The Shameless Sense of Privilege and Terrible Work Ethics of Lavishly Paid Plagiarist Jordan Brandman

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Brandman Plagiarism

Jordan Brandman has announced that he will be out walking precincts today in Anaheim’s District 3!  He doesn’t announce that in the past the people doing this have largely been paid walkers, including from make-up Latino organizations … but would you, in his position?  Mind your own beeswax!  Anyway, it’s a good time to ask him and his peeps about the time he tried to rip off the county for all but a small part of $24,000.

The approaching election is a good time to remind people that, when Brandman left his position with former County Clerk (and current Assemblyman) Tom Daly to run for City Council, Daly paid him $24,000 in public money to write a pretty much useless report on creating a new branch office for the Clerk’s office.  Brandman pocketed the money, didn’t deliver the product in a timely manner … and when pressed finally came up with a report that — wait for it! — was largely plagiarized from Wikipedia!

(Hey, what did he know about plagiarism?  He was only on the Elementary School Board, not High School!)

So, if you’re in District 3 and a Brandman Walker comes to your door — or even the candidate himself! — here’s a nice fact sheet to guide your interrogation of them!  Best of all — it’s plagiarized!  But I don’t know the original source, so it’s OK.  I do know that it wasn’t Wikipedia!

[Ed. Note: given that the underlying topic of this is plagiarism, I want to be clear that while I wrote the above introduction and edited the portion below, most the actual research into and organization of the (mostly VOC) reporting was done by a helpful outside contributor, who will not be identified because whistleblowing in this county invites retribution.  — GAD]

Facts Regarding JORDAN BRANDMAN’S Contract with County of ORANGE

Citations:
VOC = Voice of OC, reporting by Adam Elmahrek
OCROrange County Register (largely quoting VOC)

1.  Work in Tom Daly’s County Clerk-Recorder’s office

1.1  Brandman was hired by Tom Daly in 2011, as an “External Relations Manager” [a job entailing meeting with and speaking before important people who could fund his campaigns]  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 1)

1.1.1  “Daly authorized the contract, but it was signed by [his supervisor Renee] Ramirez and she approved the payments.”  (OCR, 2013-03-21, p. 2)

1.2  Brandman was asked on January 31, 2012, to file report on whether the clerk-recorder needed a branch office in western Orange County. (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 1)

1.2.1  The two branch offices in North and South county had proved to be very popular and very successful.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 1; Rene Ramirez, p. 3, quoting letter from Ramirez to VOC).

1.3 Brandman’s contract gave him until July 31, 2012, to submit the completed report.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 3)

2.  Brandman was paid $24,000 for incomplete, untimely draft work

2.1  Comments from Supervisor Spitzer, VOC, VOC, 2013-03-14

2.1.1  County paid consultant-Brandman for work in draft form.

  • “You can’t pay a consultant for work that’s in draft form.”
  • “None of these payment should have been made.”
  • Per contract documents, first payment of $4,800 was received without delivering anything.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 2)

2.2  Late submission and contract adjustments

2.2.1  Original document was due seven (7) months earlier, VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 2

2.2.2  Brandman received two contract extensions and a $1500 increase in his contract during its first seven (7) months.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 2)

2.2.3  According to County Clerk officials, Brandman was paid $4,800 in additional invoices until reaching a total of $24,000.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 2)

2.3  Comments of Supervisor John Moorlach on how the County was ripped off

2.3.1  Moorlach says the County paid 24x the value of the draft.  (Moorlach, VOC, 2013-03-14,, p. 2)

2.3.2  Per Moorlach, if the rate for a top end consultant is $200 per hour, Brandman should have spent 120 hours on project – not just 5 hours.

2.4  Inexplicable and Unjustified Delays

[Per memos by Ramirez to OC Bd of Sup. dated March 14 and March 15, 2013]

2.4.1  Daly twice extended deadline and increased compensation by $1500, per the memos of March 14 and 15. (VOC, 2013-03-18, p. 3)

2.4.2  Supv. Spitzer asked Ramirez why it took so long to complete the report,  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 2)

2.4.3  Response from Ramirez response: Brandman asked for additional time, but she did not know why it took him so long to complete the report.  (VOC, 2013-03-14, p. 3)

2.4.4  On March 12, 2013, Ramirez had a conversation with Brandman and insisted that Brandman “make finalizing the report his top priority.”  (VOC, 2013-03-18, p. 4)

2.4.5  Brandman agreed to a March 22 deadline to complete his report. (VOC, 2013-03-18)

2.4.6  Daly: “at this point, it is certainly reasonable for any county official to want the work finished.”  (OCR, 2013-3-21, p. 2))

2.5   Brandman Accused of Poor Quality Work — and Plagiarism

2.5.1  Turnitin.com reviewed Brandman’s’ work.  This is a well-known plagiarism detector.  Says up to 23% of Brandman’s draft was plagiarized. —copied directly from other facilities needs studies, clerk recorder documents and other government sources.  (VOC, 2013-3-21, p. 2)

2.5.2  For example, Turnitin stated that a list of “questions pondered” in report was copied almost verbatim from a Laguna Hills recreation Facilities Needs Assessment prepared by consultant GreenPlay.  (VOC, 2013-3-21, p. 2)

2.5.3  Officials in Laguna Hills-based GreenPlay responded that they were “unable to determine” whether Brandman plagiarized from GreenPlay, but they did not pursue copyright infringement and view copycat consultants as the “sincerest form of flattery.”  (VOC, 2013-3-21, p. 2)

2.6  Damning Evidence from Wikipedia Cites

2.6.1  Brandman only cited “other multimedia sources”  (VOC, 2013-03-18, p. 2)

2.6.2  Wikipedia and Brandman’s report had the same population error regarding the numbers of Africa Americans in a given table.  The figure was corrected in Wikipedia — but it was never corrected in Brandman report. (VOC, 2013-03-18, p. 2)

