MOORLACH UPDATE — — January 28, 2010

“Orange County’s banning of Project Labor Agreements and Other Anti-Competitive Measures is the winner of PublicCEO’s Ordinance Of The Year Award, as part of PublicCEO’s First Annual Local Government Awards.”

How about that, our efforts to clean things up here at the OC is being recognized.  Since my term began just over three years ago, my office has worked diligently at addressing the unconstitutionality of granting retroactive pension benefits, bringing back stronger minimum qualifications for the position of Assistant Sheriff, and removing any trace of a Project Labor Agreement requirement through an ordinance.  I could go on with other initiatives we’ve been pursuing.  All important and very hard work.

To have one of these efforts recognized is quite a pleasant surprise.

I used to acknowledge good reporting when I saw it during our annual Treasurer’s Conference.  You’ll notice this from the LOOK BACKs.  It’s quite a different matter, however, when the reporting side of the equation acknowledges our efforts. 

Thank you,, very much appreciated.

Local Government Awards: Ordinance Of The Year Award


Written by  James Spencer   

We’re all for leveling the playing field and providing fair and honest competition.

So the PublicCEO Editorial Board was pleased when the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in November to approve a resolution that will prohibit the requirement of labor agreements on county projects.

Author of the O.C. ordinance, Professor of Law Mario Mainero, is the senior policy adviser for County Supervisor John Moorlach. He said the major point of not allowing Project Labor Agreements was simple: to level the playing field.

“I think that’s just better policy,” Mainero said in a phone interview at the time. “Just like everyone else in the market, be competitive and come up with the best price and you’re going to get the job.”

Orange County’s banning of Project Labor Agreements and Other Anti-Competitive Measures is the winner of PublicCEO’s Ordinance Of The Year Award, as part of PublicCEO’s First Annual Local Government Awards.

Orange County is the fifth largest and perhaps the most famous county in the country, and this creates a powerful precedent for other local governments in California and throughout the United States.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Nov. 3 to enact a county ordinance that bans the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and other anti-competitive bidding requirements on county-funded projects, unless required by state and federal law. 

By inserting the prohibition in the county code, the Board of Supervisors established a policy that will require significant deliberation and two votes of the board to reverse in the future.

The ordinance is especially significant because the Orange County Board of Supervisors had voted 3-0 with two abstentions in January 2000 to require contractors to sign a PLA for virtually all county construction for the next six years. 

Business groups worked diligently to change the sentiment of the Board of Supervisors through lobbying and elections, and in December 2004 the board voted 4-1 not to continue the policy when it expired.

Enactment of an ordinance requires two votes.  At both the Oct. 27 and Nov. 3 meetings, construction union leaders and their members packed the meeting room and demonstrated outside the building with rat balloons.  Numerous union officials and other speakers from leftist organizations (including ACORN) railed against the Board of Supervisors.  Merit Shop associations and contractors also brought several speakers and numerous workers.

Join us in congratulating Orange County on this award in local government.

Other Winners Announced So Far:

Jan. 26:   The Public Information Officer Of The Year
Jan. 27:   The Public Works Project Of The Year

Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from For more information, please contact the editor, James Spencer, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


January 27


Frank Mickadeit’s column in the OC Register had an interesting title, “Fund-raiser brings out anti-Spitzer ‘Rackaucki’.”  District Attorney Tony Rackauckas threw a fund-raiser, and everyone came.  My favorite memory of the event was having one politico tell me, “This is just like my fund-raisers, except this one has people.”  Here a some clips.  At the end of the day, Rackauckas ran unopposed.

                The last head count I heard was 408, and they turned people away.  Several people said they had rarely seen anything like it in O.C.

Wealthy moderates like Dale Dykema, old-guardsmen like Tom Tait, countywide pols like John Moorlach, local pols like Paul Glaab of the Laguna Niguel City Council, pols on the rebound like Ken Maddox, ex-pols like Bill Steiner.  The sponsor and host committee lists included Democrats(!) Joe Dunn and Loretta Sanchez, and GOP stalwarts like William Lyon, Pringle, Fuentes, Righeimer, Bucher, and Johns.

It was a gathering of the clans, a show of force, a shot across the bow, a message to the challenger:  OK, Spitzer, you really want a piece of this?

January 28


The 91 Express Lanes story continued into late January.   “OCTA Won’t Show at State Hearing on 91 Lanes Deal,” by the star team of Megan Garvey and Meg James, made it to the front page of the LA Times.

There were three topics covered in the article.  OCTA refused to appear for the hearing, I thought it peculiar, but the lanes were still for sale and legislation would be proposed to accommodate the transaction.

A new insight this article provided is that the lobbyist for the county, Dennis Carpenter, was also the lobbyist for OCTA and CPTC.  So the plot thickened.  Here are selected paragraphs.  I seemed to be the closer.

Orange County transportation officials have refused an invitation to appear in Sacramento at next week’s special hearing to examine the collapsed sale of the 91 Express Lanes, concerning some state and local officials.

"When we ask someone to come speak to us, it means we feel they need to," said state Sen. Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach), the chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, which is holding the hearings with its Assembly counterpart. "By not coming, it makes it seem like they have something to hide."

State Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) also was surprised by the Orange County Transportation Authority’s decision.

"The OCTA declined?" Morrow asked. "Well, then they could come up here and say that. I would urge them to reconsider. This is a very important hearing to discuss public policy. And we need to try to get to the bottom of this."

Orange County transportation officials said they decided not to attend because they felt there was little light they could shed on the controversy that has consumed Caltrans and high-ranking state officials for more than two months.

Pointed Remarks From Moorlach

Orange County Treasurer John M.W. Moorlach said he was disturbed by OCTA’s stance, particularly in light of the substantial value of the work that was turned over to the toll operator.

"If everything is straight up, OCTA shouldn’t have a problem appearing," Moorlach said. "I’m disturbed that they won’t be there. It just seems to me that if you aren’t going to talk you’re hiding something."


 Moorlach said the transportation agency’s extensive history with NewTrac and the California Private Transportation Co., and the promise of the $9-million reimbursement, should compel OCTA officials to testify.

Legislative staff members preparing for next week’s hearing say OCTA’s refusal was delivered by the agency’s Sacramento lobbyist, Christopher M. Micheli. Micheli is with Carpenter Snodgrass & Associates, a firm that also represents the California Private Transportation Co. in Sacramento.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Assemblyman Rod Pacheco (R-Corona) said he will introduce legislation within a month to set up a governmental agency to buy the lanes. Purchasing the lanes from the private operator may be the only way around provisions of a "non-compete" clause that prohibits the state from widening the freeway, he said.

"The goal of this legislation is to ease congestion and reduce the accidents and injuries," Pacheco said. "The path we take to get there is going around the clause and the only way to get around that clause is to have someone purchase the road."

Selling the toll lanes is California Private Transportation Co.’s priority, said its general manager, Greg Hulsizer.

"The 91 Express Lanes are for sale," Hulsizer said. "Our goal is to sell the project at a fair price and in a time frame that’s acceptable."

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