MOORLACH UPDATE — Patch.com — March 9, 2011

Let’s see, I’ve been very clear and transparent about the options that I have for the unincorporated area of Rossmoor.  I’ve been so open that reporters are now quoting from my Updates (I don’t do newsletters or anything monthly—we do as close to real time as my calendar permits).

At last evening’s Rossmoor Community Services District (RCSD) meeting, I must have been the topic of discussion.  It was covered in the Los Alamitos – Seal Beach Patch.   I’m sure the dialogue will be even more interesting once the County’s newest financial study is completed.  The good news:  we’ve got residents talking.  The bad news:  the residents seem to be manipulated by RCSD staff and board members who are more concerned about keeping their jobs than doing what may be the appropriate course of action for the taxpayers. 

What’s even more amusing, Henry Taboada, Alfred Coletta, and others, like Eric Christensen, were rather emphatic after they lost their Rossmoor cityhood effort.  They implored my office to make sure the residents of Rossmoor felt the pain of their decision in the form of implementing service cuts to the community.  Well, I haven’t done that.  The County has responded to their coyote concerns.  I have held off on the annexation of the corner to the city of Los Alamitos.  And I could go on and on . . .

As a resident of a city, I would be frustrated if I lived in an unincorporated area.  I would not be able to vote for city council members.  Instead, I would have to contact my County Supervisor in order to have my concerns heard.  What kind of representation is that?  Then to have what is basically a park board trying to be a city council would be even more aggravating to me.  Stay tuned.  Rossmoor has a Supervisor that is attempting to do his job.  I’m always trying to do what is best for my constituents.  They may not understand.  They may be agitated.  But I’m pursuing a course that I believe is in their best interests.  This will be a long and arduous hike, but I’m up to it.

INVITATION:

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You are invited to join me for a spring flower day hike on March 26th on OC Parks trails in the Limestone Canyon Wilderness Area. 

We will be led by the Executive Director of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Michael O’Connell (visit http://www.irconservancy.org/about/ourteam.aspx). 

We will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Augustine Staging Area off of Santiago Canyon Road.  Please arrive a few minutes earlier, if possible.

This will be a moderate six- to eight-mile day hike.  Please wear the appropriate shoes and clothing for the weather. 

I’ll bring a case of bottled water and some granola bars.  I would recommend that you bring a daypack of some sort to carry the water and any of your own snack, first aid, sun screen, and other supplies during our 4-hour excursion. 

Please bring your camera. 

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We will have a best digital photo contest and I will announce the winners in upcoming Updates.

Here are the instructions if you wish to participate:

1.       Go to the website www.irlandmarks.org.  In the upper right-hand corner, click on “Register for Activities and Programs!” and then on “Hiking” (when it circulates by).

2.       Go down to March 26 to “Wildflower Hike with Supervisor Moorlach.”

3.       Sign up by entering the requested personal information. 

4.       The Access Code is:  OC Parks NNL (It is case sensitive and includes spaces).

5.       The directions to the Augustine Staging Area and other common sense reminders will be provided on the website after you register.

We have a limited amount of spots available.  Please sign up quickly.

If you need assistance from my staff, please contact Margaret Chang at Margaret.Chang@ocgov.com.  If you wish to obtain additional information from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, e-mail info@irconservancy.org.

Rossmoor Looks for New Front in the Battle Against Annexation

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the community vents frustration with the county and strategizes ways to fight annexation.

By Sandy Schroeder

In the latest salvo between Rossmoor and the county, Rossmoor residents issued a call to arms Tuesday to fight the threat of annexation from Los Alamitos.

At Tuesday’s Rossmoor Community Services District meeting, some residents and community leaders suggested the need for a grand jury investigation of the county’s strong-arm tactics in pressuring Rossmoor to merge with Los Alamitos. Similarly, one resident suggested an effort to recall County Supervisor John Moorlach for his role in the possible annexation.

At last month’s Local Agency Formation Commission, Moorlach and county officials discussed the possibility of Los Alamitos annexing Rossmoor’s only commercial center, at the corner of Katella Avenue and Los Alamitos Boulevard, and providing police services to Rossmoor in exchange. He has also talked about a ballot measure to tax unincorporated islands that cost the county more money to serve than comes from those areas in taxes.

“It is not ethical to have certain areas subsidized by other taxpayers.  Implementing an equitable tax burden should be considered,” Moorlach wrote in his February newsletter.

Moorlach also expressed his frustration with Rossmoor residents who voted not to become a city in 2008 but then complain about county services.

“Rossmoor is happy to be a county island, but has oversensationalized its coyote concerns,” he wrote. It has also made numerous false claims about our responses to this concern.”

Moorlach’s tough stance has raised the ire of the community.

Moorlach calls himself Mayor of Rossmoor; he is self proclaimed. He has an agenda. He has preconceived ideas. He is not working on behalf of us,” said Jeffrey Rips, president of the Rossmoor Community Services District Board of Directors. “He wants Rossmoor to become Los Alamitos and he wants to accomplish it before he leaves office.”

Henry Taboada, the district’s general manager, suggested that it is hard to know if Rossmoor really costs the county more money than the taxes it brings in.

“County revenue numbers are almost nonexistent. There has to be a rationale for the numbers,” he said. “It is like trying to pin the tail on a moving donkey.”

Taboada presented a paper to the board advocating that police services, animal control and other latent powers be given to Rossmoor. That paper will be mailed to residents this week.

“We need a consensus of the community,” he said.

Taboada also said that Moorlach has summed up the three options: a “super city” of Los Alamitos, Seal Beach and Rossmoor, the annexation of the corner shopping village at Los Alamitos and Katella, and a utility tax to ensure equal bearing of costs.

He described the latent powers approach as a way to keep Rossmoor as it is—without annexation or incorporation. But the lack of financial data from the county on expenditures and revenue and the ongoing negotiations of the county with Los Alamitos over the Los Alamitos Boulevard corner shopping parcel without Rossmoor representation, were all cited as concerns by Taboada and the board.

“It is hard to believe the county can’t tell you expenditures and revenue,” said Director Shannon Hough.

“It is regrettable that a supervisor would suggest we are a drain,” Director Al Coletta observed. He also raised the issue of a grand jury hiring a contractor to do an audit, as a matter of being transparent.

“We need to push forward on latent powers,” Director Ron Casey concluded. “LAFCO has approved piecemeal annexation, example in West Anaheim, where they started with property owners contiguous to city, solicited and annexed them. Could this happen? It is not inappropriate to think of going in the direction of the grand jury.”

Residents Worried Too

One by one, residents trooped forward to voice their concern for lack of respect from the county, lack of financial information from the county, and the need for action along with a community consensus to support it. Some called for a survey to make sure the board knew what Rossmoor residents wanted.

Milt Houghton asked, “Can the county provide information to back up the statement that Rossmoor is a drain on the county?”

Jim Alexander said, “We need to look at the history of how we got here. Previous county officials were at our disposal. We had quarterly meetings. We got answers. We can’t do that now. Look at Rush Park. We worked a long time on this park, with blood, sweat and tears. We need a good connection with the county now.” He added, “I do think we are pretty well protected in police; in the recent bank robbery that happened on the boulevard, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Garden Grove police all responded. Seal Beach was first on the scene.”

“It appears something is hidden. This is Rossmoor we are talking about. There is a need for simple respect,” Richard Butterfield said. “I don’t know how fast things can happen, but it appears things are going on.”

With resident remarks concluding, the directors encouraged the audience to tell their neighbors about the latent powers document.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

March 9

2001

John McDonald of the OC Register covered the Raabe case in “Hearing set on future of Raabe case—Rackauckas is unsure whether his office or the state should decide if the former assistant treasurer is retried.”  The story revolved around concerns of conflicts of interest.  Here are two pertinent paragraphs and the closer:

                “The conflict of interest went to the District Attorney’s Office when it was headed by Mike Capizzi,” said Assistant Attorney General Gary Shons.

                “There is no conflict now that the office is headed by Tony Rackauckas.”

                County Treasurer John Moorlach, who helped bring to light the investment scheme that led to the bankruptcy, said that he also believes the bankruptcy had a personal impact on all county employees, including prosecutors now working for Rackauckas.

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