MOORLACH UPDATE — Vote Reactions — May 21, 2015

The Daily Pilot provides a Letter to the Editor in the first piece below for which there has not been one article, written by its staff, on Senate Bill 277. The Daily Pilot has had a guest editorial, but it did not mention my name. But the Letter to the Editor below focused on me.

If I were a newspaper editor, I would have two policies concerning Letters to the Editor. The first is that I would not print a letter that addressed a subject that was not specifically covered by one of my reporters. And I would not permit attacks on someone on an issue that was not covered first in an article. It should be the norm that a Letter refers to a recent specific article.

With that observation out of the way, the Letter provides a link to my blog in the internet version (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 April 30, 2015 John Moorlach). So, I should be very honored that my UPDATE is given such credibility to be the anchor for this unique missive.

I’m also appreciative with the respect I’m given by the writer (I think) about being logical and disciplined. But, it does provide a chance for me to do three things in this UPDATE: expound on my vote, introduce my District Staff, and invite you to the Open House at my District Office on May 29th.

To assume that I voted against SB 277 because of autism concerns is not fully correct. It is a concern and the documentary, "Trace Amounts," should not be ignored (see But, it is much more than this concern (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 April 30, 2015 John Moorlach).

There are too many infants who have had serious and life-time impacting reactions from the massive regimen of vaccinations they are given. Sen. Ted Gaines provided an amazing personal testimony during the Senate Floor debate of his daughter’s reaction to a vaccination. His story is just one of the many that I have heard over the past few months. I would also refer you to the movie "Bought," see

To discard the anecdotal data and imply that certain parents are a fringe and dolts is intellectually ignorant at best and arrogant at worst. Coercing parents who have legitimate concerns is just poor protocol. Additionally, the fact that we don’t vaccinate babies or people with unique health issues and that the state already has a provision for medical exemptions demonstrates that there are legitimate scientific reasons for being circumspect and thoughtful in our vaccination policy.

I appreciate vaccinations. This morning I took a little time to appreciate the two small pox vaccination scars I have worn on my left shoulder for some 55 years. I am a Paul Harris Fellow, a designation from my involvement in Rotary International, a worldwide service club that has made eradicating polio one of its top priorities.

I also appreciate a parent’s right to make certain decisions based on information that they have at their disposal. Obviously, we are all comfortable in being inoculated from polio. With proper education, this should be possible with the other vaccines in the required regime. But, inferring that the medical and pharmaceutical industries are perfect and that those with a differing perspective are somehow out of touch is incredulous.

The parents that I have met with were not from a longstanding and well known organization. They are independent mothers and fathers who have tragic stories to tell and are coalescing to inform their neighbors that certain vaccinations and doses can have deleterious repercussions. To allow the state to force injections of anything into people without allowing for some provisions of conscience is the issue at stake. It’s that simple.

To use a small measles outbreak, whose epicenter was an amusement park that draws visitors from all over the world, is not the proper event to cause a hysterical reaction by the medical profession. Deaths from measles in the United States are less than 0.15 percent of those who contract it. That’s as close to zero as one can get. Forcing California residents to be inoculated in order to protect the rest of the globe is an odd crusade to pursue. And, forcing those who don’t out of our public schools is so draconian and Orwellian that it has me shocked at the dictatorial nature of the scheme.

This is the United States, where we enjoy the most amazing freedoms on the planet. Slowly taking those freedoms is something that I’m happy to oppose, thank you very much.

The San Diego U-T provides very good news on Tuesday’s election results in the 7th Senatorial District (see MOORLACH UPDATE — New Political Split — April 24, 2015 April 24, 2015 John Moorlach). I’ve already texted incoming Senator Steve Glazer my congratulations and look forward to working with him. This is the second piece below.


I want to thank all those that submitted resumes to work for my two offices. Having more than five individuals for every open position did not make this task easy. Please welcome an great home team.

District Director: David P. Mansdoerfer

David Mansdoerfer brings to Senator Moorlach’s staff deep expertise in Orange County’s governance, transportation, and business policy areas. Previously, Mr. Mansdoerfer served as Deputy Chief of Staff for then Supervisor Moorlach, where he worked on several local initiatives including Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) and issues related to John Wayne Airport. Mr. Mansdoerfer has also worked for Las Vegas-based Citizen Outreach, Washington, D.C.-based Lexington Institute, and the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Policy Committee. Mr. Mansdoerfer earned his Business Administration degree from Vanguard University and Masters of Public Policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Deputy District Director: Scott A. Carpenter

Scott Carpenter has been active in Orange County’s public policy arena for over fifteen years. Widely considered an expert on business and economic development, Mr. Carpenter has worked with policymakers to streamline the County’s regulatory structure and help small businesses grow. Mr. Carpenter is leaving his current post as Policy Advisor for Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson to join Supervisor Moorlach as Deputy District Director. He is also an elected leader in several local and statewide political volunteer organizations. Mr. Carpenter earned his Political Science and History Degree from Concordia University, Irvine.

Communications Director: Amanda J. Smith

Amanda Smith has an extensive background in public relations and communications, including in both the Washington D.C and California media markets. Her previous experience includes serving as a communications specialist in the academic, nonprofit and private sectors. She is an expert in social media communications, as well as with print and broadcast media platforms. Ms. Smith graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Arts Degree in Media Communication from Liberty University.

District Representative: Aly John

Before joining Senator Moorlach’s staff, Aly John served as a policy analyst in former Congressman John Campbell’s office, spending time in both Orange County and Washington D.C. Ms. John is widely considered a policy expert in governance, finance, and veterans issues, among others. She has also been an active community volunteer. Ms. John received her Bachelors of Arts in Social Science with an emphasis in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University.

District Representative: Jacob Ashendorf

Jacob Ashendorf is an up-and-coming talent among California’s public policy community. A recent graduate of UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Jacob has been active nationally with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee where he worked to build advocacy and grass roots support within the pro-Israel community. Jacob was also active with the Junior Statesmen of America, the Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA, and is an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.


Please meet the team on Friday, May 29th at our District Office, located on Main Street, between MacArthur and Red Hill, at 30 Executive Park, Suite 250, Irvine from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Daily Pilot

Moorlach puzzles with vote against vaccinations

While state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) seems to portray a logical, disciplined and conservative person, his no vote on Senate Bill 277 suggests otherwise.

SB 277 would finally close the loophole that allows parents to send their children to school without having been vaccinated, endangering the lives of others.

He has sided with a small minority of parents who believe in debunked reports that vaccinations cause autism. Why would he fight to represent this small discredited fringe group at the peril of the majority of his constituents?

I thought the anti-climate-change belief of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) was enough looniness for our area. Now we need to keep an eye on Moorlach as well, it seems.

Maybe Moorlach’s seemingly logical side can be brought out if enough people contact his office and ask him to join the vast majority of Californians and vote in support of SB 277.

