary District Board. I'm told that, at one point, Director Art Perry asked Fitzpatrick if he was going to resign. Fitzpatrick did not respond.
SPECIAL MEETING TUESDAY
Next Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. the Sanitary District Board will meet in a Special Meeting - read the agenda HERE - at which, following public comments, they will immediately adjourn to a Closed Session to "discuss initiation of litigation (Quo Warranto to determine if Director Fitzpatrick's appointment to the Costa Mesa Planning Commission caused a vacation of his office as Director as being incompatible/conflict of interest) (Gov. Code 54956.9)"
EXPENSIVE AND LENGTHY LITIGATION
It is my understanding that such litigation could cost upwards of $40,000 and could take months to resolve. I also understand that it is possible to request an opinion directly from the State Attorney General on the issue of incompatibility.
NOT A NEW ISSUE
This is not a new issue. It actually began last summer and has dragged on until the present time, coming to a full boil within the past three months. The issue was also addressed when Fitzpatrick, then a first-term Planning Commissioner, decided to run for a seat on the Sanitary District Board. Mayor Gary Monahan, in a city council meeting during open session, gave his view that Fitzpatrick holding both seats was not "incompatible" because he, as a sitting council member, also recently held a seat on the Sanitary District Board.
DIFFERENT RULES FOR COUNCILMEN
However, it is my understanding that the prohibition that applies to Fitzpatrick would NOT apply to a council member, based on a section of the State Health and Safety Code which exempted Monahan from that prohibition.
SO MANY QUESTIONS...
So, Tuesday's meeting will be very interesting. Will the Sanitary District Board choose to move forward with the litigation? Will Fitzpatrick fight that decision and force the expenditure of time and treasure to enforce two legal opinions? Will the Board, following the Closed Session, use item III on the agenda - Reconsider Committee and Other Assignments of Directors - to strip Fitzpatrick of any committee assignments and, de facto, render his participation on the board moot until the legal issue is resolved? Will Fitzpatrick resign from the Sanitary District Board? Or, will he resign from his Planning Commission seat? There certainly is plenty to think about over this weekend, and that doesn't even consider the council meeting on Tuesday evening that will deal with the Homeless Task Force Report and the Mid-year Budget Review. Yikes!
SERNA WILL REPORT NEXT WEEK
Daily Pilot Ace Reporter Joe Serna was present and will have a long story on this meeting, and the meeting Tuesday, early in the week. I look forward to his first-person account of the "festivities".