MOORLACH UPDATE — Wisconsin Boy — October 20, 2014

Thirty-four years ago, the wedding present that my friend Chris Mueller gave me was a book, titled “Shadow of the Almighty,” by Elisabeth Elliot. Chris now serves as the Pastor of Faith Bible Church in Murrieta. And the movie, “End of the Spear,” which was released in 2005 provides the story of Elisabeth and Jim Elliot. I pulled the book from my library yesterday morning to accurately pass along a quote from Jim Elliot that has stuck with me these past three decades. It is provided in the opening of the book’s Prologue: “When Jim was a college student in 1949 he wrote these words: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’” This is a deep spiritual principle, but I also see a financial reality in it as well.

What if you purchased a retirement annuity, that was going to pay you a monthly benefit for life as your only source of income, but the purchase price was too low and the benefits would not meet the expected results. Would you take the monthly benefits until they ran out, taking the risk that you would outlive the income stream? Would you take the monthly benefits and wait for a receiver to notify you that the payments would be decreased, in order to match your life expectancy with the remaining principal? Or would you negotiate a lower monthly benefit now, in order to eliminate the financial disruption at a time in your later years when it would be very difficult to adjust to a reduction or elimination of the annuity payment? Sometimes life gives you a situation, like this one, where it might be better to give up what you cannot keep in order to receive something where the possibility of a reduction or loss is minimized or eliminated. This will be the decision that public employee unions will be facing. And it seems that it would be much better for union members to get in front of this fiscal dilemma now, than to have to face personal financial crises later in life. I believe this is the nugget from yesterday’s Watchdog piece in the OC Register below. For a more detailed discussion on the topic, see MOORLACH UPDATE — San Diego U-T — October 13, 2013.

BONUS: The big news for the Moorlach family is that our second grandchild, a healthy boy, was born on Saturday in the state of Wisconsin. He was born at 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 20 inches long. Mother and father are doing well and my daughter and new grandson left the hospital today (see below). Mrs. Moorlach will be flying out later in the week. And the discussion on his name has not concluded, so his name will be announced soon. Congratulations, Sarah, Joseph and Jordi!

BONUS: Many of you know that I’m a big World Series of Poker (WSOP) fan (see the final LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — Conditions of Children — October 24, 2013). I was pleasantly surprised last night while watching Part 8 of this year’s WSOP to see Orange County’s Peter Placey in the top 50. Peter is a long-time friend and, since I didn’t catch too many of the series’ parts in sequence, I fell out of my chair when I saw him. Now I’m going to have to watch the remaining episodes (and catch up on the past ones). Good luck, Peter! The County wisely blocks Poker sites, so the conclusion is still a secret to me (although you dodged a bullet last night – fun stuff!).

Cities could save pensions in bankruptcy

Stockton’s fiscal crisis could open the door at last to reducing costs.

By TERI SFORZA

Mother said that if you don’t ask for what you want, you’ll never get it.

We mention this because, even though rising public pension costs have helped drive cities into bankruptcy, none has ever asked the court to reduce those pension costs. Not even by one single penny.

Stiff those who bought the city’s bonds! Hike taxes on Joe Citizen! But don’t think about reducing pensions, because in California the pension promises made to public workers the day they were hired are considered eternal, immutable, unalterable. Even if the city can’t afford them.

Recently, however, the stone tablets on which all that was written shattered, changing the game for every public agency and Joe Citizen in California.

“California public employee retirement law … is simply invalid in the face of the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution,” declared the federal judge handling the city of Stockton’s bankruptcy case. “I’ve concluded the pension could be adjusted.”

Wow. Was Mother wrong?

Mind you, Stockton never asked to adjust pensions (it wants to pay pension bills in full and give bondholders just pennies on the dollar). And the gargantuan California Public Employees’ Retirement System – which has long (and some say arrogantly) argued that pension obligations are sacrosanct, even in federal court – says, “The real precedent … is that even if municipalities are allowed to impair pensions in the rare situation of bankruptcy, cities like Stockton can make the smart decision to protect the pension promises for their public employees.”

They could. But that doesn’t mean a bankruptcy judge will agree.

Judge Christopher Klein declined to rule on Stockton’s we’ll-pay-pensions-in-full-and-give-bondholders-just-a-penny-on-the-dollar-thank-you-very-much recovery plan, unsure if it’s, you know, fair.

Klein said he needed to think more about it and will take up Stockton’s recovery plan again next week. Every pension reformer and defender in California is essentially holding his breath in the meantime.

The judge may approve Stockton’s plan, or he may not. But with his declaration – and a similar one in Detroit’s bankruptcy last year – one might argue that every public agency in California has been handed a big stick that can hover over bargaining tables in employee union negotiations: How about maybe let’s agree to reductions here, voluntarily, and avoid the whole messy business?

“There is no question that decisions like Stockton have a chilling effect on employees and their representatives,” said Nick Berardino, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, which represents some 18,000 public workers at city and county governments.

“It’s like a wake-up call,” said Karol Denniston, a municipal bankruptcy expert and partner at Squire Patton Boggs in San Francisco. “Everybody should be looking at this and saying, ‘There’s a game changer under way, and we’re going to have to re-evaluate our positions.’ It would be a good time for everyone to exercise some common sense.”

So California cities apparently have this big stick. Will they use it? Will legislators find a way to stop them?

‘CREATIVE RESULTS’

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, dubbed “pension warrior” in this space, suspects that the real impact will be at the bargaining table. More and more groups will find it in their best interest to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned Orange County Employees Association.

In 2006, the county had racked up $1.4 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree medical benefits. The county negotiated with OCEA and other bargaining units, and they all embraced reductions that shrunk the liability by $1 billion, or 71 percent.

In 2009, the county and OCEA struck a groundbreaking agreement: Workers could choose to decrease their pension formulas going forward and opt into a 401(k)-type program. It would give workers more take-home pay and cost the county less. It was viewed as win-win but has been blocked by the Internal Revenue Service, which frowns upon formula changes.

The bigger picture, however, may be that such things can be negotiated, and the new hammer might help it all come to pass. “The Orange County Employees Association showed that working at the bargaining table can provide creative results,” Moorlach said.

OCEA’s Berardino is more circumspect. He’s not sure Klein’s conclusions will have much impact, “especially in light of the governor’s pension reforms last year and the recovering economy,” he told us. “I think our reformed retiree medical program will have the best chance to be accepted by other labor groups, but our defined benefit/contribution hybrid plan will find very little interest or support.”

Stockton, for its part, strongly argues that pension reductions would leave it decimated as workers flee to other agencies with better benefits. But that might not persuade the court.

