MOORLACH UPDATE — Man of the Year — April 11, 2014

Shelley Henderson, editor and publisher of the Orange County Breeze, expands on my last UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014), to make a fun announcement below. I will be recognized by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce as their 2014 Man of the Year. This is a very humbling honor. The dinner is scheduled for June 19th, and I would be honored if you are able to attend. Shelley will be recognized as the 2014 Woman of the Year, so I’m in very good company.

This gives me a QUASQUICENTENNIAL opportunity, as Cypress is a very special city in my life’s history.

Last evening, at the monthly meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, my wife, my parents and I listened to John Olson make his presentation “History of the City of Cypress.” If you get a chance to catch John Olson, please do so. His slides and narrative brought back so many memories. Cypress was my first home in California in 1960. We then resided in Bellflower for a brief time before moving onto my uncle’s dairy at 5352 Orange Avenue. The dairy would become a commercial center and a housing development. Directly across the street, the dairies would become the Cypress City Hall and Library. Here is a photo of the dairy residence that became the Cypress Police Department in the 1960s:

Here is another former neighbor’s residence that became the Cypress City Council Chambers in 1965:

My first, second and third grade school principal at Cypress Christian School (now the Crescent Avenue Church of the Nazarene on the corner of Walker and Crescent) was Ms. Wilhelmina Van Hunnick. She lived on her father’s dairy property on Valley View, directly across from Cypress College. See the photo below, taken in the 1950s.

At the right of the home is the dairy cow milking building and a service building. In my senior year of high school and freshman year of college timeframe, I worked for Trojan Drive-In Dairy. It had two locations, one on Lincoln, on the west side of the Post Office. The other was the Van Hunnick Dairy. I would wait for customers in the service building and the refrigerators were in the front of the dairy. Customers would use the U-shaped driveway to purchase their milk and other related groceries. Working next door to Ms. Van Hunnick kept me in touch with her at that time in my life. We would reconnect again a few years ago, shortly before she passed. And there is your Quasquicentennial moment, as we appreciate the history and people of Orange County.

BONUS: We’re planning another Saturday day hike for June 14th, from 9 a.m. to noon. We will meet at the Pacific Ridge Trailhead and hike toward the coast to El Morro. We may even do a picnic at our destination. Please e-mail your interest to Cammy.Danciu.

CORRECTION: Point 6 below is incorrect. It is not $1.7 billion, it’s $1.7 trillion!! I misread the financial report. Usually you drop the thousands, in the Federal Government’s case, you drop the millions! $1,763,614,000,000! (With a population of 314 million, that’s $5,616 owed by everyone in this nation!)

Supervisor Moorlach votes against “apple pie”

In his email newsletter yesterday, Second District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach explained his no vote when the Board of Supervisors was asked to support AB 1453.

Introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (who represents Cypress and parts east), the bill “would require the [California Department of Veterans], in voluntary cooperation with the Orange County Board of Supervisors and city councils of other participating southern California cities, to design, develop, and construct a state-owned and state-operated Southern California Veterans Cemetery.”

Supervisor Moorlach’s explanation (appended below) is clear and well-reasoned.

I encourage everyone to read it. I wish only to add this: when a politician loudly points in one direction, you should always look at what your attention is being distracted from.

In this case, Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva is loudly and publicly supporting an “apple pie” issue in a district with a large conservative voter base, and is facing a strong conservative challenger. She wants those conservative voters remembering her push for a veteran’s cemetery in Orange County, not her votes on other issues:

Bill Number Description
AB 10 Raise state minimum wage yes
AB 60 Issue driver’s license to illegal immigrants yes
AB 48 Prohibit large-capacity magazines and large-capacity conversion kits yes
SB 4 Amends hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) laws yes
AB 4 Prohibits law enforcement from detaining individuals solely based on immigration status yes
AB 711 Prohibits lead ammunition for hunting yes
AB 154 Authorizes certain individuals to perform aspiration abortion procedures yes

(Voting record information courtesy of Vote Smart.)

Transparency disclaimer

I have not been shy about my pleasure at how Supervisor Moorlach has comported himself since he first attracted attention prior to Orange County declaring bankruptcy. I continue to be a big fan.

It is, therefore, with a huge amount of pleasure that I report that Supervisor Moorlach will be honored on June 19 at the annual business awards ceremony hosted by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce.

Supervisor Moorlach will be recognized as 2014 Man of the Year.

Union Bank of California (Cypress branch) will be recognized as 2014 Business of the Year.

Tim and Linda Keenan will be recognized for Lifetime Achievement.

And, much to my astonishment and great honor, I will be recognized as 2014 Woman of the Year.

Explanation by Supervisor Moorlach

The text below is taken from Supervisor Moorlach’s email newsletter. Introductory remarks and links are omitted.

The Board was asked to approve a “Support” position on Assembly Bill (AB) 1453, which was promoting a Veteran’s Cemetery in Orange County, specifically at the Great Park. You can’t find a bill more apple pie, God and country. But, when someone wraps themselves in the Flag, and provides a glimmer of hope to an extremely important segment of our community, the veterans, then don’t do it for self-aggrandizement. Do it for the right reasons.

The Bill would require the state Department of Veterans Affairs, through its Veterans Cemetery division, to apply for a grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program. Admirable. But, let’s peel off the layers and see what we find.

1. California is in the worst financial shape that it has been in in its entire history. Below is a concise recap of the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the state of California, as of June 30, 2012 (as the June 30, 2013 CAFR has not been completed by the State’s outside independent auditors). California has more in booked debt than it does in assets. I say booked, as the unfunded liabilities for its defined benefit pension plans and retiree medical benefits are not on the books, which I’ve added in the second slide below. I don’t want to worry you too much, although you should be worried, but the net per capita deficit is twice that of Jefferson County, Alabama ($1,607), which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy a couple of years ago. The state has no money to assist Orange County with a Veteran’s cemetery.

2. California only has two Veterans Cemeteries, only one is funded. It is in the unincorporated area of Igo, which has some 625 residents, and is 9 miles west of the city of Redding. The Northern California Veterans Cemetery was dedicated in December of 2005. A third cemetery, the Central California Coast Veterans Cemetery, to be located in Monterey County, is in the planning stage. It will complement the two closed National Cemeteries in San Francisco. This is a fledgling organization that is soliciting donations. I would not expect the state to be a strong funder of this agency or for the proposed Southern California Veterans Cemetery Master Development Fund.

3. Orange County is not excited about inviting state agencies into its borders. Recently, the state offered a $100 million grant to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for a jail expansion through AB 900. When it became clear that it would be a state run penitentiary, we politely declined the funds. Once the state gave the County control over the funding to improve our existing facilities, manned by Deputy Sheriffs, then we gladly accepted the funding.

4. The main purpose of the California Veterans Cemetery program is to serve where National Cemeteries are inadequate. But, we have four National Cemeteries within driving distance, two in San Diego County, one in Riverside County, and one in Los Angeles County (which is now full). If you want a great day trip, I would recommend that you visit the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on the Point Loma Peninsula. It is California Historical Landmark No. 55, which reads: “FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY – A burial ground before 1847, this graveyard became an Army post cemetery in the 1860s. It is the final resting place for most who fell at San Pasqual in 1846, and for the USS Bennington victims of 1905. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973. Over 50,000 who served the U.S. honorably in war and peace lie here.”

5. When you go to the National Cemetery Administration, you learn that only 39 states have a National Cemetery. Consequently, I’m not so sure that one could make the claim that our area is underserved.

6. A look at the Condensed Financial Statements for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide much comfort. The net financial position is a deficit of $1,721,321,000! Ironically, it is due to one line item in the Liabilities section of the balance sheet: “Federal Employee and Veterans Benefits Liabilities” of $1,763,614,000! Accordingly, there really isn’t much in the way of grant funding to be hopeful for. In fact, the income statement reflects an operating loss of some $223 million for the year ending September 30, 2012.

I would suggest to you that if the Great Park allotted the space for a Veterans Cemetery, that the funding and installation will not happen for a decade or two. There is no funding. And there is no compelling need.

I have visited a number of National Cemeteries in this country, including Civil War sites, and outside of this country, including the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as displayed in the recent movie “Saving Private Ryan.” I am a beneficiary of the sacrifice made by United States veterans with their liberation of Nazi-occupied Netherlands. My father-in-law was a veteran and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries incurred during his service in western Europe. I just attended the funeral service of nearly life-long friend Walter Ehlers at the Riverside National Cemetery. I am pro-Veteran. However, I do not appreciate exploiting them for political purposes.

I made a very simple request to amend AB 1453, change it to “Support, if Amended.” Instead of giving our Orange County Veterans a pipe dream, let’s actually build, fund, and operate a Veterans Cemetery. Here was my proposal:

1. The State of California, through its Department of Finance, wants the County of Orange to pay it $150 million for what it stipulates are Vehicle License Fees (VLF). These funds are actually property tax revenues that were re-characterized as VLF. This is a money grab by Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to state that Orange County shall retain the $150 million if it contributes 5 percent ($7.5 million) to endow the cemetery on land contributed by the Great Park.

2. The State of California also wants the County of Orange to transfer $73 million per year out of the its General Fund to Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to allow Orange County to retain its rightful funds if it contributes 5 percent ($3.65 million) each year to underwrite the costs of the Veterans Cemetery. The Orange County Cemetery District has annual expenditures between $3 million and $3.2 million, so this funding should be adequate.

3. The Bill should be modified to have the Orange County Cemetery District as the lead agency to oversee the new Veterans Cemetery. This will eliminate duplicate administration and provided for a staff that is already experienced in running cemeteries in Orange County and can do it in conjunction with the requirements and internment policies established by the National Cemeteries.

4. The author of AB 1453 drafted the legislation that provided for the terms of Orange County’s surrender of the VLF funds to the State of California with AB 701. I would suggest that she do everyone a favor by righting a grievous wrong with the State’s money grab and obtain an immediate funding source to create a viable sanctuary for those who honorably served or will serve our nation in the future.

As I could not get a second for my motion, I voted against the recommendation to “Support” AB 1453. I see this bill as an exercise that rings hollow and smacks of grandstanding during silly season. Therefore, adopting a policy on a sphere of influence on what legislation the Board of Supervisors should take a position on in the future would be a helpful exercise.

Featured photo

Second District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach riding in the 2012 La Palma Days Parade. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.

