MOORLACH UPDATE — Discovery Cube — September 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watchdog: Vector museum gets thumbs up

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

By TERI SFORZA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skeptics will be watching.

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

Contact the writer: tsforzaTwitter: @ocwatchdog

Vector Control by the numbers

$9.4 million: spent fiscal 2013

$11.4 million: revenue from tax and benefit assessments

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

– Vector Control audited financial statements, agenda reports

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Vector Control District — September 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

By TERI SFORZA / STAFF COLUMNIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REALLY?

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

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

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

But vector control staff had largely soured on the idea.

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

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

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

UM, REALLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the writer: tsforzaTwitter: @ocwatchdog

Vector money

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

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

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

Source: Vector Control audited financial statements, agenda reports

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

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

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

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Ethics Take Two — Septembr 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

Board of Supervisors rejects ethics oversight proposal again

Panel says grand jury referred to old corruption examples.

BOARD REJECTS ETHICS PROPOSAL

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

Supervisors Turn Down Independent Ethics Oversight

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

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

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

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

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

Supervisors disagreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Efforts to reach Nguyen late Tuesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

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

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

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

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

Residents Not Happy About Toll Lanes for 405

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

By Penny Arévalo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Webster Guillory — September 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

By Penny Arévalo (Patch Staff)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moorlach criticized the prosecution of Guillory.

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

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

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

–City News Service

Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory charged with false filing

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

BY SEAN EMERY and TONY SAAVEDRA / STAFF WRITERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guillory could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staff writer Martin Wisckol contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7939 or semery

Unnamed Medical Providers Sparks Debate at Supervisors Meeting

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s a blank check.”

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

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

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

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

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

Nelson replied with an example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Correct,” the health director replied.

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

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

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Continuing and Deleting — September 9, 2014

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

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

Supervisors Back Away From Pay Hike for Political Aides

By NICK GERDA Voice of OC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — No-Bid Contracts — September 5, 2014

One of the joys of having robust Internal Audit and Performance Audit Departments is that they tell the Board what has actually happened and provide recommendations to implement corrective actions to remediate control weaknesses. I may not always like the message, but I know that the County of Orange is not afraid to take a hard look at itself and to address the managerial processes. Recently, my office received an Internal Audit report about the approval of contracts by a manager in OC Parks. My office is reviewing the report and doing follow up analysis. I hope to have a thorough briefing with the County’s CEO, either in private or during a Board of Supervisors meeting, to determine the situation and the proposed corrective actions. The Voice of OC covers the topic in the article below. The topic is also covered in today’s OC Register, see Watchdog: Auditors critical of OC Parks contracts with ‘one-man vendor.’

BONUS: In last Friday’s UPDATE, I provided a BONUS discussion on West Nile virus (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Coyotes — August 29, 2014). Today’s OC Register has an article on the most recent efforts being pursued by the Orange County Vector Control District (OCVCD), see West Nile virus in O.C.: 3 deaths, at least 91 infected as county fights back. The headlines in the dead-tree version would lead you to believe that aerial spraying would be started next Tuesday. What will actually occur is a ground spraying effort. This technique is usually pursued in open space areas, like Banning Ranch, but for this occasion it will be utilized in an urban setting. Targeted neighborhoods have been selected. I sit on the OCVCD Board of Directors and I’ve been working closely with its General Manager and the Orange County Chief Health Care Officer to assure that an appropriate team effort is directed at this critical public health matter. In the meantime, follow the recommendations in last week’s UPDATE on avoiding mosquitos, mosquito-proofing your home, and ways to assist your community. The biggest tip is to empty any container on your property that has free-standing water. Have a great weekend!

Supes Ask County HR to Scrutinize Parks Dept. Execs

By NORBERTO SANTANA JR. Voice of OC

Orange County Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson has asked county human resources officials to outline potential discipline measures against top county officials involved in the issuance of nearly $1 million in no-bid contracts inside the county parks department.

“We are fair and we are consistent,” Nelson wrote in an Aug. 28 email to OC Human Resources Director Steve Danley following last week’s revelation by Voice of OC of a critical internal audit that focused on questionable contracts given to a friend of a former high-ranking executive in the department.

“It would be helpful to me and likely the rest of the board if you would please take the time to read the audit and make a recommendation as to whether or not any discipline is warranted per county policy and consistent with county practice,” Nelson wrote in the email obtained through the state’s public records act.

