I enjoyed a glorious day in San Diego on Saturday. This was my second time attending the San Diego Crew Classic, which is held in Mission Bay and is one of the biggest rowing events in the nation. The first time I attended was in 2002 to observe my daughter’s valiant efforts with her Orange Coast College crew team. My youngest son rows for Orange Coast College on a Novice B team. They participated in race #17 and placed third, behind UC San Diego (6:14.50) and Oregon State, followed by UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, and USC. This qualified his team to participate in race #59 where they finished in first place (6:16.2) ahead of Washington State, UC Davis, Arizona State University, UCSB, and Long Beach State. Very exciting.
On Sunday the OC Register printed a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) thought piece on the concept of a “Super-City.” Merging Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, and Rossmoor would not necessarily make it a “super-sized” city, as the combined population would be less than 50,000, but it would provide many efficiencies and cost savings. The OC180News and Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch also posted this piece a few days earlier. It is the second piece below.
In today’s OC Register’s weekly “The Buzz” column, the redistricting efforts are discussed. Although a map is provided, the current populations of each district are not. Nor is a map of the districts as a result of the 1990 and 2000 redistricting efforts. If these two maps were available, you would see minimal movement of the boundaries after every ten-year cycle. I don’t anticipate too much movement in this cycle. The fun will be in the Third District, which now has the largest population. But, if there is any gerrymandering going on, I’m sure it will be evident to all. This is discussed in the first piece below.
The OC Register redistricting article has one fact accurate: I have not endorsed a candidate in the Third District supervisorial race at this time. The third piece is today’s Voice of OC, which seems to infer that I have endorsed someone. There are a few typos in the Voice of OC piece, but I’ve left them as is. One clarification that should be made, however, is that the Orange County Employees Retirement System Board always approves requests from plan sponsors for actuarial studies. This was a routine ministerial duty, more of a consent calendar-type item, that was always honored. Any plan sponsor, including the County, could look at any actuarial study of the plan that they wished. What is incomprehensible is that the 2001 Board of Supervisors had the actuarial study that showed the massive fiscal impacts of adopting “3% @ 50” and voted unanimously for it anyway. With all of that said, you’ll also find today’s LOOK BACK to be timely.
Supervisors could play favorites in redistricting
By MARTIN WISCKOL
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Orange County’s Board of Supervisors could make it easier for their allies to get elected when they draw new lines for their districts – but some say it would be so obvious that such monkey business is unlikely.
Voters got fed up with the state legislators’ bipartisan gerrymandering of legislative and congressional district, and approved ballot measures giving the job to an independent commission this time around. But while that’s a protection against new district lines favoring incumbents at the state and federal level, there’s no such commission for county supervisorial districts. Supervisors draw the lines.
The task comes up after each census, so is now underway and will be completed by the end of the year.
What will this mean for former Assemblymen Todd Spitzer and Chuck DeVore, who are squaring off to fill the seat being vacated by Bill Campbell at the end of 2012? Especially considering that a majority of supervisors has endorsed Spitzer.
Campbell’s Third District extends from Brea in the north to Irvine in the south, flanking the easterly boundary of Santa Ana.
The southern part of the Third District includes a big chunk of the Assembly district DeVore represented, while the northern part of Third District overlaps the Assembly district Spitzer represented. Supervisors Campbell, Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen are co-chairmen of Spitzer’s campaign and they’d be doing him a favor by tilting the reapportioned Third District to favor voters who’ve cast ballots for Spitzer in the past.
Since the Third District needs to lose about 41,000 of its 643,000 residents in reapportionment, the three supervisors could give Spitzer that help by trimming off a part of the district that DeVore previously represented.
But neither Supervisor John Moorlach, who has yet to endorse in the race, nor DeVore anticipate significant hanky panky.
DeVore’s Assembly district included most of Irvine. All of Irvine is in the Third District and if supervisors lopped part of it out of the district, it would be obvious.
"I’m not particularly concerned," DeVore said. "I don’t see the board willing to play such bald-faced games, and existing supervisors want to keep most of their current constituents."
Another district to keep an eye on is Nguyen’s First District. Although he has not declared his candidacy, state Sen. Lou Correa could jump into the race next year. He gets termed out of his current office in 2014.
Nguyen’s strongest constituency against Correa would be in Little Saigon, while Correa’s would be in Santa Ana. Correa is a Democrat and all five county supervisors in charge of redrawing the lines are Republicans.
But the First District needs to expand by 23,000 or so residents. That would make it hard to justify moving any of Santa Ana to another district.
