MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014

The big news is that something as monumental and controversial as the extension of the John Wayne Airport (JWA) settlement agreement for another fifteen years is not big news. It seems as if I’ve been working in some form or fashion on this project since my first day as a County Supervisor. But, it is a Business section lead for the OC Register, in the first piece below. It didn’t even make the top-of-the-fold for the “Newport Beach/Costa Mesa” Daily Pilot, in the second piece below. And the same article made it to page 3 of the LA Times LA Extra section. This shows, in an odd way, what a major success this was for such a long, deliberative and collaborative process.

The goal was to strike a proper balance for the impacted residents and the air carriers that would be acceptable to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are various positions on this topic. The 2013-14 Orange County Grand Jury displayed its naiveté with a call to maximize the airport (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Puzzling — August 6, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Mil-Walkie — July 7, 2014). Then there is the position of trying to reduce the number of flights and passengers, which is prevented by the Airport Noise & Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA). There is also the position of leaving everything as is indefinitely, but that is unreasonable and could jeopardize the entire settlement. There was a strong desire to obtain a fifteen-year extension. The last extension was for ten years. Consequently, this required some form of cooperation with all of the parties. I believe that was accomplished.

I want to thank my colleagues for a unanimous vote. I want to thank the parties to the agreement, including Newport Beach. City Manager Dave Kiff and councilmembers Rush Hill, Keith Curry, and Leslie Daigle worked diligently during the process to craft this proposal. I want to thank Jean Watt of SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport/Still Protecting Our Newport) and Melinda Seeley of AirFair. I also want to thank Tony Khoury of the Airport Working Group (AWG). The County and JWA were expertly represented by Alan Murphy and Courtney Wiercioch. We also had the assistance of various legal minds, including Tom Edwards and Aaron Harp from the city of Newport Beach, Barbara Lichman from AWG, Steve Tabor with SPON, and Lori D. Ballance of Gatzke, Dillon & Balance. I also want to thank my Chiefs of Staff who chipped in with this effort over the last eight years: Professor Mario Mainero, Rick Francis, Ian Rudge, and Bob Wilson. And I want to thank all of those that I didn’t mention, but who participated.

As a picture is worth a thousand words, Attachment A is provided below. Here are the highlights. The agreement and the curfew have been extended by fifteen years. The current million annual passengers (MAP) cap stays in place for five more years and increases during the next ten years. The cap is well below the full potential capacity of JWA. And current market activity has been well below this threshold. Long distance flights will be increased in 2021, but are some 2 ½ times less than capacity. Loading bridges can expand after 2020, but I see that as highly unlikely as the recent addition of Terminal C has provided sufficient capacity.

In conclusion, almost every impacted city council recommended approval of the Proposed Project and there was only one individual yesterday morning who spoke against it. I would say that this is an incredible success story. It gets better. The day before yesterday’s vote, the FAA provided a letter affirming that the proposed amendments were in conformity with ANCA. This project should be officially closed in a few weeks. Yes!

Attachment A

PRINCIPAL TERMS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT AND ALTERNATIVES

EVALUATED IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

Principal

Restrictions

Proposed Project Alternative A Alternative B Alternative C No Projecta
Term Through December 31,

2030

Through December 31, 2030 Through December 31, 2030 Not Applicable Not Applicable‐ Settlement Agreement Expired
Curfew Through December 31,

2035

Through December 31, 2035 Through December 31, 2035 Through December 31, 2020 Through December 31, 2020
Annual Passenger Limit (MAP)
Phase 1 January 1, 2016– December 31, 2020 10.8 MAP 10.8 MAP 10.8 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Phase 2 January 1, 2021December 31, 2025 11.8 MAP 11.4 MAP 13.0 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Phase 3 January 1, 2026December 31, 2030 12.2 or 12.5 MAPb 12.8 MAP 15.0 MAP 16.9 MAP 10.8 MAP
Passenger Flights (Class A ADDs for passenger service)
Phase 1 January 1, 2016December 31, 2020 85 Class A ADDs 107 Class A ADDs (+22) 100 Class A ADDs (+15) 228 Class A ADDs (+143) 85 Class A ADDs
Phase 2 January 1, 2021– December 31, 2025 95 Class A ADDs (+10) 120 Class A ADDs (+13) 110 Class A ADDs (+10) 228 Class A ADDs (+0) 85 Class A ADDs
Phase 3 January 1, 2026– December 31, 2030 95 Class A ADDs 135 Class A ADDs (+15) 115 Class A ADDs (+5) 228 Class A ADDs (+0) 85 Class A ADDs
Cargo Flights (Class A ADDs for allcargo service)
January 1, 2016

December 31, 2030

4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs 4 Class A ADDs
Passenger Loading Bridges
January 1, 2016– December 31, 2020 20 20 20 No Limit 20
January 1, 2021– December 31, 2030 No Limit No Limit No Limit No Limit 20
MAP: Million Annual Passengers; ADD: Average Daily Departures. Table Notes:

Alternative A was delineated based on information contained in the Federal Aviation Administration’s Terminal Area Forecast Detail Report dated January 2013.

Alternative B was delineated based on input from JWA’s commercial air service providers.

Alternative C was delineated based on the physical capacity of JWA’s airfield.

aThe No ProjectAlternative assumes the maximum number of allowable operations under the current Settlement Agreement (as amended in 2003) would remain unchanged and the protection of the curfew would remain in place through 2020; however, there would be no limitation on the Board of Supervisors, to, at a subsequent time, to modify or eliminate the curfew or increase the number of ADD and MAP being served at the Airport. The analysis in this EIR assumes the curfew would stay in place for the duration of the analysis period (i.e., December 31, 2030). Subsequent CEQA documentation would be required to amend the curfew or modify the Access Plan to allow an increase in the number of flights and/or passengers.

b Trigger for capacity increase to 12.5 MAP: air carriers must be within 5 percent of 11.8 MAP (i.e., 11.21 MAP) in any one calendar

year during the January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2025 timeframe.

Source: PROPOSED PROJECT AND ALTERNATIVES: Proposed Extension of the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement, Proposed Project and Alternatives A–C, JWA 2013.

The Voice of OC provides the third piece below, with the Newport Beach-Corona del Mar Patch and My News LA providing the City News Service’s piece in fourth position, followed by the press release provided by the Orange County Breeze. For a sampling of some of the previous UPDATES on this topic, see MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA and A-C — April 17, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Detroit — March 15, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy 25th JWA — August 2, 2010, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Filing Closes — March 13, 2010.

JWA to see more planes, passengers

County approves increases in aircraft, travelers in six years.

BY KELLIE MEJDRICH

Orange County supervisors Tuesday approved increasing the number of passengers allowed at John Wayne Airport by 9.2 percent within six years and permitting 10 more flights a day.

The changes will start in 2021, when the county will permit the additional 10 daily departures, on average. The planes involved are the noisiest allowed at the transit hub.

Under the plan, the maximum number of passengers allowed at the airport by 2035 could grow to 12.5 million annually if airlines meet goals for filling planes.

The move softens original regulations imposed on the airport resulting from a 1985 lawsuit against airport expansion plans.

Supervisor John Moorlach said Tuesday the agreement includes “no expansion at the airport.” But he said that if the deal didn’t give a little, it’s possible Orange County’s strict restrictions – which allows the airport to remain outside current federal noise regulations – could be thrown out entirely.

“We didn’t want to be so rigid and have it thrown out and maybe lose everything, so we wanted to be very smart about what we’re doing,” said Moorlach, whose district includes Newport Beach.“It is part of our economic base, and it’s something we want to work with in a balanced, fair and appropriate way.”

The 1985 settlement produced an agreement that predated federal noise regulations enacted in 1990 and allowed Orange County to continue to impose its own noise restrictions. Those federal laws largely kept communities from imposing overnight curfews, Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.

This is the second time the 1985 restrictions have been loosened. The last time was in 2003.

Moorlach’s assertion that the airport wouldn’t get biggerdidn’t satisfy Jim Mosher, a Newport Beach resident since 1980 who was the only person to voice opposition Tuesday.

“This is a plan for further expansion,” Mosher said. “Look no further than Los Angeles, where the growth of LAX devastated once vibrant and affluent residential communities. I don’t think we want that in Orange County.”

Major stakeholder groups, including Stop Polluting Our Newport, an original plaintiff in the case against airport expansion in 1985, said the move is a necessary compromise as businesses and airlines continue to call for more access to the airport.

“It’s the best we could get,” said Marko Popovich, president of the resident-backed organization. He said while he would like to keep the restrictions unchanged, he saw “all the airlines that are multimillion-dollar corporations … on the other side.”

With the approval, the airport’s “one-of-a-kind” curfew, as staff characterized it in a report, will continue through 2035. That prohibits planes from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and landing from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, the curfew is an hour later for takeoffs and landings, 8 a.m.

Now, a maximum of 10.8 million passengers can move through the airport each year and 85 “Class A” planes are allowed to depart daily, on average. Planes in this class often travel longer distances and carry more fuel, which tends to increase noise during takeoff, said Jenny Wedge, a spokeswoman for John Wayne Airport.

Last year, the airport saw about 9.2 million passengers, Wedge said. The same number is expected this year.

Without Tuesday’s approval, the settlement agreements would have expired in 2015. Extending the noise regulations without an extension of the settlement agreement would leave the county vulnerable to lawsuits from the Federal Aviation Administration and business groups interested in freeing up airplane traffic, county staff wrote in a report.

Contact the writer: kmejdrich

JWA will keep curfew, increase passengers and flights as O.C. approves new regulations

By Jill Cowan

An extension to a legal agreement that makes Orange County’s John Wayne Airport one of the most tightly regulated commercial airports in the nation cleared a major hurdle Tuesday as county supervisors voted unanimously to approve it.

"It seems like the day I was elected, it was like, ‘Let’s work on this settlement agreement,’" said Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district includes the airport. "It’s been a long process, but I’m pleased with the results."

The current agreement, which resulted from a 1985 legal settlement aimed at curbing the airport’s noise effects on the community, is set to expire in 2015.

The extension comes after years of closed-door negotiations among the four settlement parties (two Newport Beach residents groups, the city of Newport Beach and the county) and a months-long environmental review process. It will keep in place the airport’s strict flight curfews until 2035 — a victory for Newport Beach residents who have long fought to limit noise from jets roaring over their homes.

However, it also allows yearly passenger and flight caps to grow starting in 2021.

Because the county was allowed to grandfather in its airport regulations after the 1990 passage of the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, which essentially made it impossible to impose new airport curfews, negotiators had to strike a careful balance.

Though Newport Beach residents have pushed hard to keep passenger and flight caps at their current levels, officials cautioned that the airport must be allowed to grow or community members would risk having those regulations thrown out altogether.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a string of Newport Beach officials thanked county officials for their partnership in crafting an agreement that Councilman Keith Curry called a "great compromise."

He added that their approval was an important step in maintaining the quality of life in communities countywide that lie in the airport’s flight paths.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer, whose district encompasses cities under the airport’s arrival corridor, said that although the airport is an economic driver for the county, "I’ve never taken the position that Newport Beach should absorb the expansion of John Wayne Airport."

The curfews, he said, are key to keeping that from happening.

John Wayne’s noise-based curfews prohibit commercial departures and arrivals before 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and before 8 a.m. Sundays. Departures are prohibited after 10 p.m. daily, arrivals after 11 p.m., except in emergencies.

