MOORLACH UPDATE — Seeking Independence — July 3, 2015

Allow me to wish you a Happy Independence Day! I hope your 4th of July weekend is a relaxing one and that you have time to reflect on our nation’s 239th birthday and the supposed freedoms that we enjoy.

Freedom is a very precious asset to acquire and hold on to. Being subject to a king or ruling force is not a pleasant thought. Unfortunately, when I became an elected official, it did not take very long to realize that we are not entirely free. In a democracy, we are subject to those who are in the majority. I have found, as a general rule, that local and state governing agencies are run by public employee unions through the candidates they have backed. Public employee unions are the ATM machine for Democrat candidates in California (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 128 — June 4, 2015 June 4, 2015 John Moorlach; MOORLACH UPDATE — Senator Steve Glazer — May 29, 2015 May 29, 2015May 29, 2015 John Moorlach; and MOORLACH UPDATE — New Political Split — April 24, 2015 April 24, 2015 John Moorlach).

On my first day as a County Supervisor, I insisted on having the ability for the County to read and review the annual audited financial statements for the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ Insurance Trust. This simple request, and one requiring changes to their retiree medical plan, started our tense relationship. AOCDS did not want me to become a County Supervisor and spent plenty for my opponent in the 2006 campaign with their independent expenditures. AOCDS and the other county bargaining units want control, have garnered it through the electoral process, thus insuring that Orange County residents are not truly free.

So, today’s headlines should not be a shock. The Voice of OC and the OC Register (which may print tomorrow or Sunday), respectively, provide the news that the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Chief Administrative Law Judge ruled against Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN). As the old line from the movie "Casablanca" goes, "I’m shocked." A union judge is opposed. Really? Especially with his history of trying to obstruct other similar reforms around the state?

I believe the Administrative Judge is wrong. The next story will be whether the new Board of Supervisors will appeal. I have my doubts. Two of the new members were the beneficiaries of $150,000 each in AOCDS independent expenditures. The current Chair bends over backwards to assist AOCDS. So much so, that a recent Orange County Grand Jury report addresses the blatant nonsense of kowtowing to AOCDS.

This Grand Jury report, titled"ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF MEDICAL INSURANCE: COUNTY FAILURES IN NEGOTIATION, DOCUMENTATION, OVERSIGHT, AND TRANSPARENCY," does a scholarly job of addressing the joys of negotiating in closed session and the virtues of COIN (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Butt Out — June 13, 2015 June 13, 2015June 13, 2015 John Moorlach; MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN Modifications — July 18, 2014 July 18, 2014July 18, 2014 John Moorlach; MOORLACH UPDATE — Minting New COIN — June 25, 2014 June 25, 2014June 25, 2014 John Moorlach; MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN and VBM — June 23, 2014 June 23, 2014June 23, 2014 John Moorlach; and MOORLACH UPDATE — Maximus COIN — June 17, 2014
June 17, 2014June 17, 2014 John Moorlach).

I voted against the AOCDS MOU last year for the reasons cited in the report (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Pythons’ Tightening Grips — July 15, 2014 July 15, 2014July 15, 2014 John Moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter, et al — July 16, 2014 July 16, 2014July 16, 2014 John Moorlach). And I proposed COIN as a necessary method of stopping the nonsense that occurs behind closed doors.

The Grand Jury report can be read at:
http://www.ocgrandjury.org/pdfs/2014_2015_GJreport/Sheriff_Med_Website.pdf

Allow me to provide you with a few selected portions of the report, which concludes with recommendations that are in COIN. You’ve got to love the ironies.

Executive Summary:

". . . a lack of transparency that sometimes serves to undermine the collective bargaining process."

Page 19

The 2012-2016 MOU adopted by the Board of Supervisors (at Section 8.E), potentially exempts some of those County employees included in the "55 safety formula" (e.g., Sheriff employees) from having to pay any ARC contribution as of July 1, 2015. Their ARC would, over time, be reduced from 3.6% of their base salary to as low as zero.

As of July 1, 2015, County employees who are not "55 safety formula" employees will essentially be paying the entire cost of the monthly County retiree contributions paid to the AOCDS Trust for Sheriff employee medical coverage. This change clearly results in a significant difference between what is required of Sheriff employees and those who are not Sheriff employees.

The Grand Jury was informed that the MOU provisions leading to the elimination of the ARC for Sheriff employees was added to the MOU in a closed session of the Board of Supervisors. This session was held after the formal negotiations had been concluded by the negotiating teams representing the County and AOCDS, and effectively prevented review and comment by either of the negotiating teams before it was ultimately adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

Page 22

One observer of this closed session indicated that as soon as the proposal was made, two other Board members almost immediately concurred with the proposal that would place on the County significant additional long-term financial responsibilities for retired health care coverage for Sheriff employees. It was further reported to the Grand Jury that the ensuing discussion of the matter was "brief" and no further study of the potential implications of the new proposal was considered by the Board before a vote was held on an MOU containing the new proposal. Had the County just decided to negotiate against itself? After all, had not all five Supervisors agreed in April to go to mediation to avoid this exact outcome? What had happened in the intervening two months?

It was reported to the Grand Jury, based on the dialogue observed between the five Supervisors, that the manner in which the new provisions were proposed resulted in two Supervisors opposing final approval of the MOU. The MOU, containing these terms, was ultimately approved by a 3-2 vote of the Supervisors at the regularly scheduled Board of Supervisors meeting on July 15, 2014. Therefore, based on the information provided to the Grand Jury, the Grand Jury has concluded that greater transparency is called for in the MOU negotiation process.

Page 22

Something positive may actually have come as a result of all of this. Following Costa Mesa’s lead, one of the two Supervisors who had opposed the new AOCDS MOU proposed adoption of a County ordinance that would require transparency for employee contract negotiations. The ordinance (Sec. 1-3-12.), titled "Civic Openness in Negotiations" (COIN), was adopted by a 5-0 vote in August 2014.

Page 23

Adoption of the COIN ordinance appears to be a very positive development. However, COIN is only an ordinance, which is always subject to repeal or sunsetting by a majority of the Supervisors. As a matter of fact, during the debate on whether to first adopt the COIN ordinance, one of the Supervisors proposed that the ordinance sunset in 2016, the year the current AOCDS MOU will expire. The proposed sunsetting provision was rejected.

If COIN remains intact, the Supervisors and the public will certainly have an opportunity, in the next year, to assess whether the ordinance is having its intended effect, as the current County-AOCDS MOU expires on June 30, 2016.

Page 24

R.1. The County should retain a qualified, experienced, and independent negotiator to assist in the next negotiations between Orange County and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and require that entity to prepare an internally consistent Memorandum of Understanding that, for example, makes it clear whether the Orange County contributions are to be used only for active employees. (F.1.)

R.2. The County should retain a qualified, experienced, and independent negotiator to incorporate clear terms in the Memorandum Of Understanding that define limitations on the use of Orange County contributions that become reserve funds, specify how to deal with over-funding, and resolve what is to become of the funds in the Premium Stabilization Fund if the Trust’s agreement with Blue Cross is terminated. (F.2.)

Page 25

R.9. The County should support and take full advantage of Orange County’s Civic Openness in Negotiations – "COIN" ordinance in future Orange County and Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s Memorandum of Understanding negotiations and approval processes. (F.9.)

I am not deterred and will continue to fight for the taxpayers of Orange County and the state of California. We must be diligent in obtaining true freedom and not continue paying tribute to public employee unions who can obtain amazing salaries and benefits from those they put into office on both sides of the aisle. We must continually seek independence.

BONUS: You are invited to enjoy a beach fire ring experience with my staff on July 20th (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Rings — April 24, 2013 April 24, 2013April 24, 2013 John Moorlach). The event is free. There may be a cost for parking. The flyer is provided below.

State Rules County Violated Labor Laws When Passing COIN

By Nick Gerda

A state agency has ruled that top Orange County officials violated labor laws last year by imposing new requirements on employee negotiations, without giving unions a chance to negotiate about the changes ahead of time.

In a proposed decision by the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, the county was determined to have violated state law when supervisors passed the Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance, known as COIN.

“The County is found to have adopted a proposed ordinance, COIN, without prior notice to [the Orange County Employees Association], [Orange County Attorneys Association], and [International Union of Operating Engineers Local 501], and affording them an opportunity to meet and confer over the decision or effects of the proposed ordinance. Such a violation constitutes an unlawful unilateral change and a refusal to bargain in good faith,” states the June 16 ruling by Chief Administrative Law Judge Shawn B. Cloughesy.

If the ruling stands, the county would have to repeal four key sections of COIN, including public reporting of offers and counteroffers, disclosure of what took place during labor negotiation sessions, a 30-day non-negotiations period before supervisors consider opening proposals to labor groups.

The county would also have to put up notices for 30 days telling employees the county broke the law and is required to meet and confer with unions before making changes that affect their representation. The notices would also have to be emailed to county employees.

The county has until next week to appeal the ruling to the full labor board.

County spokeswoman Jean Pasco declined to comment on the ruling, other than to note that supervisors took no reportable action on the litigation during their closed session last week.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Employees Association, which represents two-thirds of the county workforce, applauded the ruling.

“We’re really happy that the administrative law judge recognized and upheld worker rights in his proposed decision,” said Jennifer Muir, the union’s assistant general manager.

Muir went on to say it shows the need to apply transparency across the board at the county, not just to employee contracts. She pointed to recent cost overruns and network outages stemming from the county’s contract with Xerox Corp.

"There’s just example after example after example about how that type of public scrutiny on those private contracts is just critical for the public,” she said.

Among other things, COIN requires public disclosure of offers and counter-offers on labor contracts, a more detailed financial analysis of proposed agreements and the posting of proposed agreements 30 days in advance of voting on their approval.

It was brought forward to the county last year by then-Supervisor John Moorlach, who argued that it will give residents a better chance to weigh in on proposed labor agreements.

Supporters, such as the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County, also suggested the ordinance would help prevent labor costs from escalating due to benefit increases.

Labor groups, meanwhile, argued that COIN triggers a requirement to meet and confer with employees under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, which mandates certain types of communication between government agencies and employee groups regarding labor negotiations.

They also criticized supervisors for not having the ordinance cover all government contracting, especially with private companies that finance the supervisors’ political campaigns and account for more than half of the county’s spending.

In reaction to COIN, OCEA is spearheading state legislation that would require any local government that implements COIN to also follow a similar process for contracts with private vendors over $50,000.

That legislation, known as CRONEY, was passed by the Senate in May and was approved by the Assembly’s local government committee on Wednesday.

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

OC Register Logo

State attorney finds OC supervisors acted illegally in approving ‘COIN’ labor ordinance

By MEGHANN M. CUNIFF / STAFF WRITER

Orange County leaders acted illegally when they failed to let unions try to negotiate new requirements imposed last year on county contract-negotiation processes, an attorney for a state agency has ruled.

The proposed ruling by an administrative law judge for the Public Employment Relations Board, issued June 16, could force the county to repeal key parts of the Civic Openness in Negotiations ordinance, dubbed COIN, which requires offers and counter-offers on labor contracts be publicized and requires more detailed analysis of the financial effects of proposed labor agreements, among other things.

The Board of Supervisors has not yet voted on whether to appeal the ruling.

If it doesn’t appeal and the ruling becomes final, not only would the ordinance be dismantled, but the county would be required to place notices that tell employees the county broke the law. The notices are to be displayed for 30 days, and each county employee is to receive one through email.

The ruling was prompted by an unfair labor practice filed last year by the Orange County Employees Association, the county’s biggest union.

County and union officials were not available for comment late Thursday.

The ordinance was introduced last year by state Sen. John Moorlach when he was a supervisor. A similar ordinance exists in Costa Mesa and is being considered in other cities.

Labor leaders cried foul when Moorlach introduced the ordinance, but Moorlach said the changes didn’t affect wages, hours and employment conditions so they weren’t subject to negotiation.

Human Resources Director Steve Danley agreed, saying the new law did not have a “significant and adverse” impact on wages or hours, according to the ruling.

The attorney for the labor board, however, disagreed and pointed to a list of past cases in which state officials established that ground rules for negotiations are a mandatory subject of bargaining.

“While the ground rules used during negotiations do not, on their face, directly affect employees’ wages, hours, or working conditions, the application of ground rules through the bargaining process would have a significant and adverse effect on wages, hours and working conditions,” according to the ruling, written by Chief Administrative Law Judge Shawn B. Cloughesy. “If a public agency is able to exercise overall control over the ground rules of bargaining, it can short circuit and frustrate bargaining to the point it ceases to be a bilateral process.”

The ruling will become final unless a party appeals within 20 days of service, according to the ruling.

Contact the writer: mcuniff or 949-492-5122. Twitter: @meghanncuniff.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Totalitarianism — July 1, 2015

I’ve been involved with legislation over the past 20 years in my two previous capacities. But, the bill that has received the most attention in the Capitol this year is SB 277 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 April 30, 2015 John Moorlach).

There may be two lessons to be learned from Sacramento’s insistence in mandating that California residents be forced to take a regimen of numerous vaccines. The first lesson is those who feel that their civil rights and liberties are being trampled on will react. Three weeks ago there were some two thousand taxpayers here in the Capitol to testify against the bill. They came from every corner of the state, including Orange County. Let’s hope they continue to enjoy the role of activists.

The second is that, with a few exceptions, this bill went along party lines. Consequently, the taxpayers now know who is forcing them to do certain things or face severe consequences. Absolute control by a governing body is the definition of totalitarianism. So, I didn’t hesitate to call it as such. Expect more of the same in the years to come and continue to stay vigilant.

The Governor signed the bill rather quickly and it had the Capitol spinning yesterday. City News Service’s story was picked up by MyNewsLA.com, the Times of San Diego, and the Lake Forest Patch in the first piece below. The second piece is from the front-page story in the OC Register.

On a different note, it was an honor to recognize another business in the 37th Senatorial District for their support of a summer camp program for abused children. I was involved in summer youth camp programs early in my life and career and appreciate those who see its importance. The Daily Pilot covers it in the third piece below.

Logo

Logo

Lake Forest Patch
New law mandates vaccinations for kids, opponents claim ‘totalitarianism’

Despite charges of ‘totalitarianism’ from some opponents, almost all school children in the Southland and across California will be required to be vaccinated against diseases such as measles and whooping cough under legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The controversial measure was co-sponsored by a Democratic state senator from Santa Monica, Ben Allen. Another co-sponsor was Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento. Pan is also a pediatrician. The legislation was prompted in part by an outbreak of measles traced to Disneyland that began in late December and ultimately spread to more than 130 people across the state. Cases were also reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Utah and Washington state.

The legislation eliminates vaccination exemptions based on religious or personal beliefs. It will require all children entering kindergarten to be vaccinated unless a doctor certifies that a child has a medical condition, such as allergies, preventing it.

