State Resident Files Action Against State Official for Work on Campaign Opposing Ballot Measure To Fund Emergency Care
Reedley farmer Dan Gerawan has filed a legal action with Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) seeking permission to sue Daniel Zingale to remove him from his position with the Agriculture Labor Relations Board, alleging that consulting work Zingale did for the campaign opposing Proposition 67 violated a state law that prohibits board members from engaging in "any other business, vocation or employment," the Sacramento Bee reports. The attorney general is required to review such legal actions, called quo warranto actions, by private individuals to shield public officials from unfounded lawsuits, according to the Bee (Fitzenberger, Sacramento Bee, 11/27).
Proposition 67 would have imposed a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment. Zingale was paid about $50,000 for his work against Proposition 67 (California Healthline, 11/11).
Gerawan initially raised his concern about Zingale's work on the campaign opposing Proposition 67 in letters to Zingale, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other state officials, the Bee reports. Schwarzenegger and ALRB Chair Genevieve Shiroma said they would not pursue Zingale's removal.
Gerawan said, "I'm pursuing the quo warranto only because the governor and the attorney general have not done anything on their own." He added, "I assumed it was a clear-cut violation of the law and that the governor's office or someone would enforce the law."
Zingale, who receives about $10,000 per month from his ALRB position, said that other ALRB members have earned outside income and cited a 1999 legislative counsel opinion that found it permissible for an ALRB member to serve simultaneously on the Sacramento Municipal Utility District board. Zingale said, "I think the Legislature's counsel was correct on this matter."
Zingale added that Gerawan's experience with ALRB might explain his motivation for the action. According to the Bee, ALRB in the early 1990s ruled against Gerawan's tree farming business in some labor cases.
Lockyer spokesperson Nathan Barankin said that the attorney general's office is "determining ... if there is a significant question of law here that's worthy of some court's time and attention." He said that the attorney general's office receives about four quo warranto actions annually and that two typically are approved to proceed to court.
The Bee reports that a decision on the quo warranto action is expected in early 2005, after Lockyer reviews responses from Gerawan and Zingale (Sacramento Bee, 11/27).