By John Earl
Surf City Voice
When Joe Carchio ran for city council in 2006 Angela Rainsberger aggressively campaigned for him because he told her that he would listen to the residents of Huntington Beach.
At councilmember Don Hansen’s suggestion, she signed her name to a flyer that went to every home in the city and endorsed Carchio along with incumbents Cathy Green and Gil Coerper. All three candidates won in the election.
Carchio is the lone incumbent city council candidate seeking reelection in 2010, but he won’t be sending out any flyers with Rainsberger’s name on them this time because, she says, he didn’t listen after all. In fact, she claims, Carchio ignored her phone calls for three years after he was elected.
The problem started shortly after the election. Carchio came to Rainsberger’s home to talk about her request to be appointed to the Planning Commission. Instead, Carchio put crony Fred Speaker on the Planning Commission and appointed her to the Investment Advisory Board which would give her the important task of analyzing and advising the City Council on the City’s investment policies in a yearly report:
In preparing this report, the Board shall review the Investment Policy, Annual Financial Audits, and any other investment information determined by the Board to be applicable to the Annual Report. The Board will review and make recommendations in its Annual Report, on the following items: Investment Policies, Annual Investment Audit, Cash Management, Proposed State and Federal Legislation, Compliance with Investment Policies, Anticipate Exposure to Loss, and other areas as outlined in Municipal Code 2.110.030, including performing other duties or studies as directed by the City Council.
Considering that Rainsberger had over 15 years of experience in corporate finance, with an emphasis on “systems efficiencies, controls and financial reporting,” according to a 2005 Orange Coast magazine article, appointing Rainsberger to the IAB during an economic recession that was about to devastate the City’s budget finances may have been—no, was—the smartest thing that Carchio ever did as a member of the Huntington Beach City Council.
The problem was that Rainsberger took her job to help protect the City’s investments seriously, but Carchio apparently did not, as she indicated in a recent e-mail sent to the Voice.
“Never once while I sat on the board did he return my numerous calls. He voted on financial issues without receiving my advice. It was a complete waste of my time to attend IAB meetings, review investments and formulate advice that Carchio would never receive. City Council members vote on important fiscal matters that impact the safety and return of the taxpayers’ assets. It was a great disappointment that during economically turbulent times that Carchio failed to follow up to gain a better understanding of these important issues.”
In November 2009 Rainsberger fired off an angry e-mail to Carchio that finally got his attention. “I was wondering why you would appoint me as your advisor to a city board, have me volunteer my very precious time, and then fail to return my 10+ voice mail messages I have left for you over the last three years,” she wrote.
In response, Carchio claimed that the number she had called was “an old city number that has not been used for several years.” But the prefix to that number is not used by City Hall and a year later it is still in service with Carchio’s easily recognized voice along with a computer generated voice telling callers that Carchio’s mailbox is full and cannot take new messages at this time.
Generous readers of the Voice might give Carchio the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there was some legitimate reason, such as technophobia or a forgotten voice message retrieval password, for not responding to his appointee to the IAB for three years. But wouldn’t a concerned councilmember have taken the initiative to find other normal means for maintaining contact if he really was “passionate about Huntington Beach,” as Carchio’s campaign signs promise?
Speaking of reining in the city’s financial problems, Rainsberger also told the Voice of a meeting she had with Carchio at City Hall about the Downtown Specific Plan after she finally managed to contact him in November 2009. She was concerned about the problem of drunk driving, related to the many bars that already exist downtown, but Carchio told her that the City’s police helicopter program helped contain the DUI problem.
To prove it—or perhaps to offer a nice perk to an angry former supporter before the next election—he offered to arrange for the two of them to go up for a ride in a police helicopter. “You’ll get a kick out of it,” she recalls him promising.
Rainsberger, still obviously more concerned about the City’s financial future than Carchio, turned down the offer due to her concern that Surf City taxpayers would have paid for an unnecessary and expensive use of police time and resources.