Most directly impacted could be OC Community Resources Director Steve Franks, sources indicate. The County’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Denny, who also authorized two of the questionable consulting contracts in his role as former director of OC Parks, is also drawing questions from county supervisors about his role in approving the contracts.

In his email, Nelson referenced concerns already being raised about the internal audit from the Orange County Employees Association.

“I am in receipt of an internal audit regarding OC Parks and a letter from OCEA dated August 27, 2014 demanding to know the outcome of any and all disciplinary actions taken,” Nelson wrote. “The OCEA letter cites of the Personnel and Salary Resolution specifically underlining the words “of all employees” suggesting they expect the county to administer discipline differently to these employees than to others who either have been or will be similarly situated.”

Nelson asked that after reviewing the matter, Danley memorialize that “if, in your opinion as the head of HR any discipline is warranted for any individual involved it would be equally helpful if you would outline as to each, what discipline is appropriate as well as any background as to why.”

In an interview this week, Nelson said “we’ll evaluate it once we get the response.”

However, Nelson’s already asking hard questions about why top officials still opted for questionable internal investigations given the county’s experience – and touted reforms – following the 2012 arrest of Carlos Bustamante – a former OC Public Works executive also cleared by questionable, conflict-ridden internal probes.

“If every department head and human resources person doesn’t know by now that you don’t appoint subordinates in any way shape or form to investigate superiors, you have to have to your head in the sand at this point,” Nelson said.

OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino took direct aim at supervisors arguing that the internal audit results raise questions about recent so-called reforms.

“After the Bustamante tragedy, the Board of Supervisors promised that all levels of county government would be held accountable and internal investigations would no longer take place," Berardindo said.

"We anxiously await the board’s actions and we’ll use their response as the standard against which our members’ discipline will be measured."

Nelson took issue with Berardino’s characterization, saying county culture has changed under his leadership as chairman.

“Three years ago, the internal report would be the end, not the beginning,” Nelson said.

County Supervisor John Moorlach is also asking hard questions about how all the parks contracts got approved. He’s mainly focused on what kinds of deliverables the county got for so much money. But so far, he’s scratching his head.

“I’m not amused by what we found,” Moorlach said.

While two top executives involved in the matter declined to be interviewed by auditors, Moorlach said district attorney officials had reviewed the matter and found no criminal wrongdoing.

“I’ve been told the DA has reviewed the matter and there is nothing of a criminal matter here,” Moorlach said.

However, Moorlach is openly wondering whether one quick fix supervisors may want to consider is getting a better sense of what kinds of no-bid contracts are being approved at the department level.

Moorlach notes that other agencies, such as the Orange County Transportation Agency and the county counsel’s office, offer board members such summaries.

“I don’t know if this is prevalent throughout all the departments,” Moorlach said.

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

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 — CRONEY Comedy — September 2, 2014

Neither the Orange County District Attorney or the Orange County Grand Jury has pursued one case in the last eight years conveying that an Orange County Supervisor cast a vote based on the contributions that he or she received from a vendor. Not one charge. Not one indictment. Not one admission. Not one conviction. There is no empirical evidence that any of the hundreds of contracts approved by a majority of the Board of Supervisors were done under a cloud of impropriety or as a blatant favor for a campaign donor or a vendor’s lobbyist. I’ve been told about an army of interns at the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) reviewing campaign finance reporting documents, which is all online due to an ordinance that my office drafted seven years ago and received Board approval, but not one example of “cronyism.” No one has built a compelling case for the need for an ethics commission. In fact, OCEA has just killed legislation that would have provided an effective subcontracting opportunity with the Fair Political Practices Commission, similar to a model utilized by San Bernardino County (after enduring years of ethically challenged elected officials). So much about being serious about addressing ethics in government. For history on this topic, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter, et al — July 16, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Minting New COIN — June 25, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Tackling to Reasserting — February 5, 2014.

We do have an overabundance of anecdotal evidence on the political power, influence and campaign contributions of public employee unions to elected officials that negotiate and approve salaries and benefits to government employees. The landscape is replete with the Vallejos, Stocktons, and Detroits of this nation that have had their budgets choked by cash flow deficiencies resulting from overpromising pension and retiree medical benefits. The obvious solution? Have these negotiations aired in public. For a history lesson on the implementation of Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN), see MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN — May 2, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN Discussion — May 19, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Maximus COIN — June 17, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN and VBM — June 23, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN Expiration Date? — July 14, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN Modifications — July 18, 2014.