2.6.3  Wikipedia entries that resemble Brandman’s reporthad been written over years by writers such as “Ram-man” aka “Derek Ramsey,” and “Mr. Whipple” (VOC, 2013-03-18)

2.7  A Governmental Ethics Expert Condemns Brandman’s, Hiring, Work Product, and Compensation

2.7.1  Judy Nadler, senior fellow at the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics – a leading expert on government ethics, says that an entire section of Brandman report was largely copied from the Wikipedia entry on “Orange County.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 1)

2.7.2  She added that Brandman’s Report contained clear examples of plagiarism and was “problematic on a number of levels.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 1)

2.7.3  She questioned whether OC has basic contracting protections in place.  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 1)

2.7.4  Nadler would not be inclined to accept Brandman’s report because it’s something that frankly a high school intern could have done, anyone could have done.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.5  Nadler would be “really surprised and disappointed to see if you could submit anything you want.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.6  Nadler suggested OC should review how Brandman’s contract was awarded, standards regarding work product and compensation, justification for outsourcing the work.” (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.7  Nadler says it looks like an “inside deal.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.8  Nadler agreed with Todd Spitzer that there should be protections against                compensating a consultant for incompetent work product.  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.9  Beyond questions regarding Brandman’s professional abilities, Nadler thought that this project might justifiably be outsourced if the goal was to hire an unbiased consultant uninterested in benefitting the department’s employees.  But hat reasoning seems inapplicable here, because the contract was given to Brandman on same day he left his County job!    (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.7.10  Nadler states that if this is all that it takes for a $24,000 contract, then “a lot of people are going to be asking for contracts.”  (VOC, 2013-03-19, p. 2)

2.8  FINAL REPORT by Brandman

2.8.1  Ramirez stated that Brandman was also asked to beef up sections of the submitted draft with “additional information and details” not included in document released to the public.  (VOC, 2013-03-18, p. 4)

2.8.2  Supervisor John Moorlach stated that:

2.8.2.1  Brandman appeared to have spent no additional time assembling the report

2.8.2.2  A proofreader was needed to weed out typographical errors

2.8.2.3  Essential information was missing from the report:

2.8.2.3.1  The report does not indicate the cost of a satellite office

2.8.2.3.2  The report does not explain how the office would be managed

2.8.2.3.3  The report does not indicate how much it costs to run the existing satellite office in Laguna Hills  (VOC, 2013-03-27, pp. 1-2)

2.9  Impacts of Brandman’s inadequate work on County policy

2.9.1  Given the questions regarding the authenticity of the report, Supervisor Moorlach suggested (1) not paying Brandman, and (2) new rules on county contracting  (VOC, 2013-03-18, pp. 1-2)

2.9.2  Moorlach also wanted “more explanation from Ramirez  (OCR, 2013-03-21, pp. 2)

2.9.3  Renee Ramirez stated in 3-15-13 memo to the Board of Supervisors that she was hunting for other questionable contract arrangements and is in process of looking at all open contracts and will share finding with OC Bd of Sups.    (VOC, 2013-03-18, pp. 2, 4)

2.9.4  On behalf of County Counsel Nick Chrisos, Supervising Deputy County Counsel Anne E. Fletcher sent a letter to Brandman on March 15, 2013, demanding  that he immediately complete the report or else refund the $24,000. (VOC, 2013-03-18, pp. 1-2)

2.10  Someone else (Ramirez) has her career destroyed due to Brandman’s actions

2.10.1  Daly says that he takes responsibility for the situation, but that Ramirez can expect to face questions about her role when she interviews to be appointed as Daly’s successor. (OCR, 2013-03-21, p. 1)

2.10.2  Supervisor Todd Spitzer says that Ramirez “has a lot of explaining to do” — especially as to why the contract was extended and why Brandman was paid for incomplete work.  (OCR, 2013-03-21, p. 2)

2.10.3   On 4-2-13, Hieu Nguyen was appointed by OC Supervisors, on a 4-1 vote, to become the new OC Clerk-Recorder, an appointment that Ramirez had once been expected to receive  (VOC, 2013-04-03, p. 1)

2.10.4  Supervisor Pat Bates said of the appointment of Nguyen rather than Ramirez: There was a desire to change at the office based on Daly’s decision to give Brandman the $24,000 a year [sic] job. (VOC, 2013-04-03, p. 1)

2.10.5  Bates continued: The deliverables [Brandman’s overdue report on opening satellite offices] were questionable.  (VOC, 2013-04-03, p. 1)

2.10.6  Supervisor Spitzer said that he felt horrible for Ramirez, whom Daly and Brandman had placed in a “no-win” situation.  (VOC, 2013-04-03, p. 3)

2.10.7  Supervisor Shawn Nelson said that the issue created “a real predicament” for Ramirez’s candidacy because of the way she (Ramirez) handled this issue.  (OC Register, 3-21-13, p. 2).  Nguyen became the obvious choice, given that there was a desire for change at the office.  (VOC, 2013-04-03, p. 2)

2.10.8  Hieu Nguyen was elected OC Clerk-Recorder in 2014, over candidates including Ramirez

2.11  Questions from the OC Register that Brandman has been unwilling to answer

2.11.1 Why did he request two deadline extensions?  (OCR, 2013-03-21, p.2)

2.11.2  Was a section of the draft covering population demographics lifted from Wikipedia?  (OCR, 2013-03-21, p.2)

Brandman has gone on to have a financially successful career on the City Council, which has included a lucrative appointment to the Orange County Water District Board of Directors.

 


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)