“I want to thank all of the parents, families and my colleagues and Governor Brown for their advocacy and thoughtful deliberation of this legislation,” said Allen, former president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board. “Today is a good day for California.”

Brown, in a bill-signing message sent to the state Senate, acknowledged there was opposition to the bill, but said children’s health is important to protect.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infection and dangerous diseases,” Brown wrote in his message. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

Brown noted that the legislation exempts children from immunizations if there are “circumstances, including but not limited to, family medical history for which the physician does not recommend immunization.”

Los Angeles Unified School District officials said last week they supported the bill’s intent of “boosting vaccination rates through the state,” adding that the requirement “will ensure a safer and healthier environment for our schools.”

Opponents criticized the bill as infringing on the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children. Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, said it “denies parents the right to exempt genetically susceptible brothers and sisters of vaccine-injured children, denies parents a religious exemption and denies conscientious objectors a public-school education.”

Although the Disneyland outbreak happened in Orange County, many of the county’s lawmakers opposed the legislation.

Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Tustin, who represents Anaheim, said he supports vaccination as a general rule, but he voted against the legislation because he felt it did too much to curtail choice among parents.

“I am a proponent of vaccines and I’ve got my kids vaccinated,” Wagner told City News Service. “I think by and large it’s the right thing to do from a medical and public health standpoint. However, there are people who have very legitimate concerns that are either religious or with their own particular children in the timing of the vaccines. I think it’s bad precedent to have the government run roughshod over those concerns, so my vote was to err on the side of freedom and liberty and parental choice.”

Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim, said, however, the bill represents a “balanced approach.”

Daly said he voted for the bill, “after careful consideration of the views of my constituents, many of whom contacted my capitol and district offices, and of recent amendments that had been made to the bill. … It protects the overwhelming number of children in my district who are vaccinated. And it protects those who, based on the assessment of their doctors, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.”

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Irvine, said he also does not oppose vaccinations in principle, but said he was concerned after hearing appeals from mothers who claimed their children were disabled or permanently injured by a shot.

“I’m not anti-vaccination. I’m just saying make sure the mothers are comfortable. Let them own the position. Once they understand it and once they’re convinced there’s no reactions” then they will support it, Moorlach told CNS. “I come from a place of freedom and liberty, and to be told I have to do something or face dire consequences, it just smacks of totalitarianism.”

Moorlach also said he has concerns about “big pharmaceutical” companies having an undue influence on the debate.

“When I was a kid it was three shots, then when my kids were growing up it was eight shots,” Moorlach said.

Moorlach said he was especially moved by the anecdote from Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Redding, who recounted on the Senate floor how his daughter suffered a frightening reaction to a vaccination.

“We took her in for shots and she had a seizure that night and we had to rush her into a hospital where they stabilized her and did an MRI” and found the coating around the brain had separated, Gaines told City News Service. “The doctors said we don’t want your child to have any more vaccinations for 10 years, so we were very careful with spreading those out. She’s vaccinated — she’s 13 now — so we had to take a very slow approach.”

Sen. Patricia Bates, R-San Juan Capistrano, said she supports vaccinations but opposed the bill.

“While the bill grandfathers in non-vaccinated children currently attending public schools, it does not apply to their younger siblings who have yet to enter school,” she wrote in a letter to constituents. “This would force parents to either violate their personal beliefs or take them out of public school.

“Simply put, SB 277 does not go far enough to ensure that non- vaccinated children receive equal access to the high quality public education that the California Constitution guarantees and therefore I cannot support it.”

Interim Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser countered that the recent measles outbreak “highlights the importance” of ensuring as many people as possible get vaccinated.

“Measles remains a serious health threat that is present in many parts of the world,” he said. “Attaining the highest vaccination rates possible in Los Angeles County will assure that our children and all residents are safe in the event that additional cases are imported in the future.”

County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl hailed the bill, saying it will protect “our children and our communities from a host of entirely preventable communicable diseases.”

Leah Russin, co-founder of Vaccinate California, an advocacy group that pushed for the legislation, said parents can now “breathe a sigh of relief knowing our children and others will be better protected from preventative diseases.”

Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said vaccination rates have dropped in schools in recent years, raising the risk of disease outbreaks.

“The bill protects the health of our children and our communities, especially those too young or too ill to receive vaccines,” Torlakson said. “The bill protects against the outbreaks of debilitating, crippling and costly preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. It will help keep students healthy so they can attend school, learn and succeed.”

City News Service

OC Register Logo

After Disneyland measles outbreak in December, Gov. Jerry Brown signs one of stricter vaccine laws in the U.S.

BY JENNA CHANDLER

With a declaration that the science on vaccines is “clear,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a strict and controversial law aimed at boosting immunization rates in California following a measles outbreak that was ignited at Disneyland Resort.

The new law – which was hotly debated in the Legislature, drawing busloads of protesting parents from across the state – will make it harder for parents to dodge vaccines for children enrolled in public and private school.

“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” Brown said in signing the measure, Senate Bill 277.

“While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”

Two options will remain for children who are unvaccinated and partially vaccinated to attend private or public school. The unvaccinated may obtain medical waivers; the partially vaccinated may enroll as conditional entrants, meaning they are behind on their shots but intend to get them.

The new law takes effect in the 2016-2017 school year, but students’ immunization records will be checked only when they enroll in kindergarten and seventh grade and when they enroll in a new school.

So an unvaccinated first-grader who remains in the same school would have until seventh grade to catch up, and an unvaccinated eighth-grader could finish high school without getting vaccinated, unless switching schools.

With the Democratic governor’s signature, California now wields one of the toughest vaccine laws in the country.

“This is a great milestone,” said Dr. Marnie Baker, a pediatrician and Irvine mother whose 8-year-old son has a weakened immune system because of a heart transplant and relies on those around him to be vaccinated.

She said her colleagues at MemorialCare Health System greeted the news enthusiastically.

“It’s been a lot of, ‘Hurrahs!’” she said.

California was among 20 states that allowed for personal belief exemptions and among 48 that allowed for religious exemptions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California now joins only two other states – Mississippi and West Virginia – in allowing only medical exemptions.

The tougher laws work, experts say, pointing to Mississippi, which has the highest rate – 99 percent – of vaccinated kindergartners in the country. West Virginia isn’t far behind.

Dr. Bob Sears, a Capistrano Beach-based pediatrician and a proponent of delayed vaccine schedules, said parents will be distrustful of a government that forces vaccinations. He expects many parents will take advantage of the option to delay vaccines or obtain medical waivers.

He and other opponents have questioned whether SB 277 would actually help contain outbreaks, pointing to the waning effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine. For both adults and children who get the shot, high levels of protection decrease after the first two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The governor went ahead and signed it basically operating under the general principle that vaccines are good, they save lives, and therefore any bill which makes them more mandatory should by default be a positive change for California,” said Sears.

The divisive debate about SB 277 touched on the efficacy and safety of vaccines and forced lawmakers to choose between the rights of parents who don’t believe immunizing their children is safe and the rights of parents to send their children to school without the risk of contracting diseases.

Opponents also said parents should have the right to make medical decisions for their children, and some epidemiologists said educating parents about the safety and efficacy of vaccines is a better approach than a tough mandate.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, said the bill won’t be effective, because unvaccinated children will still mingle with other kids outside of school, like when playing sports.

“Choosing to infringe on the right of students to attend school simply does not make sense,” he said.

Others feared a medical waiver would be difficult to obtain, particularly for siblings of children who have had severe reactions to vaccines, including seizures. Such side effects are very rare, according to public health officials.

SB 277 was introduced following an outbreak of measles at Disneyland in December. Public health officials said an infected park-goer spread the highly contagious virus to 131 people in California.

One of the earliest patients was hospitalized for three weeks with a breathing tube and mechanical ventilator, said the state’s top epidemiologist Gil Chavez. The patient – one of 20 who were hospitalized – developed multiple organ injuries, required renal dialysis, and at some points, was unresponsive.

But Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa, said the outbreak was “small” and used to “erode personal liberty and increase government meddling.” That, he said, “proves why there is no trust in the California legislative process.”

Of the 81 people in the outbreak whose vaccination status was known, 70 percent had not been vaccinated.

Last school year, about 10 percent of kindergartners in California and in Orange County were not fully up to date on their shots. Of those, about 3 percent of Orange County kindergartners obtained personal belief and religious exemptions, according to California Department of Public Health data.

But there were pockets, mostly in coastal South Orange County, where the rates of unvaccinated children are much higher, reaching 62 percent at Journey School in Aliso Viejo. These pockets, researchers have found, fuel outbreaks.

As much as 95 percent of a community’s population needs to be vaccinated in order to contain outbreaks, according to public health officials.

In the wake of the recent measles outbreak and with all of the attention on SB 277, Baker, the mother and MemorialCare pediatrician, said a growing number of her patients who were hesitant about vaccines have brought their children up to date on their shots.

“I think that some parents’ decision not to vaccinate was perhaps just based on a little bit of fear or misinformation,” she said.

Daily Pilot

Around Town: Karate studio owners honored for charity work

Bob and Barbara White, co-owners of Bob White’s Karate Studio in Costa Mesa, recently received a proclamation from state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

The couple were credited for their years of fundraising efforts for Royal Family Kids, a nonprofit that aids abused, neglected and abandoned children. The Whites, who received the proclamation Friday, also organize fundraising karate and golf tournaments.

"We are now working with karate studios all over the world to get them involved," Bob White said in an email. "Child abuse is everywhere, and the more we can do to spread the good work Royal Family Kids does, we want to do."

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Where’s Leadership? — June 27, 2015

A drought is defined as "a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall; a shortage of water resulting from this." Then there is a man-made water crisis, a phenomenon that could have been avoided. California has a man-made water crisis. Fortunately, Orange County does not.

Last year, Keith Naughton, in a San Francisco Chronicle column, titled "California’s man-made water crisis," stated that water districts should "build water reclamation projects (clean the water and reuse it). California has enough water. The state could sustain itself through conservation and reusing what it has. And there is zero risk in that." Give the OC a gold star in this category.

The collaboration between the Orange County Sanitation District and the Orange County Water District to build and provide the largest groundwater replenishment system in the world is something every resident can be extremely proud. It’s worthy of a toast! The OC Register provides the details on yesterday’s dedication of the expanded facility in the first piece below, including photos. The second photo is in the plant and provides you with an opportunity to play "Where’s Waldo?"

In my remarks at the dedication ceremony, I reminded everyone of the old Chinese proverb, that the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. It’s a shame that California did not focus on providing more water retention decades ago. And the current leadership on the drought has been so dismal from the Governor and the Legislature.

Cramming a trailer bill through the Senate Budget Committee whose members, including myself, received it just minutes previous to its meeting is bad form. Imposing a top-down unilateral merging of water districts is an example of flailing and desperate leadership (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 88 — June 19, 2015 June 19, 2015 John Moorlach).

Even AB 91 was a sad and disappointing attempt at providing drought relief (see MOORLACH UPDATE — First Full Day — March 25, 2015 March 26, 2015 John Moorlach). The Wall Street Journal saw it the same way (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Why I Won — April 2, 2015 April 2, 2015 John Moorlach). It’s rough having a front-row seat on this nonstop disappointment.

Remember when we had real leaders? On Monday, a statue of the only California Governor who would become President of the United States was dedicated in the Capitol’s basement rotunda. I was in attendance and photos were provided in the LA Times, Sacramento Bee, and OC Register. Thanks to the angles of the shots, I ended up in many of them. So, for another fun game of "Where’s Waldo?," see if you can find me in the next five photos.

Speaking of a man-made water crisis, we also have a man-made pension crisis. In the second piece below, CalWatchdog.com provides another article on the budget that was signed this week. The woeful attempt at addressing the state’s pension deficits is another example of dismal leadership.

As I was leaving the Senate Floor after last Friday’s extra day of Session, the Associated Press photographer was hoping that I would be holding all of my binders. Staff came to my rescue, so he didn’t get what he was hoping for. But, he still got this shot and it was the lead photo of the Yahoo News website all last Saturday.

BONUS: To provide some direction, I released my thoughts on where the State’s budget should be focused and the graph included is provided below, just above the last photo (also see http://district37.cssrc.us/content/budget-update-5-key-indicators-ca-fiscal-health).

DOUBLE BONUS: I was interviewed on the Budget by Phil Cowan of AM 1380 KTKZ and it is available at http://district37.cssrc.us/content/senator-moorlach-am-1380-ktkz-answer. One of my points? California has not only drained its surface retained water, it has also drained its cash reserves.

TRIPLE BONUS: This past week Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon announced the Senators who will be serving on the special session committees. I have been appointed to serve on the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — New Political Split — April 24, 2015 April 24, 2015 John Moorlach)

OC Register Logo

nql801-b88445675z.120150626221439000go5aijf1.10.jpg

Cathy Green, president of the Orange County Water District, and others toast with recycled water on Friday. ANA VENEGAS, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

BY AARON ORLOWSKI

Officials unveiled an initial expansion of Orange County Water District’s wastewater recycling facility in Fountain Valley on Friday, bringing production from 70 million gallons per day to 100 million gallons.

With the $142 million expansion, the wastewater program provides enough recycled water to meet the needs of about 850,000 Orange County residents. The Fountain Valley plant is the largest of its kind in the world.

Another, final expansion of the Groundwater Replenishment System, which began treating water in 2008, would bring production to 130 million gallons per day.

At the water district’s facility in Fountain Valley, lightly treated wastewater from the Orange County Sanitation District that would otherwise be discharged into the ocean is pumped through a series of filters. The heart of OCWD’s advanced filtering process is when the water is forced through reverse osmosis membranes, which also can be used to take the salt out of seawater.

The water comes out ultrapure and is used to replenish groundwater stocks through recharge basins in Anaheim. It also is injected into wells in Fountain Valley to ward off saltwater that could penetrate the groundwater basin from the ocean.

Water agencies pump the groundwater out and distribute it as tap water to 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.

As water supplies have tightened during California’s four-year drought, experts have looked to wastewater as a source that’s not dependent on rainfall.

“With the drought, this expansion has come on in the nick of time,” said Mike Markus, the water district’s general manager.

With a final expansion planned sometime in the next decade, officials hope to eventually treat and recycle all the water produced by the sanitation district, which serves 2.5 million people in north and central Orange County.

Current plans would treat only about 70 percent of the water generated by the sanitation district.

“Hopefully, that 70 percent can increase,” said Tom Beamish, chairman of the board of directors at the sanitation district. “We are committed to making that final expansion a reality.”

To complete the final expansion, the sanitation district will have to figure out how to transport water from its treatment plant in Huntington Beach to OCWD’s system in Fountain Valley. The water district is already recycling all of the water generated by the sanitation district’s Fountain Valley plant.

Advances in membrane technology have made reverse osmosis systems cheaper to operate. Other advances lower energy costs by reusing the pressure that forces water through the membranes.