According to the extension agreement, a cap on annual passengers would stay at 10.8 million through 2020. In 2021, though, the number would be bumped up to 11.8 million, effective through 2025.

In 2026, the cap would be subject to another increase, based on whether the airport’s actual traffic hits a "trigger" level of 11.21 million annual passengers in any year from 2021 to 2025. If traffic hits that level, the passenger cap would increase to 12.5 million annually between 2026 and 2030. If not, the cap would rise to 12.2 million.

Starting in 2021, the number of passenger flights would increase from an average of 85 daily departures to 95.`

The agreement will go once more before the Newport Beach City Council, which has already voted to approve its terms. Then it will go before a U.S. District Court.

Flight Curfew Extended at John Wayne Airport

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Community members will continue to stay in the pilot’s seat on John Wayne Airport’s future growth plans, under a deal approved Tuesday that extends the airport’s curfew through 2035.

The deal does allow more flights by the airport’s loudest planes starting in 2021. The cap would increase from the current limit of 85 average daily departures to 95.

The compromise is the byproduct of decades of organizing by Newport Beach residents and city officials who oppose expanding the airport.

As the only commercial airport in Orange County, which has 3.1-million residents, the facility has faced pressure over the years to accommodate increasing travel demand and allow more flights.

“I’m pleased with the outcome,” said County Supervisor John Moorlach, who represents the Newport Beach residents who live under the airport’s main takeoff zone.

The goal was to strike a balance between the interests of people who live near the airport and the interests of air carriers, he said.

“I have not received a negative letter” about the proposed deal, which speaks “very highly” of the process, said Moorlach.

At Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting, representatives of the activist groups urged supervisors to approve the deal. It easily passed on a 5-0 vote.

The lone voice of opposition Tuesday came from Jim Mosher, a Newport resident who often calls out city officials in an effort to make public policy issues more transparent.

Secrecy surrounding the negotiations for the deal prevented any public input or public knowledge, he said.

That includes a trigger mechanism he claims “incentivizes airlines” to increase their flights to the highest-possible levels.

“I fail to see who is served by secrecy,” said Mosher.

He also said the deal’s environmental impact report improperly says residential property values would be enhanced by an expansion of the airport.

“I do not want you to vote today with the thought that further expansion – and this is a plan for further expansion” – is beneficial for surrounding communities, said Mosher.

For decades, the airport has faced pressure to grow as the county’s population exploded.

When the county prepared to expand the airport in the mid-1980s, Newport Beach residents sued, and struck a settlement deal that created the curfew that was just extended.

The residents formed two activist groups – Stop Polluting Our Newport and the Airport Working Group – that continued to be active in the recent negotiations over the curfew and limiting airport expansion.

Fortunately for the activists, they struck a settlement deal with the county before a federal law was passed in the early 1990s that gave federal officials exclusive control over curfews.

Residents were fortunate enough to get a curfew put in before Congress intervened, said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

“This has always been about protecting the curfew,” he said of the residents’ efforts.

Under the deal approved Tuesday, the airport would also be allowed to handle more passengers, going from the current cap of 10.8 million passengers per year to 11.8 million in 2021.

The passenger cap could increase again starting in 2026 to as many as 12.5 million passengers each year, based on a formula that takes into account previous years.

The current curfew on takeoffs and landings would remain in place. The curfews prohibit “regularly scheduled” commercial flights from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and landing between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

On Sunday mornings, takeoffs and landings are prohibited for an extra hour, until 8 a.m.

New passenger loading bridges could be built starting in 2020.

But cargo flights would also be kept at the same level – four daily departures on average – until 2030.

The new deal extends the 1985 settlement agreement between the county, activists and Newport Beach city officials to the end of 2030.

Also supporting the newly-approved deal was the county’s most prominent business advocacy group.

The deal “not only provides for increased air transportation opportunities” but also addresses concerns of the local community, said Matt Petteruto, vice president of economic development at the Orange County Business Council.

The airport is responsible for 43,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs, he added.

As for Mosher’s secrecy concerns, Moorlach noted that the negotiations were in the context of a lawsuit settlement.

“This is litigation. This is ongoing litigation,” a settlement to extend the agreement, said Moorlach.

“We had some fun chats,” Moorlach said of himself and the other negotiating parties, prompting laughter in the chambers.

Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson then interjected, asking Moorlach if he wanted to motion for the deal to be approved.

Moorlach said yes. It was then approved unanimously.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Orange County Upholds Curfews for John Wayne Airport, Will Allow More Flights by 2021

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an agreement that maintains curfews at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana through 2035, while also allowing more flights and passengers beginning a dozen years from now.

Supervisors John Moorlach, whose district includes the airport, and Todd Spitzer, who represents multiple cities affected by the flight paths, praised the deal, which extends a legal settlement of disputes regarding jet noise going back to 1985.

“The goal was to strike a proper balance between residents around the airport and the carriers using the airport,” Moorlach said.

Federal laws prohibit a reduction in capacity, and without an extension of the settlement agreement, county officials would lose the curfews, Moorlach and Spitzer said.

The 1985 settlement agreement was extended through 2030 with no change in the curfew until the end of 2035.

The curfew prohibits departures from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day with the exception of Sundays, when the curfew is from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Arrivals are prohibited between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 p.m. through 8 a.m. on Sundays.

A “gradual increase” will be allowed in the number of commercial flights and the level of passengers annually, according to county officials.

The airport is allowed 85 commercial daily flights and 10.8 million annual passengers. Those numbers will not change until Jan. 1, 2021, when 95 daily flights and 11.8 million annual passengers would be allowed.

Starting in 2026, the passenger levels will be allowed to increase again, with no change in the number of daily flights. The amount will depend on the average levels of flights and passengers in the preceding five years.

If the number of passengers between Jan. 1, 2021, through Dec. 31, 2025, is within 5 percent of 11.8 million annually, the amount of passengers may go up to 12.5 million annually through the end of 2030.

If, however, passenger levels do not reach 11.21 million annually in any year between 2021 and 2025, the cap will be 12.2 million annually through the end of 2030.

Officials expect an average of 12.5 million annual passengers and 95 commercial daily flights in 2026 through 2030.

“This agreement goes a long way to protecting the 10.8 (million annual passengers level),” Spitzer said. “The point is this has always been about protecting the curfew.”

The county was “fortunate enough” to have a curfew in place before federal lawmakers in 1990 essentially “outlawed” curfews, Spitzer said.

“There’s a balance between controlling the airport capacity,” Spitzer said, “and the responsibility we have to the economic vitality of our county.”

Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill told the supervisors it was “truly a special day for Newport Beach and all of the corridor cities.”

County officials have been “great advocates for the impacted communities and we are so pleased you brought us to this day,” Hill said, adding that John Wayne Airport is “one of the best managed airports in the nation.”

Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry, who helped craft the agreement approved today while he was mayor, called it a “historic day.”

Curry added the deal was a “great compromise.”

City News Service

OC Supervisors approve extension to 1985 airport agreement that allows passenger growth

By a vote of 5-0, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted this morning to approve the proposed John Wayne Airport (JWA) Settlement Agreement Amendment and to certify Environmental Impact Report 617.

The 1985 Settlement Agreement formalized consensus between the County of Orange, the City of Newport Beach, the Airport Working Group (AWG) and Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) on the nature and extent of facility and operational improvements that could be implemented at JWA through 2005. In 2003, the original four signatories approved a series of amendments to the Settlement Agreement that allowed for additional facilities and operational capacity and continued to provide environmental protections for the local community through 2015.

Since early 2012, the County of Orange, the City of Newport Beach, AWG and SPON have been working to craft a second extension of the 1985 Settlement Agreement.

Through what Second District Supervisor John M. W. Moorlach termed a “collaborative and deliberative process which began almost from the time I first took office at the end of 2006,” the four parties reached consensus on a proposed project in a “balanced, fair and appropriate way.”

He continued, “I am extremely proud of the results which achieve a balance between the air transportation needs of Orange County and the local residents living in the vicinity of the airport.”

Third District Supervisor Todd Spitzer commented, “The most important thing this agreement extension does is strike a balance between protecting residents and growing the economic benefits of the airport. Through all of my outreach on this issue, the biggest concern of the residents has been to minimize noise and protect the curfew. I’m glad we’ve done that.”

The amendment approved by the Board of Supervisors maintains JWA’s curfew through 2035 and provides for an increase in passenger service levels from the currently authorized 10.8 million annual passengers (MAP) to 11.8 MAP in 2021 and to 12.2 or 12.5 MAP (depending on actual passenger levels) from 2026 through 2030.

For more details about the Settlement Agreement and the amendment process, visit www.ocair.com/settlementagreement.

The article above was released by John Wayne Airport.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Sunshine? — September 27, 2014

A commentary in the Daily Pilot provides another perspective on the California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, that is revealing at best and damning at worst. Orange County has a Performance Audit Department (PAD) to review the management and operations of its departments. The State of California has the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). Like the PAD, the LAO is to review fiscal matters of state agencies and tell the Legislature the truth. Five months ago, on May 14th, the LAO released a 20-page report, titled “The 2014-15 Budget: Capital Outlay Support Program Review,” see http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2014/budget/capital-outlay/capital-outlay-support-program-051414.pdf. The executive summary reads as follows:

The capital outlay support (COS) program at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) provides the staff support necessary to deliver transportation infrastructure projects (such as project design and management). In response to the Supplemental Report of the 2013-14 Budget Package, this brief presents our assessment of the existing COS program and makes a series of recommendations to improve the efficiency and accountability of the program.

While we find that Caltrans has achieved some successes in delivering individual projects and has made minor improvements to the COS program in recent years, the program generally lacks accountability and is not operating efficiently. Specifically, we find that the COS program currently (1) lacks performance data to adequately measure program effectiveness, (2) is experiencing a substantial decline in workload that will result in significant overstaffing starting in 2014-15, and (3) allows for limited legislative and external oversight. While the Governor’s budget makes some proposals that reflect initial steps to address a few of these shortcomings, we find that the proposals do not adequately address the COS program’s limited legislative and external oversight and projected overstaffing. For example, the Governor’s proposals would result in the program being overstaffed by about 3,500 full-time equivalents (FTEs) beginning in 2014-15, at a cost of more than $500 million.

In view of the above, we make several recommendations to improve the program. First, we recommend that the Legislature take a multiyear approach to significantly reduce the budget and staffing levels, beginning with the 2014-15 budget. The freed up funds would then be available for the Legislature to meet its transportation needs, such as repaving highways. We also recommend that Caltrans improve its staffing projections and data quality. Lastly, we recommend the Legislature take steps for the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to perform specific oversight and project approval functions for projects that currently have limited external oversight.

The country folk song, “Sunshine,” was released by Jonathan Edwards during my sophomore year in high school. The lyrics were startling and reflected the times, with the Vietnam War still in progress. But, the term “sunshine” and the first verse and chorus of this song comes to mind after reviewing the recent actions of Caltrans with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and upon reflecting on the recent LAO report. Here are the lyrics that I’m referring to:

Sunshine go away today, I don’t feel much like dancing
Some man’s come he’s trying to run my life, don’t know what he’s asking
When he tells me I better get in line, can’t hear what he’s saying
When I grow up, I’m gonna make him mine, these ain’t dues I been paying

How much does it cost?
I’ll buy it!
The time is all we’ve lost
I’ll try it!
He can’t even run his own life,
I’ll be damned if he’ll run mine–sunshine

It is such a sad commentary that Caltrans is trying to run Orange County’s life and is telling it to get in line, but they’re using the dues that its residents have been paying (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Troubling Toll Lanes — September 23, 2104). Caltrans appears to be a fiscally sloppy organization that it is out of control and grasping for revenues. “How much does it cost? I’ll buy it!” Unbelievable. “[Caltrans] can’t even run [its] own life, I’ll be damned if [it runs] mine – sunshine.”

