MOORLACH UPDATE — This Too Shall Pass — June 10, 2010

I enjoy a wonderful and busy schedule every day and I need the 13-hours-plus that I dedicate to the tasks at hand.  So when that pace gets interrupted, either for good (vacation and family time) or bad (extra emergency activities or illness), you feel it quickly.  The work piles up fast.

So what am I talking about?  After an action-packed Sunday, I started to feel a knife-stabbing pain in my lower back around 12:30 a.m. on Monday morning.  To make a long story short, I had my first identified encounter with a kidney stone.  I was out of pocket, in bed, all day Monday and most of Tuesday (I got out in order to vote).  I was able to find an urologist who was available, but the soonest appointment was noon on Wednesday.

I am reminded of a saying that a now deceased friend, Dr. Don Drake, also an urologist used to say, “This too shall pass.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote about a team being like a body “and if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it,” he must have been referring to the kidney.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let me thank Dr. Eric Alcouloumre and Anthony and the rest of those who assisted me in the middle of the night in Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s Emergency Room.  Thanks, too, for Dr. Cu Phan for sneaking me into his busy calendar and performing a lithotripsy extracorporeal shock wave procedure on me yesterday afternoon.  I also wish to thank Dr. Phan’s medical team at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center for assisting in this method of breaking up kidney stones.  I’m slowly recovering, but the number of meetings that I have to prepare for next week requires me to get back in the saddle.

My apologies go out to those with whom I had scheduled appointments that I had to break.  This is something I rarely do.  I even had to miss a long-scheduled speaking engagement.  The most amazing thing I had to miss, though, was an evening celebrating what may be my last election victory.  I was elected to my second and last term as an Orange County Supervisor on Tuesday.

But running for public office is sort of like passing a kidney stone.  It’s painful, intense, and all consuming.  And, this too shall pass.

Congratulations to Supervisor Pat Bates, newly elected Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Assessor Webster Guillory, now elected Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly, Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, and Public Administrator John Williams.

My best wishes also go out to Shari Freidenrich and Keith Rodenhuis as they continue the efforts, along with Shawn Nelson and Harry Sidhu, to finish their nonpartisan efforts in November’s election.  Remember, this too shall pass.

Below find today’s Frank Mickadeit column in the OC Register and yesterday’s mentions in the OC Register and on KPCC’s website.   It will give you a little update on the results.


New Sup Nelson spurns unions, wins big


At 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, I was on Harbor Boulevard in historic downtown Fullerton, drawing on an exquisite Churchill while sitting on a sidewalk bench facing the open front door of the Matador. Sitting to my left was Cameron Irons, a local businessman. Sitting on my right was county Supervisor-elect Shawn Nelson, puffing on an equally exquisite Churchill.

Thirty minutes earlier, the registrar of voters had released his final tally, showing Nelson beating his main opponent, Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu, 30.2 percent to 18.3 percent.

Also on the sidewalk under the street lights on this warm June night were Denis Bilodeau, Tony Bushala and Nelson’s 28-year-old rookie campaign manager Audra Adams. All were key to the astounding repudiation of the $1 million-plus that county employee unions had just spent for Nelson’s main opponent, Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu.

At stake: the third and definitive vote on the Board of Supervisors to support Supervisor John Moorlach‘s quest to rein in the county employee pensions that he’s convinced are saddling taxpayers with unfunded liability that is pushing the county to the brink of its second bankruptcy.

Anyway, we were sitting there outside the Matador, and we heard the barkeep give last call, and Irons nudged me and pointed to a bar stool we could see through the open front door. "Shawn’s political career began right there, on that stool," he said.

Ah, there’s a story here, I thought.

Irons and Nelson played next to each other on the defensive line at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, the 1983 C.I.F. champs. Irons the left tackle, Nelson the left end. "I knocked the ball out, and he grabbed it and got all the glory," Irons said.

Fast forward two decades. Irons is a commercial leasing agent and business owner who has opened the Rockin’ Taco restaurant and twin-piano bar (now the Matador) at 111 N. Harbor in the revitalizing downtown. Built in 1897 (of used brick hauled from Anaheim), it is the oldest commercial building still in use in Orange County.

The city is giving Irons and other downtown business owners fits on use-permit restrictions in a way that, he says, is making it hard to keep their doors open.

Irons’ old teammate Nelson, now a trial lawyer, is a sympathetic ear. One night in 2002, they are sitting at the Rockin’ Taco bar lamenting the situation, and Irons says to Nelson, "You ought to run for City Council. We need somebody to represent us." Nelson says yes.