It is nice that OCEA has provided its proposed ordinance, originally with the acronym CRONE, for Board member consideration. Better to provide something in writing than to constantly spew out rhetoric. All five of the Board members knew what they were correcting when they voted for COIN. It will be interesting to see if one of us will put CRONE or CRONEY on the agenda and explain what is being corrected by its implementation. As for me, I have been very clear with vendors and lobbyists who donated to my campaign: “Provide the lowest and most responsible bid, and you’ll have my vote.” It’s that simple.

It looks like COIN hit OCEA’s leadership exactly where it hurt the most. But, making a mockery of long overdue transparency in the negotiating process by contrasting it to something that is as open book as it can get, seems like a comic and desperate overreach. OCEA’s General Manager has recently announced his upcoming retirement plans. Maybe CRONEY is his final “scene” before he exits the stage and the OCEA’s membership selects his replacement (after a nationwide search, I’m sure). One would think that OCEA should be able to find someone who can do the job for half the cost of the current general manager’s annual compensation package.

Labor aims to flip COIN in its favor with new transparency initiative

Under union’s ‘CRONEY’ proposal, Orange County would make all private contract negotiations transparent.

By Teri Sforza

Is what’s good for the goose good for the gander?

Labor officials – so steamed that the County of Orange embraced the public baring of once-secret employee union negotiations that they’re striking back – say yes, oh yes.

And so meet CRONEY – Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency – a proposal being circulated here and in Sacramento by the Orange County Employees Association, which represents 18,000 county and city workers.

CRONEY would require Orange County to publicly detail its dances with the private companies it contracts with for billions of dollars worth of goods and services, much as the new (and labor-detested) Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance requires it to detail dances with worker unions.

“If your position is that you need that kind of ultra-transparency for labor contracts, then the extension is, you should do it for all your contracts,” said Nick Berardino, general manager of OCEA, whose dislike for COIN may not be overstated.

This irritates Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson, who points out that government contracts with private companies are already subject to a competitive bidding system, which exposes much of the process.

“This is sleight of hand, a false tiger,” Nelson said. “When we’re considering a contract, it appears on a public agenda. You see every staff report I see. If we tell staff to go negotiate something, they come back and put it in a report. I have to vote on it in public.

“We already do this. What he’s trying to do is punish us because we did something he didn’t want,” Nelson said.

Before one dismisses all this as political gamesmanship, consider this: The grand jury recently pointed out that Orange County grants contracts worth more than $3 billion to 3,400 outside vendors and said they’re handled in a rather haphazard fashion. The county should centralize the exercise with a contracting/purchasing czar, so there’s clear responsibility and accountability, the grand jury said.

FLIP A COIN

We’ve talked about how cloak-and-dagger contract negotiations between municipal governments and their workers have been: lots of closed-session, hush-hush, top-secret-type stuff, followed by the sudden appearance of a contract that comes to a swift city council or board vote and then is a done deal – before, critics charge, the public (and even some of the people voting on it) really understand what it promises, or what it will cost.

In 2012, Costa Mesa went where no government had gone before, approving an ordinance forcing employee contract negotiations out of the darkness and into the light. Costa Mesa trumpeted COIN as “an unprecedented piece of municipal legislation that would bring maximum transparency to city labor negotiations, which have been traditionally done outside of public view and with little chance for the public to review the contracts prior to their approval.” It was the brainchild of Councilman Steve Mensinger, and versions have been adopted in Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades and Fullerton.

So, Supervisor John Moorlach proposed the county’s COIN ordinance, modeled after Costa Mesa’s. It requires the reporting of all formal offers and formal counteroffers from closed sessions. The county auditor-controller will estimate the financial impacts of changes and compare them to costs in the current contract. Everything will be posted on the county website, available to all for comment and criticism. When both sides agree on a proposed contract, it too will be posted for all to see and digest before any votes are taken on it.

Labor folks – from deputy sheriffs to deputy district attorneys – called the proposal “criminal,” “an ambush,” “another knife in the back,” “a thinly veiled attempt to further politicize an overpoliticized process,” and threatened to sue. But the supervisors adopted it last month nonetheless.