“In Stockton, it sure looks like the city is going to be forced to cut the pensions, at least a little,” said David Skeel, a bankruptcy expert and corporate law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “It will be interesting to see what Stockton does, since the city clearly isn’t anxious to go down that road. But the judge has signaled that Stockton needs to, and I personally think he’s right.”

YANK THE HAMMER?

Last month, Moody’s Investors Service calculated that the 25 largest public pensions in the U.S. – including CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – face about $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities. They averaged “robust” returns on their investments despite the recession, but liabilities tripled in the same period.

If public agencies can give these obligations a haircut in bankruptcy court, yet another front may open up in the pension wars: State lawmakers could make it harder for cities to declare bankruptcy.

California lawmakers control this process, and they’ve already made it more cumbersome: After Vallejo, the Legislature required cities on the brink of fiscal insolvency to go through 90 days of arbitration with their creditors before filing in federal court.

Legislators could slam shut the door to bankruptcy court altogether. “I wouldn’t be very surprised to see a coalition of teachers, nurses, firefighters, law enforcement people, district attorneys – and the list goes on – all lobby to the Legislature to change the rules so that no municipality can bring a bankruptcy action,” state Treasurer Bill Lockyer said recently.

But what happens when a struggling city does not adjust pension obligations?

VALLEJO

After giddily boosting pay and benefits for workers – lifetime health coverage for employees and their families after one year of service, the 3-percent-at-50 formula allowing public safety folk to retire with potentially 90 percent of their salaries, etc. – tax revenues in the little city of Vallejo plummeted.

It filed for bankruptcy in 2008, shedding more than $30 million in debt, renegotiating worker contracts and reducing retiree health care obligations by some $100 million.

That wasn’t enough. Vallejo emerged from bankruptcy in 2011 and already is scrambling. The city failed to scale back retiree medical benefits for all bargaining units during the bankruptcy and didn’t even try to alter pension obligations.

Among the top costs, of course, are higher payments to CalPERS for retirement benefits.

Contact the writer: tsforza Twitter: @ocwatchdog

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Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — County-Wide Races & Measures — October 17, 2014

We received a Michelle Steel mailer at our home this week. Allow me to make an observation. To criticize a City Councilmember or Supervisor for raising fees is the biggest display of ignorance about these positions that one can make.

Let me give an example. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) runs the transit system in Orange County. State law dictates that the taxpayers of the County subsidize 80 percent of the costs of providing bus services, including the costs of purchasing the buses, fuel and maintenance, and the personnel costs required to drive them. The bus riders pay fares equal to 20 percent of the costs. The bus riders are getting a great deal.

If the costs of running the bus system rise, then the fares must also increase. Consequently, in order to meet the state requirements, the OCTA Board must vote for a fare increase.

This is just one example of many that I could provide. Government subsidizes many unique services. Many of them should be borne by the users, either partially or in total. Otherwise, we have an entitled citizenry and elected officials who do not know how to be fair to taxpayers. Consequently, when someone states that they have never voted for a fee increase they do not understand their job or the business math involved.

To not raise fees for specific and rarely used services is to put more of the subsidy on all of the taxpayers. This is not being taxpayer friendly. It is the opposite. To put it more succinctly, you can train a monkey to vote against fee increases. Leadership demands that elected officials do the homework and know when the fee increase is just and appropriate.

Going after someone for voting for fee increases, without the proper context, is about as juvenile as it can get in a campaign hit piece. It proves to me that Allan Mansoor’s opponent has no clue about the job she is running for and does not display that she has the skill sets and acumen to properly adjudicate the position. That is why I am comfortable in endorsing Allan Mansoor for my position. He has served as Mayor of a major city and gets what the job involves.

VOTERS GUIDE

Here are my County-related recommendations (all of the top-two candidates are registered Republicans, except for Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory, who is Declined-to-State; those in Bold are my endorsements, those in Italics are a good second choice):

ORANGE COUNTY-WIDE ELECTEDS

Assessor CLAUDE PARRISH
Assessor WEBSTER GUILLORY Yes
ORANGE COUNTY SUPERVISORS
Supervisor 2nd District ALLAN R. MANSOOR Rep
Supervisor 2nd District MICHELLE STEEL Rep
Supervisor 5th District ROBERT MING Rep
Supervisor 5th District LISA BARTLETT Rep
JUDGESHIPS
Superior Court Judge Office No. 14 KENNETH C. "KC" JONES Rep
Superior Court Judge Office No. 14 KEVIN HASKINS Rep

Note: I have worked with Webster Guillory for the past nineteen-plus years and believe that the residents of Orange County would be much better served with this experienced leader in the critical position of Assessor.

BALLOT MEASURES

MEASURE E – Authorize Ethics Commission to Enforce County Campaign Finance Rules

YES. I am not amused with the measure’s title. I see it as poor quality control by someone in the County, and it does not appear to be our County Counsel or Registrar of Voters (I’m still doing my personal investigation). However, I do believe that utilizing the Fair Political Practices Commission is a proper arrangement to pursue, as the alternatives have been a dismal disappointment . The County’s Grand Jury and/or District Attorney have been ineffective. And the Grand Jury’s recommendation for a $750,000 per year Ethics Commission is cost prohibitive and unrealistic.

MEASURE G – Prohibit Supervisor Election Loser from Taking Office as Supervisor

YES. This charter amendment corrects the original poorly written County Charter approved with Measure V (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Questioning Outsourcing — July 23, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Helping Homeless — February 21, 2012 – LOOK BACKS).

The Daily Pilot has an editorial submission by Allan Mansoor and it is provided below.

Commentary: We don’t need partisan rhetoric or people feigning dedication to O.C.

By Allan Mansoor

Former state Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel, husband of supervisorial candidate Michelle Steel, recently wrote a commentary for the Orange County Register about the California Republican Party titled, "Not your granddaddy’s California GOP."

In it he decried that we have "watched our voter registration numbers dwindle with the state’s changing demographics." That may be part of the problem, but it is certainly not the majority of the problem. I hear from people of all backgrounds, and they want leadership based on the issues, not on race or how someone looks.

A major reason we are losing people is because of the poor words chosen by some in our party. Shawn Steel, for example, spoke at a recent tea party meeting in support of four Asian candidates, one of whom is running against Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana). When talking about Solorio, he criticized him for being a vegetarian.

This type of rhetoric does not encourage people to become Republicans. It is not because of how we look that people choose a different party. Those words have absolutely nothing to do with the issues we face in Orange County, or in our country, and we don’t need to be associated with that.

Including more people from a variety of backgrounds and heritage is certainly a good thing. Both of my parents immigrated to this country and my wife’s mother came here from Vietnam. But should we be supporting people just because of how they look, or should we look at their position on the issues?