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 — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014

It’s campaign season, also known as silly season. Consequently, candidates will do anything to conjure up free (unearned) media to build name recognition with their constituents and voters at this critical moment in time. Sometimes the activities are legitimate and are misconstrued, which I believe happened to me twenty years ago this month. Here is an example from my April 10, 2009 LOOK BACKS:

1994

April 5

The Daily Pilot’s Russ Loar did a piece on my candidacy, titled “Moorlach plans to challenge Citron for county treasurer.” Here are some selected portions of the article:

It’s not a political contest expected to generate much excitement, but local accountant John Moorlach is doing his level best to make the sparks fly in the June 7 election battle for county treasurer.

Times are changing, interest rates are rising, and the aggressive, highly leveraged investment strategies of the county treasurer could lead to disaster, [Moorlach] says.

“He’s been a gambler and he’s been lucky,” says Moorlach. “When you leverage, either you win big or you lose big. This is high risk.”

I was accused by my opponents of being “political,” something that made me bristle then and still does today. But, you can clearly see, with the benefit of hindsight, that my claims were eerily accurate. I do not do something for the sake of grandstanding. If I’m vocal about an issue, it is because I believe strongly in my position. So, when “you’re being political” is thrown in my face, I simply request the accuser to get a new script. But, I get why they are frustrated. They, like myself, are not amused with political grandstanding. My dander rises when I see true grandstanding. This occurred at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Board was asked to approve a “Support” position on Assembly Bill (AB) 1453, which was promoting a Veteran’s Cemetery in Orange County, specifically at the Great Park. You can’t find a bill more apple pie, God and country. But, when someone wraps themselves in the Flag, and provides a glimmer of hope to an extremely important segment of our community, the veterans, then don’t do it for self-aggrandizement. Do it for the right reasons.

The Bill would require the state Department of Veterans Affairs, through its Veterans Cemetery division, to apply for a grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program. Admirable. But, let’s peel off the layers and see what we find.

1. California is in the worst financial shape that it has been in in its entire history. Below is a concise recap of the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the state of California, as of June 30, 2012 (as the June 30, 2013 CAFR has not been completed by the State’s outside independent auditors). California has more in booked debt than it does in assets. I say booked, as the unfunded liabilities for its defined benefit pension plans and retiree medical benefits are not on the books, which I’ve added in the second slide below. I don’t want to worry you too much, although you should be worried, but the net per capita deficit is twice that of Jefferson County, Alabama ($1,607), which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy a couple of years ago. The state has no money to assist Orange County with a Veteran’s cemetery.

2. California only has two Veterans Cemeteries, only one is funded. It is in the unincorporated area of Igo, which has some 625 residents, and is 9 miles west of the city of Redding. The Northern California Veterans Cemetery was dedicated in December of 2005. A third cemetery, the Central California Coast Veterans Cemetery, to be located in Monterey County, is in the planning stage. It will complement the two closed National Cemeteries in San Francisco. This is a fledgling organization that is soliciting donations. I would not expect the state to be a strong funder of this agency or for the proposed Southern California Veterans Cemetery Master Development Fund.

3. Orange County is not excited about inviting state agencies into its borders. Recently, the state offered a $100 million grant to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for a jail expansion through AB 900. When it became clear that it would be a state run penitentiary, we politely declined the funds. Once the state gave the County control over the funding to improve our existing facilities, manned by Deputy Sheriffs, then we gladly accepted the funding.

4. The main purpose of the California Veterans Cemetery program is to serve where National Cemeteries are inadequate. But, we have four National Cemeteries within driving distance, two in San Diego County, one in Riverside County, and one in Los Angeles County (which is now full). If you want a great day trip, I would recommend that you visit the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on the Point Loma Peninsula. It is California Historical Landmark No. 55, which reads: “FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY – A burial ground before 1847, this graveyard became an Army post cemetery in the 1860s. It is the final resting place for most who fell at San Pasqual in 1846, and for the USS Bennington victims of 1905. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973. Over 50,000 who served the U.S. honorably in war and peace lie here.”

5. When you go to the National Cemetery Administration, you learn that only 39 states have a National Cemetery. Consequently, I’m not so sure that one could make the claim that our area is underserved.

6. A look at the Condensed Financial Statements for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide much comfort. The net financial position is a deficit of $1,721,321,000! Ironically, it is due to one line item in the Liabilities section of the balance sheet: “Federal Employee and Veterans Benefits Liabilities” of $1,763,614,000! Accordingly, there really isn’t much in the way of grant funding to be hopeful for. In fact, the income statement reflects an operating loss of some $223 million for the year ending September 30, 2012.

I would suggest to you that if the Great Park allotted the space for a Veterans Cemetery, that the funding and installation will not happen for a decade or two. There is no funding. And there is no compelling need.

I have visited a number of National Cemeteries in this country, including Civil War sites, and outside of this country, including the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as displayed in the recent movie “Saving Private Ryan.” I am a beneficiary of the sacrifice made by United States veterans with their liberation of Nazi-occupied Netherlands. My father-in-law was a veteran and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries incurred during his service in western Europe. I just attended the funeral service of nearly life-long friend Walter Ehlers at the Riverside National Cemetery. I am pro-Veteran (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Fair Christmas Present — December 20, 2013. MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Lanes — August 23, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Gardens Building — July 10, 2013 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Preserving — July 8, 2013). However, I do not appreciate exploiting them for political purposes.

I made a very simple request to amend AB 1453, change it to “Support, if Amended.” Instead of giving our Orange County Veterans a pipe dream, let’s actually build, fund, and operate a Veterans Cemetery. Here was my proposal:

1. The State of California, through its Department of Finance, wants the County of Orange to pay it $150 million for what it stipulates are Vehicle License Fees (VLF). These funds are actually property tax revenues that were re-characterized as VLF. This is a money grab by Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to state that Orange County shall retain the $150 million if it contributes 5 percent ($7.5 million) to endow the cemetery on land contributed by the Great Park.

2. The State of California also wants the County of Orange to transfer $73 million per year out of the its General Fund to Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to allow Orange County to retain its rightful funds if it contributes 5 percent ($3.65 million) each year to underwrite the costs of the Veterans Cemetery. The Orange County Cemetery District has annual expenditures between $3 million and $3.2 million, so this funding should be adequate.

3. The Bill should be modified to have the Orange County Cemetery District as the lead agency to oversee the new Veterans Cemetery. This will eliminate duplicate administration and provided for a staff that is already experienced in running cemeteries in Orange County and can do it in conjunction with the requirements and internment policies established by the National Cemeteries.

4. The author of AB 1453 drafted the legislation that provided for the terms of Orange County’s surrender of the VLF funds to the State of California with AB 701. I would suggest that she do everyone a favor by righting a grievous wrong with the State’s money grab and obtain an immediate funding source to create a viable sanctuary for those who honorably served or will serve our nation in the future.

As I could not get a second for my motion, I voted against the recommendation to “Support” AB 1453. I see this bill as an exercise that rings hollow and smacks of grandstanding during silly season. Therefore, adopting a policy on a sphere of influence on what legislation the Board of Supervisors should take a position on in the future would be a helpful exercise. The Voice of OC provides its take in the first piece below.

The second piece from the Voice of OC provides an update on the ambulance RFP (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Special Attention — March 31, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — ALS/CCW/CCP/AOT — March 5, 2014). I opposed requesting an extension of time. The Health Care Agency’s staff has been working feverishly, under tight deadlines, to pursue this task, and they are on schedule and provided the RFP these last two Board meetings as a courtesy. Let’s move forward and step up to the challenge. If the State wants to allocate more time, then that is the State’s business and prerogative. In the meantime, after the State reviews the RFP, it will be released and our ambulance community is encouraged to provide competitive and professional responses.

Election Season Rears Its Head on Supervisors’ Dais

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

As California’s political season heats up, the county government’s legislative platform is at risk of getting politicized and Orange County supervisors are fighting back.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who is running for State Senate in one of the state’s hottest races, attempted to get her Republican colleagues to take positions against one state bill seeking to expand affirmative action protections for students (Senate Constitutional Amendment 5) and federal legislation blocking Vietnamese officials from visiting the United States (House Res. 4254).

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva also drew protests from county supervisors for attempting to move a bill authorizing a veterans’ cemetery in Orange County.

Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson called out Quirk Silva’s efforts as political, given that he had already received political mail at this house regarding her veterans’ cemetery effort.

While these issues would seem like an easy vote for an all-Republican board of supervisors in one of America’s most Republican counties, board members balked on Tuesday.

In resisting Nguyen’s call for support of legislation on Tuesday, supervisors instead moved to place on the agenda a policy keeping the county’s official legislative platform separate from individual political campaigns.

The vote on affirmative action was delayed until Apr. 29. Meanwhile, the House resolution regarding Vietnamese official visits was endorsed 4-0, with Nelson abstaining.

Regarding Quirk Silva’s bill, supervisors voted 3-1 to support the bill, with Nelson refusing to register a vote. Supervisor John Moorlach voted no, saying he wanted to amend the bill to have the county’s ongoing $73-million tax dispute with the state resolved, which would provide stable funding for such a cemetery.

But the debates, especially on Nguyen’s request as part of the official county legislative platform, drew concerns.

“Why do I have to vote on this as a county supervisor?” asked Supervisor Todd Spitzer Tuesday from the dais about the affirmative action bill.

While Spitzer said he has consistently voted against the specific expansion of affirmative action being proposed nearly a dozen times, he doesn’t see why he had to consider that bill as a county supervisor in Orange County.

“What does this have to do with our legislative platform and county business?” Spizter said, warning his colleagues that, “if we’re going to get in the legislative review business, it’s very complicated.”

Nguyen fired back at Spitzer saying, “I don’t bring issues to the platform quite often” in reference to the two issues she put in front of supervisors this week.

“These are very important to the constituency that not only I represent but the county represents,” Nguyen said, reminding Spitzer that he himself has involved the county in victims’ rights, one of his key issues.

Fighting any kind of preferential treatment based on race or gender is very important to Nguyen, she said. “All children in Orange County should be treated equally.”

Nguyen said supervisors’ vote does matter.

“When we take a position on a bill like this, it does send a strong message: Everybody should be treated equally,” Nguyen said. “That’s why this is before us today.”

Ironically, the bill in question has been declared dead for this legislative year.

Yet Nelson, who has made timely meetings a public goal, backed Spitzer, saying “this has nothing to do with the county.”

Nelson said he does not want to see county supervisors “get dragged into everybody’s backyard fight,” saying “I was not elected to run the school system.”