Berardino made it clear in June that if supervisors want transparency, they need it across the board.

“The public is even more interested in how you’re getting money on contracts you vote for,” Berardino said in June, citing figures for information technology contracts, parking contracts and more. “The money is bundled through lobbyists and, more often than not, you approve those contracts for your political contributors. People want to know that, too … but you want to focus on the unions. We are mere paupers in terms of what you let out in terms of contracts. … You will never want to show how this money gets laundered into your pocket.”

CRONEY

So another little bit of friendly advice the grand jury had for the county: Get yourself an independent ethics commission, like the ones in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. (These things may not seem related, but stay with us here.)

Instead, supervisors devised a plan to have the distant Fair Political Practices Commission do the dirty work.

This plan was a two-headed dragon: The local ballot measure in November will ask voters to hand power to the FPPC, while a bill in the state Legislature would enable the commission to accept that power.

Last month, however, state lawmakers gutted that bill after the Orange County Employees Association opposed it.

“OCEA would consider removing its opposition if the bill were amended to include … language requiring that all contracts between the county and any and all private entities be negotiated in public,” says a letter from OCEA’s lobbyist to state legislators. “Transparency during the contracting process, along with the grand jury’s recommendations, will eliminate the ‘pay-to-play’ politics currently being practiced in Orange County.”

That language OCEA called CRONE. We at The Watchdog cop to pushing Berardino into adding the Y word at the end, given the context, after all; and thus, we have CRONEY.

It takes much language directly from COIN, calling for independent economic analysis of the cost of contracts, made available to the public, before anything is voted upon; requiring the reporting “of all offers, counteroffers, information and/or statements of position discussed by the private entity and county representatives”; and the release of “a list of names of all persons in attendance during any negotiation session regarding the contract (whether in person or by electronic means), the date of the session, the length of the session, the location where the session took place and any pertinent facts regarding the negotiations that occurred in that session.”

POSSIBLE?

Current public contracting requirements usually involve public “requests for proposals,” detailing exactly what’s desired by the government, followed by the public unsealing of bids from companies that want the work, followed by a public hashing out of who should get it.

Often it’s the lowest bidder, but not always, explains Supervisor ‍Moor‍‍lach. Governments often take what they consider the lowest responsible bid (implying that those who claim they can do it super cheaply may not be entirely grounded in reality).

And there are also processes that score bidders on many attributes in addition to price. Squabbles often erupt around the weight given to those various attributes, and who exactly is on the scoring panel, and supervisors hear from angry bidders on the losing end all the time.

Sometimes, the agencies do direct staff to negotiate with the bidders. But Chairman Nelson contends that the results of those sessions are ultimately reported back to the board, in public.

The last thing the workers should want, Nelson said, is to find their work on the board’s agenda in a lowbid competitive situation.

Berardino begs to differ. He wants supervisors to disclose who attempted to lobby them and when, who did the negotiating and what they said.

“Everyone seems concerned about that when it comes to labor, and I don’t disagree with that,” Berardino said. “But do that for everyone.”

CONTACT THE WRITER: tsforza

Twitter: @ocregister

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 CAMPAIGN UPDATE — 34th Senate District — August 31, 2014

Today’s OC Register clarifies a radio ad that former Assemblyman Jose Solorio is airing in his campaign against Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen in their race for the California 34th State Senate District seat. It revolves around a recent agenda item before the Board of Supervisors (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — ALS/CCW/CCP/AOT — March 5, 2014). Supervisor Nelson and I were not amused with a fee that the Orange County Fire Authority has been charging. We were in the minority in opposing its continuance and its lack of full disclosure.
First, Supervisor Nguyen has a habit of abstaining or voting against any fee increases, even when they are justified and appropriate. In this case, she did not vote for a new fee or a current fee increase.

Second, Jose Solorio was the only Orange County specific Assemblyman in June of 2011 to vote for SB 89. This act of treason alone makes him unworthy and unqualified to serve this County in any elected capacity in the future. To refresh your memory, the successful passage of the budget trailer bill SB 89 has cost the County $150 million and reduced its revenues by $73 million per year. For a refresher course, see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 701 — September 14, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Chair Nelson — January 9, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — VLFAA — April 6, 2012, MOORLACH UPDATE — R&T Code Sec. 97.70 — November 15, 2011, MOORLACH UPDATE — BOS Actions — September 14, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — September 3, 2011 (another Labor Day Weekend UPDATE).

