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By Brian Hews
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has given Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey the green light to remove Albert Robles, who serves as both Mayor of the City of Carson and as a Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) Board Member, from his position on the WRD.
In an opinion written by Deputy Attorney General Lawrence M. Daniels, Harris indicated Robles is violating Government Code §1099, otherwise known as the “incompatible offices” doctrine.
The opinion gives Lacey permission to seek a writ of “quo warranto” allowing her to sue to remove Robles from his WRD seat.
Lacey filed a lawsuit against Robles last year, contending that once Robles was elected to the Carson council in 2013, he ceased to serve legally on the board of the WRD.
The filing must be sent to and approved by the Attorney General, which was granted yesterday by the issuance of Daniel’s opinion.
Robles has been a member of the water board since 1992.
Another Politician in Lacey’s Site
The decision should enable Lacey to sue Sergio Calderon for incompatible offices.
Calderon was recently elected to the Maywood City Council and, like Robles, serves on the WRD Board.
Calderon’s WRD district includes the City of Maywood.
In fact, this is the second time Calderon has flaunted the incompatible office law.
In 2009, while on the WRD Board, Calderon was forced to resign from his Maywood council seat. He resigned shortly before a similar quo warranto action, brought on by Steve Cooley, was to go to trial.
Government Code section 1099 describes the rule against holding incompatible offices.
It states, “A public officer, including, but not limited to, an appointed or elected member of a governmental board, commission, committee, or other body, shall not simultaneously hold two public offices that are incompatible.”
Under section 1099 and common-law precedent, a person may not simultaneously hold two offices if there is any significant clash of duties or loyalties between the offices.
To find that two offices are incompatible, it is not necessary that a conflict has actually occurred; it is sufficient that a conflict may occur in the regular operation of the statutory plan.
It takes only one potential significant conflict of duties or loyalties to render offices legally incompatible.
Where two offices are legally incompatible, “a public officer shall be deemed to have forfeited the first office upon acceding to the second. ”
In this case, Robles would have to resign from his WRD seat, “forfeiting his first office.”
Harris cited the possibility of a conflict if the WRD raises prices for pumping groundwater which in turn causes the price increase to be passed on to the city.
Sources are telling HMG-CN that Robles, an attorney himself, will wait until the matter goes to trial then resign, much like Calderon did in 2009.
In the interim, Robles will continue to receive big paychecks from WRD and Carson for his public service.
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