People have asked me why I am running for Orange County supervisor. I tell them because we need someone who is from Orange County, knows Orange County, and will represent them on the issues that are important to them. It is well known in Republican circles that my opponent moved here from Los Angeles County to run for supervisor so she can springboard to a congressional seat with U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s backing when he steps down. In short, all the wrong reasons to run.

I have the endorsement of Republicans like Supervisor John Moorlach and Democrats like Westminster Councilwoman Diana Carey because I have stood strong with them on the toll lane issue, and I recently had a rehabilitation-home-reform bill pass with bipartisan support. I co-authored a bill with state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) to allow hemp production in California.

Michelle Steel has expressed token, passive opposition to the toll lanes proposed for the 405 for political cover. I have been outspoken in the effort to keep Orange County Transportation Authority board members from caving in to Caltrans’ desire to use our Measure M funds to put in toll lanes. This is an ongoing battle that we can win, but it requires taking a stand for accountability to the taxpayers.

If the highly charged partisan rhetoric coming from the Republican establishment replaces discussion of the issues, then Orange County will be headed in the wrong direction for the next eight years. We need results-based, not politically based, leadership.

Do we really want Shawn Steel running our county and wielding power from behind the curtain? The hard-working people of Orange County deserve better.

Assemblyman ALLAN MANSOOR represents Orange County’s 74th Assembly District and is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ District 2 seat, currently held by John Moorlach.

This e-mail was sent from my personal account.

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Newport Beach City Council — October 16, 2014

For the length of the timeline. For the number of meetings. For the significant amount of research and legal analysis. For the sensitivity of the topic. For the impacts on the neighboring communities. For the turmoil that another proposed airport had on the politics of this County in the previous decade. And for the number of folks around the County that have been involved in the airport battles, it was astounding to me that I was half of the speakers at Tuesday’s Newport Beach City Council meeting, as mentioned in the Daily Pilot article below. The other speaker was opposed, and he was professional and polite. His facts may not have been accurate, but he was the only contrarian. I don’t know how to quantify a political victory, but to have such a major effort approved unanimously by both the Board of Supervisors and the City Council of Newport Beach without acrimony is unheard of. When I spend some time in the near future reflecting back on the many accomplishments during my eight years in office, the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement 15-Year Extension will be one of those to marvel about. It was great to participate in Tuesday evening’s historic occasion and to express my gratitude to many of the participants. I want to thank them, again, in this missive (see MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014). Now, let’s hope that the hearing at the U.S. District Court goes without a hitch. Then we can close this file and continue working on a few more initiatives before the end of this year.

QUASQUICENTENNIAL BONUS: Speaking of John Wayne Airport, Orange County students are invited to enter the 25th annual Student Art Contest. All Orange County public and private school students in grades kindergarten through 12 are encouraged to submit artwork inspired by this year’s theme: "OC125: Exploring Orange County’s Story." Entries should be submitted to the Orange County Department of Education, any Orange County Public Library Branch or participating city libraries, no later than 4 p.m., Wednesday, November 5, 2014.

Winning student artwork on display in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal (2013)

This year, the JWA Student Art Contest theme was selected to commemorate Orange County’s rich 125-year history. For inspiration, students are encouraged to visit JWA’s OC 125 Exhibition currently on display in the passenger walkway between Thomas F. Riley Terminal B and C or explore the OC 125 companion guide available at Jfrisch.

Newport approves A-frame signs for Corona del Mar

Signs would be allowed on sidewalks but not with balloons, flags or other additions meant to draw attention.

By Jill Cowan

They’re about hip height, they’ll tell you the daily specials and until Tuesday evening, if you saw them loitering on the sidewalk in Newport Beach, they’d have been considered scofflaws.

But at this week’s Newport Beach City Council meeting, members of the panel voted to make A-frame signs — those street-level mini-billboards so ubiquitous in most cities — legal for certain businesses in town.

The catch? The ordinance lifting a citywide ban on the signs applies only to commercial areas in Corona del Mar. That means that Balboa Peninsula bar owners hoping to draw in a few extra patrons with a quippy sign, or Lido Village vendors planning to advertise deals will be out of luck.

That’s just for now, though: Councilman Mike Henn asked for staff to bring forward a proposal that would let Balboa Village business owners test out A-frame signs for a year, per discussions with the Balboa Village Merchants Assn.

Provided the ordinance passes its second reading, merchants will be allowed to post A-frame signs within 10 feet of the "primary entrance" of their businesses, so long as they’re at least three feet from any other portable signs and they don’t block doorways necessary for people to enter or exit a building.

One sign will be allowed per business tenant space, and they can’t be more than 48 inches tall, or larger 10 square feet in size. Finally, they can’t have any "attention-attracting devices" attached to them, such as balloons or flags.

The vote to move forward with the rule change came after a planning commission debate on the matter, during which some commissioners dismissed the idea as a nuisance that could spark an "A-frame sign war," as Commission Chairman Larry Tucker put it in August.

But, with the support of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District’s backing, the idea passed out of the planning commission and was sent before the council, with the recommendation that the change apply to Corona del Mar only.

This week, the council voted 6-0 to approve, with Councilwoman Nancy Gardner recusing herself.

No members of the public spoke on the issue.

**

In other news, the council breathed a sigh of relief and congratulated one another as they came to what City Manager Dave Kiff called "the end of a long road," and gave an agreement that will extend John Wayne Airport’s noise and traffic limits its final approval.

Last month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved an extension to the 1985 legal settlement that allows John Wayne Airport to remain one of the nation’s most tightly regulated for noise in surrounding communities.

The agreement, which keeps the airport’s curfews in place until 2035, but allows for passenger caps to rise starting in 2021.

After a short recap of the years-long negotiation process among the settlement parties — which include the city, the county and community groups Stop Polluting Our Newport and the Airport Working Group — officials lauded the level of cooperation throughout.

"I was at the [Orange County Board of] Supervisors meeting," said Councilman Keith Curry. "It was a great celebration of consensus-building."

Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district encompasses the airport and Newport Beach, addressed the council and thanked various city staff members who have helped in negotiations.

"I"m really pleased with the outcome," he said. "It’s a balance for the community — the extension was a big ask [of the Federal Aviation Administration, which essentially had ultimate veto authority over the agreement."

Still, not everyone was pleased with the deal.

Longtime council critic Jim Mosher, the only member of the public to take the podium before the council’s unanimous vote to approve the agreement, called the settlement extension an act of "self-delusion."

The deal, he said, sets "arbitrary" passenger cap targets that residents will be stuck with for years to come.

With the council’s approval, the agreement will be filed with a U.S. District Court.

Corona del Mar Today Editor Amy Senk contributed to this report.