Kirby Piazza

Costa Mesa


Vastly different districts, similar results

Unions handed another defeat in closely watched Senate special election

By Steven Greenhut

California’s public-sector unions are among the most powerful political players in the Capitol yet Tuesday’s special Senate election in the San Francisco area’s East Bay – along with the special Senate election results from Orange County in March — raise a question not often pondered in Sacramento: Is union power waning?

On Tuesday, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer bested Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, to fill the seat of Mark DeSaulnier, who won his race for Congress. This was a highly watched battle that was predicted to be a nail-biter, yet Glazer racked up a surprisingly large margin. Both candidates are Democrats likely to vote in similar ways on most bills in the Capitol — but the race generated so much attention because of one word: unions.

Glazer, a San Diego State University graduate, is a moderate Democrat (and former aide to Gov. Jerry Brown) who opposed the strike by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) workers, has backed Chamber of Commerce positions and is an advocate for reining in pension costs. He was backed by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a progressive Democrat disliked by unions for his statewide pension efforts.

Bonilla is a more traditional, pro-union Democrat, who earned the backing not just of the big union groups, but of the state’s Democratic Party.

As the Sacramento Bee reported, outside groups — mostly unions and business organizations — dumped $7.3 million combined into the race since the March primary, along with $2.4 million before that. The ad campaigns were particularly vitriolic, and union groups even sent mailers on behalf of an unheard-of Republican to siphon votes from Glazer.

“There’s a new political split in California,” said Ed Ring, executive director of the conservative California Policy Center in Tustin. “(Glazer’s win) means that Democrats are realizing that their most cherished programs and ideals may not be compatible with unrestrained government union power.”

The election certainly highlights a split within Democratic ranks — one that’s seen more prominently in the education-reform issue, where reform-minded Democrats often battle with Democrats allied with the teachers’ unions. Many Democrats are seeing that costly union policies can take away funding from their other priorities.

Ironically, the March 17 Senate race in Orange County yielded similar results – even though that race, between Assemblyman Don Wagner and former Supervisor John Moorlach, pitted two Republicans against each other in a Republican district to fill the seat of a Republican (Mimi Walters) who won her congressional race.

Wagner and Moorlach are both conservatives, but the unions have long targeted Moorlach because of his pension-reforming efforts. They hammered him with mostly negative advertisements. But Moorlach received more than 50 percent of the vote in March, which in a special election eliminates the need for a runoff.

In such different geographic and political districts, the results were largely the same — the candidate that spoke out forcefully against some union policies won, while the candidate who accepted the union money (and in Wagner’s case, Maui trips funded in part by unions) lost.

Glazer’s victory on Tuesday was “a testament to a system that encourages candidates to reach across party lines and talk to everybody,” said Chad Peace, an attorney for the Independent Voter Project, which was author of the successful initiative that created the state’s top-two primary system, in which the top two vote-getters in a single “jungle” primary advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

Both candidates were from the same party, but the race still had a defining issue. The unions rallied their base voters on behalf of Bonilla, but Glazer was able to piece together a winning coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans. The open primary, Peace said, made it easier for a candidate such as Glazer to offer an independent message that appealed to voters across party lines.

I’ve got my issues with open primaries, but it was refreshing to see the system work this way. The union issue was front and center in both races and voters in Democratic and Republican districts rejected union priorities. Two races might not make a trend, but something definitely is brewing.

Greenhut is the California columnist for U-T San Diego. Contact him at steven.greenhut.

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Injection — May 15, 2015

Yesterday was very busy at the Capitol and around the County. Let me start with SB 277 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 277 — April 30, 2015 April 30, 2015). It is covered by ABC Channel 7 Los Angeles in the first piece, Age of Autism (with a slight bias, but a great blow-by-blow) in the second piece, and the Christian Science Monitor in the third piece. The ABC piece includes video (see–/723251/). The Age of Autism piece has a link to yesterday’s Senate Session, which addressed SB 277 immediately after some administrative announcements and votes.

The phrase, "what we have here is a failure to communicate," comes to mind. Some children are having adverse reactions to certain vaccines. The medical industry seems to believe that they are pure and right by imposing mandatory vaccinations on everyone. The medical industry has not done an effective job of communicating that vaccinations are reaction-free. And this approach, without exemptions, treads on dangerous ground. Sacramento is once again providing yet another reason to encourage residents to move to other states. I tried to strike a balance, but was summarily denied.

The second topic is the Governor’s May Revise. It is covered by the Sacramento Bee in the fourth piece, the UT San Diego in the fifth piece, and the OC Register in the sixth and seventh pieces. Let me give you three numbers: 98, 30 and 2. Prop.30 raised taxes and, so far, tax revenues (the joys of a retroactive tax increase). Prop.98 gives some 42 percent of tax revenues to schools (K-14), so spending will rise for education automatically. Prop. 2 requires a rainy day fund, putting more pressure on non Prop. 98 spending. You can see the squeeze coming. But, not addressing our cash balance and debt reduction would be fiscal malpractice. I give the Governor a high grade on his proposal.

The third topic is former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona (go to my 2008 and 2007 FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS in my 2012 and 2013 UPDATES). The story is a big one in the OC Register and is the eighth piece below.

The ninth piece is the announcement of the 2015 Cypress Chamber of Commerce Man and Woman of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award, brought to you by the Orange County Breeze. My only correction would be that I am now a State Senator, not a State Assemblyman.


ABC7 Los Angeles

California Senate approves bill mandating vaccinations for school kids

KABCBy Robert Holguin

SACRAMENTO (KABC) — After a nearly hour-long heated debate from lawmakers on both sides of the issue, the state Senate took another step toward requiring vaccines for all children entering public schools in California on Thursday.

State senators approved a proposal that would eliminate the personal and religious exemptions when it comes to vaccines.

"Vaccines are necessary to protect us, but that protection has been eroding," said Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.

Medical waivers would be available only for children who have health problems. Other unvaccinated children would have to be homeschooled.

Supporters of SB277 say the exemptions endanger lives by allowing preventable diseases, like the measles, to spread.

"Exemptions hurt kids… I haven’t heard of any religion that actually says we’re against vaccinations," said Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia.

Critics say the measure ignores parents who have their own reasons for not having their children vaccinated.

"Why is it a religious exemption is so scary to this Senate body?" asked Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego.

Along with religious concerns, some lawmakers expressed concern that vaccines can trigger medical conditions such as autism.

"It’s clear that a large portion of concerned parents will likely withhold their children from public schools because of their concerns or lack of comfort from the vaccination process," said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Orange.

Supporters of the bill, which passed on a 25-10 vote, say medical science has debunked those claims.

"This bill protects the rights of all children so they can be safe and be sure to have an education," Pan said.

He joined Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, in proposing the bill after a major measles outbreak at Disneyland last December sickened more than 100 people. Many of those who were infected had not been vaccinated.

The bill now goes to the Assembly. It will also require approval from Gov. Jerry Brown. If approved, California would become the third state in the country, joining Mississippi and West Virginia, without either exemption.

