By Eric Heinz

San Clemente representatives on the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) board of directors tried to introduce measures to halt payment and work of contracts the agencies have with Venture Strategic and other consulting firms, but they had little support.

Instead, after a back-and-forth discussion at the end of Thursday’s meeting in Irvine, Christina Shea, chairwoman of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, said that they would be able to discuss the matter at the April meeting after the board has had a chance to review materials following a Los Angeles Times article published on Monday, March 11.

TCA has canceled various joint board meetings scheduled for the following month after congregating the month prior.

San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Dan Bane, a director on the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency, introduced an emergency measure that would create a new audit following the TCA’s own and would be conducted by an independent third party and would stop all payments and work conducted by outreach consultants until the board is given results.

Bane said it was necessary to bring forth the emergency measure because there was so little time between when the Times article was published and the scheduled board meeting. He said more money is being spent and more work is being done while the board waits to convene next month.

Between both boards, only Bane, San Clemente Councilmember Laura Ferguson, San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott and Will O’Neil of Newport Beach voted in favor of taking on the emergency item at Thursday’s meeting.

On Friday, March 15., Shea and San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency (SJHTCA) Chair Fred Minagar released a joint statement on behalf of The Toll Roads.

“Transparency and accountability for contracts entered into by The Toll Roads of Orange County have always been of the utmost importance to the Boards of Directors and our executive staff,” the joint statement read. “As a government agency, TCA has always operated in a fair and public manner, and the Agencies have historically limited their full-time employees and supplemented with independent contractors as an extension of staff. An internal audit was completed in February and the report and results of that audit were forwarded to Directors. Staff has taken immediate and direct action to address the billing discrepancies and net under-billing identified in the audit. I join with SJHTCA Chair, Fred Minagar, and both of our Boards of Directors, to assure the general public and nearly 1.5 million account holders that we take seriously all inquiries into The Toll Roads’ processes and procedures. Last month, we directed TCA’s Chief Executive Officer to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to review TCA’s contracts to ensure efficiency and accountability for all of our contractual obligations. The first meeting of this committee was held Thursday, March 14, 2019, immediately after the Joint Boards of Directors meeting. Transparency and fiscal responsibility, including our fiduciary responsibility as board members, are very important to us and we will continue to work with our staff to provide the public with the greatest confidence in the integrity of TCA.”

The next TCA meeting is April 14. City Attorney Scott Smith said during the Tuesday city council meeting that the city is looking to separate its lawsuit from The Reserve Maintenance Corporation HOA in order to seek broader legal interpretation of its matters.

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