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

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Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Rossmoor CSD — October 12, 2014

November 4th is rapidly approaching. As the OC Register has invoked my name in their piece below, here are my recommendations for the Rossmoor Community Services District:

RICH BUTTERFIELD Rep
DAVE BURGESS Rep
MARK NITIKMAN Rep

Three of the four candidates are Republicans. The incumbent is a Democrat. I have not endorsed in this race. Italics means I’m comfortable with the candidate.

A community services district is the first step towards cityhood, which Rossmoor recently failed to do. But, Mark Nitikman was part of the effort and voted with his feet for incorporation by running for the proposed new city council and not rerunning for the RCSD, which proved his sincerity.

I am doubtful about the RCSD achieving latent powers from the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). Pursuing city-light will be hard for LAFCO to swallow. It would be fun to see individuals elected to the RCSD that won’t waste money on unnecessary and expensive accounting firms in an effort to justify the District’s rigidity. The RCSD is in need of visionaries and not defenders of the status quo. Being annexed into a neighboring city is the best course of action for this wonderful community to pursue.

For the residents of Rossmoor, it was an honor to serve as your Supervisor. I’m just sorry that you perceived my best intentions for your community as threatening (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Rossmoor — March 12, 2011. You missed the point, became overly defensive (wasting a lot of money and emotions unnecessarily) and that was unfortunate.

I hope to release more election recommendations in upcoming CAMPAIGN UPDATES.

ABOUT ROSSMOOR

Around the time Los Alamitos incorporated in 1960 with 1,750 residents, according to a County of Orange timeline, Ross Cortese built the unincorporated community of Rossmoor. The upscale community of 3,500 homes was the largest yet to be built in Orange County. Rossmoor uses Los Alamitos’ zip code though they are two different communities.

Cortese, who also built the retirement community of Leisure World in Seal Beach, was a pioneer in many ways, including how homes were marketed: He took out full-page newspaper ads, targeted upscale buyers and opened fully furnished model homes.

Since 2010, the idea of combining Los Alamitos, with its 11,000 residents, and the unincorporated Rossmoor, with its 10,000 residents, has created tension between the two. Some proponents, particularly Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, would like to see the two join Seal Beach as parts of one city.

5 things about Rossmoor’s election

BY KENDRA ABLAZA / STAFF WRITER

ROSSMOOR – In a 1.5-square-mile area of about 3,700 homes and more than 10,000 people wedged between Seal Beach and Los Alamitos, the unincorporated community of Rossmoor may be small, but it has a strong sense of identity.

Just as California voters are preparing for a variety of city, state and congressional races in next month’s election, Rossmoor has its own local political process that has been in the spotlight there.

Who governs the community of Rossmoor if it is an unincorporated community?

The Rossmoor Community Services District and the Rossmoor Homeowners Association has presidents and boards that function similar to a city’s mayor and council when it comes to properties and maintenance. However, many responsibilities that a city usually would take care of are provided by the county.

“We have the same abilities as a city,” said Rossmoor Community Services District President Michael Maynard. “What we don’t have is pension liabilities and sales tax.”

What is the difference between the Rossmoor Community Services District and the Rossmoor Homeowners Association?

The RCSD is a legal governmental agency formed in 1986 made up of elected officials to manage properties and facilities in the community. It covers maintenance and upkeep of community buildings, parks and trees. It also handles street sweeping, lighting and the community’s recreation activities.

The Rossmoor Homeowners Association is a nonprofit organization that formed in 1956 and is run by volunteers. The RHA has its own board of directors, but the board has no governmental authority.

How does election season work in Rossmoor?

As volunteers who serve without pay, board members of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association are elected through a mail-in ballot election each May.

For the RCSD, board members are elected for four-year terms at November general elections and are paid.

Come November, all sample ballots that are addressed to Rossmoor will include a voting option for the two RCSD board seats.

Who are this year’s candidates?

Since 2010, there have not been challengers to the seats available. This year, however, there are four candidates vying for two RCSD director positions: Dave Burgess, CPA and general contractor; Rich Butterfield, executive pastor; Bill Kahlert, RCSD board member who works in technology marketing; and Mark Nitikman, president of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association, a former president of the RCSD and a real estate attorney.

What are the key issues candidates want to address?

Candidates weighed in on the race at a recent forum.

Burgess: “There’s not much attendance from Rossmoor citizens. We have to understand the demographics of residents and their needs, actually determine them and reach out. We should encourage feedback, get polls, rely on residents in Rossmoor who have trades and professions and know how to help the community.”

Butterfield: “I would like to place some goals to have good, open communication with residents of Rossmoor and our new Orange County supervisor. I’d like to have continued support for the position of Rossmoor in regards to the (I-405) toll lanes. I want to have better support, and be proactive on LAFCO (Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission) to gain more control for issues like coyotes.”

Kahlert: “We’ve had balanced budgets even when the economy was really bad. We’ve created rainy-day reserve funds, rehabilitated the Rush Park playground and have been designated a tree city for the past three years. We’ve had an independent audit that has proven we’re not a drain to the county on our taxes. We instituted a paperless agenda system for the board. We supported paying down the Rush Park bond debt.”

Nitikman: “I have familiarity with issues coming before the RCSD board (because of my profession). It is an exciting time for the RCSD with another shot at latent powers to try to get control of some issues, such as traffic, safety and coyotes.”

Contact the writer: kablaza

This UPDATE was sent from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Political Stunts — October 11, 2014

During the last three days, I elected to drive to the annual California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Executive Committee retreat. This year the day-and-a-half of meetings was held in Monterey. Two years ago it was held in my District in Newport Beach. It seemed that driving the anticipated six hours was not much different than the time needed to catch one or two flights and rent a vehicle. Plus, I love driving in this state! On the way up California 101 on Wednesday my wife and I took a break at the Camp Roberts Rest Area. There we had a chance to be photographed by a plaque for California State Historical Landmark Number 232, Mission San Antonio de Padua (see http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21441). The actual Mission is located nearly 30 miles away, on the Hunter-Ligget Military Reservation. Because access is limited, this Mission is in an 80-acre area that provides visitors a sense of what a Mission was like before civilization sprung up around it. To give you a feel, the second photo is provided. If you ever have the chance to visit the Mission San Antonio de Padua, I would highly recommend it. Plus, the drive on the Hunter-Ligget Base is another adventure in itself.

1.