As part of the initial expansion, the water district built two 7.5-million-gallon storage tanks to hold some water during the day and run it through the filters overnight, when the sanitation district isn’t producing as much wastewater.

The Groundwater Replenishment System is in a category called indirect potable reuse, which means there’s a buffer between the recycled water and those who drink it – in this case, the groundwater aquifer.

In the coming years, water experts predict direct potable reuse – wherein recycled wastewater is pumped straight into pipes destined for homes – will become common.

Some water officials lament that it isn’t common already. “It’s a shame we have to put it in the ground in order to use it,” said Philip Anthony, a member of the water district’s board.

Orange County politicos spoke at Friday’s event, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, State Sen. John Moorlach, Assemblyman Matthew Harper and Assemblyman Travis Allen.

Contact the writer: aorlowski. Twitter: @aaronorlowski

nql805-b88445675z.120150626221439000ghdaik54.10.jpg

nqd8cm-b88442093z.120150622144106000ghgafgpb.10.jpg

nqd8cl-b88442093z.120150622144106000ghgafgp7.10.jpg

nqd8cl-b88442093z.120150622144106000ghgafgp5.10.jpg

Sculptor Douglas Van Howd, left, and Douglas Elmets, chairman of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Foundation, unveil the 8-foot-tall bronze statue of the former California governor and president during ceremonies at the Capitol in Sacramento on Monday.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz poses in front of a statue of his former boss, President Ronald Reagan, that was unveiled at the Capitol on Monday. The 8-foot-tall bronze statue of California’s 33rd governor and the 40th president was created by sculptor Douglas Van Howd and is on display in the lower rotunda of the Capitol.

CalWatchdog.com

Legislature passes record $117 billion budget

Josephine Djuhana

On Monday, the California Legislature passed a $117 billion state budget on a 52-28 vote, meeting the June 15 deadline to send the bill to Governor Jerry Brown. The Legislature’s version of the budget allocates $117 billion in expenditures and sets aside $5 billion in reserves. Crafted by Democratic legislators on a conference committee, the budget proposes $2 billion more in spending and $3.2 billion more in projected revenue than Gov. Brown’s May Revise.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 10.56.49 AM

Democrats in Sacramento praised the approval of a “balanced” and “on-time” budget. A prepared release from Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, says Assembly Bill 93, the budget bill, will “pay down debt, build reserves and restore funding to schools.”

“I want to thank our Budget Chair, Dr. Shirley Weber, our subcommittee chairs, the members of the Budget Committee and our conferees for performing an incredible amount of work, which is shown in the budget we voted on today,” said Speaker Atkins. “The stability from the years of hard choices gives us an opportunity that has been rare in recent years – the chance to focus on a budget that builds a stronger and brighter future for the people of California.”

Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, released the following statement on the passage of AB93:

“I’m proud to support a balanced budget that prioritizes education, health care, and poverty reduction in California. By strengthening social programs to assist the disadvantaged, such as early education and the Earned Income Tax Program, more Californians will have the freedom to follow their own path to success and happiness. This budget will also help create healthier communities by restoring funding cuts to critical Medi-Cal programs. … Overall, these policies outline the virtues of a society concerned with creating the broadest opportunities for all of our citizens.”

Senator Connie Leyva, D-Chino, also commended the budget approval, calling it a “forward-looking budget that continues to strengthen California’s diverse communities … throughout the state.”

Democratic legislators highlighted the importance of investment in the Earned Income Tax Program, health care and Medi-Cal, state education at all levels of learning, public safety, child care and other programs. Senator Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, said the budget “reflects the Legislature’s priorities of investing in the people of our great state … while paying down the state’s long term debt and setting aside more resources for our rainy day fund.”

But Republican legislators fear the budget does not do enough to meet the needs of California’s unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities.

balanced budget

Senator John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said on the Senate floor that the budget “departs from Governor Brown’s call for fiscal restraint” and does not “make a dent in our $72 billion in unfunded retiree medical costs, or the over $100 billion [plus] in unfunded pension liabilities.”

Senator Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said the budget “gives a false sense of security to Californians.” Despite providing more resources for education, “it creates new and additional spending in other areas, which is simply unsustainable” and “may lead to higher taxes.” Her release continued:

“The undeniable fact is that this budget would spend a record $269 billion, which is $15 billion higher than last year’s budget. It also promises money that may never materialize as it assumes that the state will receive $3 billion more than what Governor Brown believes we will receive. That’s why he has not agreed to this budget. He recognizes that it repeats the foolishness of relying on rosy economic projections.

“Governor Brown has governed during times of both boom and bust, and I hope he will resist the urge to live beyond our means. By paying down more debt and smartly investing in top priorities such as education, we can avoid major problems down the road and secure a healthier future for all Californians.”

The Republican vice chairs of the Assembly and Senate budget committees, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, and Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, also sent a formal letter to the governor, calling the proposed budget a “political exercise” and saying adoption of the budget would be “fiscal malpractice”:

“The needs of the state are great and the urge to spend is strong. As you have noted, however, a moderate economic downturn could cut state revenue by $40 billion over three short years. In assessing the health of the state’s economy, economists have suggested that California is not even prepared for a moderate recession. While our work to build a Rainy Day Fund is commendable, the Fund is only projected to have a $3.5 billion balance as of next summer. We should not delude ourselves into believing that $3.5 billion would be sufficient to smooth the effects of a significant economic tremor.”

According to charts from the Department of Finance, actual expenditures for fiscal year 2011-12 were $86.4 billion. As state revenues increased, that number has ballooned to $96.6 billion in FY 2012-13 and $99.8 billion in FY 2013-14. The proposed budget for FY 2015-16 is $117.5 billion – that’s about $17.7 billion dollars more than just two years ago.

The estimated revenue for the general fund in FY 2015-16 according to the Gov. Brown’s May Revise is $113.3 billion, which is less than the Legislature’s proposal to spend $117 billion and save $5 billion.

Gov. Brown and the Legislature will continue to negotiate and work out any discrepancies until the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1. The proposal now goes to the governor to sign and approve.

Source: http://district37.cssrc.us/content/budget-update-5-key-indicators-ca-fiscal-health

Displaying

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, gathers his binders together as he prepares to leave the Senate after session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, June 19, 2015. Both houses of the Legislature approved the $115.4 billion compromise spending plan and sent it to the governor.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, gathers his binders together as he prepares to leave the Senate after session at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, June 19, 2015. Both houses of the Legislature approved the $115.4 billion compromise spending plan and sent it to the governor.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 88 — June 19, 2015

A special Senate Floor Session was called for this morning, lasting more than five hours, to approve the new "junior" budget and thirteen trailer bills. This followed a five-and-one-half hours Budget Committee meeting yesterday afternoon.

The good news is that the Governor did not budge very much from his original May revise budget. The bad news is that the budget does not address unfunded liabilities as aggressively as it should (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Budget Act — June 16, 2015 June 16, 2015 John Moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Civilian Oversight — June 15, 2015 June 15, 2015 John Moorlach). Consequently, I voted to oppose.

I serve on the Budget Committee and, since I’m a victim of Trailer Bill abuse, thanks to SB 89 in 2011 (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — 34th Senate District — August 31, 2014 August 31, 2014 John Moorlach), I voiced my concerns and opposition Thursday afternoon and it was captured by the San Francisco Chronicle in the first piece below.

I’m just off of the Senate Floor and the San Francisco Chronicle covers it already in the second piece below. I vented my agitation one more time, stating that trailer bills are an inappropriate strategy for the Governor to use. If they are not related to the budget, then knock it off. SB 88 is opposed by just about everyone in the municipal arena and it is an amazing policy over reach. SB 88 was provided to the Budget Committee yesterday morning, just a few hours before our meeting. This "middle of the night" nonsense has to stop. So I reminded my colleagues that this is not rule by fiat and that this is not a monarchy (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Budget Act — June 16, 2015 June 16, 2015 John Moorlach).

The Daily Pilot provides the good news that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee’s agenda had the Great Park audit of the audit dropped (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Butt Out — June 13, 2015 June 13, 2015 John Moorlach). Thank goodness for small victories.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!

File:San Francisco Chronicle logo.svg

Budget ready for vote, with officials’ pet projects slipped in

By Melody Gutierrez

With a state budget deal announced this week, details are emerging of last-minute policies tucked into the spending plan that will bypass the typical public scrutiny.

Lawmakers will vote Friday on the $115.4 billion general-fund budget deal and accompanying trailer bills for the 2015-16 year, which include wide-ranging new spending for lawmakers’ pet projects and several policy changes that have nothing to do with the state’s finances.

“There are decisions in these bills that have never been heard, and many that were publicly rejected, only to be put back in when no one was looking,” Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula (Riverside County), said Thursday during a Senate hearing to review the budget bills.

For example, one non-budgetary provision would extend a deadline for an environmental review required for the planned Golden State Warriors arena in San Francisco, and another would grant the state new authority to force troubled water districts to consolidate with larger, better-funded ones.

A coalition of statewide local government organizations, including the Association of California Water Agencies and League of California Cities, opposes the water agency proposal, which they said should go through a normal public policy review instead of a fast-tracked budget bill. Several lawmakers agreed.

“That needs a lot more discussion than it will get being brought in this late,” said Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore (Riverside County).

In all, there are 13 trailer bills accompanying the state budget this year, and some of the provisions in the legislation enact anticipated, much-discussed proposals, such as the state earned income tax credit, or various parts of the budget deal announced Tuesday by legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Others were a surprise, even to the lawmakers voting on the measures.

The surprise provisions turn up as add-ons in trailer bills that commonly accompany the main budget bill. The entire budget package of legislation often includes more than a dozen bills that are voted on separately.

Lawmakers said they had just hours to review a drought trailer bill sought by the governor that included an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, for local governments that want to place a moratorium on new wells.

The governor’s office included language in a trailer bill that would erase $8 million the state agreed to pay counties for land purchased for wildlife conservation and would make it optional in future years for the state to pay for such purchases. The administration said it intends to pay for future purchases and included $644,000 in the 2015-16 budget for land conservation purchases. But the state wants to wipe the slate clean on past purchases and ensure flexibility on whether it must make future payments when the funds may not exist.

Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, called the proposal a “real poke in the eye.”

“I think it’s shortsighted,” Wolk said to administration officials at a budget hearing Thursday.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County), challenged Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, about whether the Warriors arena environmental review extension should be part of the budget bill.

“What does this have to do with the budget?” Moorlach asked. “Why not do this as a regular bill?”

Leno said he requested the environmental review extension for the Warriors when it appeared that the team would not be able to meet a deadline to get the environmental review finalized by Jan. 1, 2016.

The extension, which also applies to a building in Hollywood, allows for large projects already deemed environmental leaders to be streamlined under CEQA. Under the trailer bill, the Warriors would now have until Jan. 1, 2017, to finalize the environmental review for the arena to qualify for the streamlined process.

Leno said that after the Warriors listened to the community and decided not to proceed with the original waterfront site, finding a new location at Mission Bay and building support has delayed the team’s ability to meet the deadline.

“If we didn’t extend the date, they would have been punished for doing the very thing I want to encourage projects to do — get public support,” Leno said.

Leno said including the extension in the budget bills will allow it take effect July 1 if signed by the governor, versus the start of the new year.

Melody Gutierrez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: mgutierrez. Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez

California Legislature sends budget to Jerry Brown

By Melody Gutierrez

The California Legislature gave final approval Friday to a $115.4 billion general fund state budget that now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, who helped negotiate the revised spending plan and has given it his support.

The record-high budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 received a handful of Republican votes as it passed the Senate 30-9 and Assembly 53-26.

The Legislature officially passed the state budget Monday, but did so with a party-line vote on a $117.5 billion spending plan that did not have Brown’s support. Instead of waiting for Brown’s veto pen, the governor and legislative leaders announced Tuesday they had reached a deal with $2 billion less in spending. The deal included some of the additional spending for child care and health care that Democratic lawmakers’ sought.

Lawmakers passed the amended bill Friday that reflected the budget deal as well as trailer bills, including controversial drought-related measures that give the state the authority to force small, troubled water districts to consolidate with larger, better-funded ones and an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, for water recycling projects and for local governments that want to place a moratorium on new wells.

Many lawmakers criticized Brown for offering the language for the drought bill at the last minute.

“It’s a major policy change that has no business of being in the budget process,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County). “This is a cram-down.”

The state budget creates an Earned Income Tax Credit for the poor, sets aside $40 million for 170,000 children who are undocumented immigrants and whose families are low income to receive Medi-Cal benefits and $265 million to create 13,800 preschool and child care slots along with a rate increase for providers.

Under the budget, the state’s rainy-day fund will have a $3.5 billion balance by the end of the year, while setting aside $1.1 billion for an operating reserve and $1.9 billion to pay down debts and liabilities, including money borrowed from public schools during the recession.

Public schools will receive $3,000 more per student in 2015-16 compared with four years earlier as K-12 schools take in $60 billion in funding for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.

“This budget strikes a responsible balance between strengthening our long-term fiscal foundation and investing in the economy of today and the workforce of tomorrow,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. “This budget focuses on bookend investments at the start and end of a California kid’s educational career, by adding childcare and preschool slots for working families and increasing access to higher education.”

Democratic lawmakers had hoped to restore Medi-Cal rates, further increase subsidized preschools and repeal a law that denies additional state aid to children born to parents who were already on welfare. Brown said there wasn’t enough money for all of the discretionary spending Democratic lawmakers sought.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said there is still much to be proud of in the budget.

“The nature of compromise is that no one gets everything that he or she wants,” said Leno, who chairs the Senate’s budget committee. Melody Gutierrez is a mgutierrez. Twitter: @MelodyGutierrez

Daily Pilot

Second request for Great Park Audit investigation is dropped

By Matt Morrison

A push to have the audit of the Orange County Great Park examined in the Legislature hit a second wall Wednesday when Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) abruptly withdrew her request before a meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee in Sacramento.

Gonzalez had proposed an investigation at the joint meeting in April at the urging of construction design firm Gafcon, a Great Park subcontractor headquartered in her district. At that time, the item was denied approval, despite a 9-3 overall vote in favor, because the request did not have the required balance of at least four yes votes by both the state Assembly and Senate members of the committee.

In January 2013, the Irvine City Council approved conducting the audit of the Great Park work at an original budget of $240,000. A subcommittee of Irvine council members Christina Shea and Jeffrey Lalloway was charged with overseeing the audit. The final report was presented in March after more than two years and at a cost in excess of $1.2 million.

The audit report concluded that the construction of the park was rife with mismanagement and budgetary irresponsibility, noting that more than $200 million had been spent on the project between 2005 and 2012. Findings left the door open for legal action to recover money paid to contractors based on potential professional negligence, false claims or conflicts of interest.