Age of Autism

Recap of Senate Floor Session re. SB277 Thursday in California Allen-Pan-Rich-Pedroncelli-AP-640x480 Allen-Pan-Rich-Pedroncelli-AP

By Laura Hayes

To view the floor session Thursday, click CalChannel here, then click on “Senate Floor Session” on the chart of options. SB277 begins at the 39:05 mark.

Senator Pan kicked things off by immediately turning the floor over to his sidekick, Senator Allen (apparently, Pan is becoming more acutely aware of his inability to speak publicly, as he mostly mumbles and bumbles when at the mic, speaking mostly in the language of “gibberish and lies”).

Sen Allen said this bill is “so that no one will have to suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases.” Per his usual, no mention of the multitudes suffering from vaccine-induced injuries, chronic illnesses, and permanent disabilities…and no mention of the families grieving the loss of a child as a result of vaccines.

He talked about hundreds dying daily of measles in other parts of the world, and neglected to mention that we are not dying of measles here in the U.S., thanks to clean water, better nutrition, more hygienic living conditions, more knowledge about how to treat diseases, and greater access to medical care

When reviewing the vaccine profiteers supporting SB277, he couldn’t resist stating that “we have the support of just about every Editorial Board in the state.” Geez, I wonder why, Ben? Could it be that these Editorial Boards are financially dependent on the support of Big Pharma in a Big Way that they don’t want to lose?

The most offensive part of his speech was when he made light of, and tried to turn into a joke, the thousands of parents, many toting and pushing multiple young children week after week, coming to the Capitol to oppose this bill, desperately trying to protect their parental rights, their children’s right to a public education, and their children’s health and well-being. Allen said, “We didn’t create this bill to create lines in the Capitol, to create business for the deli upstairs, or to be assured that civic participation is alive and well in CA. We presented this bill because both of us (meaning himself and Pan) have seen the harm of vaccine-preventable diseases.” Again, not a word of concern for the multitudes of vaccine-injured and vaccine-killed children, not to mention people of all ages.

Senator Huff then spoke in opposition to the bill, his main argument being that there is nothing at present that warrants vaccine mandates without exemptions, such as this bill requires.

At the 48:15 mark, “hostile” amendments were brought forth by Senators Morrell, Moorlach, and Anderson (thank you, Senators!).

Senator Morrell proposed a RE amendment as follows: “This vaccination violates my faith.” He followed that up with his comment that “this bill tells deeply-devout families that the government knows better than they do.”

Senator Monning (in support of this bill) “laid on the table” this amendment, and the next two, with all 3 being voted against without discussion. Sadly, that’s our CA legislative process for you.

Senator Moorlach proposed the next hostile amendment: “Those children of parents, who for whatever personal private reason, decide against the state-required mix of vaccinations still have access to educational resources that our state provides for all of our students.” He followed that by saying, “Their parents have paid their taxes for this education.” So glad someone is finally bringing up that fact! Will parents who are forced to home school get a full refund on their property taxes? They should.

Senator Anderson proposed the third and final hostile amendment. He began by explaining that parents want to know the ingredients in what their kids are consuming, and likewise, they want to know the ingredients in the vaccines being injected into their children. He explained that the use of many of the ingredients in vaccines violates one religion or another. The amendment reflecting these concerns was: “This amendment would require that doctors review the labeling and ingredients of vaccines with parents prior to vaccinating. Then, the doctor and parent will both sign a form that this information has been shared.” He went on to say that, “No one’s faith should be violated by lack of knowledge. This bill is taking away parents’ ability to practice their faith.”

After the hostile amendments were all voted against, without discussion, Senator Stone, a pharmacist, gave perhaps the most offensive and lie-filled speech of the day. One of the more priceless parts was when he gave a lengthy list of all those who couldn’t receive the MMR vaccine due to one condition or another…just about every single condition he mentioned is a known possible side effect from vaccines! He couldn’t resist using the 1 in a million statistic, and he said that neither thimerosal nor the MMR vaccine causes Autism. We know this, according to him, thanks to the large epidemiological studies done by all of the…you guessed it…Vaccine Profiteers (he listed them one by one)!

Senator Gaines, opposing the bill, recounted how his 6th child suffered a seizure and turned blue after her vaccines at age 2 months. An MRI showed that she had demylenation in her brain caused by her vaccines. He and his wife were told by a doctor not to vaccinate her for the next 10 years. He stated that he is still a big believer in vaccines, and that he and his wife have resumed vaccinating this child on a delayed schedule. He calls this a “parental right” issue and stated his concern that there will not be a RE.

Senator Anderson spoke again next. “This bill doesn’t allow for the exceptions, for the religious or personal.” He then looked at his fellow senators and asked, “Why is it that a RE is so scary to this body?” Gave a great example of how felons will have more religious freedom than parents in CA if this bill becomes law. Said, “I have to commit a felony and be sentenced to prison before I get to practice my faith.”

My favorite part of the session happened when Anderson was speaking here. The ever-rude Senator Jackson (who treated Mary Holland deplorably just 2 weeks ago at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing) interrupted Anderson to quiet those in the gallery. Anderson tried to tell her that he wasn’t bothered a bit by them, that he didn’t hear a thing. She told him that she was in charge (just like she told Mary Holland to pretend that she was the judge, and Mary the lowly lawyer), and that she was going to quiet those in the gallery or have them escorted out so they wouldn’t interrupt. He snuck in this remark to her when he told her those in the gallery were not interrupting him, “However, interrupting my speech…IS interrupting me.” Loved it!

Senator Bates spoke in opposition saying that she is “concerned about equal opportunity for an education.”

Senator Allen spoke again, trying to refute comments made by Anderson and Gaines…saying that prisoners were required to get vaccinations, the Catholic Church does not have an opposition to vaccination, and this bill is limited to the 10 vaccines listed (yeah, right…until next year).

Senator Pan closed, ending with unsubstantiated and completely-fabricated numbers (“Vaccinations have prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732 thousand deaths among children born in the last 20 years.” – Really, how do you give #s for something that didn’t happen?!). His Pinnochio nose grew when he boldly asserted, “Measles vaccine has never shed or spread to another person. Varicella vaccine, only 9 documented cases of it spreading.” And he couldn’t resist citing “CA’s 2010 pertussis outbreak.” Of course, he conveniently forgot to mention the 92% vaccine failure rate during that outbreak! And he ended with his favorite line no doubt learned at The Paul Offit Boot Camp: “The science is clear. Vaccines are safe and efficacious.” Tell that to my 21 year-old, and to so many others I know who are facing the daily (hourly) challenges of living with vaccine-induced injuries and deaths.

Final Senate vote on SB277: 25 ayes, 10 noes, 6 abstentions

On to the Assembly next. It will definitely be heard in the Assembly Health Committee, but beyond that, we don’t yet know what other committees, if any, will hear the bill. All Californians should be contacting their Assembly Members, and the Governor’s office, now to express their opposition to SB277.