Commentary: Toll lanes go against the spirit of Measure M funding

By Assemblyman Allan Mansoor

There has been a lot of discussion about whether toll lanes will reduce traffic and travel time on the 405 Freeway, and that is a worthy discussion. Today, I would like to approach it from another perspective — truthful and efficient use of tax dollars.

As many have mentioned, the Measure M promise was a free lane for everyone in each direction. This project is funded by Measure M and will cost approximately $1.3 billion. The cost of adding a second free lane in each direction is only $100 million more. For just an 8% increase, we can have two free lanes without tolls.

As the legislative session came to a close, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1298, which extends the sunset date for tolls on the 10 and 110 freeways in Los Angeles. For the reasons explained below, I voted no on this bill.

In an analysis, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office stated that SB 1298 "contains a concession requested by the Professional Engineers in California Government (PEG, Caltrans employees), that local toll revenue be used to reimburse the DOT (Caltrans) for highway maintenance costs in the corridor."

This does not present any problems if funds are used efficiently. But, the report continued: "In May, 2014, the LAO released a review of staff support costs at Caltrans (also known as capital outlay support, or COS). The report determined that COS is overstaffed by 3,500 full time employees, at a cost of more than 500 million per year."

This $500 million of waste is more than five times the cost of building a second free lane on the 405. It’s also notable that the 3,500 employees pay lots of union dues that go to the political campaigns of politicians that allow this waste.

By putting public employee unions before taxpayers, PEG, Caltrans and the legislative majority that passed SB 1298 will burden working-class taxpayers with exorbitant tolls to drive on roads they’ve already paid for.

Who else is supporting the toll lanes? Wealthy corporate interests like the Orange County Business Council (OCBC). They’re backing a wealthy candidate from Los Angeles in the election to succeed John Moorlach on the Board of Supervisors. Their goal is to use Measure M funds to build the infrastructure to support toll lanes while fulfilling the Measure M promise of adding a lane to the 405. Then at some point in the future, they will convert what has already been built into toll lanes.

This issue really boils down to trust and truth. Without Measure M, Caltrans cannot build toll lanes on the 405 – they need to improve the infrastructure (widen bridges, etc.) first. But we already have the money to give Orange County everything it wants, for free, without tolls if we just cut the waste. County supervisors have a vote on OCTA and can stop the toll lanes from going forward. Let’s clean up the mess before grabbing more taxpayer money.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Troubling Toll Lanes — September 23, 2104

Yesterday’s Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board meeting allowed for a good debate on the partnership enjoyed (endured) between Caltrans and OCTA. The proposed conversion of the middle four lanes of an expanded San Diego (I-405) Freeway into toll lanes has been troubling to the vast majority of my constituents (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Reverberations — August 20, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll Lane Opponents — July 29, 2014 and, for numerous additional links, MOORLACH UPDATE — I-405 Hold Up — July 26, 2014).

When I started my first term, I was asked to Chair the 405 Working Group. Widening the 405 had stalled due to eminent domain concerns voiced by the city of Westminster. After some six years of work, the impacted corridor cities not only agreed to the addition of one lane on both sides of the 405, they agreed to 2 lanes on both sides. This was followed by the preparation of an EIR where Caltrans wanted an alternative that included four toll lanes down the center of the project. This was like having someone come to the party and drop something in the punch bowl. It started the acrimony. So I shared this observation at the OCTA Board meeting and made the simple request to complete the West County Connectors project (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Bridge Bash — August 16, 2013), which should be concluded in a couple of months, add the four general purpose lanes, evaluate how well traffic is moving and then put the discussion of toll lanes on the table, if necessary.

The first piece is from the LA Times, followed by the full-length electronic version for Thursday’s parallel piece in the Huntington Beach Independent. The third piece is from the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch. The fourth piece is from the OC Register, followed by the full-length version in the Voice of OC.

O.C. agency backs 405 widening, possibly clearing way for toll lanes

By Harold Pierce

Orange County transportation leaders voted Monday to move ahead with widening a congested stretch of the 405 Freeway, a project that could clear the way for adding controversial toll lanes

Although the decision affirms an earlier vote to widen the freeway between Costa Mesa and the 605 Freeway with only general purpose lanes, Caltrans — which manages the state’s freeway — voted in July to replace the highway’s carpool lanes with toll lanes.

The toll lane proposal has met with opposition from city leaders and residents along the freeway, some of whom refer to them as "Lexus lanes" that are affordable only to the well-to-do.

The project approved by the Orange County Transportation Authority would leave enough space for an additional carpool or toll lane in each direction.

Some board members wanted to add two general purpose lanes in each direction, excluding the possibility of toll lanes. Others said they had no choice in the matter.

"They’re not our roads," said Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, chairman of the county’s transportation authority.

The added general purpose lanes would be part of the county’s $1.3-billion plan to widen the 405 Freeway. Caltrans has estimated its toll lane proposal would cost $400 million.

"Shame on Caltrans for tolling. This has turned sour like someone did something to our punch," said Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who serves on the authority’s board. "To throw this toll in the middle of a project seems unjust."

But Moorlach said his dissenting vote had more to do with cost-efficiency than blocking toll lanes.

Ryan Chamberlain, a Caltrans district director, has said that although the agency has not secured funding for its toll lane plan, it will not tap money from the county’s transportation tax for the job.

After the vote Monday, board member Todd Spitzer called for sending Caltrans and Gov. Jerry Brown a formal resolution opposing the toll lane alternative.

"Some of us want to back up our words," Spitzer said.

The board declined. Some members, while agreeing in theory, said they were wary of upsetting officials at the state agency.

"We have to talk nice. We have a lot of business to vote on with Caltrans," board member Michael Hennessey said.

Harold Pierce writes for Times Community News.

OCTA vote upholds no-toll widening for 405 Freeway

By Harold Pierce

This post has been corrected, as noted below

The Orange County Transportation Authority board of directors voted Monday to move forward with a project to widen the 405 Freeway with additional general-purpose traffic lanes between the 605 Freeway and Costa Mesa.

The decision reaffirmed a December vote to add one general-purpose lane in each direction without toll lanes the California Department of Transportation wants. Caltrans in July announced a plan to replace the carpool lane in each direction with a toll option. That plan also would add a general-purpose lane in each direction. The toll-lane idea has met with opposition from many city leaders and residents along the 14-mile stretch of the freeway.

Monday’s 11-4 decision came after about two hours of debate. Board members Gary Miller, John Moorlach, Todd Spitzer and Tom Tait dissented. Two members were absent.

The project approved by the OCTA would leave enough space for an additional carpool or toll lane in the future. Some board members wanted to add two lanes to each side, excluding the possibility of toll lanes.

Others said they had no choice in the matter. The 405 Freeway, one of the nation’s busiest highways, is managed by Caltrans, the state agency responsible for highway planning, construction and maintenance.

"They’re not our roads," OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson said. "It’s our legal duty to build one lane in each direction."

Spitzer said the board’s vote "means that we’ll widen the freeway to a sufficient width so we can add toll lanes. I support the widening because I support the one lane in each direction, but not the toll lanes."

The added general-purpose lanes would be part of the county’s $1.3 billion plan to widen the 405. Caltrans has estimated its toll lane proposal would cost $400 million.

"Shame on Caltrans for tolling. This has turned sour like someone did something to our punch," Moorlach said. "To throw this toll in the middle of a project seems unjust. I think Caltrans can do a little better of a job working with this organization."

But Moorlach said his dissenting vote had more to do with cost efficiency than blocking toll lanes.

"Why widen … to accommodate four lanes and only build two?" he said. "I just think it’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars. If the cement trucks are there, let’s get the job done."

Caltrans touts toll lanes as a way to move vehicles faster. City leaders from Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and Westminster say the project would disenfranchise those who cannot afford the tolls. Last month, leaders from the 405 Freeway Cities Coalition proposed building one general-purpose lane and one carpool lane in each direction. OCTA’s Regional Planning and Highways Committee rejected the proposal Sept. 15.

Toll lanes also would violate Measure M2, a half-cent sales tax initiative approved by voters in 2006 to fund countywide transportation projects, said Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey. OCTA says Measure M money would fund its 405 widening project.

"We did not vote to subsidize toll lane infrastructure, and we did not vote to subsidize Caltrans," Carey said.

Caltrans District 12 Director Ryan Chamberlain has said that although the agency has not secured funding for its toll lane plan, it will not use Measure M money for it.

After the vote Monday, Spitzer called for the board to send Caltrans and Gov. Jerry Brown a formal resolution opposing the toll lane alternative.

"Some of us want to back up our words," Spitzer said.

The board declined. Some members, while agreeing in theory, were wary of upsetting officials at the state agency.

"We have to talk nice. We have a lot of business to vote on with Caltrans," Michael Hennessey said.

[For the record, 10:10 a..m. Sept. 23:
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the OCTA vote was 14-4. The vote was 11-4 with 2 members absent.]

OCTA Board Votes to Back Addition of Two Free Lanes on 405

However, it stops short of favoring largely symbolic proposal to oppose a state plan to add two toll lanes to the freeway.

By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)

Orange County Transportation Authority board members today went on record for the third time backing construction of two new lanes on the San Diego (405) Freeway that would be free to motorists.

The board however refused to pass a largely symbolic proposal to oppose a state plan to add two toll lanes to the freeway, despite one board member criticizing the toll-road plan as being “for the few on the backs of the many.”

The proposal supported by the board will build one free lane in each direction on the San Diego (405) Freeway from the San Joaquin Hills (73) Freeway to the San Gabriel (605) Freeway. Construction is expected to begin in 2016 and be finished by 2020, according to a board official.

Orange County Supervisor and OCTA board member Todd Spitzer moved to condemn Caltrans’ intention to add single high-occupancy toll lanes in each direction, but the motion, which would have been largely symbolic, was rejected. Board members Al Murray, Steve Jones, Mike Hennessy, Greg Winterbottom, Jeff Lalloway, Lori Dunchak, Frank Ury and Tim Shaw opposed Spitzer’s motion.

The board voted 12 to 4 to spend $1.3 billion from voter-approved Measure M money to construct the two free lanes. Board member and county Supervisor John Moorlach and Spitzer joined board members Gary Miller and Tom Tait in opposition, with county Supervisor and board member Janet Nguyen and Miguel Pulido absent.

Caltrans upset many leaders in the 405 corridor cities in July when officials announced plans to build the toll lanes. State officials say the free lanes would not provide enough relief of traffic congestion and want to build toll lanes available to motorists who are carpooling or driving solo but willing to pay a premium for the convenience.

Caltrans officials, however, need $400 million to build the toll lanes, so it’s unclear when or if the plan will ever get off the ground.

The stretch of the 405 in Orange County carries more than 370,000 vehicles a day and that is expected to jump by 35 percent by 2040.

