YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Orange County

Mission Viejo Council Scolds a Colleague

Gail Reavis is censured over a lunch reimbursement request because her spouse also dined. Council 'integrity' is the issue.

October 07, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

The Mission Viejo City Council censured one of its own Monday night over a disputed lunch tab, saying Councilwoman Gail Reavis erred by including her husband's meal when requesting reimbursement.

"I think a statement needed to be made as a measure to protect the integrity of the council," said Councilman Lance McLean.

Reavis had sought $32.30 in reimbursement for an August lunch with Planning Commissioner Bo Klein.

The otherwise routine request caught the eye of Councilman William S. Craycraft, a sales manager for a paper products company, who is familiar with the prices at the restaurant where Davis and the commissioner had lunch. He wondered whether a third, unnamed person had benefited at the city's expense.

In a City Hall e-mail, Craycraft wrote:

"$32.30 for lunch for two people is interesting, especially at a place where a nice sandwich runs about $7.50. Per chance did the taxpayers buy lunch for a third person?"

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 08, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
Mission Viejo censure -- An article in the California section of Tuesday's Orange County edition incorrectly reported that the Mission Viejo City Council on Monday censured Councilwoman Gail Reavis for seeking reimbursement for a lunch that included her husband's meal. While some on the council chided her over the matter, the council took no formal action.

The Times obtained a copy of the itemized bill, which showed an order for three entrees and three iced teas.

Another council member, Patricia Kelley, said she was told by Klein that Reavis' husband, Rick, was also present at the lunch.

Reavis noted that her husband submitted a check "weeks ago" to reimburse the city for his lunch. "It's paid," she said Monday, adding: "I'm not perfect; I made a mistake, and I want to apologize to you, the public."

MacLean said the dollar amount of the disputed lunch tab was inconsequential. "But you have to consider that Gail has been the one who's always pushing for fiscal restraint. I guess it shows a hypocrisy that you can point out someone else's mistakes and not recognize your own."

Since being elected to the council in 2000, Reavis, a former purchasing manager for a mortgage firm, has railed against the previous council majority for what she calls overspending, such as $14 million for a new City Hall.

The censure was the second time in recent weeks that her meal expenses have been questioned.

City Manager Dan Joseph refused to reimburse Reavis for a $16 meal after she attended a League of California Cities conference in Monterey.

The restaurant was about five minutes from her home, Joseph said. "I couldn't see it was related to the conference."

On Monday, Craycraft raised the issue of what legal action could be taken against Reavis. City Atty. Peter M. Thorson outlined the council's three options: censure, a demand for reimbursement -- which has been made -- or an independent investigation by an outside agency.

It appeared unlikely that the council would take the third action, as McLean and Kelley urged members to put the issue behind them.

"I hope this is the end of it," McLean said.

Los Angeles Times Articles