Question on Grand Jury Panelist
by Larry Gilbert
According to the May 21 OC Register, Superior Court Executive Officer Alan M. Carlson drew names of 19 panelists and alternates to serve on the OC Grand Jury for the 2014-2015 term. My question relates to the vetting process of these applicants whose responsibilities include being watchdogs. Before becoming a member of the OC Sheriff's Homeland Security Advisory Council, HSAC, I underwent a lengthy FBI background check.
In my call to the Grand Jury department this morning, I was told that one of those whose name was drawn to serve as a panelist or alternate was former Mission Viejo mayor Robert D. Breton.
There are many city documents and newspaper articles that I retain for future reference. One example relates to then-councilman Breton when he was fundraising for our city library. Quoting from Frank Messina's headline account in the LA Times, he writes: "Several Orange County architectural firms have accused City Councilman Robert D. Breton of asking them to contribute $1,000 to a library campaign fund if they want a chance to bid for the proposed building's design contract."
I have also retained a copy of a letter from Irvine architectural firm Lang Lampert sent to Mr. Breton. The second paragraph reads: "Your requirement, however, that we contribute $1,000 to be included in the RFP process is on very shaky ground, morally and legally, and we would not wish to participate under these circumstances. I also feel that this requirement is going to eliminate your most competent design talent."
(The Orange County LA Times story and letter from David H. Lang are attached to original post.)
So we had "pay to play" in Mission Viejo. That aside, did the Grand Jury vetting committee ever do a thorough background check on Mr. Breton? Were they aware of this publicized activity? Was it discovered and swept under a rug?
There are over three million residents in Orange County. I have to believe the Grand Jury could find a qualified replacement from the applicant pool without a tarnished background. The selection of Mr. Breton reminds me of the expression having the fox watching the henhouse.