Spitzer and Moorlach argued that backing the free-lane plan takes away the county’s leverage against Caltrans in building the toll lanes.

Moorlach also said it is wasteful to have two projects being done separately and encouraged Caltrans to work with OCTA on a plan everyone can agree on.

“Good business practices would be if we all worked together and get all four lanes at the same time,” Moorlach said. “Let’s not inconvenience all these people more who have put up with the West-County connector projects for the past eight years… Let’s show the taxpayers we’re being good stewards.”

Moorlach added Caltrans officials should not try to ram through a plan without local support. He also argued that motorists who can pay a little more should not get an advantage over other drivers who have already contributed with sales tax revenue in Measure M.

“It’s Caltrans saying we believe this is the best way to move the traffic, and we’re saying that might be true, but it’s for the few on the backs of the many,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach and OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson said Caltrans should have developed a statewide policy on the toll lanes before jumping into the Orange County debate.

“If they believe toll lanes are the future they should show how it all links together all the way from Mexico to Oregon,” Moorlach said.

“I just think and hope that the state will do a top-to-bottom look how comprehensively to solve this and then the 405 people won’t feel so picked on,” Nelson said.

Nelson, however, praised Caltrans officials for not blocking the two free lanes and making approval of the project linked to the toll lanes.

“Caltrans could have made it contingent on (the state’s approval),” Nelson said. “But they let us go ahead with the project we wanted to build. Caltrans didn’t have to let us do that… It was a favor to Orange County they didn’t have to do.”

David Richardson of Caltrans said the free lanes won’t solve the problem of congestion in Orange County, and adding a second toll lane in each direction “gives us options” such as a bus lane that will get more motorists off the road.

“Forty people on a bus takes 40 people out of general-purpose lanes,” Richardson said.

The state plans to consider borrowing money and pursuing federal grants to pay for the toll lanes, Richardson said.

Construction on the two new free lanes is expected to begin in 2016 and be done by 2020, Nelson said.

–City News Service

OCTA members toil over I-405 toll lanes

The board votes not to challenge state on Caltrans plans despite initial anger.

BY NICK GERDA

VOICE OF OC

Orange County’s top transportation officials clashed with each other Monday on whether to confront state plans to put toll lanes on America’s busiest stretch of freeway.

Ultimately, a majority of Orange County Transportation Authority board members rejected proposals to challenge the state more directly.

State officials plan to approve a $1.3 billion plan, largely funded by local Measure M2 sales tax money, to add a free lane on I-405 between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach and rebuild 17 bridges to make space for more lanes.

Yet the California Department of Transportation plans to use the space created by that local tax to then install toll lanes along the freeway.

Numerous city officials and state legislators are opposed to the plan and tried to get OCTA board members to support an alternative plan they say would not involve tolls.

“I continue to hear overwhelming objection to toll lanes, and not just in the (I-405) corridor cities,” said board member Matt Harper, mayor of Huntington Beach and a candidate for state Assembly.

“Why does Caltrans and OCTA seek input from the Orange County people and then they ignore it?” said board member Gary Miller, a Seal Beach councilman.

OCTA staff, meanwhile, argued that pursuing that alternative would delay the project by 18 months, with the delay alone boosting the project’s cost by about $60 million.

Those extra costs could endanger funding for other freeway projects in Orange County, several board members argued.

OCTA staff members have said the higher costs – related to delays – come from expected increases in prices for construction materials.

A majority of the OCTA board made it clear they don’t support the cities’ plan, which they argued would require another $100 million to $150 million in funding.

“Unless somebody has the $100 million ready to go, and it’s an alternate source outside of OCTA,” the current plan should still move forward, said board member Frank Ury, a Mission Viejo councilman.

The final vote was 11-4 to support the current path, with board members Tom Tait, Miller, John ‍Moorlach and Todd Spitzer opposing. Board members Janet Nguyen and Miguel Pulido were absent for the vote.

Board members also rejected an effort by Harper to have OCTA staff study whether the cities’ proposal, which would add a free lane and a carpool lane in each direction, is viable.

Supporters of proposed high-occupancy toll lanes say the tolls would likely only apply to cars with only a single person inside, allowing carpools to have free access like they currently do.

It would be the fastest way to move people and goods on the freeway, they add.

Opponents, meanwhile, say the so-called “Lexus lanes” would violate the trust of voters because they would be enabled by a freeway widening using hundreds of millions of dollars from the county’s half percent sales tax for transportation.

They argue that any additional lanes beyond the one free lane envisioned by M2 should get major financing from Caltrans.

As for where things go from here, the transportation board’s majority said their energy was best focused, among other issues, on ensuring Caltrans keeps toll lanes free for cars with two or more people inside. Ensuring the toll revenue is spent locally was another issue board members were keen on pursuing. It’s a position that largely mirrors that of the Orange County Business Council, the most prominent business advocacy group in county politics.

For a longer version of this story, see voiceofoc.org   Voice of OC is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on public policy in Orange County.

Transportation Officials Battle Over Toll Lanes Proposal

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Orange County’s top transportation officials clashed with each other Monday morning on whether to confront state plans to put toll lanes on America’s busiest stretch of freeway.

Ultimately, a majority of Orange County Transportation Authority board members rejected proposals to challenge the state more directly.

State officials plan to approve a $1.3 billion plan, largely funded by local Measure M2 sales tax money, to add a free lane on the I-405 between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach and rebuild 17 bridges to make space for more lanes.

Yet Caltrans – the state transportation agency – plans to use the space created by that local tax to then install paid toll lanes along the freeway.

Numerous local city officials and state legislators are vehemently opposed to the plan, and tried this week to get OCTA board members to support an alternative plan they say would not involve tolls.

“I continue to hear overwhelming objection to toll lanes, and not just in the corridor cities,” said board member Matthew Harper, mayor of Huntington Beach and a candidate for state Assembly.

“Why does Caltrans and OCTA seek input from the Orange County people, and then they ignore it?” asked board member Gary Miller, who is also a Seal Beach councilman.

OCTA staff, meanwhile, argued that pursuing that alternative would delay the project by 18 months, with the delay alone boosting the project’s cost by about $60 million.

Those extra costs could endanger funding for other freeway projects in Orange County, several board members argued.

“A delay or additional cost in putting other projects at risk here, is not something I can vote in favor” of, said board member Jeff Lalloway, who is also an Irvine councilman.

A large majority of the OCTA board made it clear they don’t support the cities’ plan, which they argued would require another $100 million to $150 million in funding.

“Unless somebody has the $100 million ready to go, and it’s an alternate source outside of OCTA,” the current plan should still move forward, said board member Frank Ury, who is also a Mission Viejo councilman.

“If you don’t show us the money, it’s kind of a one-side discussion.”

The final vote tally was 11-4 to support the current path, with board members Miller, Tom Tait, John Moorlach and Todd Spitzer opposing. Board members Janet Nguyen and Miguel Pulido were absent.

Pulido had been present for the early part of the meeting but was absent for the toll lanes discussion and votes.

Board members also rejected an effort by Harper to have OCTA staff study whether the cities’ proposal, which would add a free lane and a carpool lane in each direction, is viable.

Monday’s discussion also included an intense confrontation involving board member Todd Spitzer.

It stemmed from members in support of staying the current path saying throughout the meeting that they opposed toll lanes.

Spitzer asked that they take a formal vote to register their verbal opposition.

In particular, he wanted his colleagues to vote to state their opposition to the state’s toll lanes proposal and send it to Caltrans and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Caltrans’ top Orange County official, Ryan Chamberlain, then said such a move could delay the project.

OCTA Darrell Johnson chimed in that approving the motion on the floor, Spitzer’s proposal, "would have some level of delay, at a minimum, just to understand” what it means and drive up costs.

Spitzer went off on Caltrans officials, questioning what kind of "partner" they really are.

“Now they’re floating out there, ‘Oh really, you want to go on record and…actually vote as you said it, as opposed to just saying it on the side? Now we’re going to put a delay on the table,’ ” Spitzer said.

“The fact that some of us simply want to go on the public record…suddenly they play the delay card.”

Lalloway and others noted that Caltrans is in control of the freeways, which it owns.

“We can’t pick and choose who our partner is here, and it’s Caltrans,” said Lalloway, adding that he can’t support Spitzer’s request given the delays it would cause.

Spitzer took another shot at Caltrans.

“That’s an inappropriate threat that was thrown out there,” Spitzer said of Chamberlain.

Chamberlain took exception to Spitzer’s claims.

“I don’t appreciate some accusations being slung at Caltrans when this project has been moving forward cooperatively” over the last decade, said Chamberlain.

Supporters of the high-occupancy toll lanes say the tolls would likely only apply to cars with only a single person inside, allowing carpools to have free access like they currently do.

It would be the fastest way to move people and goods on the freeway, they add.

Opponents, meanwhile, say the so-called “Lexus lanes” would violate the trust of voters because it would be enabled by a freeway widening using hundreds of millions of dollars from the county’s half-percent sales tax for transportation.

They argued that any additional lanes beyond the one free lane envisioned by M2 should get major financing from Caltrans.

As for where things go from here, the transportation board’s majority said their energy was best focused, among other issues, on ensuring Caltrans keeps toll lanes free for cars with two or more people inside.

Ensuring the toll revenue is spent locally was another issue board members were keen on pursuing.

It’s a position that largely mirrors that of the Orange County Business Council, the most prominent business advocacy group in county politics.

“If we want to have a conversation with them about what is done with this revenue, we kind of have to talk nice,” said board member Michael Hennessey.

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that board member Matthew Harper voted against the current approach and indicated that Tom Tait supported it. We regret the error.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

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This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy to Discuss — September 22, 2014

The Voice of OC provides an update on the year-round homeless shelter topic (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Ana Homeless Shelter — August 21, 2014 and its links to other related MOORLACH UPDATES covering this subject). Allow me to discuss my observations, in order to give some color on the subject, in the order that they come up in the piece below.

· “Orange County supervisors have rejected calls by Santa Ana residents and a city councilman to consider alternatives to a county plan to put a homeless shelter near homes and an elementary school.”

I don’t recall the Board of Supervisors taking such a vote.

· “We don’t understand your lack of response to our emails and phone calls.”

Believe it or not, for the first time in some four years, I’ve been current on my e-mails. I do not recall ever receiving one personalized e-mail from anyone mentioned in the piece on this subject. I have received blast e-mails directed to all five Supervisors, but my policy has been to receive and file indirect e-mails, carbon-copied e-mails, or group e-mails. Otherwise, as many of you know, I’m happy to respond to my e-mails (which is why I’ve been backlogged for such a long time). I do not recall ever receiving a call from a Ms. Susana Sandoval.

· “They submitted a letter to supervisors a week earlier asking for an agendized discussion of the homeless shelter site.”

I received an e-mail request, with a letter attachment, from a city staffer on behalf of a Santa Ana City Councilman. However, the request came after the agenda for the September 16th meeting was published. All the same, it is quite extraordinary for someone to ask for an item to be agendized. And an impersonal letter is probably not the best format to utilize.

I’ll let the rest of the piece speak for itself. Regretfully, one of those quoted has filed suit against the County on the proposed year-round homeless shelter. Consequently, this may restrict future comments by myself on this issue. But, rereading MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Ana Homeless Shelter — August 21, 2014 would be helpful.

