MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter at Depot — November 21, 2014

I’m just back from my last California State Association of Counties (CSAC) annual conference as your Second District Supervisor. This has been a wonderful association to participate in. I served on its Board, representing Orange County. And my statewide colleagues from the urban counties voted me onto the CSAC Executive Committee, where I served for some four years. In fact, I was the first Orange County Supervisor to serve on the Executive Committee in many years. I’m also completing my term as Chair/Vice Chair of the Urban County Caucus. Representing Orange County is a critical leadership role and it was a joy to participate in it.

The leadership of CSAC was kind enough to recognize my participation by honoring me with the Circle of Service Award (see http://ocgov.com/gov/bos/2), which was most humbling. This annual award was created to recognize a select group of county officials, department directors, staff, Corporate Affiliates and other CSAC members whose service to CSAC and counties sets them apart. County Supervisors that have been recognized in the recent past include Merita Callaway, Calaveras County (2013), Kathy Long, Ventura County (2013), Susan Adams, Marin County (2012), Susan Cash, Inyo County (2012), Rich Gordon, San Mateo County (2010), and Roger Dickinson, Sacramento County (2010). The last Orange County Supervisor to receive this recognition was the late Charles (Chuck) Smith (2001). It was an emotional week, as I thanked so many colleagues from around the state that had been such a joy to partner with over the past six or so years of my service in this role. All good things come to an end.

Now it is back to the rock pile. As you know, establishing a year-round homeless shelter was on my bucket list for this year (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2014 Bucket List — October 3, 2014). That effort took an odd turn this week, after lengthy and diligent efforts by First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen.

Tuesday morning’s Board meeting reminded me of why I ran for office in the first place. Twenty years ago, the Board of Supervisors, according to then-Chair Tom Riley, “didn’t know what in the hell Bob Citron was doing, but he made us all look good." Really? Tragically, the lack of scholarship and due diligence by those five Supervisors resulted in the County’s filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Regretfully, this lack of knowing what is being approved or voted on by elected bodies is not uncommon. Many fine citizens want to serve in public office, but don’t always do the necessary homework to fully appreciate what they are voting on. I’ve observed that too many individuals want to "be elected," but don’t want to "do elected." And this may be one of the reasons why voter turnout is at historical lows.

Just doing a little additional homework may have prevented another Board of Supervisors from approving the "3% @ 50" formula for public safety employees. And yet another Board from voting for "2.7% @ 55" for the general membership. This second vote in 2004 prompted my run for the Board of Supervisors in 2006. Both of these pension decisions will haunt the County more than the December 6, 1994 bankruptcy filing ever did.

Now the city of Santa Ana’s councilmembers join a large club of electeds who don’t do the necessary scholarship when casting a vote. Other than Councilwoman Michelle Martinez, the rest of the council voted for an SB 2 zone and their constituents were not properly noticed about it. And, the Santa Ana Unified School District Board failed to understand the gravity of the vote and approved it by default by not participating in the discussion.

The city of Santa Ana harmed the Board of Supervisors and the residents surrounding the SB 2 zone that included Normandy Place. All because the city staff and city council failed to provide some scholarship on what appeared to be a routine, ministerial agenda item. But, it shows once again how those who just want to be elected, versus actually doing the job of an elected, can harmfully impact the lives of so many. It’s a crying shame. And, yes, I am very upset and disappointed.

The good news? We’re looking at the empty bus depot 30 feet away from where the homeless set up their tents every evening. I hope that the County will aggressively pursue this obvious alternative–one that has been sitting under the noses of the city. I also hope that the County can move with haste to get something set up before the rainy season starts. That’s what a compassionate legislative body must do.

The Voice of OC covers the drama below.

LOOK BACKS

• 1996 – Elected as Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector (and would be re-elected in 1998 and 2002)

• 1996 – Orange County Exited Bankruptcy with Plan of Adjustment

• 1997 – GASB 31 – Local Government Investment Pools are now required to mark their portfolios to market (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Venezia & Me — November 15, 2014)

• 1998 – Settled with Merrill Lynch for ~ $400M (the largest municipal litigation settlement in U.S. history)

• 1999 – Began grading school bond measures

• 1999 – Senate Bill 400 – Establishing 3% @ 50 for CHPs, was signed by Gov. Gray Davis, and would start the next series of warnings from me

• 1999 – AB 323 (Baldwin) – Bill I requested that required Treasury Oversight Committee members to not work for financial institutions working with County Treasurers for one year, down from an overly restrictive three years

• 1999 – AB 343 (Bill Campbell) – Bill I requested that increased Commercial Paper allowable holdings from 30% to 40% (money market funds are allowed up to 100%)

• 1999 – SB 275 (Omnibus) – Provision I requested clarifying reporting requirements, borrowing definitions, and issuer limitation modifications

• 1999 – Derailed sale of the 91 Express Lanes (see LOOK BACKS in MOORLACH UPDATE — Daily Pilot — December 15, 2009, MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 14, 2009, MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 13, 2009, MOORLACH UPDATE — Harbor Patrol — December 12, 2009, LOOK BACKS, and MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 8, 2009 for a sampling)

• 2000 – Measure G – Tobacco Settlement Proceeds (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — November 7, 2010 for the election results)

• 2000 – AB 1679 (Committee on Local Government) – Provision I requested that allowed for a Medium Term Note definition upgrade

• 2000 – SB 1493 (Lewis) – Bill I requested that provided for the adoption of the accrual method for reporting investment returns

Supervisors Reject Latest Homeless Shelter Plan, Push for Bus Terminal Site

The now-closed Santa Ana Bus Depot across from the Orange County Civic Center. (Photo by: Adam Elmahrek)

By THY VO Voice of OC

Orange County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to drop plans to purchase an industrial building site for the construction of a year-round homeless shelter, instead calling on Santa Ana city officials to choose a shuttered bus terminal as the new site.

Tuesday’s boardroom audience was packed with an unprecedented number of working class families, business owners and school district officials opposing the shelter location at 1217 E. Normandy Place, who said the shelter would exacerbate existing neighborhood crime and put children at risk.

That outcry frustrated supervisors, who publicly scolded Santa Ana city council members for acquiescing to angry residents despite passing a zoning ordinance last year to allow the location in the first place.

“What a ridiculous scavenger hunt this has been,” said Board Chair Shawn Nelson.

Last August, the city council passed a zoning ordinance to comply with 2008 state legislation that requires cities and counties to make space available for a year-round shelter. The county then selected the Normandy Place site based on those city-approved zones.

Yet in October, under pressure from residents and school district officials, the city council passed a 45-day moratorium on the zoning ordinance and suggested revisiting the shuttered bus terminal across from the Hall of Administration.

Supervisors Tuesday pushed back against city officials.

Supervisor Janet Nguyen criticized Santa Ana officials for leading the county in circles.

“When I first got elected in 2007 the county wanted to build a multi-service center for all of Orange County at the Fruit Street property…and of course, the city council members, the mayor, everybody came into my office and said, Santa Ana doesn’t want to do that,” Nguyen said. “Then we talked about the Santa Ana bus terminal, and everyone marched into my office [again].”

“We did exactly what the city wanted and waited 5 or 6 years and here we are,” Nguyen said. “And now they’re talking about Santa Ana terminal.”

Nelson also asked county counsel to explore legal options against Santa Ana, given the “tremendous expense” of staff time for researching the zones and conducting appraisals of the property.

“This whole thing has been shameful, because [Supervisor] John Moorlach has been pushing for a shelter at the bus terminal for years. The only reason we didn’t do that was out of respect to our city colleagues,” Nelson said.

Although he ultimately voted with the Board in favor of using the bus terminal, Nelson said he didn’t think residents’ concerns about the Normandy Place property were valid.

“Anyone who wants to step in and say, ‘I’m for the homeless, but this is the wrong place’ — every location says that,” Nelson said. “We can’t perfect a homeless shelter. Santa Ana is the fourth densest city…every site in Santa Ana is has a school, has whatever crime rate it has.”