There was much talk during today’s session of “vaccines save lives, vaccines are an amazing achievement of mankind, vaccines are safe and efficacious”, yada, yada. Please make sure to highlight in your discussions with legislators that vaccine injuries and vaccine deaths are real, and they are not rare.

Vaccinations: California Senate eliminates religious, personal exemptions

The legislation, which now goes to the California Assembly, is the latest outcome of the debate between public health officials in favor of vaccinations and those who oppose inoculating their children.

By Cristina Maza, Staff writer

California parents who choose not to vaccinate their children may have to start considering home schooling, according to a bill passed by the state Senate on Thursday. The legislation, which would eliminate the exemption for personal or religious beliefs that allows parents to forgo vaccinations, is the latest outcome of the debate between public health officials in favor of vaccinations and those who oppose inoculating their children.

California senators voted 25 to 10 in favor of the bill following a heated debate.

The bill now goes to the state Assembly, and, if passed, it would also require approval from Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. If the legislation becomes law, California would be the third state in the country, following Mississippi and West Virginia, that does not permit vaccination exemptions due to religious or personal beliefs.

After a measles outbreak at Disneyland in California affected more than 100 people earlier this year, at least 11 state legislatures began weighing eliminating either the personal belief or religious exemptions for vaccinations, and in some cases, both. According to health officials, between 90 and 95 percent of people must be vaccinated against various diseases to achieve what is known as “herd immunity.” But some lawmakers say the alleged threat to public health does not justify curbing civil liberties.

"It comes down to what do we as a society trade when we mandate that somebody has to do something in order to protect somebody else," Senate Republican leader Bob Huff told Reuters.

Mr. Huff, who voted against the bill, added that the measles outbreak did not rise "to the level where we have to give up personal freedom."

But many health officials say it is imperative for students attending school to be vaccinated in order to protect those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Under the California bill, students who have not received vaccinations must be home-schooled.

“I would … suggest that we should stop basing our vaccination policies on models that made sense in a world of constrained vaccine supply, and aim for 100 percent vaccination coverage among those who can get vaccinated,” wrote Marcel Salathé, assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University, for The Washington Post.

In an effort to calm parents’ fears, many health professionals assert that the risks children could face from vaccines are far fewer than those from the diseases themselves. They also point out that the study linking the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella to autism has been discredited.

"I would much rather have my children get the vaccine than the disease itself,” Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases and public health specialist, told CNN.

Some experts have noted that parents have a key role in determining how the vaccination issue plays out.

"High levels of vaccine compliance are highly dependent on parents’ goodwill," Mark Largent, a historian at Michigan State University in East Lansing and the author of "Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America,” told the Monitor’s Amanda Paulson in February.

"If you want to increase the number of kids who are vaccinated against communicable diseases, you have to admit that ultimately parents get to make this decision.”

Against this backdrop, California lawmakers pushed ahead, saying that exemptions affect public health.

"The personal beliefs exemption is endangering the public," Democratic state Sen. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and coauthor of the bill, told Reuters.

While the California bill does not mandate vaccinations, it does contain the home-schooling requirement for unvaccinated children. Critics say they are concerned the legislation could keep kids out of school.

"It’s clear that a large portion of concerned parents will likely withhold their children from public schools because of their concerns or lack of comfort from the vaccination process," GOP state Sen. John Moorlach told a local ABC affiliate.

Waivers for medical reasons would still be available to students who attend a public or private school.

Jerry Brown’s new budget plan freezes UC tuition, offers new tax credit for poor

$115.3 billion general fund spending plan would take effect July 1

Brown’s January plan contained a $113.3 billion general fund

Plan reflects a deal with University of California for more state aid, tuition freeze

By David Siders and Jim Miller


Gov. Jerry Brown presented a revised $115.3 billion general fund spending plan Thursday that includes hundreds of millions in additional money for the University of California in return for a tuition freeze on in-state students.

The pact between Brown and UC leaders announced Thursday follows a months-long standoff with UC President Janet Napolitano after the system approved plans to raise tuition. The pact, if approved by lawmakers, would increase UC’s base funding by 4 percent for each of the next four years as well as provide a one-time infusion of $436 million over three years to help pay down UC’s pension obligations.

Tuition for California resident students would be capped for two years while nonresident supplemental tuition would increase by up to 8 percent annually, under the terms of the deal announced just as Brown released his revised budget. UC also agreed to offer new employees after July 2016 a pension choice: Accept a defined contribution plan or a defined benefit plan capped at $117,000 per year. The current cap is $265,000.

“Now the University of California will turn to our state legislators for their much-needed support of the proposed budget and for funding to enroll more California students,” Napolitano said in a statement.

Compared to Brown’s January blueprint, Thursday’s revision reflects $6.7 billion in additional revenue through June 2016. Almost all of the money will go toward the constitutional funding guarantee for schools and community colleges.

But seeking to blunt months of criticism from liberal Democrats and social service advocates that Brown’s January proposal did too little to help the state’s millions of poor residents, Thursday’s plan calls for the creation of a state version of the federal earned income tax credit meant to assist low-income workers.

In addition, the revision steers $3.4 billion through June 2016 to a rainy day reserve and debt repayment fund approved by voters last November. The UC pension payment would come from the debt repayment fund.

Brown said the revised blueprint recognizes the state’s vastly improved fiscal condition, but said he refuses to commit to the type of ongoing spending commitments that plunged the state into red ink during the Great Recession.

“I don’t want to get caught in the jaws of the persistent fiscal instability of the state government of California,” Brown said. “The idea that when you get a little money, or a lot of money, for a few years that now you’ve reached Utopia is so demonstrably false as evidenced by the last 12 years.

“We have to learn from history and not keep repeating the mistakes,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said in a statement that Brown’s plan “makes significant progress” on Assembly Democrats’ budget priorities. But she poured cold water on the governor’s deal with UC, saying an Assembly review of UC’s finances makes clear “further actions are necessary to ensure UC returns to a model that puts California students first and that more effectively uses the resources the state provides.”

The next spending plan also should include more money for the California State University system, “which has taken a more responsible approach to student fees,” the speaker said.

The Democratic governor’s plan generally drew compliments from Republicans. State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, the top Republican on the Senate budget committee, said Brown’s proposal “exceeded my expectations.” Nielsen said he agrees with Brown’s proposal to tap the debt repayment fund for the UC pension obligation payments.

“It’s a shot across the bow to the majority party. We don’t want a spending spree,” Nielsen said of legislative Democrats.

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said little about the proposed pact with UC. More needs to be done to help poor residents of California, he said, as well as the CSU system.

The proposed state earned income tax credit would benefit about 825,000 families at a cost to the state of about $380 million annually.

“It’s a straight deliverance of funding to people who are working very hard and earning very little money. In that sense I think it does a lot of very good things,” Brown said.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who sits on the Senate budget committee, said he has concerns about such targeted tax credits. “I’m getting really nervous about how many credits we’re giving. It seems to be sort of a candy store deal around here,” he said.