For the past few years I have had the privilege of serving as Orange County’s representative on the CSAC Board of Directors. With 58 counties there are 58 members, plus officers on this Board. With term limits imposed on Orange County Supervisors, it is next to impossible for an Orange County Supervisor to move up the chairs as an officer. However, it is possible to be elected to the Executive Committee by the Board members from the urban counties. I was the first OC Supervisor to be elected to the Executive Committee in more than a decade and I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to serve in this capacity. I was encouraged to participate in the state organizations while serving as County Treasurer-Tax Collector. It is important for the larger counties to be involved and it has been fun to be the County’s voice on the Board and on the Executive Committee. The best part is the many friends that you get to make around the state.

On the way home, before leaving Monterey (where California Historical Landmark Number 1 is located), we drove to another military base to visit the Sloat Monument on the old Presidio (Fort Mervine) site (see http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sloat-monument). The monument was constructed in 1910 and its foundation stones appear to have been donated by various counties from around the state. Orange County’s is provided in the second photo below, with its founding year of 1889 clearly printed. Call this another Quasquicentennial moment.

While away on County business, the Voice of OC was busy. In reverse order, here are Friday’s and Wednesday’s pieces. The first piece concerns an e-mail blast to the Supervisors by Shirley Grindle (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Ethics Take Two — Septembr 17, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Thanksgiving! — November 27, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — February 7, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — What Price? — January 25, 2013, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Orange County Business Journal — January 22, 2013). Here’s what I wrote in my November 27, 2013 UPDATE LOOK BACKS:

In retrospect, it’s difficult to be optimistic about campaign oversight when those delivering this message do it in such a condescending manner. Instead of encouraging a beneficial solution, demands are imposed about what some believe should be done (and there is no room for deviation). Shirley Grindle means well, but has a prickly personality. Her devotion to monitoring every elected official’s campaign reports is a unique and telling behavior. But, it makes helping her accomplish her admirable goals a difficult slog. Regretfully, last year’s Grand Jury also fell into the same trap. Instead of stating that there are models that have been working in other jurisdictions and how they could be helpful for the County, the Grand Jury decided to call everyone corrupt and recommended an oversight panel in a very condescending manner. The County may have better oversight in the future if there are wiser messengers in the future.

The storyline of this ongoing saga doesn’t seem to change. Ms. Grindle’s anger and arrogance continue to make her goals difficult to achieve. So her e-mail blast seems like a political stunt during silly season.

Speaking of political stunts, the second piece covers Gov. Jerry Brown and the potential Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park, the site of another former military base (see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014). I believe the Daily Pilot’s piece on this event makes my case (see http://www.dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-1008-brown-great-park-20141007,0,6237355.story).

Tuesday’s event marked a rare appearance in Orange County for Brown, who used the chance to stump for the cemetery bill’s author, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Fullerton Democrat locked in a tight race to keep her seat.

"The [state] Finance Department opposed [the bill] because it costs money, and you know I don’t like to spend money," Brown said. "But Sharon over here twisted my arm, and I decided it was a darn good cause."

Democrats are battling to hang on to their supermajority in the Assembly. But Brown urged members of the audience to look beyond party lines and "look at the person, look at what they’re doing and look at our future."

This state is still in the worst fiscal condition that it has ever been in its entire 164-year history. It does not have money, so it has even stolen funds from Orange County (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 701 — September 14, 2013 as one example). To exploit our veterans with a feel good proposition that is remote in its actually being accomplished is a sad political stunt.

The third piece below is a follow up to Tuesday’s topic (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Tolerance — October 7, 2014). One wonders who really is trying to push a belief system (isn’t psychological projection an interesting phenomenon to observe?).

Campaign Finance Watchdog Angry Over Wording of Ethics Measure

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR. Voice of OC

Campaign finance watchdog Shirley Grindle is harshly criticizing Orange County supervisors for approving what she says is grossly misleading language for a November ballot measure on the enforcement of campaign finance rules.

The ballot measure, Measure E, asks voters to give the Board of Supervisors authority to seek a contractual relationship with the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for ongoing regulation of campaign finance laws in Orange County.

It is the result of widespread frustration over what many say is lax enforcement of local campaign finance laws by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The thinking is that the FPPC would offer more consistent regulation.

What has angered Grindle is that in the ballot language the county refers to the FPPC as the "Ethics Commission." This is galling to her because she and others — including the grand jury and the Orange County Employees Association — have long pushed for an independent local ethics commission to no avail.

“I just received my Sample Ballot and have been informed by the Registrar of Voters that the County Counsel prepared the statement which reads "Authorize Ethics Commission to Enforce Orange County Campaign Finance Rules,” Grindle wrote supervisors last week.

"Since when has the Fair Political Practices Commission been called an Ethics Commission? You should be ashamed of yourselves for resorting to such devious and misleading tactics."

Grindle continued: "Are you calling the Fair Political Practices Commission an "Ethics Commission" because you know that is what the voters want to hear? Or are you admitting an Ethics Commission is the way to go?"

Supervisors reacted strongly to Grindle’s accusations. County Supervisor John Moorlach called her “an angry person," while Supervisors’ Chairman Shawn Nelson characterized her attitude as dictatorial.

“The only thing Shirley accepts is Shirley’s way,” Nelson said. “When she ascends to the seat of local monarch she’ll get her way all the time. Until then she’ll have to suffer the inconvenience that sometimes people just honestly disagree.”

Meanwhile, OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino defended Grindle’s arguments.

"Measure E states that a commission which doesn’t even exist (California Ethics Commission) would perform the duties of a real ethics commission," Berardino said. "This intentionally misleading statement on the ballot demonstrates the exact reason two Grand Juries have tried to get the Board to form a real ethics commission. Voters must reject Measure E.”

Moorlach notes that supervisors never voted to use that language but only authorized that the ballot measure be prepared.

Indeed, supervisors on July 15 voted to direct the Registrar of Voters to place the FPPC enforcement ordinance on the Nov. 4 ballot and also directed County Counsel to prepare the ballot language and impartial analysis of the ordinance.

Under the county’s rules, neither are required to come back to supervisors for approval once a measure is cleared for placement on the ballot.

And that’s the way it should be, said Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Spitzer said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to have local politicians tinkering with ballot titles and designations.

County officials will not comment on whether any supervisors communicated with county counsel as the ballot language for the measure was being prepared.

However, there have been longstanding arguments throughout California because the state attorney general often comes up with ballot language, and many politicians do not like how the language often turns out.

As it turns out, it looks like the ballot vote will largely be ceremonial because OCEA spearheaded efforts in Sacramento to kill legislation that would have allowed the FPPC to handle such matters at the local level.

Spitzer said he would avoid an argument with Grindle and called her a friend but said he disagreed.

“I agree with her on the needs for an ethics commission. She believes that if this passes the pressure is off for an ethics commission. That’s where I respectfully disagree," Spitzer said. "The November election will give us a good read on the public’s demand for a new oversight commission.”