Dora Lopez, a Madison Park resident and one of the most outspoken activists against the Normandy Place site, said the decision was “a breath of fresh air” and a recognition by Supervisors that residents’ concerns were valid, not a knee-jerk, “not-in-my-backyard” reaction.

Lopez said the community group organized a rental bus and babysitting to transport scores of residents to Tuesday’s board meeting, many who don’t have means of transportation or didn’t know where the Hall of Administration is located.

“For this to have happened and for us to have impacted the decision — it’s such a win for any community with leaders who think they can make such a decision for us, [a decision] for life,” Lopez said.

Meanwhile, ‘Mamma’ Brizy Mae, a homeless woman who goes by her street name, underscored for supervisors the urgency of the situation going on right outside their meeting room.

“You never asked the homeless people. We’re human beings here. You have to treat us like you would your mother, your sister, your aunt,” she said. “We need a permanent shelter, not a temporary shelter. There’s people who have college degrees out there. Parents who don’t want to be a burden to their children.”

Reacting after the board meeting, city councilman Vincent Sarmiento said that supervisors were being somewhat disingenuous in their comments, pointing to Nelson’s efforts last year to push through a proposal for the county to buy a property in Fullerton for a year-round shelter before getting buy-in from residents.

“The Board listened to the constituents in Fullerton — they did the same thing,” Sarmiento said. “What I saw as a fatal flaw in this process is the Board didn’t engage these folks and do outreach.”

He also suggested that the Board explore dispersing homeless centers throughout the First District, in neighboring Garden Grove and Westminster.

At the council meeting later that night, councilman David Benavides said he was disappointed that supervisors voted to table the Normandy site.

“In reality I see this as a tremendous loss to our community,” Benavides said. “If we think this potential site is going to be tabled so we can go and look for another site, I think we’re being quite naïve.”

Massimo Marini, who helped found Civic Center Roundtable, said that residents who stood up and objected to the homeless shelter now have responsibility over the whole issue, not just stopping the shelter.

“You won. You’ve got your chance at responsibility,” Marini said.

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

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

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

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Venezia & Me — November 15, 2014

The Voice of OC’s new columnist was the focus of MOORLACH UPDATE — Post-Mortem — November 7, 2014 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Post-Mortem — November 7, 2014 and http://www.voiceofoc.org/community_editorial_board/article_4970cbdc-6697-11e4-aa28-2bc4d1cddda4.html). It generated a fun interview that resulted in the column below.

Barbara Venezia observed that I am in a reflective mood. This is true. After spending a third of my life engaged with the County of Orange, first as a candidate and then as an officer in two elected roles, Treasurer-Tax Collector and Supervisor, there is a lot to look back on. Chapman University Professor Fred Smoller recently invited me to speak to one of his classes and it gave me a chance to look back over the past twenty years. It was an opportunity to share that public service is an honorable, challenging and stimulating career choice. Using some of my notes from that presentation, I’d like to chronologically share the slide contents as a LOOK BACKS series in my final UPDATE issues between now and the conclusion of my term. It has been an incredible adventure, sometimes having the sense that I was in a movie. So, here goes:

LOOK BACKS

• 1994 – Ran for OC Treasurer-Tax Collector

• 1994 – Addressed “marking to market” (see BONUS Wall Street Journal article below)

1994 – Predicted the OC Chapter 9 Bankruptcy (filed on December 6, 1994) – “Leveraging public money makes me nervous,” says John Moorlach, a certified public accountant and financial planner from Costa Mesa, Calif., who is Mr. Citron’s first challenger for the nonpartisan job in many years. “When you win, you win big,” Mr. Moorlach says. “When you lose, you also can lose big.” WSJ, April 15, 1994 (see below)

• 1994 – California Sesquicentennial Foundation (appointed in December of 1994 for the Discovery of Gold to Statehood, 1848-1850, statewide commemoration efforts and served as Vice Chair)

• 1995 – Speaking Circuit – Started what would become twenty years of nearly solid bookings

• 1995 – Appointed Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector (on March 17, 1995) – Duties included:

• Managing cash equivalent portfolio of up to $6.5 billion

• Collecting annual property taxes of up to $4.3 billion

• Fiduciary on the Retirement System Board with an investment portfolio of up to $8 billion

• 1995 – Officer of Orange County – Involved in Debt Issuances ($6.9 B to date) starting with the Bankruptcy-related debt

• 1995 – Earned a Certificate In Public Finance from the University of Delaware

• 1995 – Big Bets Gone Bad – First of more than 30 books that have covered the topic of the bankruptcy and my efforts to warn County leadership

Venezias’ View: Moorlach & Me

By BARBARA VENEZIA Voice of OC

Supervisor John Moorlach never put out press releases during his term in office, rather he sends out what he calls “Moorlach Updates”.

Anytime he’s written about in the press, he sends one of these with a link to the column and his own take on the piece.

I don’t know how many peeps are on his email blast list, but I am, and more than a few times, these updates have included things I’ve written about him.

Needless to say we’ve had our good and bad days.

So when I got his blast on Nov. 7th I found it funny he commented on my new gig here at Voice of OC, saying he enjoyed my “acerbic, no-holds-barred writing style.”

And went on to write, “Sometimes Barbara and I agreed, sometimes we sparred, but we always did our best to maintain a healthy professional relationship. Thank you, Barbara, for being a documenter of history in the Newport-Mesa area. You were very productive.”

That was a nice compliment, but what really shocked me was all the links he included, about 40, to articles Id’ written about him- and he hinted there were more.

Now in my biz, politicians are pretty much low hanging fruit- but had I really picked at his tree that much?

Guess so.

Moorlach never shied away from the press or my tough questions, so I figured I’d call him this week. Seems only fitting I’d write one last column as he closes this chapter.

My relationship with him is complicated.

We met when I was serving as chair for the Project Advisory Committee of the Santa Ana Hts Redevelopment agency.

Frustrated dealing with outgoing Supervisor Jim Silva, I reached out to then candidate Moorlach.

He was eager to understand redevelopment issues, projects and stumbling blocks I’d encountered. I will say once he took office, he got projects underway.

I liked him then and I still do, though we’ve had to sometimes agree to disagree when it comes to his politics.

As expected, these days he’s in a reflective mood.

“I’m sprinting to the end and there is still l plenty to do. It’s an 80 hour a week commitment,” he said of his last days as a county supervisor.

In addition to packing his office, he likens this time to that of running the last lap of a race, and looking forward to raising his hands as he hits the finish line.

As he exits, he’s starting to get offers from non-profits, colleges, and CPA firms, though he’s made no decision on what road he’ll go down next.

I asked if the job of supervisor was what he’d thought it would be, and how he’s changed.

“It’s just a big job”, he said,” and I’ve gotten to know myself a little more.”

As an accountant he’s an analytical personality. As a CPA he was used to getting things to done and put to bed.

“I took that here. I found myself willing to take on big projects. Some of them were controversial and some of my counterparts were interested in being non- controversial,’ he said.

Moorlach’s had a long history with the county government.

He’s largely credited with predicting the 1994 bankruptcy, which is now coming on its 20th anniversary.

In every job there are wins and regrets.

What are Moorlach’s?

He lists helping to engineer the structure of the early pre-payment to the pension system while still Treasurer-Tax Collector – which he says continues to save the county about $20 million a year in savings- in his win column.

And before he was sworn in as Supervisor, he worked on a committee with Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino, to reduce the county’s retiree medical unfunded liability, which he estimates reduced the county’s liability by a billion dollars – another win.

Though Moorlach says he doesn’t have a lot of regrets, there’s one still on his mind.

“That we did not prevail in litigation to unwind the retroactive pension benefits. We were told from the get go that judges may not help you even if you are right,” He says.

The fact that judges get pensions from the state would make this a rough road and he knew it.

“For the Supreme Court to not even take the case, that was a disappointment. That’s where we expected the scholarship to be,” he says.