The budget revision will open weeks of negotiations at the Capitol before adoption of a spending plan in June. The Democratic-controlled Legislature is expected to push Brown for additional spending. Among other measures, Democrats have advanced proposals to increase funding for child care, family leave and welfare.

Overall, Thursday’s revised plan contains $169 billion in total state spending, up from $164.7 billion in January. The total includes $46.9 billion in special funds and $6.8 billion in bond funds.

David Siders: (916) 321-1215, @davidsiders

Gov. Brown revives ‘70s welfare program

Republicans miss chance to challenge some dated thinking

By Steven Greenhut

California Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his revised state budget plan during a news conference at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday May 14, 2015. Brown’s $115.3 billion spending plan would send billions more to public schools and freeze in-state undergraduate tuition and establish a new state tax credit of the working poor. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO — During a recent tour of the California Auto Museum, I spied a baby blue 1974 Plymouth Satellite – one of two iconic official cars used by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. Tooling around in a bland motor-pool sedan, rather than a limo, was Brown’s way of flaunting his budgetary stinginess.

The car reminded me of some 1970s-era policy debates. So did Thursday’s Capitol news conference, where Brown announced his May budget “revise.” In particular, he introduced a “new” program – the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – that comes right from that bygone era.

“I can say very simply the state is definitely on the rebound from just a few years ago when the state was mired in red ink, $20 billion structural deficit going into the future as far as the eye can see,” Brown said. “The finances of California have stabilized.” The good financial picture gave Brown the opportunity to introduce this program – and counteract charges from progressives that he is insufficiently concerned about the poor.

When the EITC was created, the debate was over providing a government program that guaranteed people a minimum income. Ultimately, the Ford administration came up with this tax “credit” idea. It’s really a subsidy more than a tax break, but it was typical of the Republican approach that didn’t challenge the wisdom of programs but mainly focused on how to pay for them.

EITC was a government transfer, but didn’t need a bureaucracy to administer. It was handled through the tax authorities – a point Brown made on Thursday. “It’s just a straight deliverance of funding to people who are working hard and not making a lot of money,” the governor said. He depicted it as a fairness issue given the growth in income by wealthy people.

Some Republicans quickly jumped on the EITC bandwagon. For instance, Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, who was one of the GOP’s pickups in the last election, championed the idea “as a great way to help struggling working families make ends meet.” Republican leaders said the idea at least merits some discussion.

Republican leaders mostly championed the way the governor held the line on big new spending programs – but called for more spending on education and infrastructure. Liberal groups blasted the stinginess of the budget, while Democratic leaders praised the budget but called for additional social-welfare “investments.” Is everyone now a government spender?

Brown highlighted these facts: Current spending has increased more than a third since the recession and this budget puts K-14 education spending at record highs. “It isn’t that we couldn’t construct a California where the public sector was considerable greater, or more appropriately, a public sector in America that was considerable greater,” he lamented, “but that is not where we are. So we have to take what we have, spend it prudently ….”

The main substantive critique of Brown’s proposal came from newly elected Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Orange County, who applauded the governor’s focus on debt reduction, but raised some red flags. In 1999, the state had “unrestricted net assets” of $1.5 billion. Its latest financial report shows a net deficit of $117 billion. That doesn’t include the full cost of the state’s unfunded pension liabilities and retiree medical liabilities, he said, which will get even higher as governments adopt new accounting standards. He wants to do even more.

In California in 2015, we have Democratic leaders pushing for more spending, Republicans who mainly want to make sure the books are balanced and a governor who wants the former but accepts the latter because he’s “cheap.” There are far worse budget situations, but the debate reminds me of the late Republican congressman Jack Kemp of New York.

Around the time that Plymouth Satellite was rolling off the assembly line, Kemp told the GOP to “take off its green eyeshades,” wrote National Review’s Henry Olsen. “By this he meant that the GOP needed to stop focusing primarily on balancing budgets and start focusing on how to grow the economy and improve the lives of average Americans.” He backed the EITC but focused on growth.

That’s good advice and not just for Republicans. It’s one of the few 1970s-era ideas I’d like to start hearing more about.

Greenhut is the California columnist for U-T San Diego. Contact him at steven.greenhut.

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Windfall boosts Brown’s state budget, and here are 7 ways California might spend your money


California’s public schools at every level are the big winners in a state budget unveiled Thursday that’s about $6.7 billion bigger than expected.

Low-income workers, undocumented immigrants who might qualify for subsidized health care and even traffic ticket scofflaws also stand to benefit from Gov. Jerry Brown’s $115.3 billion blueprint.

Brown wants to boost the state’s rainy day fund and pay down some debt.

Here’s a look at seven things in the budget you’ll want to know:

1. Elementary and high schools get an extra $2.7 billion.

Spending for K-12 schools went to $68.4 billion from $65.7 billion in the budget Brown proposed in January.

The extra money came from higher-than-expected tax revenue.

The governor also wants $3.5 billion in one-time Proposition 98 funding for school districts, charter schools and county offices of education. He also wants $500 million to establish an adult education block grant program at school districts and community colleges.

The bump prompted State Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, to praise the governor’s revised budget for “increased funding for education, public safety and implementing health care reform while paying down the state’s debt and funding the rainy day fund.”

2. UC students get a two-year tuition freeze.

Tuition in the University of California system will remain unchanged for in-state undergraduates for at least two years. The governor is promising one-time additional funding to offset pension costs, the tradeoff for keeping tuition flat for California residents.

The contest of wills between Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano over tuition hikes was resolved with the inclusion of an extra $436 million for the university system. State lawmakers must approve the deal.

Non-residents and students pursuing professional degrees would still be subject to higher tuition.

3. Working poor get a tax break.

An anticipated $380 million will go to about 2 million low-income workers with establishment of the first-ever California Earned Income Tax Credit. An average $460 will go to households with annual incomes between $6,580 and $13,870.

About 825,000 families will benefit. The maximum credit would be $2,653 for families with three or more children.

4. More money going into reserves.

The state’s rainy day fund approved by voters in 2014 with passage of Prop. 2 is expected to grow to $3.5 billion by the end of the year. An additional $633 million in Prop. 2 funds will go to pay down debt.

Some believe more should be cut.

“The state’s most recent comprehensive annual financial report shows an unrestricted net deficit of $117 billion,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

“In accounting language, that means we’re broke.”

5. Immigrants might get some free health care.

The budget includes $62 million to partially pay for the enrollment of qualified undocumented immigrants in the state’s Medi-Cal health insurance program. But spending that money depends on a federal court battle over President Barack Obama’s executive order that provided deferred status to millions of undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria.

Under the status known as permanent residence under color of law, certain individuals who immigrated here illegally would qualify for state-funded Medi-Cal services and In-Home Supportive Services.

6. Ticket scofflaws get amnesty.

Traffic citation scofflaws who are past due on court-ordered payments would get some relief under an amnesty program that could cut their debt in half.

The amnesty also calls for reducing administrative fees tacked onto the citations to $50 from $300. And eligible individuals would have their driver’s licenses reinstated.

