Paying the Plumber Wrenches the Rules

At the October 16 (South Pasadena) City Council meeting, four members of that body went on record supporting their colleague David Margrave in his hour of need. They saw no need to recover taxpayer dollars paid to Margrave’s plumbing firm in direct violation of Section 1090 of the Government Code covering conflict of interest.

Their action indicated to me that they either did not bother to read a May 23, 1985, unanimous state Supreme Court opinion relating to conflict of interest, or they did not concur with that decision and chose to ignore it.

Each City Council member was presented a copy of the opinion five months ago, more than adequate time to peruse the 38-page document.

Councilman Ted Shaw’s motion to sustain payment to Margrave and absolve him of reimbursing the city suggests that he did not grasp the intent of the high court.


Apparently Councilman Lee Prentiss, who seconded Shaw’s motion, did read the opinion. He had an opinion of his own: “I think this is a bad decision.”

Councilman Bob Wagner wanted our city attorney to review the Supreme Court decision but could not muster any support from his fellow councilmen. I felt it was a prudent request considering the fact that none of the council members is an attorney.

There appears to be no written opinion by then-City Atty. Charles Martin explaining his alleged approval which resulted in Margrave continuing to do business with the city. Martin’s negligence to put his opinion in written form has clouded this sensitive issue. Oh well, when you have 15 other positions, working for a half-dozen cities, somebody’s bound to get shortchanged.

Robert O. Cook