MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 21, 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

December 21

1994

The OC Register continued with the page heading of “O.C. Financial Crisis.”  This day’s big story was “Officials In Motion – A long goodbye for Wieder, Riley – Bankruptcy frustration casts a pall on the departures of the two supervisors,” by Chris Knap.

[Retiring supervisor Thomas F.] Riley, 82, a former brigadier general appointed to the board in 1974, gave a farewell speech in which he blamed himself for not taking more seriously the criticisms of Costa Mesa accountant John Moorlach, who had campaigned against Treasurer Robert L. Citron this spring by warning about the dangers of the county’s leveraged investment policy.

“Thanks to our disposition and quality of life, we are an optimistic county with an optimistic board,” Riley said.  “But that does not excuse us from listening to the pessimists.

“To quote Ronald Reagan, the man who appointed me to this board 20 years ago, ‘Trust, but verify.’”

“Riley is my supervisor, and I wanted to say nice things to him,” said Delores Otting, owner of a rubbish-hauling business.  “But it’s really a sin that they have to leave the county in this condition.  They copped out because they didn’t understand the investment fund.”

Even the slow-to-judgment League of Women Voters pointed a finger.

“In any type of organization, the responsibility for success or failure rests with the person, or persons at the top,” said president Connie Haddad.  “That you can fault others for less than ideal performance does not relieve you of your responsibility . . . To point out to the public that you feel you lack the expertise to understand complex financial transactions does not excuse past performance nor reassure the public that you are capable of dealing with the current crisis.”

Riley closed Tuesday’s nearly five-hour meeting with a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

“No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting.  To this place – and the kindness of these people – I owe everything.”

1999

The OC Register had this Letter to the Editor, titled “Open the toll lanes for all motorists to enjoy.”

Cheers for John Moorlach, county treasurer.  He has just shed light on the most serious problem with the 91 Freeway toll lanes.  Moorlach is quoted as saying that Caltrans should re-evaluate a clause in the contract that prohibits the state from making improvements on the adjacent freeway.  Why wasn’t this restriction discussed earlier?  Are we doomed to have no more than eight lanes through the canyon forever?

New we know why the freeway through Santa Ana Canyon is the only one in Orange County that is not decorated with construction equipment.  CPTC certainly has no room or plans for improvements.  The commuters and taxpayers get cheated again.

We should all get behind John Moorlach and support his idea of simply returning the money the investors put into the toll lanes, open the lanes to the public and let everybody ride for free.

Dale P. Ferguson

Anaheim

2004

And speaking of outgoing supervisors, the OC Register had a piece by Martin Wisckol, titled “Means to an end—Outgoing Supervisor Chuck Smith didn’t shy away from confronting his party.”  I paid him a visit and a photo, by Mark Avery, of the two of us accompanied the article.  The link to the photo from back then no longer works.  It had the following byline: 

PARTY:  Treasurer and Tax Collector John Moorlach, left, chats with Supervisor Chuck Smith at his retirement party Thursday.

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