San Clemente Wednesday sued the agencies that operate the county’s toll roads, alleging requests for public records on spending regarding lobbying have gone ignored.
A spokeswoman for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, however, said many of the public records requests have been complied with, but more time was needed to get some records.
“TCA has responded to numerous Public Records Act requests over the past year, each time complying with its obligations under the Public Records Act,” said Sarah Swensson King, a spokeswoman for the agency. “TCA’s response to the city of San Clemente’s request has been no different. Moreover, contrary to the assertions in the city’s press release, on June 8, 2018, TCA mailed a partial response to the city’s Public Records Act request, providing the majority of the documents requested, including the requested consultant contracts and invoices. At that time, the few remaining items were still being compiled, due to the fact that some of the reports are in long-term storage.”
San Clemente Mayor Tim Brown, however, said the agency has been “non-responsive” to its records request.
“Our city and residents deserve to know basic information about the public money the TCA spends,” Brown told City News Service.
“We satisfy our PRA requests,” Brown said. “Just doesn’t feel like the TCA plays by the same rules.”
The city wants all consulting agreements, including those with lobbyists and PR consultants. The city is also seeking expense reimbursements, stipends and other payments to the agency’s CEO Michael Kraman and the agency’s board members.
City officials believe the records will show the agency has spent more on lobbyists over the past 20 years than on building new toll roads. Officials estimate the agency has spent more than $20 million on lobbyists. The city believes the money was spent to avoid any consolidation with the Orange County Transportation Authority.
“If they have nothing to hide on this question then we’d love to see the information,” Brown said. “If there is something worthy of some protection that they can’t offer up then we’ll find out during the court case.”
The city has been sparring with the agency over plans to extend toll roads through the south county to alleviate congestion on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway.