MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 331 — May 4, 2015

The Voice of OC‘s Publisher provides an editorial on Senate Bill 331. The good news is that someone is watching what is occurring in Sacramento. The bad news is that it may not provide a full perspective of what the legislation is intended to do. Here are some essential details:

First, I took my first three days of vacation in more than eight months last week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 April 30, 2015). I requested this time off several weeks ago, so it is interesting that SB 331 would be heard by the Judiciary Committee while I was scheduled to be out of town.

Second, an incident about OC Parks spending is addressed, which was the topic of

MOORLACH UPDATE — Puzzling — August 6, 2014 August 6, 2014.

Thirdly, If CRONEY is good for those who adopt COIN, then it should be good for everyone. Perhaps the author should consider expanding this concept to every contract throughout the state? Otherwise, I believe that SB 331 is an improper use of legislation. It is being used to intimidate. Good government is one thing, but bullying is another.

Finally, my office conferred with Senator Nguyen’s office before the meeting and she valiantly addressed the immaturity of this maneuver. My hat goes off to Senator Nguyen for stating the obvious in a building that is often too heavily influenced by public employee unions.

Santana: OC Gets a Chance to Stomp Out Cronyism in Government

By Norberto Santana Jr.

Orange County supervisors this week find themselves in a unique position, having been handed the ability to seemingly stomp out cronyism in government…starting in their own backyard.

This past week, a state Senate committee approved legislation that would allow the county to adopt an unprecedented level of scrutiny on government contract approvals for private sector vendors wanting to do business with the county government.

It’s called the Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act – quietly called CRONEY in the hallways of power – and this past week, the Senate’s Government and Finance Committee approved SB 331 on a 8-1 vote. Freshly minted Sen. Janet Nguyen, (R-Garden Grove), not only voted no but fumed over the legislation sponsored by the Orange County Employees Association and backed up by a powerful arsenal of labor allies operating from a friendly state capitol environment.

Oddly enough, Sen. John Moorlach – who as a county supervisor introduced the openness-in-labor talks legislation (COIN) that is now law in Orange County and triggered the same call for transparency on commercial contracts – missed the opportunity to vote or speak at the public hearing in Sacramento.

That left Nguyen (herself a former Orange County supervisor) alone to battle against the legislation – which was introduced in February – and would mandate the appointment of an independent auditor to review and report on the cost of any proposed contract in excess of $50,000 in any jurisdiction that has adopted any ordinance that sets up more transparent labor negotiations – often called COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations).

The county and Costa Mesa (which made headlines with an aggressive effort to target labor contracts in recent years) have already adopted the COIN ordinance, joined recently by Fullerton and Beverly Hills.

Yet auditing, similar to COIN, is just the beginning of disclosure with CRONEY.

SB 331 also would require most local public agencies – like the county, cities or special districts – to disclose prescribed information relating to contract negotiations on its web site. The act also would require a minimum of 2 public meetings of the governing body before contract approvals.

The independent auditor’s report also would be required to be made available to the public months before a governing body could take any action to approve or disapprove the contract.

The report also would be required to offer a recommendation regarding the viability of the contract, including determinations as to the fiscal impacts of each term and condition of the contract.

The legislation also would set up a high, in some ways unprecedented, standard for transparency on contracts.

It would require disclosure of all offers and counteroffers 24 hours before public meetings – the offers whose success that are most vulnerable to public disclosure.

SB 331 also would require release of the names of all persons in attendance, whether in person or by electronic means, during any negotiation session regarding the contract, the date of the session, the length of the session, the location where the session took place, and any pertinent facts regarding the negotiations that occurred in that session.

Representatives of the governing body and their staff members also would be required to advise the governing body of all offers, counteroffers, information, or statements of position discussed by the contracting person, or any representative and the public agency.

Nguyen attacked the legislation as direct payback from labor to the county Supervisors and their campaign donors and business associates for the COIN ordinance.

“I get what’s going on here,” Nguyen said at the hearing. “It’s tit for tat.”

She’s probably right on that one.

This is likely a power play because even though labor is an easy political target in Orange County, they have lots of friends up in the state capital. Friends like Sen. Tony Mendoza, who is sponsoring SB 331. Friends like the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, SEIU, Firefighters and ASFCSME – who all testified in favor of the legislation.

Yet this is also good government.

And that presents an interesting challenge for the board of supervisors from "CRONY County," as it’s now been dubbed.

Already cast into an intensifying debate over a future ethics commission – even an upcoming ballot initiative – it will be interesting to see how the new board of supervisors reacts to such calls for openness in contracting.

Supervisor Michelle Steele has been blazing an amazingly conservative voting record on the board – steadfastly opposing all kinds of fee increases and even arguing against private-sector developer taxes like the Mello Roos taxes recently sought for a series of new home developments by the Rancho Mission Viejo development company.

Steele’s votes have been triggering all sorts of indigestion on the board.

One week, her colleague Supervisor Lisa Bartlett looked as if she had been sucker punched in the gut as she strained to explain how “we” needed such taxes in order to make homes affordable after a Steel anti-tax vote.

It’s not clear who the “we” she represents is.

What is clear is that one of the first things Bartlett did right after her win was send out fundraising materials to county vendors – an almost immediate nod to the political realities of elected life, ie: the fundraising merry-go-round.

Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer already tried to get one of his vendors paid quietly through the OC Parks department to roll out the Victims Memorial (which was supposed to not cost any public dollars per the supervisors’ own public vote) until Voice of OC wrote about the issue.

That’s the same parks department that continues to operate under a cloud after it was revealed (again by Voice of OC) that county internal auditors have raised red flags about nearly $1 million in questionable consulting contracts – to politically connected friends.

Yet to hear Nguyen at last week’s hearing, the County of Orange operates like a Swiss watch when it comes to private sector involvement for public contracts.

There are public requests for proposals (called RFPs), public hearings…all sorts of checks and balances on contracts when compared to labor negotiations.

She was there, Nguyen told OCEA Ass. Gen Manager Jennifer Muir last week, when large contracts such as the IT contracts were negotiated.

Nguyen even said she finds it offensive that anyone would dare suggest even a hint of corruption at the process.

That’s a stunning statement given that in the midst of all this, the county’s IT contracts are seemingly unraveling with mounting costs for taxpayers.

County officials are already in lawsuits with one vendor, Tata Consulting.

They are also threatening lawsuits with Xerox Corporation over a new IT relationship that took years to negotiate – largely under Nguyen’s leadership.

That contract started unraveling almost immediately for taxpayers, just after Nguyen’s election to state senate.

And the process, which was strung out for years with an RFP process that was largely stalled while Nguyen and an array of other lobbyists worked endless fundraising angles before a final vote was cast.

Janet Nguyen can get as offended as she likes.

It’s the same kind of indigestion folks like the Orange County Register’s restaurant critics feels when he travels to an OC restaurant and doesn’t see a letter grade like any other county.

That’s because Nguyen (who once drew income from a food business run by her husband) largely blocked any kind of restaurant inspection process that resulted in letter grades when she was in office.

Orange County consumers got less protection because her colleagues listened to her.

Now, the Register has revealed that guess what? Restaurant inspections have been reduced since. Supervisors are now talking about a rating system. But guess who gets to pay? Consumers, through their taxes. Not businesses.

Now that’s transparent.

I found it very illustrative that Moorlach – who would have concieveably argued on the same side as Nguyen – wasn’t’ there.

Nguyen sound frustrated by that at the hearing.

And having covered Moorlach for more than a decade, I can tell you that him missing a public meeting is a real rarity.

Yet the word “Crony Capitalism” isn’t one that you only hear in union halls.

You’ll hear it from Moorlach himself.

When Moorlach was running for state Senate this last spring, he was shocked at the intensity of the Orange County Business Council campaign against him.

And crony capitalism is exactly how he publicly described the forces arrayed against him as he sought to influence policy at a higher level.

Taxpayers backed Moorlach overwhelming despite being inundated with mail warning them not to send him to the state Senate.

I wonder if he sent the business interests arrayed against him his own message by not showing up?

I’ve haven’t had time to reach out to John this week – as he is always the most accessible elected official in government – so I’ll wait for his Moorlach update to hear why he wasn’t at the meeting.

Back in Orange County, Auditor Controller Eric Woolery looks like he’s gearing up for the Iran Contra style hearings on upcoming labor talks, according to a recent press advisory.

All of this is now been made possible by the new COIN ordinance.

It will be interesting to see what kind of media appetite this gets from my colleagues at the mainstream dailies and broadcast outlets.

It will be especially interesting to see if there’s the same appetite by county supervisors for that kind of disclosure on the next private-sector contract for politically-connected friends.

If his colleagues pass Sen. Mendoza’s legislation later this year, Orange County supervisors may soon get to show us their appetite for transparency.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015

The last time I took a few days of vacation time was over the 4th of July break last summer. Last fall, I planned a short backpacking trip for April with a friend and our sons, an infrequent tradition that was long overdue. Our hike in the San Rafael Wilderness fell the first three days of this week. Consequently, I missed the Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The hike was great and the outcome of the Committee meeting went as predicted. I want to thank my colleague, Sen. Joel Anderson, for carrying the water on our shared opposition to SB 277.

I have had a public position since this bill was introduced, see and the excerpt below:

Former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, a candidate in the March 17 special election in the 37th Senate District against Wagner, said he wanted to be “sensitive” to the concerns of parents who fear vaccinations lead to health issues such as autism and would prefer an educational campaign before mandating shots.