That prompted Supervisor Moorlach to note, “maybe we need some kind of policy on what we cover.”

At present, the county’s legislative staff simply responds to supervisors’ desires when putting together the public legislative agenda for each public meeting.

Given Tuesday’s motions by Nguyen, Nelson responded, “We probably should get one, starting tomorrow” about separating the county legislative platform from individual supervisor’s campaigns.

Yet others see things differently.

Supervisor Pat Bates, who is running unopposed for a State Senate seat, backed Nguyen’s request.

“I don’t mind getting dragged into debates” that cut to “the core of the Constitution,” Bates said

“We have the bully pulpit,” Bates said about such debates, adding, “We can lend our voice.”

Her sense was simple: “Bring it to the board, it’s fine with me.”

Nguyen said she could support a new policy.

“If there is a new process, you want legislative items that each board member here wants to ask the board to support … I can go with that process,” she said.

Please contact Norberto Santana Jr. directly at nsantana and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/norbertosanana.

After Cities Complain, Ambulance Contracts Might Be Extended

By NICK GERDA

Local city officials moved a step closer Tuesday to getting the extra time they’ve been seeking to evaluate a controversial ambulance contracting process they claim is full of holes.

Following a litany of letters from concerned city leaders, Orange County supervisors agreed Tuesday during their weekly public meeting to seek state approval for a one-year extension of the current ambulance contracts, which expire Sept. 1.

The cities’ concerns “absolutely justify” requesting a one-year extension, said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Cities such as Irvine, Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo recently warned that the proposed process fails to adequate explain how the evaluation panels will be selected and what the response time requirements will be, as well as eliminsating certain experience requirements for vendors, among other concerns.

At the same time, supervisors moved forward with seeking state approval of their request for proposals document or RFP, which is expected to be released to bidders on April 25.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to request a one-year extension and change the draft RFP to make ambulance contracts last five years with no extensions, as opposed to the staff-recommended three years with two one-year extensions.

They also voted unanimously to send the draft RFP to the state, with supervisors Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen opposing requirements that ambulance firms pay fees to cover new county software and staff to monitor.

Supervisor John Moorlach also opposed requiring ambulance providers to collect fees for Orange County Fire Authority paramedic service.

It remains to be seen whether the state Emergency Medical Services Authority will allow the contracts to be extended and if so, for how long.

“My guess is they’re putting pressure on us to come up with some solution to the issue but would not deny us if we” have a good basis for the extension, said Supervisor Pat Bates.

State EMSA officials hadn’t yet received the county’s extension request as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the agency.

Since the RFP was released last month, more than 1,000 changes have been made to it, Spitzer said.

On the issue of the review panels’ composition, Spitzer said that language has been updated so that each panel will include representatives of cities, the county, a hospital, physician, first responders and 911 emergency responders.

It’s unclear whether cities will be satisfied by the new specifications.

Please contact Nick Gerda directly 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 UPDATE — Distinguished Alumni — April 5, 2014

The Beach Connection, a publication for members of the California State University, Long Beach Alumni Association, in its Spring/Summer 2014 issue, made a fun announcement. I attended the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce monthly Networking Breakfast yesterday morning to listen to Janice Arrington, the Orange County Film Commissioner. One of my table mates said she was a Forty-Niner, a CSULB alumnus, and had just read that I was being recognized as a distinguished alumni in the newsletter she had just received in the mail. It is an honor to be recognized! I’m included with some others that you may know, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and my former Treasurer’s Advisory Committee member Clyde Kendzierski. Clyde served me and the County with distinction for more than a dozen years and his wisdom, insight and knowledge were a valued contribution to the Treasurer’s office. I wish to thank good friend and CSULB Legal Studies of Business Professor Art Levine, Founder/Director of the CSULB Distinguished Speaker Series and host of the renowned cable program “Straight Talk” (more than 500 shows produced) for his involvement. And my sincere gratitude goes to Michael Solt, Dean of the College of Business Administration and Professor of Finance, for selecting me. Put May 8th on your calendar. I would be honored to have you at the dinner. This humbling news is provided in the first piece below.

The OC Register had a photographer present at yesterday morning’s Avenida La Pata extension groundbreaking ceremony in San Clemente. This extension over the Prima Deshecha Landfill has been a high priority project for me these past seven years, as South County needs another road, other than the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway, to maneuver out of the area. A photo of the occasion is the second piece below.

The third piece below is a public service announcement concerning upcoming candidate forums in the Second District and is provided by the OC Register.

The CSULB Alumni Association is proud to announce the 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Nominated by their respective college deans, these recipients are recognized for distinction and leadership in their professions, communities and in our university. They will be honored at the Alumni Awards Banquet on May 8 at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency and at their respective college commencement ceremony in late May.

CSULB’s highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award is bestowed

annually in each College by the CSULB Alumni Association. In addition to

demonstrated pride and positive affinity for CSULB, awardees have achieved a

record of distinction, recognition and accomplishment in their fields and a proven

record of leadership and service to their communities and society at large.

The CSULB Alumni Association is proud to acknowledge this year’s recipients.

2014 Alumni Awards Recipients:

College of the Arts

Karen Baker Landers
Two-time Academy Award winner for sound editing

Alumna, Film & Electronic Arts

College of Business Administration

John M. W. Moorlach
Supervisor, Second District, Orange County Board of Supervisors

1977, Bachelor of Science, Accountancy

College of Education

Patricia Ann Farber
Algebra Teacher, Desert Hills Unified School District (ret.)

1967, Bachelor of Arts, English
1983, Master of Arts, Educational Administration

College of Engineering

J.P. Wang
Founder & CEO, Golden Star Technology

1984, Master of Science, Electrical Engineering

College of Health and Human Services

Thomas Salerno
President & CEO St. Mary Medical Center

1980, Master of Public Administration

College of Health and Human Services

Charlie Beck
Chief of Police, Los Angeles Police Department

2007, Bachelor of Science, Occupational Studies

College of Liberal Arts

Nelson Farris
Sr. Director, Culture & Heritage, Global Talent Management, NIKE, Inc.

1969, Bachelor of Arts, Speech Communications

College of Liberal Arts

Clyde Kendzierski
Managing Director, Financial Solutions Group LLC

1969, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
1972, Master of Arts, Economics.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics:

Jeffrey L. Stein
President & CEO, Trius Therapeutics. San Diego

1979, Bachelor of Science, Marine Biology
1983, Master of Science, Biology

For a full list of past recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards

categorized by college, please click on the college banner below.

http://www.csulb.edu/alumni/distinguished/

Representatives of Orange County Public Works and other area officials kick off construction of the $73 million La Pata road extension that will link San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. The extension is scheduled to be ready by fall 2016.

JOSHUA SUDOCK, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Feet to the Fire puts candidates on the hot seat

BARBARA VENEZIA

CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST

It’s not often you see media outlets in Orange County working together on a project as the news business is so competitive.

But on April 17, the Orange County Register, Daily Pilot, which is owned by the Los Angeles Times, and the Voice of OC come together for the first of four Feet to the Fire political forums.

The first forum brings Assembly candidates running for the 74th District together to answer questions in a political talk show format on stage at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave, Costa Mesa.

And if you think an Assembly race that covers part of Irvine, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Costa Mesa doesn’t affect you because you don’t live there, think again.

Just look at what happened when Newport Beach decided to get rid of fire rings on its beaches. It sparked a countywide and statewide debate on the issue.

Among the candidates running for Assembly is Newport Councilman Keith Curry.

So is Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper, who opposed the removal of fire rings in his city.

At this Feet to the Fire, the media team of Register and Huntington Beach Current columnist Jack Wu, Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Editor-in-Chief of the Voice of OC Norberto Santana Jr. and I will be joined by Alicia Lopez from the Daily Pilot.

I’ll be moderator again and have already dug out my leather flamed pants for the occasion, which have oddly become a signature of the events.

Feet to the Fire started in 2010 as an alternative to the boring candidate forums. Let’s face it, just the words – local politics – makes most folks’ eyes glaze over.

Not here.

The discussion is lively and fast moving. Candidates need to think on their feet, and they aren’t pre-fed questions they can rehearse.

It’s off-the cuff conversation at its best.

You never know what will come out of someone’s mouth, which is what makes Feet to the Fire so interesting.

It’s also a chance to experience, live and in person, the journalists you love – or love to hate – as they jump off the printed pages and online screens doing what they do best – asking tough questions.

As producer of the event, I’ve been busy arranging the location for the shows, technical aspects and media coverage.

Coordinating candidates falls on the shoulders of longtime local journalist Roger Bloom.

In the past, we’ve held one or two a political season. But we all agreed 2014 is an important election year.

Those we elect to the Assembly, city councils and Board of Supervisors have the greatest impact on what happens right outside our front doors and directly affect our quality of life.

Soon we’ll all be bombarded with political literature stuffing our mailboxes and inboxes. But until you’ve seen candidates hold their own among their competitors, you don’t have the whole picture of who they are and what they’re made of.

This is why Feet to the Fire has found such a strong voice on the local political scene.

We can no longer pay attention only to what happens in our own neighborhoods. It’s all about looking at the bigger picture.

Take what happened in Costa Mesa a few years ago, for example.

When city leaders there handed out pink slips to more than half their city staff, the discussion about pensions and unfunded liabilities took off like wildfire not only in that city but across the county.

This year, Feet to the Fire starts with our state Assembly race.

Then on April 28, we gather candidates looking to replace Supervisor John ‍Moorlach, who is terming out.

On that panel, we welcome Gustavo Arellano, editor of the OC Weekly, adding some crazy fun into the mix.

Sept. 18 Feet to the Fire moves from the Costa Mesa Community Center to Orange Coast College’s Robert B. Moore Theatre. There, we’ll talk with candidates running for Costa Mesa City Council.

And Oct. 1 we move to the Newport Beach Oasis Senior Center’s stage for the Newport council race candidates.

It would be nice to have a Feet to the Fire forum in every city. Maybe someday.

But for now, I have my plate full and a limited wardrobe of flame-themed clothing.

Information: feet2thefireforum.com  .

CONTACT THE WRITER: bvontv@gmail.com  

Feet to the Fire forums

Doors open 6:30 p.m. Forums are from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

April 17: 74th District Assembly race candidates at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa

April 28: 2nd District supervisor candidates at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa

Sept 18: Costa Mesa City Council candidates at Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa

Oct. 1: Newport Beach City Council candidates at the Oasis Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave., Newport Beach

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 — Ballot Designation — April 2, 2014

Although I am no longer a candidate, I still am in the news for campaign related stories. As I am not permitted to send out UPDATES on campaign subject matter from my regular UPDATE account at the County, I can at least provide some insights from my personal account.