"There’s not going to be a whole lot of movement," Moorlach said. "If there’s a lot of movement, it will stick out like a sore thumb. It will be very obvious."
But according to Douglas Johnson, a redistricting expert at the Rose Institute, those with a taste for political drama and intrigue needn’t give up hope yet.
"There’s always politics in redistricting when politicians are involved," he said. "There will always be criticism."
According to protocol, supervisors will consider all reapportionment plans submitted by the public, provided they meet the requirements. You can find materials for drawing your own districts at egov.ocgov.com/ocgov/Government/Redistricting. The site also shows more locations where you can find computers with more sophisticated software for tackling the task.
Contact the writer: 714-796-6753 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A ‘super city’ could save a bundle
Most of Orange County’s nearly 3 million residents receive their municipal services (fire, police, sewer, water, courts and social services) through myriad government agencies, but primarily through the county, cities and special districts.
This “quilt work” of service providers has developed over the county’s 122-year history – ever since Orange County broke off from Los Angeles County in 1889. At that time, there were only three incorporated cities in Orange County – Anaheim, Santa Ana and Orange – and the total county population consisted of 13,500 residents.
Over the decades, to address the county’s growing population and service demands, we’ve added more cities and special districts. In 2011, we have 34 incorporated cities, 26 independent special districts and the county, which all in one way or another, retain responsibility for providing municipal services to O.C. residents.
Is the quilt work we now have in place in Orange County the best way to provide services to our residents? If somehow, all the lines defining city and special district boundaries disappeared in Orange County, and you had a blank slate to start with, would you redraw the lines in the same way? Are 34 cities too many? Are 26 special districts overkill? Is there a better way? I have to believe there is, and I am beginning to believe that we have too many government agencies in this county and that we could do a more efficient, cost-effective job of delivering services if some cities or special districts were combined.
As chairman of the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which is in charge of setting boundaries for cities and special districts, I have been a proponent of looking into the feasibility of combining the cities of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and the unincorporated community of Rossmoor into a single city (the so-called “super city” concept). I am very aware and respect the individual identities of these areas, the passion of their residents and the desire to remain separate identities.
The long-term fiscal pressures on all local governments, however, demand that elected officials look at the full range of governance options to increase efficiency – including those that many consider politically infeasible or unpopular with residents. I believe the super-city idea is at least worth exploring. It just might be time to redraw the lines.
Orange County Supervisor, 2nd District
Race for Third District Supervisor Seat Gets an Early Start
Residents who live in Orange County’s Third District already have two high-profile Republican politicians who want to be their county supervisor next summer when incumbent Bill Campbell is termed out.
Yet the biggest challenge already facing both Todd Spitzer and Chuck DeVore is convincing voters that they’ll stick around.
Spitzer was en route to become Orange County’s next District Attorney in 2014 until incumbent DA Tony Rackauckas fired him last August for asking questions about an investigation being conducted by Public Administrator John Williams.
Spitzer was redeemed this month when county supervisors stripped Williams of his duties after an investigation concluded he was in over his head and mismanaging his office.
Devore, a darling of the Tea Party movement, was termed out of the state legislature last year. He placed third in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate last June getting a little more than 450,000 votes or 19 percent of statewide Republicans.
After his primary loss, Devore told his supporters, "I expect to run for office in 2012 – what office remains a question."
The district — which runs from Anaheim Hills through Brea, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Yorba Linda and the canyons — experienced the most growth in population over the last decade, according to the U.S. Census.
Two Political Veterans
Spitzer’s history in the district offers him an early advantage. He often tells people he’s been elected to office eight different times since 1992 inside the boundaries of the third district.
He was a school board member in Brea, he, served as supervisor from 1996 to 2002 and represented the area as a state assemblyman from 2002 to 2008. He’s also won several Republican Central Committee elections to represent the area.
DeVore, 49, stresses his own local credentials in the district noting that he’s lived in Irvine since coming back home in 1989 after a short stint in the Reagan Adminstration as a foreign policy political appointee.
He also points to his early days as a student in Fullerton and his work for former Congressman Chris Cox (whose district mirrored the third district). DeVore lost a bid in 2002 for the Irvine City Council but points out that he was an appointed city park commissioner there for six years while also working locally as an aerospace executive, he said.
DeVore represented part of the area as well during his own Assembly term from 2004 to 2010.
The Game Plans
This race was shaping up to have a very different character until Spitzer’s high-profile controversial firing from the DA’s office.