Moorlach said he understands the fears of some parents who think there is a link to some vaccines and autism because science has not uncovered a cause for the disorder.

“We need to look at it in a humane way so that we’re not looking like a dictatorship demanding that people do things,” Moorlach said.

“It would be really helpful to clearly demonstrate there’s no correlation between vaccines and autism. I think forcing it is a little premature.”

Laguna Beach Patch, February 5, 2015

I apologize for the conflict that caused me to miss the meeting, but a short break and time with my two sons was long overdue. The San Jose Mercury News and California Healthline (with links) cover the story below, respectively.

the question over who owns your body versus what’s the limit to public health

In the debate over who owns one’s body versus what is the limit to public health, I am very uncomfortable about forcing vaccinations on children when there are legitimate concerns that are held by certain parents (see Without getting into a lengthy discussion, I would just state that certain infants have had reactions to vaccinations. And education and modification may go a lot further than mandatory requirements.

San Jose Mercury News

California vaccine legislation advances in Senate Judiciary Committee

By Tracy Seipel


Agreeing to a slight modification, a state legislative panel on Tuesday easily advanced controversial legislation that would no longer allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

In a 5-1 vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed that Senate Bill 277 abides by California and federal law that protects the public’s health and safety over individual rights.

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, was the only no vote. Sen. John M. W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who is the committee vice chair, was not present.

The proposed legislation would eliminate personal belief and religious exemptions for vaccines, and unvaccinated children could not attend public or private school in California. They would have to be home-schooled.

On Tuesday, the bill was amended to include a new provision that would limit vaccinations to only those 10 vaccines currently required by California Department of Public Health. Parents would be allowed to obtain a personal belief exemption for any vaccine added in the future.

If this bill becomes law, California would become only the third state — in addition to Mississippi and West Virginia — to offer only medical exemptions.

The bill was crafted in February by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, in the wake of a December measles outbreak that started at Disneyland.

The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Contact Tracy Seipel at 408 920-5343 and follow her at

California Healthline

Third Senate Panel Advances California Vaccine Bill After Amendment

On Tuesday, the California Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill (SB 277) that would end all personal belief exemptions to childhood vaccination requirements, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (AP/San Francisco Chronicle 4/28).

SB 277, by state Sens. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach), would:

  • Only allow children who have received vaccinations for certain diseases, such as measles and whooping cough, to be admitted to schools in the state; and
  • Require schools to inform parents of immunization rates.

The bill would allow exemptions for medical reasons.

In addition, Pan and Allen proposed amendments to broaden the bill’s exemption for home-schooled children after a state Senate Education Committee vote on the bill was delayed when opponents raised concerns about children missing out on an education if their parents refused to vaccinate them.

The amendments would allow unvaccinated children to:

  • Enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family; and
  • Participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time

The Senate Education Committee passed the amended bill last week (California Healthline, 4/27).

Details of Judiciary Committee Vote

The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill after it was amended again, this time to limit application of the mandate to just the 10 vaccines currently required by the California Department of Public Health, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Under the amended bill, parents would be able to seek personal belief exemptions to any vaccines that DPH adds to requirements in the future.

The committee voted 5-1 to send the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee. State Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) voted against the measure, while state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) was absent from the vote (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 4/28).

Comments During Hearing

During the hearing, New York University law scholar Mary Holland argued that the bill would undermine informed consent and discriminate against certain families. She said the bill "will be challenged in state and federal courts."

However, Allen said the bill was supported by legal precedent.

He said, "The courts have been clear. The state has a right to require vaccinations for attendance in school" (White, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 4/28).

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), said the state government has a compelling interest to require vaccinations among schoolchildren.

Jackson said, "This bill ultimately is about the health and well-being of our children and what in the world is more important than that," adding, "It is our responsibility to protect the public health and safety" (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/28).

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MOORLACH UPDATE — New Political Split — April 24, 2015

It’s not too often that I make it to the "LIFE" section of the OC Register, but I did yesterday. The OC Register‘s Food Critic decided to share his thoughts on restaurant inspections (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Food Safety — April 19, 2015). It is the first piece below

The second piece is from Fox & Hounds (it also appears on The Flashreport). If you want a treatise on the influence of public employee unions and their efforts to control Sacramento, you’ll find the material most helpful.

BONUS: Last week I was appointed to the following Committees:

Senate Governance and Finance Committee
Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary, where I serve as Vice Chair
Senate Standing Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, including
Subcommittee No. 1 on Education

Consequently, my Capitol staff is focused on briefing me for the General Senate Sessions and the Committee meetings. Now my calendar in Sacramento is nonstop fun.

For your benefit, here are the members of my Capitol staff:

Chief of Staff: Tim S. Clark

Tim Clark is a twenty-year veteran of engaging public affairs and strategic communications to shape California’s public policy landscape. Founder of Clark Strategy Group LLC, and former Partner with JohnsonClark Associates, Mr. Clark has lead dozens of winning local and statewide candidate and issue campaigns, and his work has been recognized among the nation’s best by the American Association of Political Consultants. Mr. Clark also frequently leads collaborative efforts that bring business leaders, community groups, and elected officials together to craft public policy solutions. Additionally, Mr. Clark has worked extensively in Latin America’s communications environment, and he is a sought after lecturer on public policy and strategic communications. He was named one of the top ten rising stars nationally by Campaigns and Elections Magazine. Mr. Clark earned his Political Science and Business Marketing degrees from San Jose State University.

Senior Policy Advisor: Lance R. Christensen

Lance Christensen has earned a national reputation as a government budget and finance policy expert. Prior to joining Senator Moorlach’s staff, Mr. Christensen served as the Director of the Pension Reform Project for the nationally respected Reason Foundation. His budget and finance analyses have been published in multiple national and local publications, and he is a sought-after expert presenter on government finance and debt issues. Mr. Christensen also spent nearly a decade working as a legislative consultant in the California State Senate as well as a finance budget analyst at the Department of Finance. Mr. Christensen earned his English Degree from Brigham Young University and Masters of Public Policy from Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy.

Legislative Director: Victoria C. Stewart

Victoria Stewart brings over ten years of California legislative policy experience and seasoned leadership to Senator Moorlach’s legislative team. Most recently, Ms. Stewart served as Associate Director of State Government Affairs for California Healthcare Institute where she gained widespread expertise on California healthcare policy while also developing outreach/education and legislative advocacy programs and strengthening coalitions with member companies, partners and affiliate organizations. Ms. Stewart previously served as Capitol Director for former Assemblyman Curt Hagman, as well as policy staff for then-Assemblyman Joel Anderson and former Senator Charles Poochigian. Ms. Stewart earned her Political Science degree from California State University, Sacramento.

Deputy Legislative Director: Patricia A. Lenkiewicz

With thirteen years of State Capitol policy experience, Patricia Lenkiewicz is a recognized expert on California budget, finance, and spending policy. Ms. Lenkiewicz formerly served on the staff of several State Senators, including then Republican Leader Dave Cox, before joining the Senate Republican Caucus Fiscal Office helping oversee the Republicans’ fiscal analyses. Ms. Lenkiewicz is an accomplished speaker and has been honored by the Toastmasters International for her expert presentation skills. She will be heading up Senator Moorlach’s budget committee activities and assisting the Senator in his role as Vice Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Capitol Office Director: Alicia G. Belmontes

Alicia Belmontes has nearly thirty years of experience working in the State Capitol, including as Executive Assistant for former Senate Republican Leader Rob Hurtt and former Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, among others. Most recently, Ms. Belmontes served as a State Senate Floor Analyses Consultant where she analyzed the Governance and Finance Committee bills that were placed on the Senate third-reading file. She also processed the third-reading amendments on the Senate Desk. In addition to serving as Senator Moorlach’s Capitol Office Director, Ms. Belmontes will use her fluency in Spanish to oversee Senator Moorlach’s outreach to Spanish language media.

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Let’s try this again. Orange County’s restaurant health inspection system is broken, and we need to fix it.

In case you missed the Register’s Watchdog report on Sunday, investigative reporter Keegan Kyle obtained public records from the Orange County Health Care Agency and wrote an article about the alarming decline in the number of health inspections taking place and the recent rise in major violations. Here are some of the most eye-popping takeaways:

• The number of businesses that were forced to temporarily close due to major health violations spiked by 38 percent from 2013 to 2014.

• Recently, about half of the restaurants and other food vendors forced to close because of permit suspensions were allowed to reopen that same day.

• By refusing to allow a minor increase in inspection fees, which haven’t changed since 2008, county supervisors have diminished the health department’s capacity to carry out inspections.

• The number of major violations grew last year by 11 percent.

• Most shockingly, 1 in 3 restaurants receives a major violation on its inspection.

Violations categorized as “major” are the most serious food-handling and hygiene failures that pose immediate and dangerous health risks to consumers. If these same violations had occurred in Los Angeles or San Diego, the offending restaurants would need to display a rating of B or worse in their front windows, alerting consumers to beware. But in Orange County, nobody ever has to know. We continue to sweep it under the rug.

Ironically, as I write this, I am taking antibiotics to rid my body of a foodborne parasite that I digested some-where in Orange County this month. This is no joke.

But let’s back up for a minute to recap the struggle to adopt a better system here. In 2008, the Orange County grand jury looked at the overwhelming body of evidence and unanimously agreed that Orange County needed to adopt a better system for displaying restaurant health inspection scores. It concluded our current system is broken and recommended either a letter-grade system or a color-coded system. The supervisors flat-out voted down the idea, claiming it was too expensive, even though analysis pegged the cost of implementation at roughly $7 per restaurant.

Then again last year, the grand jury re-examined the issue and came to the same unanimous conclusion: It said it’s time for a better system and urged our supervisors to act. But the supervisors killed it yet again. They repeated their claim that a new placard system would cost too much, even though their own analysis this time around put the cost of implementation at only $3 per restaurant. They also claimed there just wasn’t enough evidence that a better system was warranted.

But they didn’t just cancel the new color-coded placards, they also ruled against a proposed fee increase that would have allowed health inspections to continue operating at status quo levels. As a result, the health department may have no choice but to reduce the number and frequency of inspections.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer apparently questioned whether two routine inspections per year were necessary. He suggested that if someone gets food poisoning, they can simply report the unsafe business by filing a complaint with the county. In other words, Spitzer thinks you should get sick first, then we can deal with the restaurant’s nasty kitchen hygiene later.

Seriously? That sort of reactive approach to foodborne illness is not simply dangerous, it’s stupid. Other counties know this and act proactively. Why are our supervisors so afraid to proactively enforce smart food-service hygiene to prevent foodborne illness in restaurants?

Spitzer previously supported a better system, saying that Orange County needed to be consistent with its neighbors in L.A. and San Diego. “It’s actually expected, and I think we’re out of step,” he said in March 2014. But by November he had a new message, claiming, “There’s no public outcry.” What could have changed his mind? The only thing that’s changed is things have gotten worse.

Meanwhile, as the watchdog report noted, “Supervisor Shawn Nelson argued at one point last year that a grading system amounted to the kind of government overregulation that pressured restaurant chains, including Carl’s Jr., to consider leaving California.”

After Nelson’s outrageous boogeyman claims, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. wrote a letter to the supervisors endorsing the proposed fee increase and color-coded grading system.

But the supervisors refused to let the facts get in the way of their obstruction. They continue to block funds needed by the health department for inspectors to do their jobs. And they continue to throw consumers under the bus, saying we should just go to the hospital and file a complaint if – rather, when – we get sick. (The only supervisor who ended up supporting change was John Moorlach, who is now gone from the board.)

I’m not ready to give up this fight. We need a better system. We need a system that inspires restaurants to avoid major violations. We need a system that takes foodborne illness seriously. We need a system that helps consumers make better decisions about where they eat based on a restaurant’s health rating. But more importantly, we need a system that will help us get to the root of the problem, which is the combination of dangerously unsafe food-handling practices and subpar restaurant hygiene.

We came close last year, but our supervisors weaseled out and reneged when they thought nobody was paying attention. I don’t understand their refusal to face facts and take an interest in public health.

The longer Orange County looks the other way, the bigger the problem gets. We proved that again this year. O.C. is out of step. We need to wake up and catch up. Our system is broken, and we need to fix it.

Contact the writer: bajohnson or on Twitter: @bradajohnson

Glazer vs. Bonilla 7th Senate District Battle Reflects New Political Split in California

Ed Ring

By Ed Ring Executive Director, California Public Policy Center

California’s politics remain polarized, but not just via the traditional division of Republicans vs. Democrats. As reported here two months ago in the post “Issue of Government Unions Divide Candidates More Than Party Affiliation,” there were two California State Senate contests that remained unresolved after the November 2014 election. One of them, pitting Republican John Moorlach against Republican Don Wagner for the 37th Senate District, was settled on March 17th. Moorlach, who has fought to restore financial sustainability to public employee pension systems, was opposed by government unions. Wagner, also a conservative, but less outspoken than Moorlach on the issue of pension reform, was endorsed by government unions. Moorlach won.

The other race, originally pitting three Democrats against each other for the 7th Senate District, has narrowed to a contest between two candidates that will be settled on May 19th, Democrat Steve Glazer vs. Democrat Susan Bonilla.

It will be interesting to see how voters in a largely Democratic district respond in a race that is not between candidates from opposing parties. Glazer is a fiscal conservative who is progressive on virtually all of the issues important to Democrats. Bonilla offers up many similar positions, with one important exception: Glazer has stood up to government unions on critical issues, to the point where government unions do not consider him reliable. As a result, Bonilla is receiving cash and endorsements from the unions representing our public servants, all of it, of course, money that originated from taxpayers.

Here’s a list of some of Bonilla’s government union endorsements:

California Association of Highway Patrolmen
California Professional Firefighters
California State Sheriffs’ Association
California State Coalition of Probation Organizations
CALFIRE Local 2881
Peace Officers Research Association of California
Deputy Sheriffs Association of Alameda County
Antioch Police Officer’s Association
Concord Police Officer’s Association
Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association
Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney’s Association
Brentwood Police Officers Association
Livermore-Pleasanton Firefighters, Local 1974
Livermore Police Officer’s Association
Pittsburg Police Officers Association
Pleasanton Police Officers Association
Probation Peace Officers Association of Contra Costa County
San Ramon Valley Firefighters Association, Local 3546
United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County, Local 1230

One has to ask why so many public safety officials are endorsing Bonilla rather than Glazer, and it is fair to wonder if their endorsement has anything to do with the positions of these candidates on issues and policies relating to public safety. Take a look at this flyer from the Bonilla campaign:


As can be seen, Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson and Alameda County Sheriff Greg Aher, both apparently Republicans, are touting the pro public safety record of Susan Bonilla. But would they have made these statements if Susan Bonilla was challenging their unions on fiscal issues relating to pensions and compensation?

From that perspective, candidate Steven Glazer is a threat to government unions. For ten years starting in 2004, Glazer was a councilmember, then mayor, in Orinda, one of the most fiscally responsible cities in the state. In a California Policy Center study released late last year entitled “California’s Most Financially Stressed Cities and Counties,” every city and county in California was ranked in order of its risk of insolvency. Orinda was ranked 369 out of 491, putting it in the top 25% in terms of financial health. More significantly, in a subsequent California Policy Center study entitled “California City Pension Burdens,” every city in the state was ranked according to how much pension contributions strain their budgets. Orinda wasn’t even on this list, because they are among only nine cities in California who don’t have a defined benefit plan for their employees. They use a defined contribution plan instead.

Hopefully the reader will forgive this prurient dive into personal financial data, but when public employees endorse political candidates, how much they make is relevant. Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson made $322,180 in 2013, an amount that included $111,897 in employer paid benefits. Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern made $556,268 in 2013; an astonishing $266,130 of that in the form of employer paid benefits. The vast majority of these benefit payments were to cover the required employer pension contributions. These men would have to be saints to have an objective perspective on an election that could result in a fiscal conservative holding office who is conversant in pension finance and formerly presided over a town that offers defined contribution plans to their employees instead of defined benefit pensions.

To drive the point home, take a look at the salaries and benefits for Alameda County workers, the pensions for Alameda County retirees, the salaries for Contra Costa County workers, and the pensions for Contra Costa County retirees. No conflict of interest there.

In the race for California’s 7th Senate District, Government unions have already spent over $2.0 million to support Susan Bonilla and oppose Steve Glazer. Download this spreadsheet to view the latest contributions through 4-20-2015, or click on the following four links to follow the money pouring in to make sure a fiscal conservative Senator does not head to Sacramento on May 19th:

Bonilla for Senate 2015, Putting the East Bay First
Bonilla for Senate 2015
Bonilla for Senate 2016
Working Families Opposing Glazer for Senate 2015

California’s Republican leadership, to the extent they tepidly claim to support pension reform while taking money from public sector unions and doing nothing, should understand as clearly as the Democratic leadership who avoid the issue entirely: It doesn’t matter what else you believe, or what you stand for, or what’s in your platform. Government unions support candidates who fight to preserve and increase the pay and benefits of unionized government employees, at the same time as they fight to minimize the accountability of unionized government employees. Across California, their demands, almost invariably fulfilled by politicians they control, have taken money away from other services, including infrastructure investment, and nearly destroyed California’s system of public education.

This is having a polarizing impact in both parties, and rendering the distinction between Democrat and Republican less important than whether or not they are willing to stand up to government unions.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Food Safety — April 19, 2015

The OC Register again deals with restaurant inspections and the related fees required in order for the County to provide them. Sometimes you can just see the inevitable. Less inspections equals more safety violations, which means a higher likelihood of you receiving a food borne disease if you frequent this County’s fine eating establishments.

Don’t say "I didn’t tell you so" (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Restaurant Inspections — November 26, 2014 November 26, 2014).



In a similar vein, yesterday the OC Register provided a front-page story on ARTIC (see The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center was a train wreck from the get go. It was crammed down the throats of elected officials serving on the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and now it is a huge fiscal embarrassment. Once again, don’t say "I didn’t tell you so." See MOORLACH UPDATE — ARTIC — January 14, 2011 January 14, 2011, MOORLACH UPDATE — ARTIC — February 15, 2011 February 15, 2011, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Boondoggle — December 10, 2014 December 10, 2014.

The good news is that the annual costs of this tragic financial money pit is being borne solely by the city of Anaheim. This is a result of my having encouraged the OCTA Board to sell the land to Anaheim. Consequently, more costs are not being absorbed by County residents with their Measure M taxes. What’s scary is that the same brain trust that brought you this boondoggle now wants to build a streetcar to the station (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Control — August 13, 2014 August 13, 2014).