Gafcon, Newport Beach public relations firm Forde & Mollrich and former Irvine Mayor Larry Agran, who oversaw the Great Park project for five of the seven years in question, are all central figures in the report. After 28 years as a City Council member, including three terms as mayor, Agran was voted out of office last November.

Gonzalez argued in April that the audit process may have been drawn out for election purposes and that Gafcon’s reputation and business suffered significantly as a result. At the same hearing, Gafcon principal Yehudi Gaffen testified that his company "lost millions" and "did not win one job in 2014 because of this so-called audit."

Exactly why Gonzalez dropped her second request at the June 17 committee meeting remains unclear. Attempts to reach the assemblywoman were unsuccessful, and a representative from her legislative office said only that Gonzalez will "continue to monitor the situation" and may still file a request for an investigation at a future joint meeting.

Legislators opposed to the "audit of the audit" have speculated that the item did not have enough support to pass, prompting Gonzalez to withdraw the request.

"All I know is she withdrew the item, and I’m gratified that she has," said Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine). "I thank Lorena for withdrawing the request."

Representing a delegation of Republican legislators from Orange County, Wagner wrote a letter to Joint Legislative Audit Committee Chairman Mike Gibson (D-Carson) urging that it deny the audit request.

The letter was co-signed by state Sens. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Bob Huff (R-San Dimas), John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), along with assembly members Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), William Brough (R-Dana Point), Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar), Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach ) and Young Kim (R-Fullerton).

Gafcon spokesman Paul Najar said the lobbying effort against the investigation is troubling. Najar said defensive efforts of Irvine Mayor Steven Choi and special counsel Anthony Taylor at the April joint committee meeting prevent transparency of the audit process.

An official statement issued by Gafcon said the audit is "riddled with falsehoods" and concludes: "We are perplexed as to why the City Council is spending so much additional public money to oppose a review by the non-partisan state auditor if they have nothing to hide."

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — The Budget Act — June 16, 2015

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been providing you with graphs that show the continued growth of California’s annual state budget. In order to maintain spending levels, the state has borrowed from and depleted internal funds. Now it’s time to keep the budget level. Any revenues received above and beyond this fixed amount should be applied to the budget evenly in four areas: cash reserves to reduce the unrestricted net deficit, pension plans and retiree medical plans to reduce the unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities, and deferred maintenance to improve our transportation infrastructure.

Instead, it appears that the Legislature wants to create more child care jobs, allow those hired to unionize (when California is already one of the highest spending states for early child care in the nation), which will ultimately lock-in higher long-term costs and obligations to our general fund with what looks to be one time money. This ever spiraling course of action is unsustainable and increasingly jeopardizes the health of California’s finances. And, it will not be pretty. So I gave the Governor a few blue pencils to line-item veto this budget (#bluepencils).

The LA Times covers the fun in the first piece below. The Sierra Sun Times printed quotes from various State Legislators, of which I am only providing mine. If you wish to read the others, please go to http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/local-news/3555-california-republican-reps-including-berryhill-bigelow-and-cannella-say-democrats-budget-bill-is-fiscally-irresponsible.

Image001
Legislature approves new $117.5-billion budget as spending talks continue

Chris Megerian

California lawmakers passed a new budget Monday, but the debate over state spending is far from over in the Capitol.

Shortly after the approval of a $117.5-billion general fund, legislative leaders returned to negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown in an attempt to reach a final deal.

“We’re close,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

Lawmakers’ pay would have been docked had they not passed a budget by midnight. But the plan they approved is $2.2 billion larger than what Brown proposed, and the governor has repeatedly expressed concern that the Legislature’s ruling Democrats want to spend too much.

Based on higher revenue estimates than Brown accepts, Democrats added extra money to restore healthcare benefits cut during the recession, expand state-subsidized child care, pay more to doctors who serve poor patients and boost funds for public universities.

That funding remains in doubt as talks continue.

Brown has held the upper hand in budget negotiations in recent years, persuading lawmakers to pare their spending plans and employ more restrained revenue estimates. But state income has outpaced his projections, and on Monday some Democrats appeared ready to dig in their heels.

“This is not rule by fiat,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said. “This not a monarchy.”

A new budget is required by July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, and the next steps are unclear.

Negotiations with Brown could produce new legislation for lawmakers to approve in coming days. Or the governor could use his veto power to strip from the Legislature’s plan any spending that he dislikes.

Brown declined to say what he’s planning.

“No, I can’t tell you that, because we’re in conversation with the Legislature, as you type, discussing these various matters,” he said at a Los Angeles news conference on climate change Monday morning.

Democrats would need help from Republicans to override any Brown vetoes, and GOP lawmakers are unlikely to provide it. Even though they supported some individual spending proposals, Republicans harshly criticized the approved budget as unsustainable.

“We can’t stay the course,” said Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). “It will lead to a fiscal implosion.”

The Democrats’ plan relies on revenue estimates that are roughly $3 billion higher than those used by the Brown administration. Much of that money would be allocated under California law to schools and community colleges, the state’s rainy-day fund or debt repayment.

That leaves $749 million in discretionary spending for increased government services.

In a budget as big as California’s, that’s “a rounding error,” said Senate Budget Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “But we use that rounding error to benefit Californians who are still struggling.”

Among other changes, the Democrats’ budget would eliminate restrictions that deny additional benefits to women who give birth while already receiving welfare. The change would cost $103 million in the next budget and potentially double that amount in future years.

Besides negotiating aid to the poor, more work needs to be done on other areas of the budget.

The governor and lawmakers have postponed the debate over how to use some revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which charges fees to polluters.

About 60% of the revenue will be directed to the state bullet train project, affordable housing and other transportation programs. But the remaining 40% — almost $900 million — has not been allocated.

State law requires the money to be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Brown wanted some of it for energy efficiency projects and drought relief; Republicans have sought to use it for road repairs.

Some far-reaching policy issues also remain unsettled.

Thousands of workers who provide state-subsidized child care would be permitted to unionize under the Democrats’ plan — a potentially significant victory for organized labor.

Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2011, saying it would have increased taxpayer costs.

In addition, the governor is pushing a budget-related proposal that would allow the state to require local water agencies to consolidate if they failed to provide adequate access to clean drinking water.

The Assn. of California Water Agencies and other organizations representing local governments oppose that legislation, saying such a change is unnecessary and too broad.

Atkins declined to say whether lawmakers support the proposal.

“We’re still in discussion,” she said.

chris.megerian

Twitter: @chrismegerian

Times staff writers Michael Finnegan in Los Angeles and Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento contributed to this report.

Sierra Sun Times Logo

Senate Republicans issued the following statements:

“The state is at a critical juncture, “an inflection point,” where the state begins to seriously address its unrestricted net deficit and unfunded liabilities or continue to hire more state employees who will pay more dues to the unions that appear to be running California. This budget before us departs from Governor Brown’s call for greater fiscal restraint. Instead, it takes the most fiscally optimistic revenue estimates and spends up to that line. And many expenditures are also optimistic, if recent trends continue. Staying on this current course will lead to a fiscal implosion. The time to change course is now. I stand opposed to AB 93,” said Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Civilian Oversight — June 15, 2015

The Sunday Commentary section of the OC Register, in its lead editorial, endorsed the position that I espoused on retaining the County’s OIR (Office of Independent Review) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 593 — June 10, 2015 June 10, 2015 John Moorlach). It’s the first piece below.

On the same day, the Daily Pilot provided its perspectives on the U.S. Senator Paul Rand visit to my District in the second piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Butt Out — June 13, 2015 June 13, 2015 John Moorlach).

BONUS: AB 93, The Budget Act of 2015, passed this afternoon in the Senate by a vote of 26 to 13, along party lines (with Senator Joel Anderson absent). I had an opportunity to share my thoughts and pulled out a few blue pencils that I later gave to the Governor’s office for his line-item veto efforts.

OC Register Logo

OCSD should retain civilian oversight Board of Supervisors should not defund Office of Independent Review.

Not just in Orange County, but nationally, Americans are demanding greater accountability for police. That’s why one of the most crucial issues for the county is the proper oversight of deputy sheriffs.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to eliminate the Office of Independent Review for the Sheriff’s Department and its $450,000 budget.

The vote is not final, but was part of budget planning for the board’s June 23 meeting. According to the Register, “Chairman Todd Spitzer pointed to the revelation that the Sheriff’s Department has for years secretly overseen jailhouse informants and the recent news that a sheriff’s deputy is refusing to testify in criminal cases involving the Mexican Mafia, which is forcing prosecutors to drop charges and consider generous plea deals.

“Spitzer said he feels Stephen Connolly, executive director of the office, is too close with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens,” the Register reported.

The board is considering other models of oversight.

However, state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, a supervisor from 2006-15, told us the OIR was created seven years ago amid more than 30 lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Mike Carona, who resigned in 2008 after he was indicted on corruption charges that sent him to federal prison.

“Steve became pretty respected in Orange County,” Sen. Moorlach said. “Steve has been very effective in disciplinary matters.” Mr. Connolly also was a protege of Mike Gennaco, a federal prosecutor who in 2001 was appointed head of the similar Office of Independent Review that looked into problems with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s essential that there be a meaningful civilian oversight of police and sheriff’s departments,” Erwin Chemerinsky told us; he’s the dean of the UC Irvine School of Law and was a member of the review panel a decade ago that looked into the scandal in the Los Angeles police Rampart Division.

Mr. Chemerinsky didn’t have an opinion on what should be done with Orange County’s OIR. But he called for California Attorney General Kamala Harris “to create an independent commission” to look into problems with jailhouse informants. As the Register reported in December, the problem surfaced “when authorities used an informant to obtain information from Scott Dekraai, who pleaded guilty to gunning down eight people at a Seal Beach salon but is fighting a potential death sentence.”

We urge Ms. Harris to create the independent commisson. As to Orange County’s OIR, we believe it should remain unless and until something better can be found. Orange County doesn’t need to risk the kind of violent unrest seen elsewhere in the country.

Daily Pilot

Rand Paul: Republicans must broaden appeal

Speaking at a fundraiser in Irvine, the Presidential candidate tells attendees that the GOP needs to change its attitude.

By Matt Morrison

Orange County Republicans sampled a taste of one Presidential candidate’s recipe for bringing more Californians to the party table at the 16th annual Flag Day Salute fundraiser Friday night at the Irvine Hotel.

"We have to change our attitude more than our policy," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told the ballroom crowd of more than 800 in his keynote address. He emphasized the importance of better explaining how GOP policies can benefit the public socially and economically to traditionally Democratic voters.

"We were the party of emancipation, the party of civil rights," Paul said, talking about how to appeal to younger and minority voters. "We can still be that party again."

The event is the Republican Party of Orange County’s largest party fundraiser of the year, not a campaign fundraiser for the junior senator from Kentucky. Paul committed to the speaking engagement in January, three months before announcing his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

"It’s not just about the speakers and what they’re auditioning for," explained Assemblyman Matthew Harper, the former Huntington Beach mayor now representing the 74th district in the state legislature. "There’s a lot of folks here maybe considering running for city council, the school board, water district or legislative office and some of them are trying to test the waters, if you will, for next year."

"It’s fun when Republicans get together," added Newport Beach City Councilmember Scott Poetter. "You don’t have debate in the Democratic Party, they’re pretty uniform. In the Republican Party you have a lot of varying opinions on a lot of different subjects. So it’s fun to be where the debate is."

Like his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party nominee for president in 1988, Rand Paul is a trained physician and entered politics after a career practicing ophthalmology for two decades.

"Certainly I don’t think he follows in his [father's] footprints 100%," Poetter said. "He definitely has to show he’s his own man. He takes the view that government is not very good at doing anything. So don’t give it anything more than it needs to do. I look forward to him adding to the debate."

Among the 18 major GOP candidates that have declared for the 2016 nomination so far, Paul is running fourth or fifth in recent presidential straw polls. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears to be the frontrunner 18 months before the election.

"For him and what he’s trying to accomplish, this is a real cherry opportunity to make his case to an incredible county in this country," said Republican state Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa. "If you can get someone loyal early, then you’re going to have a good base. If you can get a good base here in Orange County, that’s going to bode well."

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Butt Out — June 13, 2015

I had a fun, full and busy Friday in the District. I continued a tradition that started when I was County Supervisor of being the Master of Ceremonies at the annual Daily Pilot Community & Service Clubs 2015 Hall of Fame Luncheon. The Daily Pilot covers it as their lead story in the first piece below.

One of the recipients was Ed Romero. Unfortunately, his name was misspelled in the program, so I called him Ed Romeo throughout the lunch., Ed is a former California Teachers Association negotiator and every time I speak to the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor, we have colorful debates. The good news? This wonderful Democrat and former public employee union rep has become a friend and he even voted for me. Regretfully, the typo in the program worked its way into the article and related photos. Not to single out one recipient too much, but Ed Romero, congratulations!

And, yes, that’s me with this year’s Fourth of July Reyn Spooner shirt, which is covered in our nation’s flag. With that, allow me to wish you a great Flag Day tomorrow. Display it proudly.

The second piece will be in tomorrow’s Daily Pilot, but is already on their website and getting some very positive play on social media. The polite course of creating legislation is to find a need in the local area and requesting a legislator to craft a solution and present it in a bill. Unfortunately, way too many solutions are created in Sacramento and being foisted on local governments. I decided to provide a few of them that are impacting Orange County and being audacious enough to ask my colleagues to butt out. (For a tutorial on COIN, see MOORLACH UPDATE — COIN — May 2, 2014 May 2, 2014May 2, 2014 John Moorlach.)

Speaking of Flag Day, last evening we attended the 16th Annual Flag Day Salute with keynoter U.S. Senator Rand Paul. CBS 2 and KCAL 9 were there and provide the third piece below. Also see http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2015/06/12/rand-paul-on-presidential-campaign-well-look-for-votes-out-here-in-california/. I do not concur with Senator Rand on Proposition 47, which I opposed. But, his commentary on the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments was excellent and a discussion you may want to listen to if it is available on YouTube.

BONUS: On Monday the Senate votes on the State Budget. I debate it first in Budget Committee, on which I serve, and then on the Senate Floor. It will be an interesting day. You can see from the graph below, that State spending now far exceeds the growth in population and inflation. You will also observe that in less than two short decades the general fund budget has doubled. Perhaps we can thank Gov. Gray Davis for this phenomenon. He approved pension benefits and prison guard raises, among a few other missteps, during the "dot com boom," that have been permanently impacting future budgets. Instead of trying to rein the spending in and attacking the liabilities these prior poor decisions have created, the Legislature just wants to keep on going as if everything is fine. It’s not.

