TUSTIN : City Won't Hang Up on Officials' Phones

Council members with car phones paid for by the city will not have to give them up, despite adamant protests from cellular-less Councilman Jim Potts.

"I am concerned with how this looks to the people of Tustin," said Potts, whose motion to remove phones from council members' cars was defeated in a 2-2 vote. "I don't think there is a justification that we have car phones. We are not that important."

Mayor Charles E. Puckett and Councilman Richard B. Edgar bboth have car phones paid for by the city. They said they accepted their phones at the suggestion of city management. Puckett voted against the motion, and Edgar abstained.

Twelve other city officials or the cars they use have city-supported cellular phones, including City Manager William A. Huston and Police Chief W. Douglas Franks.

Potts' argument was fueled by a report showing the average monthly cellular phone bills over six months. The phone used by the Police Department's special investigations officers had the highest average bill of $390.60. Edgar had the second-highest average bill, $148.65. Franks had the lowest average bill, $2.95, the report shows.

Huston said city officials are discouraged from using their car phones for personal calls. Puckett, whose average bill was $30.95, said he pays for all personal calls he makes on his cellular phone.

Three of Tustin's four neighboring cities--Irvine, Orange and Santa Ana--do not provide council members with such phones. Anaheim officials said they did not have that information available.

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