I’ll do my best to be a voice for fiscal sanity in Sacramento as money pits, like High Speed Rail, are boondoggles on a grander scale.


On Friday, April 10, I stayed in Sacramento to attend a pension reform conference sponsored by the Reason Foundation. The public safety unions that supported my opponent were there in force at the beginning of the day, see (if you are able to enter the Sacramento Bee’s website).

The good news? The host of the conference, Lance Christensen, will be my Legislative Director in the Sacramento office. I am continuing my tradition of hiring the best and the brightest, and Lance has been making a significant impact on pension reform around the nation. I am very fortunate to have him on the team. And, I want to thank Adrian Moore of the Reason Foundation for allowing Lance to leave his outstanding organization to work for me.


As many know, the 37th Senate District contains some of the most active communities in the State. From time to time, I’m asked to help get the word out about certain events. One such event is the 15th Annual Eagle Forum State Conference – May 2, being held at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Conference speakers will direct their message to "restoring our Christian foundations" by understanding America’s cornerstones of virtue, justice and exceptionalism that made America "the shining city on the hill.” For more information, visit

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Food safety violations jump at restaurants

Fewer health inspections, lack of understanding of laws cited as possibilities.


County health inspectors logged steep climbs in forced restaurant closures and major food safety violations last year, raising new concerns about Orange County’s shrunken oversight of restaurants and other food vendors.

According to county data obtained by the Register under public records laws, the number of businesses that were forced to temporarily close due to major health violations spiked by 38 percent from the previous year, to 722. Most businesses were small or medium sized restaurants.

Despite a similar number of overall inspections last year, the amount of major violations found at all food facilities in the county grew by 11 percent, to 14,800. Unsafe storage temperatures, poor washing and pests drove much of the increase.

Inspectors issued 779 major violations for cockroaches, 189 for rodents and nine for other infestations in critical areas – 58 percent more than the previous year and nearly double the total in 2012. Major violations are conditions that pose an immediate danger to public health.

The rise in restaurant closures and violations comes after years of declining oversight by Orange County health officials. The county once inspected restaurants and other food facilities four times a year – in sync with FDA recommendations. Today, most restaurants are inspected half as often.

County inspectors last year were responsible for monitoring food sanitation practices at 15,000 businesses, including restaurants, supermarkets, catering services and taverns. Inspection reports are searchable on the county’s website by name. Recent permit suspensions are listed as well.

Inspectors closed 105 establishments in the past two months, mostly for cockroach and other pest infestations, according to online data. About half were allowed to re-open on the same day of their permit suspension.


Health officials aren’t sure what prompted the increase in violations last year, saying many factors influence the number of health permit suspensions and violations each year. But they said some cashstrapped restaurants may have cut food safety expenses like pest control to stay afloat and county inspectors have trimmed outreach efforts because of budget cuts.

“We’re out there giving them (businesses) the tools they need to come into compliance,” said Denise Fennessy, who oversees the county’s food safety inspections . “They’re so focused on their production of food that sometimes they’re not able to make all the corrections.”

Fennessy said she would like inspectors to spend more time with business owners, helping them understand food safety laws and the reasons for those laws. But staffing losses have increased pressure on inspectors to complete their work quicker.

Jennifer Muir, a spokeswoman for the union that represents health inspectors, called the spike in closures and violations “alarming” and said it highlights broader funding problems in an agency responsible for overseeing one of Orange County’s most vibrant industries.

“Just imagine how much more frightening those numbers would be if the department were given the resources they need to protect consumers,” Muir said.

Health officials have consistently fallen short on annual food safety goals outlined in budget documents. In each of the past three years, they hoped that fewer than one in every six restaurants would be issued a major violation. Instead, it has been one in every three.

“We call it kind of a stretch goal,” said Richard Sanchez, a top county health official. “I don’t know that we had an expectation to meet that with our current program.”

Higher costs of retired employees and stagnant business fees are partly responsible for the drop in inspections. Health permit fees, which largely fund the county’s inspection program, have not been adjusted since 2008. Restaurants pay a range of $561to $925 annually, depending on their size.


Though the county Board of Supervisors twice rejected proposed fee hikes last year, Sanchez said his office intends to bring another fee increase before the supervisors this year. Without it, he said, some restaurants could be inspected just once a year starting in July.

“We’re still at the level … that we felt was pretty much the minimum we could provide and feel comfortable,” Sanchez said. “If we got down to one inspection per year, we may look at alternatives to our inspection program because I don’t think that would provide the surveillance that we would feel comfortable (with) from a public health standpoint.”

Matt Sutton, a spokesman for the California Restaurant Association, which represents more than 450 businesses in Orange County, said the rise in major violations warrants further examination by health officials . But it doesn’t necessarily indicate problems with the county’s current inspection program, he said.

Still, Sutton said more frequent inspections are “probably better for some” businesses, and the organization understands the need for a fee increase to keep up routine inspections. It just needs to be consistent and manageable for owners, Sutton said.

“We know that if the county remains unable to do frequent visits, that’s a problem for all of us,“ Sutton said. “I believe there will be a fee increase. It just depends how it’s structured.”

The Register requested to speak with each of the county’s five supervisors this week about the rise in health permit suspensions and major violations. None agreed to be interviewed.


Aiming to halt the decline in inspections last fall, county officials requested a 5 percent hike in health permit fees to continue inspecting restaurants twice annually. But the board rejected the idea.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer cited a lack of evidence at the time to question that two routine inspections a year was needed and offered that sick patrons could always pinpoint unsafe businesses by filing complaints with the county –a reactive model of oversight.

“The evidence isn’t showing that we have a pervasive problem,” Spitzer said during a September board meeting. “At least the evidence that’s being presented to us doesn’t lead us to a conclusion that we have to raise the fees.”

County health staff didn’t provide the supervisors with data on the results of their inspections – only countywide statistics on the prevalence of food-borne illnesses. That data, representing all cases regardless of the food’s origin, showed no significant change in response to conducting fewer inspections.

This week, Sanchez called food-borne illness the most important indicator of a successful inspection program. But he acknowledged that county health officials currently lack a reliable system of tracking the information. They mainly gauge success based on the rate of major violations, which reflect the leading causes of food-borne illness.

Neither Sanchez nor Fennessy said the recent rise in major violations necessarily marks problems with Orange County’s restaurant inspection program, however. Sanchez said that “appears to be so” based on anecdotal evidence but he wasn’t convinced yet that patrons should be concerned.

“It’s really hard to tell whether more inspections would resolve (the increase in violations) or whether we would just find more violations,” Fennessy added.


Food safety issues have long shadowed the Board of Supervisors. Citizen grand juries unsuccessfully urged the board in 2008 and last year to adopt restaurant grading systems similar to those used by other Southern California counties. In Los Angeles, inspection results determine whether restaurants get A, B or C placards on their windows.

Four out of five Orange County supervisors verbally endorsed the idea of a grading system in April 2014 in order to give patrons more information on the results of inspections. Spitzer supported a letter grade system to be “regionally homogenous” while three of his colleagues preferred a color-coded system.

Yet the supervisors failed to agree on a plan before the end of the year. Elections then installed three new faces on the board. John ‍Moor‍‍lach, the only supervisor who voted for a fee hike and a grading system, was among those who left the board.

Opponents of the grading system focused last year on its additional cost and concerns that raising public awareness of inspection results might spur more businesses to demand quicker re-inspections after receiving poor grades. Health officials estimated in September that a color-coded system would cost $40,000 annually, or about $3 per permitted business.

Business owners have been divided on a grading system and higher fees to maintain inspection levels. The California Restaurant Association urged the county to delay voting on either proposal in September and to conduct more outreach with business owners. Two months later, the proposals died altogether.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson argued at one point last year that a grading system amounted to the kind of government over-regulation that pressured restaurant chains, including Carl’s Jr., to consider leaving California. But in August, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. wrote a letter to the supervisors endorsing the proposed fee increase and color-coded grading system.



On Twitter: @keegankyle

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MOORLACH UPDATE — PAD Review — April 14, 2015

Forgive me if this missive sounds as if I protesteth too much, but the editorial in the Voice of OC takes liberty with the facts. One, I worked very closely with Philip Cheng and not only reviewed his reports, but spent hours with him in private briefings to review the findings, ask questions, and offer my own observations.

When the Performance Audit Department (PAD) was established, I participated in selecting the Director. One of the candidates was kind enough to call me and inform me that if he were selected, he would recruit Ian Rudge away from my office. I try to hire the best and the brightest, and I was in no mood to lose Ian.

We selected Steve Danley, another candidate for the position, who promptly recruited Ian away from me anyway. And they both provided excellent reports on various departments in the County. For an example, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Performance Audit Department — January 21, 2012. They were so impactful that then CEO Tom Mauk quadrupled the size of this department in order to review every county department — NOT! He did the opposite; he tried to rein it in.

When my former Chief of Staff, Rick Francis, was recruited away from me to be the assistant to the Costa Mesa CEO (City Manager), I recruited Ian to return to my office to fill this vacancy. Of course, I expected that Ian would occupy the position for some time. I have the same expectation of my new Chief of Staff here in Sacramento.

As you read the editorial, know that I am a big Steve Danley fan. It was my hope that he would become the County’s CEO, but I did not have the votes. I am also a Philip Cheng fan and I know he is getting his sea legs and following a schedule of audits that were agreed to by all of the parties, including the Board, the CEO, and his department.