OC Vets Celebrate Cemetery Victory

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

Gov. Jerry Brown came to Orange County this week, joining Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, a host of Republican elected officials and labor leaders to celebrate the passage of Quirk-Silva’s legislation paving the way for a veterans’ cemetery at the Great Park in Irvine.

For many Orange County veterans standing in Tuesday’s heat near the airstrips of what used to be the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, the event was about stepping out of the shadows and pressing politicians to secure a final resting place for veterans where their families can mourn without having to travel to Riverside, San Diego or Los Angeles counties.

“If you sit back and don’t do anything, we watch nothing happen,” said Jim Torres, a Sr. Vice Commander with California-based Disabled American Veterans.

Torres said he and other veterans are tired of having to drive the widows of fallen soldiers all the way to distant counties. They deserve a place where they can spend time with the graves of the loved ones they lost, he said.

Orange County supervisors John Moorlach and Shawn Nelson have called Quirk-Silva’s efforts on behalf of the cemetery an election year stunt, saying there is no federal allocation to create a cemetery.

Quirk-Silva dismissed such criticism.

“Politics means to create action,” Quirk-Silva said at the event. “I’m proud of what we’ve created together.”

Many Republican elected officials on Tuesday agreed with the sentiment that despite the political overtones, Orange County has actually accomplished something real for veterans.

“This is a good example of a Republican council majority working with a Democratic legislature in Sacramento and a Democratic governor came together,” said Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway.

Irvine city council members voted unanimously in July to designate a 125-acre piece of city land adjacent to the Great Park for the cemetery. The Great Park and the proposed cemetery are next to the former El Toro Marine base.

Quirk-Silva, who chairs the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, said her proposal authorizes the state Veteran Affairs Department to work with the Orange County Board of Supervisors and city councils to build an Orange County veterans cemetery owned and operated by the state.

Santa Ana LULAC Council#147 President Zeke Hernandez commended Quirk-Silva “for answering the call to duty to author Assembly Bill 1453 and Governor Brown to sign his approval for the bill.”

“With this, a major part of Orange County’s Veterans Memorial Park Committee’s mission is completed, but the work continues for additional cemetery development and design funding, and committed ancillary services for veterans and their families,” said Hernandez, who serves as Vice Chairman of the OCVMPC, and is a Vietnam-era Army veteran, with two brothers who fought in Vietnam.

The biggest hurdle still facing efforts to create a veterans cemetery is securing federal funding, something that many – such as Moorlach and Nelson – have said will be extremely difficult to accomplish.

You can reach Norberto Santana Jr. at nsantana and follow him on Twitter: @NorbertoSantana.

Supervisors Respond to Vanguard Discrimination Complaint

By THY VO Voice of OC

Supervisors responded Tuesday to an internal complaint by a county employee which alleges a partnership with the evangelical Christian school Vanguard University is discriminatory and therefore a violation of a county policy, because of the school’s views on homosexuality and gay marriage.

The county has a deal with Vanguard and two other institutions, Brandman and National University, to provide county employees with reduced tuition in exchange for allowing the universities to advertise to employees in internal electronic communications.

Chris Prevatt, an LGBTQ activist and Health Care Agency employee who filed the complaint late September, says the county’s own nondiscrimination ordinance should prohibit it from partnering with Vanguard University, which rejects homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex, according to a policy on its website.

Supervisor John Moorlach said in a phone interview that, while he is waiting to hear from the county’s legal counsel, employees have three different institutions to choose from, and Vanguard is just one of them.

He also responded to a Voice of OC article about the complaint in a post titled "Tolerance," on a blog, Moorlach Update, where he regularly offers commentary on his media appearances.

"…when the LGBT community has achieved so much in recent history, it is disappointing that it appears that they are now shutting out a segment of our society," Moorlach wrote. "It is awkward to see a group that has been oppressed now becoming the oppressor. Especially when the one being oppressed preaches a doctrine of love."

Prevatt said that while he does not object to Vanguard’s religious affiliation, he does object to allowing the university advertise on internal county communications.

"Pushing people to convert to a particular belief system, or to deny one’s own sexual identity, does not demonstrate in my opinion anything other than religious bigotry," Prevatt said. "It’s fine for folks to believe in these things, but not for it to be promoted using government resources."

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the partnership with Vanguard would be concerning if there were not already two other schools offered to employees, although he said he would reserve his judgment until hearing from the county’s legal counsel.

"If, and I emphasize if, an institution were to engage in discriminatory practices then I don’t think it’s an appropriate opportunity for the county to offer," Spitzer said from the dais.

Supervisors previously approved deals with Brandman and National University earlier this year. The agreement with Vanguard was completed through staff action, after supervisors granted the Human Resources department the authority to do so.

Supervisor Patricia Bates declined to comment when approached at the dais, saying she had not been briefed on the issue. Chairman of the Board Shawn Nelson and Supervisor Janet Nguyen did not return calls for comment.

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Tolerance — October 7, 2014

No one wants to see any one segment of our society being treated unfairly. Our country has progressed to where this is not tolerated. Consequently, when the LGBT community has achieved so much in recent history, it is disappointing that it appears that they are now shutting out a segment of our society. That’s why I stated that diversity is a two-way street, which is the closing thought of the Voice of OC article below. It is awkward to see a group that has been oppressed now becoming the oppressor. Especially when the one being oppressed preaches a doctrine of love.

Are we now to be intolerant of Christian, Roman Catholic, Mormon and Muslim universities? In the smorgasbord of life, are we no longer permitted options that are available to those with various outlooks on life? The complaint filer is a board member of the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). How does that comport with the OCEA’s General Manager sitting on the Concordia University Public Policy Board of Directors (see http://www.cui.edu/centers-institutes/center-public-policy/index.aspx?id=22042). How can Nick Berardino not allow the discount provided by Vanguard (which it provides to the city of Costa Mesa’s employees), yet supports the activities of another fine Christian liberal arts university in Orange County? Is it because he is tolerant? Or that he promotes diversity? Or that he, too, exercises a love for all neighbors? Or is it an act? Or does he fail to see his own inconsistencies? This is interesting territory. County employees are free to choose whether or not to attend college classes, and where, and if they will accept a tuition discount. Let’s hope that tolerance and opportunity is a two-way street.

LGBTQ Advocates Call on County to Nix Partnership with Christian College

By THY VO Voice of OC

LGBTQ advocates are demanding that the Orange County board of supervisors nix a partnership with the evangelical Christian Vanguard University, arguing it violates the county’s nondiscrimination policy because of the university’s views on homosexuality and gay marriage.

Last month the county Human Resources department finalized a deal with Vanguard to offer county employees a 10 to 25% reduced tuition rate.

