Bill would strip corruption protections from university employees
May 13, 2013 - By admin
May 13, 2013
By Katy Grimes
SACRAMENTO — Public contracts should always be subjected to stiff scrutiny. Without public scrutiny and oversight, spending other people’s money is too easy.
But a new Assembly bill would not only increase the amount of money California’s public universities and colleges could spend without adhering to the competitive bid process, but would also exempt state employees from felony charges of corruption.
AB 173 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, was introduced in January. The bill had its first policy committee hearing in February. In April, after making it out of the policy committee, Weber amended AB 173, making major policy changes, including the corruption exemption.
AB 173 is scheduled for the Appropriations committee next, which is a fiscal committee. The problem is that, with major policy changes, the bill should be scrutinized again in a policy committee.
Will members of the Assembly still vote to pass this bill without proper vetting?
What was changed?
The bill started out merely upping the amount of money university employees could spend without using the competitive bid process. But the amendment exempting state college and university employees from corruption prosecution is truly disturbing.
The bill was amended to read:
SEC. 2. Section 10508.5 is added to the Public Contract Code, and says: “(d) Sections 10522, 10523, 10524, and 10525 do not apply to violations of this section.”
Here’s the exact wording of what was deleted.
California public contract code 10522: “Any officer or employee of the University of California who corruptly performs any official act under this chapter to the injury of the university is guilty of a felony.”
Section 10523: “Any person contracting with the University of California by oral or written contract who corruptly permits the violation of any contract made under this chapter is guilty of a felony.”
Section 10524: “Persons convicted under Section 10522 or 10523 are also liable to the University of California for double the amount the university may have lost or be liable to lose by reason of the acts made crimes by this article.”
Section 10525: “Willful violation of any other provision of this chapter shall constitute a misdemeanor.”
The only bill analysis was done April 24. Weber’s amendment is dated May 9, so the earlier analysis does not include the changes. The bill is scheduled to be in the Assembly Appropriations Committee May 15.
The analysis says, “Specifically, this bill:
“1) Allows the University of California to award contracts for the acquisition of goods, services, or information technology that have an estimated value of between $100,000 and less than $250,000 to a certified small business or a Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises if UC obtains price quotations from two or more certified small businesses or two or more DVBEs.
“a) This shall only apply to UC if the Regents of the University of California make the provision applicable by appropriate resolution.
“2) Allows the California State University to award contracts for the acquisition of goods, services, or information technology that have an estimated value greater than $5,000 and less than $250,000 to a certified small business or a DVBE if CSU obtains price quotations from two or more certified small businesses or two or more DVBEs.
“3) Allows the California Community Colleges to award contracts for the acquisition of goods, services, or information technology that have an estimated value greater than $5,000 and less than $250,000 to a certified small business or a DVBE if CCC obtains price quotations from two or more certified small businesses or two or more DVBEs.”
AB 173 passed the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee 12-0, but that was before it was amended.
Those who voted to pass AB 173: Assembly members K.H. “Katcho” Achadjian, Joan Buchanan, Ken Cooley, Jim Frazier, Jeff Gorell, Curt Hagman, Ian Charles Calderon, Bonnie Lowenthal, Jose Medina, Kristin Olsen, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Rudy Salas.
Would these same lawmakers vote to pass AB 173 again, knowing it has had such a dramatic policy change?