It would appear that Jose Solorio just can’t seem to get much right, and his campaign is being called out for it.

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OC state Senate candidate attacks foe in commercial

A radio ad from Jose Solorio wrongly implies that Supervisor Janet Nguyen voted to increase a fee charged by paramedics.

BY MARTIN WISCKOL / STAFF WRITER

Former Assemblyman Jose Solorio, a Santa Ana Democrat, has rolled out a series of radio ads in his campaign against county Supervisor Janet Nguyen, a Garden Grove Republican, in the race to fill the open state Senate District 34 seat. “911,” which attacks Nguyen, is one of those ads.

Title: 911

Length: 30 seconds.

Script: “Supervisor Janet Nguyen used a loophole to get around Proposition 13’s property taxpayer protection. The Register reported on March 13 this year that Nguyen voted for ‘an additional fee of nearly $400’ on seniors and those who need ‘advance life support’ from paramedics.”

Analysis: In March, county supervisors set the terms for ambulance companies wanting to bid for the right to cover parts of the county served by the Orange County Fire Authority. The disputed issue that led to a 3-2 vote was how the ambulance companies would bill those they transported.

Previously, when a patient was in serious condition and needed “advanced life support” attention from paramedics, there was a surcharge of nearly $400 in addition to what was charged for routine ambulance transport. Both of those charges were billed by the ambulance company, which then forwarded the surcharge to the fire authority.

Two supervisors – Shawn Nelson and John Moorlach – opposed the surcharge and wanted to strip it from what the ambulance companies collected under the new contract being bid. Under the proposal by the two, the fire authority would still have the power to make the charge – it adds about $4.5 million to the department budget annually – but it would have to bill the patients directly if it wanted the money.

The board majority, including Nguyen, voted to have the new contract have all collections continue to be done by ambulance company, in part to avoid the bureaucracy of billing by two entities for one trip to the hospital.

The new contract does not add new charges.

Proposition 13 limits property tax hikes and requires two-thirds voter approval for most new taxes. But the type of “fee for services provided” that the fire authority is the beneficiary of is not uncommon. Other similar fees, which are imposed without voter approval, include civil marriage ceremony fees and fees for using public campgrounds.

Contact the writer: mwisckol

This e-mail has been sent from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Supervisorial Candidates — August 30, 2014

I hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend. It’s Labor Day Weekend, so the summer break from campaigns is over and the final push to November’s General Election is underway. This past week I had the honor of keynoting a fund raising event for Robert Ming. Robert is the real deal and has the attributes to make an outstanding County Supervisor. The Dana Point Times provides the perspectives of the top two candidates for the Fifth Supervisorial District in the first piece below. For fun, as this is the County’s Quasquicentennial, I have one small clarification. Orange County is the sixth most populous county in the nation, not the fifth (San Diego County edged the OC out a couple of years ago).

The Orange County Breeze provides a story on a legislative rarity in the second piece below. The State Legislature allowed a Republican’s bill to successfully move on to the Governor’s desk. Congratulations to Allan Mansoor for this very uncommon Sacramento successful effort.

Dana Point Times

Meet the Candidates: 5th District OC Board of Supervisors Hopefuls Speak Out

By Andrea Swayne

With Orange County Fifth District Supervisor Pat Bates terming out and making an unopposed run for the State Senate’s 36th District seat, Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett and Laguna Niguel Councilman Robert Ming are in the running to replace her.

Both Bartlett and Ming are terming out of their city council seats, having each served two consecutive four-year terms in their respective cities.

The county supervisor race is a top-two election format where, originally, four were in the running for the Fifth District seat. Ming and Bartlett won their spots on the November ballot by beating Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury and county Deputy District Attorney Joe Williams in the June 13 primary.

The Fifth District includes the cities of Dana Point, Irvine and Aliso Viejo, along with portions of San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, the Shady Canyon community in Irvine, as well as the unincorporated communities of Ladera Ranch, Coto de Caza, Las Flores and Wagon Wheel.

Each of the county’s five districts elects one board member to a four-year term.

In the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election, more on this race will be included in the Dana Point Times ongoing election coverage.

Following are the official candidate statements, unedited, followed by highlights and excerpts from the candidates’ appearance at the Aug. 22 community forum in Dana Point hosted by the Dana Point Civic Association.