"We formed the Downtown Fullerton Restaurant Association just to support him," Irons told me. Nelson won.

"When Shawn got on the council, it turned around overnight," Irons said.

Nelson went on to serve two terms as Fullerton mayor.

One of his most controversial moves was blowing the whistle on some of his Fullerton council colleagues, who were about to give city employees pensions a significant boost with little or no public debate.

Bushala, a downtown landowner, knew my colleague Steven Greenhut because they go to the same Greek Orthodox church. He put Nelson in touch with Greenhut, whose column on the proposal brought angry crowds to the City Council meeting. With their cover blown, the council backed down and the pension boost was defeated.

Some on the council never forgave Nelson for what they saw as an improper breach of confidential negotiation sessions. Councilman Dick Jones, for example, endorsed Sidhu.

The incident also made Nelson a marked man by unions everywhere. Indeed, this Fourth District supervisorial race and the money being spent was being watched by labor, and those who oppose labor, up and down the state.

When Chris Norby‘s seat on the Board of Supervisors opened up a few months ago, Nelson, jumped in – along with Sidhu, Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, and Buena Park Councilman Art Brown.

Nelson took Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh‘s requested pledge not to accept union endorsement or money, and in exchange got the GOP endorsement. He refused to even meet with the unions.

Sidhu also took the pledge but he did meet with the unions. The unions didn’t formally endorse Sidhu, but it hardly mattered because the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and the non-sworn Orange County Employees Association spent an estimated $1 million in independent expenditures to support Sidhu and attack Nelson.

The unions savaged Nelson, dredging up a reference to offering sex-offender defense on his law firm’s Web site, which Nelson says was put on the site unbeknownst to him. He says the firm doesn’t take sex offenders as clients.

Nelson had about $400,000 to work with, plus about $66,000 in independent help from the GOP. The GOP backlash against Sidhu, one of its own, called him a union puppet.

Baugh also sent Adams, from the G.O.P. headquarters staff, to manage Nelson’s campaign. She had worked on some campaigns, but had never run one. A Newport Harbor High graduate and a scholarship tennis player at Ol’ Miss, she brought an uber-competitive spirit to the campaign.

"I felt like it was the NCAA’s," she told me.

I had arrived at the Matador about 12:30 a.m., having spent most of Election Night at the main Republican gathering at the Anaheim Hilton with Carly, Eastman, et al.

I found Nelson and Bilodeau in the back dining area, waiting for the Registrar’s Web site to update with final numbers. Nelson had been leading all evening, but a good chunk of the vote was still out. Finally, at 1 a.m., Bilodeau yelled, "It’s over!" as the final precincts reported and gave Nelson his 11.9 percent margin of victory.

"This is great night for truth over lies," Nelson said.

Perhaps, but it’s also impossible not to see this as at least one bloc of historically conservative voters – inland north O.C. – simply having had enough of the public pension craziness. Compare, as Nelson did, the $1 million the unions spent on Sidhu to what Art Brown spent on his campaign: zero.

Brown got 6,624 votes, only 1,034 fewer than Sidhu’s 7,658. It’s reasonable to assume that without the union help, Sidhu would have gotten at least the same number of votes as Brown. That means the unions spent about $1 million to get about 1,000 votes for Sidhu – or roughly $1,000 per vote.

The big question, as Nelson and Bilodeau noted, is whether the unions (or, more accurately, their membership) will be willing to spend big again in November when Sidhu will run against Nelson for a full four-year term. Then, of course, Nelson will be running as the incumbent.

Much more time to worry and strategize that in the coming months, Nelson and Bilodeau agreed. Now it was time to light a cigar.

Mickadeit writes Mon.-Fri. Contact him at 714-796-4994 or

Nelson wins 4th district supervisor seat



Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson Tuesday night handily won the first major victory in an all out war for the county’s vacant Fourth District Supervisor seat.

Nelson, who finished the race with 30.2 percent of the vote, could assume the position as early as June 22 .

But the battle for the seat won’t be over now, thanks to some the timing of Chris Norby’s election to the State Assembly in January a year before his term on the county board of supervisors was up. Norby filled the seat left open by Mike Duvall, who resigned after he was video recorded bragging about having extra-marital affairs with two women.

With six candidates in the race, nobody believed the winner would earn more than half the votes – a requirement for the winning candidate to clinch the remainder of Norby’s term plus the following four years.

That means Nelson assumes his post as supervisor in June. But he’ll still have to face second-place finisher Harry Sidhu, an Anaheim City Councilman, in a November runoff to secure the following four-year term. Sidhu came in a distant second with 18.3 percent of the vote.