Thank you for your support and encouragement. When I start something, I usually finish it. So pulling out of the 45th Congressional race was difficult for me. I am still going through the various stages of grief. I have been catching up at the office these past few weeks, closing down my Congressional campaign, and spending more time with my patient wife. We’ve even been spotted at the local theater, catching a current movie.

The Daily Pilot covers an interesting topic in their piece below. One wonders if one of the candidates seeking to replace me is embarrassed about her current elected position. I would think that most of us are taxpayer advocates, a title which seems rather trite. Why not proudly state your current position? In my practice days, if you were not a partner, you were an employee. And if you’re an employee, you’re not technically a business person. But, if we stretch it a tad, I guess everyone who is employed is a business person. But why be so vague? It makes one ask, "What else is being white washed or papered over?" How about residency? Or at least the length of residency in the County of Orange? It seems odd to me that someone from Los Angeles County is running for an Orange County Supervisorial seat. I don’t know if Assemblyman Allan Mansoor did the SBOE member a favor or not, but the County’s outstanding Registrar of Voters should demand more clarity and discourage the use of euphemisms. The Judge got this one right, but it was an easy call to make.

Judge: Steel must change ballot designation

Mansoor wins challenge to opponent in race for O.C. supervisor.

By Jill Cowan

In a win for her opponent, Orange County Board of Supervisors candidate Michelle Steel will have to change her official occupation from "taxpayer advocate/businesswoman" to "Board of Equalization member" on the ballot, a judge has ruled.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), who is running against Steel for the Board of Supervisors’ 2nd District seat, had alleged in a lawsuit that the Surfside resident’s chosen ballot designation was misleading.

Steel’s role on the state Board of Equalization, which is tasked with considering tax appeals, is "quasi-judicial," the suit alleged, and that is her main job.

According to a court order dated March 25, Orange County Superior Court Judge Franz E. Miller agreed.

In addition to the change in Steel’s ballot designation, which is the job title listed alongside candidates’ names, the document ordered that a reference to Steel’s status as a business owner be deleted from her candidate statement.

Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, who earlier declined a request by Mansoor to require Steel to drop the "taxpayer advocate/businesswoman" tags, said Friday that his office has already made the ordered changes.

Kelley and Steel were the named respondents in the suit.

Mansoor called the decision a "great victory."

"Deep down, I knew that the truth would come out, and we’re glad with the outcome," he said Friday.

Dave Gilliard, a campaign consultant for Steel, said, "We think the judge got it wrong."

Steel, he said, is known on the Board of Equalization as an advocate for taxpayers when disputes arise. He added that she is the controller of husband Shawn Steel’s law firm, which should allow her to use the title "businesswoman."

Going forward, though, Gilliard said, "It’s not a big enough issue to worry about" to warrant further action.

"She’s got plenty of opportunity to tell voters about her background and her history," he said, "and we’re confident when they see that, they’ll be receptive."

Steel’s Twitter moniker is still @TaxFighterSteel.

She and Mansoor are vying to replace Supervisor John Moorlach, who will be termed out of the board’s District 2 seat, representing parts of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, among other cities.

Joe Carchio, Huntington Beach city councilman and retired business owner, and Jim Moreno, governing board member of the Coast Community College District, are also running.

The statewide primary election will be held June 3.

This is being sent from my personal account. If you no longer wish to receive occasional UPDATES, feel free to let me know.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Special Attention — March 31, 2014

In the first piece below, the Insurance News Net picks up a story from the OC Register’s wire service on the ambulance fee topic (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014). This subject will be addressed during tomorrow’s Board meeting, under Supplemental Item S24A, where we will be able to provide recommendations for the draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for Basic Life Support (BLS) Emergency Ambulance Transport. The final draft of the RFP will come before the Board next week. It then goes to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority for its final review before the RFP is released for responsive bids. If this topic is of interest to you, then go to http://www.ocgov.com/gov/bos/agenda/ for the agenda information and feel welcome to attend tomorrow morning’s Board meeting.

Happy Fourth Birthday to the Voice of OC, which commemorates the occasion with a puff piece on achieving this milestone. I usually just provide responses orally, but I was permitted to respond to the topic with an e-mail. Along with some praise, I also included some broad critical observations, which were hinted at, but not included in the second piece below.

BONUS: April 10th is approaching. For those who own real estate in Orange County, your second property tax payment will be due on or before next Thursday.

County’s special-attention ambulance fee will continue

By Martin Wisckol, The Orange County Register
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

An extra ambulance fee charged to those needing special paramedic attention will continue in its current form under new contracts between the Orange County Fire Authority and private ambulance providers, county supervisors decided in 3-2 vote Tuesday.

In addition to the transport fees users pay to the ambulance companies, those needing "advanced life support" — often people in life-threatening medical situations — pay an additional fee of nearly $400. That money is forwarded by the ambulance companies to the fire authority for providing paramedics’ aid and adds $4.5 million to OCFA coffers annually.

Supervisors are preparing to rebid the ambulance contracts for the 19 cities served by the fire authority and voted to continue the additional fee over the objections of two board members.

Shawn Nelson, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, wanted to eliminate the Advanced Life Support fee altogether. He argued that there are no extra personnel costs to the fire authority when paramedics go on a call; those paramedics are getting paid the same wage to sit in the fire station when there are no calls.

Supervisor John Moorlach wasn’t as ardent in opposing the fee completely, but also voted against continuing the collection in its current form. He noted that taxpayers already are covering the cost of paramedics.

"It seems like you’re double charging the public," he said after the meeting.

An option backed by Nelson and Moorlach would have required the fire authority to bill ambulance users directly if they wanted to continue to collect the fee, which is $387 in most of the cities served.

The approved plan to continue the current practice, in which the ambulance companies add the fee to their bill and then forward the money to the fire authority, won the support of Supervisors Janet Nguyen, Todd Spitzer and Pat Bates.

Bates said that the plan supported by Nelson and Moorlach was cumbersome and inefficient.

"It’s too much bureaucracy that increases costs," she said.

OCFA officials say the funding is used to help pay for the additional time and medical supplies required on advanced life support calls, and that without the money the agency would have a budget deficit.

In other action, the board unanimously approved a 15-month contract with the 12,000 employees represented by the Orange County Employees Association. The previously negotiated deal will give workers a 1.25 percent raise and a 1.25 percent one-time bonus, but will require employees to pay a larger share of their health insurance costs.

Voice of OC Hits 4th Anniversary

THE EDITORS

Four years ago this morning, Voice of OC went live.

The premise remains simple.

Faced with a continued decay of civic coverage from mainstream media outlets besieged by budget cuts, local communities can better hold their own government leaders accountable by ensuring robust city hall coverage through a public trust.

Over the past decade, more than 75 independent non-profit investigative news agencies have sprouted up across America with the aim of providing hard-nosed, real-time coverage of the civic issues that matter most.

ProPublica remains the best known, and most successful non-profit newsroom in the nation, already being recognized with several Pulitzer Prizes and a multi-million dollar budget.

Non-profit newsrooms like Voice of San Diego and MinnPost also remain leaders in the field.

In Orange County, Voice of OC was launched by a group of local investigative journalists and attorneys in the spring of 2010 around the idea that great civic coverage – combining the best of CSPAN and 60 Minutes’ approach – produces the best policy outcomes for residents.

It’s an idea that first found a receptive ear at the local labor union, the Orange County Employees Association – a seed funder that has since become a regular contributor.

Since then, a host of foundations such as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, the Orange County Community Foundation and The California Endowment have all joined in the effort to support tough investigative journalism at the local level.

In addition to foundation support and private donors like Board Chairman Wylie Aitken, Voice of OC also has garnered multiple awards from the Orange County Press Club and attracted solid media partners like PBS SoCal, the Associated Press and the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

The Voice of OC newsroom stands for professional and probing coverage – featuring institutional knowledge and perspective – at the local level that is provided through a cost-effective non-profit model deploying investigative reporters across the region on a daily basis with an eye toward exposes on local government and politics.

Voice of OC’s newsroom also focuses intensively on community health – in essence asking the question, what produces healthier neighborhoods?

Whether it’s delving into urban bike safety or covering mismanagement at large public health agencies like CalOptima, Voice of OC reporters and editors have honed a specialty over the past four years holding the largest countywide agencies transparent, accountable and responsive on the toughest social service and health care issues.

In addition, the newsroom now features a vibrant youth media program with a special focus on central Orange County. And the Opinion page now features nearly 40 community leaders and activists who collectively make up the “Community Editorial Board,” many of whom regularly write Op-Eds on local issues and help host discussion forums.

The idea remains to offer residents as much useable information about their local city halls as they get about their local professional sports franchise, with the aim of fueling participation and debate.

Whether it’s jockeying over the future of Orange County’s fairgrounds, government outsourcing, public pensions, stadium and convention center expansions, government whistle blowers, district elections in Anaheim or Santa Ana’s future, all sides have come to expect impactful coverage from the Voice of OC newsroom.

Here’s a link to our most popular stories from 2012 and 2013.

Our online readership has more than doubled in the last year, climbing to nearly 60,000 unique visitors a month – enough to fill Angel Stadium.

We’re even more popular on social media with a 146-percent growth in Facebook fans over the last year.

Yet it’s not just how many people are reading the exposés, but who.

According to our own web records, the FBI checks our site several times each week.

Indeed, computers from the FBI’s criminal justice information system represent one of our biggest institutional jumps in readership – up 513 percent from last year.

Readership from the California State Senate also grew by just over 500 percent.

According to our web data, other large growth in readership came from UC Irvine and Chapman University, along with the Orange County Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, the county governments of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino, and Orange County Superior Court.

Voice of OC coverage attracts a variety of reactions from across the political spectrum.

"It’s a breath of fresh air to have an online newspaper that investigates local events," said Democratic State Senator Lou Correa, especially in "this era of budget cuts, in this era of newspapers going out of business" and with cuts "devastating" investigative news resources.

"I think it’s critical for democracy, critical for the policy makers," Correa said.

Orange County Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson, a Republican, said he is often frustrated by manufactured “gotcha” stories from local media and wants appreciates having more heft as a policy maker.

“I love it when you guys are digging in and getting the stories nobody else has the time to get,” Nelson said.

“I like when there’s more analysis. You guys get good info because you’re around. People run into you guys, you’re around.”