Supervisors Won’t Discuss Alternatives to Homeless Shelter

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Orange County supervisors have rejected calls by Santa Ana residents and a city councilman to consider alternatives to a county plan to put a homeless shelter near homes and an elementary school.

The proposed shelter on Normandy Place has triggered opposition from hundreds of residents in the surrounding neighborhoods – some of the most impoverished in Orange County – who say they are already dealing with enough problems.

Over 300 people attended a community forum on the issue last month, where speakers expressed fear that homeless residents would include “sex offenders,” talked about hypodermic needles from drug use and even raised the specter of potential serial killers.

At last week’s county supervisors’ meeting, activist Susana Sandoval held what she said were over 1,000 signatures from local residents and business owners concerned about the proposed location.

“Supervisors, we are your constituents. We don’t understand your lack of response” to our emails and phone calls, said Sandoval.

A residents group she has helped organize, Community United for Environmental Justice, said they submitted a letter to supervisors a week earlier asking for an agendized discussion of the homeless shelter site.

The issue was not placed on last Tuesday’s public agenda, and there are no signs it will appear on future agendas.

In declining to discuss the homeless shelter issue last week, Santa Ana’s representative on the board of supervisors cited the Ralph M. Brown Act, a state law that is intended to ensure the public can participate in government decisions.

“I want to make sure that the audience – and [I] appreciate that they’re here today speaking – but per the Brown Act…this board cannot discuss on items that are not on the agenda. And so I want them to know that,” Supervisor Janet Nguyen said after the public comments.

However, supervisors apparently had several days of opportunity to place the issue on the agenda.

The letter from residents requesting the discussion is dated Sept. 9, a week before last Tuesday’s meeting and well in advance of the usual Friday deadline for adding items to the meeting’s agenda.

Sandoval was among six residents and business owners who spoke up against the location during public comments at the county supervisors meeting.

Councilman Vincent Sarmiento also sent a letter to supervisors asking for more communication between county officials and residents.

Dora Lopez, who has helped organize community members concerned about the proposed shelter site, said in her comments to the board that Nguyen’s handling of the issue has been “very disheartening.”

“You are our district supervisor. I assume you don’t care about our vote,” Lopez said during last week’s public meeting.

If Nguyen truly supported residents, she added, “you need to give us more than balloons and paper fans.”

In her response to the speakers, Nguyen didn’t directly address the criticisms.

She did note that concerns have been forwarded to county staff, and that staff have participated in recent meetings on the shelter issue. Neither she nor any other supervisors expressed support for further discussion at the next meeting.

Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson, meanwhile, told residents that in the public sector, they can’t get a shelter operator until they have a facility.

Supervisor John Moorlach noted that the zoning for the proposed shelter was chosen not by the county, but the Santa Ana City Council.

“We are actually following the city of Santa Ana’s lead. They designated this area,” said Moorlach.

“And so I was a little perplexed by Mr. Sarmiento’s letter demanding to put” this issue on the agenda, he added.

The proposed homeless shelter site has become a major political issue in Santa Ana, with City Council candidates facing questioning about it at a debate last Wednesday.

Councilwoman Michele Martinez went so far as to call for repealing the council’s homeless shelter zoning decision.

Many residents have questioned why a shelter couldn’t be located closer to the city’s Civic Center, where hundreds of homeless people currently live.

Moorlach has been a vocal supporter of converting a large, unused bus terminal next to the Civic Center into a homeless shelter. The location is relatively far from neighborhoods and schools.

The idea, however, did not gain traction among top Santa Ana city officials.

As for complaints about outreach, Moorlach said the June 27 issue of the Orange County Register included an announcement about an upcoming meeting on the proposed homeless shelter site.

Residents, meanwhile, pointed to the attendance of last month’s forum as evidence that the community was highly concerned about the shelter location, and that the issue is worthy of more dialogue.

Jose Rea, president of the Madison Park Neighborhood Association, said homeless people and local residents share the same concern: “a lack of inclusion and representation in the decision-making process.”

The proposed shelter location is a highly industrialized street with machinery and trucks, and lacks green space or sidewalks, he added.

Several local residents and business owners reiterated complaints that they were not given advanced notice about a July meeting where supervisors voted was taken to purchase the building.

“I was never notified as to the plan for the shelter” or zoning change, said Patty McDonald, who owns Saf-T-Co Supply, a business across the street from the proposed shelter.

Activist Irma Jauregui suggested that supervisors consider other shelter models, like those operated by the Illumination Foundation.

“Why not look at a different model that exists and [is] already being successful,” said Jauregui. The foundation’s shelter facilities “just blend in.”

“You took an oath for the well being of our community. Please do that oath,” she said. “We’ve heard silence. That’s the only sound we hear.”

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Allan Mansoor — September 21, 2014

The Orange County Breeze provides an editorial submission by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor on the proposed toll lanes on the San Diego Freeway by Caltrans in the piece below.

The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors meets tomorrow morning. One of the items on the Board’s agenda is the status of the I-405 widening project. Consequently, it may be a fun Board meeting, as many constituents have contacted my office disapproving of this apparent unilateral imposition on the good efforts of your Measure M tax dollars.

As an OCTA Director, I have consistently opposed the toll lane proposal. I have also consistently supported the building of two lanes in each direction (Alternative 2). The majority of the OCTA Board has voted against the toll lane proposal (Alternative 3), which is the option preferred by Caltrans. But, the OCTA Board has only approved one lane in each direction (Alternative 1), to comply with Measure M.

One would think that things should be settled. But Caltrans keeps stirring the pot, as its tone deaf bureaucrats insist on imposing managed lanes, even when Caltrans does not have the funding, or the consent by OCTA (if it is required), to do so. Hence, a continuing debate.

Orange County Breeze

Allan Mansoor on the proposed 405 toll lanes

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not toll lanes will reduce traffic and travel time on the 405 freeway, and that is a worthy discussion. Today, I would like to approach it from another perspective; truthful and efficient use of tax dollars.

As many have mentioned, the Measure M promise was a free lane for everyone in each direction. This project is funded by Measure M and will cost approximately $1.3 billion. The cost of adding a second free lane in each direction is only $100 million more. For just an 8% increase, we can have two free lanes without tolls.

As the Legislative session came to a close, the Legislature passed SB 1298, which extends the sunset date for tolls on the 10 and 110 freeways in Los Angeles. For the reasons explained below, I voted no on this bill.

In an analysis, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office stated that SB 1298 “contains a concession requested by the Professional Engineers in California Government (PEG, Caltrans employees), that local toll revenue be used to reimburse the DOT (Caltrans) for highway maintenance costs in the corridor.”

This does not present any problems if funds are used efficiently. But, the report continued: “In May, 2014, the LAO released a review of staff support costs at Caltrans (also known as capital outlay support, or COS). The report determined that COS is overstaffed by 3,500 full time employees, at a cost of more than 500 million per year.”

This $500 million of waste is more than five times the cost of building a second free lane on the 405. It’s also notable that the 3,500 employees pay lots of union dues that go to the political campaigns of politicians that allow this waste.

By putting public employee unions before taxpayers, PEG, Caltrans, and the Legislative majority that passed SB 1298 will burden working class taxpayers with exorbitant tolls to drive on roads they’ve already paid for.

Who else is supporting the toll lanes? Wealthy corporate interests like the Orange County Business Council (OCBC). They’re backing a wealthy candidate from LA in the election to succeed John Moorlach on the Board of Supervisors. Their goal is to use Measure M funds to build the infrastructure to support toll lanes while fulfilling the Measure M promise of adding a lane to the 405. Then at some point in the future, they will convert what has already been built into toll lanes.

This issue really boils down to trust and truth. Without Measure M, Caltrans cannot build toll lanes on the 405 – they need to improve the infrastructure (widen bridges, etc.) first. But we already have the money to give Orange County everything it wants, for free, without tolls if we just cut the waste. County Supervisors have a vote on OCTA and can stop the toll lanes from going forward. Let’s clean up the mess before grabbing more taxpayer money.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor represents Orange County’s 74th Assembly District and is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Disclaimer: I have e-mailed this from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Discovery Cube — September 20, 2014

Thursday’s Vector Control District Board meeting concluded after the news deadline, so the OC Register’s perspectives are reported today in their article below. When we last covered this topic (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Vector Control District — September 18, 2014), the Discovery Cube Orange County (DCOC) (see http://www.discoverycube.org/) agenda item was as follows:

Staff recommends that the Board authorize the opening of discussions and development of a contract to secure DCOC exhibit space for a term of 10 years and identify available funding options to be presented at the October 16, 2014 Board Meeting. Staff further recommends that a mechanism for replacing funds depleted by this project be replenished by a benefit assessment increase in FY 15/16.

The Vector Control’s Budget and Finance Committee, on which I serve, approved the first sentence of the staff recommendation, which was supported by the full Board. Now staff will negotiate the terms of the arrangement, including financing, and present the proposed contract at next month’s Board meeting.

To be concise on this topic, here is one paragraph from the briefing materials the Vector Control Board was provided with:

The initial interest in the Discovery Cube Orange County proposal was to address an area of community education that the District felt it needed to improve upon; more specifically, development of a youth education program on vectors and vector-borne diseases. DCOC is the premiere children’s science education destination in Southern California and provides science education to hundreds of thousands of students and residents at the Center, and in-class elementary education through their network of professional educators every year.

I have taken my children to science and children’s museums around the state and nation. Those in San Francisco, Denver, and St. Louis come quickly to mind. I think they’re great. The most recent visit was with my two-year-old granddaughter to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Mil-Walkie — July 7, 2014). But there is a difference between a “want” and a “need.” So, in the next four weeks I’d like you to do the following:

· Visit the Discovery Cube Orange County (the Discovery Science Center has just changed its name as a Discovery Cube Los Angeles is in the process of opening). The OC Cube is along the north side of the Santa Ana I-5 Freeway, off at Main or Broadway, in Santa Ana (see http://www.discoverycube.org/oc/).

· While at the Discovery Cube, take the County’s Eco Challenge (see http://www.discoverycube.org/oc/exhibits/eco-challenge/). In my MOORLACH UPDATE — Child Protection Services — June 19, 2014, I announced the 2014 Eco Challenge Poster Contest. Last week I enjoyed an Angels pre-game ceremony recognizing this year’s winners, including District Two’s Merrin Joseph of Buena Park. It was a joy to visit with Merrin’s parents and siblings, including her baby brother. (Also a big congratulations to our Angels of Anaheim for winning their division!!)

· Become familiar with the West Nile virus (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Coyotes — August 29, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — No-Bid Contracts — September 5, 2014).

· Share your thoughts with me. The UPDATE was designed to solicit feedback. My last UPDATE on this subject found most of the responses very favorable to the job that the Vector Control is doing, but unfavorable to the Cube proposal. Take a break and visit the Cube. Let me know what you think of the Eco Challenge interactive display. And let me know how a similar display on mosquitos and other vectors would be appreciated by the County’s youth.

Watchdog: Vector museum gets thumbs up

Exhibit will be paid for with district reserves, not property assessment hikes (for now).

By TERI SFORZA

In the midst of the worst West Nile virus season ever, there was much excitement about extending the gospel of vector control via a cool new $1million exhibit at the Discovery Cube science center.

The giant board of the Orange County Vector Control District – with a rep from each of O.C.’s 34 cities, as well as the county of Orange – told staff Thursday to draw up a contract with the science center, which will go to a vote on Oct. 16.