Daily Pilot

Daily Pilot luncheon honors service club members

Ed Romeo, salutes Daily Pilot editor John Canalis and state senator John Moorlach, as he is inducted at the annual American Legion Community & Service Clubs Hall of Fame awards luncheon on Friday. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot / June 12, 2015)

Honorees and guests gathered Friday at American Legion Post No. 291 on the Balboa Peninsula for the Daily Pilot Community & Service Clubs 2015 Hall of Fame Luncheon.

Awards were presented by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), the master of ceremonies, Helen Stainer of Learning for Life/Exploring and Pilot Editor John Canalis.

The event was organized by Al Rasch of the legion, Lane Calvert of the Newport-Mesa Interfaith Council and several others. The luncheon raised money for Learning for Life, a police explorer program. Police explorers and their advisors addressed the crowd and also helped organize the event.

This year’s honorees were James Peter Schabarum of the Kiwanis Club of Costa Mesa; Bill Zeller of the Rotary Club of Newport Beach; Jack Mills of the Kiwanis Club of Newport Beach-Corona del Mar; JoAnne Holman of the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa; Ed Romeo of the Exchange Club of Newport Harbor; Joan Parks of the Harbor Mesa Lions Club; and Dan O’Sullivan of the American Legion Yacht Club.

The Hall of Fame Luncheon, which was started by former Pilot columnist Jim DeBoom, is in its seventh year. Recipients were treated to a buffet lunch and given gift bags at the legion hall on 15th Street.

A similar event will take place June 19 to honor service club members in Huntington Beach.

Inductees JoAnn Holman, James Peter Schabarum, Shelli Zeller (for husband Bill Zeller), Jack Mills, Joan Parks, Ed Romeo, and Dan O'Sullivan, stand following the annual American Legion Community & Service Clubs Hall of Fame awards and luncheon on Friday.
( Don Leach, Daily Pilot / June 12, 2015 )

Inductees JoAnn Holman, James Peter Schabarum, Shelli Zeller (for husband Bill Zeller), Jack Mills, Joan Parks, Ed Romeo, and Dan O’Sullivan, stand following the annual American Legion Community & Service Clubs Hall of Fame awards and luncheon on Friday.

Sacramento needs to butt out of local affairs

By Sen. John Moorlach

I have now spent 12 weeks representing California’s 37th District as a state senator, and I have noticed the state Legislature enjoys meddling in the affairs of Orange County.

It often happens that a local government will go to elected officials for a legislative "fix" that would allow the local entity to implement a locally desired policy.

Unfortunately, an unpleasant trend has emerged — using the legislative process to outlaw local policies that have been approved and are supported by the local community. I am particularly concerned about the punitive draft legislation I have seen directed toward my county.

For example, last year a budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 854, mandated a change only to Orange County’s internal audit structure. This attempt apparently did not go far enough, and the change came back this year in the form of yet another, more intrusive budget trailer bill.

This is a policy question that should be heard by legislative committees in both houses and not slipped into the massive budget bill without a single hearing. If this is a reasonable and necessary change, then introduce a bill and let the process work. Unfortunately, this is a stealthy and far-too-common meddling strategy to avoid the scrutiny of the legislative process.

On Wednesday, the budget committees rejected this last-minute maneuvering. But on the larger issue, Orange County should politely tell the Legislature to butt out.

Then there is Assembly Bill 1217, which would require that the Orange County Fire Authority board be reduced from 25 members to 13. Downsizing the board would mean that some of the contract cities served by the Fire Authority would no longer have a critical seat on its governing body.

The Fire Authority was formerly overseen by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. On Dec. 6, 1994, the supervisors voted to split it off as a separate joint-powers authority.

Having every contract city represented on the Fire Authority board is the appropriate and cooperative approach. Every stakeholder has buy-in, helping the system work. If the board is unable to operate effectively, it must answer to the cities it serves, not the arm-chair quarterbacks in Sacramento.

Why should the state Legislature care about the number of members? The rule of thumb is if you’re not helping, you’re meddling. Again, Orange County should politely tell Sacramento to butt out.

Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will hear, for the second time, a rejected request for the California state auditor to review the recent audits of the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

The goal is to get the answers to nine specific questions. The estimated cost to California taxpayers for this audit-of-the-audit request will be $250,800 (for 2,280 hours at $110 per hour, or $28,000 per question).

Such meddling does not come cheap.

Clearly, the Great Park fiasco has been pushing the envelope for too long. That is why the Irvine City Council took the proactive step of retaining accounting firms to scrutinize the Great Park budget and determine why, after spending more than $350 million, only 6.5% of the park has been developed. During this review, the parties involved in designing the Great Park were not forthcoming. Consequently, the costs escalated, but the resulting information obtained by the audits was damning.

One contractor involved in the Great Park debacle became uncomfortable with this level of scrutiny and came to the Legislature for a state audit of the Irvine City Council’s audit, which presumes that Irvine’s auditors somehow violated procedures.

Why is the Legislature being used as a tool for retaliation against whistleblowers? Let the city of Irvine get to the bottom of this alleged misappropriation of funds. Irvine should politely tell the state to butt out.

Even more fun, several California municipalities have boldly approved Civic Openness in Negotiations, commonly known as COIN, which opens public employee union contract negotiations to public review and oversight. This is long overdue since public employee unions have garnered, in closed-door sessions, unsustainable pension enhancements and expensive retiree medical benefits.

Opening up the collective-bargaining process is good government. But the public employee unions don’t like it, and to stop this emerging good government movement, they ran to Sacramento to meddle.

Senate Bill 331 would require all local agencies that have adopted COIN to also enact something dubbed CRONEY, the Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act. The County of Orange happens to be one of the counties to have proudly adopted COIN.

So what could a COIN adopter be saddled with? SB 331 mandates the hiring of an independent auditor to review any proposed outsourced service contracts with private, non-union companies in excess of $50,000. Two public meetings would be required before a contract is approved, after the auditor’s detailed report has been released to the public for more than a month.

Basically, it grinds to a crawl the gears of government.

CRONEY is more than meddling. The real purpose of SB 331 is to dissuade other legislative bodies from considering the adoption of COIN. Although the Legislature wants to stop bullying in schools, it is perfectly acceptable to bully elected representatives of local agencies with state mandates.

If CRONEY is good for the governing bodies that adopt COIN, which it is not, then it should be good for every municipality. It’s simply meddling at its worst. Again, Orange County should tell the state to butt out!

If these four separate incidents were not enough, now coming down the pipeline is a proposed State Constitutional Amendment, SCA 8, that would require urban counties to have seven, not five, members on their boards of supervisors. Talk about expanding government.

This is what meddling looks like and, yes, it is expensive. Sacramento, your meddling is unnecessary and unwelcome. Local government needs you to butt out!

Republican JOHN MOORLACH is a state senator and a former Orange County supervisor. He lives in Costa Mesa.

CBS 2 KCAL 9 Logo

Local

‘We’ll Look For Votes Out Here In California,’ Says Presidential Hopeful Rand Paul

Dave Bryan

Dave Bryan

IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul is endorsing the results of Proposition 47, which lowered some minor drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors in California.

Paul said in an interview before the annual Orange County Republican Party Flag Day dinner that the proposition so far has been successful in addressing overcrowded jails and prisons by diverting offenders to treatment and rehabilitation programs.

“California’s actually done some good things,” he said in Irvine. “Proposition 47 about a year ago or six months ago took some of the minor drug felonies and made them misdemeanors and, from my understanding, you have more room in your prisons now for violent criminals. They’re not getting out early.”

“The states are actually doing a better job on some of this than Washington is doing,” said Paul, who explained to KCAL9 Political Reporter Dave Bryan that he has introduced a bill in the Senate he says would have a similar impact on federal crime.

Paul said he is speaking in O.C. because he believes he could compete with the Democrats next year.

“We think that these liberty issues that I talk about will resonate,” he said. “We’ll look for votes out here in California. We look to win.”

Jon Fleischman, founder and publisher of Flashreport.org, invited Paul to speak at the O.C. Republican event.

“Everyone is in Iowa. Everyone’s in New Hampshire. And once again, Rand Paul with his, ‘I’m gonna be different strategy’ is sitting here in Southern California,” Fleischman said.

Paul also says the War on Drugs must be fixed because he says it’s contributing to the impression that law enforcement across the country has a racial bias.

“In many big cities, we’re arresting 15 poor kids for every kid that lives in the suburb. Mostly black kids versus white kids. So, the War on Drugs has to be fixed,” he said.

Councilmember Al Murray (R-Tustin) says he’ll make up his mind about whom to support on the basis of important domestic issues.

“I have a young family and I’m concerned about them from a standpoint of security. I’m concerned about them from a standpoint of economy,” Murray said.

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) says it’s been a long eight years out of the White House for Republicans.

“And hopefully we get a good, conservative voice that can articulate our values and our principals. I think a lot of us don’t want to see Hillary as our next president so I just hope someone will stand up. The cream will rise to the top,” Moorlach said.

As Bryan reports, Paul isn’t the first candidate to think California may be in play in the presidential election year. However, if the numbers don’t start changing soon, Bryan says Paul and the other candidates will be looking to others states that have a more direct bearing on their futures.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 593 — June 10, 2015

The first two articles below deal with the current OC Board of Supervisors wanting to dismantle the Office of Independent Review (OIR). The first piece is from the OC Register, which interviewed me but only used one quote, and Voice of OC is the second piece.

For a little history on the OIR, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Joy of Competition — August 8, 2013 August 8, 2013August 8, 2013 John Moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Bridge Bash — August 16, 2013 August 16, 2013August 16, 2013 John Moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Thanksgiving! — November 27, 2013 November 27, 2013November 27, 2013 John Moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — OIR/Retroactive Anniversary — July 20, 2012 July 20, 2012March 8, 2013 John Moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — June 16, 2012 June 16, 2012March 7, 2013 John Moorlach, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — August 26, 2011 August 26, 2011March 8, 2013 John Moorlach.

The OIR has been a target for some time by either one of my colleagues or by the deputy sheriffs union. I believe that the cost of the OIR has been paid for in multiples by a reduction in lawsuits arising out of the County’s jails. There were more than 30 lawsuits when I was sworn in as a Supervisor in 2006. Stephen J. Connolly has done a tremendous job and has worked very well with Sheriff Hutchens. By contrast, Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca resigned in disgrace because he did not take addressing the culture in his jails seriously.

The third piece is an opinion in the Voice of OC on an initiative that I pushed while a Supervisor, but because I was only one vote, could not consummate. Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeless Shelter at Depot — November 21, 2014 November 21, 2014 John Moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Ana Homeless Shelter — August 21, 2014 August 21, 2014 John Moorlach.

The fourth piece is from Asbarez and highlights the fun opportunity I had today at lunch to honor Armen and Taleene Karamardian, the son and daughter of Gary and Zov of Zov’s Bistro fame.

The fifth and final piece is on SB 593 and is found in Sonoma County’s Bohemian. The bill wanted the state to do the work that local cities and municipalities should do, even though their transient occupancy tax (also known as a bed tax) was rising.

OC Register Logo

O.C. supervisors threaten to stop funding Orange County Sheriff’s independent investigator

By MEGHANN M. CUNIFF / STAFF WRITER

An independent investigator will no longer review complaints about Orange County’s biggest law enforcement agency under a tentative vote by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The unanimous straw vote to eliminate $450,000 in annual funding for the Office of Independent Review isn’t final. But it’s meant to give budget writers direction as they prepare for the final hearing June 23. And supervisors made clear they don’t support the office as it exists, criticizing its work as repetitive and toothless.

Chairman Todd Spitzer pointed to the revelation that the Sheriff’s Department has for years secretly overseen jailhouse informants and the recent news that a sheriff’s deputy is refusing to testify in criminal cases involving the Mexican Mafia, which is forcing prosecutors to drop charges and consider generous plea deals.

Spitzer said he feels Stephen Connolly, executive director of the office, is too close with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. So unless the supervisors change their minds, Connolly – the office’s only full-time employee – will be out of a job after June 30.

“The Orange County Board of Supervisors needs somebody who’s bringing these issues to our attention in real time,” Spitzer said. “Our duty is to protect this county, and every day I wake up, we’ve got more and more exposure.”

Hutchens said she’s “disappointed and surprised” by the vote. She said she worries that closing the Office of Independent Review will eliminate a layer of oversight that helps her decide key policy and disciplinary issues while assuring citizens their issues aren’t being ignored.

“This takes away a piece of transparency that I think is important,” Hutchens told the Register. “I hope that we don’t continue to go down this road.”

But Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who has long criticized Connolly’s work, said Tuesday that the 7-year-old office brings nothing useful to the county.

“It’s always sort of a stenographer’s version of what happened a year ago, six months ago, and it’s standard reporting of everything I knew,” Nelson said. “It never got off to a good start.”

Connolly told the Register he feels he’s accomplished “a lot of positive things.” A report presented to supervisors in March said Connolly handled 161 citizen complaints and participated in 123 internal affairs investigations in 2014. He has no power to discipline, but he can recommend actions to Hutchens based on his investigations.

“I was disappointed by the vote today, but I respect the board’s decision if it wants to go in another direction,” Connolly said.

Spitzer asked county staff to review law enforcement oversight models in other counties and said he wants to revamp law enforcement oversight in Orange County

“I don’t want people to think for a second that by us defunding it today, we’re somehow not committed to it,” Spitzer said. “In order to get a model that actually provides oversight, we have to eliminate and start over. There wasn’t a way to fix it. It was clear we had the wrong person and the wrong model in place.”

But he didn’t offer details Tuesday about how supervisors will do that, and he told the Register the Office of Independent Review could be gone for good.

That bothers state Sen. John Moorlach, who was supervisor when the board created the office after a series of high-profile scandals at the jail, including the beating death of John Chamberlain by fellow inmates in 2007.

“It’s a cheap insurance policy to keep our overall costs down and the quality of law enforcement in Orange County up,” Moorlach said. “In an era where we’re dealing with Ferguson, Missouri, I think the OIR is crucial.”

Tom Dominguez, president of the Orange County Association of Deputy Sheriffs, welcomes the change.

“I think what they have effectively done is put full accountability back onto the sheriff,” Dominguez said. “She’s ultimately responsible for the department.”

Contact the writer: mcuniff or 949-492-5122. Twitter: @meghanncuniff

OC Supervisors to De-Fund Office That Reviews Sheriff’s Department Investigations

By Nick Gerda

Orange County supervisors tentatively decided Tuesday to eliminate a small office charged with monitoring use-of-force investigations and complaints at the county sheriff’s department.

During an all-day budget hearing, the county’s top elected officials took a unanimous “straw vote” to completely de-fund the Office of Independent Review. That includes its director, Steve Connolly, and the agency’s outside contractors, whose work for the county would end on June 30.

“Right now as I sit here as a member of the Board of Supervisors, I feel I’m so far in the dark about law enforcement in this county,” said supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer.