Moorlach still feels had he prevailed here bankruptcies in Stockton and San Beradino would have never occurred.

“There are some powers you can’t overcome. I guess that’s a regret.” He said.

And even though they’ve fought toe to toe on this and other issues, Moorlach said he believes he and Berardino share a “mutual respect”.

This past election season, Moorlach also made a short-lived run for Congress.

I asked him why he threw in the towel so early in his campaign.

He said two things happened that changed his focus.

His father-in-law passed away, and his son-in-law took a job in Milwaukee which meant his daughter and granddaughter would be moving away.

With his eye on family issues and off the race, Moorlach said State Senator Mimi Walters gained momentum for her congressional bid.

By the time he re-focused he’d lost too much ground. The smart move was to opt out.

So as his term as a county supervisor ends, is he over politics?

“I don’t have the answer to that – I think about it once or twice every second."

He jokes.

“Do I run for Mimi’s seat? In two years do I run for (Congressman) Dana Rohrabacher’s seat? Or do I watch (incoming County Supervisor) Michelle Steel do that and come back and run for Supervisor?” he questioned jokingly.

While we were having some fun playing “what if”, I suggested Moorlach ditch the political game, come over to the dark side and write political commentary- maybe even for the Voice of OC?

He chuckled and I got the feeling he might be crazy enough to actually take me up on it.

After all, writing about politics is a heck of a lot more fun than being in it.

WALL STREET JOURNAL – APRIL 15, 1994 (From MOORLACH UPDATE — Easter Break — April 17, 2009):

The campaign went national on this day in history. Earl C. Gottschalk, Jr., reporter for The Wall Street Journal, published “Derivatives Roil California Political Race” on page C1 (a very big deal). To make it to the Wall Street Journal was unbelievable. What more was there to do in life?

This article broke interesting news that the local papers couldn’t get their arms around. One small fact it did not mention is that you utilize a reverse repurchase agreement for 90 days. To elaborate, Mr. Citron would use a 90-day reverse-repurchase agreement at 2 percent to purchase a four-year Fannie Mae note paying 4 percent. The problem ahead was that short term rates were rising to an amount higher than 4 percent. Once that happens you implode. You are paying out more interest than you are taking in. Otherwise the article was phenomenal. It even addressed “marking-to-market,” something GASB 31 addressed a couple of years later as a result of this campaign (I call it my own personal GASB statement J.) It was unfortunate that the Wall Street Journal wasn’t required reading for everyone in Orange County during the campaign.

By placing highly leveraged investment bets, Robert L. Citron, the county’s veteran treasurer, has generated returns that he says are some of the nation’s highest for county money managers. In 1993, he says, the money he manages for Orange County and 186 other California municipalities, school districts and governmental units earned 8.5%.

But more recently, he concedes, the value of his portfolio has been hit by rising interest rates, forcing him to come up with $140 million to meet “collateral calls” from brokers who lent him money.

Mr. Citron insists that he isn’t taking any undue chances with taxpayers’ money. “We do have a different strategy from most counties,” the 68-year old Mr. Citron says, “but we are aggressive within prudent limits.”

Political opponents see it differently. Led by his challenger for the treasurer’s job in a June election, they charge that Mr. Citron’s strategies are way too risky and that the recent rise in interest rates has lost taxpayers a bundle.

“Leveraging public money makes me nervous,” says John Moorlach, a certified public accountant and financial planner from Costa Mesa, Calif., who is Mr. Citron’s first challenger for the nonpartisan job in many years. “When you win, you win big,” Mr. Moorlach says. “When you lose, you also can lose big.”

In a reverse-repurchase agreement, a borrower delivers securities to financial institutions in return for cash, with the understanding he later will buy them back at a higher price. Meantime, the borrower invests the cash, hoping to get a higher rate than he has to pay under the terms of the reverse-repurchase agreement. In effect, it is a way to pump up the income generated by a bond portfolio by purchasing additional securities with borrowed funds.

Mr. Citron says he has been investing part of this $19.5 billion pool in two-year to five-year government agency securities issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Bank system, which pay higher yields than comparable Treasury securities.

In addition, Mr. Citron says, some 20% of the $19.5 billion is invested in derivatives, financial agreements whose returns are linked to, or derived from, the performance of some underlying asset, such as bonds, currencies and commodities.

“in a period of rapid reversal of interest rates, individuals who have highly leveraged their position, and are using derivative securities, can’t accurately ascertain their duration,” or sensitivity to interest-rate risk, says Marshall B. Front, senior executive vice president at Stein Roe & Farnham Inc., a Chicago mutual-fund and money-management firm. “Many of those strategies have been proven to have been far more risky than they seem on the surface.”

It has been difficult for bond professionals and other municipal treasurers to comment directly on Mr. Citron’s approach because he doesn’t make his investment portfolio public. However, Mr. Citron promises to disclose the details to Mr. Moorlach on Monday.

Unlike mutual funds, pension funds, hedge funds and most other money managers, who have to recognize losses and gains in their portfolios as market prices move, Mr. Citron says he doesn’t have to mark his portfolio to market values.

“I can hold to maturity,” Mr. Citron says. “We don’t believe in taking paper losses and paper profits.”

Mr. Moorlach says he isn’t impressed by Mr. Citron’s comment. “Mutual funds and everyone else marks to market, and if I’m county treasurer, I will mark investments to market,” Mr. Moorlach says. Not marking to market is just a way of concealing losses, he charges.

In the past, some cities and counties in various parts of the U.S. have run into trouble by using reverse-repurchase strategies. Similar strategies caused the collapse of numerous savings-and-loan institutions in the 1980s.

INVITATION:

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 — Seal Beach — November 14, 2014

I’ve enjoyed two excursions into the City of Seal Beach this week. The first was Monday evening, where the Seal Beach City Council recognized me for my eight years of service. It was a very kind gesture, as the pleasure was all mine. It has been a joy to work with the city of Seal Beach on a number of projects over the past eight years. The presentation is covered by the Seal Beach Sun below.

The second excursion was yesterday morning, dedicating the new Los Alamitos Pump Station (for the old facility, see http://ocflood.com/nfc/projects/construction/losalamitos). This facility is off of Pacific Coast Highway on 1st Street and is located on the historic Hellman Property in Seal Beach and Long Beach. Here are photos of the new engines during my presentation, the ribbon cutting, and the basin that leads into the station (look for more photos on our Facebook account next week):

BONUS:

The Native Sons of the Golden West will be enjoying its annual Southern California Weekend in Santa Ana starting today and going through Sunday (see http://www.nsgwca.com/southern-cal-weekend-nov-14th-16th/).

Tomorrow at 1 p.m. the Native Sons will be dedicating a plaque for the Diego Sepulveda Adobe Estancia and I will be the guest speaker. The adobe is California Historical Landmark number 227 and this is a most fitting and appropriate event to enjoy during Orange County’s Quasquicentennial.

If you are able to attend, please join us at Estancia Park at the corner of Adams Avenue and Mesa Verde Drive West in Costa Mesa.

City Council thanks two retiring members

By Charles M. Kelly

City officials gave a reception for retiring council members Gordon Shanks of District Three and Michael Levitt of District Five on Monday afternoon, Nov. 11.

Shanks and Levitt have termed out of office and could not run for re-election this year. Shanks has been succeeded by Mike Varipapa, a civil engineer. Levitt has been succeeded by Sandra Massa-Lavitt of the Planning Commission.

At the Monday night City Council meeting, District Four Councilman Gary Miller said Shanks would be missed.

Miller thanked Levitt for his work fighting the proposed installation of toll roads on the I-405. Miller’s College Park East district borders the freeway.

Miller also thanked City Clerk Linda Devine, who is retiring at the end of the year.

He said all the transparency in Seal Beach was due to her efforts to put city staff reports and council meeting videos online.

Diane Carey, of the Westminster City Council and representative of the I-405 corridor cities, presented Levitt with a certificate of appreciation for his work against the toll road proposal.

