PAC spends $10,000 on Sanitary District race

A political action committee (PAC) backed by a lobbyist for a trash disposal company has spent more than $10,000 on the reelection campaigns of two Costa Mesa Sanitary District directors, campaign disclosure forms show.

Concerned Californians for Effective Government spent $10,843 supporting incumbents Jim Ferryman and Art Perry.

Lyle Overby, a registered lobbyist for the district's solid waste disposal company, Stanton-based CR&R; Waste Management, contributed $5,000 to the PAC in June.

A few weeks earlier, Perry and Ferryman joined a 4-1 vote to maintain the district's agreement with CR&R;, instead of putting it out for public bidding. Director Jim Fitzpatrick cast the dissenting vote, saying the contract should go out to bid.

Overby said his ties to the company were unrelated to his donations.

"I'm not going to participate in this little game," Overby said. "I'm free to make any contributions in the world that I'd like to make."

Overby said his ties to CR&R; and funding a PAC that backs the two incumbents are "coincidental facts."

He refused to say why he contributed to the PAC, or describe its platform. Other than his $5,000 donation, the only two other contributions to Concerned Californians for Effective Government in the first half of the year were a $400 donation from a woman in Stanton and a $650 donation from a plumbing company in Long Beach.

CR&R; treated Ferryman to a $100 dinner in May 2011, and Perry to a $150 dinner in August 2011, disclosure forms show.

"I met Mr. Ferryman many, many years ago when working on [another] campaign. He's a very nice man," Overby said. "Art Perry is a longtime community guy."

The district has not put its waste contract out to bid since World War II. Orange County's two other sanitary districts — Midway City and Sunset Beach — sought bids for trash collection in 1998 and 1980, respectively.

Perry and Ferryman did not respond to requests to comment.

"Campaign donations by the current trash hauler are not illegal," Fitzpatrick, who has been a critic of the CR&R; contract for the last two years, wrote in an email, "but I question the ethics of a trash company funding the campaigns of no-bid–trash-contract-supporting board members and [trying] to hide it through a third party bag man."

Fitzpatrick is at odds with the other directors, who have called for his resignation because he previously served concurrently on the Costa Mesa Planning Commission and the district's board. He resigned the planning seat, but his peers argue that he should still be removed from Sanitary District because of potential conflicts of interest.

Fitzpatrick has said he will not resign, contending there never was a conflict.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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