Using the PAD to make a swipe at the Board, past and present, and CEO Mike Giancola, with a stretch of some facts to embellish the piece, may hurt the credibility of the column. However, if I had had any input, I would have focused it on quadrupling the size of the PAD so that the County could reap the benefits of a more efficient county bureaucracy.

BONUS: Yesterday, the Senate voted 22 to 10 to remove Father Serra from the Rotunda in Washington, D.C., and replace him with former astronaut Sally Ride. I voted in opposition, as Father Serra is a founder of California and along with establishing Mission San Diego de Alcala in 1769 and Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1776, he left the fingerprints of the Spanish missionaries all over the majority of this state. One could argue that the missionaries likely staved off Russian claims to the Pacific coast.

The subtle spiritual reminders Father Serra and his co-missionaries are everywhere. The city of the Angels. The city of the Sacraments. The cities and counties named after saints, both male and female, like San Diego, San Bernardino, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, and some 30 more similar place names. The Spanish influence is also seen elsewhere, as in the name of the Los Padres National Forest. So the legacy continues.

Some 68 percent of Hispanics in the United States consider themselves Roman Catholic and some 38 percent of Californians are Hispanics. This means that one in four Californians are Roman Catholic, Father Serra was beautified by Pope John Paul II and is widely expected to be canonized this September by Pope Francis. Still, I’m not sure if my office received one phone call or e-mail to suggest that I oppose this matter. I did it as an amateur California historian who respects his West Coast roots, just as those on the East Coast do their founding fathers. With that, go Padres and Angels!


Keeping Watch: County Government’s Most Thankless Job

By Norberto Santana Jr.

Today, Orange County Supervisors are scheduled to have a very frank – and closed session – discussion with Performance Auditor Philip Cheng about his work.

So far, it’s been a yawner.

Since taking over as Performance Auditor, Cheng has turned over one milquetoast audit after another. His agency website is so plain that it doesn’t even list his name on the About Us page. All of the media coverage from the agency’s Media page ends in 2012.

One housing review he completed last fall made no mention of a year-long District Attorney’s Office investigation into the agency that turned over tons of information on waste and abuse. It’s a situation county supervisors found about from the investigative reporting of Voice of OC reporter Yvette Cabrera just they were scheduled to adopt a Cheng report that concluded the agency was smoothly meeting its marks. This past week, five workers at the agency were let go as a result of official reviews of their work performance.

All this being said, supervisors should have the frank talk with themselves.

Cheng’s milquetoast auditing is a direct result of the environment triggered by the last board majority – which penalized aggressive auditing and rewarded lapdog executives.

Despite their talk about running government like a business, these folks ran the shop with one goal: getting elected to the next higher office.

They were good at that.

We now have three State Senators – Pat Bates, Janet Nguyen and John Moorlach.

The results at the county? Not so good.

Just ask, like I did, to see the raw results of a recent employee survey of county workers. Top execs are still trying to figure out how to break the news to supervisors. They had to send supervisors an update after I sought the original records.

Know why they fear the results?

They’re miserable.

When county executives and workers were asked what they thought about the leader of Orange County, presumably the CEO, the results were a jaw-dropping 29 percent lower than the benchmark for other county governments.

Minus 29.

When asked whether the county of Orange operates with strong values and ethics, the answers from county staff were 20 percent lower than the benchmark for other county governments.

Minus 20.

This is the same CEO who county supervisors were praising last week after he abruptly announced his retirement.

Mike Giancola excelled at telling county supervisors exactly what they want to hear. He took care of their needs.

And they loved him for it.

And he did well.

Guess who didn’t do so well?

The last Performance Auditor, Steve Danley.

Danley – the only top exec to not get a raise in the past five years – was in line to be the next CEO, but couldn’t get the votes from supervisors in closed session because Bates and Nguyen were reportedly offended by the raw nature of his performance audits, which garnered top headlines for years.

His work delved into – and helped to limit – overtime pay for deputy sheriffs. He also did real investigations into the planning and human resources department, county harbor patrol and millions in no-bid IT contracts.

Raw audits expose real problems. They can hurt the brand. They force politicians to work, instead of campaign for higher office, to actually fix things.

Danley didn’t turn out too bad though, eventually getting the job of reorganizing the county Human Resources Department in the wake of the well-publicized Carlos Bustamante sex abuse scandal.

Unfortunately, Danley’s second-in-command, a well-regarded executive named Ian Rudge, never got a chance to follow his boss because he was stuck with termed-out Supervisor Moorlach when Danley left to head up HR. Moorlach refused to let Rudge return to Performance Audit because Rudge had given him a commitment to be his chief of staff.

Rudge eventually left Moorlach’s staff anyway for a job at the Probation Department.

Performance Audit was left to meander and was eventually given to Cheng, who seemingly has no idea of the political hornet’s nest he’s stepped into with a board of supervisors that is formally asking for investigations but doesn’t really want them.

Meanwhile, Danley’s new HR department ran straight into Brian Probolsky, a GOP power broker and elected official at the Moulton Niguel Water District. The trouble started when investigators started asking questions about why Probolsky didn’t take time off to head to water district meetings.

Investigators eventually got threatened with political retribution by Probolsky, but stood firm, issuing a three-day unpaid leave sanction to the political power broker – even listing his threats against them.

Yet after that, Probolsky got hired on as Chief of Staff to newly-elected Supervisor Andrew Do.

Since then, guess who has taken a really aggressive interest in the costs of Danley’s human resources consolidation?

Supervisor Andrew Do.

Orange County’s Internal Auditor Peter Hughes also has had a rocky few years since he uncovered a buried legal investigation into Bustamante, an elected member of the Santa Ana City Council and rising OC GOP Hispanic star who as a County Public Works executive was apparently habitually groping female workers at the office.

When a lawyer looked into the matter, county supervisors – including two women, Bates and Nguyen – signed off on a plan to have Bustamante quietly resign, take a 90-severance check and disappear.

After Hughes fought to have access to the same legal report as part of a hotline complaint, it ended up in an internal audit review that triggered a formal closed session and an automatic referral to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. Bustamante’s trial is still ongoing.

After the Bustamante scandal, Hughes went looking at how then-Clerk Recorder Tom Daly managed an internal service fund inside his office called 12D. The account turned out to look much like a slush fund – the kind of fund that helps aspiring politicians like Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman campaign for office while getting paid to be a “consultant” and produce reports largely lifted from Wikipedia.

Hughes produced a scathing audit that left Daly in fumes.

When Daly got to the state assembly, one of the first things he did was submit legislation to move Hughes away from the board of supervisors’ purview and back to the Auditor Controller.

That battle is still in play.

Who can blame Philipp Cheng for being milquetoast?

The last guy who pulled that off just got to play CEO for a few years.

Later this week, Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer has convened a countywide conversation about ethics.

If supervisors want county ethics to get a better rating, than 20 points below their counterparts, they should come out publicly for strong auditing and they should promise their auditors that they wont be retaliated against for delivering bad news.

The brand can stand it.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Financial Reporting — April 12, 2015

My wife was the office manager for a health professional when we met. Shortly after we were married, she would go on to leave that practice and be the office manager for another closer to our home.

My wife did not handle her first pregnancy well, suffering from morning sickness constantly. I had to call the Doctor every morning and ask for another day off for her. Finally, one morning I just told him that it would be best if she resigned. We then decided that I would be the sole bread winner and that Trina would be a stay-at-home-Mom. This is a decision we have never regretted.

After being appointed to serve as the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995, I had to be subject to reporting requirements as an elected official (Form 700). Consequently, my wife and I had to make more decisions. The first one we made was to move our investments into mutual funds and into retirement accounts, thus exempting them from public reporting. We also declined significantly participating in business partnerships and investments, as they would be exposed to public scrutiny.

The second policy was to not accept taking gifts. I am hoping to continue this policy in Sacramento. However, I am invited to a number of receptions while in town every week. There is a value for the portion of the food and beverages that are attributed to guests. So, I can either skip the events, go and not eat or drink, or pay for the privilege of attending. The fun life continues.

All of this is to explain the piece below in the OC Register. Which brings me to the third policy decision. I decided not to supplement my income by utilizing my two licenses (CPA and CFP), in order to fully focus on my elected positions. I did make one exception, serving as an executor for a friend’s estate, as I was asked to do this during my pre-public life days.

BONUS: Now that I’m adjusting to the new job, let me share that I have received more than 50 resumes from wonderful individuals wishing to work for me in one of my two offices. I am pleased to announce that I have concluded the hiring of the five professional staff members who will be assisting me in Sacramento. More on this in a future UPDATE. I hope to complete the hiring process for the District Office soon.

Monday afternoon’s Senate Session will include a discussion on one of the two statutes in Washington, D.C., representing the State of California. For a couple of fun Session photos of me, go to and see my adjournment of the Reverend Robert Shuller and a brief interaction with Senator Sharon Runner.

For many years, California was represented by Father Junipero Serra and Thomas Starr King, the famous orator renowned for keeping California united with the north in the slavery debates (see His statue was recently replaced by President Ronald Reagan’s.

The discussion will be to replace Father Serra with Astronaut Sally Ride. My position is that I want to keep Father Serra. If you want to install contemporary individuals to represent California, then switch out Reagan.

