By Joe Holtzman
Occasionally, voters get a glimpse of a council candidate’s ethics. Mission Viejo residents should note the record of Wendy Bucknum, who serves on the city’s Community Services Commission and who has announced her intention to run for City Council.
On December 2, the Mission Viejo City Council reviewed recommendations of the Community Service Funding program. Mayor Rhonda Reardon attempted to prevent citizens from making Public Comments about the agenda item but as the mayor began to move on to the next item, I objected from the audience, and the city attorney advised the council of my right to speak.
I informed the council that one of the Community Service Commissioners, Wendy Bucknum, had not recused herself on a vote, Item 24, where she has/had an involvement with a group requesting money from the taxpayer-funded program. I pointed out that this action was an unacceptable conflict of interest, and that the Chairman of that Commission, Bob Breton, who is an attorney, had inappropriately provided “cover” for Bucknum by citing his own participation in similar decisions.
After I detailed the conflict, Bucknum made public comments to the city council, attempting to rationalize what she did by claiming that since she was not on the Board of Directors but rather was “only an advisor” to the group, she should be allowed to participate in the discussion about whether to award tax dollars to the group.
Chairman Breton and Commissioner Bucknum should both be censured for their actions. The city provides ethics training for all Commissioners before they join a commission for a reason. Ethics training modules are provided, and it becomes very obvious that the training, comprehension, and compliance as noted in the ethics training material did not penetrate the conscience of some participants regarding conflict of interest.
Bucknum has announced she is again running for a council seat in the November 2014 election after losing her bid in 2012. Nowhere in her campaign literature does she acknowledge her employment as a lobbyist for the housing industry. When she has already shown her character regarding conflict of interest, let the voter beware of who is looking out for the taxpayers - and who is putting their own special interests above those of the taxpayers they claim to represent.
Joe Holtzman, an Industrial Engineering and Manufacturing/Distribution Executive with McDonnell Douglas and Ford Motor Company, is a 31-year resident of Mission Viejo.
Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.