Gone, however, is the plan to replenish that spending with a $1-per-parcel hike in property assessments. Instead, the exhibit will be paid for from the district’s reserves .

But O.C. may not be off the hook on a property assessment hike. Depending on how the rest of West Nile virus season goes, an increase may be necessary, officials said.

The vector board also formally voted on the controversial mosquito-spraying plan slated for Santa Ana’s hardest-hit neighborhoods – authority it already had, but formalized with a vote. It was approved, with three cities voting no: Santa Ana, Westminster and Los Alamitos.

West Nile virus can be a devastating illness and is spread to humans by mosquitoes. It has infected 136 people in Orange County, resulting in three deaths, according to figures from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Santa Ana has been hardest hit, with 51 cases. Anaheim is next with 23 cases.

The Discovery Cube exhibit will be about 700 square feet, featuring a cast of animatronic characters who guide visitors through “who-done-it missions in a laboratory environment.”

It’s intended to help kids understand that a vector, in this instance, is not “a quantity (such as velocity) that has size and direction,” but “an insect, animal, etc., that carries germs that cause disease” (thanks, Merriam-Webster).

The county of Orange has blazed the path of spreading the gospel through the science museum. In 2009, Orange County Waste and Recycling sponsored a $3.6 million Eco-Shopping Store and Waste Identification Game at the Discovery science center, designed to teach environmental stewardship and reduce the amount of garbage going into landfills. That money came from grants and a surcharge on folks who haul their own trash to the county landfills.

Vector Control’s exhibit is greatly scaled back from an original vision, which would have cost some $10 million.

Although $1 million is a lot of money, it averages out to $100,000 a year – 1 percent of the district’s annual budget – and “represents a conservative cost to educate hundreds of thousands of museum visitors yearly,” General Manager Mike Hearst said.

Decisions about whether to hike the property assessment will depend on how the demands of the remaining West Nile virus season go, he said.

Skeptics will be watching.

“If you’re going to raise a tax, get ready to have people like myself oppose it,” said Supervisor John Moorlach, who represents the county on the Vector Control board.

Contact the writer: tsforzaTwitter: @ocwatchdog

Vector Control by the numbers

$9.4 million: spent fiscal 2013

$11.4 million: revenue from tax and benefit assessments

$6.5 million: "unrestricted net assets," what some call "mad money." Statement: "Staff believes it prudent to keep this balance at approximately 50 percent of annual expenditures."

– Vector Control audited financial statements, agenda reports

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Vector Control District — September 18, 2014

At the behest of several Orange County Vector Control District (OCVCD) Trustees, I was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to serve on OCVCD Board. There were plenty of reasons to be involved with this small mosquito abatement district (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — March 9, 2009). Within a year, the biggest reform was accomplished (see MOORLACH UPDATE OC Register March 26, 2010 and MOORLACH UPDATE OCBJ April 19, 2010). My five years on this Board have seen plenty of action, reform and reorganization. Im happy to say that things have calmed down. But, this spring the Board was asked to approve a $10 million marketing proposal, with no advance briefings, and an immediate drop dead date. This is not a way to run a small district. The OC Register covers the subsequent history and the opportunity to have some resolution at todays OCVCD Board meeting. If you wish to weigh in with feedback, you have until 2 p.m. to do so (I will also check my e-mails during the OCVCD committee and Board meetings this afternoon).

The only UPDATE that focused specifically on the OCVCD is MOORLACH UPDATE OC Register March 26, 2010. It explains that a white paper was prepared at my request for more information about the agency and its relationship to the Countys Agricultural Commissioner. The former general manager of OCVCD was under the incorrect assumption that I wanted to merge his agency into the County. What was the conclusion of the white paper? To not merge. Why? Because of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, Inc., v. Santa Clara County Open Space Authority California Supreme Court decision (see http://calafco.org/docs/Court_Decisions/Supreme_Court-Benefit_Assessment.PDF and http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202422975004/Silicon-Valley-Taxpayers-Association-Inc-v-Santa-Clara-County-Open-Space-Authority?slreturn=20140818132425). Being consistent with my concern about special benefits (Article XIII D of the California Constitution), it is the closing topic of the piece.

Watchdog: Vector control wants to spread its message, spread its costs

$1 million museum exhibit, hike in property assessment, are on the agenda.

By TERI SFORZA / STAFF COLUMNIST

The Orange County Vector Control District, which has spawned a brouhaha over plans to fumigate central Orange County to stop the spread of West Nile virus, often feels woefully misunderstood.

So today, the board will consider contracting with the Discovery Science Center for a decade of exhibit space costing $1 million averaging out to $100,000 a year.

Sound like a lot of money? It could have been more.

One solution put forth last year: A $10 million permanent exhibit and educational partnership with the Discovery Cube in Santa Ana, paid for, primarily, with property tax dollars.

Too expensive, vector control officials said. So they went back to the drawing board, shrank the project to $5.7 million and asked vector controls 35-member board of directors for approval in the spring.

One of the most important charges tasked of the District is to meaningfully engage and educate Orange County residents of the dangers of vectors and vector borne disease, said a report on the revised proposal. The objective of this education is to elicit positive behavioral changes that will reduce the need for chemical or physical interventions.

Unfortunately, delivering District messages to elementary school children has historically proven to be a daunting task, the report lamented. While the cost of the program is substantial, the opportunity to reach the largest and most focused target audience in the Districts history is a great opportunity, the report went on.

The partnership included an immersive vector education exhibit at the museum for 10 years ($2.5 million); in-class elementary school instruction with take-home assignments ($2 million); and a community education marketing campaign ($1.2 million).

REALLY?

Now, several board members wondered if the plan might be a bit too rich and declined to vote right away, asking staff to explore funding options instead. And in June, General Manager Mike Hearst tried to pull the plug.

He recommended that the board not move forward with the $2.5 million science center proposal, and instead direct staff to seek out other youth education opportunities. The board agreed, sort of. But the museum idea seemed so good that it asked staffers to keep working on some sort of science center collaboration.

So vector control and Discovery Cube scaled back the vision even more. Last month, they proposed a smaller exhibit of about 700 square feet that would cost $1 million, featuring a cast of animatronic characters who guide visitors through who-done-it vector control missions in a laboratory environment.

But vector control staff had largely soured on the idea.

When staff was polled the overwhelming opinion was that there were more important projects that needed attention first, an August report to the board says.

Some of the projects? Our vehicle maintenance and fabrication building was declared surplus by the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1947 and should be replaced in the very near future. Scientific Technical Services are for the most part in the Laboratory Building except for pathology lab, which is in a corner of the car barn, the report said.

Committing funds to the Discovery Science Center project would be fiscally irresponsible when our ability to respond to potential vector situations may be compromised.

UM, REALLY

What a difference the worst West Nile virus season ever can make.

As of Sept. 13, Orange County had logged 127 infections and three deaths from West Nile virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, according to statistics from the Orange County Health Care Agency. The hardest hit city has been in Santa Ana, with 48 infections.

Vector controls plan to spray those most hard-hit areas put on hold because of the crazy weather whipped up some virulent opposition and made officials realize that they had some work to do.

Public awareness and partnership in vector control issues is critical to the effectiveness of the programs and services provided, says the latest proposal, which will be voted on by the board of directors today.

Recent events have shown a lack of understanding by the public of their role in mosquito control. This has hampered our disease suppression throughout the county, especially in underserved populations. Orange County leads the nation in human West Nile virus cases and disease prevalence in mosquitoes in 2014.

Controversy generated over the Districts truck mounted adult mosquito fogging announcement revealed the lack of understanding the public has about what we do, how we do it, and their role in effective mosquito control, the proposal says.

Hearst, who had reservations, now favors the idea: Its not that were not known, its that were not understood. This is our opportunity to tell the complete story.

To tell that story, the staff recommends a hike of about $1 a parcel that would bring in some $500,000 annually.

MONEY

Like so many special districts, vector control is not hurting for cash. It had a cushion of almost 70 percent of what it spends in a year.

So why would it need it need to hike assessments when it already has so much money in the bank? Couldnt it pay out of reserves?

It probably could, Hearst said and that is the recommendation he will make to the board today. Still, the $1-a-parcel assessment increase will likely be necessary to replenish coffers after a virulent West Nile virus season that has required a great deal of overtime.

Financially, the district bears an unwieldy burden in the form of periodic payments to the Orange County Employees Retirement System: It pulled out of OCERS in favor of the big state retirement system years ago, but it still owes OCERS millions to cover unfunded liabilities.

Another big concern of Supervisor John Moorlach, who represents the county on the vector control board: Nearly half of vector controls budget $4.1million comes from the per-parcel assessment approved by voters in 2004 to combat fire ants. But no vector control district has been able to prove that such a parcel tax will stand up under Proposition 218, Moorlach said, and he suspects that raising the assessment alongside funding a museum exhibit (even a really cool one) might invite legal challenges.

Prop. 218 required voter approval for tax hikes, and said that charges for a government service cant exceed the cost of providing it. Prop. 218 has also been interpreted as requiring a direct link between the charge and the benefit.

You live in Laguna Beach and we fight fire ants in La Habra, Moorlach said by way of illustration. You have no direct benefit. You might not have fire ants in your yard in Laguna Beach. No one has taken a vector control district to court on it yet, but my legal research shows that if someone did, we would lose.

Hearst is aware of the concerns, but thinks the district is on firm legal ground.

Contact the writer: tsforzaTwitter: @ocwatchdog

Vector money

Vector Control spent $9.4 million at the close of fiscal year 2013.

Its primary sources of revenue were property tax and benefit assessments, which totaled $11.4 million.

It had accumulated "unrestricted net assets" what some might call "cash" of $6.5 million.

Source: Vector Control audited financial statements, agenda reports

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Ethics Take Two — Septembr 17, 2014

A Certified Public Accountant has to take four hours of ethics education courses every two years. A Certified Financial Planner has to take two hours of CFP Board-approved ethics continuing education every two years. Under Assembly Bill 1234, an elected official has to take two hours of ethics training every two years. Believe me, I’m not unfamiliar with the topic of ethical behavior and professional training. Now, in a country where there are three branches of government, the Orange County Grand Jury wants to establish a fourth branch. I don’t agree. One, the County doesn’t have the money to hire and staff another $750,000 department. Two, such a department would still be dependent on the Board of Supervisors to fund its budget. And three, there are enough oversight efforts currently in place. Here is a sampling of what was provided in the Board’s response to the Grand Jury (for which I also requested that the County’s Fraud Hotline be included):

By suggesting that the monitoring and enforcement of ethic, campaign, and lobbyist reporting is “deficient,” the Grand Jury suggests that the County is somehow not meeting a legal or other minimum standard. The County of Orange exceeds legal requirements for the areas mentioned above. For example, the Board has established a number of oversight bodies and functions, including the Internal Audit Department, the Performance Audit Department, the Office of Independent Review, the Audit Oversight Committee, the Treasurer’s Oversight Committee, and the Compliance Oversight Committee. In addition, the County already has limits on campaign contributions in County elections through the Orange County Campaign Reform Ordinance (Codified Ordinances of Orange County, Section 1-6-1 et seq.) The Board has adopted the Orange County Gift Ban Ordinance (Codified Ordinances of Orange County, Section 1-3-21 et seq.) that prohibits County elected officials and high-level employees from receiving gifts from persons doing business, or seeking to do business, with the County. Additionally, the Board has adopted an ordinance requiring the disclosure of lobbyists and lobbying activities through the Lobbyist Registration Ordinance (Codified Ordinances of Orange County, Section 1-1-8 et seq.) These oversight agencies and local laws, all of which operate to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption, are in addition to the required responsibilities of the District Attorney and County Auditor-Controller.