The Spanish influence on California is part of California’s DNA. Look at the number of city and county names inspired by Roman Catholic saints. In Orange County alone we have Santa Ana, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. Other Spanish influences can be seen in city names like Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Laguna Niguel, et al.

We send fourth graders to Sacramento, another great Spanish name. We have them build and visit our missions. Removing Father Serra, who founded the San Diego Mission in 1776, is like removing a founding father in the perspective of our nation’s history.

I understand the sensitivities that our tribal communities have regarding Father Serra’s interaction with native Americans, but that doesn’t change the fact that Junipero Serra’s footprint in California is among the most influential in our history. And the treatment of native Americans is a sad chapter of history that impacts most, if not all, of our 50 states.

As for California State Historical Landmarks in Orange County, I would recommend that you enjoy Number 200, San Juan Capistrano Mission. Here’s what the plaque reads:

"Founded in 1776 by Padre Junipero Serra, the seventh in the chain of twenty-one missions established in Alta California to Christianize and civilize the indians. Stone church destroyed in 1812 earthquake. Expropriated during Mexican rule. Returned to Catholic church in 1865 by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln."

Or the Landmark nearest to my home, Number 227, Diego Sepulveda Adobe, which reads:

"This home of early Spanish Californians, erected in the 1820’s, once served as an ‘estancia’ or station for mission herdsmen. It was dedicated in 1963 for public use by the Segerstrom family and restored by the city of Costa Mesa. It is jointly maintained and operated by the Costa Mesa Parks Department and the Costa Mesa Historical Society."

This should be a fun discussion on the Senate Floor.

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How do county supervisors make their money?


Orange County’s supervisors in some cases live in expensive homes and enjoy lucrative investments, such as pharmaceuticals, tractor manufacturing and oil and gas production. Some of them also earn high salaries operating law firms, investment agencies and, in one case, a company that makes markable party cups, recently submitted documents show.

Members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors are required to disclose their economic interests upon taking office and annually until they leave.

Todd Spitzer and Shawn Nelson recently filed their annual statements, giving the first updated and complete picture of the supervisors’ outlying interests since the board’s newest members, Lisa Bartlett, Andrew Do and Michelle Steele, took office.

The economic filings show a diverse array of interests that continue to earn supervisors money even after they set up their offices at the Hall of Administration, where their salary is $145,000 annually with a $9,180 car allowance, and their health and retirement benefits are the best in the county.

Spitzer and Nelson each reported earning more than $100,000 from their law firms in 2014. They weren’t the only supervisors making money on the side: Former supervisor Pat Bates reported income between $10,001 and $100,000 from her husband’s architecture and land-planning firm in Laguna Hills, as well as their property management company. She also reported that same income from stocks she sold through American Express and Ameriprise Financial. She invests in eight other stocks, according to the documents, including Abbott Labs and Bank of American to Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Citigroup Inc. and Northwest Natural Gas.

Former supervisor Janet Nguyen also earned money through a public relations firm she owns in Garden Grove, but not nearly as much as Bates, Spitzer or Nelson: she reported an income of $1,001 to $10,000 and an additional $10,001 and $100,000 from a rental property she owns in Pennsylvania. Former supervisor John Moorlach, who joins Bates and Nguyen in the state Senate after a special election March 17, reported no earnings.

Moorlach, Bates and Nguyen filed the documents as they left office. Their replacements bring an equally vast array of interests to the board, particularly Michelle Steel, a former member of the Board of Equalization who is married to Shawn Steel, the California Republican Party’s national committeeman.

Steel reported holding interest royalty in eight oil and gas production companies, most of which earned her up to $10,000. She also reported income of more than $1 million from her husband’s law firm in Seal Beach.

Do reported a salary of less than $100,000 though the Irvine law firm Fitzgerald Yap and Kreditor, where he’s been a lawyer since 2012.

Bartlett reported less than $100,000 in income through her Dana Point real estate company, Blue Water Realty & Investments. She also is part owner of the Aliso Viejo company Etch-It Party, which sells party cups that are easy to mark your name on. She reported an income of less than $499 from it for 2013.

Neither Bartlett nor Nguyen reported owning property in their name, while Do owns two homes, one in Westminster that he bought last year and another in Santa Ana that he’s owned since 2002.

Nelson owns two homes in Santa Ana, both worth more than $1 million and both through which he earned between $10,001 and $100,000 by renting last year.

Along with his income from his law firm, Nelson reported earning less than $100,000 from SoCo Holdings Inc, which is owned by his law partner, Greg Rizio, and operates the Continental Room Bar and Night Club in Fullerton. Nelson also invests in Allergran, Hondo, Intel and John Deere.

Spitzer reported earning between $1,001 and $10,000 from a home he owns in Big Bear Lake that he rents to short-term vacationers. In addition to investments in Microsoft and Intel as well as the health care product company Covideo PLC SHS, Spitzer earned between $10,001 and $100,000 from an ongoing consulting contract with Centrarus Financial in Anaheim, which pays him for work related to social media and succession planning initiatives.

He reported similar earnings for his spot on the board of directors for Strategic Realty Trust in San Mateo. He also earned between $500 and $1000 from Work Comp Central for news and education regarding workers compensation issues, as well as Nicholas Holdings, Inc., in Aliso Viejo, which is Broadcom Corp. co-founder Henry Nicholas’ holding company. Spitzer is a legal affairs director for Marsy’s Law, a victim’s rights law named for Nicholas’ sister, who was murdered in 1983.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Bolsa Chica — April 9, 2015

As a County Supervisor, I was able to move a considerable amount of unincorporated land into cities. One of the unfinished projects was to have the city of Huntington Beach annex the Bolsa Chica wetlands, as I believe the City would be a much more conscientious governing body over this glorious ecological reserve. The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is observing Earth Day this Saturday and you can find more information at

I was not present for the City’s study session, but I would say that the maintenance of Harriett Wieder Park is not a high cost obligation. The funding that I was able to garner would have been more than satisfactory. And the liability exposure concern is not reflected in past history, as I have no recollection of a guest of the County’s Regional Park suing over a slip and fall or any other mishap.

Getting unincorporated areas nested into cities improves governance for those areas. Currently, the County has to send Deputy Sheriffs all the way to the coast to monitor this area, which is not an efficient public safety response or a wise expenditure of public funds. But, the Sheriff’s union is always opposed to losing territory, so there may be a portion of this story that has not been told.

BONUS: Today I reluctantly voted for Senate Joint Resolution 2, which "urges the Congress and the President to work together to create a comprehensive and workable approach to reform the nation’s broken immigration system." Had I voted to oppose, I would have been the only "no" vote, again.

I’m trying to get my sea legs up here in Sacramento. I don’t particularly believe that one elected body should be telling another elected body what to do. I appreciate "lobbying," but Congress is fully aware that we have an immigration problem.

This request has been presented in the past in various forms, and it was actually an issue brought up in my Senate campaign. But, unlike past versions, this issue was not focused on pressuring or embarrassing Congressional Republicans. Instead, this resolution was targeted to President Obama, and is a clear request that his administration work with the Congress, rather than act unilaterally.

In the State Senate, a Senator cannot abstain. Senators can only vote "yes" or "no," or leave the room and be reported as not present. In the first roll call, I declined to vote. After it was clear that every one of my colleagues voted in the affirmative, I followed suit.

I came to Sacramento to get things done. Passing resolutions with platitudes is not my idea of getting something done. I’d prefer to vote on real solutions. But, I also want to work with my colleagues to be a team player. That’s where I fell on this lengthily debated resolution. The awkward legislation that will be introduced soon, to show that California is leading the way, does not provide solutions that I’m in favor of. But, that’s what happens when Congress doesn’t fill the vacuum that it has jurisdiction over, thus also not providing real solutions.

HB Independent

Huntington won’t annex Bolsa Chica wetlands, council decides

By Anthony Clark Carpio

After about six years of discussions among city officials, the Huntington Beach City Council decided Monday to forgo further talk of annexing the Bolsa Chica wetlands, though members are still interested in operating a county park.

A majority of the council members said during a study session that they are concerned about added liability the city would take on by annexing the 1,200-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, which is in an unincorporated area off Pacific Coast Highway between Warner Avenue and Seapoint Street.

"We’re a big target as a city," Councilman Dave Sullivan said. "If somebody falls off the bridge going into the wetlands, they’re going to come and sue us."

Mayor Jill Hardy, who favored annexing the land, asked Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh which agency typically would get to Bolsa Chica first during a fire. McIntosh said city firefighters are the first responders for the area, but they can ask for help from the Orange County Fire Authority.

McIntosh added that if the county were to render aid, it would be at the county’s expense. If the city annexed Bolsa Chica, the county probably would bill the city for such services, he said.

Though the idea of annexing the wetlands appears to be dead, many council members were interested in continuing talks with Orange County officials regarding the city operating the 144-acre Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, on the southeast border of the Bolsa Chica reserve along Seapoint.

"As a city of our size, we should have a county park," Sullivan said.

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who formerly represented Huntington Beach on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, had proposed alloting $1.25 million from the county to the city, of which $1 million would go toward improving the park and the remainder for maintenance.

However, several council members said the allotment for park upkeep would be too low. City Manager Fred Wilson said maintenance costs for the park could be as high as $75,000 a year. Under that scenario, a $250,000 maintenance allotment would cover about three years.

Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize said she would like city staff to work with Moorlach’s successor, Supervisor Michelle Steel, to negotiate better funding.

