ENCINITAS — Cardiff resident Andrew Audet called for Mayor Dan Dalager’s resignation during the City Council meeting Aug. 25. He referred to the Dalager’s receipt of kitchen appliances at a discount from Aztec Appliance in excess of legal limits and failure to disclose the gifts.
Audet rhetorically asked how residents can trust their city officials’ actions are transparent. “As taxpayers, we deserve an honest and open government,” he said.
Dalager thanked Audet for his concern and told the audience that he had asked City Attorney Glenn Sabine to facilitate a conversation between himself and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. He said that if he “goofed up” in any way then he will fix it.
“I do not believe at any time that I did anything wrong,” Dalager read from a prepared statement in response. “I never tried to hide anything. However, I’m well aware that in this business appearance is everything.”
The allegations of wrongdoing stem from a recent article in the Union Tribune that linked Dalager with Aztec Appliance owner Matthew Gordon, who owns a home on Neptune Avenue and built an unapproved rock wall that encroached on the public right-of-way.
After receiving several notices, Gordon contested the violation for more than two years, culminating in an unsuccessful appeal to City Council in February of this year in which Dalager and Councilwoman Teresa Barth voted in favor of Gordon’s appeal.
In October 2009, Gordon sold Dalager a cook top range, an oven and duct cover for $150. Dalager said the price was set by the store. He also received a microwave.
Gordon said the appliances had no value to him because they were damaged or returned. Dalager claims to have done nothing wrong in determining “fair market value” of the items. However, state law clearly states that the elected official is not the person to make that judgment.
State law prohibits elected officials from accepting any gift or combination of gifts from the same source in excess of $420 in any one calendar year. Dalager did not report the appliance gifts in 2009, on state-required 770 disclosure forms.
Jerry Peters, a local resident, said that he didn’t understand why the gifts were not disclosed on the state form required of elected officials by the state. “I think if there is any truth to the allegations, then the mayor should resign,” he said.
Dalager said in a voice message that he was on his way to speak to the FPPC on Aug. 31. “I gotta tell you, I don’t think I did anything wrong,” he said. “Nobody turned me in, I’m turning myself in talking to them.”
He said he was hopeful the commission could make a determination sooner rather than later. “Unfortunately around election time it seems there are 4,000 of them (complaints) around this time,” he said, adding, “of course, that has to do with the election.”
“If anybody had a problem with this (appliance transaction) they could have said something a year ago, but people don’t,” Dalager said.