Levitt, who represents Leisure World, said many of Leisure World’s residents couldn’t afford toll roads. He also said there was something inherently wrong with toll roads.

Mayor Ellery Deaton, who represents District One, also thanked Shanks, Levitt and Devine for their service to Seal Beach.

City thanks Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach

The council also gave a presentation to District Two Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach for his service. Moorlach also termed out of office this year. He will be succeeded by Seal Beach Surfside Colony resident Michelle Steel.

Deaton thanked Moorlach for the free sand that the country recently provided to replenish the city’s beach following a recent storm.

Deaton called Moorlach a champion for Seal Beach for his opposition to toll roads. Moorlach called Deaton a “warrior” for her opposition to the 405 toll road proposals. Moorlach also praised Councilman Levitt’s work on the Orange County Vector Control Board and Miller for his work on the Orange County Transportation Authority Board.

More coyote protests

Anna Christianson said that as a member of the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority, the City of Seal Beach had a legal duty to protect wetlands wildlife, which includes coyotes.

The Los Cerritos Wetlands straddle the Seal Beach/Long Beach city border as well as the Los Angeles and Orange County border.

She said the city’s decision to hire Critter Busters to trap coyotes appeared to be a violation of that obligation to enforce the policies of the LCWA. She said the city had exposed itself to legal action.

The LCWA board recently issued a letter that said the coyote trapping was taking place outside the wetlands.

Deaton said there was no trapping in the wetlands or in Gum Grove Park. Shouts from the audience indicated some activists might not have believed her.

Matt Duncan objected to the trapping service’s legal use of lethal gas to euthanize coyotes.

He also asked the council for comment on snare traps he stated had been found in Gum Grove Park. Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos, who has been in charge of the coyote program, told the Sun Monday, Nov. 10, that the city was not releasing a schedule for trapping activity because the city has dealt with tampering issues since the program started.

Earlier this month, Gallegos said Warden Larry Stephens of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife came to the city and asked questions about the methods of trapping and euthanizing coyotes.

“The Warden was satisfied with the answers submitted by the city,” Gallegos said.

BONUS:

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 — Blue State Review — November 13, 2014

Coming from the private sector, as a partner in a C.P.A. firm, it was quite a risky maneuver to run for public office twenty years ago against a long-time sitting incumbent. “Nobody’s going to beat him,” is what I was told by then San Diego Treasurer-Tax Collector Paul Boland. After being in a few campaigns, I can tell you that they are a lot of work and winning beats losing. I’ve also had fun options (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_gubernatorial_election,_2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Governor — February 23, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — New Option — May 4, 2013 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Gov. Moorlach? Not — April 10, 2013 – which was actually June 10, 2013). With a lot of data acquired during this public sector journey, I shared the cold, hard facts of campaigning in California in my speech to the Cypress Chamber of Commerce (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Post-Mortem — November 7, 2014). The editor of the Orange County Breeze was there and she springboards on the subject of analyzing last week’s election results in the two pieces below.

John Moorlach asks for volunteers

Written by Shelley Henderson

Outgoing Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach was the featured speaker at the regular Cypress Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Looking at being termed-out as Supervisor, Mr. Moorlach researched the possibility of running for governor. He decided against running, and has not said what he will do once his term as Supervisor ends in two months.

Mr. Moorlach cheerfully laid out all the reasons why nobody in his right mind would consider running for elected office, and why running for statewide office as a Republican in California is beyond insane. He had the numbers, graphs, and maps to back up what he said.

And it was funny. No, really — Moorlach can make you laugh while presenting the most depressing factual case imaginable.

Then he earnestly asked for volunteers to run as Republicans for elected office in California.

An example of how to win

The expensive example of how to run and win as a Republican in California is the campaign of Young Kim, who beat incumbent Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva in our own 65th Assembly District.

If you have the backing of your Party and a politically powerful mentor, you may be able to beat the odds and take out an incumbent. (One of Mr. Moorlach’s numbers: 90% of incumbents win.)

Boatloads of money were spent on both sides in that race. One end of our dining table was lost to campaign flyers for a month. The majority were for the 65th Assembly District. Our home answering machine filled up with robocalls, many for the 65th. The only precinct walkers who rang our doorbell who weren’t running for City Council or CSD Trustee were representing one or the other candidate for the 65th.

Another example of how to win

The opposite end of the election-funding game is shown by the campaign of Johnny Tacherra against Democratic incumbent Jim Costa in the 16th Congressional District. That District is inland from San Jose, Gilroy, and Salinas. It includes the cities of Merced and Fresno. It has been hit hard by the drought and liberal environmental policy.

Nobody but nobody except Mr. Tacherra expected anything but a return to Washington by Mr. Costa. Consequently, no outside support was offered.

Mr. Tacherra, a third-generation dairy farmer, ran a shoestring campaign based on personal interaction — he showed up anywhere in the District where a couple or three people were talking, including “Democrat-friendly” events.

He defended his position on controversial topics like immigration, and explained how Democratic policy led to the world of hurt felt by Central Valley agricultural interests.

The result?

The California Secretary of State shows him ahead of Costa by 741 votes. The election tally will be finalized on Dec. 5, and Mr. Tacherra fully expects to be declared winner.

Things to ponder

Mr. Moorlach congratulated newly elected (or re-elected) individuals in the audience. (Stacy Berry, newly elected to the Cypress City Council, and Steve Blount, newly re-elected to the Cypress School District Board of Trustees, attended the meeting.)

With a straight face, he encouraged others to step up and run for election, despite the daunting case he had just made.

My own opinion is this: over the two years until the next general election — which will be a presidential election with larger voter turnout — those who wish to steer California in a more conservative course should spend a huge effort in reaching out to voters who reflexively vote liberal or Democratic. Listen to their concerns and explain how conservative policy addresses those concerns.

Conservative policy and candidates will not advance if voters believe themselves entitled to government goodies that appear like the dewfall.

Further, conservative policy and candidates will not advance if dishonest attacks against them are not answered.

Focus on local elections where personal effort can prevail over money and lack of outside support.

And one of the biggest suggestions has to do with style: make ’em laugh! Be cheerful. Nobody wants to support a grump.

Red v. Blue results by county in 2014 general election

Written by Shelley Henderson

Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, writing at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, provided several “quick takes” from last week’s general election.

One was an analysis of which party dominated by county: “In the nation’s 50 largest counties by population, Democrats won 34 of the 47 that had statewide elections this cycle.”

California loomed large in this analysis, and I have pulled out that information in the table below.

Kondik and Skelley also pointed out a bright spot for Republicans who are determined to improve their position in a redder-than-red state: “Though it mattered little for the margin in the California gubernatorial race, Republicans can take heart that they won three of the swing counties in the state that Obama won in 2012 — Fresno, Riverside, and San Bernardino.”

Looking at the numbers in the table, you can appreciate why John Moorlach — a numbers man — decided against running for governor.

Another thing to keep in mind while studying the table is voter turnout, lower in this year’s midterm election than in 2012’s presidential election. As a general principle, lower turnout favors Republican candidates, because those inclined to vote for them show up instead of staying home.

Unless conservatives can convince more people in the Counties of Los Angeles, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa that conservative policy serves them better than liberal progressive policy, the only way Republican candidates will win is in conservative islands floating in a red sea.

County 2013 est pop 2014 D 2014 R 2012 Obama 2012 Romney
Los Angeles 10,017,068 66.1% 33.9% 69.7% 27.8%
San Diego 3,211,252 50.9% 49.1% 52.5% 45.0%
Orange 3,114,363 44.1% 55.9% 45.6% 51.9%
Riverside 2,282,507 46.7% 53.3% 49.6% 48.0%
San Bernardino 2,088,371 46.6% 53.4% 52.3% 45.0%
Santa Clara 1,862,041 72.9% 27.1% 70.0% 27.1%
Alameda 1,578,891 82.1% 17.9% 78.7% 18.1%
Sacramento 1,462,131 62.0% 38.0% 58.1% 39.1%
Contra Costa 1,094,205 68.3% 31.7% 66.2% 31.1%
Fresno 955,272 46.8% 53.2% 49.7% 47.9%

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

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Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Veterans Day — November 11, 2014

Allow me to wish you a happy Veterans Day.

