An investigation by San Diego County’s Chief of Audits Juan Perez has found that certain unnamed key employees have failed to disclose their financial holdings, as required by state conflict of interest law. And that may not be the worst of the county’s festering ethics problems. “California law prevents local government officers and employees from using their government position for private gain, and from participating in outside activities that would affect the performance of their duties with the agency that employs them,” observes Perez’s May 25 report.
Workers in so-called designated positions are supposed to file an annual Form 700 revealing their financial holdings and outside income. But in a sample of 30 employees of the Department of General Services, three did not provide the required reports. Over at the Department of Public Works, 5 of 30 sampled workers failed to file. Neither department adequately logged employee compliance, as mandated by county policy. Public Works kept no log at all, and General Services failed to update its records “to reflect all of the department’s designated employees,” the audit found. “As such, some employees’ forms were not filed. This could result in some employees not disclosing their financial interests and possibly making decisions that conflict with those interests.”
Exacerbating matters, the report adds, “the County of San Diego Code of Ethics requires employees to disclose conflicts having to do with client or vendor relationships. However, the Code of Ethics is ambiguous as to the specific relationships it intends departments to identify, and does not provide a process for disclosure.”
Nepotism, previously an issue at the Port of San Diego, has emerged as a county problem, the audit says. “The Conflict of Interest section of the Code of Ethics requires employees to disclose potential conflicts having to do with relatives working in the same department. However, the Code of Ethics is ambiguous as it does not define the term ‘relatives,’ does not specify how these potential conflicts should be disclosed, and there is no additional guidance available for departments to use.” Four of six county departments examined by auditors “had employees who informally self-disclosed these types of relationships. Additionally, we found an instance where an employee had an indirect superior/subordinate relationship with a relative.” Only one of the six departments examined by auditors “had no employees who were related.” The county charter mandates that “no person related by blood or marriage to an officer or department head may be employed in the department of that officer or department head,” the report notes.
Delinquency, the print version
The Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce is looking for a so-called Member Relations Manager to ride herd on delinquent accounts. In addition to lots of cold-calling “to develop new memberships,” the new hire will be expected to “follow up on past due membership collections on existing accounts as well as for accounts assigned by the Executive Director, Membership,” says an online job ad… San Diego County is pricing a plan to outsource editing and publishing of a new “Youth Authored Literary Publication” for juvenile inmates. “The publication shall be a collection of written word or visual art pieces authored by youth in custody,” says a June 18 request for cost quotes from would-be contractors. “Youth in custody often feel isolated, ashamed, and marginalized. Through written word and visual art, youth are able to tell their stories, share their ideas, life experiences and process trauma in a safe and therapeutic space.” Adds the document, “By sharing their pain, memories, mistakes, and hopes, youth can help inform the system and teach the community outside about the root causes of juvenile delinquency.”
Airbnb’s high end
While local politicos, including San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, continue to wrestle over the prickly matter of Airbnb vacation rentals, the San Francisco online giant is looking to expand into overnight digs for the super rich here. “As a Luxury Retreats Ambassador, you will identify exceptional properties that our home curators can consider for our exclusive collection,” says a recent San Diego help-wanted advertisement on LinkedIn. Ambassadorial must-haves: “You know the luxury property market in San Diego and have exposure to the owners of these properties,” and “you understand what sets an exceptional luxury property apart and what is required to offer our guests the very best.”
Per the advertisement, the independent contractors will get “$1,500 in referral fees for each new Luxury Retreats property you refer,” along with the opportunity to develop “your network as a tastemaker in your local community.”