Process Violations Threaten to Derail Mike Carroll Budget Coverup
An email received on November 29, 2020, compelled Irvine Watchdog to re-examine the circumstances surrounding the vote on the budget adjustment at the November 24, 2020 meeting. In effect, the City Council appears to have failed to follow its own rules in its haste to bring an end to this issue.
The procedural violations are threefold:
- Violation of agenda-setting policy requiring two councilmembers to approve agenda items.
- Violation of the 2019-2021 FY Budget Guidelines for budget adjustments.
- Failure of Councilmember Mike Carroll to recuse himself on an item involving his misappropriation of tax dollars.
The item was placed on the agenda improperly, voted on improperly, and the councilmember under examination was improperly allowed to cast a vote to decide his own fate.
Violation #1 – Who Seconded Mike Carroll’s Requested Agenda Item?
The staff report for the budget adjustment item did not receive a second councilmember’s approval. Per the agenda-setting policy set forth by the City Council in 2019, this item should not have been placed on the City Council agenda for a vote.
Violation #2 – Budget Adjustment Proposal Did Not Receive Necessary Approvals Prior to City Council Vote
Irvine Watchdog has received the following anonymous email regarding the City Council’s vote on November 24, 2020 retroactively approving $30,000 of the over $70,000 spent on mailers by Councilman Mike Carroll. Voice of OC | Biesiada The email reads:
As one of Irvine’s leading newspapers and watchdog, I found it necessary to bring this to your attention. What the City Council did on November 24, 2020 is illegal!
Per their own budgeting guidelines, HERE, “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 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 – Failure of Councilmember Mike Carroll to Recuse Himself
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. City Attorney Jeff Melching did not object to Carroll’s participation in the vote.
The budget adjustment proposal passed 3-2:
YES: Farrah Khan, Mike Carroll, Anthony Kuo
NO: Christina Shea, Melissa Fox