7. Fairview could close.

As part of an effort to save money, the state-run Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa that houses 280 people with developmental and intellectual disabilities would shutter by 2021. Residents would gradually move into smaller group homes and nursing facilities; about 80 would live in Orange County.

It costs an estimated $500,000 per year to house and treat a patient at a developmental center – more than at the smaller alternatives. Two other remaining developmental centers in California also would close.

Earlier this year, state records revealed a history of deadly abuse and neglect at the developmental centers. Disability rights advocates say closing the centers is in the best interest of the people who live there because it gives them more freedoms.

Staff Writers Jenna Chandler and Fermin Leal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

State budget: O.C. lawmakers respond

State legislators whose districts lay all or partially in Orange County offered their thoughts on Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, which was unveiled Thursday.

Sen. Patricia C. Bates, R-Laguna Niguel: “I’m encouraged that the governor’s revised budget seems consistent with my top budget priorities of protecting education, saving for a rainy day and paying down the state’s long-term debt.”

Assemblyman Tom Daly, D-Anaheim: “Assembly Democrats are focused on reducing poverty, restoring funding for schools, improving higher education funding, building reserves and paying down debt, and providing a down payment for transportation infrastructure. The governor’s proposals make progress in many of these areas. … I am pleased that the governor reiterated his support for a small but necessary increase in funding for trial court operations. It’s a personal priority.”

Sen. John ‍Moorlach, R – Costa Mesa: “I appreciate Gov. Brown’s spirit of fiscal restraint, but the fact is, by all accounting standards our state’s unaddressed run-up of debt continues to threaten our short- and long-term financial health. The state’s most recent comprehensive annual financial report shows an unrestricted net deficit of $117 billion."

Sen. Tony Mendoza, DArtesia: “The governor’s revised budget proposal … includes increased funding for education, public safety and implementing health care reform while paying down the state’s debt and funding the rainy day fund. Additionally, I welcome the governor’s proposal to work with the Legislature to address the state’s critical and long-overdue infrastructure needs.”

Senate GOP Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar: “We are happy to see the governor is interested in keeping the promises. … The plan does miss an opportunity by failing to invest more in… working families.”

– Martin Wisckol

Former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona freed from prison early


His departure from public life was nasty, dramatic and well-documented. But former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona got out of prison this week in a far different manner:

Quietly, and somewhat mysteriously. Carona, 59, has left a federal prison medical center in Lexington, Ky., said Kenny Coleman, the center’s camp administrator, on Thursday. Carona served 52 months of a 66-month sentence for felony witness tampering.

The charismatic former sheriff, convicted in 2009 as part of a federal corruption investigation that rocked Orange County, had been moved from a Colorado lockup to the Kentucky medical center. While in prison, he settled a workers’ compensation case against Orange County for back and hip injuries suffered in a 2005 on-duty car accident.

No one would say why Carona – once dubbed “America’s Sheriff” by Larry King – was released early or describe his whereabouts.

But earlier this month federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said Carona likely would be moved to a halfway house to begin his resettlement with the community.

His lawyers did not return phone calls and emails. Federal prosecutor Brett Sagel, who handled the case against Carona, on Thursday said, “I literally know nothing.”

A woman who answered the phone at the home of his wife, Deborah, hung up on a reporter.

Carona, who had a 32-year career in Orange County law enforcement before he left office, is eligible for a state pension, about $195,120 annually, according to state records.

He served as the county’s top cop for nine years before he was convicted of trying to persuade a former top aide to lie for him during a federal investigation of corruption in the Sheriff’s Department.

Carona had used the sheriff’s office to reward political donors. He installed a wealthy supporter, Don Haidl, in an unpaid but powerful assistant sheriff’s post that critics said amounted to a “get-out-of-jail-free” card.

Carona had been a personable and popular sheriff, elected to the office three times by large margins. At one time, he was mentioned as a potential lieutenant governor nominee on a ticket headed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He hugged when others shook hands. He glad-handed powerbrokers and choked up in front of cameras. He campaigned, in part, on a compelling back story – growing up with an alcoholic mother and workaholic father and finding purpose in the sheriff’s academy.

In 2002, Carona was proclaimed “America’s Sheriff” after he went on Larry King’s national television show and warned a soon-to-be-captured child killer, “Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. Because we’re coming after you.”

What Carona didn’t know at the time was that federal investigators would come after him.

But it was Haidl who helped send Carona to prison. Haidl got caught up in the federal corruption investigation, with authorities alleging he gave Carona illegal cash and gifts. So Haidl started secretly cooperating with investigators, wearing a hidden microphone to entice Carona into making incriminating statements.

The two men were recorded discussing how to get their stories straight when they were questioned by the grand jury about money Haidl was funneling to Carona.

The audiotape was a key piece of evidence when Carona was indicted in October 2007 on six felony corruption counts, including theft of honest services of an elected official, conspiracy and tampering with a witness.

His nine-week trial in October 2008 wasn’t just high-profile; it was downright salacious at times. His former mistress also stood trial while his wife sat in the courtroom every day. Several witnesses testified about Carona’s sexual affairs while in office.

The jury found him not guilty on all but one charge of witness tampering. Carona proclaimed the verdict a miracle from God.

He celebrated in a news briefing just outside the courthouse – unaware that inside the courthouse, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford was fuming.

In April 2009, Guilford brought down the hammer: 66 months in federal prison.

“Trust has been harmed here,” he told Carona.

Carona served most of his time in a low-security prison in Littleton, Colo. Well-known inmates in the Colorado prison included Jeff Skilling, former chief executive of Enron Corp., and Rod Blagojevich, former governor of Illinois.

At the prison, Carona, sporting long hair and a beard, had access to Saturday morning brunch, a leisure library, a hobby shop, a music room and a coffee shop. All inmates are expected to work, said prisons spokesman Ross. Carona had his choice of jobs in such fields as plumbing, electronics and business.

Meanwhile, back in Orange County, his portrait as sheriff was removed from department headquarters. And his tenure still stings.

State Sen. John Moorlach, who as chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors called for Carona’s resignation in 2007, said the case left a mark on all of Orange County’s elected officials as well as the Sheriff’s Department.

“It brought back that old phrase, a fish rots at the head,” said Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

“If you live a double life, the truth will come out, and it will cast a stain on everybody.”

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who was appointed to lead the department after Carona’s departure, declined to comment.

“That chapter is best left behind us,” she said through a spokesman.

Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, was more philosophical.

“A judge ordered a debt be paid to society and that debt has been paid,” Dominguez said. “We can only hope that other elected officials see this as a cautionary tale of corruption and the consequences of betraying the trust of the very people you were elected to serve.”

Contact the writer: tsaavedra

Orange County Breeze

Cypress resident Andy Lachina to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Chamber June Installation Dinner

best of the best award

Long-time Cypress resident Andy Lachina, who has been active in several organizations over the years, will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce at its annual Business Awards & Installation Dinner June 18 at the Old Ranch Country Club at 6 p.m.