The new Bob Hope USO Center officially opened yesterday afternoon at John Wayne Airport. The ceremony was an appropriate and timely way to begin the observance of Veterans Day.

The coverage begins with clip links from KTTV, Los Angeles and ABC 7 Los Angeles. The OC Register had a couple of photos that are provided below, with me standing next to Pearl Harbor Survivor and former Costa Mesa Mayor Jack Hammett (but blocked by Army Reservist Richard Ciochon).

P.S. Many have asked if I will be continuing my UPDATES after I leave office. My response has been that I can. If you are interested in continuing the relationship past the conclusion of my term of office, just e-mail me and I’ll add you to my personal list. Then, let’s see what the future holds.

New USO Center Opens At John Wayne Airport

http://www.myfoxla.com/story/27349603/new-uso-center-opens-at-john-wayne-airport

Bob Hope USO opens inside John Wayne Airport in OC

http://abc7.com/news/bob-hope-uso-opens-inside-john-wayne-airport-in-oc/389544/

USO lounge opens at John Wayne Airport

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/lounge-641591-county-service.html

BONUS:

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 — Post-Mortem — November 7, 2014

The Voice of OC has a new columnist who is really an old columnist, as she explains in the introduction in the first piece below. I actually enjoy her acerbic, no-holds-barred writing style. Sometimes Barbara and I agreed, sometimes we sparred, but we always did our best to maintain a healthy professional relationship. Thank you, Barbara, for being a documenter of history in the Newport-Mesa area. You were very productive. Now that it is a time for me to reflect back on the last eight years as a County Supervisor, who made it a priority to communicate when media coverage occurred, here are some examples of her work, as chronicled through my UPDATES of the last five years (and I could provide more, but you’ll have to review my LOOK BACKS for those):

MOORLACH UPDATE — Begets — June 15, 2014 – A review and update of the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital column (see December 19, 2014 below) is provided

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Star Wars Day — May 4, 2014 – Barbara covers a touchy topic concerning candidate character as a result of a discussion in one of the “Feet to the Fire” debates

MOORLACH UPDATE — Distinguished Alumni — April 5, 2014 – The upcoming “Feet to the Fire” debates are announced

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Filing Period Opens — February 16, 2014 – The 2014 Annual Newport Beach Mayors’ Dinner is covered

MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Review — December 19, 2013 – The Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas scandal is addressed

MOORLACH UPDATE — Nineteenth Anniversary — December 6, 2013 – Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry’s announcement to run for the seat that Assemblyman Allan Mansoor is vacating is announced

MOORLACH UPDATE — Feet to the Fire — October 11, 2013 – A chat with Assemblyman Allan Mansoor is provided

MOORLACH UPDATE — Bridge Bash — August 16, 2013 – Assemblyman Allan Mansoor’s marriage to Jannifer is announced

MOORLACH UPDATE — Finding Monica — April 27, 2013 – The Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital patient dumping scandal is introduced

MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013 – The negotiations of the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement extension is speculated on (a major point missed by many is that Boeing 737s are carrying more passengers, so increased flights is more remote in the future)

MOORLACH UPDATE — Marilyn Monroe — February 15, 2013 – The 2013 Annual Newport Beach Mayors’ Dinner is covered with a fun personal twist

MOORLACH UPDATE — Passion and Punches — September 21, 2012 – The Orange County Regional Recreational Trails Advisory Committee is the topic

MOORLACH UPDATE — Remembrance — June 1, 2012 – The proposed Mesa Drive horse trail is promoted

MOORLACH UPDATE — Horse Manure — April 13, 2012 – The Mesa Drive horse trail controversy is introduced

MOORLACH UPDATE — Hob-Knobbing with Homeless — February 14, 2012 – Hob-Knobbing at the 2012 Annual Newport Beach Mayor’s Dinner is covered

MOORLACH UPDATE — Term Limits Plus — January 26, 2012 – My attempt to change term limits for county supervisors is the topic

MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — December 9, 2011 – Costa Mesa snatching away my Chief of Staff, Rick Francis, is announced

MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law – Plus — November 22, 2011 – A correction to Barbara’s November 19, 2011 column is provided

MOORLACH UPDATE — Barbara Venezia — November 19, 2011 – She discusses the Transportation Corridor Agencies’ money grab from John Wayne Airport and an announced candidate running for Newport Beach City Council

MOORLACH UPDATE — Super City Stir — August 20, 2011 – The “super city” concept causes a stir

MOORLACH UPDATE — Venezia Column – From August 13, 2011, which addresses the “super city” concept

MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — July 29, 2011 – The Santa Ana Heights electrical line undergrounding begins

MOORLACH UPDATE — Property Taxes Due — April 9, 2011 – The property tax deadline is featured

MOORLACH UPDATE — Take a Hike — March 4, 2011 – The idea of selling government assets is addressed

MOORLACH UPDATE — PA/PG — February 4, 2011 – Barbara ruminates on my pension battles and their source provides for an attempt at “revisionist history”

MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Fast Food — January 20 – In 2011, she’s lovin’ it

MOORLACH UPDATE — Take a Hike — January 7, 2011

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Larry Agran — November 6, 2014

A new LA Times reporter was assigned the task of reporting the legacy of the soon-to-be former Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran. She was also new to the area, so she had to start from scratch. For whatever reason, she contacted me. I also encouraged her to call UCI Political Science Professor Mark Petracca, which she did. Her synopsis of Agran’s career is brief, less than 800 words, but captures the highlights well.

I was at the campaign headquarters of Sally Anne Sheridan the night she defeated Larry Agran in 1990. It was one of the most memorable election nights I have ever enjoyed. Sally Anne Sheridan was behind at the beginning of the evening, but as the night wore on and the precincts started reporting, she pulled ahead and would win around midnight. It was a rare sight to behold. But, the euphoria wore out in a few short years when Larry found a clever scheme to skirt Irvine’s candidate campaign contribution limits, bringing him back on the city council. He would then manipulate that strategy for several additional election cycles.

Now, twenty-four years later, Agran has lost another election. What does a reporter unfamiliar with the history do? The joy of the topic is that there is so much material out there. For an eye-opener, I would recommend “Larry Agran the Leech,” from the July 24th issue of the OCWEEKLY (see http://www.ocweekly.com/2014-07-24/news/moxley-confidential-larry-agran-great-park-irvine/). This is just one of many postings on Agran in the OC WEEKLY. You’ll learn that Larry Agran was running what we would refer to in the financial industry as a “black box.” You don’t know what’s going on inside, but you have to trust that the results will be profitable. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as rampant abuse had been occurring. That’s why the OCWEEKLY piece is a helpful read. So the shenanigans caught up with Agran Tuesday evening. Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote came to fruition: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” The tragedy is that Agran is still in denial and the residents of Orange County are out some $200 million (also see http://www.ocweekly.com/2014-01-23/news/moxley-confidential-irvine-great-park-larry-agran/).

BONUS: A special invitation is provided at the conclusion of this UPDATE below.

Irvine voters oust Larry Agran, a decades-long fixture

By Emily Foxhall

Larry Agran has spent a generation as the face of Irvine as it grew from a startup community to a more cosmopolitan city recognized for its safe streets and high-performing schools, sometimes as a council member, often as its mayor.

Since 1978, he lost only one bid for reelection, in 1990, after which he left city politics and launched a quixotic campaign for president. But he returned and ran again in 1998, and voters continued to elect him like clockwork — until Tuesday.

Mired in allegations of inefficiency and cronyism regarding his oversight of the Great Park, Agran finds himself out of office, falling short of two other candidates who won seats on the five-member council.