The school is affiliated with the Pentecostal Christian sect Assemblies of God, which rejects homosexuality, gay marriage and premarital sex. Students who engage in actions that violate community standards can be subject to discipline, according to a policy on the University’s website.

Contracting with a university that rejects homosexuality and students of other faiths is in violation of the county’s own non-discrimination policy, argues a complaint filed by Orange County Health Care Agency employee Chris Prevatt.

The county’s policy prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation and other protected classes, and requires the county to provide “equal opportunities in all aspects of employment,” for all employees.

Jeff LeTourneau, co-chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Orange County Democratic Party, said unless Vanguard were to amend its nondiscrimination policy, he considers the partnership “outrageous.”

“The principal is very clear — that anything that has to do with employee benefits has to be equally available under the EEO policy. And this benefit has conditions attached to it that makes it not equal for everyone to receive the same benefits,” LeTourneau said.

Deals with Brandman and National University for reduced tuition partnerships have come before supervisors several times this year.

Second district Supervisor John Moorlach delayed the approval of a recent deal with National University three times, citing concern over the lack of a vetting standard for the colleges’ academic and financial credibility.

This latest partnership with Vanguard didn’t come before Supervisors because they approved a policy in July giving the Human Resources department the authority to initiate the deals themselves.

That policy requires schools to have full regional accreditation and be a nonprofit organization in order to enter into a partnership with the county.

In exchange for a reduced tuition rate, schools can post program ads on internal county communications and hold information sessions for employees on County property at pre-arranged lunch events. They can also request use of the County’s name and logo with specific approval.

Prevatt, an openly gay man, wrote in his complaint that “the school’s statement of faith and behavioral standards “make it clear that this institution specifically promotes, advocates, and defends discrimination against individuals on the basis of religious faith and sexual orientation.”

Vanguard officials did not respond Monday to calls for comment.

All educational institutions that receive federal funding must be in compliance of Title IX, a section of the federal education code which prohibits discrimination based on race, class, sex, religion and other protected classes.

Religious institutions such as Vanguard, however, are granted exemptions that allow them to govern their schools — including who can enroll and what social and community standards students must follow — in accordance with their religious affiliation.

Christian colleges have attracted increasing controversy in recent years as students have gone to court over religious exemptions from gender nondiscrimination laws.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education granted George Fox University an exemption, rejecting a complaint filed by a transgender man who was refused from male student housing. In July, a California judged ruled that California Baptist University was within its rights to expel a transgender woman.

Another Christian school, Gordon College in Mass., attracted media focus when it petitioned President Barack Obama to exempt it from an order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The school was later dropped from a contract with the city of Salem to maintain its publicly owned Old Town Hall facility.

“Promoting such an organization, using county email resources and facilities, tells county employees that the County has no problem engaging in a partnership with an organization that practices and teaches to its students the principles of intolerance,” Prevatt wrote, arguing that employees can reasonably infer an affirmation of Vanguard’s position based on the partnership.

He argues that because all county contracts include a non-discrimination clause, it is illegal for the county to form a contractual relationship with any entity that can’t comply with its EEO policy.

State code also applies a nondiscrimination clause to all programs or activities that are conducted by state agencies or receive state funding.

In response to Prevatt’s complaint, HR manager Eduardo Monge said the reduced tuition partnerships do not constitute endorsement of any institution.

“It is up to each employee to evaluate whether a particular institution meets their educational needs,” Monge wrote.

County spokeswoman Jean Pasco said Monday that the program is voluntary and employees have the option of two other colleges if they cannot attend Vanguard.

“We aren’t forcing anybody to attend classes,” Pasco said.

When asked to comment on the partnership and a potential violation of the policy, Pasco declined to comment, writing in an email, “We’re going to let what’s on the webpage for the program speak for itself.”

The website states that the partnerships are not an endorsement of any particular views or institutions.

Moorlach said the partnership was initiated after the board of supervisors’ April 29 meeting where he presented Vanguard’s basketball team with an award. The school’s president suggested the partnership, Moorlach said, and he was not further involved in details of the contract.

He declined to comment on whether the Vanguard partnership could violate the nondiscrimination policy but said, “diversity goes both ways.”

LeTourneau disagreed.

“You also have to accept groups that are bigoted and that violate the state’s anti-discrimination language? It’s not a two-way street,” LeTourneau said. “That’s just silly.”

Please contact Thy Vo directly at thyanhvo

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — 2014 Bucket List — October 3, 2014

The Newport Beach Independent provides its perspective on the approval of the JWA settlement agreement extension in the first piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014). It is followed by a guest editorial on the subject in the Daily Pilot as the second piece below.

I established 21 goals to accomplish during the final year of my term. Here they are, with status updates.

  1. Extend the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement – Completed, pending U.S. District Court approval
  2. Adopt and implement Laura’s Law – Completed (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law Journey — August 11, 2014)
  3. Obtain an I.R.S. waiver to Rev. Rul. 2006-43 – Met with U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp last December; still no movement in U.S. House of Representatives or in the Treasury Department (Internal Revenue Service) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Wall Street Journal — December 7, 2013)
  4. Enjoy the OC’s Quasquicentennial — See below

5. Establish a Year-Round Homeless Shelter somewhere in the OC – Location in Santa Ana is under consideration (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy to Discuss — September 22, 2014)

  1. Complete OC’s portion of the California Coastal Trail Association – In process
  2. Complete the Edinger Storm Channel Improvement Project – In process
  3. Annex Colleen Island into Costa Mesa – Approved by Board of Supervisors (see http://ocgov.com/Web_Publisher/Agenda09_16_2014_files/images/A14-001085.HTM)
  4. Conclude the Sunset Beach utility undergrounding – Complete, except for a small number of cable TV access points that are awaiting a ruling by State regulatory agencies
  5. Annex Bolsa Chica and Harriett Wieder Regional Park into Huntington Beach – Under consideration by Huntington Beach City Council
  6. Create a Cell Phone Lot for JWA – In design phase
  7. Pave the Bristol Street slope at JWA – In process
  8. Annex Talbert Regional Park and Nature Reserve into Costa Mesa – On hold
  9. Build a staircase at the Santa Ana River Bridge adjacent to Fairview Park – Met with OC Public Works’ and OC Parks’ Directors this morning at the site for an update meeting
  10. Open up Victoria Lake to public – Under consideration
  11. Update bargaining policies – Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) – Completed (see MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN Modifications — July 18, 2014)
  12. Pursue legislation permitting an alternate OCERS board member for appointed members – Awaiting support from OCERS
  13. Begin process of building a golf course on the Coyote Canyon Landfill – Reviewing draft lease with city of Newport Beach
  14. Address the ownership of the Banning Strip with the Army Corps of Engineers – Discussed with OC Public Works’ and OC Parks’ Directors this morning
  15. Observe the 20th anniversary of the filing for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy – December 6th
  16. Establish a Charter Commission – Requested last month (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Ethics Take Two — Septembr 17, 2014)

BONUS: On the Quasquicentennial front, I’ve been including the modified County logo at the bottom of each UPDATE. Tomorrow, at the Irvine Regional Park, the Orange County Historical Societies will be hosting a 125th Anniversary celebration. I will be providing an Orange County State Historical Landmarks presentation at 10:30 a.m., with a little history on how Orange County became the second 53rd county in California (see http://ocparks.com/events/?ViewBy=7&CalDate=10/4/2014&EventDateID=187733). If you are able to enjoy a warm morning at one of the crown jewels of the OC Parks system, then please join us at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for this amazing opportunity.

