Squid Fry 04.07.11
Thursday, April 7, 2011
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE… What’s the name of that book Squid’s been meaning to check out? Ah, that’s it: How to Influence Friends and Win Big Lucrative Contracts. On second thought, Squid should just give Monterey County Water Resources Agency Director Steve Collins a call.
Last month, Squid (and Salinas Valley Water Coalition Chair Keith Roberts) noted that Collins recused himself from voting on $28 million contract with RMC, an environmental engineering company hired to consult on the Regional Water Project. Roberts called on Collins to identify his conflict of interest; Squid called on Collins to share the wealth with a certain cephalopod, preferably in a love-shack for two somewhere in Fiji.
According to his most recent statement of economic interest, Collins has some bucks to spare – not to mention a major conflict of interest. In the “income received” portion of the form, Collins reports receiving more than $100,000 from RMC for his financial consulting services.
The water agency board approved the contract. So however Collins is advising the board – err, Squid means, RMC – it seems to be working.
INSPECTOR DOUBLE… Squid is a devout capitalist and committed hygienist, but an ongoing Peninsula scenario that combines a money-making scam with cleaning products upset Squid’s ever-sensitive digestive tract: Unidentified con artists targeting restaurants, with phony inspectors calling to schedule appointments. While they don’t always show up, in 2009 an “inspector” conducted an “inspection” at Robata Sushi Grill in Carmel. The fake official walked around the kitchen, but left just as suddenly as he appeared.
Then last weekend, faux inspectors called Pacific Thai in P.G., then switched cuisines, hitting Mi Tierra in Seaside. There, a “white male covered with tattoos” demanded the manager purchase what a health department staffer called “a gel type substance… to be mixed with water in a spray bottle to spray in the food preparation areas.” Squid shudders, tentacle by tentacle.
“Somebody impersonating a health inspector could potentially contaminate the food,” says John Ramirez, director of the environmental health bureau for the Monterey County Health Department.
Seaside P.D. says the shenanigan might be a good-faith effort by an ex-con to sell cleaning products. “Not substantiated, but sounds reasonable,” was the health department’s assessment of that speculation. Not that reasonable, thinks Squid, but neither are fake food inspectors setting up fake appointments and trying to scam real restaurants.