County Supervisor John Moorlach said he isn’t always a fan of Voice of OC coverage but appreciates the model.

The investigative newsroom “has provided their unique journalistic flair. With a no-fear attitude, it has done a good job of branding itself and has developed a reputation as a no-holds-barred reporting entity,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach – a Republican best known for predicting the 1994 Orange County municipal bankruptcy – wished the newsroom well on its anniversary, saying “as they strive for excellence, for unbiased coverage, and for a devotion to the Journalist’s Creed, may they have many more years as a leader in this new journalistic format.”

City leaders also said the Voice of OC model has had a real impact on Santa Ana.

“It has made city politics, city issues into water cooler conversation,” said Santa Ana City Councilman Sal Tinajero, an Orange County Democrat who also leads a high school debate team at Fullerton Union High School.

Tinajero says he appreciates the Voice of OC model because it highlights that “major events are what you see the minute you open your door outside your house.”

And that approach has made a real difference in changing city hall, he added.

“What the Voice [of OC] did is create a more transparent system,” Tinajero said. “It forced cities to be more transparent, because if you weren’t they were going to call you on it. It forces our government agencies to be more transparent and to really re-think what procedures they’re going to use to make sure there’s fairness.”

Santa Ana City Councilman David Benavides, a Democrat who ran for mayor in 2012, agreed that the agency’s coverage has been impactful.

“Honestly it keeps us on our toes,” Benavides said. Sometimes it is a little nerve-wracking. We know we’re already under the microscope, but when there’s a reporting agency who makes it their mission to scrutinize even more what local government and elected [officials] are doing, it gives us reason for pause and worry a bit what might be reported on individuals and our city."

"But at the end of a day, when I’m looking at it impartially and not from a personal perspective, there’s a public gain in knowing there are reporters looking into what we’re doing.”

“I think I’ll enjoy it more when I’m not a public official,” Benavides said.

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 — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014

The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) was a department of the County of Orange. The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to separate it from the County on December 6, 1994, roughly an hour before the Board voted to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. With two decades of history to review, the question is whether letting this organization go out on its own was a good decision. Has the OCFA managed itself properly and is it a model for others to emulate or is it caught in a time warp and still operating on a centuries-old model?

The 2011-12 Orange County Grand Jury took on this topic with their report, titled “Emergency Medical Response in Orange County – Where did all the ‘fires’ go? Long time passing (with apologies to Pete Seeger),” see http://www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/emergmedresponse/emergmedresponse.pdf. Here is the Summary of the report, provided in the opening three paragraphs:

During the last forty years, the role of local fire departments has changed. The services have changed from fire prevention to medical emergency responses. In earlier days, the fire departments were predominantly staffed with fire fighters with their fire trucks, but now these departments include paramedics and emergency medical technicians as part of the crews that respond to the calls. Today medical emergency calls account for at least 70 percent of fire departments emergency dispatches. The low percentage of fire emergencies, i.e., less than two percent in the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) alone, is attributed to improved building codes, more alarm devices, fire suppression systems, stricter code enforcement, and perhaps greater public awareness.

This transition from fire emergencies to medical emergencies has not generated major changes in the operation model for responding to these emergencies. Each emergency call generally results in both fire trucks and ambulances being dispatched to the site of the emergency regardless of the type of emergency. The emergency response communities have discussed developing new models, but little change has been accomplished. While the Orange County Emergency Medical Services (OCEMS) sets the medical standards and protocols for both non-emergencies and emergencies. The fire departments handle the actual operations.

The2011-2012 Orange County Grand Jury concluded that the current emergency response models should be re-evaluated by independent outside consultants. This re-evaluation should consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the economics and operations of both the OCFA and city fire department’s emergency response models. This Grand Jury recommends that these studies be completed and made public by July 31, 2013.

For another great study on the topic, go to http://www.scscourt.org/mwg-internal/de5fs23hu73ds/progress?id=9NvAn0gyNp. The 2010-2011 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury did an excellent report. The opening sentence is priceless: “With police and fire department expenses constituting the majority share of city budgets, the public may well wonder what public services will be left if these agencies remain entrenched in old service and old cost structures.”

I don’t recall that the Grand Jury’s request, to have an overall analysis, was provided on July 31st of last year. And I’m not optimistic that we’ll see one by July 31, 2019. And if we did, I’m less optimistic that it will be implemented. I do not serve on the OCFA Board of Directors, but I have John Wayne Airport (JWA) in my District. I know that OCFA was strongly opposed to reducing the number of firefighters on the night crew, arguing that it should be staffed at the same levels as the day crew. JWA has a curfew and does not accept commercial flight arrivals from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. (8 a.m. on Sundays). I also know that when JWA went out for bid, a private sector proposal would save the airport $10 million over a five-year period (see recent postings in MOORLACH UPDATE — Joy of Competition — August 8, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — November 26, 2012, MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — November 1, 2012, and MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Firefighters — November 23, 2011). It prompted OCFA to submit a bid that was lower than its current contract. It also motivated OCFA to threaten litigation, arguing that it cannot be outsourced. This premise is not accurate, but the courts are an unreliable venue for making proper rulings, and does give an excuse to maintain the current model.

There have been other awkward stories emanating from OCFA. Firefighters rigging seat belt alarms. Charging businesses for hazardous material inspections that never occurred. What I see of OCFA is not encouraging. Its model is antiquated, expensive, and fraught with complacency.

We all pay property taxes, directly or indirectly, and we expect public safety services for our “contributions.” To be billed by a public safety agency in our hour of need is insulting. It’s a tax. And it’s needed by OCFA because the organization is in need of additional revenues in order to pay for its high personnel costs. I have been harping on the increase of costs due to the enhancement of defined benefit pension plan formulas, retroactive to the date of hire, for more than a dozen years. These costs have now manifested themselves and it has created a critical reason to re-evaluate fire services. The fact that the city of Irvine has found a disturbing flaw in the property tax revenue allocation component of OCFA’s funding is another important reason for a study. And that private citizens on Grand Juries are blatantly aware of the need for structural changes should be evidence enough to pursue them.

The Board has discussed this matter earlier this month, see MOORLACH UPDATE — ALS/CCW/CCP/AOT — March 5, 2014. We saw OCFA bungle the ambulance RFP process, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Twitter Musick — October 9, 2013. The Board showed restraint, but the State of California did not, and transferred the RFP process back to the County. Now that it is in the County’s wheelhouse, it’s time to perform the study that needs to be done. Especially when one ponders that 69 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers. This is a very complex and multi-layered topic. But if OCFA and local fire departments can be improved and be more cost efficient, then those modifications must be made. Our constituents deserve a better model. And Orange County is the best place on the planet to show how it can be done.

BONUS: Congratulations to Vanguard University of Southern California, which won its first National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men’s Division I Basketball National Championship last night!

Mission Viejo

Supes Decide to Pass Along Cost of Paramedics to Residents who Call for Them

The Orange County Fire Authority’s fee amounts to about $300 for a resident requiring "advanced-level life support," which includes an ambulance and a paramedic.

Posted by Penny Arévalo (Editor)

The Board of Supervisors today gave the Orange County Fire Authority the go-ahead to pass along expenses for paramedic services to residents who call for an ambulance.

The board vote was 3-2, with Chairman Shawn Nelson and Supervisor John Moorlach casting the dissenting votes.

The Orange County Fire Authority’s fee amounts to about $300 for a resident requiring "advanced-level life support," which includes an ambulance and a paramedic. The fee is included in the bill residents get for ambulance service.

Nelson and Moorlach favored another plan that would compel firefighters to collect the fee on their own.

Supervisor Patricia Bates said the plan backed by Nelson and Moorlach would generate "a burden of paperwork," which could boost administrative fees.

Nelson and Moorlach said the fee amounts to "double taxation" since the fire authority receives property taxes that should cover the cost of ambulance service.

"You’re paying these (paramedics) the same whether they go on a run or not, so why charge a taxpayer for their time?," Moorlach said after today’s board meeting.

"Is it really a justified fee? Therefore, if you want to charge for it then charge it separately," Moorlach said. "The whole (funding) model needs to be reevaluated, but you’ve got a firefighters union that’s resistant to making any changes."

According to Nelson, firefighters don’t usually spend much time battling blazes these days. Mostly, they are responding to medical calls and traffic crashes, the chairman said.

Authority officials compare the fee to the extra charges that come with specialized services such as from a planning department in some cities. The fee covers the ongoing costs of training and certifying the authority’s paramedics, said Lori Zeller, the OCFA’s assistant chief of business services.

One issue that remains unresolved is a proposal to reduce the number of contracts for ambulance service from 19 to five. The supervisors will likely decide that issue in April, Zeller said.

Nineteen cities in the county contract with the OCFA for ambulance service, but officials want to reduce the number of contracts to five and have the service handled regionally instead of city-by-city. They say it will drive down costs.

The OCFA’s contracts with ambulance companies expire Aug. 31, Zeller said. A request-for-proposal process takes about four weeks, but officials want enough time to handle appeals and in some cases a transition period if a new company wins a bid, Zeller said.

Ambulance service in the county costs residents less than most other counties throughout the state, officials said.

The most expensive last year was in Butte County, where residents are charged $2,399 for advanced-level service. Orange County charges $1,096.82. Fresno’s rate is the cheapest at $913.88.

–City News Service

Supervisors Call for Comprehensive Review of Fire Authority

By NICK GERDA

Two Orange County supervisors on Tuesday called for a comprehensive discussion about how the countywide fire agency is funded and delivers services, just as county leaders move toward issuing a new bid request for ambulance providers.

“We should lead that discussion,” Supervisor Todd Spitzer said during a discussion about paramedic fees.

“I think we need to understand what the potential future of the [Orange County] Fire Authority is, and what it would mean to Orange County” if Irvine leaves the Fire Authority and the agency is dismantled as Spitzer said he fears.

Irvine officials have raised concerns they are overpaying for fire services and have had public discussions about potentially leaving the Fire Authority, which was set up in the wake of the 1994 county bankruptcy and funded primarily through property taxes.

Meanwhile, Chairman Shawn Nelson cautioned that Irvine’s threat is unrealistic.

“Irvine can’t just leave,” Nelson said. “They don’t have the option to just walk” because all of their money is dedicated to the Fire Authority by law.

But Nelson did signal support for a broader discussion.

“If this thing needs to be refigured, let’s get the adults involved in this” and figure it out, said Nelson, adding that he has “a problem with this entire funding structure.”