Lachina will be joined by George O’Hara as Man of the Year, Jenelle Bader as Woman of the Year and Vans as Business of the Year. The awards will be preceded by the installation of the Cypress Board of Directors for the 2015-2016 Fiscal Year, which begins on July 1.

“Our Business Awards have come to symbolize the greatness and support the City of Cypress has from business leaders and the community as a whole,” said Cypress Chamber Board Interim Chairman Bob Snow. “These people and businesses have helped build and maintain the City of Cypress and this year’s honorees reflect the efforts of many. This is an opportunity for not only our members, but for the community at large, to join us as we salute these people and businesses. We are looking forward to a great time on June 18th.”

Tickets for the business attire event are $55, with tables of eight for $400 if purchased by June 6 (after that date tables of eight will be $440). The event also features a printed program where sponsors, friends and business associates can place ads to honor the award recipients. Contact the Chamber for details at 714-827-2430.

The article above was released by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce.

Last year’s honorees

Editor’s note: I would like to modestly remind everyone that last year’s honorees were Tim Keenan, Lifetime Achievement; John Moorlach (now a California Assemblyman), Man of the Year; myself, Woman of the Year; and Union Bank, Business of the Year.

Shown left to right: Brenda Hale and Miriam Melville from Union Bank (Business of the Year), Shelley Henderson from OC Breeze (Woman of the Year), Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Man of the Year) and Tim and Linda Keenan from Creative Media Recording (Lifetime Achievement) were honored at the recent Cypress Chamber of Commerce Business Awards & Installation Dinner.

Shown left to right: Brenda Hale and Miriam Melville from Union Bank (Business of the Year), Shelley Henderson from OC Breeze (Woman of the Year), Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Man of the Year) and Tim and Linda Keenan from Creative Media Recording (Lifetime Achievement) were honored at the recent Cypress Chamber of Commerce Business Awards & Installation Dinner.

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

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

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 562 — May 8, 2015

The OC Register has two items of interest. Last evening I took an earlier flight home for the first time in the last seven weeks in order to attend the Henry Segerstrom Courage of Imagination reception. A photo is provided as the first piece below. The individual to the left of the photo is David J. Schramm, a friend that I have looked to as a mentor over the years. For the article, see

It was a wonderful event for an incredible visionary who has left a lasting legacy in Orange County and the 37th Senate District. I would encourage you to visit the exhibit in the Jewel Court of the South Coast Plaza (see

The second piece from the OC Register is about Nick Berardino. It was a long and detailed conversation that I had with the reporter, but a few thoughts made it to the printed page. I would say that Nick’s biggest mistake was negotiating "2.7% @ 55," up from "1.67% @ 57" retroactive to the date of hire. It created an immediate 60% unfunded actuarial accrued liability (UAAL) that the employees and members of his union are paying for in every paycheck. It also hindered the ability to provide pay increases.

To his credit, Nick negotiated a retiree medical UAAL down by 71%. This resulted in a $1 billion debt reduction. Nick and I enjoyed a loud relationship. However, in our private interactions, we were always polite and professional with each other.

A bill specific only to the city of Long Beach, SB 562, is covered in the LB Report. The reporter takes issue with my vote, but in fact this was a local government issue vetted through the process. I am not afraid to include negative pieces in my UPDATES. I now have a chance to respond.

To start, the headline is incorrect. During the committee, I did ask a question on this “Triple-P” matter (public private partnership). Indeed, my comment is mentioned near the conclusion of the piece. Specifically, I asked if the city had entered into a similar arrangement in the past or if this was the first transaction of this nature. The response is that it was done successfully before with the George Deukmejian Courthouse.

Now that I’m in my seventh week as a State Senator, allow me to make three observations concerning this piece and the legislative process in general. The Governance and Finance Committee agenda was provided to me the night before the morning meeting. Consequently, I was reading the materials for a couple of hours before hitting the hay at midnight.

This is not how a transparent government should work. For a comparison, when I received a Board of Supervisors agenda, it was on a Wednesday morning. My staff would review the agenda items and provide their analysis after questioning various related parties on each matter and then provide me a written briefing Friday evening. It was like receiving a paperback book and I would spend Saturdays (and for longer agendas, some Sundays) reading it in preparation for the following Tuesday’s Board meeting. On Monday, I would meet with my staff and the County’s CEO to discuss any matters that were unclear. On Tuesday night, I would research any open items. All to say, my staff and I had nearly a week to prepare and research the Board agenda.

In Sacramento, I have very little time, sometimes none at all, between receiving the agenda and the beginning of the Committee meetings to prepare. Even if I had more time to review the bills, there are dozens of them in every committee, often with little input by stakeholders or impacted parties, leaving me with little context or information. My crack staff is hustling, but there is no time to do the type of research that I’ve grown accustomed to and for which the people of my district and California deserve.

The second concern is addressed in the piece. There was not one individual who spoke against SB 562. I do not recall receiving one communication in opposition to this matter. I mentioned that my father spent most of his career with an office in Long Beach and that I graduated from California State University, Long Beach. But, as far as I know, not one concerned Long Beach resident contacted me.

Thirdly, let’s say someone had contacted me or my staff and convinced us that this deal was flawed. Let’s say I concurred and voted in opposition. As the composition of the Committee is 5 Democrats to 2 Republicans, I can state with a strong degree of confidence that, at best, the vote would have been along party lines, 5 to 2. Such is the joy of the current Legislature.

I’m excited that someone in the media was covering one of my Committee meetings. It would have been nice if they had reached out to me for a comment. It’s unfortunate that the media outlet hasn’t convinced enough readers to participate in the process. Let’s see if someone contacts my office before it comes to the floor of the Senate. This is being done through the LB Report in the final piece below.

In the fourth piece we have someone that never contacted me about this bill. He obviously does not have the juice to get the right individuals elected to the Long Beach City Council. And he doesn’t have the juice to get them to pursue traditional financing methods. All he has left is to lash out. That’s unfortunate. But, maybe he has the same time constraints that I do.

I appreciate his arguments, but they did not seem to resonate in his own city. After doing further research and I concur with his concerns, I could try my best to convince my colleagues that perhaps a sense of caution should be directed to this matter. However, I can state with a strong degree of confidence (if I were a betting man) that the final vote on the Senate floor will probably be about 32 to 8 in support. (No wonder he’s so frustrated.)

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State Sen. John Moorlach, left, Chapman University President Jim Doti, center, and William Lyon, right, attend the debut of the exhibit;Courage of Imagination: A Tribute to Henry T. Segerstrom; at South Coast Plaza on Thursday. PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER


As he ends a career battling for O.C. public workers, Nick Berardino remains upright.


Two photos in Nick Berardino’s office say a lot about Orange County’s most powerful union leader as he prepares to step away from a career spent fighting for workers in a community that unabashedly favors management.

One is Muhammad Ali just after he knocked out Sonny Liston. Berardino, a lifelong boxer who, at 66, still spars three times a week, identifies with Ali’s politics and attitude.

