Commentary: Sanitary Board’s Ooten pays down legal tab

In February 2012, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Directors hired a law firm to petition the state attorney general for a ruling on whether the offices of district director and city planning commissioner were incompatible.

The AG ruled they were incompatible. Although I firmly believed the public needed to know if the offices were incompatible, I did not believe the public should pay the cost of the AG’s ruling.

In a Daily Pilot Commentary on Sept. 12, 2012, I committed to keep the cost to each residential trash parcel to less than $1 by cutting my meeting reimbursement cost requests for this year, and if need be in 2014.

This has obligated me to about $16,500 of the $41,000 in legal costs. If the legal cost goes up, I will adjust the amount I will contribute.

I have used my W2 forms from the Sanitary District for the last couple of years to track my meeting reimbursement request costs and have estimated the cost saved of a conference I chose not to attend that I have normally attended, which has reduced my board member costs by $6,400 in 2012. I will report further cost savings at the end of 2013 and, if need be, in 2014.

For the meetings I chose not to attend, I can partially make up for the knowledge missed because I was technically and professionally involved with the subject matter for more than 40 years and know many of the people presenting at the meetings and conferences. They are willing to share their presentation materials with me.

BOB OOTEN is the assistant secretary on the Costa Mesa Sanitary District’s board of directors.