Alleged perjury by a sheriff’s deputy in the Seal Beach Scott Evans Dekraai mass shooting case has been covered extensively in the media for months, he added, but supervisors didn’t receive any insight from Connolly about it until Friday.

“I do not any longer think [the office] is useful or working properly,” Spitzer said.

The de-funding is slated to be officially approved when the final budget comes back for adoption June 23.

It’s unclear how, if at all, the supervisors plan to replace the office or find another way to review county law enforcement agencies for serious problems like the “misconduct” in use of secret jailhouse informants by the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices that led to three major convictions being overturned.

Connolly, who has headed the Office of Independent Review since its formation in 2008, said he was disappointed by the move.

“I was disappointed by the vote today, but it’s obviously the board’s prerogative to take a different approach,” he told Voice of OC.

“There are strengths and limitations in any model of oversight; I’m proud of what the OIR model accomplished in Orange County.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the deputy sheriffs’ union said they aren’t disappointed to see the OIR office go, citing what they said were multiple levels of existing oversight, including the District Attorney’s office, the state Attorney General, the U.S. Department of Justice, attorneys for plaintiffs in cases and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

"She’s the sheriff, and I think the action they (supervisors) took transfers the responsibility for how the department operates in that area strongly to her shoulders" where it belongs, said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

"I don’t see the amount of money that they spend on an OIR and a replacement program really making an impact on how the law enforcement services are delivered to the taxpayers."

The OIR office was set up by county supervisors in 2008, following the brutal jail beating death of John Chamberlain, and was tasked with providing an independent set of eyes for internal investigations, with its findings kept confidential.

Its duties include reviewing the Sheriffs Department’s internal investigations of in-custody deaths, as well as its handling of internal and citizen complaints against deputies and other department employees. With just one employee, Connolly, and a $440,000 budget this year, OIR is one of the county’s smallest agencies, if not the smallest.

But over the years, the office struggled at times to meet the expectations of supervisors. It’s role has been confused with a civilian review commission for the Sheriff’s Department, with supervisors often wanting Connelly to have a more public presence. They’ve also often commented that Connelly should issue more reports like his counterpart in Los Angeles County.

The result has been confusion over what Connelly should be doing and threats from supervisors that they would defund his office.

In past years, the office received public support from Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who said it’s worth the cost because it makes her department more transparent and fosters trust with the community that internal investigations are being reviewed.

When his funding was threatened in past years, including by Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Connolly’s biggest supporters were Supervisors Bill Campbell and John Moorlach, both of whom have since left the board.

On Tuesday, Spitzer tried to leave an opening for Connolly to stay with the county, suggesting that he write a “white paper” that outlines how his work should change and “go out and do the work that this board wants to see.”

But Nelson shot down the idea.

“My message is: you should be looking for a job, because this place isn’t for you,” Nelson said of Connolly.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, meanwhile, said if any new review office is created, it should look at all aspects of county law enforcement, such as the Sheriff, District Attorney, probation office and Public Defender.

Bartlett has joined Spitzer in recent months in challenging District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on certain issues, such as his local program for collecting DNA evidence from people charged with misdemeanors.

Tuesday’s discussion came amid a marathon hearing in which supervisors settled on changes to the county’s proposed $5.8 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In a series of straw votes, supervisors largely adopted staff’s recommendations for the budget.

But some of the decisions didn’t go down without a fight.

Among the highlights, Nelson and Spitzer clashed over funding for a new policy for board members who want to participate in or sponsor special events.

A proposed $200,000 annually for each board office for events, as well as the hiring of a full-time events coordinator at up to $221,000 per year, irked Nelson and Supervisor Michelle Steel, who voted against it in a straw vote.

Nelson was particularly irritated when Spitzer suggested the $200,000 event funding only go to the three supervisors who support it.

“If you want to individualize this and make this a slush fund issue, by all means do so,” Nelson said, calling the attempt “shameful.”

“Why would I approve $1 million for districts that don’t want it?” Spitzer asked, before backing down after Nelson argued it would be unfair.

Supervisors also weren’t pleased when a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union asked them to devote more funding to building permanent housing for homeless people with support services.

ACLU policy analyst Eve Garrow said plans for a year-round shelter and service center are an important step in addressing homelessness, but there’s a significant shortage of supportive housing for people to go to next.

“Unfortunately the model won’t work as planned in Orange County because sufficient affordable housing does not exist” to refer people to, Garrow told supervisors.

Spitzer shot back that the county is about to pay the ACLU $4 million in court-ordered legal fees after losing a gang injunction lawsuit, and asked Garrow to tell her counterparts they can send half of it back to the county to fund permanent housing.

“Anyone with an extra hundred million bucks sittin’ around” can solve the homeless housing issue, Nelson said.

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

Santana: Meet OC’s Biggest NIMBY on Homelessness; County Supervisors

By Norberto Santana Jr.

While Orange County Supervisors keep sticking out their collective chests and challenging cities across OC to set up homeless shelters, they continue to ignore the age-old adage that charity begins at home.

So does leadership.

Note that Orange County is the largest metro area in America without any sort of full-time, permanent shelter.

Then consider the vast, abandoned Orange County Transportation Authority bus terminal that sits right across the street from the human sea of homelessness, hopelessness and despair that has sprung up around the civic center grounds over the past decade.

busterminal111914

Orange County Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer called the situation “shameful” when he was sworn into office in 2012 during a moving speech at the old county courthouse that was supposed to get everyone moving.

"What are we doing to help these people get back on their feet?" Spitzer said to applause. "We really need to solve this problem."

Except, Spitzer admits that after that speech, he’s never done much of substance on the homeless issue.

Instead, his public focus has been drunk driving summits, victims’ memorials, violent video game conferences…

All initiatives that have value for a future Spitzer for DA campaign.

But zero value for the homeless, who sit camped out literally on the front steps of the Hall of Administration.

I have personally witnessed over the last decade, beginning as a county government reporter for the Orange County Register in 2004, how Orange County supervisors allowed the county civic center to turn into OC’s Skid Row through inaction.

I’m beginning to wonder whether this is just a reflection of how modern day Republicans view government and it’s capacity.

County supervisors seem OK having taxpayers step across a sea of misery to go pay their taxes. Almost an advertisement for how little government can do.

In ironically poetic fashion, that human throng is on display right next to the fading plagues supposedly honoring the county’s war heroes…another constituency our board consistently fails while making sure to wear American flags as ties and pins.

And just to add richness to the irony, many of the homeless are themselves veterans.

I have written too many times as a reporter about the burgeoning favela that has become our civic center. And year after year, it’s amazing to watch $6 billion worth of bureaucracts basically fold their hands, scratch their collective heads and come up with nothing.

In fact, our Board of Supervisors is amazing in their ability to do nothing, even when they seemingly vote to do something.

I still recall last fall, when then Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson declared to everyone present that a public vote of substance was being taken to make the nearby vacant bus shelter a homeless center.

It came after nearby neighbors in Santa Ana told supervisors they had zero trust in government leaders to site a homeless shelter in their neighborhood and be mindful of community impacts.

Supervisors attacked the neighbors as the ultimate NIMBYs; they attacked Santa Ana leaders — if you’ll forgive the metaphor — for throwing them under the bus when neighbors got angry, essentially backing up from a site they themselves had selected under state legislation that is supposed to fast track shelters.

In a bit of fury and rage, supervisors like Janet Nguyen and Nelson took issue with Santa Ana city leaders like Vince Sarmiento for criticizing them on lack of outreach.

Then they said they were done waiting for Santa Ana.

Nelson noted then-Supervisor John Moorlach’s efforts on the shelter, with whom I’ve had numerous private discussions, challenging him on how elected officials could allow people to sleep on pavement while an abandoned bus shelter is yards away.

Beyond just getting frustrated, Nelson declared a vote of substance that day:

“This is not to contemplate putting this at the bus terminal,” Nelson declared. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s where it’s going. I hope we get the support for doing that. That’s for another day.”

When does that day arrive?

It seems after that vote more than six months ago, there has been zero follow through.

Instead, Nelson and the rest of the board keep focusing on where to put a shelter — elsewhere.

First, it was Fullerton. Now, it’s Anaheim.

Both those cities are taking the lead on this issue now, putting up significant funds to get a process going.

And yet the county Board of Supervisors sits – again forgive the metaphor – in the back of the bus, doing nothing.

Even worse is the farce that one shelter will solve Orange County’s problem.

It won’t.

If you talk to those truly serving the homeless, such as Catholic Worker activists like Massimo Marini and Dwight Smith, they will tell you that the real need is for an efficient, interconnected regional system that can take the chronically homeless and offer them affordable housing solutions.

Who wants to live in a shelter?

The reality is, we need a series of triage centers.

Places that can quickly identify a person with mental issues, and get them help. Identify a person on hard luck, and turn them around. Allow a person who’s fallen through the cracks to just sleep soundly, get a shower and get a fresh start. Identify a hardened criminal, and keep watch.

The abandoned bus shelter across the street from the board of supervisors has all those abilities and should be studied.

Supervisors should seriously considering redirecting any newfound monies as part of the annual budget process to start the process on their front steps.

A small investment could take that human throng on the civic center steps, give them a place to sleep, store their things and even be assessed by the army of bureaucrats that are in nearby offices at the Social Services and Health Care agencies.

Sheriff’s deputies who are now housed in a glass booth at the Hall of Administration could easily be headquartered at the bus shelter, allowing any decent person to get some sleep in a safe environment.

And when they wake up, the county should be helping them to get into real housing, not just a shelter.

Supervisors themselves have a homeless problem at the civic center. They shouldn’t try to just export it to Fullerton or Anaheim.

Supervisors have said they will do outreach on the Anaheim project, as they should, to see whether it’s a good fit for that area.

Yet the reality is there are homeless residents all over our county.

Each supervisorial district – including the First District that includes the civic center – should have their own centers where people can access assistance.

County supervisors are incredibly lucky that the Civic Roundtable (a city council of sorts for the homeless living at the civic center) hasn’t yet truly figured out how civic action really works.

Instead of “occupying” the outdoor civic center grounds, they should become regular attendees of the supervisors’ meetings every week, which are open to the public.

The day that lobbyists have to share a seat next to a throng of homeless residents all day on Tuesdays, that’s the day the bus shelter becomes an immediate reality.

To his credit, Moorlach kept quietly trying to push for the bus shelter while he was at the board of supervisors.

Yet he never got the job done.

He was too reasonable, too patient, and too deferential to his city and county colleagues.

And those homeless residents at the Civic Center are still sleeping outside.

The board of supervisors should ask themselves a hard question: Would the God they pray to at the start of each session leave these folks outside?

Would they not be the first priority?

File:Asbarez logo.png

Zov’s to Receive California’s ‘Small Business of the Year’ Award

Zov (far rigfht) her family and one of her locations (left)

Zov (far rigfht) her family and one of her locations (left)

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The State of California boasts some 3.3 million small businesses but only 80 of them including one from OC will be recognized as “Small Business of the Year” at a ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 10 in the State Capitol. Zov’s, which operates restaurants in Tustin, Newport Beach, Irvine, Anaheim and 2 at John Wayne Airport, is being hailed for its longtime commitment to excellence in the dining arena and actively serving the communities in which it boasts locations.

State Senator John Moorlach of the 37th District informed the company’s president and CEO Armen Karamardian of the honor, which coincides with 2015 California Small Business Day.

“Wow. This is truly an unexpected and much appreciated honor,” said Karamardian, whose mother, Zov, started the business in 1987 and was one of the county’s pioneers of fine dining and a nationally recognized chef/restaurateur.

“As many Orange Countians know, we are a family business and we work hard to put our seal on every project we launch and every meal that finds its way out of our kitchens. We are humbled and excited to accept this honor in our State’s Capitol,” added Karamardian.

In addition to her critically acclaimed restaurants, Zov authored two best-selling, hard-cover cookbooks, “Simply Zov” and “Zov: Recipes and Memories From the Heart,” each of which have sold 50,000+ copies. She credits her mentor and dear friend, Julia Child, with guiding her hand in completing these projects.

Her passion for the culinary arts extends to hosting cooking classes at the restaurants with guest chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Todd English and Anne Burrell. She has been honored by the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals, among countless others. She is also a frequent guest on television programs of the Food Network, CNN and others.

North Bay Bohemian logo.jpg

Airbnb Bill Shelved

Bill seeking to regulate home-rentals put on hold

debrief-5b80b9c6b6e439c4.jpg

Now, don’t be sad. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Freshman State Sen. Mike McGuire’s office sent us a trio of emails late last week with updates on bills he introduced. The man has definitely taken on some big-ticket issues of statewide concern in his short time in Sacramento—omnibus bills covering medical cannabis, short-term vacation rentals, offshore drilling—but that middle one didn’t make it out of the Senate last week.

We wrote about McGuire’s short-term vacation rental bill, SB 593, a couple of weeks ago ("Short-Term Solution," May 27) and reported that the Healdsburg Democrat had to contend with the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and their push to be excised from the bill.

The bill aimed to set a statewide template that would compel Airbnb and other short-term-rental platforms to supply the state with basic information about their users’ home-business: How many people did you host, how much did you charge per night?

The idea seemed simple enough: SB 593 set out to "assist local jurisdictions in their regulation of local laws and collection of tourist taxes," says the press release.

This paper couldn’t help but note that CAR was one of the top-tier contributors to McGuire’s 2014 senate campaign, at $16,750, and that the organization would oppose the bill unless Realtors were eliminated from the reporting requirements—on the logic that they’re already licensed by the state and shouldn’t get lumped in with the next-door neighbor who uses Airbnb to help make the monthly nut.

McGuire told us he would offer an amendment to scrub Realtors from the scope of his bill by June 5, the deadline for such things in the Senate. On June 4, he said he’d reintroduce SB 593 in January as a two-year bill. That’s where the story ended, at least for now.

Meanwhile, support for SB 593 had grown. Sen. Dianne Feinstein supported it, as did more than 100 organizations from around the state with various dogs in the hunt: affordable housing advocates wanted it; lots of city and municipal leaders wanted it; police organizations wanted it—business, labor, you name it.

The bill had also been passed out of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, and the Governance and Finance Committee.

McGuire recently told us that CAR would support SB 593 with the amendment; the Realtors’ lobby told us it would push for the amendment as a condition of not opposing it.

One SB 593 opponent on the Governance and Finance committee vote was Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, whose office gave some perspective on why it may have stalled. Moorlach chief of staff Tim Clark says the McGuire bill "didn’t have a chance in the Assembly. It didn’t feel baked all the way. On the Assembly side, it probably wouldn’t make it out of committee."

Clark says the pushback on SB 593 was around over-regulating a homegrown business, such as Airbnb, that represents the best of the sort of techno-innovation that lawmakers should support.