“Perhaps we can huddle up offline.”

The discussion came as the Board of Supervisors considered whether to continue having ambulance companies bill for Fire Authority paramedic services.

Supervisors decided 3-2 to stick with the current process and require upcoming ambulance contractors to bill patients for the Advanced Life Support or ALS fee.

Nelson and Supervisor John Moorlach opposed the fee’s inclusion, with Nelson asserting that the cost for paramedic services is already covered through property taxes.

“They’re already on the clock. There’s no additional cost to ride with a patient to the hospital. They’re already being paid,” Nelson said.

Fire Authority officials have said the ALS fee revenue covers only 60 percent of their costs for the paramedic service.

“It’s a very normal process” to collect the ALS fee, said Dave Kendig, the Fire Authority’s general counsel.

As the discussion winded down, one supervisor openly critiqued how a fee discussion emerged into a philosophical debate about how services are delivered.

“To me it was an overreach. We needed to solve the billing issue,” said Supervisor Pat Bates.

For his part, Spitzer criticized how the board keeps having “piecemeal discussions” instead of taking a broad look at issues.

And Nelson said the nature of fire service has changed dramatically in recent decades.

“In excess of 98 percent of the calls have nothing to do with putting out fires,” said Nelson.

As supervisors prepared to discuss the issue on Tuesday, a local resident publicly reminded them that past ambulance contracts in Orange County have been awarded to firms, such as Shoreline Corp., that were ranked lower in the bidding process.

Violations by Shoreline “endangered public safety,” said Westminster resident Darrell Nolta, adding that he questions “how this process is going to be truly conducted fairly.”

In Westminster, Shoreline Corp. was nearly disqualified because of inadequate disclosures.

The company lacked the required two new ambulances for the contract, failed to have a required radio system and misrepresented its ability to offer a computerized patient-monitoring system, according to a report.

Yet the Westminster City Council awarded their contract to Shoreline in 2012 over competitor Care Ambulance.

Even after Shoreline received the contract, it still failed to comply with the contract requirements to buy ambulances and radios.

Nolta also criticized Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s suggestion that the supervisors place themselves on the panel that reviews and ranks the bids.

The makeup of the panel wasn’t discussed by supervisors on Tuesday.

The draft request for proposals is expected to go to supervisors next Tuesday for comment and review.

Then final comments are set to be collected by the county Health Care Agency before the document is sent to the state Emergency Medical Services Authority for approval.

Nolta reminded supervisors that many people are keeping tabs on the bidding process, as evidenced by a letter from state officials.

“I’m watching, and I know from the letter other people are watching it,” he said.

You can contact Nick Gerda directly 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.

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Good Deals? — March 25, 2014

The OC Register’s editorial board supported what would be this morning’s unanimous Board vote for the Orange County Employees Association contract in the first piece below. When more than 90 percent of the County’s general fund (net county costs) budget revenues come from property taxes, that limits the growth in annual budgets by some 2 percent per year. And when the bulk of employee cost increases are due to higher employer contributions into the defined benefit pension plan, it does not leave room for pay raises. Consequently, trying to keep total compensation costs level over time is not an easy goal, but must be pursued for proper management of the overall budget.

The second piece below is from the Voice of OC. It’s not too often when a good number of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) directors want to chime in on a topic to sing its praises. One would have thought that they were all given short scripts to read. For me, I just couldn’t see what all of the adulation was about. Either I’m not catching the streetcar vision or the significant costs of ripping up streets to install rails is grating to this Certified Public Accountant. Public transit is heavily subsidized. So this fiscal hawk wants to keep capital costs to a minimum. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to stay consistent. I was an opponent of the proposed CenterLine project. I’m currently not amused with what I see as a nontransparent streetcar implementation plan in the city of Anaheim. And although this project does not go forward without assistance from Washington, D.C., I still see Federal funding as taxes coming out of someone’s earnings that must be respected. And with a Federal government that is running massive annual budget deficits, Federal funding only means an ever growing national debt. So, forgive me for my apprehension and fiscal skepticism.

Good-enough deal for O.C. employees

The Board of Supervisors today was set to approve a new contract with 12,000 workers represented by the Orange County Employees Association, a deal that took two years to reach.

The contract has been stalled over the issue of raises, which the supervisors said weren’t in the budget. OCEA-represented employees haven’t received an across-the-board raise in five years, although the county has significantly increased contributions to employees’ health insurance.

Employees are set to receive a 1.25 percent salary increase on top of a 1.25 percent one-time bonus. Some of the costs will be mitigated by “increasing employee health care costs, by reducing performance pay and other savings,” a Register story said.

In all, with those reductions and with a majority of the funding coming from state and federal revenue, the county’s net cost increase is projected to be $4.1 million over three years.

We would have preferred no additional general fund expenditures, and the cut in performance pay is another concern. Still, “Overall, I don’t think anyone is happy, so I guess that is good,” Supervisor John Moorlach told us.

That may be the best news emerging from the protracted stalemate: the evolution of a welcome atmosphere of compromise, which, hopefully, will continue with negotiations with other employee groups.

Cost Concerns Now Baggage for Santa Ana Streetcar Plan

By NICK GERDA

A major streetcar project in Santa Ana and Garden Grove got another seal of approval from local transportation officials Monday, amidst public questioning about its large – and growing – price tag.

Cost estimates for the streetcar are now pegged at a minimum of $238 million. By comparison, providing increased bus service along the same route – with traffic signal priority to buses – is projected to cost just $16 million.

At Monday’s Orange County Transportation Authority board meeting, Director John Moorlach wondered aloud what the advantages are of a streetcar system that costs well over $200 million versus an enhanced bus option.

“What makes it distinctively different from a bus? What am I getting that makes it unique?” asked Moorlach, who is also a county supervisor.

Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who has been an outspoken advocate for the streetcar, replied that it would use some areas not currently available to buses – namely the abandoned Pacific Electric Railroad right of way.

However, it appears that buses could also use that area if it was paved.

Responding to the same question, Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos said the streetcar offered more certainty and predictability for riders.

Light rail is “very, very popular,” said Cavazos.

He also pointed to the streetcars having priority at traffic signals as another advantage. However, rapid transit buses could also utilize such technology.

The project also drew scrutiny from OCTA Chairman Shawn Nelson, who questioned why the streetcar’s cost has grown from roughly $23 million per mile in each direction to $29 million.

While not directly addressing how that cost rose, agency staff replied that the project still falls slightly below the midpoint cost for other light rail systems.

Most transportation board members, meanwhile, support the streetcar project and are eager to get construction underway.

Director Lori Donchak, who is also a San Clemente councilwoman, described it as an “incredibly well-managed project.”

“I think it’s gonna be a great starter project,” added Director Greg Winterbottom, a past political aide to former county Supervisor Ralph Clark who has served as OCTA’s public member for the last 20 years.

The streetcar line could be approved by the end of this year, officials said, with at least three years of construction before opening.

Its environmental approvals are coming up in the next few months, including a 45-day public comment period.

“We all have urgency. We all have enthusiasm,” Pulido said of the board, calling it “a very strong project.”

Pulido himself drew scrutiny from a county grand jury for secretly working to award the streetcar’s $5 million planning contract to a firm that gave thousands of dollars to his re-election campaign.

The company, Cordoba Corp., had been the lowest-ranked company for the job, and one of its subcontractors ended up running $488,000 over-budget.

It also later emerged that Cordoba hired a project manager who had served prison time for bribing public officials.

One end of the streetcar line would start at Santa Ana’s train station, then travel west roughly along Santa Ana Blvd. through downtown Santa Ana and the county’s Civic Center, before turning northwest and ending at the corner of Harbor and Garden Grove Blvd:

Several of the proposed route’s western stops appear to be in relatively low density areas, including the final stop in Garden Grove:

When planned with strong input from local community members, new public transit lines can be part of a strategy to create walkable communities that advocates say boost economic development and improve residents’ health, among other benefits.

The approach is often known as transit-oriented development.

In Phoenix, for example – where Cavazos was the city manager before coming to Santa Ana – a new light rail system was guided by a community-based planning effort known as ReInvent PHX.

That effort encouraged local residents and business owners to be actively involved in shaping how the streetcar stops and surrounding areas were planned and developed:

The thinking is to bring together various stakeholders to plan and create more appealing places around transit for people to shop, eat, live and hang out:

In Santa Ana and Garden Grove’s case, it’s unclear if an extensive civic engagement effort has been undertaken as part of the transit planning. The issue wasn’t addressed during the board’s discussion on Monday.

Public transit now appears to be making a comeback across the nation, with transit usage last year reaching its highest levels since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Recent studies also suggest that a growing number of young professionals are seeking to live near public transit.

The debate over transit investments also comes as traffic congestion continues to get worse on many local freeways and streets.

At the same time, funds for freeway projects are dwindling at the state and national levels.

The federal Highway Trust Fund is reportedly close to going bankrupt, with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx saying it could start “bouncing checks” this summer.

Federal law is also now mandating that traffic be sped up in congested carpool lanes.

And at the state level, Caltrans has been described by OCTA board member Todd Spitzer as being "way in the hole" on maintenance funding.

The state’s highway system needs about $8.2 billion in maintenance each year, according to Caltrans, yet only about $2 billion per year is expected to be available.

“The percentage of lane miles of highway pavement in a distressed condition, which is pavement with significant rutting, cracking, potholes, or other signs of deterioration, is projected to increase during the next 10 years,” the state agency wrote in a report last year.

As OCTA officials confront those challenges, they’ve suggested putting toll lanes on freeways or requiring at least three occupants for a car to drive in the carpool lane.

Moorlach, meanwhile, has suggested ramping up bus service on freeways, though that idea hasn’t gained traction among his colleagues.

You can contact Nick Gerda directly 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 UPDATE — Nineteen Years — March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Nineteen years ago, today, I received a call from the Board of Supervisors to drop everything and attend the Board’s Special Friday morning meeting, as my appointment to the position of Treasurer-Tax Collector was on the agenda. I came with my wife and my youngest. The Board voted to appoint me and I was sworn in. I spent the weekend wrapping up my tax and accounting practice and started the following Monday at the County of Orange. Consequently, March 17th has a different significance for me. This means that this coming December 6th, another significant date in my life, will be the twentieth anniversary of the County’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. Time really does fly.

