Orange County Power Authority Unable to Properly Manage Basic Duties
Orange County Power Authority Unable to Properly Manage Basic Duties
The Orange County Power Authority (OCPA) has faced public scrutiny in the last few months and that scrutiny remains well deserved. Let’s recap some of the concerns:
- The OCPA’s Implementation Plan which is less ambitious than the state’s target of 60% renewables by 2030.
- The closed door appointment of CEO Brian Probolsky, a GOP political insider who has a history of ethics violations including threatening HR investigators at the County with “political retribution” amongst many other concerns, but is being paid $239k annually, plus a generous benefits package, all funded by Irvine tax payers.
- Transparency concerns due to the refusal to explain why certain meeting videos are still not available to the public.
And now, to add to the list is the authority’s inability to properly manage incoming public records requests resulting in California Public Records Act violations.
I submitted two public records requests, one on August 6, 2021 and another on August 9, 2021, pertaining to the appointment of CEO Brian Probolsky. According to the California Public Records Act (CPRA), the OCPA was legally required to respond by August 16th and 19th, respectively.
Government Code Section 6253(c), states:
Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.
However, nothing was received.
Having received no response, on August 30th I resubmitted both public records requests. On September 9, 2021, I finally received two identical letters stating my initial public records requests were not received “due to a clerical error”.
Response to August 6, 2021 request
Response to August 9, 2021 request
Do clerical errors excuse violations of the California Public Records Act?
The answer is NO. According to the First Amendment Coalition (FAC), the 10 day period for response to a PRA request would begin the day after receipt of the PRA request. There are no exceptions to this rule. But that did not stop the OCPA from using that excuse to justify their violation and respond to the follow-up request on August 30th “only”.
The public can only submit public records requests by emailing [email protected], which leads to the following questions:
- Who at the OCPA is responsible for processing incoming public records requests?
- Who manages the [email protected] email account?
- Who is responsible for forwarding public records requests to the general counsel?
OC Power Authority’s September 2021 Board Meeting
On September 14, 2021, I made a general public comment to address my concerns about this “clerical error”, which Chair Mike Carroll responded afterwards.
Carroll: Just very quickly because it’s very casually thrown around in a public meeting that’s being recorded. I just wanted to ask our general counsel, are we in violation of the public records act?
Baron: No you are not.
Carroll: Thank you, no further information is necessary.
However, further information is necessary and would be appreciated since it is clear the OCPA violated the California Public Records Act and then tried to cover it up only after the same request was re-submitted after the 10-day deadline. The OCPA’s failure to timely respond to public records requests is a breach of a very basic duty to the public, especially Irvine tax payers, who are funding this agency.
My public comment and Chair Carroll’s follow up to my public comment can be heard below.
Has the OCPA failed to respond to your public records request within the 10 day period? Let us know!
Branda LinOctober 12, 2021 at 11:09 am
I attended the later part of today’s OCPA meeting and am happy to report the OCPA will be committing to 100% renewables by it’s April 2022 launch.
rgurienOctober 12, 2021 at 6:55 pm
OCPA is absolutely in violation of the CA Public Records Act. I submitted a PRA request on August 25, 2021. To this day, I have received no response from OCPA, not even an acknowledgement that the request was received. And the records I requested are also fully disclosable. I asked for the following:
all documents related to the recruitment for the position of CEO for the Orange County Power Authority. This includes, but is not limited to:
The position classification describing all essential skills and functions for the Job Title.
The job advertisement(s)/brochure posted or distributed during the recruitment.
The names of all sources in which the job advertisement was placed, with copies of the advertisement as it was displayed in/on the source.
The recruitment plan for the position, including screened skills and qualifications.
If applicable, the name of any and all Executive Search firms engaged to conduct, or assist in conducting, the job search along with their contracts/ written agreements
Purchase requisitions, invoices, and/or other financial documents demonstrating payment made to external partners (i.e., Search firms, Job Boards, etc.) for services related to the recruitment.
The total number of people that applied for the position.
The total number of people who passed minimum qualifications for the position.
The total number of people who were interviewed on the phone, in writing, or face-to-face for the position.
I can’t imagine why they would have ignored my request, can you?
WoofyOctober 12, 2021 at 9:23 pm
So general counsel is lying and we should trust you instead? And, let’s be honest, this was low hanging fruit. If they clean this up, you’ll find another complaint. Why not focus on what most of your members focus on – should there be a CCE at all?
Dee FoxOctober 14, 2021 at 5:21 pm
Baron was also used for the Western Riverside Energy program, you know, the program that had to file bankruptcy. So I wouldn’t take this guys word for anything, especially someone who is being paid very well by the OCPA. And how many “clerical errors” are they allowed? And how does Mike Carroll plan on providing proof of renewable energy being transmitted to SCE’s grid? Are we all just suppose to wait until we find out that we are now getting less renewable than the 38% SCE is currently providing us with because the OCPA is dumping fossil fuel into the mix? Why would ANYONE take Mike Carroll’s word for ANYTHING? He ripped off the taxpayers once and he will be doing it again unless people get smart and “opt out” of his energy scam. Remember, he is the same guy who changed his political affiliation to help get him on the council and then changed it back after he was elected. And Farrah Khan, along with FivePoint, pushed to get him in so he would be in charge of this Billion dollar energy scam program. Just look at what Irvine taxpayers are paying for right now to fund this program…..the salary of a corrupt CEO and entering into long term contracts that puts Irvine at risk of filing bankruptcy, just like the cities in Western Riverside. And why won’t Farrah Khan or Mike Carroll approve Larry Agran’s request to place the OCPA on the agenda for discussion? I mean the City of Irvine gave $2.4 million to start this program, and you would think the taxpayers should be informed of its operation and have a say in what it is doing. But Farrah Khan and Mike Carroll refuse to bring the operation of this program out in the open. The last thing they want is for the public to question what they are doing. There can be no other reason.
Kathleen TresederOctober 15, 2021 at 11:53 am
What do OCPA and cryptocurrency have in common? (1) They both avoid oversight, and (2) Brian Probolsky.
In addition to being OCPA’s CEO, Probolsky is affiliated with a Huntington Beach-based crypto company called “CoinDaddy”.
Incidentally, CoinDaddy was founded by a bitcoin rapper who calls himself “The Worst Person Ever”.
I have many questions. I guess the first among them is: has Probolsky reported CoinDaddy as a conflict of interest? I have no way of knowing, since he is notably exempt from OCPA’s revised conflict of interest policy.
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