McGuire’s press release emphasized that he was "unable to find common ground prior to the Senate’s legislative deadline."—Tom Gogola

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Budget Choices — June 7, 2015

This past week saw the deadline for moving legislation written by State Senators onto the Assembly. It made for a very busy week. As we would say in my accounting practice days, nothing would get done if it were not for the last minute.

The next two weeks will see a scramble to present a budget to the Governor on or before June 15. Consequently, I submitted my observations to the OC Register, which kindly printed them in today’s Commentary section. It is the first piece below. I have also provided the history of California’s unrestricted net assets/deficit from 1999 to present directly below the editorial submission.

For your edification, I’m also including a graph that reflects where the budget priorities are being placed. As you can see, for all the concern about addressing road maintenance, transportation is not the highest priority.

The assisted suicide issue received an incredible amount of media attention, from The New York Times to small home town papers (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 128 — June 4, 2015 June 4, 2015 John Moorlach). Although there were some 550 articles on the subject, I have only provided you with a couple. So that you don’t think that I only forward positive pieces, the Daily Democrat of Woodland in Yolo County has a rebuttal and it is the second piece below.

During this past hectic week, the last of my five De Boer uncles passed away. Jan "John" H. De Boer was born on August 7, 1923 in the Netherlands. Holland was invaded by Germany in May of 1940. As Uncle John was sixteen at the time, he had to hide for a good portion of World War II in order to avoid being either conscripted into the German military or becoming a slave worker in German factories. His last few weeks were not easy, but I’m thankful for his strong will and fortitude. My deep sympathies go to my Aunt Tina and my cousin Hilda at this time of loss.

OC Register Logo

State lawmakers heedless of history’s budget lessons

BY JOHN ‍MOORLACH

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The joy of being a little older is that one has seen a few economic cycles over the decades. This is certainly true for Gov. Jerry Brown, 77, who instinctively knows that after a brief economic boom, another recession is not too far off. The proverbial warning from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” is not lost on the governor.

Gov. Brown recently released his “May Revise,” an update to the annual budget plan released in January, to modify projections for rising or falling revenue over the spring months. This year, revenue was rising.

Although this is my first “May Revise” experience as a state senator, I admit to being a bit surprised by Sacramento’s exuberance over the forecast of increased income to the tune of $4 billion to $6 billion – money largely attributable to the 2012 Proposition 30 ballot measure that temporarily raised sales taxes and income taxes. The voters approved this tax increase in order to balance a $26 billion structural deficit plaguing the state and to get more solvent for future economic cycles.

With the state coming off one of the worst recessions in decades, the legislative majority is now overflowing with dozens of new spending proposals, including low-cost tuition, taxpayer-funded health care for undocumented immigrants and additional school spending around the state.

When the May Revise came out, I did what any good accountant would do: I used an industry standard to measure the state’s current fiscal health. I compiled data from California’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for each of the past 15 years and provided a spreadsheet reflecting the state’s recent spiral into an unrestricted net deficit.

According to the CAFR, California currently has an unrestricted net deficit of $117 billion. A fiscally healthy state should have positive unrestricted net assets. Even worse, this report does not include the hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded state employee pension and retiree medical liabilities. Nor does it account for the estimated $200 billion of state infrastructure deferred maintenance.

In accounting language, this means the Golden State is in desperate fiscal shape.

When I released this data to the Capitol community, I got blank stares, as if someone momentarily turned off the music in the middle of a pool party. But, after a brief pause, the party continued.

This is because the Sacramento “spending lobby” is just that: a spending lobby. And our Legislature is like someone who is making minimum payments on maxed-out credit cards and has no savings, yet wants to buy a new car.

In a recent Budget Committee meeting, one Democratic senator opined that “austerity is a choice, not a necessity” shortly before joining the Democratic majority in passing a hugely inflated spending plan – loaded with hundreds of millions of spending beyond Gov. Brown’s budget proposal.

In that same meeting, the chairman of the Budget Committee made it clear that paying down California’s debts was “not a priority.”

As a trained Certified Public Accountant, I see things a little differently than most legislators. I do not focus on where we can spend. Instead, I examine what has been spent, what obligations have been incurred and not paid for, and assess the reality of the state’s financial health.

Our state has structural budget issues that would alarm even the most optimistic shareholders of any major U.S. corporation. Our high debt and looming unfunded liabilities have scared away some of our best job-producing companies. This financial reality simply cannot create the healthy fiscal future that California needs.

The increased projected revenue does not mean our government can ignore or put off addressing the existing fiscal obligations. The sooner California gets its fiscal house in shape; the sooner lawmakers can address other needs that will increase the quality of life for all Californians.

Gov. Brown is making a valiant effort to turn the ship of state to a proper fiscal course. But, if the Capitol disregards the recent past, and continues to increase spending without taking care of its glaring obligations, then California will be doomed to repeat the fiscal mayhem of the recent past. And it will be the taxpayers, once again, who will bear the brunt of this missed opportunity.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Irvine, is a CPA and certified financial planner. He gained national attention 20 years ago when he was appointed Orange County treasurer-tax collector and helped the county recover from its 1994 bankruptcy filing – at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Fiscal Year
Ending
Unrestricted
Net Asset/Deficit
Per Capita Governor
6/30/99 $1,533,113 $46 Wilson/Davis
6/30/00 6,531,331 192 Davis
6/30/01 7,001,095 203 Davis
6/30/02 (19,417,429) (553) Davis
6/30/03 (43,927,987) (1,238) Davis
6/30/04 (52,897,395) (1,474) Davis/Schwarzenegger
6/30/05 (52,631,090) (1,457) Schwarzenegger
6/30/06 (54,710,847) (1,514) Schwarzenegger
6/30/07 (56,519,478) (1,546) Schwarzenegger
6/30/08 (69,346,950) (1,887) Schwarzenegger
6/30/09 (86,302,434) (2,335) Schwarzenegger
6/30/10 (103,272,000) (2,772) Schwarzenegger
6/30/11 (123,783,314) (3,285) Schwarzenegger/Brown
6/30/12 (123,897,753) (3,257) Brown
6/30/13 (117,383,903) (3,085) Brown
6/30/14 (116,948,128) (3,014) Brown

logo-daily-democrat

I’d prefer to decide how I die

“What kind of society are we?” asked Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, during Thursday’s debate about the landmark right-to-die law later passed by the state Senate. “I don’t believe we are in a disposable one, when it comes to short-cutting the natural course of life.”

Thank you for your concern Sen. Moorlach, but I don’t believe I should be forced to live in pain as a science experiment.

“Life should be protected from beginning to end,” said Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga. “We are sending signal that suicide is OK. We are becoming a culture that devalues life.”

Thank you for the values you place on life, Sen. Morrell, but quality of life counts too and if I’m in a position of pain with no hope ever again getting out of bed, breathing fresh air or not using a bed pain then I don’t want it.

Those are my feelings about the opinions of some lawmakers who voted against the End of Life Option Act which passed 23-14 in the state Senate on Thursday. The proposal now goes to the full Assembly. If it’s approved there, it will go to Gov. Brown, who has not indicated his position.

This legislation is more than a bit personal for me since my initial diagnosis of tongue cancer last September. I’ve survived thanks to the treatment provided by a group of very caring physicians, my own fortitude, and the love of family and friends.

But as many who have had and suffered through cancer treatments, there were times when one questions whether the treatment is worse than death itself. When my throat was so burned by radiation I couldn’t swallow I wondered how long I could hold out against the pain.

And I had it easy. There were others I met on my cancer treatments who had no hope. You could see it in their eyes. You could smell it as they passed by in their wheelchairs.

I’m grateful the Senate approved this legislation. It took the heart-breaking case of 29-year-old Britanny Maynard to galvanize our lawmakers. Britanny was, of course, a UC Berkeley graduate and newlywed diagnosed with aggressive terminal brain cancer, who could not receive physician-prescribed medications to end her life last year in California. Maynard and her husband moved to Portland, Ore., so she could take her own life under that state’s Death with Dignity law.

Britanny had no choice but to accept increasing levels of pain coupled with loss of mobility and the use of her brain. That’s not living under anyone’s definition.

So, it is with deep thanks to Britanny for causing a shift in this debate. I thank co-authors Sen. Lois Wolk and Sen. Bill Monning for bringing this issue back before us all for consideration.

Oregon has had 17 years of experience with the law to get it right and the statistics show it is rarely used and has not triggered any legal disputes. Since the Oregon law went into effect in 1997, 1,327 people have requested prescriptions. Of these, 35 percent have not used them. That information to me shows that only people in true need have sought to end their own lives on their own terms. The ability of what some would say is “committing suicide” has not be abused by those in true need.

Wolk said one of the reasons she sponsored the legislation was the traumatic cancer death of her mother when Wolk was 17. “Her suffering was prolonged and unbearable,” she told her Senate colleagues.

For me, it was watching my father slowly fade away from intestinal cancer. Confined to a bed, he had a tube running out of his gut and into a bag that caught whatever had gone down his throat. He was under hospice care toward the end. That’s also pretty close to how my mother died. She had liver cancer but I never saw her in the final days. It was up to one of my sisters to help her get to the bathroom, wipe her backside, and watch as this little British woman took her last breath.

If my cancer returns and there is no hope then I want to be able to talk freely with my physicians and my family before deciding my own fate

Sen. Joel Anderson, who said he was disabled for a number of years and couldn’t provide for his family, told his colleagues he thought about sucide but decided against it. Sen. Anderson made a decision that he thought was right for him, what’s wrong with those who have incurable diseases to be given the same right?

Jim Smith is editor of The Daily Democrat. Email him at news or follow him on Twitter @newsie2001.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 128 — June 4, 2015

The Senate went through so many bills that we were in session for more than 25 hours during the last four days. Today, the big item was SB 128, the assisted suicide bill. The LA Times covers it with its online piece. It will probably be in tomorrow’s dead-tree version. FOX News Channel 5 in San Diego also picked it up. It is the first piece below. It mentions my opposition statement.

Inside Bay Area, from the Oakland area, provides the second piece. It mentions my theme of what type of society we were living in (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 3 — June 2, 2015 June 2, 2015 John Moorlach).

In my comments, I found it ironic that parents have been thwarted on the ability of having a choice on vaccinations for their children with SB 277, but their parents had the ability to receive the ultimate vaccination. Assisted suicide is not a new concept. And it is legal in the country of my birth, the Netherlands. I am familiar with the policy. But, I am personally opposed to it.

On to more relaxed news, Zov’s has been selected for recognition as the Small Business of the Year from the 37th Senate District. They are located in a few places within my District, including at John Wayne Airport. My wife and I have their cookbooks and eat there frequently. The OC Register provides the news in the third piece below. Congratulations to the Karamardian family!

The Voice of OC provides the great news that the County of Orange has found a suitable location for a year-round homeless shelter in the fourth piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Day Two — March 26, 2015 March 26, 2015 John Moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Seeking Shelter 2014 — December 26, 2014 December 26, 2014December 26, 2014 John Moorlach).

The fifth and final piece is from Union Watch and proposes a fun challenge for me and Senator Steve Glazer (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senator Steve Glazer — May 29, 2015 May 29, 2015May 29, 2015 John Moorlach).

Image001
fox5-san-diego

Assisted-death bill approved by California Senate

By Patrick McGreevy

The state Senate on Thursday approved a bill that would allow physicians in California to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths.

Democratic state Sens. Lois Wolk of Davis and Bill Monning of Carmel modeled their End of Life Option Act after the voter-approved law that took effect in 1997 in Oregon.

The measure would allow mentally competent adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication that they can take to end their life.

"SB 128 is about how we die in California," Wolk (D-Davis) told her colleagues, adding allowing the terminally ill to get fatal doses of drugs "will allow them to voluntarily end their lives in peace."

The measure was approved on a largely party line vote of 23-14. Democrat Tony Mendoza of Artesia joined the Republicans in voting against the bill.

Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Irvine said the practice is not moral.

"I call it assisted suicide. For me it’s unconscionable and I can’t be a party to it," Moorlach said during the emotional floor debate.

The legislation includes safeguards against abuse. It would require two separate physicians to confirm the patient’s prognosis of six months or less to live and that the patient has the mental competency to make healthcare decisions.

The patient would have to make two oral requests by the patient to a physician, a minimum of 15 days apart, with two witnesses attesting to the request. The medication must be self-administered. In addition, the bill creates felony penalties for coercing or forging a request.

SB 128 received a boost last week when the California Medical Assn. dropped its opposition, saying it would allow physicians to decide whether to participate in the assisting of deaths by prescribing drugs.

The measure continues to be opposed by many physicians, who say their role is to heal patients, and by religious leaders and activists for the disabled who fear that group may be put under duress to end their lives prematurely.

Groups in opposition include the California Catholic Conference, the Medical Oncology Assn. of Southern California and the California Disability Alliance.

Still, the proposal has gained momentum since Californian Brittany Maynard, 29, received national attention last year by moving to Oregon and ending her life there after months of debilitating and painful effects from brain cancer. Maynard’s husband and mother have lobbied for the California bill, saying it was one of her dying wishes.

In a 17-year period ending last year, 1,327 Oregon residents asked for aid in dying prescriptions and 859 patients had died from ingesting medication, according to a study by that state’s health officials. Since Oregon adopted its law, medical aid in dying has also been authorized in Washington state, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

After the vote, Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, tearfully hugged lawmakers, telling them “I’m so grateful.”

“I feel her presence swirling around, her energy, her love,” said Ziegler, in tears at a press conference just outside the Senate chamber later. “She used the last portion of her life to fight for the rights of other terminally ill patients. These are people who have no hope.”

Dan Diaz, Maynard’s husband, also was emotional in describing what the bill means. “It will not lead to more people dying. It will lead to fewer people suffering.”

UPDATES

1:19 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from state Sens. Lois Wolk and John Moorlach, and with the vote total.

2:05 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from Debbie Ziegler.

This post originally published at 1:05 p.m.

Inside Bay Area

Right-to-die bill clears California Senate 23-14

By Lisa M. Krieger and Jessica Calefati Staff writers

SACRAMENTO — The California Senate on Thursday cleared the way for a landmark "right to die" law allowing competent adults with a terminal illness to seek a medication from a doctor to end their lives.

After an impassioned debate filled with tales of personal loss, the controversial End of Life Option Act won wide approval, passing 23 to 14.

If the measure is approved by the full Assembly, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether he will sign it.

California has spurned previous attempts to pass similar laws, either at the ballot box or through the Legislature. If it becomes law, California will join three other states with physician-assisted death laws: Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Court rulings in New Mexico and Montana also allow the practice in those two states.

Inspired by a East Bay woman’s highly publicized quest to end her grueling battle with cancer, lawmakers sought to allow California’s terminally ill greater choice over how and when they die.

"We count today’s vote as a historic step forward," said Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, co-sponsor of the measure, which he said protects "a fundamental human right."

"We hear a lot of different tough issues being debated, but I can’t remember an issue that commanded greater attention," he said. "It was a pretty powerful engagement marked by respect and civility."