Nelson will have the benefit of being listed as incumbent on the November ballot. But if he loses, he will have served as supervisor for only six months.

Nelson is a life resident of the fourth district. He grew up in Fullerton, was married in a Lutheran church in West Anaheim and now coaches his son’s Pop Warner football team. He co-owns a law practice where he’s a civil attorney.

Five county supervisors oversee a $5.4 billion budget which is mostly money from the state and federal government that passes through the county for various social services programs. Supervisors really only have discretion over $688 million, about half of which funds public protection. Whoever is elected will take the reins as county departments are scaling down their budgets, capital projects are on hold and employees have been battered with layoffs, furloughs and a hiring freeze.

Both Nelson and Sidhu are Republican, and both have access to deep pockets that could keep the November election competitive.

During the months leading up to this election, Republican Party and local employee unions polarized the race between Nelson and Sidhu in the wake of GOP chairman Scott Baugh’s call for Republicans not to accept union support if they want their party’s endorsement.

Although Sidhu has tried to distance himself from the unions, they’ve spent nearly $1 million promoting his campaign or targeting Nelson. Conversely, the Republican Party has spent at least $70,000 in support of Nelson, Baugh has told the Register.

And both Nelson and Sidhu have raised the most cash in the race — more than $250,000 a piece this year alone – including considerable loans from themselves.

Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway and Buena Park Mayor Art Brown came in a close third and fourth place in the race. Galloway spent more than $100,000 in the effort. Brown raised less than $8,000.

"I think I’m doing very good for being a grass roots candidate," Brown said as the results began rolling in Tuesday evening. "My cost per vote is going to be very minimal compared to everyone else."

Nelson, Sidhu and Galloway did not return calls for comment.

Supervisors John Moorlach and Pat Bates, who were running unopposed, were reelected Tuesday night. For other countywide election results, click here.


Contact the writer: 714-796-7813 or


Orange County voters choosing new supervisor to succeed Chris Norby

The campaign to succeed Chris Norby as the Orange County supervisor representing the 4th District has drawn six candidates.

Norby, elected to the Assembly in January, had planned to run for the Orange County Clerk/Recorder job. But when former Assemblyman Mike Duvall resigned Sept. 9 after he was caught on a live microphone bragging about his supposed sexual exploits, Norby changed plans and won a runoff election.

Norby’s 72nd Assembly District win set into play an unusual set of scenarios.

If any one of the six hopefuls for the 4th District seat – it covers Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia and portions of Anaheim – get more than 50 percent of the vote, then they would be seated for a four-year term as soon as Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley certified the election results.

If no one gets a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face one another in a November runoff.

But the candidates who wins the most votes will represent the district as the incumbent until the November election, Kelley said.

The six hopefuls are Buena Park City Councilman Art Brown, Fullerton City Councilman Shawn Nelson, businessman Richard Faher, Anaheim City Council members Harry Sidhu and Lorri Galloway, and La Habra City Councilwoman Rose Espinoza.

The winner will join the four other supervisors in balancing a $5.4 billion budget. More belt-tightening is expected in the coming year and it is expected to extend to the sheriff’s department.

Brown has served on the Buena Park council since 1990 and is also on the Orange County Transportation Authority board.

Nelson, who has always lived in the district, grew up in Fullerton and is an attorney. He has been criticized recently because his web site used to feature items about how registered sex offenders can find legal help.

Nelson said the marketing pieces are written in India and were mistakenly approved by an employee in his office who monitors the web site. Nelson, who does not represent criminal defendants and focuses on civil law, blamed the controversy on the union representing prison guards, which is opposed to his ideas about pension reform.

"I’m not passing the buck, though. I’m in charge of the firm and we made a mistake," Nelson said.

Faher got his start in politics last year when he challenged Norby for the 72nd Assembly seat. The software consultant was so angry about Duvall’s antics that he asked his wife if he could run for office and she agreed.

Sidhu was elected to the Anaheim City Council in 2004. He grew up in India and moved to Philadelphia after high school. Sidhu was trained as a mechanical engineer, but has made his fortune building fast-food restaurants in the Southland.

Galloway, a Democrat, was also elected to the Anaheim City Council in 2004. Twenty-seven years ago she started the Eli Home, which offers shelter for abused children and their mothers.

Espinoza is a La Habra native and runs Rosie’s Garage, which offers after-school tutoring for students. Espinoza started the nonprofit in 1992 and has been on the La Habra council since 2000.

Supervisors John Moorlach, who represents the 2nd District, and Patricia Bates, who represents the 5th District, are running unopposed.