The other shows Winston Churchill holding a tommy gun. Among other things, Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

Two photos of two guys who could talk tough and back it up.

Berardino isn’t so different.

For nearly 41 years, in different roles representing public workers for the Orange County Employees Association, the pugnacious contrarian has gone toe-to-toe with the county’s power brokers.

He’s won concessions against big odds and preserved those victories against the political tide. He’s made friends and enemies – often the same people. He’s cursed and been cursed at.

Even now, as he prepares to step down from the job in August, Berardino remains blunt.

“This is a union that has never backed up,” Berardino says. “Backing up isn’t in our approach, and it’s not in the way I do business.

“I’m not here to back up.”


During Berardino’s four decades in Orange County, a period when union membership nationally fell from nearly 25 percent to 11 percent, membership at Orange County Employees Association tripled. It now represents about 18,000 county, city, court and special district employees.

Over the decades, as a union guy – often the union guy – Berardino helped get county employees a strong retirement plan, saved hundreds of their jobs (particularly during the county’s bankruptcy in 1994) and helped fight off attempts by Costa Mesa to outsource jobs.

Like most fighters, Berardino suffered losses. Lots of them.

“When you’re in the minority, you’re going to lose,” Berardino says. “I’ve had many, many disappointments.”

The most recent came in 2013, when the county awarded a $132 million contract to upgrade computer and phone systems to Xerox rather than giving the work to county employees. The contract, beset with delays and cost increases, caused 41 union employees to change jobs and untold others to leave.

“That has tugged at me,” Berardino said. “We lost a lot of good people.”

In 1982, Berardino started the Orange County Employees Association’s first political action committee, an attempt to flex some muscle in the electoral arena. Most of the Democratic candidates the union has backed over the years have been defeated by their Republican opponents.

But Berardino doesn’t view this as a total loss. Ideas, he says, matter.

“You have to realize that in a democracy, someone has to take (an opposing) point of view,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean we’re wrong. You still have to push those points of view.”

Jennifer Muir, Berardino’s protege and assistant general manager, officially takes over his job Aug. 1. She’ll have the same responsibilities, including oversight of staff and carrying out the policies of the union’s board of directors.

Though Muir and Berardino differ stylistically, Muir said “our strategy, our intention and our discussions won’t change."

She won’t get a grace period, either. Contract negotiations with the county start this year.

“I’m not a boxer or a Marine,” Muir said. “But will I fight when I need to? Absolutely.”

She’ll follow a mentor who negotiated, at times, by the decibel.

“I was a loud voice,” Berardino says. “I adopted, and continue to use, an extraordinarily confrontational style. Otherwise, your voice is going to be drowned out.”

Despite staking out controversial positions (he once put out fliers saying the Board of Supervisors was guilty of “white collar child abuse”) Berardino insists he only says “what everyone is thinking and wants to say,” conservative politicians and corporate leaders notwithstanding.

John Moorlach, a former Orange County supervisor and current Republican state senator, often negotiated – and sometimes fought – with Berardino. They battled over everything from campaign ethics and oversight to supervisor benefits and financial transparency and, of course, union jobs, union pensions and union benefits.

Moorlach says their debates were never dull.

“He’s a vibrant, caustic little Italian who’s not afraid to scream and yell and tell you how he feels,” Moorlach said.

“I don’t know if that was good for negotiations, but it was fun.”

Whether shouting down politicians or engaging in fierce negotiations, Berardino’s bellicosity belied a shrewd mind.

“I think part of his demeanor is to mask the fact that he’s two chess moves ahead of the opposition,” said Lou Correa, a longtime politician in Orange County who once was Berardino’s supervisor at the union.

Muir says Berardino’s passion is “authentic,” but it also caused people to underestimate his political and bargaining acumen. She said Berardino was always the most prepared person in the room.

“He thinks about (the union) all the time,” Muir said, adding: “I have the texts and phone calls in the middle of the night to prove it.”

Passion has been Berardino’s secret weapon.

Over the years, Berardino has called supervisors and politicians “money launderers.” He once had to be restrained from going after the mayor of Costa Mesa and has a picture to prove it.

“It’s very difficult to get justice from the political establishment in Orange County,” Berardino said. “The political establishment is totally anti-worker. It just is.”


Sometimes, Berardino wins.

Moorlach says Berardino “stood head and shoulders” above his contemporaries in the labor movement in his ability to see the larger picture.

In addition to earning favorable pensions in the early 2000s, Berardino negotiated health reforms and tiered pensions before those ideas gained broader support. And while his deals weren’t always popular with the rank and file, he saw them as necessary.

According to Berardino, union members get a little extra when they pay their dues: “The inalienable right to (grouse).”

Berardino grew up in South Los Angeles, the son of Italian immigrants. As a teenager he became involved in the civil rights movement. He said he was – and remains – appalled at the treatment of blacks in America.

Berardino says his parents were so alarmed by his political bent they sent him to a psychiatrist and refused to allow him at large family gatherings.

“I couldn’t go to weddings or funerals,” he said. “I was considered this radical.”

In 1967, Berardino joined the Marines and fought in Vietnam as a machine gunner. Some of his feistiness later, he says, probably came from his war experience. But war, he adds, also taught him about the frailty of life.

“I left Vietnam determined to make a difference,” he said.

Berardino remains committed to veterans, including hiring and training vets. He supported construction of the Heroes Hall veterans museum at the Orange County fairgrounds and founded a Veterans + Labor event, a free celebration for veterans that featured employment, legal and other services.

Clearly one of the most volatile and enduring issues when union contracts come up are pensions and so-called unfunded liabilities, or pension obligations for which money doesn’t currently exist.

The Orange County Employee Retirement System made news in 2010 when it had to open its books and show that more than 500 former union employees collected six-figure pensions. For the record, Berardino’s pension will be about $75,000 plus Social Security.

Berardino said the average annual pension at the OCEA is about $29,000, and the funding is strong, with about 74 percent funded and $12 billion in investments.

Moorlach said pensions not properly funded are engaged in naive “Peter Pan” economics and put both members and taxpayers at risk.

Berardino scoffs at the notion. Even at the depths of the latest recession, he says, “Banks had to be bailed out, (but) not one single pension fund had to be bailed out.”

He’s confident in the union he’s handing off. Younger leaders, he says, can better connect with the workforce, adding that people like Muir will make the union bigger, better and stronger.

As tough as the job has been, Berardino says he has relished every moment.

“I love 4 o’clock on a Sunday” afternoon, he said, because it means he will soon be at work and can “get back and throw punches.”

Contact the writer: gmellen

State Senate Committee Advances Bill That Could Extend Taxpayer Payments To Civic Center Deal’s Private Developer/Operator To 50 Years; No Committee Member Raises Locally Controversial Aspects of Transaction

Dems (incl. bill author Sen. Lara), city and port reps + trade union rep praise transaction and urge passage; neither of the Committee’s two Repubs, including Sen. Nguyen who reps SE LB, raise issues or oppose

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.

OC Register Logo





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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