By John Earl
Surf City Voice
Huntington Beach City Council member Joe Carchio has driven a brand new Toyota Venza for the past year without license plates. The car shows dealership plates that advertise Huntington Beach Toyota, where Carchio “has bought lots of cars for his family,” according to a salesperson there.
A car windshield sticker that is supposed to show ownership information is completely blank.
Planning commissioner Blair Farley, Councilmember Jill Hardy, and another City Hall official who asked not to be named, told the Voice that they have seen Carchio’s unlicensed car parked in its official space at City Hall various times during the past year. The Voice photographed Carchio’s unlicensed car there on two recent occasions.
The Voice left a message for Carchio at City Hall asking him to call about his car, but he didn’t respond.
The sales agent said that state budget cuts have created waits of 6 -8 months before the DMV delivers plates and that the dealer is not responsible for customers who don’t comply with the law after buying or leasing a car.
But Toyota HB’s General Manager, Bob Miller, told the Voice that Carchio has leased two different white Venzas from from his car lot in the past year and that it takes 8 -12 weeks for plates to arrive in the mail.
Agents for two major insurance carriers, however, say that license plates usually arrive within 4 – 6 weeks; if not, the dealer probably waited too long to send in the paper work to the DMV, one agent said.
Toyota of HB generously allows the city to use a fleet of 17 lifeguard vehicles in exchange for allowing it to advertise on those vehicles, the Voice of OC (no relation to the SCV) reported last summer.
Was a similar deal extended to Carchio? A 2009 Venza runs at about $28,000. A lease would probably be $500 – 600 a month. No such deal exists, Miller told the Voice, laughing politely.
City officials must report gifts and cannot take over $420 in gifts from any one source within a year. Violators can receive a $5,000 fine from the State.
Maybe Carchio just wants to plow through red lights and toll roads without being caught on camera.
Or maybe he just made on “honest mistake,” like he claimed to have done before the Voice exposed his six-month-long attempt to avoid returning $6,600 in health insurance payments by the City for his ineligible “wife.”
That would be the same wife who (as the Voice was first to report) divorced Carchio several years ago, when he had over $50,000 in tax liens filed against him by the IRS, and then collected the money from the sale of a downtown restaurant—that Carchio claims he owned but that she claimed (at that time) he was trying to steal from her—as part of a divorce settlement that he did not lift a finger to contest.
In 2001, according to County records, Carchio was doing business as Carhio’s Imprinted Sportswear on Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach. That business folded and Carchio went into the restaurant business.
His restaurant business was gone as of 2008. As of 2009, according to his latest 700 form, Carchio was unemployed, and according to a knowledgeable City Hall source Carchio was still unemployed as of last August.
But Carchio’s former appointee to the Investment Advisory Board, Angela Rainsberger, wonders if he hasn’t gone back into the T-shirt business.
While talking to Carchio a year ago about the problems with downtown bars and revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP) that Carchio had voted for a month earlier, they were joined by two of Mike Ali’s sons. Ali owns Zack’s Pier Plaza, a shop that rents surf boards and sells T-shirts, located on the beach next to the pier.
About mid-way into the conversation, Rainsberger wrote in an e-mail to a friend a few weeks later, “Joe gave his car keys to the boys and asked them to unload the boxes of tee (sic) shirts from his car for their dad. They pulled a few t-shirts out of the boxes and held them up for inspection. Joe was, and I guess is, in the tee (sic) shirt printing business…It didn’t dawn on me until today that Joe is doing business downtown because he is printing t-shirts for Zacks. Shouldn’t this require he recuses himself from the vote on the DTSP? The more tourist (sic) come to HB, the more t-shirts are sold, the more money Joe makes.”
Mike Ali did not respond to requests by the Voice for comment.
Carchio did not recuse himself from consideration of the DTSP the first time and voted for the revised plan. In January, when the required second reading and vote occurred, he did recuse himself, but not because of his alleged T-shirt business.
“In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in negotiations with a restaurant to try to fill the vacancy that’s been left by Luggatti’s. So that might, according to the City Attorney, that might constitute a conflict of interest so I will be refraining from voting on this item,” Carchio told the City Council.
The restaurant ended up under the ownership of another party.
But if Carchio was doing business downtown, why didn’t he report it on his 700 form and why didn’t he recuse himself for that reason on both DTSP votes?
This time the Voice managed to speak to Carchio by phone. Unfortunately, however, he was in the middle of an Orange County Vector Control meeting and said he couldn’t talk just then. Those meetings must be boring, though, because a glance online at the same time revealed that he was also busy adding friends to his Facebook account.
Carchio did not call back after the meeting.
Who Will be the Honorable Mayor?
Interesting rumors abound about who will be crowned as the next mayor of Huntington Beach at the Dec. 6 meeting of the City Council.
As the Voice first reported last August, it looked like Huntington Beach City Council members Joe Carchio and Don Hansen were openly and secretly negotiating a deal so that Carchio would become the new mayor, out of turn, instead of Hansen.
The city council can vote for any one of its members to be mayor, but traditionally its members have gone in order based on their previous time served. It would normally be Hansen’s turn to be mayor starting in December with Carchio following him the next year. But if the two of them switched places, Hansen, who is termed out of office in 2012, would be well poised to run for higher office as mayor instead of a mere city councilman.
Since August, however, a series of revelations, most of them first reported by the Voice, have made it less likely that a council majority will take a chance of embarrassing the city by electing Carchio mayor this year-or any year.
But well-placed City Hall sources have spread the following titillating rumors about who will be the next Surf City mayor:
- That Hansen knew about Carchio’s tax problems, fake marriage, insurance scam, etc., before they were revealed in the Voice, and threatened that he would reveal that information if Carchio did not agree to swap their mayoral terms;
- Carchio doesn’t want to be mayor, but Hansen offered that if he agreed to switch places for mayor he (Carchio) would be allowed to appoint himself as the council’s liaison to the Orange County Sanitation District, which pays $170 per meeting;
- That Councilmember Devin Dwyer will be the next mayor.
Hansen told the Voice that “none of these [rumors] are even close to true,” and added that we “forgot the rumor that I was going to move to City Treasurer. That was one of my favorites to date.”
But Dwyer indicated that there might be some truth to the rumor that he would become the next mayor:
“I don’t know. I was asked by a businessman in the downtown area if I would be willing. That there was talk of shuffling the order. I said I would consider it.”
Tune in on Dec. 6 at 6 p.m.