While Agran’s reputation once held as a young, ambitious Democrat in a blossoming, meticulously planned American town, critics today describe a controlling and obstinate politician, reluctant of relinquishing any power.

The perception found weight in a preliminary audit of the expenditures for the Great Park, launched in 2013 by a new, more-conservative council majority. With more than $200 million spent so far, the park remains far from the envisioned civic space that was supposed to rival New York’s Central Park.

Agran, 69, likens the audit to a "political witch hunt." And his election opponents employed a "campaign of smears and lies," said council member Beth Krom, a supporter.

As Agran sees it, his is a David-and-Goliath tale, a battle to defend the public interest against powerful developers, who, he said, ultimately outspent him in support of his political foes.

"This sounds like it’s going to be a long obituary," he said, when asked to start an interview with a discussion of the nascent beginnings of his political career.

Agran would not say whether he would attempt to remain in politics, though he indicated he’d stay involved in the city, perhaps in an elected position, or perhaps not.

Agran moved to Irvine in the mid-1970s, when his wife was a medical school student at UC Irvine, where she is now a professor emeritus. A lawyer by training, Agran got into local politics in an effort to slow rapid development.

Agran’s legacy may have been cemented with the approval of a 1988 ballot initiative for the preservation of open space, but he also points to the city’s provisions for affordable housing, balanced budgets and an early-day human rights ordinance.

"This is a guy that was just loaded with interesting ideas," said Mark Petracca, associate professor of political science at UC Irvine.

Much more than a mainstay, Petracca said Agran "has been the — not one of — the most consequential political figure in the political development of the city.… The city’s entire progressive character, which is shared by Democrats and Republicans alike, is largely attributed to Agran."

But the fight over how to redevelop the retired El Toro Marine base proved to be the beginning of a long downfall for Agran, who opposed plans for an international airport at the spot and became the face of the Great Park initiative in its stead.

Agran’s ambitious plans began to fray during the recession when the state did away with redevelopment districts and the homes that were to provide a revenue stream for the park were never built. By then, the city had spent about $200 million but had little developed parkland to show for it.

A developer has since agreed to construct a portion of the park in exchange for the right to build thousands of additional homes in the area.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said the Great Park effort had been bungled to such a degree that a "new regime" had to step in to put the pieces back together.

"You can be clever so long until someone picks up the roof and looks inside the house, and it isn’t pretty, it isn’t pretty at all," Moorlach said. "After a while, you just have to realize, this guy’s gaming us."

Agran cites the park’s iconic balloon, new visitor’s center, public lawns, reflecting pond and a historic hangar that has been saved. He maintains that not a dollar of public funds is unaccounted for, but Petracca’s perception is that it was "pretty much all wasted for a big balloon, a couple of bathrooms and some grass."

Petracca and Agran once chatted every day promptly at 7 a.m., but they’ve since gone separate ways. The man he used to regard for his political acumen, who was skilled at empowering ordinary people, had became "imperious," Petracca said.

Yet he sees Agran pulling himself off the mat.

"He’ll be back," Petracca said. "He needs it like air and water."

emily.foxhall

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.

BONUS:

Posted in California

MOORLACH UPDATE — Election Night Results — November 5, 2014

Silly season is over! And the OC has two new Supervisors. The Daily Pilot, OC Register, Rancho Santa Margarita Patch, and KPCC 89.3 provide the news below.

Congratulations go to Michelle Steel, who will be occupying my office on January 5, 2014. I look forward to assisting her in the next two months as she comes up to speed with the fun and challenging business of the County.

Congratulations to Lisa Bartlett on her victory to serve the residents of the Fifth Supervisorial District.

May both new Supervisors enjoy the privilege of serving the residents of their Districts as much as I have enjoyed serving mine.

Also, congratulations go to Claude Parrish on becoming the next Orange County Assessor. He will have big shoes to fill, as Webster Guillory has been the gold standard around the state of California. Thank you, Webster, for all your years of service to the County of Orange and its residents. You have been a consummate professional and it was an honor to work with you over the last two decades.

And congratulations go to my colleagues, Patricia Bates and Janet Nguyen, on their successful campaigns to serve as State Senators in the California Legislature.

Steel has big lead over Mansoor in supervisor race

By Harold Pierce

Michelle Steel appeared headed to an easy victory Tuesday evening in her race against Assemblyman Allan Mansoor for the District 2 seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Mansoor, of Costa Mesa, and Steel, of Surfside, are vying for the spot currently held by termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach.

In the June primary election, Steel received 47.7 percent of the vote, more than twice as much as Mansoor, but she did not receive the majority required to avoid a runoff Tuesday.

As vice chairwoman of the state Board of Equalization, Steel built her campaign on her record of saving taxpayers money. Her Twitter handle is @TaxFighterSteel.

She credited the discovery of a multimillion-dollar tax mistake, and the return of millions in delayed security deposits to small-business owners, to a phone call she received from a constituent during her first year on the board.

Before the election, Steel argued that she would continue to advocate for taxpayers by ensuring that Measure M transportation funds not go toward building toll lanes in a project to widen the 405 Freeway.

Meanwhile, Mansoor built his platform around rejecting the possibility of a toll lane project proposed by the California Department of Transportation.

"It’s not enough to say you’re against toll lanes, as using Measure M funds to widen bridges will enable toll lanes," Mansoor told the Daily Pilot in October, referring to a September decision by the Orange County Transportation Authority board to move forward with a 405 Freeway widening project that could allow room for toll lanes.

Mansoor accused Steel of using her bid for county supervisor as a springboard for a congressional seat if Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who endorsed Steel this election, steps down.

Steel, who is married to GOP heavyweight Shawn Steel and moved to Orange County two years ago, spent about $800,000 on her run for supervisor, outspending Mansoor by about $644,000, according to campaign finance records.

Mansoor, a former Costa Mesa city councilman, branded himself as a longtime local with strong community ties.

O.C. supervisor races: Michelle Steel leads Allan Mansoor, Lisa Bartlett bests Robert Ming

BY NICOLE SHINE

Unofficial final returns showed Michelle Steel taking a sizable lead over Allan Mansoor in the Orange County Board of Supervisors race in District 2.

The Republican-leaning district, represented by termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach, stretches from Newport Beach to Buena Park.

Steel, who is termed out of her post on the state Board of Equalization, cashed in on her statewide name recognition and out-spent her opponent. Her campaign raised $427,174 this year, according to mid-October reports. The money included a $75,000 loan she made to her campaign in June.

Independent spending also lifted Steel over fellow Republican Mansoor, a state assemblyman from Costa Mesa. A political committee of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs spent $100,000 on last-minute attack ads and mailers on Steel’s behalf.

Steel said Tuesday night that three years of campaigning and countless meet-and-greets with district voters paid off.

“I’m going to work really hard as supervisor,” Steel said.

District 5

Lisa Bartlett led Robert Ming in the battle over the South County seat now held by Pat Bates.

The two Republicans finished nearly neck-and-neck in the June primary, with Ming taking 30.9 percent of votes to Bartlett’s 28.4 percent. The Republican-leaning district stretches from San Clemente to Lake Forest.

Bartlett, mayor of Dana Point, and Ming, a Laguna Niguel councilman, entered the final leg of the race with roughly the same amount of cash on hand, about $42,000. Bartlett, however, has raised $291,899 since January, compared to Ming’s $189,158, according to Sept. 30 campaign reports.

Bartlett had campaigned on public safety, traffic reduction and quality of life. The early lead, she said Tuesday night, “shows my message resonates with south Orange County voters.”

County Assessor

Challenger Claude Parrish showed a narrow advantage over incumbent Webster Guillory, who faces criminal charges.

Parrish, former chairman of the state Board of Equalization, has championed new taxpayer-friendly measures, such as extending the annual tax appeal deadline from Sept. 15 to Nov. 30.

Guillory, who has held the job since 1998, pleaded not guilty in September to filing false nomination papers during his re-election bid earlier this year.

