MOORLACH UPDATE — Daily Pilot — February 26, 2011

I’m more of a worker-bee than a social-bee, but one annual event that I have been attending the last three years is the Forum for Corporate Directors dinner honoring Directors of the Year.  As a Supervisor I believe it is critical to be acquainted with and accessible to the business community.  Our businesses are the life blood of the County’s economy.  It’s a symbiotic relationship.  We need thriving businesses in order to provide good government.  Likewise, we need good government in order to encourage thriving businesses.

OC METRO covered this event last year in their March issue (see MOORLACH UPDATE — OC METRO — March 1, 2010).  The Daily Pilot covers it today.

I try to stay reserved, but allow me to have a little fun with the Daily Pilot article.  In order of mention, this year’s event gave me the opportunity to introduce myself to the Master of Ceremonies, Michael A. Mussallem.  (We’re not talking about the Walt Disney Co. for a few days as they recently recruited away one of my policy advisors; my loss, their gain.) 

John Della Grotta and his wife invited me to sit at their table, the best located table at the event.  The big draw for me was the honoring of Murray E. Rudin.  Murray and I sat next to each other at Game 7 of the 2002 World Series when the Angels beat the Giants by a score of 4 to 1.  (Thank you, Rick Reiff.)

I had a chance to greet Gen. William Lyon, who recently attended a Board of Supervisors meeting on a matter impacting one of his businesses – yes, he is still very active.  I did not bump into Tom McKernan, but he was an honoree at last year’s event, where we had a fun chat.  The Auto Club featured me in an ad campaign some six years ago and nearly life-size posters of me are still in some AAA offices (can I recommend that you visit the office on the corner of South Imperial Highway and East Santa Ana Canyon Road in Anaheim Hills?). 

Dave Holder and I enjoyed a long chat during the President’s reception (that I was also invited to, by the way).  A former Supervisor who voted to appoint me to Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995 (a sweet-sixteen anniversary is coming up), Gaddi Vasquez, was in attendance and sitting with Alejandra Garcia Williams, the Mexican consul in Orange County (she is wonderful—was reassigned from her post in Paris and spent time in the Netherlands during college – she speaks French and Dutch!). 

Wayne Pinnell and I had a chance to greet each other.  Nick Yocca and his son were also at the President’s reception.  I congratulated Nick on the new Stradling, Yocca print ad where they play on his name (Y OC CA – Why Orange County California?  Brilliant!). 

Linda Plochoki is the County’s own “Madame Modjeska.”  Please insist on having her as your docent when you visit California Historical Landmark number 205, OC Parks’ very own Modjeska’s Home. 

Dean Anil Puri and I had a great chat on whether or not Governor Brown would be able to obtain enough votes to get his propositions on the ballot in June.  We also discussed the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, as one of my former partners was a former partner of one of the Mihaylo brothers in a past life (small world).  Of course, I had a number of great conversations with other guests that were not mentioned in Cook’s piece.  It is an evening well spent as we are blessed with an incredible business community.  And I have been blessed with an incredible amount of great relationships here in the OC.

That was fun to write.  Thank you, B.W. Cook, for prompting me to be a name-dropper, too.

The Crowd: Business leaders share dinner and directors awards

By B.W. Cook

It was arguably the most prestigious social event of the Southern California business community.

On Feb. 17, some 450 executives from all over Southern California converged upon the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Laguna Niguel, for the 16th Forum for Corporate Directors awards dinner.

The high-powered function was hosted by Michael A. Mussallem, chairman and chief executive of Edwards Lifesciences Corporation. Edwards was also one of the overall event sponsors, joined by the Walt Disney Co. assisting in underwriting the evening.

The annual dinner is created to bestow upon business leaders recognition for their excellence. The Forum for Corporate Directors labels the awards Directors of the Year and for the past 16 years 89 individuals have been honored by the organization.

John Della Grotta, chairman of the Forum for Corporate Directors and a partner of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, welcomed the arriving crush of dignitaries, including the five honorees for 2011. Included in the assemblage were a large contingent of Newport-Mesa business men and women, among them one of the 2011 honorees, Douglas K. Ammerman. Accepting the award for corporate governance, Ammerman serves on the boards of EPL Intermediate Inc., (El Pollo Loco Inc.), Fidelity National Financial Inc. and Quiksilver Inc.

From the boards of directors of Bank of America Corporation and the Walt Disney Co., Monica Lozano was awarded the corporate growth and development honor for 2011. Thomas E. Pardun, chairman of the board of Western Digital Corporation, was honored with an award for corporate leadership and service.

The founding chairman of Quality Systems Inc., Sheldon Razin received the enhancement of economic value honor. And finally, Murray E. Rudin, managing partner of Riordan, Lewis & Haden, was honored with the early stage company award.

The gathering was indeed a who’s who of accomplishment in Southern California.

In the crowd was the distinguished Gen. William Lyon, a former honoree, joining Tom McKernan, former honoree and president and chief executive of the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Additional corporate honorees in attendance included Randall R. Lunn, Joseph Sullivan, Matt Wiitte, Dave Berkus, Fred Haney, Charlie Hobbs, Dave Holder, Bala Iyer and Fernando Niebla.

Also present was Gaddi H. Vasquez, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome, County Supervisor John Moorlach and the Alejandra Garcia-Williams, the Mexican consul in Orange County.

Major players in the arena of accounting and finance included John Belli, Robert Lucenti, Knute Kurtz, Dean Samsvick, Gary Wilson and Wayne Pinnell. Also spotted in the crowd were Glenn Schafer, Nick Yocca, Scott Mercer, Simon Biddiscombe, Steve and Linda Plochoki, and Dean Anil Puri of the Mlhaylo School of Business at Cal State Fullerton.

Mussallem handled the master of ceremonies duties with panache as the crowd shared dinner and acknowledged the business achievements of the honorees.

Founded in 1991, the Forum for Corporate Directors is a nonprofit business organization committed to promoting the highest standards of corporate governance and to increasing the effectiveness of directors, chief executives and senior level executives.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

February 27

2001

Sometimes there are good laws and policies that are put in place.  Occasionally we get bad laws conceived in the emotion from which they are birthed.  Many times they are overreactions or ambulance-chasing in manner.  The OC Register, in this short article by Heather Lourie, titled “OCTA changes securities policy,” provides an example of oversimplification and unsophistication in regards to investment management.  But, when your focus is on getting media attention, what do you expect?  When you have an A-1+ credit on credit watch negative, it means that the next move is to A-1 (still the highest rating possible).  It’s like going from a grade in school of A+ to A.  All to say, disallowing credit watch negative holdings is not a good generalization.  You should always take a look, but don’t overreact.  Enough said.  Edison International was not having financial problems; its subsidiary Southern California Edison was having them.  On having a very conservative investment policy for OCTA, I won’t say a word about its Lehman Brothers holdings – my lips are sealed.  Here is the fun the ambulance chasers were enjoying (so many ironies in three short sentences):

                The Orange County Transportation Authority board voted unanimously Monday not to invest in securities that have been given a negative credit watch by the three major rating agencies.

                The move comes several weeks after county Treasurer John Moorlach was criticized for investing $40 million in Edison International at a time the company acknowledged it was having financial problems.

                Board member Todd Spitzer made the motion in light of the concern.  Spokesman George Urch said the OCTA has always been “very conservative in its investment policy.”

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