It was at age 19 that this Reformed Church in America attender became transformed. With a new purpose in life, I would find myself enjoying my working life in an accounting practice until 19 years later, when at the age of 38 I found myself running for Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector. Now, some 19 years later, I am winding down on my second (Treasurer) and third (Supervisor) careers. And, as many professional sports players say after a victory, “I want to thank the Lord for making this possible.” Who would have thought that the transformation after the first tri-semester would provide so many fun challenges and stimulating opportunities in the next two. Now I can contemplate on what the Lord may have in store for me in the next 19-year cycle. It seems appropriate that I should find a restaurant that serves a great corned beef and cabbage. But first, I’ll check out their inspection history at http://decadeonline.com/main.phtml?agency=och.

Today’s LA Times provides the piece below on the topic of restaurant ratings, it also appeared in yesterday’s Daily Pilot. I had a meeting with Mark Refowitz, the Director of the County’s Health Care Agency, this morning. The good news? Orange County has a similar incidence of foodborne illnesses as our neighboring counties. One report that I located shows outbreaks for the 58 counties ranging in a per capita from zero to 14.49, with Orange County at 0.60 and San Diego County at 0.64. The OC has good websites on the topic: http://www.ocfoodinfo.com/illness and http://www.ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/dcepi/epi/foodfaq. If you need more information on this topic, go to http://www.ocfoodinfo.com/overview and MOORLACH UPDATE — Restaurant Rating Redux — March 7, 2014. The next step is for the Health Care Agency and the Board of Supervisors to respond to the Grand Jury report. As you can see from the piece, it should be a topic that should provide some fun discussion.

Grand jury targets restaurant ratings

It recommends that Orange County consider replacing its current system with a color-coded means of letting diners know of any health violations.

By Jill Cowan

Posted unobtrusively low in the floor-to-ceiling front window of a trendy salad joint or fading in its plastic sleeve at the sushi place next door, the orange-ringed seal has for decades been a great equalizer of sorts among Orange County restaurants — theoretically useful, but often unnoticed.

Now, an Orange County Grand Jury report recommends that those orange rings be switched out in favor of a stoplight-style color code, reviving a long-simmering debate over the county’s restaurant health rating system.

While county leaders have periodically considered instituting a letter grade system like the one that’s been in place in Los Angeles County since 1998, discussions have fizzled out over concerns such as the estimated $500,000 cost of implementation and potential effects on local businesses.

The grand jury’s most recent report, released earlier this month, floats a color-coded system like ones in Sacramento and Alameda counties. The Orange County Board of Supervisors has about three months to officially respond.

Currently, Orange County residents choosing a place to eat can look for the small, nearly identical orange seals that read either "Pass," "Reinspection Due, Pass" or "Closed."

Under the system proposed in the grand jury report, a green sign would indicate that a restaurant passed inspection, a yellow sign would indicate that a restaurant passed conditionally and is due for a reinspection, while a red sign would denote that the restaurant was closed because of major, uncorrected health violations.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach concurred with the report’s findings.

"I think most of our restaurant owners and chains would easily get green decals," said Moorlach, who has supported similar efforts in the past. "If you have a yellow decal, it might affect your business … but it’s a helpful incentive to make sure our constituents are protected and getting the quality of food that they should expect."

The color code would also better align with Orange County’s current inspection protocols than letter grades, the report argues, and would cost less to implement as a result.

But others point out that Orange County is one of the few jurisdictions in Southern California without those blocky blue letters in restaurant windows, and a system too different from ones in surrounding areas might only confuse diners.

"This whole color thing is way too unique and it’s out of step with everybody else," Supervisor Todd Spitzer said earlier this week.

Spitzer, who helped implement the current system about 10 years ago, said he sees a letter grade system as the best option. However, with more diners turning to the Internet for guidance, he said it might not be the best use of county funds.

Already, diners can access restaurants’ most recent reports online, as they can for Los Angeles County, among other areas.

And Denise Fennessy, director of environmental health for the county, said a mobile app to access inspection results is in the works.

Angie Pappas, spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Assn., said evolving technology has made more information available to consumers.

Yelp, for example, has been working with local jurisdictions, including Los Angeles County, to post health letter grades on its restaurant pages.

So although the association typically advocates for a broad pass-fail system, she said, its priorities have shifted toward "making sure restaurants get a fair shake" and diners are presented with the most up-to-date information possible.

Jenny Ross, owner and executive chef of 118 Degrees, a vegan restaurant near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa that specializes in raw cooking, said Orange County residents in particular are "starting to ask more questions" about the way their food is prepared.

Offering more information, she said, "is how an industry evolves and becomes better."

Still, overly specific data about an inspection can be tough for the average eater to decipher, Pappas said, which means that there’s a place for some "analog" aspects of any inspection system.

On Friday afternoon, as a lunch crowd of young moms, local office workers and well-coiffed twenty-somethings meandered through the sun-drenched courtyard of the SoCo Collection, a hip shopping center in Costa Mesa, Ace Aldana, 44, paused after meeting a friend at the center’s upscale Seventh Tea Bar.

He said the absence of the blocky blue letters in Orange County’s restaurant windows had never really registered and added that a color-coded system seemed intuitive.

"We’re all familiar with those colors and what they symbolize," the Irvine-based attorney said, adding that a yellow placard might give him pause.

Karly Cable and Drew Mattocks, both 20-year-old Biola University students, said they consult Yelp before they go out, but if they happen to notice a rating placard when they get to a restaurant, it might affect their decision to eat there.

Cable, who sported a chambray shirt and sipped an iced coffee from nearby Portola Coffee, said the color coded system might gloss over subtleties.

"I feel like a ‘B’ is still pretty good," she said. "Whereas I feel like seeing a yellow, I’d be like, ‘Eh.’"

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 — Letting Go — March 12, 2014

Letting go has not been easy. But, it has been a big relief. Yesterday morning I attended the Toshiba Classic’s annual Breakfast with a Champion breakfast for the first time. I was the guest of Master of Ceremonies, Hank Adler, who e-mailed me later in the day and wrote "I thought you had color in your face for the first time this morning in months." To confirm that I do have some color in my face, just check out the reflection in the Daily Pilot photo of Colin Montgomerie below with the first of two stories on the announcement.

The second piece is from the Voice of OC. I had some fun with the close of filing, which occurs this evening. I have received several calls this morning on both the Assembly and the Auditor-Controller races. If I can’t find the necessary time to mount an aggressive campaign for Congress, then I won’t have the time for these two alternatives. Therefore, you won’t see me in the Registrar of Voters lobby this afternoon.

Starting next January, I will have plenty of time to pursue new alternatives. Thank you for your friendship, your support, and for your kind words of encouragement. I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I also hope to stay in communication, so expect an occasional e-mail.

With gratitude for your understanding.

John

Moorlach drops out of congressional race

District 2 supervisor says he found it hard to find time to do necessary fundraising to fight ‘negative mail on a weekly basis.’

By Jill Cowan

Champion Tour guest speaker Colin Montgomerie talks during Toshiba Classic’s annual Breakfast With A Champion on Tuesday at Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach. (Kevin Chang/ Daily Pilot) (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / March 11, 2014)

Saying he’d like to focus on finishing out his current job, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach is dropping his congressional campaign, he announced Monday night.

"I was moving forward, having fun, but my team would say, ‘How are you doing on fundraising?’" he said Tuesday morning. "The job I have is my top priority."

Moorlach, a Republican, first hinted at his candidacy in July after ruling out a run for governor against incumbent Jerry Brown. In January, he will be termed out of the Board of Supervisors, where he represents District 2, which includes Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

He announced he was running to replace retiring 45th District Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine) late last year.

State Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel), Republican Marine veteran and former commercial airline pilot Greg Raths of Mission Viejo and Democratic businessman Drew Leavens, who lives in Irvine, are left vying for the seat, according to the Orange County registrar of voters.

Moorlach, who lives in Costa Mesa, said in a statement emailed to supporters Monday evening that he still felt he was the best candidate for the spot and that polling showed he was leading the pack.

"But without satisfactory resources in the bank," he wrote, "I will find myself being hammered by negative mail on a weekly basis."

Tuesday, he added that it was tough to call friends "with five minutes to ask for money," rather than to catch up.

The longtime Costa Mesa resident gained political recognition in 1994 when he raised concerns about the vulnerability of Orange County’s investment pool during his campaign for county treasurer. The county declared bankruptcy later that year.

He was first elected to the board of supervisors in 2006.

Ultimately, he said, his bookish accountant’s nature won out over a life on the campaign trail.

"I’m more of a worker bee than a social bee," he said.

In the statement, he thanked those who had helped him over the past two decades at the county level.

"I will enjoy my final year as supervisor and then return to the private sector, grateful for the opportunity to have served this wonderful county and its 3 million residents," he wrote. "I’ve been blessed."

Moorlach Hinting at the Winding Down of His Public Life

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Photo by: Violeta Vaqueiro)

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Today could mark the official beginning of the end for John Moorlach as county supervisor.

Yet whether that nametag gets replaced with County Auditor/Controller or State Assemblyman won’t be known for certain today until the end of business, the filing deadline for candidates seeking anyone of three higher elected offices where an incumbent didn’t file for reelection.

If he doesn’t file for office, the man who was largely credited for predicting the 1994 Orange County bankruptcy will leave public life in less than a year.

“I let you know at five tomorrow,” said Moorlach during a Tuesday night interview.

Moorlach announced earlier this week that he was pulling out of his bid to represent the 45th Congressional District, saying he was having a tough time balancing fundraising and the responsibilities of being a county supervisor.

Given that most of Orange County’s GOP influence leaders, like the New Majority, were entirely behind Moorlach’s opponent, State Senator Mimi Walters, financing a traditional competing campaign didn’t’ seem feasible, Moorlach concluded.

Moorlach seemed a bit deflated late Tuesday, voicing interest in a return to private life after more than two decades in the public policy limelight.

However, he also left open a seemingly small door to public life.

“I’ve gotten several calls that I should jump into the 74th assembly race. I’ve been pushed by a few people to jump into the auditor race. But when I pulled out of the congressional race, I said its Congress or nothing,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach even hints that a guerrilla congressional campaign – a Tea Party-type, call-em-as-you-see-em effort against the party bosses – run through Facebook and free media, is possible.

Yet he doesn’t see it happening.

“My wife would have to wake up in the middle of the night and say do that,” Moorlach said of any last minute change of heart to run for the three elected seats that offer him a chance to continue life as an elected official.

“By five you’ll know,” Moorlach said, “but I’m not expecting to do anything crazy. I’m expecting to wind down.”

“What’s nice to know is that there’s lots of people who want to see me stay in office,” he said. “And that’s a nice affirmation.”