Contact the writer: nshine On Twitter:@nicolekshine

Election Results for County Seats: 2 New Supes and Assessor Gets the Boot

Orange County will see a changing of the guard.

Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel will be joining the Orange County Board of Supervisors, replacing termed-out Second District Supervisor John Moorlach.

Steel defeated Assemblyman Allan R. Mansoor on Tuesday, although Mansoor had been endorsed by Moorlach.

Meanwhile, in the Fifth District, Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett defeated Laguna Niguel City Councilman Robert Ming and will succeed termed-out Supervisor Patricia Bates, who easily defeated Gary Kephart for state Senate in the 36th District.

Another opening on the board was created Tuesday with the election of Supervisor Janet Nguyen to the state Senate.

Webster Guillory, who was seeking re-election as county assessor while facing charges of filing false nominations papers, was defeated by Claude Parrish, a former chairman of the state Board of Equalization.

Guillory has denied the charges, with his attorney chalking it up to a mistake that was not illegal. The preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 24.

–City News Service

10:42 p.m. Steel leads Mansoor for Orange County Supervisor

Michelle Steel had a sizable lead over Allan Mansoor in the Orange County Board of Supervisors race in District 2, the OC Register reported.

The Republican-leaning district, represented by termed-out supervisor John Moorlach, stretches from Newport Beach to Buena Park.

Steel, who is termed out of her post on the state Board of Equalization, cashed in on her statewide name recognition and out-spent her opponent. Her campaign raised $427,174 this year, according to mid-October reports. The money included a $75,000 loan she made to her campaign in June.

Steel had nearly 62.8 percent of the vote to Mansoor’s 37.2 percent, with 212 of 421 precincts counted.

Meanwhile, Lisa Bartlett led Robert Ming in early returns in the District 5 battle over the South County seat now held by Pat Bates, the Register reported.

Bartlett had 56.5 percent of the vote to Ming’s 43.5 percent, with 59 of 438 of precincts counted.

—KPCC staff

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 — Ambulance RFP Termination — November 4, 2014

Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) Director Mark Refowitz called me late Thursday evening to personally inform me that the lengthy RFP (Request for Proposals) process for ambulance services in five zones throughout the County had been terminated. He stated that HCA would rewrite a number of questions in the RFP and reissue it soon. As the state’s Emergency Medical Services Administration (EMSA) had approved the previous RFP questions, it was unclear and vague as to what questions really needed to be modified. I am very disappointed. This has been a lengthy and laborious process and my staff and I have invested significant chunks of time into this endeavor. Now it will be completed next year and our contributions will have been for naught.

From my perspective, the process was fair and transparent. As the Kansas City Royals were losing to the San Francisco Giants in game seven of the World Series, the news of the decision to terminate the RFP flew across the country. Many of the ambulance firms, like AMR, are national. Orange County’s HCA had shaken an industry. Friday morning I bumped into one bidder at my breakfast event and I could not intelligently explain why it had been terminated or for what egregious reasons. Going back to the state with new questions, when the state was fine with the old questions, is awkward and a little difficult to explain. I requested a meeting with Dr. Sam Stratton, but he was tied up that day with a commitment at the University of California, Irvine. I’m hoping he can come by sometime this week for a visit, so I can hear his perspectives. Dr. Stratton has kept me informed throughout this lengthy ordeal and it would be helpful for him to explain why the County’s managers decided to abort. The topic is covered by the Voice of OC below.

There are a couple of holes in the piece that need clarifying. The first is that HCA had delegated the task of approving ambulance contracts to the Orange County Fire Authority. The state’s EMSA ruled that this task could not be delegated, so HCA had to be administer it. I’m not sure if the term “ill-prepared” is a fair one. Shock may be a better euphemism, as a major task and a short timeline was foisted onto HCA. HCA worked closely with EMSA, but EMSA dictated the terms, including that the competitive bidding process makes it possible for only one ambulance service to be the winning bidder for all five zones. It’s nice to have been mentioned in the piece for my long-time efforts to look at different models in how services are provided, but I don’t believe that the Board of Supervisors ever planned on assuming the responsibility of this assignment or, speaking for myself, had designs to exploit it. I allow my managers to manage and they did their best to perform the task in a fair and appropriate manner, based on an extremely short deadline. The EMSA’s preferred methodology was going to guarantee that stronger and larger firms would dominate the field. Consequently, it seemed to me that the only solution for the other firms would be to subterfuge the process with a thousand pin pricks. That strategy looks to have succeeded for this round. I’m sure there may be even more drama after the next round of RFP responses are scored. All to say, I don’t believe it was the Board of Supervisors who politicized this process, thank you very much. Most people understand what happens when someone’s ox gets gored, and this industry blood-fest is no different. (At least the reporter’s mention that no HCA “officials were available” explains the lack of offsetting points of view, i.e., lack of balance in reporting the story.)

For previous UPDATES on this topic, see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — Special Attention — March 31, 2014, MOORLACH UPDATE — OCFA Study — March 26, 2014, and MOORLACH UPDATE — ALS/CCW/CCP/AOT — March 5, 2014.

County Ambulance Selection Process Breaks Down

By REX DALTON

The Orange County Health Care Agency’s process for selecting private ambulance services to support paramedic rescues in 19 cities broke down last week amid questions of favoritism and a lack of transparency.

Records show issues associated with how competing ambulance firms were rated and who conducted proposal reviews prompted the recent cancellation of the near-completed process — which had been dogged by months of controversies, political bickering and intervention by state emergency officials.

No Health Care Agency officials were available for comment, leaving only letters to rejected firms to show what prompted the cancellation.

In one such Oct. 30 letter to AmeriCare MedServices Inc. of Carson, the Health Care Agency’s contracting office wrote: “It has been determined that the solicitation should be further clarified with regard to the scoring process and other items.”

Lacking Experience

Historically, the Orange County Fire Authority conducted the ambulance selection process about every five years — with officials from its partner cities having significant input on which private ambulance firms would service their jurisdictions.

But earlier this year the state Emergency Medical Services Administration, reacting to recent court decisions, ordered that the county take over the process.

The state attempts to maintain tight controls over emergency systems — typically through county health agencies — to ensure patients receive the best care no matter where an incident occurs.

At the time the state announced the change, even health agency officials complained they didn’t have the staff, funds, or experience to handle such a solicitation.

And almost immediately, city and Fire Authority officials in Orange County — as well as the ambulance firms themselves — raised concerns regarding whether Health Care Agency was up to the task.

Not only do Health Care Agency officials lack the necessary experience to oversee such a complicated selection, but putting it under the purview of the county Board of Supervisors injects an element of politics into the process, said some city officials and Fire Authority insiders who have been critical of the process.

Members of the board, particularly supervisor John Moorlach, have made it clear in past statements that they favor the privatization of paramedic services, and some fear the county’s control over the ambulance selection process could push the county down that path.

The current bureaucratic machinations will have no impact on the availability of ambulances to transport patients being treated by Fire Authority paramedics to hospitals throughout the county.

Nonetheless, it didn’t take long for criticisms of the county’s handling of the process to be aired publicly.

Some of the affected cities chimed in even before the selection process was cancelled, calling for an immediate review of what was labeled the “appearance of a failed process.”

In an Oct. 17 letter, Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce E. Channing wrote the county he was “sadly…not sure” the selection process was conducted “in a fair, impartial and transparent manner.”

An Appeals Process

Despite the criticisms and acknowledgements among county officials regarding their inexperience with the process, Orange County did not officially appeal the state’s order — something that both San Diego and Kern counties did, in the first such challenges statewide.

In September, state officials began developing a new appeals framework for such disputes.

State officials say Orange County still could appeal; but the county must make that move, not the independent Fire Authority. There is a direct parallel in San Diego, where the county is appealing on behalf of the city of San Diego, which wants to select a citywide ambulance provider.

If an Orange County appeal were successful, the Fire Authority theoretically could regain control of the ambulance selection process, which is important to its cities who want to maintain more local control.

