DOWNEY — It may only be about 10 bucks, but City Council candidate John Drayer says city taxpayers should not pick up any of the bill for Mayor Diane P. Boggs' reelection campaign.
Drayer wants Boggs to reimburse the city for what it cost to print business cards she attached to flyers that were circulated in her campaign for reelection.
Boggs had the 5,500 cards printed in February by the city and did not pay for labor or equipment costs, an official said. Candidate Drayer earlier this week called the action a misuse of public funds. He has asked that the council at its meeting next Tuesday consider censuring Boggs and requiring her to either pay the full cost of the cards or return the unused cards.
"She didn't pay fair market value for those cards," Drayer said.
Meanwhile, Boggs said if anyone made a mistake, it was city staff.
"I certainly asked for and received a bill, which I paid," Boggs said. "I'm not running such a cheap campaign that I have to rip the city off for some cards."
Boggs said she would reimburse the city if it is determined that she did not pay the full cost of the cards.
City Clerk Jenny Young said the council will consider the matter Tuesday. State law prohibits using public funds for private purposes.
Drayer's complaint has caused a ripple in what otherwise has been a staid campaign for Boggs' District 1 seat. The district covers southeast Downey.
Boggs accused Drayer of "looking for a campaign issue" to ride into City Hall. Boggs is campaigning on her experience and on a pledge to help mitigate the effects of the Century Freeway construction.
Drayer said the issue of the business card is an example of a City Hall that is loosely run at taxpayers' expense. His campaign literature asks voters to "Help John Fight City Hall" to help improve water quality and tackle other issues.
Boggs stapled her city business card onto flyers that urged voters to reelect her to a second term on June 7. Drayer, a substitute teacher, and Gregg Martell, who is retired, are opposing Boggs.
The card carries the city seal, the address and phone number of City Hall, Boggs' name and her title as mayor.
The city pays a private firm to produce a generic business card that contains the City Hall address and telephone information. City printers then personalize the cards by adding the name of whichever official or employee requests a set.
Boggs paid $64.65 for the cost of the cards minus her name and title, said Lee Powell, director of administrative services. But Drayer said Boggs should also pay the labor, material and set-up costs to print her name and position. Powell said Boggs was not charged for the labor and associated costs.
The cost of labor was about $7, and set-up and other costs were not immediately available, he said.
When a city employee orders cards for city business, the city charges the worker's department for the cost of the cards and not the in-house printing. Council members also receive 500 free business cards to use for official city business, he said. Boggs was charged because she ordered such a large number of cards, Powell said.
"This is kind of a strange situation," Powell said. "It's not the normal situation, but when we came up with the charge we did it in the normal (manner)."
Powell said it had not been decided whether he should ask Boggs to reimburse the city.
Drayer also said that by circulating the city seal, City Hall address and phone number with her campaign material, Boggs improperly implied that the city endorses her campaign.
"I think it's an abuse of power," Drayer said.
"I do precinct work and I pass out cards that say I'm Diane Boggs. I'm mayor of the city of Downey," she said. "I don't see what the problem is."
Downey resident Lennie Whittington, who attends most council meetings and frequently criticizes council actions, has also filed a written request calling on the council to consider Boggs' action as a potential misuse of public funds.
"The card is supposed to be for official business only, and here she's using it for her political campaign," Whittington said in an interview. "I want her to turn the cards back in and be prohibited from using them any more except for her official council duties."