PAID FOR BY MOORLACH FOR CONGRESS

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Hold ‘em/Fold ‘em — March 11, 2014

When I served as the Chair of the Board of Supervisors in 2012, the year was billed as the Super Bowl of employee bargaining unit negotiations. The two major unions, the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) were up for renewal. The negotiations did not conclude in 2012. Nor did they conclude in 2013. It has taken more than two years to finally come to closure with these two units. The first piece below is from the OC Register and it is about the successful employee approval of a compromise deal with OCEA. To say that both sides held out is an understatement.

The County receives 92 percent of its net county costs budget from property taxes. The Great Recession was very unkind to this revenue source. And, the State of California has absconded with $73 million per year of our property taxes by classifying them as vehicle license fees (a move that also jeopardizes the very existence of four recently incorporated cities in Riverside County). The rub is that Governor Brown was successful in getting the Proposition 30 tax increases passed, plus grabbing some of Orange County’s revenues, with blessings from the courts, and now he can give state employees raises. With the OC having fewer resources and minimal growth in revenues, the Board has been holding to a stance of a zero increase in total compensation. The unions would like increases in wages, on top of the increases in pension contributions and medical insurance premium payments that the County has been incurring. With both sides holding fast to their positions, the negotiations went into impasse and a mediator proposed a deal that was a compromise for both OCEA and the County and subsequently accepted by OCEA and will be on the March 25th Board agenda for approval.

It is still premature to discuss the AOCDS contract, but I’ve provided the necessary color. Both sides are firmly holding to their positions in the face of difficult fiscal realities, but a compromise is being pursued. The Voice of OC covers their negotiations in the second article below.

I am reminded that Governor Gray Davis was a professional politician that would spend the entire morning making fund raising calls. In the afternoon he would get to his actual job. You know the rest of the story. He was able to fund his two gubernatorial campaigns, but he failed in the performance of his elected position (we’re still reeling from his signing bills permitting retroactive defined benefit pension plan formula enhancements). He became the second Governor in U.S. history to be recalled. Although I’ve enjoyed serving in elected positions for nearly two decades, I still don’t consider myself a professional politician. I do not constantly bother people for campaign contributions to build up and maintain a war chest. It’s not in my approach. I usually call or host an event when I really need some funding. So I started the campaign for Congress and found myself peeling time away from my elected position to make calls, but it was not enough and I was not succeeding as well as I should have in this endeavor. I could not ignore the duties to which I volunteered to serve in the role of Supervisor. It’s just not in my DNA. When you join a poker game, it’s nice to have a good stack of chips when you start. I didn’t gather enough and I made a self-assessment to disengage and, therefore, I plan to return to the private sector after the end of this year. I’m thankful to those who were so affirming of my efforts. The OC Register covers the news in the third piece below.

County workers agree to contract

Compromise includes 1.25% raise but increases health care costs.

Members of Orange County government’s largest employee union have voted to approve a contract that will cost the county about $22.2 million in increased salaries and benefits, Human Resources Director Steve Danley said Monday.

If the Board of Supervisors approves the contract later this month, employees will get $37.8 million in raises and bonuses between this month and June 2016. During that same time, they’ll give up $15.6 million in healthcare costs and will generate other savings for the county, Danley said.

While the new contract’s term would be through June 25, 2015, some of its provisions take effect after that date.

The deal brings an end to protracted negotiations and gives the employees their first across-the-board raise since the Great Recession. With the sheriff’s deputies facing a Friday deadline for their contract talks, it also sends a signal about the administration’s willingness to compromise.

“I know that not getting a pay raise is a formula for burn-out,” said Supervisor John Moorlach. “Maybe the compromise works for both sides, and we have to hope that the economy helps us out with real estate taxes.”

Employees will receive a 1.25 percent across-the-board raise and a 1.25 percent one-time bonus. On the other hand, the county won concessions by increasing employee healthcare costs, by reducing performance pay and other savings.

Only $4 million of the $22.2 million will be from the general fund. The remainder will come from state and federal revenue.

Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino said the deal was ratified by more than 75 percent of the association’s 12,000 rank-and-file workers.

“It’s a bridge agreement that allows us to get working collaboratively,” said Berardino.

In the meantime, Berardino wants to find additional healthcare savings through preventative medicine, and work on making the bureaucracy more efficient. He also wants to take “the influence of politics” out of compensation decisions.

CONTACT THE WRITER: mreicher

Sheriff’s Deputies Will Likely Receive Pay Raises

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

As county supervisors find themselves at or near settlement on contracts with most of the county’s unions — managers, attorneys and rank-and-file employees — they’re now left facing their most formidable challenge in the Super Bowl of labor talks.

Public safety.

To date, the all-Republican board has made no secret about its insistence that all county workers pay the full employee share of their pensions. But what is different this time is that when they say everybody, they also mean sheriff’s deputies.

“Their pension reimbursement to me is nonnegotiable. Everybody has to pay their portion of the pension,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson.

No county employee group has been given a salary raise to help with that obligation in recent times.

Expect that to change.

Given the political calendar — we’re just a few months away from the June primary — and that San Diego deputies got an 8-percent raise over four years have sources close to law enforcement negotiations indicating that deputies may be offered to a 4-percent salary raise to partially cover the new requirement they pick up the employee share of their pensions, estimated to average 16 percent of a deputy’s paycheck.

So where would county officials get the extra money to fund raises?

There are indications that cities contracting with the county could be asked to step up their contributions, especially since they don’t carry the county unfunded pension liability for each deputy working under contract.

“She has to anticipate and strategize for increases,” said Lt. Jeff Hallock, a spokesman for Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. “Some of those costs would potentially be passed on to contract cities.”

Sheriff’s deputy union leaders are busy reminding those pushing for a hard line on law enforcement that deputies can move to other agencies if Orange County pay and benefits fall behind.

“There is a cost associated with replacement,” said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, who noted that the cost includes training. “It’s about $180,000 per person. … That adds up substantially.”

Dominguez added that there are worries about OC deputies leaving for other agencies.

“It puts a lot of stress on the department, which costs a lot," he said. "That’s the concern we have, and I know the county has the same concern.”

While other unions have come to public blows with county supervisors during contract talks — most visibly seen in the public campaign “The Real Supervisors of Orange County” by the Orange County Employees Association — Dominguez said deputies are focused on quietly negotiating a deal that benefits both sides.

“We’re not knuckle-draggers, ‘give us all the money’ ” type of people, Dominguez said. “That’s not what we’re about.”

Yet he knows this year’s negotiations don’t offer any side much wiggle room.

“It is going to be a challenge. The last, best and final [offer] is a 13- to 15-percent pay cut, … so I don’t think for any of us a 13-percent pay raise is in our future. For us to suggest otherwise, wouldn’t be reasonable,” he said.

So what is reasonable?

“We’re going to have to continue to meet with the county and see if there’s something creative that can get us through this contract,” Dominguez said. “The board has a lot of choices to make, just like we do. There are a lot of tough decisions to make.”

Yet Nelson, who has led negotiations, said deputies’ 2001 pension enhancement has effectively broken the bank, not leaving much room to maneuver.

With county costs for an annual pension payment soaring beyond 60 percent of a deputy’s paycheck, Nelson said there are tough choices ahead.

Supervisor John Moorlach often points to the 60-percent figure, saying that it’s the best argument that employee groups should collectively work to lower their pension benefit.

Nelson balks at deputies describing the imposition of pension payments on them as a pay cut.

“When I pay it, I don’t get any credit. But when they do, it’s a pay cut,” Nelson said.

“They chose this pension,” Nelson said, disputing a claim by Dominguez that county officials asked deputies to take pension enhancements a decade ago because it was cheaper for the general fund to enhance pensions as opposed to wages.

Despite what actuarial estimates might have been a decade ago, today the reality is ugly.

“This pension is so expensive, Nelson said. "Even if you pay your full share, the employee share, they’re in shock at how much it costs. No kidding. Where have you guys been over the last eight years?”

Nelson adds that when the last Board of Supervisors negotiated with the deputies last time around in 2009, they scaled up deputy payments to their pension in too feeble a fashion.

So while the county’s unfunded pension liability soared beyond the $5-billion mark, deputies’ pension payments were too little. Today, the Board of Supervisors wants them to go from paying about 6 percent to 16 percent.

“They’ve all gotten huge raises. Huge raises. They just demanded it go into the pension jar,” Nelson said.

Yet Nelson admits changing now is a big disruption for deputies. “The hit is big, there’s no denying that.”

Nelson even opened the door to the discussion of raises for the rank and file, saying even a best case scenario means a pay cut for them.

“If they got 4-percent pay increase, it’s actually a pay cut,” Nelson said.

Despite sentiments among deputies that the Board of Supervisors doesn’t appreciate their service, Nelson indicates there isn’t much wiggle room on the budget.

“I’m not looking to screw anybody. It’s not my fault the county budget is flat,” Nelson said.

Please contact Norberto Santana Jr. directly at nsantana and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/norbertosanana.

Moorlach drops bid for Congressional seat

BY DAVID HOOD

WASHINGTON BUREAU

John ‍Moor‍‍lach, the Orange County supervisor who entered the congressional race to replace retiring Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine, said Monday he’s exiting the race.

Moorlach, a Republican, said in an interview that the internal pressure of the campaign was too much for him to handle with his current duties as county supervisor.

“I felt I could not back off from the duties at the office,” he said. “I looked at my fundraising numbers and thought, ‘I’m not achieving my goals.’ … Being a candidate is 24/7,” he said, reflecting on the short-lived campaign.

Moorlach received almost $50,000 in the fourth quarter of 2013 and had more than $36,000 cash on hand going into 2014, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports. He said he has not thought about what he was going to do with the remaining funds and if he was going to run again in two years when the next election cycle comes around.

But he said that he was going to give $2,000 to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Turlock, because McClintock was scheduled to travel to Orange County to help ‍Moorlach fundraise.

Where there were four in the race for the open Orange County district that spans Anaheim Hills to Rancho Santa Margarita and Trabuco Canyon, there are now three: Republicans State Sen. Mimi Walters, a front-runner in fundraising and endorsements from House Republicans; and retired Marine Corps Col. Greg Raths.

On the Democratic side is Drew Leavens, owner of a company that provides teaching materials for mental health professionals.

Moorlach said he was going to take some time to breathe after the grueling pace of the campaign and then work out what the next steps would be in terms of endorsements and disbursements of the remaining campaign funds.

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Posted in California