Norby says he did not know about Janet Nguyen’s conflict of interest

I went to O.C. Supervisor Chris Norby’s Christmas Party today and had a chance to ask Norby if he knew about Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s conflict of interest regarding the recent decision by the Board of Supervisors to not implement a letter grade or color coded restaurant rating system.

Norby said he did not know that Nguyen’s husband and Chief of Staff own a Lee’s Sandwiches in Stanton that received a major violation in July and nine minor ones too.

Norby also said he felt that the County’s current handling or restaurant inspections is sufficient.  He said that “if it is not broke, why fix it?”  However it is clearly broken.  “An Orange County Register investigation earlier this year also found more than 20,000 major food safety violations in 2007 – ranging from lack of hot water to vermin infestations – in some of Orange County’s 13,173 restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores and other food venues.”

Currently one has to look up restaurants on the County’s website in order to find out if a particular restaurant has been issued violations.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just assign a letter grade to each restaurant?

Norby also told me that the local restaurant concerns did not hire a lobbyist to call on him and the other Supervisors.  Yet they got their way in the end.

In related news, the O.C. Register’s Orange Punch blog weighed in on this controversy.  Register editorial writer Steven Greenhut wrote that Supervisor Nguyen “definitely should have recused herself.” Greenhut also suggested that “The county should save money and fire all its restaurant inspectors and let a private firm provide restaurant inspections the way the private Underwriters Laboratories rates appliances.”

Also, Matt Cunningham (Jubal) has finally commented on this story over at Red County.  He wrote that “Conflicts of interest stem from whether or not a the approval or defeat of a item will materially benefit or hurt the voting official by a certain dollar amaount either way. The only financial impact on janet Nguyen is the difference between the $7 annual for the proposed new placards.”  Of course Matt failed to mention that the restaurant owned by Nguyen’s husband received several violations in July and that part of his income is on her financial records.  He earns that money working for Sodexho, which provides food at Fullerton College and which is also subject to inspections by the County.

Yes, Nguyen DOES have a conflict of interest, but predictably Matt is running cover for his fellow Republican, while the Liberal OC and Bolsavik blogs completely ignore this story.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.