Fire Authority board members Jeffrey Lalloway of Irvine and David Shawver, a Stanton city councilman, said they didn’t recall any discussions over a possible appeal last winter when their agency lost the solicitation process. Lalloway, who is also an Irvine City Councilman, added he would seek a report on the issue, declaring it important for local control.

The county’s questionable ambulance selection process heightens the need for more communication with local governments, some city officials argue.

In his letter, Laguna Hills’ Channing called for an independent review of the now-failed selection process, which then would go to the county Board of Supervisors.

“Everyone deserves to know if the selection process was or was not tainted by irregularities or improprieties,” Channing wrote.

To select ambulance firms, the Health Care Agency grouped the 19 cities into five zones, with proposals required by July 7. The county reportedly created the five zones because it was more efficient, but city officials immediately saw this as reducing local control. Seven ambulance firms then filed a total of 16 proposals associated for the zones.

On Oct. 9, the Health Care Agency issued its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors — which immediately drew fire from ambulance firms.

These recommendations made Care Ambulance Services Inc. of Orange County the big winner, and Doctor’s Ambulance Service of Laguna Hills the most substantial loser of current market share.

AmeriCare lost its only city here, Villa Park. And McCormick Ambulance of Irvine didn’t get into the region’s coveted paramedic support network.

Protests From Ambulance Firms

Doctor’s, AmeriCare and McCormick all filed protests, which the county declared moot after the process was cancelled. Each protest was grounded in similar complaints, which included:

The state-approved request for proposal framework wasn’t followed; there were irregularities in scoring applicants; and the protest process was fundamentally flawed — ie, a protester had to file within 5 business days, but it could take 10 days to secure records from the county on which the protest would be filed.

Fundamentally, the trio of losers wrote that state emergency laws to ensure a fair and competitive process to select the most qualified provider for life/safety services were violated. They all demanded that the selection results be thrown out and a new process conducted.

Both winners and losers expressed disappointment, citing the public and private cost of another solicitation.

Events surrounding the zone for Placentia and Yorba Linda were cited by some officials as an example of questionable review tactics.

During the review, the Health Care Agency requested that the two eventual highest bidders — Emergency and Care — appear for interview sessions in September before a panel to answer about seven questions.

In final scoring, records show the numerical scores for Care and Emergency Service Inc. of Brea were almost identical, with Emergency Service Inc. rated higher by less than one point.

Dr. Samuel Stratton, the Health Care Agency’s emergency medical services director, attended the panel interviews — as he took a visible role in the selection process.

While it can be argued the county’s emergency medical director could strengthen the review, some observing officials saw the fact that Stratton ultimately reports to the Board of Supervisors as a potential for politicizing the process.

Jim Karras, AmeriCare’s chief operating officer, said he understood Stratton was involved in the review panels, which put the physician in a precarious position.

“Why would he put himself in that situation?” Karras said. “I wouldn’t have done that.”

Both Emergency Services Inc. and Care officials emphatically denied any lobbying or meetings with county supervisors.

Because the county was ill-prepared to undertake the process, the state last summer granted the county a six-month extension to March 2, 2015, to complete the ambulance firm selections.

Already, there is speculation the county won’t make that deadline.

Asked, Care’s Bob Barry said, “I don’t know, it depends on how much of the process they change and how quickly they can get it approved by the state. The county may need another extension.”

Rex Dalton is a San Diego-based journalist who has worked for the San Diego Union-Tribune and the journal Nature. You can reach him directly at rexdalton

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Posted in California

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Union Control Two — November 3, 2014

Silly season ends tomorrow evening. As this is probably my last CAMPAIGN UPDATE before tomorrow’s election, allow me to share a few thoughts.

Many years ago a public employee union leader shared with me the philosophy of making political contributions to Supervisorial candidates. "They become bobble heads. We go in and tell them what we want, and they nod their heads in agreement, just like a bobble head doll." Such is the power and control of public employee unions from their campaign contributions and independent expenditures. Consequently, a smart vote is to vote for the Supervisorial candidate who is not backed by the unions, like Robert Ming and Allan Mansoor.

So why is the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) coming into the fray so late in the game? After all, they fully funded my opponent in 2006 during the entire campaign season.

Well, one could speculate that the polling shows that the Second District Supervisorial race is closer than expected. If the investment of $100,000 allows Michelle Steel to prevail over Allan Mansoor, then she will be indebted to AOCDS. She may become a potential bobble head.

Michelle Steel retains the same political consultant as the three Supervisors that voted for the recent AOCDS contract (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Laws, Contracts and Costs — July 17, 2014). Two are in contested races. Therefore, one could speculate that this is a form of payback or show of gratitude for the divided vote (I’m still very uncomfortable with the retiree medical component of the contract, among other concerns) for another client.

I’m sure I could go on. But, the temptation to accept public employee union funding is too great for those who are more concerned about their own political agendas. For the candidates, it’s about getting elected.

With most things in life, for the public employee unions, it’s about control. If Michelle Steel should win in tomorrow’s election, let’s hope she doesn’t set the County further back financially with future AOCDS contracts. The era of having bobble heads back at the bargaining table would be a tragedy.

It’s not hard to become discouraged. Projections show that tomorrow’s turn out will be the lowest in recent history. For some reason, I don’t blame those who are staying home. For those of you who are voting tomorrow, here are a few recommendation links for you to consider for your ballot:

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Second and Stanton — October 28, 2014

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Newport-Mesa — October 26, 2014

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Fifth District and Cypress — October 24, 2014

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

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Rossmoor CSD — October 12, 2014

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Allan Mansoor — September 21, 2014

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

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Supervisorial Candidates — August 30, 2014

I tried my best to prepare a full Excel spreadsheet of all thirty-four city council races and those of water, school and special districts. I was hoping to give an all inclusive voter’s guide. But, time just ran out. Therefore, if you’re doing last minute research, I would also recommend Robyn Nordell’s website, the Orange County Lincoln Club’s website, and the OC Register’s website when making candidate and ballot measure selections. There is no unanimous agreement on many of the measures and candidates, but at least you have some resources from which to make your hiring choices.

Union funds late ad blitz

Michelle Steel’s bid for county supervisor gets $100,000 boost from deputy sheriffs.

BY NICOLE SHINE

A public safety union’s political committee spent $100,000 last month to back Michelle Steel’s run against Allan Mansoor for the District 2 supervisorial seat.

Attack-mailers landed in district mailboxes last week, paid for by a political committee of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. The mailers describe Mansoor, a state Assemblyman in the 74th District, as “bad for us all.”

The two Republicans are vying to replace John Moorlach, who is termed out of his seat on the county Board of Supervisors. The district stretches from Newport Beach to Buena Park.

The union’s committee spent another $100,000 to support Steel’s candidacy before the June primary, state expenditure reports show. Steel pulled in 47.7 percent of votes cast in that race compared to Mansoor’s 22.9 percent.

Steel, 59, who is termed-out of her seat on the state Board of Equalization, has out-fundraised Mansoor, 50. Steel has raised $381,025 this year, according to campaign reports through September. She has lent her campaign $175,000 since 2012. Mansoor has raised $117,579 this year.

The last-minute blitz being waged on Steel’s behalf doesn’t make the impact in a race that it used to, according to Mark Petracca, associate dean of the UCI School of Social Sciences.

A decade ago, about 33 percent of voters statewide cast absentee ballots in a general election, according to the California Secretary of State. In the last general election, in 2012, that number climbed to 51 percent.

Petracca said late blitzes were more effective in an era when candidates couldn’t respond instantly to attacks through social media and the like. Plus, voters may have reached an over-saturation point this late in the race, he explained.

“Locally, people are exhausted by the amount of mail they receive,” Petracca said. “$100,000 buys you a mailing, but doesn’t buy you anyone looking at it.”

This UPDATE was sent from my personal e-mail account.

Contact the writer: nshine or Twitter:@nicolekshin

Posted in California