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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | Countywide

O.C.'s Flat Ban on Gifts Now a $5 Lid

September 02, 1998|JEAN O. PASCO

County officials now will be able to have their cake and eat it too--without paying for it.

For six years, the county's gift-ban ordinance has forbidden county executives from taking anything for free--even doughnuts, coffee or pastries at a business meeting.

The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday, with Supervisor Todd Spitzer dissenting, to amend the ordinance to allow themselves--and 1,600 other county employees covered by the law--to accept up to $5 in gifts.

The amendment was encouraged by the author of the gift ban, Shirley Grindle. She said the ban was never intended to force county officials and staff to fumble for their wallets every time they had a cup of coffee or can of soda at a meeting. The intent was to discontinue a long-standing practice of showering supervisorial offices and county officials with free dinners, sports tickets and other largess from those doing business with the county.

Spitzer was the lone opposition to the change, saying he approved of the outright ban on taking gifts because it eliminated subjectivity in how much something was worth.

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