From the OC Politics Blog
The refunds – nearly five times the amount first thought – suggest that troubles in the Fire Authority’s hazmat program extended deeper than the administration had initially acknowledged. The Orange County Register reported in September that the department uncovered evidence that more than 1,400 businesses were billed for inspections that didn’t happen fiscal year 2011-12. At the time, it estimated about $360,000 in refunds were due, according to the O.C. Register.
How did the executive managers at the OCFA miss this? And why was the OCFA’s Board of Directors asleep at the wheel? Who is on the OCFA’s Board of Directors? Here are just a few of these lame, overpaid Directors:
- Aliso Viejo Councilman Phil Tsunoda (what board isn’t this guy on?)
- Mission Viejo Councilwoman Trish Kelley
- Santa Ana Councilman Sal Tinajero
- Stanton Councilman Dave Shawver
- and not one but TWO Supervisors – Pat Bates and Todd Spitzer
This problem is not one that happened overnight:
A new audit of the program now suggests that the missed inspections may have started in 2005, and that the county’s largest fire agency may refund up to $1,751,044. That amount is expected to cover inspections that weren’t done and those that couldn’t be verified.
Here are a few more key excerpts from the O.C. Register:
- OCFA emails obtained by the Register show that there was confusion as to how often the inspections were to be carried out. State law requires that the inspections be done at least once every three years, but OCFA had a policy of conducting them annually. That meant fees were collected each year, despite the fact that some inspections were skipped.
- Administrators acknowledged that there was a lack of communication among departments.
- Union officials said management instructed employees to halt annual inspections.
- But the Register obtained an audit from an outside agency that found about 200 of the inspections were skipped for at least three years, a potential violation of the state’s health and safety code.
Businesses paid for the inspections, which were conducted under the department’s Hazardous Material Inspection Program. The inspection program has now been handed to the county Health Care Agency, according to the Sacramento Bee.