The OC Register covers the story with its piece written for the Voice of OC. The headlines are provided for the OC Register’s website and newspaper versions first, then the Voice of OC’s headline second. Once again, I offered up a Charter Commission that would create an all-inclusive Charter that would address the concerns raised by the Grand Jury (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Ethics Advice — April 16, 2013). In reflecting on the Board’s vote, when I have a disagreement with any portion of an agenda item, I request that it be separated out and voted on separately.

The second piece below is from the Fountain Valley Patch and recaps the recent proposed I-405 toll lanes hearing held last week in the city of Costa Mesa. With gas taxes leveling off or declining, thanks to more fuel efficient vehicles, Sacramento is providing counter-intuitive incentives. It is giving Teslas and Chevrolet Volts bumper stickers to ride the carpool lanes with a single passenger. This benefits a select few on the backs of the many (who are actually contributing to the transportation improvements through their gas taxes). With a conversion of the carpool lanes to toll lanes, Sacramento is considering another counter-intuitive incentive, one that once again benefits a select few on the backs of the many.

Board of Supervisors rejects ethics oversight proposal again

Panel says grand jury referred to old corruption examples.

BOARD REJECTS ETHICS PROPOSAL

Supervisors say oversight panel recommended by grand jury would be ‘duplicative.’

Supervisors Turn Down Independent Ethics Oversight

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

The County Board of Supervisors Tuesday rejected, for the second time since last year, a grand jury proposal for stronger ethics oversight of county government.

The vote apparently was 5-0, but Supervisor Janet Nguyen objected to certain sections of the supervisors’ response to the grand jury, causing confusion over how her vote should be recorded. Exactly how the overall vote will be officially recorded won’t be known until Wednesday.

In their June report, the grand jury called on the Board of Supervisors to help create a strong, independent county ethics “program” to police the conduct of county officials and lobbyists.

“Ethics bodies work effectively to deter, detect, and punish ethics violations,” said the detailed report. “Vigorous ethics monitoring and enforcement is necessary to develop and maintain trust in government.”

Supervisors disagreed.

“I would agree that creating something new – just another level – is duplicative” and not probably getting to the heart of issues, said Supervisor Pat Bates at Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting.

“I would be very, very concerned with anybody that’s appointed to have subpoena powers that are currently restricted to our law enforcement officials.”

The issue is pitting supervisors against grand jurors and the county’s rank-and-file employees.

Jennifer Muir of the Orange County Employees Association told supervisors on Tuesday that county workers support the grand jury’s proposal.

“Your county workforce stands with the grand jury” in their call for an ethics commission, said Muir, the union’s assistant general manager.

Muir noted that last year’s grand jury described Orange County as a “hotbed of corruption.” The most recent grand jury reiterated calls from the prior year’s panel for an ethics commission.

Supervisors, meanwhile, have disputed the grand jury report, saying it mostly refers to old examples and that proper oversight is already in place.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer called for a wide-ranging dialogue on ethics next year, when he will likely be the supervisors’ chairman.

“I really do think we need to have a comprehensive discussion, both of the campaign contribution issues and the ethics issues,” he said.

Supervisor John Moorlach suggested ethics reform be looked at as part of a review of the county’s charter next year.

“It would be real nice to pursue a charter commission and just do a thorough charter for the county that would address a lot of the concerns and tie everything together so we address ethics and campaign reform reporting in that document,” said Moorlach, who volunteered to serve on the commission. He leaves the Board of Supervisors at the end of this year because of term limits.

Chairman Shawn Nelson said there were practical problems with an ethics commission, like who would be appointed to preside over it.

If someone doesn’t like the way the government is run, he added, “you don’t just invent the fourth branch of government…I don’t know who is sort of the ultimate moral authority to appoint that branch.”

In her comments Tuesday, Muir reiterated calls from union officials for an across-the-board transparency measure, known as CRONEY.

The ordinance would shine a light on how large private contracts are negotiated, she said, and give the public more time to evaluate the costs of contracts.

If supervisors don’t adopt the ethics commission, “at the very least adopt CRONEY,” Muir urged.

“I think the taxpayers believe that when you approve $133 million for a contract, the contract is going to cost $133 million, not $133 million plus a change order” or extra charges for electricity or overtime, she said.

Muir asked the supervisors to schedule a future discussion of the proposed CRONEY law. Board members didn’t show interest in doing so.

As a reason for not pursuing a commission, Supervisor Janet Nguyen pointed to the state’s decision to take away $73 million per year in funding from the county.

“We do not have the funds” for a commission because of that, said Nguyen.

The grand jury, meanwhile, estimated the yearly cost of an ethics commission at about $500,000, or less than 0.01 percent of the county’s total annual budget.

Their report said the percentage is roughly the same as the city of Los Angeles, which is far larger than Orange County, spends on its ethics commission.

Nguyen also pointed out that one of the supervisors’ major rebuttals to the grand jury was largely a moot point.

As an example of stepping up oversight in the wake of the grand jury report, the board’s response pointed to the supervisors’ efforts to hire the state political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission or FPPC, to enforce local campaign finance limits.

But, as Nguyen pointed out, the state Legislature recently killed the bill that would have allowed the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to take over enforcement.

Spitzer, meanwhile, said there was a school of thought, advocated by political watchdog Shirley Grindle, that supervisors were looking at the FPPC approach as a “shiny object” that doesn’t address the numerous other ethics concerns from the grand jury.

Spitzer also said he had it on good authority that the employees association lobbied Sacramento to not pass the FPPC bill.

As for their response to the grand jury, the supervisors’ ultimate vote was confusing, even to top county officials.

The proposed response was approved on a general voice vote, with one small addition, by a majority of the five supervisors.

When Nelson asked if any of his colleagues was opposed to a motion to approve the comments, with the minor addition, Nguyen responded: “just my comments, of all the items individually.”

Clerk of the Board Susan Novak tried to figure out which way Nguyen was voting.

“She doesn’t want be seen as a ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” Novak said.

"Well she can vote on the motion, but her comments stand on their own. I mean, they will be part of the record. Actually they are at this point," said Nelson.

Nguyen then reiterated her opposition to certain parts of the response.

“The ones that I did not make comments to, yes I agree with staff’s recommendation. But the ones I did make comments – those, especially the ones I said ‘no’ – I’m not supportive of staff’s recommendation. So I’m not overall supportive [of] the item. It’s individually," Nguyen told Novak.

“There’s [a] couple that wasn’t a ‘no’, it was a comment – ‘yes’ with a comment. So please take a look at that again," Nguyen added.

“Alright. With that, are there any opposed?” asked Nelson. None of his colleagues voiced opposition.

“Alright. Noted, with the exceptions of Supervisor Nguyen. Passes, sort of, 5-0,” said Nelson, who then moved on to the next issue on the agenda.

Novak, who is in charge of keeping accurate meeting records, said later that the slightly modified response was ultimately approved, and that she would be reviewing video of the meeting to clarify the exact motion.

“This is a little bit unique. We have had bifurcated votes before but not quite like this,” Novak said.

The official vote tally would be posted online Wednesday, she added.

“I will do it accurately to what’s on the tape” and ensure it shows Nguyen’s opposition to certain portions of the response, Novak said.

Moorlach, meanwhile, suggested that if Nguyen wanted to be shown as taking a vote against certain aspects of the response she should have asked for separate votes on the sections she opposed.

Moorlach said he got the sense “that if she were concerned, she would have said ‘let’s bifurcate, pull these out” and vote on some and not others, Moorlach told Voice of OC after the meeting.

Efforts to reach Nguyen late Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

The minor change agreed to by all supervisors was to add the county’s fraud hotline as an example of existing oversight.

It’s unclear what the grand jury and other supporters of stronger ethics oversight will do now. Grand jurors do not have the power to create an ethics commission on their own.

In the 1970s, county voters used the initiative process to adopt the local campaign finance limits law, known as TINCUP.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Residents Not Happy About Toll Lanes for 405

A group formed to oppose the toll lanes attracted like-minded thinkers at a forum last week.

By Penny Arévalo

Local residents; business community leaders; and federal, state, county, and city elected officials strongly voiced their opposition at a Town Hall Forum in Costa Mesa last Thursday evening regarding Caltrans’ latest proposal to add toll lanes on the I-405 Freeway.

The forum, which had a well-attended crowd of over 100 people, was sponsored by the 405 Freeway Cities Coalition, a group of six cities along the 405 freeway corridor (Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Seal Beach, Westminster) and the unincorporated area of Rossmoor.

The cities have banded together to oppose Caltrans’ effort to add toll lanes along the stretch of the freeway between the SR-55 Freeway in Costa Mesa and the I-605 Freeway at the Los Angeles County border, and wanted to gather public input on the subject to pass along to OCTA, who will be discussing Caltrans’ proposal at their upcoming September 22 board meeting.

A large number of elected officials, including Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, State Assembly Members Allan Mansoor and Donald Wagner, former State Assemblyman Jose Solorio, Irvine Councilwoman Beth Krom, and a representative from U.S. Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s office joined with members of public in testifying in strong opposition to the toll lanes, saying they will negatively impact the corridor cities, their local business communities, and their residents.

After more than a decade of study, public outreach, and environmental review on ways to improve the I-405 freeway, OCTA and Caltrans are nearing the completion of a final environmental document that should be finished early next year regarding their intentions to expand the stretch of the freeway between the SR-55 Freeway at Costa Mesa and the I-605 Freeway at the Los Angeles County border.

Present plans call for the construction of one new lane in each direction to improve through put, with the project to get underway in 2016 and be completed by 2020.

The OCTA Board of Directors is scheduled to consider Caltrans’ latest toll lanes proposal at their 9 a.m.. board meeting on Monday, Sept. 22 at their headquarters at 600 South Main St. in Orange. The Coalition urged interested members of the public to call OCTA at (714) 560-6282 to express their feelings regarding the issue.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Webster Guillory — September 10, 2014

There is some disappointing news about the County’s elected Assessor. I have had the pleasure of working with Webster Guillory for my entire two-decade detour in public life. I started working with him when he was an assistant to the former Assessor, Brad Jacobs. The Treasurer-Tax Collector, Assessor, and Auditor-Controller need to work closely and professionally. It is rare when all three, who are independently elected in most counties, do work together well. In Orange County, we did. Webster has served with distinction and it is a shame to see something of this nature occur after his many years of service to the residents of Orange County. Of course, everyone who is charged is innocent until proven guilty. Consequently, Webster has my support as he addresses the matter that is the topic of the first two pieces below, in the Laguna Niguel-Dana Point Patch and the OC Register, respectively.

The third piece is from the Voice of OC and is also in the OC Register. The exchange between the employee union representative and the Board Chair is worth a watch if you wish to view yesterday’s meeting on the County’s website. Trying to make the stretch from an agenda item to procure medical professionals, when they are available for brief shifts in the jails, to claiming that the County is not being transparent does not seem to hold water. But, it still received some media attention, so the stunt worked. And, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

D.A.: Orange County Assessor Faked Signatures to Get on Ballot

Webster Guillory is charged today with filing false nomination papers in his re-election bid in the March primary election.