"It’s an excellent opportunity for our new supervisor to do something for a community that’s part of her voting area," Sullivan said.



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MOORLACH UPDATE — Front and Center — April 6, 2015

The lead editorial in the OC Register provides a perspective on a topic that will only grow more serious once taxpayers grasp its magnitude. And they will by the end of this year. Municipalities will have to add unfunded pension liabilities to their balance sheets. Audits of cities, counties and states should be completed by December, or shortly thereafter. The topic of public employee defined benefit pension plans will dominate the news from Christmas to the end of March, 2016. Don’t say to me I didn’t tell you so.

Once the real numbers are put out there, the voters will gasp at how upside down their local cities just may be. I was honored to be mentioned for my efforts to address this major fiscal issue while a County Supervisor.

On the State Senate front, today I was asked to lead the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of today’s Senate Session. The warm welcome continues.

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O.C. puts pensions front and center

At 20 years since Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy, county and city budgets face a new threat: public pension liabilities. The causes are several. Contract negotiations long have been held out of the public eye, lacking scrutiny and oversight from all but the most dedicated reformers.

Pension promises are fulfilled in the future, encouraging a lack of accountability today from temporary representatives tasked with spending other people’s money.

Public employees also enjoy disproportionate power because they occupy privileged positions. We often consider their services essential – policing, fire prevention, teaching – so we’re less inclined to be critical of their compensation and benefits.

But negligence hurts. The Orange County Employees Retirement System estimated last year its unfunded liability at almost $5.4 billion. Add to that over $400 million in unfunded health benefits, according to the California Policy Center.

The approved budget for funding the entire county government in fiscal year 2014-15? Also $5.4 billion.

Orange County’s cities have individual unfunded liabilities that, taken together, total $3.07 billion. Countywide, our cities have funded only 71.8 percent of their pension promises – eight points short of what is recommended by the California Public Employees Retirement System. Only six cities in Orange County exceed an 80 percent funding ratio.

This creates multiple problems in both the short and long run. Today the indulgent promises and optimistic projections of CalPERS dating back to 1999 are requiring cities to increase their annual contributions by 35 to 50 percent, as reported by the Register. That means tens of millions of dollars leaving city coffers that might otherwise fund infrastructure projects or allow for a reduction in fees and taxes.

The budget shortfalls hurt. Just last November, Stanton voters passed Measure GG, a sales tax increase called necessary for “public safety.” But as we noted in an editorial in oppostion, the money can be spent on anything, such as the city’s generous benefits, including pensions.

Voters gave a different result last month when they sent former Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach to the state Senate. He first made a name for himself in the county by warning of the impending county bankruptcy. Later, first as county treasurer/tax collector, then as supervisor, he worked for increased transparency and fiscal accountability – particularly for pensions. He was instrumental in the introduction of a county Civic Openness In Negotiations ordinance, which, if it jumps current legal hurdles, will require documentation and transparency during talks with unions.

“We’ve got to do it at the bargaining table,” Sen. Moorlach told the Register’s Editorial Board, to hammer out more fiscally responsible contracts with public employees.

Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer, who won re-election last November, has been “credited” by union leaders with creating “Wisconsin in California,” referring to that state’s restriction on collective bargaining by public-employee unions. Not quite. But his city is faced with nearly $230 million in unfunded liabilities and the worst funding ratio – 65.1 percent – of any O.C. city.

Mr. Righeimer joined in advancing a COIN ordinance for his city forwarded by Mayor Steve Mensinger to deal with about $40 million in annual unfunded liabilities by 2030.

The aim of reforming the negotiation process? To enforce more realistic employee contribution levels. As it stands, most of the “employee contribution” to pension plans actually comes from city taxpayers, not the employees.

“They need to lower what they’re taking. Period,” said Mr. Righeimer.

High-profile reformers have shown some of the steps to be taken. What remains is finding the will – city by city – to make the necessary changes.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Why I Won — April 2, 2015

The OC Register provided two very kind, but profoundly on point, letters to the editor in the pieces below. It’s refreshing to see a couple of independent voices explain the reasons for my victory so succinctly (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — How I Won — March 30, 2015 — March 30, 2015). To the writers, I say, "Thank you."

BONUS: The Wall Street Journal, in its March 28th edition, printed an editorial piece that saw AB 91 in the same light that I did. My very first vote will be a memorable one, as I was the only one to oppose this legislation in both houses (see MOORLACH UPDATE — First Full Day — March 25, 2015 – March 26, 2015) . I’m providing the WSJ‘s piece below as a bonus, as it provided some encouragement for my position on this emergency bill. I was referred to the piece by a column (see

Some have commented that I should be careful in this new role, advising me that I should go along to get along, in order to avoid putting a target on my back. But, I came here to speak truth to power. AB 91 ran contrary to many of my personal policies. I am opposed to creating more debt. I don’t appreciate disingenuousness. And, I’m not in the mood to grant pay raises when the balance sheet of California is in catastrophic shape. California’s liabilities, excluding unreported unfunded liabilities, exceed its assets (more on this in future UPDATES).

The Wall Street Journal got it. This is most helpful. Now I need to educate my colleagues on the Legislature’s fiscal stewardship responsibilities. Let’s hope that I can collect a few more votes, cumulatively, with similar bills in the future. Hopefully, over time it will build to a majority and we can prevent giving our state, and thus our children and grandchildren, more debt.

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Moorlach victory based on principles

Neither the writers of the piece, nor the “experts” cited, mentioned exactly where Don Wagner’s 3-1 cash advantage came from [“How seat was won by Moorlach,” Front page, March 30]. The funds where substantially raised from public employee and public safety unions. Sure, the negative – “dirty” in this case – ads hurt Wagner. But John ‍Moorlach‍’‍s name and reputation, and the voting public’s strong dislike for government unions, were the story here. You would never know that from the article.

Wagner comes across as a person who just wants to be elected to something. What kind of a Republican doesn’t care if he tarnishes his opponent’s reputation or becomes beholden to public employee unions?

Stephen E. Olear

I see you reported the political version of ‍Moorlach‍’‍s victory from consultants desperate to place blame. The analysis does not give the voters any credit for a thoughtful ballot. It was not just name ID for ‍Moorlach, it was principled name ID. ‍Moorlach has always represented the voter, politics be damned. Wagner came across as a normal politician that would do anything to get elected, even taking money from the unions! Who would he represent if he got elected? Not the voter. ‍Moorlach was a real vote for smaller government.

Bruce Boyd
Newport Beach

Review & Outlook

Jerry Brown’s Ark

How to turn ‘drought relief’ cash into a spending flood.

A NASA scientist this month warned that only a year of water is left in California reservoirs, and Sacramento regulators last week barred restaurants from serving water except upon request. So it makes perfect sense that Democrats want to earmark $660 million of “drought relief” money for . . . flood control.

Welcome to Sacramento where any crisis, real or invented, becomes a pretext to spend. Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed a bill of his own design that appropriates $1.1 billion for “direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

A Democratic senator provided a useful translation: “There’s something in this for every community that has a dramatic need about drought, and that’s all of us.”

Only about $40 million would provide emergency drinking water and food assistance for the hardest hit. Roughly $270 million would finance water-quality improvements that won’t be completed for years, if ever, due to green tape. But the labor unions are happy.

An additional $30 million would fund water-efficiency projects (i.e., green businesses) that reduce greenhouse gases. Another $4 million would help control "invasive aquatic plants" plus $18 million to protect fish and respond "to problems of human/wildlife conflict from animals seeking food and water." How much do state lawyers charge to resolve disputes between mountain lions and ranchers?

But most—$660 million in general-obligations bonds—is for flood control. According to Mr. Brown, climate change makes “extreme weather events” more likely. “All of a sudden, when you’re all focused on drought, you can get massive storms that flood through these channels and overflow and cause havoc,” he explained last week to dunderheads in the press too thick to understand this connection.

The real reason for the spending is that the bonds that voters approved in 2006 for flood protection expire next year. Now that the legislature has appropriated the money, the state has until 2020 to choose how to spend it. Maybe the Governor plans to build a giant ark to save wildlife when rising sea levels inundate the state.

Per Mr. Brown’s request, Democrats added an amendment to collective-bargaining agreements increasing pay for prison social workers and psychologists. So Democrats are grabbing credit for mitigating the drought while leaving farmers hanging out to roast. But there will be a check in every other interest group’s pot.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — How I Won — March 30, 2015

A front-page, top-of-the-fold story greeted me this first morning back in my District. My wife and I had a fun drive up and back, allowing us to spend some time Saturday morning looking at second home housing options. It was a busy and packed first week in the Capitol.

Steven Greenhut of the San Diego U-T has the best column that I’ve seen on my very first two votes (see and MOORLACH UPDATE — First Full Day — March 25, 2015).

At my campaign debates, my opponent blatantly stated that he could take public employee union contributions because he was not involved in the bargaining unit negotiating process. If you read Greenhut’s piece, you’ll find this sentence: "The bill includes the approval of a bargaining agreement that boosts the pay for some professional workers employed by the department of corrections." Isn’t it amazing that you can serve in the State Legislature for four years and not realize that you voted for contract side bars and bargaining agreement approvals?

Then the OC Register covers the results of the race. I knew I had much better name ID than my opponent, which his consultant confirms in the first article below, but did they have to lie about me to narrow the gap? Apparently so. Instead of quietly standing down, a tragic and unseemly obfuscation strategy was utilized to besmirch my good name and reputation. Now I have to raise funds to help Republicans get elected to the Senate, as being in the minority is not all that fun. But, I don’t think candidates that cozy up to the public employee unions, or use consultants that have, should bother calling on me.