Questions for the forum were submitted by the public in advance and the meeting was moderated by Jim Miller, Civic Association president. Miller posed 12 questions to the candidates. Ming’s and Bartlett’s answers to those questions and others will be featured in upcoming election coverage.

Lisa Bartlett

Lisa Bartlett

CANDIDATE STATEMENT FOR:

Lisa Bartlett
Mayor/Orange County Businesswoman

As a Mayor, Businesswoman, past Chairwoman of the Foothill Eastern SR-241 Toll Road and 25-year resident of Dana Point, I have decades of experience to provide residents with strong, effective leadership on issues that impact our quality of life.

I hold a Masters Degree in Business Administration and have extensive hands-on experience in executive management and operating my own business. As Mayor, I have consistently delivered lean, balanced budgets that include prudent cash reserves, minimal unfunded pension liability, no debt, and promote economic growth for our local economy to counter the failed policies of Sacramento and Washington.

Public safety is government’s number one job. That is why I worked with the Sheriff and other Mayors in creating the Contract Cities Group to reduce crime and increase law enforcement resources for our region.

As a regional transportation leader, I have the leadership and experience needed to provide solutions for improved mobility and traffic relief.

My years of private and public sector experience have prepared me to serve as your Supervisor and oversee America’s fifth largest county.

I am honored to have the endorsement of Congressman Darrell Issa and many of our respected local leaders. I respectfully ask for your vote.

www.LisaforSupervisor.com

Robert Ming

Robert Ming

CANDIDATE STATEMENT FOR:

Robert Ming
Orange County Businessman/Councilmember

Integrity. Fiscal Responsibility. Leadership. These are my guiding principles and what our elected officials should deliver. As Laguna Niguel mayor and councilmember, I’ve been committed to these principles.

Integrity is about being honorable and keeping promises. In Laguna Niguel, I promised to repave streets, maintain low crime rates, improve parks, and protect our environment. That’s what I did. As Supervisor, I’ll do the same, while bringing transparency and accountability to government.

Fiscal responsibility means making principled decisions while living within our means. I consistently voted to reduce regulations, not raise fees, or incur debt. We built our city hall on time, under budget, and paid cash, while keeping healthy reserves.

Leadership requires listening, creative problem solving, and, building consensus. That’s been my track record on regional boards and nonprofits. My 20 years of business experience will help government work smarter.

My endorsements include Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Supervisors Nelson and Moorlach, Congressman Rohrabacher, Senator Mimi Walters, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, California Republican Assembly and leaders from every South County city.

Married to Susie for 22 years with four children, I care deeply about their future. I’ll preserve our quality of life, for my children and yours.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

www.robertming.com

FORUM INTRODUCTIONS

Robert Ming spoke of his campaign as a great experience, getting to know all of the communities in the Fifth District by spending time with the public. He referred to the Dana Point Harbor as the “jewel of the county” and Dana Point as a wonderful part of it. The Harbor Revitalization Project, he said, is “a great opportunity in front of you” along with all the other progress that’s been made in Dana Point and said he’s looking forward to seeing how all of these projects can get done.

On the type of leader he would be, Ming made the following comments:

“I’ve always believed the way we should lead is to listen to local residents. That’s why I’ve been focused on making sure that local control is fought for and listened to, so as you are involved in this process—as you have for many years, 10, 20 maybe even 30 years for some of you—It’s important to keep in perspective the competing interests.

“It’s not only the boaters, because the boaters are very important, it’s not only the public, because the public is very important. It’s also the county in general because we all benefit from this great asset and I would love to see it continue to be taken care of, advanced and see progress made here.

“Three things my campaign is focused on are integrity, fiscal responsibility and leadership. Integrity means say what you mean and mean what you say, and do what you say you’re going to do. That’s what I believe every elected official should do.

“Fiscal responsibility—we run balanced budgets and in Laguna Niguel we have no debt.

“Leadership is finding solutions to problems and bringing people together so that we can move forward. And that’s what I intend to do.”

Lisa Bartlett said one of her main reasons for running for City Council was a desire to see some of the projects in Dana Point move forward.

She pointed to her land use background as a real estate broker being helpful in her first four years on council with getting master plans approved by the city, county and California Coastal Commission for the Town Center-Lantern District and Harbor projects.

