UPDATED: Spitzer/Nelson Feud Escalates

The ongoing feud between Orange County Supervisors Todd Spitzer and Shawn Nelson has flared up again.

Spitzer has placed two items on Tuesday’s board agenda that are aimed at Nelson and his chief of staff, Denis Bilodeau.

The first item would amend county policy as follows:

“A Member of the Board of Supervisors shall not accept a vehicle for more than seven days in any single month or a transportation allowance from another government agency if the Board of Supervisors appointed that member to that other government agency. This section shall not apply to a vehicle or allowance provided when traveling on government business beyond the borders of the Counties of Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego.

A Supervisor who accepts a vehcile or allowance in contravetnion of this Rule shall immediately forfeit his or her Board appointment to that other government agency. The vacant seat at that agency will be filled by a vote of the Board of Supervisors at a subsequent meeting.”

Supervisor Nelson is the County of Orange representative on the South Coast Air Quality Management Board of Directors; the SCAQMD makes clean-air demonstration vehicles available to directors to drive; most, if not all, of them make use of that – including Nelson. Members of the OC Board of Supervisors also receive an automobile allowance.

The second item amends county policy as follows:

“Any employee or contractor assigned to the office of a member of the Board of Supervisors shall not draw a stipend, salary, or other remuneration from an outside entity for assisting a Supervisor if the Board of Supervisors appointed that Supervisor to that outside entity.”

Members of the SCAQMD Board of Directors each receive a budget for a policy aide position. Bilodeau receives $37,868 for serving as policy aide to Nelson in his capacity as an AQMD director, according to the Voice of OC.

While not mentioning Nelson and Bilodeau by name, Spitzer’s proposed amendments would apply only to them.

These amendments to county policies are the latest escalation in the feud between the two supervisors. Last month, Supervisor Nelson proposed changing the term limit law for county supervisors to allow them to serve three consecutive four-year terms, but make those three terms the lifetime limit. Currently, supervisors are limited to two consecutive four-year terms, and their eligibility “re-sets” after staying off the Board for one election cycle.

As written, Nelson’s proposal would have re-set all sitting supervisors’ eligibility, allowing them to serve three additional terms.

Supervisors Spitzer and Michelle Steel vocally objected to Nelson’s proposal, with Spitzer accusing of Nelson of being self-serving. Nelson withdraw his proposal and present a revised version at the next supervisor meeting  on July 26 in response to the “re-set” criticism. This version would count a supervisor’s previous Board service against the three term lifetime limit. As a result, Spitzer would have been the only supervisor barred from running for another term.

Nelson again withdrew his proposal when criticism from his Board colleagues made it clear he lacked the votes to place it on the ballot. Spitzer again accused Nelson of being self-serving.

Next week’s meeting is the latest round in this feud as Spitzer takes aim at perks accruing to Nelson and his staff from the supervisor’s seat on the SCAQMD Board of Directors.

UPDATED (8/10/16): When it come time to take up these items on Tuesday, Spitzer withdrew them after a lengthy harangue about the supervisorial term limits change proposed in July by Nelson.

According to the Voice of OC, Spitzer variously explained he had introduced the policy changes in order to teach Nelson “a lesson” and to “block” what he claimed was going to be a third attempt by Nelson to put his term limits change on the November ballot.

Nelson called Spitzer’s explanation “bizarre and told the Voice of OC:

“This was, ‘If you have a subject that makes me feel uncomfortable, I’m going to make you feel uncomfortable,’ ” Nelson told the paper.



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