The second piece is a column by former State Senator Gloria Romero, who gives a perspective on union domination in Sacramento that is worth the read. I took this version from Fox and Hounds, but it has been published elsewhere.

For other debriefings on last week’s election results, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Day Two — March 26, 2015.

The Daily Pilot has a kind letter to the editor with the third piece below. It explains why the voters, at least the savvy ones, cast their ballots for me. Unfortunately, my opponent’s mail pieces made it a much closer race. The column referred to can be seen at MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Senator Elect — March 20, 2015.

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How seat was won by ‍Moorlach

The former supervisor spent less and didn’t go negative in ads. But name recognition prevailed.


John Moorlach and Don Wagner each held their home turf in the March 17 special election for state Senate, yet Moorlach won by 6 percentage points thanks to a greater depth of support in his strongholds, a Register analysis shows.


State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa

For instance, Moorlach received 2,996 more votes in his hometown of Costa Mesa while Wagner won by just 336 votes in his hometown of Irvine. State Senate District 37 is roughly split between the area Moorlach formerly represented as a county supervisor and the area Wagner currently represents as an assemblyman.

Experts agreed that Moorlach‘s superior name identification at the outset of the campaign was primarily responsible for the outcome, despite his campaign being outspent by more than 3-1. Nearly $1 million altogether was poured into the race between the two Republicans with nearly identical policy positions.

“As a supervisor and treasurer, Moorlach was far more in the media than Wagner” in the two decades leading up to the race, said Scott Lay, who runs the Sacramento political website There are indications that Moorlach’s more spartan campaign may have done a better job strategically, but that was a secondary factor.

“I think it was mostly name ID,” Lay said.

Moorlach first made headlines when he predicted the county’s 1994 bankruptcy and continued to be in the news after becoming county treasurer in 1995. And his work as county supervisor from 2006 through 2014 brought Moorlach more media attention than Wagner’s efforts in the Assembly, where the Irvine attorney is a minority member of a relatively distant, 80-person chamber.

According to internal polling cited by the Wagner campaign, Moorlach had a 63 percent to 34 percent advantage in name recognition among likely voters on Jan. 30, a margin Wagner was unable to overcome despite spending vastly more money.

By Election Day, Wagner had amassed $494,000 to Moorlach’s $185,000. Additionally, PACs spent $253,000 in independent expenditures on Wagner’s behalf, while Moorlach got just $25,000 of such help.

Ineffective campaigning by Wagner may have contributed to Moorlach’s win. In their effort to diminish Moorlach’s name recognition advantage, Wagner and his allies attacked Moorlach relentlessly in mailers and automated phone calls.

“It is possible the voters may have been punishing Wagner for the negative mail,” said Fred Smoller, a Chapman University political scientist. “The ton of money spent by Wagner on negative mail may have hurt him.”

Wagner consultant Jason Cabel Roe has downplayed the impression held by Smoller and others that their campaign was more negative than Moorlach’s, pointing to the name identification as the primary reason for the outcome.

“While the Wagner campaign had a 3-1 spending advantage, it was difficult to catch up to Moorlach’s advantages in a race with only 14 percent turnout in just 62 days,” Roe wrote in a campaign analysis on

But Tim Clark, Moorlach’s campaign consultant, said separate strategies for different parts of the Senate district contributed to the margin of victory.

“Because we had limited funds, we had to slice and dice our mailers very carefully,” Clark said. He noted that in the areas Moorlach previously represented, there was a big push was to use volunteers to call those voting by mail. Mail voters would account for 86 percent of all ballots cast.

“In John’s (former) district … we paid special attention there to push the (mail) vote as high as we could,” Clark said. “Our absentees delivered stronger votes there than Wagner’s did in his district.”

The Moorlach campaign mailed most heavily to “jump ball” areas that were in neither of the two candidates’ districts. That helped Moorlach win Laguna Beach as well as some Irvine precincts outside Wagner’s Assembly district.

While Wagner won in four of the six cities in his Assembly district, Moorlach won in the other two, Anaheim and Villa Park. He may have been helped in the parts of Anaheim in the Senate district – including Anaheim Hills – by prominently using Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait’s endorsements in mail and phone calls there.

The sole “jump ball” city won by Wagner was Laguna Woods. UC Irvine political scientist Mark Petracca said Wagner may have been helped in Laguna Woods and other southern parts of the Senate District by his 1998 to 2010 stint on the South Orange County Community College District.

“So he had name recognition in the southern part of the 37th Senate District,” Petracca said. “I certainly think his prior electoral service may explain why he did better in Laguna Woods.”

Contact the writer: mwisckolGetContent.asp?field=Text%3B%3Bmoorlach&field=BASE_HREF%3B%3BOrange%2F2015%2F03%2F30&field=EntityType%3B%3BArticle&field=PUBLICATION%3B%3BOrange&sortby=IssueDateID%3Bdesc&contentsrc=primitive&dochref=Orange%2F2015%2F03%2F30&primid=Pc0090600&entityid=Pc00906&pageno=9&repformat=1.0&chunkid=Pc00906&imgext=jpg&type=Content&for=primitive

Government Union Wrath Aimed at Democrat

Gloria Romero

By Gloria Romero

Director of Education Reform for the California Policy Center. Former Democratic Majority Leader of the California State Senate.

It didn’t take long for “the brotherhood” of status quo politics to pile on. Within hours of former Assembly member Joan Buchanan having lost her election bid for Northern California’s 7th Senate District seat in last week’s special election to fill the vacancy, she endorsed labor-embraced and fellow Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. Together, they joined the panoply of monied special interests led by public sector unions that are largely funding the Democratic Party, to defeat a third Democrat – independent Steve Glazer.

Glazer describes himself as “fiscally conservative, socially progressive.” He is the mayor of Orinda and former political aide to Gov. Jerry Brown. Glazer brandishes “blue” credentials in California, having worked for decades to support Democratic candidates and causes.

But a funny thing happened on the way to governing California: Glazer ran afoul of the Democratic Party establishment when he started challenging the power of public sector unions on municipal and state government. Glazer supported banning strikes by public transit workers, embraced pension reforms and campaigned to elect more business friendly Democrats.

Millions of dollars were spent to try to bury Glazer on Election Day, prompting questions on whether there is a zero tolerance policy in the Democratic party against independent-minded Democrats.

Yet, on Election Night, Glazer not only survived, but emerged as the top vote-getter. A May runoff is scheduled.

Glazer stands out because it is rare for Democrats to “go rogue” and support labor-opposed changes to teacher tenure or curbing government pensions. Despite the “big tent” image, discourse and dissent is disallowed, despite growing public support for these reforms. Party-supported candidates are reminded that the hand that feeds them comes with a demand of loyalty.

If not, as was done to Glazer, they become labeled with the equivalent of a political red-letter A: abandonment of the Democratic Party for not remaining subservient to the interests of those who fund them. Forget 50 shades – can Democrats even be allowed to display more than one shade of blue? Yet, the dirty laundry of adherence to blind allegiance has erupted into public view in recent election cycles.

Indeed, in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama lost favor with the National Education Association for his support of holding teachers and schools accountable and linking student outcome data to teacher evaluations. Since then, he and his Education secretary have largely earned the wrath of national teachers unions.

In the most-recent Los Angeles mayoral election, Eric Garcetti defeated a fellow Democrat largely by portraying his opponent as blindly subservient to the city unions that had endorsed her. Today, Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces a re-election runoff due to his willingness to battle Chicago’s powerful teachers unions.

Meanwhile, in Orange County’s special election to fill another vacant state Senate seat, two Republicans battled each other. Former county Supervisor John Moorlach – the candidate who refused to accept campaign contributions from labor unions – claimed outright victory in that Republican stronghold district. His opponent, Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Tustin, was financed by labor unions who perceived him to be more allegiant to the state’s public sector unions.

The outcomes of both elections – one in a Democratic and one in a Republican stronghold district – send strong signals that voters desire to reclaim their party, and not allow candidates to be constricted to only one shade of red or blue. The challenge now is to seek independence in California’s remaining 38 Senate districts, 80 Assembly districts and every statewide and constitutional office.

Originally published in the Orange County Register

Cross-posted at Union Watch.

Daily Pilot

Venezia’s column captured Moorlach’s election party

Thanks to columnist Barbara Venezia for her coverage of an event I so wanted to witness firsthand but was unable to attend ("Venezia: Moorlach’s steady record of accomplishment," March 20).

She filled in the particulars.

I am a longtime supporter of state Sen. John Moorlach, having lived in his La Palma supervisorial territory since 1998. Now in Anaheim, and just outside of the 37th District, I wish I could have added my vote, but I cheered him on via email.

I have enjoyed every one of Venezia’s columns and especially appreciate her candor. Her knowledge of Orange County history and backstory is impressive. She is gifted with (and I am sure she’s worked very hard to hone) a straightforward yet humorous writing style. I also like her lack of pretension, which is refreshing.

Sharp people don’t need pretension, just wisdom, and stature, not status — like Moorlach. He and wife, Trina, are true jewels.

I am glad Venezia is still writing regularly in Orange County. Reading her encourages me that there are some clear-minded writers still in the press.

Di Patterson


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