The Senate vote was split along party lines, with all Republicans opposed and all Democrats except Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, voting in support.

The vote was watched in the Senate chamber by the family of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, a UC Berkeley graduate and newlywed diagnosed with aggressive terminal brain cancer, who could not receive physician-prescribed medications to end her life last year at her East Bay home. So she and her husband moved to Portland, Oregon, to take advantage of that state’s Death with Dignity law.

In the final weeks of her life, Maynard partnered with the national nonprofit group Compassion & Choices to launch a state campaign to legalize aid in dying.

"The Senate vote is an affirmation of what Brittany started," said Dan Diaz, Maynard’s widower. "It reaffirms that she was simply doing what anyone in her predicament would do, which is want to be in control of their own dying process."

Asked if she fears Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto pen, Deborah Lynn Ziegler, Maynard’s mother, said she thinks the governor will struggle with the legislation if it reaches his desk.

"I believe that he is a kind and thoughtful man, and I think he will struggle with this," Ziegler said. "I have faith that he will listen to the population of California."

"Our leaders are swayed by the people they represent," Ziegler said. "We need to speak up and let them know how we are feeling on this subject."

The measure is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity law, with two differences. It requires a translator for non-English speakers. And pharmacists, not just physicians, are given legal immunity for participating in deaths.

Oregon’s 17 years of experience with the law shows it is rarely used and has not triggered any legal disputes. Since the Oregon law went into effect in 1997, 1,327 people have requested prescriptions. Of these, 35 percent have not used them.

The authors said they’re "cautiously optimistic about the bill’s chances in the Assembly. The bill now heads to the Assembly Health Committee. If advanced, it will be heard by the judiciary and appropriations committees before moving to the Assembly floor.

The wrenching case of Maynard triggered a shift in this debate, said co-authors Sen. Monning and Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis.

Maynard’s video — explaining why she was making use of Oregon’s law — has been watched by more than 11.7 million people on YouTube.

Wolk’s other influence was the traumatic cancer death of her mother, a Philadelphia social worker, when Wolk was only 17. "Her suffering was prolonged and unbearable," she told her Senate colleagues.

Monning said the bill will allow the terminally ill to "exercise their autonomy and choice as individuals, sharing their love and goodbyes. Compare that with the right in California to be anesthetized with morphine in ever-greater doses, unable to communicate with loved one, families holding vigil … that is the status quo in California."

"This bill seeks to establish a compassionate alternative to other horrific options," said Monning, whose wife is a physician.

Monning warned that if the bill was rejected, the issue would be presented next November as a ballot inititiative, "not subject to reform, revision or to change."

Opponents faulted the measure for failing to deal with what they believe is the core issue: the need for better health care for more people. They warned it will place pressure on sick patients without financial resources to take a quick way out. They also say doctors cannot reliably predict when a person has only six months to live.

"What kind of society are we? I don’t believe we are in a disposable one, when it comes to short-cutting the natural course of life," said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

"Life should be protected from beginning to end," said Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga. "Patients at end of life need care, not tools to take their life. We are sending signal that suicide is OK. We are becoming a culture that devalues life."

Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, the recipient of a lung transplant, said she thought about giving up during her two months in an intensive care unit due to lung failure — and was grateful to have persevered. "You are not making good decisions when you are in pain and medicated," she said. "I considered it and didn’t do it, but look at the life I have now."

Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, worried that the prescription could be accidentally ingested by children or stolen by thieves. Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, warned that "our cultural attitudes towards life would suffer a fundament shift under this bill, if we stopped fighting for life."

Pharmacist Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, called it "suffocation" and "may not cause a quick death," citing examples in Oregon and Washington where it took many hours, even days, to die after ingesting lethal drugs. "The drug used to kill patients can increase their stimulation to pain although they cannot express it."

Choking back tears, Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, said "I was disabled for a number of years and couldn’t provide for my family. … You bet I thought about suicide. For me to face my family and think about limiting their future, that maybe we won’t have a roof …." it felt like an option, he said. He opposed the bill because "I don’t want to strip people of hope. I don’t want to pile on the guilt they feel to fight for their lives. I don’t want to pray on their good nature. … Let’s not sponsor death on this floor."

But supporters of the measure, such as Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, called it "an issue of personal choice."

"This bill is not a mandate. It is not a matter of public health," she said. "It empowers us to give the residents of California a personal choice."

Sen. Cathleeen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who once worked in hospital intensive care units, said: "We have science to prolong life. … Now we have the gift of science that allows the gift of ending suffering. It will give loved ones the ability to move into their next life without guilt and shame, and give loved ones a chance to say goodbye."

The campaign to pass the legislation was buoyed in May by the decision of the politically influential California Medical Association to drop its long-held opposition to death-with-dignity legislation.

There are safeguards in place, legislative sponsor Wolk told the Senate. Only end-stage terminal illness qualifies a patient to use the treatment, she said. "Our work with the California Medical Association has been very helpful in zeroing in on protections," she said.

In his final appeal for its passage, Monning said: "It is our constitutional responsibility to navigate the shores of a changing world — a world that sees this option as a compassionate option: death with dignity."

Contact Lisa M. Krieger at 650-492-4098.

End of Life Option Act

Modeled after a 1997 Oregon law, the legislation by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, and Sen. William Monning, D-Monterey, would give any terminally ill, mentally competent California adult resident the right to ask and receive from his or her physician a prescription to hasten death. The patient at any time could rescind the request or choose not to use the medication. Physicians, pharmacists and health care providers could opt out. It would be a felony to coerce someone to request the medication, or forge a request. The legislation exempts Catholic hospitals.

The legislation requires that:

The medication be self-administered.

The patient is mentally competent to make health care decisions, which excludes dementia patients.

Two physicians confirm a prognosis of six months or less to live.

The attending physician discusses alternatives or additional treatment, such as pain control and palliative and hospice care.

A written and two oral requests must be made at least 15 days apart.

Two witnesses attest to the request.

OC Register Logo

MILESTONES

Zov’s, a restaurant with locations in Tustin, Newport Beach, Irvine, Anaheim and Santa Ana, is one of 80 California companies to be recognized as a Small Business of the Year. Zov’s was selected for the award by state Sen. John ‍Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. ‍Moorlach informed Armen Karamardian, the company’s president and chief executive officer, of the honor. The award ceremony will be held on Wednesday, California Small Business Day, in Sacramento. Zov’s was founded in 1987.

Image001
Plans For OC’s First Year-Round Homeless Shelter Move Forward

By Nick Gerda June 3, 2015 at 12:24 PM

Longstanding efforts to establish Orange County’s first year-round homeless shelter took a major step forward Tuesday, when county supervisors started the process to buy a building in a commercial area of Anaheim.

Following a marathon public comment session – 55 people spoke, the vast majority in support – supervisors unanimously approved a $4.25 million purchase agreement for property at 1000 N. Kraemer Pl. in Anaheim, which includes a 24,000 square-foot industrial building.

The location has drawn significant support from elected officials, nonprofit groups and homeless advocates, who say creating a homeless shelter there would be crucial for helping get many of the county’s homeless people off the streets and into permanent housing.

“The missing link in this broad continuum of care” is a shelter, said Brad Fieldhouse, the executive director of City Net, which the city of Anaheim has hired to coordinate nonprofits, churches, businesses and others on homelessness.

The shelter proposal wouldn’t just be a place to dump people, Fieldhouse added. “This is a catalytic space for us to work with people.”

Many faith-based groups stand ready to support a shelter, noted Deborah Phares, a former executive director of the Orange County Congregation Community Organization, or OCCCO.

The proposed multi-service center “would go a long way to really help facilitate the participation of people in Orange County that really want a long-term solution,” said Phares.

At the same time, some business owners and residents said they are deeply concerned about how the proposed shelter would impact them, and urged supervisors to reject the site.

Chris Vance, who owns a piano store across the street from the property, predicted that a shelter could “easily” drive away customers and put him into bankruptcy.

“My financial wellbeing and future will lay in the balance. I will lose millions of dollars,” Vance told supervisors. “Essentially I will be the main sacrificial lamb.”

A resident who identified herself as Ms. Allegro said many of her neighbors are opposed to the site, but couldn’t show up to Tuesday morning’s meeting because they had to work.

“I think that [the shelter] would be a detriment to my neighborhood and my area,” Allegro said.

Two residential neighborhoods are about a mile walk from the proposed shelter site.

An attorney, Kevin McCullough of the firm AlvaradoSmith, has been hired by at least one opponent, who he has declined to identify. He alleged that the county would be breaking state law by moving forward with the purchase without conducting an environmental impact review.

County officials, meanwhile, have told the Orange County Register that such a review can’t be performed until a project is proposed, if such an environmental review is even required at all.

As for the opposition to the project, a leading nonprofit provider said it’s crucial to conduct intensive community outreach to businesses and homeowners and acknowledge their concerns.

It begins with a viewpoint that “this is not good versus evil,” said Larry Haynes, executive director of Mercy House.

“When we have that perspective, we can always find ways to solve” our problems.

Orange County is the most populous metropolitan area in the nation without a year-round homeless shelter, according to advocates. Instead, two temporary shelters are opened during winter months, and then close for most of year.

The idea behind the shelter proposal is to not only provide emergency housing but also connect homeless people with services – such as job placement, drug and mental health counseling and veterans services – in a one-stop location, known officially as a “multi-service center.”

Two previous purchase efforts for shelter sites – in Fullerton and Santa Ana – fell apart in recent years amid a community backlash alleging that the county failed to properly engage local residents on the front end of the planning process.

In an apparent reaction to that, the county plans to hold forums at night to solicit more public input, before the final land acquisition approval comes back to supervisors.

Supervisors also largely held off Tuesday on commenting about the shelter proposal, with Chairman Todd Spitzer saying such comments would be premature before the forums.

Elected official supporters at Tuesday’s meeting included Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, Fullerton council members Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug Chaffee and a representative of state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Orange).

“We have an opportunity to act with genuine kindness and compassion today,” said Murray. “The resolution of that problem cannot be to continue to deter, defer and delay action.”

Two of the county’s most influential business groups – the Orange County Business Council and the Building Industry Association of Orange County – also had representatives voicing their support for the shelter.

Some business owners near the site, meanwhile, have yet to make up their minds about the proposal.

“Frankly it’s shameful the amount of homeless we have in this county,” said Brad Steelman, who owns a business near the site and doesn’t yet know whether the facility would be an asset or not.

“It’s our responsibility as business people, as individual home owners, to really address this problem.”

Supporters from several churches and Muslim organizations also spoke in favor of the project.

Zuhair Shaath of the Islamic Institute of Orange County said the shelter is “something that we need to do.”

“At the end of the day, we may not see [homeless] people on a daily basis, but they’re there and they’re alive and we hope that we give them the best of strength,” he said.

The time and location for the public forums on the shelter haven’t been announced yet, though officials plan to send out a news release with that information in coming days.

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

Union Watch

A Challenge to Moorlach and Glazer – Build A Radical Center

By Ed Ring

On March 22, 2015, John Moorlach was officially sworn in as state senator for California’s 37th District. On May 28, 2015, Steve Glazer took the oath of office as state senator for the 7th District. Moorlach is a Republican serving mostly conservative constituents in Orange County. Steve Glazer is a Democrat serving mostly liberal constituents in Contra Costa County.

Different parties. Different constituents. You wouldn’t think these two men had much in common. But you’d be wrong.

John Moorlach and Steve Glazer have both distinguished themselves as politicians and candidates by doing something that transcends their political party identity or conventional ideologies. They challenged the agenda of government unions. As a consequence, both of them faced opponents who were members of their own party who accepted money and endorsements from government unions.

It wasn’t easy to challenge government unions. Using taxpayers money that is automatically deducted from government employee paychecks, government unions in California collect and spend over $1.0 billion per year. These unions spent heavily to attack Moorlach and Glazer, accusing – among other things – Moorlach of being soft on child molesters, and accusing – among other things – Glazer of being a puppet of “big tobacco.”

This time, however, the lavishly funded torrent of union slime didn’t stick. Voters are waking up to the fact that the agenda of government unions is inherently in conflict with the public interest. Can Moorlach and Glazer transform this rising awareness into momentum for reform in California’s state legislature?

Despite sharing in common the courage to confront California’s most powerful and most unchecked special interest, Moorlach and Glazer belong to opposing parties whose mutual enmity is only matched by their fear of these unions. With rare exceptions, California’s Democratic politicians are owned by government unions. Fewer of California’s Republican politicians are under their absolute control, but fewer still wish to stick their necks out and be especially targeted by them.

The good news is that bipartisan, centrist reform is something whose time has come. Democrats and Republicans alike have realized that California’s system of public education cannot improve until they stand up to the teachers unions. Similarly, with the financial demands of California’s government pension systems just one more market downturn away from completely crippling local governments, bipartisan support for dramatic pension reform is inevitable.

There are other issues where voters and politicians alike realize current policy solutions are inadequate at best, but consensus solutions require intense dialog and good faith negotiations. An obvious example of this is water policy, where the current political consensus is to decrease demand through misanthropic, punitive rationing, when multiple solutions make better financial and humanitarian sense. Supply oriented solutions include upgrading sewage treatment plants to reuse wastewater, building desalination plants, building more dams, increasing cloud seeding efforts, and allowing some farmers to sell their allocations to urban areas.

Imagine a centrist coalition of politicians, led by reformers such as Moorlach and Glazer, implementing policies that are decisive departures from the tepid incrementalism and creeping authoritarianism that has defined California’s politics ever since the government unions took control. How radical would that be?

Ultimately, forming a radical center in California requires more than the gathering urgency for reforms in the areas of education, government compensation and pensions, and, hopefully, infrastructure investment. Beyond recognizing the inevitable crises that will result from inaction, and beyond finding the courage to stand up to government unions, Moorlach and Glazer, and those who join them, will have to manifest and pass on to their colleagues an empathy for the beliefs and ideologies of their opponents.

Ideological polarities – environmentalism vs. pro-development, social liberal vs. social conservative, libertarian vs. progressive – generate animosity that emotionalizes and trivializes debate on unrelated topics where action might otherwise be possible. The only solution is empathy. The extremes of libertarian philosophy are as absurd as those of the progressives. The extremes of social liberalism can be as oppressive as an authoritarian theocracy. Economic development without reasonable environmentalist checks is as undesirable as the stagnant plutocracy that is the unwitting consequence of extreme environmentalism. And while government unions should be outlawed, well regulated private sector unions play a vital role in an era of automation, globalization, and financial corruption.

Despite being inundated with a torrent of slime by their opponents, John Moorlach and Steve Glazer took the high road in their campaigns. They are worthy candidates to nurture the guttering remnants of empathy that flicker yet in Sacramento, and nurture them into a roaring, radical centrist fire.

* * *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with the request to do so.