MOORLACH UPDATE — ARTIC — February 15, 2011

The OC Register’s piece below on yesterday’s OCTA Board meeting, which is not in their dead-tree issue today, was provided on the MSNBC website. 

The Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) can be viewed at www.articinfo.com.   Forgive my cynicism, but I’d like to leave building cathedrals to the private sector.  Now that I’ve revealed that I haven’t caught the vision, the idea of a large train station in between Angel Stadium and the Honda Center may be a nice way to add the “bam” factor to this area of the city of Anaheim.  To get a perspective of where it will be located, click on the “Interactive Project Area” button.  You’ll see the map of the area next to the 57 Freeway.  Zooming down will provide you with the space between Katella Avenue and the current two existing rail lines.  Next, please click on the “Image & Video Gallery” button and click “Videos.”  The first video is the initial vision from 1997.   How this large station and the additional rail lines fit into this small space is difficult for me to visualize.  Consequently, I requested that OCTA staff provide additional information to this website, including renderings of where the new rail lines will be located and how trains will be able to enter on the multiple rail lines envisioned for the train station, especially with the 57 Freeway directly adjacent to the property.  Providing the proposed train track routes would be most helpful.  There are other renderings that should also be added, including a drawing that shows a line leaving ARTIC for Ontario Airport.  This would make the development of this train station more interesting, as we need to encourage OC residents to utilize flight options at this neighboring airport.  Currently, there is no line into the Inland Empire from the Anaheim station like we see from the Fullerton and Irvine stations.

Supervisor Nelson asked questions about the project as the Measure M language was incongruent.  This created a major campaign to reaffirm the necessity of ARTIC.  To me, it was overly defensive.  Sometimes you wonder why the messenger has to be jumped.  For me, from an empathy standpoint for our new Supervisor, it brought back 1994 campaign memories of being jumped by certain elected officials who were upset with me for going after the goose that was laying the golden eggs (Bob Citron).  Relax, people.  Asking questions is a healthy process.  In this case, it corrected language that made it appear that funding for the project was not permissible.  Consequently, the language was “tweaked.”

OCTA board tweaks funding guidelines for transit hub

By ALEJANDRA MOLINA   THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Orange County Transportation officials modified funding guidelines Monday to receive nearly $100 million for the building of a major transportation hub in Anaheim and voted to continue their support for the project.

The move comes after Shawn Nelson, a fairly new board member of the OCTA, questioned whether the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, or ARTIC, was eligible for funding through renewed Measure M, the county’s half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2006.

He said that under the Measure M funding guidelines, the money could only be used toward modifying existing Metrolink stations to accommodate high-speed rail service, not building a new structure.

"It’s an abandonment of an old facility, building of a new one," Nelson, who represents the county’s 4th District, said at a recent transit committee meeting.

To eliminate any ambiguity, the OCTA board of directors Monday unanimously approved updating the guidelines to say "convert" instead of "modify" Metrolink stations to connect to high-speed rail.

The ARTIC building will be constructed on 16 acres southeast of the 57 freeway and Katella Avenue, initially serving Metrolink and Amtrak rail passengers and OCTA bus riders. The first phase is expected to cost $183.8 million with the bulk of it, $99 million, coming from the renewed Measure M.

The center will also be built as a destination point for high-speed rail. The 800-mile high-speed rail line is in the design stages and is estimated to cost $43 billion; only a fraction of that money has been secured so far.

In December, the board of the California High Speed Rail Authority announced its plans to build the initial $4.15 billion, 65-mile segment between Madera, which is north of Fresno, and Corcoran, north of Bakersfield, instead of beginning with the Anaheim-to-Los Angeles segment.

Some board members expressed their disapproval with ARTIC because of the uncertainty of high-speed rail. Director Don Bankhead, Fullerton’s mayor pro tem, was the sole board member who voted against supporting the project.

"We do not know the future of high-speed rail in California," Bankhead said.

"Such an unproductive restriction of this funding opportunity will likely prevent other Orange County Metrolink stations from proactively improving their stations to accommodate potential high-speed rail routing and actual station stops, for example, Irvine and Fullerton’s regional transportation centers, the two busiest stations in Orange County."

Director John Moorlach, who represents the county’s 2nd District, questioned the urgent need for ARTIC since high-speed rail is expected to be connected in Anaheim until 2020.

With ARTIC expected to be completed in 2013, Moorlach said: "We’re like seven years ahead … so what is the urgency here?"

Proponents of ARTIC said the project has been planned in a way that will function independently of the high-speed rail project, adding that the building will serve local growing needs like the Metrolink service expansion program.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

February 16

2001

The energy crisis continued in an LA Times piece by Nancy Rivera Brooks and James F. Peltz, titled “Cash-Strapped Utilities Still Trying To Buy Time From Bank, Creditors.”  Forming the creditors committee provided an amazing learning experience.  Here are selected paragraphs:

At least two formal committees of utility creditors have organized. Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach formed a committee of unsecured creditors Jan. 19, and electricity generators Reliant Energy, Dynegy Inc. and Mirant Corp. created a committee Feb. 9.

Banks such as JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America know that if they run out of patience and force SCE or PG&E into bankruptcy, the ripple effect could harm the utilities’ customers, suppliers and investors–many of whom also are clients of the banks, Moorlach said.

"So who wants to pull the trigger and create that kind of negative impact?" said Moorlach, whose county has invested more than $40 million of public school funds in Edison notes.

Deborah Finestone of The Bond Buyer covered one of the lingering bankruptcy issues in “Calif. Supreme Court Won’t Review Raabe Decision.”  Obviously, I am fully aware that the Supreme Court has to decide if it wishes to hear a case.  In this instance, its refusal was justified.  For those new to the Update, this will provide a little glimpse on our bankruptcy history.  Here’s the entire Bond Buyer story:

                The California Supreme Court decided on Wednesday not to review the overturned conviction of former Orange County assistant treasurer Matthew Raabe for his role in the largest municipal bankruptcy in history.

Raabe was convicted in May 1997 on five felony counts of fraud and misappropriation, centering on the illegal diversion of nearly $900 million into county-owned accounts from a $7 billion investment pool.  He was later sentenced to three years in state prison, but only served 41 days before being released.

                In November, an appellate court judge overturned the conviction, saying that former district attorney Mike Capizzi should not have been the prosecutor in the trial because his office was so strongly associated with the bankruptcy.

                In December 1994, county officials reported a $1.5 billion “paper loss” in the investment pool.  Treasurer Robert L. Citron resigned under pressure from other officials, who then sought protection for the county under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code, the largest such filing in history.

                John Moorlach, who had warned of the impending fiscal crisis months ahead of time, replaced Citron in March 1995.

                Though Citron pled guilty to six felony counts of defrauding investors and misappropriating public funds, he never spent a night in jail.  Instead, he was allowed to work in the jail during the day and go home at night, Moorlach said.

                The county sold nearly $1 billion of recovery bonds in 1996, of which about $950 million is outstanding, Moorlach said.      

                The bankruptcy led to a plethora of lawsuits involving credit rating agencies, brokerage firms, and investment advisors.

                Moorlach thinks that at this point a new trial would be excessive.

                “It seems that six years later, Mr. Raabe has already gone through a full trial, been proven guilty, served some time, and gone through enough emotional distress over his actions that it is probably time to move on,” he said.

                Raabe now works in northern California.

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