Costa Mesa official who oversaw event cost overruns leaves city post

Costa Mesa official departs after city investigates costs tied to street fair

Costa Mesa’s public affairs manager, who staged a street party beset with cost overruns and accounting problems, is no longer employed by the city, officials said.

Dan Joyce, who was placed on leave in August after costs associated with a celebration marking the city’s 60th anniversary ballooned beyond a budget approved by the city council, recently left City Hall, city spokesman Bill Lobdell told the Daily Pilot on Monday.

Citing the confidentiality of personnel matters, Lobdell declined to provide the date Joyce left or comment on whether the departure was voluntary.

Under the municipal code, however, Joyce would be eligible to appeal for reinstatement if he were terminated. Joyce had been on paid administrative leave for nearly 10 months.

Employed by the city since early 2011, Joyce was the lead organizer for the anniversary event, a street fair with food and live entertainment, in June.

In late January, after months of withholding documents because of various investigations, officials released more than 1,000 pages related to the event, which cost about $518,000 — significantly more than a $315,000 estimate provided to the city council in 2013.

The so-called "60 & Fabulous" party ended up about $84,000 in the hole, with City Hall paying $209,000. The original council allotment was $125,000. Some $232,000 was covered by the Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau, which had initially pledged $25,000.

A personnel and police investigation followed. The findings of the criminal investigation were forwarded to the Orange County district attorney's office earlier this year for review into possible municipal code violations.

"The multiple investigations have found no evidence to date that public funds were used for personal gain or were unaccounted [for]," the 60th investigation's executive summary reported. "However, purchasing policies and procedures were not adhered to in many cases."

District attorney's office spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Monday that her office is reviewing the investigation's findings.

Zint writes for Times Community News.

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