The other race of particular interest is for Treasurer-Tax Collector. Four candidates are running to replace Chriss Street, who is not running for reelection and has barely managed to keep the job after being stripped by the county board of his investment authority.

Street decided against reelection after a federal bankruptcy judge ruled he breached his fiduciary duty to his client when he administered a trust in private practice.

Street’s top deputy, Keith Rodenhuis, has already survived an attempt by rival Shari L. Freidenrich, to get him knocked off the ballot. An Orange County Superior Court judge rejected her argument that Rodenhuis did not meet the standards for the job.

Freidenrich, who is the Huntington Beach treasurer, is backed by Moorlach, who was treasurer before Street.

The other candidates are county assessor employee Patrick Desmond, who ran against Street in 2006; and Dave Lang, a certified public accountant and South Orange County Community College District trustee.

Any candidate receiving more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary would win outright.

If no one gets more than half of the votes in the June 8 primary, there would be a showdown between the top-two finishers in the Nov. 2 general election.

Other county races on the ballot and the candidates are:

–Orange County Assessor Webster J. Guillory who faces a challenge from businessman/tax consultant Claude Parrish;

–Auditor David E. Sundstrom is running unopposed;

–County Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly will face a challenge from former clerk-recorder’s office worker Hugh Nguyen;

–Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas faces no opposition;

–Orange County Public Administrator/Public Guardian John S. Williams will on the ballot with Deputy Public Guardian Kevin Vann, former Orange Unified School District trustee Steve Rocco and Colleen Callahan, a clerk at the Orange County Superior courthouse who used to work on the administrator’s office.

Rocco is perhaps best known for being convicted of stealing ketchup from a cafeteria at Chapman University last year.


June 5


Caltaxletter, a weekly news and analysis publication from the California Taxpayers’ Association, with David R. Doerr as the principal contributor and Ronald W. Roach as the editor, had an article titled “Poll Shows Support Eroding for Orange County Sales Tax Hike.”  The first solution proffered to address the investment losses was a sales tax rate increase of 0.5 percent for Orange County residents.  It’s about the only tax remedy available to counties and it can only be done with voter approval.  But, the voters weren’t buying it as a remedy.  The polling below actually reflected the voting results a few days later.

                A late May poll found 37 percent in favor of the tax increase and 49 percent opposed, with the rest undecided.  A late March poll found 48 percent in favor and 45 percent against.

                Even worse news for proponents is the poll’s finding that those most likely to vote are opposing Measure R by a 52 percent to 35 percent margin.

                Other poll findings:

·         Most voters think the county could solve the crisis through budget cuts.

·         Most voters (72 percent) say they have felt little or no effect personally from the bankruptcy.

·         Most voters (50 percent to 42 percent) favor cutting all county programs except law enforcement.

·         A huge majority (67 percent to 21 percent) favor selling county property, including John Wayne Airport.

Newly appointed county Treasurer John Moorlach said he is voting “no” because “if we raise taxes even higher here, you will see the business recruiters from other states circling like vultures.”  Mr. Moorlach questioned the promises made by the county to other local governments to repay them 100 percent for their losses in the investment pool.  He argued that the various pool participants should be treated individually.  He noted some pool participants had funds in the pool for a matter of weeks and did not have the same degree of loss.  “Why not give everyone back the value of their own individual portfolio in December?” he asked.

On the other side of the issue, Sheriff Brad Gates said, “The easy way out is to vote ‘no.’  In my view personally, it is an irresponsible position.”  Mr. Gates has been campaigning hard for Measure R.

Other Orange County developments:

·          U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John E. Ryan ruled in late May that the county’s investment pool was ineligible for bankruptcy.  The county had filed bankruptcy petitions last December in behalf of itself and for the pool.


After Congressman Chris Cox was nominated by President Bush to serve as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the speculation game was on.  Who would run to succeed Chris Cox?  As you can imagine, the bloggers went wild.

Alicia Robinson of the Daily Pilot started covering the activity with “DeVore won’t run for House seat.”  The Daily Pilot had an extensive collection of old articles, but their new website is not as accommodating.  Here is the two opening paragraphs and the one I’m mentioned in.

                The field of contenders to replace Newport Beach Rep. Chris Cox – if he’s confirmed as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission – is still nebulous, but Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is definitely not in the picture.

Two names that went into circulation immediately after Cox’s appointment were announced Thursday – state Sen. Dick Ackerman and former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer – are avowedly serious about running for the congressional seat.  But the remaining list of interested parties has shifted so much in the last four days, only the most devoted blogger could keep up.

Who else Ackerman and Brewer might face in a special election is still up in the air.  Possibilities include Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach