First, let me say “Happy Birthday” to my youngest son.
Second, today’s Voice of OC story below sparked an interesting exchange between Chair Campbell and me. If you watched the meeting this morning, or happen to watch it later in the week on television, please forgive me for my language. My inquiry revolved around the exclusion of nonprofits because many of them are contracted with the county for health care and social service matters. I believe this story caused Chair Campbell to believe that I would be voting against the lobbyist registration agenda item, and wondered why I would bother making changes to it. Later in the discussion he apologized for making the assumption on how I was going to vote.
The article clearly states my position. It is my understanding that the lobbyists came to a compromise and could live with the proposal presented to the Board this morning. They don’t like it, but they’ll live with it. The Board made “sausage” on the dais today, providing some additional changes, and voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the modified ordinance.
Supervisors to Again Consider Lobbyist Registration
County officials will today again attempt to craft a lobbyist registration ordinance with the aim of heightening transparency in government.
Under an ordinance proposed by County CEO Tom Mauk, supervisors would ask any professional who earned more than $500 in a year on lobbying to formally register.
While supervisors collectively bristled last year when former State Senator Joe Dunn (also chairman of the board for Voice of OC) first proposed the idea – and hinted at a ballot initiative if they didn’t act – they have attempted several times without luck to craft a compromise ordinance.
Orange County’s grand jury wrote a critical report of supervisors’ resistance to registration calling lobbyists the "shadow government."
Advocates of lobby registration – such as the Orange County Employees Association – argue that shining a light on the nexus between votes and campaign contributions would go a long way to keeping public policy on the right track, and avoiding undue influence.
However, several supervisors – like John Moorlach and Shawn Nelson – argue that lobbyist registration is a solution in search of a problem.
"Voting for lobbying reform seems like a simple no brainer thing to do," Moorlach said. "It scores political bonus points. But what’s sort of funny is I have lobbyists that help me with my campaigns and I still vote no on their clients."
"We’ve got a great little county with a core group of identified lobbyists that conduct themselves in an ethical manner," Moorlach said.
Others, like Supervisor Bill Campbell and Pat Bates, have argued that they agree with heightened transparency but don’t want to create undue regulations.
One thing is clear: requiring registration would give the public a better idea of who is advocating on behalf of issues, as well as the fact that there are issues that require such advocacy.
For example, under the currently proposed ordinance, former State Senator Dick Ackerman would have been required to register as a lobbyist in 2009 because he called four county supervisors – Moorlach, Campbell, Bates and Janet Nguyen – in the weeks before key legislation was adopted to sell the OC Fairgrounds.
Ackerman’s role in advocating for the fairgrounds sale has been the subject of rampant speculation since it was first disclosed that he was hired by the OC Fair Board. No one in the public knew the exact details of how he lobbied former legislators and supervisors until Voice of OC uncovered details of the lobby effort this week.
Regardless of what Moorlach called the "used car salesman" public perception of lobbyists, Campbell notes that registration also would have a meaningful impact on public policy because it would allow interested parties – activists, journalists and policymakers – to have a sense of who is advocating for special interests and how to contact them.
"It helps so people can connect the dots," Campbell said.
The proposed ordinance would classify as a lobbyist as anyone hired to advocate on behalf of for profit entities, such as labor unions, corporations or other business entities.
However, non-profits are exempted as long as they are discussing the operation of their own entity.
The ordinance would define lobbying as "promoting, supporting, influencing, modifying, opposing, or delaying any administrative, legislative, or quasi-judicial action of the Orange County Board of Supervisors by any means."
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
The February/March issue of the Christian Management Report published my article, “Federal Taxation Laws: fifteen dynamic and demanding years.” The publisher was celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. It was also my fifteenth year of public practice. The article included a sidebar with a list of Federal tax bills. Instead of providing you with the article, the sidebar should be an eye-opener. It’s a great reminder of what I enjoyed as a tax practitioner during this period. I built a large tax library and used a lot of acronyms, like TEFRA. Yes, I loved my first career.
1. Tax Reform Act of 1976
2. Tax Revenue Act of 1978
3. The Technical Corrections Act of 1979
4. The Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax Act of 1980
5. The Installment Sale Revision Act of 1980
6. The Foreign Investments in Real Property Tax Act of 1980
7. The Bankruptcy Tax Act of 1980
8. The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981
9. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
10. The Subchapter S Revision Act of 1982
11. The Tax Reform Act of 1984
12. The Tax Reform Act of 1986
13. The Revenue Act of 1987
14. The Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988
15. The Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1989
16. The Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990
I would put the next two stories in the “Plane Lands Safely” category (we knew that it would).
The OC Register’s Martin Wisckol announced that “Edison pays on O.C. investment.”
Edison International made good Wednesday on $20 million in commercial paper – similar to a short-term bond – purchased Dec. 7 by Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach for the $1.3 billion Educational Investment Pool, which invests money from 31 Orange County school districts.
Jean O. Pasco of the LA Times provided the same story in “Edison Pays County in Full and on Time for First $20 Million.”
“We are encouraged that Edison International has paid their obligation in a timely manner,” Moorlach said in a prepared statement.
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