Her second four years, she said, were spent working on the Doheny Village revitalization plan, for which a master plan is expected to be completed in the spring of 2015.

Bartlett said she is excited to see the Doheny Village plan move forward, as it will effectively tie the city’s three major land use areas together.

“That’s part of the legacy I would leave behind … to have some of these projects we’ve waited for, for so long, actually moving forward and to have been a part of that process,” Bartlett said. “As county supervisor I want to continue with that and make sure these projects continue to move forward.”

On the type of leader she would be, Bartlett added the following:

“I’ve always had an open door policy … I’m one of the very few elected officials who puts their cell phone number on their card … It’s great to hear from residents, community leaders and business leaders … In Dana Point we really listen to the community when projects come forth and at the county level I would continue to do the same.

“I’ve got a great track record for fiscal responsibility. Our city is well run, we have no debt, a balanced budget every year, cash reserves and in 2009 paid off our unfunded pension liability … I would carry that forth to the County of Orange.”

A QUESTION FROM THE FORUM

What are some of your top priority issues facing the County of Orange? Give at least three.

Bartlett said transportation and mobility issues are of major concern, as gridlock negatively affects quality of life.

Public safety is also of high priority, she said, adding that, “With the early release of prisoners coming into our communities, it is important to keep cities safe by crafting good policy decision on the Board of Supervisors.”

She also mentioned the importance of working toward a goal of finding ways to make county government work more effectively and collectively together for better delivery of services and more cost effective operation.

Ming highlighted the need to fix the current compensation structure for pensions, pointing out that, “If the county can’t operate on a budget, we are going to have a problem.”

Efficiency is also on his priorities list, an issue, he says, holds plenty of room for improvement.

Making a “huge push forward” for county projects such as revitalizing the Harbor and transportation projects, such as completing the La Pata extension, also top his list.

Orange County Breeze

Bill to require greater accountability at residential treatment facilities sent to governor

Allan Mansoor. Courtesy photo.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor’s (R- Costa Mesa) Assembly Bill 2374, alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation home measure passed out of the Legislature with unanimous bipartisan support. AB 2374 now heads to the Governor for his signature.

“There have been a lot of problems with how rehab homes operate and this bill is a first step towards increased accountability,” said Mansoor.

AB 2374 requires deaths that occur at licensed residential treatment facilities to be reported to the Department of Health Care Services in a timely manner; it also requires private organizations that register or certify substance abuse counselors to verify that an applicant has not had another registration or certification revoked.

Assemblyman Mansoor proudly represents Orange County’s 74th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, and large portions of Huntington Beach and Irvine.

The article above was released by Assemblyman Alan Mansoor, who is running for Second District Orange County Supervisor in the November general election. The Second District is currently represented by John Moorlach, who is termed out of office this year.

This UPDATE was sent from my personal account.

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Coyotes — August 29, 2014

Every city in my District has a module on its website to advise residents on how to properly deal with coyotes, except for La Palma and Stanton. The County of Orange has a page on dealing with coyotes at http://ocpetinfo.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=6082, but it is not easy to locate (another project to complete before the end of this year). I’ve also seen helpful signs in certain neighborhoods informing that one is in a coyote area. Here are some resources for you:

Buena Park: Link to California Department of Fish and Game – http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/coyote.html

Costa Mesa: http://www.costamesaca.gov/index.aspx?page=1485

Cypress: http://www.ci.cypress.ca.us/whats_news/coyotes.html

Fountain Valley: http://www.fountainvalley.org/residents/Coyotes.php

Huntington Beach: http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/residents/videos/hbtv3/coyote-meeting.cfm

Los Alamitos: http://cityoflosalamitos.org/?page_id=105

Newport Beach: http://www.newportbeachca.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=14777

Seal Beach: http://www.sealbeachca.gov/ServiceUpdates.aspx?id=1950

I’ve covered this topic previously in MOORLACH UPDATE — Coyotes — October 12, 2010, MOORLACH UPDATE — Wild Animals — August 5, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Predator Management — November 1, 2013.

BONUS: Although coyote sightings are disconcerting in neighborhoods with pets, the bigger concern that our office has been working on this week is mosquitoes and the transmission of West Nile virus. A Seal Beach woman died of West Nile virus this past week, making her the second this year in Orange County (the other fatality was a resident of Huntington Beach). So, for the Labor Day weekend, take the appropriate precautions. For advice provided by the Orange County Vector Control District, go to http://www.ocvcd.org/wnv3.php). For the latest on this topic and to assess your health risk, visit the OC Public Health website at http://ochealthinfo.com/phs/about/dcepi/epi/disease/wn.

