Something seemed fishy yesterday when the County Board of Supervisors voted to reject health department and grand jury recommendations for more user-friendly signs displayed in restaurant windows to warn the public of potential health safety violations (the board had already rejected the supremely helpful A-B-C grading system visible in the window of every eatery in LA). Instead, the board voted to make some very minor changes to the cryptic, small-print signs already displayed in restaurant windows around the county. Seems like a strange decision in light of of the health department's recommendations and the OC Register's findings that last year alone, 20,000 health violations were reported in the county's 13,173 restaurants.
Supervisor John Moorlach's idea for a color-coded system similar to the grading system in LA was also shot down. The most vocal opponent was supervisor Janet Nguyen, who refused to even vote for the minor changes to the current placards. And it's no wonder: Orange Juice Blog today connects a few dots in the case of Nguyen, who is quoted in a Register article as saying that a vote in favor of the handy color-coded system, "could really be devastating to restaurant owners." What she forgot to add at the end of her sentence is "...like my husband Tony Bonikowski, who owns a Lee's Sandwiches franchise." And the little nugget that his restaurant was in violation of county health safety codes as late as this past summer.
But who cares about the public, right Janet? Nguyen is obviously more concerned that her husband's franchise might be slapped with an unfavorable (but honest) placard if something like a color-coded or grading system ever went into effect. Inspectors found major and minor health violations (pork stored at improper temperatures; signs of vermin) at Bonikowski's Stanton franchise this past July. In fact, all of the Lee's Sandwiches listed in the county's database have been found to have major and minor violations during inspections this past summer. (Nguyen adviser Tony Lam also owns a Lee's in the area, according to Orange Juice). Instead of properly recusing herself and admitting to the obvious conflict of interest, Nguyen voted vocally pro-hubby and vehemently anti-public.
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Like a nagging little roach infestation, this one doesn't seem quite dead yet.