Despite his long resume as a political office holder, Spitzer, now 50, is preparing to run as an outsider. Some critics say that will be difficult given that he’s been a part of the ruling party for the better part of two decades.
But Spitzer’s overall message is simple. When he sees an issue, he pounces, no matter what party or personal interest is in play.
"I get excited about getting up everyday and solving problems on behalf of the county and constituents," said Spitzer, who was known during his first term as supervisor — at age 35 — for sending out emails to staff at 4:30 a.m. on most workdays.
"When something comes to my attention that isn’t right in government, I will see it through," he said.
Spitzer brings up a host of battles that he’s fought on behalf of the public over the years. They include grade-tampering scandals when he was a school board member in Brea, and, as a supervisor, challenging the airport in South County and as a prosecutor questioning the practices of Orange County’s public administrator on probate matters.
DeVore, meanwhile, is promising to poke Spitzer on his own record: Mainly his 2001 vote as supervisor that increased Sheriff’s Deputies pension benefits.
With his Tea Party credentials, DeVore is aiming to make the race about government spending and pensions.
"On public employee unions and their benefits, Todd consistently voted with the public unions time and time again," DeVore said. "His vote in 2001 was not just at one-time vote, it was part of a pattern that continued during his six years in the assembly."
Spitzer replied to DeVore’s critique by saying he’s had many support groups over the years but is a prisoner of none. "You could also say I’m the darling of the building and engineering community," he said pointing to lots of developer money and support over the years.
Yet its clear from DeVore’s statement and his campaign website that the rising costs of public sector pensions is his big issue.
Spitzer criticizes DeVore’s recent emphasis on pensions saying he’s not historically focused on local government.
DeVore, who many see observers have historically seen as more interested in foreign policy than potholes, says he’s serious about wanting to work at the local level.
"I would vigorously dispute the notion that I’ve ignored or not been part of the local scene," DeVore said while on assignment in Israel earlier this month.
"What I have is a zeal for is government that maximizes liberty and is the most efficient possible," he said. "As a result, I have a passion for public policy, whether it’s Irvine and saving money on parks or running for the U.S. Senate and ideas about improving our tax code or national security."
So far, the endorsement game favors Spitzer.
In addition to a long list of locally elected officials from the Third District, he’s also got the backing of Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and three colleagues on the board of supervisors – Bill Campbell, Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates.
In his message to voters announcing his endorsement, Campbell said Spitzer brought "a wealth of experience" to the job noting that he could hit the ground running and produce real results for the residents of the Third District.
DeVore in turn seems to have secured the support of County Supervisor John Moorlach, and judging from his attacks on Spitzer regarding pension votes, Moorlach makes a good fit.
Spitzer counters that when public safety pensions were being expanded, it was done across the state. Others, like State Assemblyman Chris Norby voted for the pension expansion when he was a city councilman in Fullerton. Even Moorlach, Spitzer argues, approved actuarial studies for the deputy pension enhancements in 2001.
Spitzer also has a large campaign war chest — estimated at over $1 million — left over from his state Assembly days. That size of that warchest essentially cleared the field of potential candidates like Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche and City Councilman Denis Biladeau.
DeVore said he plans to challenge whether that money can be legally transferred from those state accounts as well as Spitzer’s accounting of the funds.
He also says he’s his own vibrant donor list from his statewide campaign for U.S. Senate.
The question is whether he can convince those donors to get interested in a county race in Orange County.
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
Ten years ago, I was also in Martin Wisckol’s “The Buzz” column (when he co-wrote it with Chris Reed) in the OC Register. It had two topics, but the title focused on the second one with “An exclusive link for Argyros and Bush.” For background, the Board of Supervisors has its political consultants in Sacramento and the heads of the County departments had their own collective political consultants in Sacramento, like the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors. The Board of Supervisors works on global legislative issues and the departments work on industry specific legislation.
Skirmishing between county Supervisor Todd Spitzer and county Treasurer John Moorlach spilled into public at last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, while supervisors were in the process of approving stricter investment guidelines hammered out earlier. Spitzer brought up the issue of Moorlach’s efforts, through the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, to have a state law passed allowing the county executive officer and the auditor-controller to send proxies to the Treasury Oversight Committee meetings. The intent is to make it easier to make a quorum.
“Before people run to Sacramento seeking a change of laws,” Spitzer snapped, “we should talk about it.”
After the meeting, Moorlach said he was befuddled by Spitzer’s comment – especially because county Executive Officer Michael Schumacher supported the idea.
Indeed, county policy states, “County departments have the authority to work within the framework of . . . professional associations to affect pending legislation.”
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