OC Supervisors Approve Airport Agreement Amendment

A plane takes off from John Wayne Airport, flying over Newport Beach homes and the Upper Newport Bay.
— NB Indy File Photo by Lawrence Sherwin ©

Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the John Wayne Airport settlement agreement amendment.

The process was deliberative and collaborative, said Supervisor John Moorlach, whose district includes JWA and Newport Beach.

The goal was to strike a proper balance between the impacted residents around the airport and the air carriers that are using the airport that would be acceptable to the FAA,” Moorlach said.

He is pleased with the outcome, he noted.

The approved amendment will prohibit commercial planes from departing or arriving before 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. They are prohibited from departing after 10 p.m. or arriving after 11 p.m. all week.

The curfew will be extended through 2035, which is “critical,” Moorlach said.

The cap on annual passengers will stay at 10.8 million through 2020. That number will increase to 11.8 million in 2021 and then again in 2026 to either 12.2 or 12.5, depending on the actual number of passengers. These limits are good through 2030.

The number of daily passenger flights would also increase from 85 to 95, starting in 2021.

The vote extends and amends the current 1985 agreement, which was amended in 2003. It would have expired next year.

There were also a handful of public speakers, including Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill and City Councilman Keith Curry.

Hill thanked everyone involved, including Airport Working Group and Stop Polluting Our Newport.

He also pointed out several others in the audience who were there to support the agreement.

This was an important and far-reaching decision, Curry noted. There are many cities in the corridor that are affected, he added.

City watchdog Jim Mosher voiced some opposition to the amendment. He compared the expansion to Los Angeles and LAX.

“I don’t think we want that in Orange County,” he said,

This amendment makes some substantial increases over current operational levels, Mosher said.

Expansion of the airport is in no way beneficial for the residents who live under the flight path, he noted.

He suggested approving only a portion of the agreement.

Mosher also questioned the “secrecy” surrounding the process.

“This is litigation,” Moorlach responded, “so therefore it had to be done in confidentiality.”

The vote “was arguably the most important step in the process for the extension and amendment,” the city states in a community message sent out on Tuesday.

City Council will vote to finalize the agreement on Oct. 14, the city noted in the message. It will then head to U.S. District Court.

Commentary: Renewed airport pact is part of historic effort

By Leslie Daigle

An historic day to ensure that John Wayne Airport remains the most noise-restricted airport in the nation passed this week.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the draft environmental impact report, selected the proposed project and authorized the signing of documents. Three parties — the county, Airport Working Group and Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) — will sign stipulations.

I highlight for you that the noise curfew will remain in effect. John Wayne Airport will remain the most noise-restricted airport in the nation.

The city’s preferred project consists of the following:

• The FAA found the Amended Agreement consistent with the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA).

• Protection and extension of the noise-based curfew through 2035 — no commercial departures before 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday or before 8 a.m. Sundays, and no arrivals on any day after 11 p.m.

• Maintenance of the million annual passenger cap (the so-called MAP CAP) of 10.8 MAP through 2020, with an additional 1.0 MAP allowed in 2021-25. During 2026-30, an additional 0.7 MAP may be allowed if JWA’s use shows at least 11.21 MAP in any calendar year during 2021-2025. If the 11.21 MAP trigger is not reached, then only an additional 0.4 MAP would be authorized between 2026 and 2030.

• Maintenance of the cap on average daily departures of the Class A (loudest) commercial air carriers of 85 passenger flights, plus four cargo flights per day through 2020, with an additional 10 Class A passenger average daily departures allowed per year (for a total of 95 annually) starting in 2021.

Newport Beach is of the belief that this alternative best protects the city’s residents, recognizes the policy decisions that the Board of Supervisors must make, as it balances the competing interests of the residents who surround the airport and the airline industry, and takes into account the requirements of the federal Airport and Noise Capacity Act, as well as the operational restrictions at JWA.

Newport City Attorney Aaron Harp did an exceptional job managing the legal issues connected to the Amendment of the Settlement Agreement. City Manager Dave Kiff skillfully developed consensus among multiple parties and kept the multiyear process on track.

The commitment of the Airport Working Group and SPON on the airport issues cannot be overestimated or understated. Thank you, community members. Council members actively involved in the process were Mayor Rush Hill, Councilman Keith Curry and myself.

It was a lengthy negotiation process and the city appreciates the leadership of Supervisor John Moorlach and airport management to consider and integrate the concerns of multiple parties.

At the City Council meeting of Oct. 14, the City Council will consider the approval of the Stipulation Agreement.

It is hope that the final steps of this long journey to continue to protect our quality of life will end with certainty about our future.

LESLIE DAIGLE is a member of the Newport Beach City Council.

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

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Attachment A

PRINCIPAL TERMS OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT AND ALTERNATIVES

EVALUATED IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT

Principal

Restrictions

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

2030

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

2035

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

December 31, 2030

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JWA to see more planes, passengers

County approves increases in aircraft, travelers in six years.

BY KELLIE MEJDRICH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the writer: kmejdrich

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

By Jill Cowan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flight Curfew Extended at John Wayne Airport

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New passenger loading bridges could be built starting in 2020.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moorlach said yes. It was then approved unanimously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curry added the deal was a “great compromise.”

City News Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article above was released by John Wayne Airport.

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Sunshine? — September 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Assemblyman Allan Mansoor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Troubling Toll Lanes — September 23, 2104

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

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

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

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

By Harold Pierce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harold Pierce writes for Times Community News.

OCTA vote upholds no-toll widening for 405 Freeway

By Harold Pierce

This post has been corrected, as noted below

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–City News Service

OCTA members toil over I-405 toll lanes

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

BY NICK GERDA

VOICE OF OC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transportation Officials Battle Over Toll Lanes Proposal

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spitzer took another shot at Caltrans.

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

Chamberlain took exception to Spitzer’s claims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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