Protect Yourself

  • Avoid Mosquito Bites
    1. Apply insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide), picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 (3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester) to exposed skin whenever you go outdoors. Be sure to follow the product directions for use.
    2. Wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors, whenever possible. Spray thin clothes with repellant to provide extra protection but do not spray repellants containing permethrin directly on the skin and do not spray DEET under the clothing.
    3. Avoid outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, which are peak mosquito biting times. If you must go outdoors in the evening and early morning, be sure to use repellant and protective clothing as described above.
  • Mosquito-Proof Your Home
  1. Drain standing water (which serve as mosquito breeding sites) around your home. This includes empty containers, flowerpots, bird baths, and pet dishes.
  2. Install or repair tight fitting screens on your windows and doors to keep the mosquitoes out.
  • Help Your Community
    1. Arrange or participate in neighborhood clean-up days to pick up empty containers, tires, and other standing water sources to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites in your community.
    2. Report dead birds (if they have been dead less than 24 hours) to Orange County Vector Control (714) 971-2421 or to the State of California 1-877-WNV-BIRD. Some birds may be tested for WNV infection. Dead birds may indicate that WNV is circulating in the area.

Let me wish you a relaxing and predator-free Labor Day weekend.

Coyote trapping petition launched

By Charles M. Kelly

A Seal Beach resident has launched an online petition drive to have the city trap coyotes.

As of mid-morning, Tuesday, Aug. 26, the drive had gathered 71 signatures at iPetitions.com. The goal: 5,000 signatures.

“I created the online petition for trapping the coyotes because I want the community to feel safe against coyote attacks,” said Nate Kranda.

“Coyotes in town barely react to the hazing techniques that the city claims will help deter them. Getting rid of these coyotes is a small price to pay for the safety of our community. We must act before something horrible happens,” Kranda said.

The petition calls on city officials to trap and sterilize or euthanize coyotes. California law does not allow the relocation of coyotes.

“I am aware of the iPetition and can tell you we are investigating all avenues to deter coyotes,” Patrick Gallegos, assistant city manager.

Mayor Ellery Deaton was aware of the strong emotions that coyote activity has triggered in the community. She said it was important to take, not a long-term view, but an “aerial” view of the problem. She said she has been looking at the UC Davis coyote study as well as Glendale’s coyote management plan.

Deaton said Glendale is the city that you hear so much about, because in 1981 a coyote killed a little girl there. Deaton said neighbors had been feeding coyotes over the objections of the child’s parents before the attack.

“The coyotes have certainly become a problem throughout Seal Beach. We are looking forward to having a town hall meeting with other cities who have and are experiencing the same problems so we can see what others are doing, what has worked and not worked and see what would best work for our residents here in Seal Beach,” Deaton said.

The mayor also said it was important to remove habitat that provides coyotes with shelter to protect their young. She said the Bay City Partners would be removing potential coyote habitat from the beachfront property that the BCP intend to develop as a housing project.

Ed Selich, project manager for the Bay City Partners, said they were scheduled to perform their semi-annual disking of the area inside the fence.

“We will have the equipment and a water truck there to keep the dust down. We hope that the turning over of the soil will not only remove the vegetation but will also remove any potential coyote habitat,” Selich said.

As for trapping coyotes, Assistant City Manager Gallegos said he expected to have estimates on the cost of trapping the animals sometime next week.

Deaton said public safety was the priority.

“As far as the budget is concerned, any decisions we make about coyotes will put the health, welfare and quality of life of our residents first,” Deaton said.

Asked if the city could afford to trap coyotes, Finance Director City Treasurer Victoria Beatley said: “If the Council were to direct that money be spent on/for coyote issues, we would have to reallocate funds from an area in the budget where funding may be available. This decision may or may not affect the surplus.”

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said all the coyote activity seemed to be occurring within the borders of Seal Beach.

“I stand ready to assist, but coyotes have become ubiquitous to this area of the County,” Moorlach said. “Just about every city in my District has a web page dealing with coyotes,” Moorlach said.

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Posted in California