By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory was charged today with filing false nomination papers in his re-election bid.

Guillory, 70, of Newport Beach, is due to be arraigned Friday on three felony counts, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon said. He is expected to be released on his own recognizance.

On March 7, the deadline for filing nomination papers for the primary, Guillory gathered signatures on two petitions while an associate gathered and collected three full pages of 10 signatures each, Zimmon said.

Guillory signed his name on two of the petitions collected by his associate — falsely claiming he had collected and witnessed the signatures — and allegedly asked another colleague to sign a third petition falsely, Zimmon said.

Guillory’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client did not knowingly file any petitions with false statements.

“The circumstances surrounding the filing will clearly show there was no knowing filing of an inaccurate document,” Barnett said. “It’s just that simple, really. He didn’t file a document knowing it had any errors on it.”

Guillory is scheduled to face Claude Parrish, a former chairman of the state Board of Equalization, in a November runoff election.

Guillory faces up to four years and four months in jail if convicted, according to Zimmon.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said Guillory rushed to gather signatures because he had planned to retire, but no one surfaced to challenge Parrish, who Moorlach characterized as “quirky.” Guillory was pressured by various civic and business leaders to run for another term, Moorlach said.

“So he’s convinced to re-run two days before the filing period, so he does the drill and then runs around getting signatures,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach criticized the prosecution of Guillory.

“Is this the kind of stuff we should be going after?” Moorlach said.

“I just see a guy who’s very, very professional who’s done a great job as assessor. This is no way for someone who contributed to the community to come to the close of his career. It’s kind of a clerical thing. It’s not like he took public funds and it’s not like he benefited personally.”

In July, Orange County Supervisors approved an ordinance prohibiting elected leaders from gathering election petition signatures from county employees on county property during office hours. Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who spearheaded the legislation, said the investigation of Guillory partly inspired the ordinance.

–City News Service

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory charged with false filing

Official didn’t personally witness signatures being collected, though he signed the form saying he did, according to the DA.

BY SEAN EMERY and TONY SAAVEDRA / STAFF WRITERS

Prosecutors charged Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory on Tuesday with filing false nomination papers, alleging that during his re-election bid, he claimed to have personally collected signatures on petitions that were circulated by an associate.

Guillory, who has served as county assessor since 1998, is facing three felony counts of filing false nomination papers, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Newport Beach resident Guillory, 70, who had previously planned to retire after his current term before having a last-minute change of heart, is gearing up for a November run-off with challenger Claude Parrish. In the primary election, he received 46.4 percent of the vote to Parrish’s 44.2 percent.

As an elected official, Guillory can’t be removed from office unless convicted. He is the first county elected official to be criminally charged since Sheriff Mike Carona in 2007.

Guillory’s attorney, John Barnett, said his client simply made a paperwork mistake.

“He did not file a document which he knew to be inaccurate,” Barnett said. “He is a longtime public official who did not commit any crime and I think the evidence will show that.”

Guillory could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Supervisor John Moorlach, who called for Carona to resign, said things are different for Guillory than Carona.

“I see an honest guy who has been asked by a lot of influential people in this county to rerun,” Moorlach said. “This is just kind of a silly mistake with a form. I’m not excusing it, I just don’t have all the facts.”

According to prosecutors, the charges stem from the nomination papers and the 20 valid signatures from registered voters that candidates are required to file to the county Registrar of Voters to qualify for the ballot.

The form includes an affidavit at the end of each page of signatures, which the person who collected the signatures is required to sign to indicate that they witnessed the signatures being written. The candidate does not necessarily have to be the one who collects the signatures, but whoever the person is who does collect them, they must also be the one who signs each affidavit.

Investigators believe that on March 7, the day of the filing deadline, Guillory and an associate were both collecting signatures. Authorities say Guillory collected collected 11 signatures on two petitions, while an associate gathered 30 signatures on three petitions.

Prosecutors allege that Guillory signed his name on the affidavit for two of the petitions collected by his associate, falsely claiming he had witnessed the signatures from the voters being collected. They also allege that he had another colleague “falsely sign” the third petition gathered by his associate.

“Shortly before the end-of-day filing deadline, Guillory is accused of fraudulently filing the three nomination papers at the Registrar of Voters, knowing the information each contained about who had personally circulated the petitions and collected the signatures was untrue,” according to the DA statement.

A “confidential complaint” led the DA’s bureau of investigation to look into the signatures, authorities said.

Authorities expected to release Guillory on his own recognizance. He is expected to appear in court for an arraignment Friday.

If convicted, Guillory faces possible sentences ranging from probation to up to four years in jail, prosecutors said.

It isn’t the first time in this election cycle that Guillory’s signature gathering efforts have drawn scrutiny.

Election foes earlier this year criticized Guillory for gathering the required signatures from his own employees. Of the 30 signatures he turned in, 26 matched the names of employees in his office who are listed in the county government directory.

Guillory responded that the signatures were collected from outside the building during employees’ break time. Several election lawyers previously told the Register that while fundraising in county offices is illegal, their didn’t appear to be a law banning signatures from being gathered there.

Staff writer Martin Wisckol contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7939 or semery

Unnamed Medical Providers Sparks Debate at Supervisors Meeting

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

A $6.4 million proposed county contract to provide unidentified doctors to the Health Care Agency Tuesday drew intense fire from union leaders, who protested what they see as a continued lack of transparency on county contracting.

County supervisors staunchly defended their contracting efforts, and the contract, saying union officials are misrepresenting the issue.

The contract for medical, dental, behavioral health and other providers was up for a vote by county supervisors on Tuesday. But none of the vendors are listed in the staff report or attachments, including on the proposed contract itself.

Supervisors ended up voting 4-0 at their meeting to approve the master contract. Supervisor Todd Spitzer was absent.

Before the vote, union leader Jennifer Muir told supervisors the lack of information about the contractors speaks to the need for greater transparency for county contracts with private entities.

“This just isn’t a whole lot of information,” said Muir, assistant general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

“It’s a blank check.”

Unions have been leading calls for more openness around private contracts, in light of a recent ordinance opening up public-sector negotiations and a grand jury’s call for an ethics commission in Orange County.

A recent grand jury took issue with the county’s private contracting.

Meanwhile, county supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson said there isn’t anything the supervisors know that isn’t included in the staff report.

“If no one knows it, it’s not a transparency issue,” said Nelson.

Muir responded that supervisors were voting on something they don’t fully know about, and that a grand jury’s recent call for an Orange County ethics commission is something taxpayers should be demanding.

Nelson replied with an example.

If he gives his son $20 to buy burgers, Nelson said, “I don’t know which place he’s going to go, and I don’t care.”

County health chief Mark Refowitz told the board that the master contract enables officials to fill in gaps when county doctors aren’t available.

After the master contract is approved by the board, he said, the providers are chosen on an as-needed basis throughout the next year.

They need to be licensed doctors, and their medical licenses are vetted, he added.

A federal agreement requires that any medical providers hired by the county Health Care Agencies go through a screening process, have their licenses checked and undergo compliance training before they see patients.

Supervisor John Moorlach asked if county Health Care Agency managers have a list of names for the vendors.

HCA staff responded that the list is often changing and that the provider population is relatively small.

“It’s really an on-call list,” said Janet Nguyen.

“Personally it’s actually quite offensive to me to continue to make the claim that…somehow we know something more than the public when we don’t,” said Nguyen.

Nelson wondered if the identity of vendors and hours worked would be made public.

“Anyone who wants to know is welcome to know?” Nelson asked Refowitz.

“Correct,” the health director replied.

Since Monday afternoon, Voice of OC has been asking the Health Care Agency for the names of the medical providers who have been chosen over the last year under the current contract.

Additionally, the news agency has asked how the agency ultimately chooses the vendors.

The information will be made available Wednesday, according to agency spokeswoman Deanne Thompson.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Continuing and Deleting — September 9, 2014

For today’s Board agenda, seven items were continued and three items were deleted. Allow me to get a little technical. In the Board’s Rules of Procedure, in Rule 22, any member of the Board may direct the Clerk of the Board to delete or continue any item from the agenda, except those filed by another Board member, by Friday of the week preceding the meeting. It goes on to state that the originator of any item on the Board agenda, or the CEO on behalf of any department under his jurisdiction, may direct that their item be deleted or continued to a date certain, any time prior to the scheduled meeting.

When an item is continued or deleted, we are not usually informed about the specific reasons. Consequently, when a reporter calls to ask for the reason, as in the case below, I don’t always have the full back story. However, to assume that the Supervisors, as a whole, have requested a deletion or continuance is not an accurate claim to make. So I would argue with the selection of the title in the Voice of OC piece below. Personally, I’m frustrated that 25 percent of today’s agenda was impacted by these procedures. I try to come prepared for every meeting and to be ready to debate the issues. But, continuing and deleting is part of the process and you try to get used to it.

Supervisors Back Away From Pay Hike for Political Aides

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

Orange County supervisors have abruptly backed away from a controversial proposal that would have hiked the top pay for supervisors’ chiefs of staff by more than $20,000 per year.

The proposal – which was originally scheduled for public consideration this morning before being deleted from the supervisors’ agenda – would have established, for the first time, job classifications and pay grades for political aides to county supervisors.

The move sparked criticism from the county’s main rank-and-file employees union, which questioned how there’s no money for rank and file raises but plenty of room for high-ranking political operatives.

The highest-level salary for chiefs of staff could have increased from about $112,900 to more than $131,000 under the proposal.

If enacted, the new policy would have supervisors’ most senior political aides join deputy sheriffs in securing a pay hike just after being required to pay into their own pensions.

The item’s deletion is related to an issue raised by County Counsel Nick Chrisos, said Supervisor John Moorlach.

“I guess they decided then to just go ahead and delete it,” Moorlach said last week, adding that he didn’t yet have further information about Chrisos’ reasoning.

The proposal was originally scheduled for a vote on Aug. 12.

The Friday before the meeting, Voice of OC reported that, among other things, the proposal solves a potential salary twist to the recent transfer of top executive Brian Probolsky from OC Community Resources into Supervisor Pat Bates’ office.

Probolsky, who also serves as an elected member of the Moulton Niguel Water District, took over as Bates’ chief of staff and as of last month earned $122,886 according to county officials — far above the salary limit of $112,881 currently in place for political aides.

Jennifer Muir, assistant general manager for the Orange County Employees Association, sent out a sharply worded message to her members opposing the proposal.

"The County workforce is divided into haves and have nots, insiders and outsiders, the favored few and everyone else," Muir wrote ahead of the Aug. 12 meeting.

Supervisor John Moorlach, meanwhile, noted last month that when he hired back one of his former political aides several years ago at a higher salary than authorized by county ordinance, he made up the difference out of his campaign account.

When it came time to debate the new job classification proposal on Aug. 12, it was delayed until Sept. 9.

Next week’s agenda was released last Wednesday and listed the item as being up for a vote. The staff report is available here.

But by late Thursday afternoon, the agenda’s revisions listed the item (no. 14) as deleted.

It’s unclear if there are plans to bring the item back for a vote at a future meeting.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Disclaimer: You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree. In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story).

I have two thoughts for you to consider: (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor.

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive. If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one. If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.

Posted in California