MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Al-Seal Beach Patch — August 22, 2011

The Huntington Beach Ocean View Little League All-Stars are representing California (and the West) in the Little League World Series in South Wiliamsport, Pennsylvania.  They beat Rhode Island on Friday (11 – 0) and Kentucky yesterday afternoon (10 – 0).  Exciting!  I was hoping to watch Sunday’s game, but ESPN2 ran over the time slot with a women’s tennis match at the Western & Southern Open.  Thanks a lot, ESPN . . . not!  California will face Montana on Wednesday.

I’m still in the glow of a championship softball season with my two sons.  This is the second year in a row that our team won the League Championship.  Rick Francis, my Chief of Staff, was our able Captain.  Here is our team photo minutes after the win, proudly wearing our Championship t-shirts:

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The Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch has a new reporter from the Chicago area.  After a half-hour interview, it’s interesting what gets put to paper; I’m not so sure I was as harsh as I sound in the article below.  I am, however, getting a little tired of hearing how important it is for Rossmoor to keep a retail corner “because they need to have it in order to be an attractive annexation opportunity,” all the while telling Los Alamitos that they are not interested in merging.  That logic is duplicitous and is wearing thin.  I am also frustrated over the accusations that we’re doing things in secret – my Updates have been very transparent.  Finally, I’m a little tired of some in Rossmoor claiming some false sense of ownership to this particular corner.  It’s not Rossmoor’s corner; it’s the County’s.  That being said, here’s the latest observation of efforts being pursued by Los Alamitos, after a more than 50-year wait (hardly accelerated).

BONUS:  This Sunday the OC Register provided a lengthy analysis that is worthy of your reading consideration.  It was titled “O.C. cities reeling from revenue loss, public safety costs – Public safety pay, pensions pressuring city fathers.”  Here’s the link:  http://www.ocregister.com/news/million-312708-cities-city.html?plckFindCommen…:bb108c4c-bbb7-4b36-9492-1789ed0a3987

Rossmoor Gears Up to Fight Land Grab

Los Alamitos officials are set to discuss a coveted commercial corner at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting.

·         By Kelsey Duckett

A public hearing Monday evening could prove to be quite rowdy.

The Los Alamitos Planning Commission is set to discuss a general plan land-use map. But Rossmoor residents reading between the lines see a move afoot to annex businesses and apartments in the Rossmoor Shopping Center.

Not to worry, insists Los Alamitos City Councilman Troy Edgar. The purpose of the meeting is merely to update the city’s development blueprint for the area, not to "go after any land," Edgar said.

But Rossmoor Community Services District Manager Henry Taboada isn’t buying it.

“Obviously they are interested in developing the downtown area,” Taboada said. “But the annexation of the corner makes no sense and is not a necessity. This is an accelerated plan to take the corner either by a resolution of the City Council or a petition by the residents on that block.”

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said he supports handing control of the county-owned parcel to Los Alamitos.

“I understand Los Alamitos’ desire to annex the corner,” he said. “I think Rossmoor is fully aware that something has to be done. We have tried to work with them. When they wanted to incorporate, we supported that — but it was unsuccessful. This next step should be no surprise to them, there should be no shock.”

The property, which is commercial, is home to several businesses and generates roughly $250,000 a year in sales tax revenue.

Annexing the corner “would create a unified downtown commercial center,” Edgar said, adding that he doesn’t want to be known as part of a City Council that missed an opportunity to add the property, especially in this harsh economy.

But Edgar insisted there was “no immediate action to make a move.”

“I understand that Rossmoor is looking at this situation and trying to discern what the situation is,” he said. “But it is hard to tell when a decision will be made because neither community is ready to make a move.”

County officials are frustrated that Rossmoor won’t “step up to the plate and [merge] with Los Alamitos,” Moorlach said.

“They could join Los Alamitos and have half the seats on the City Council,” he said. “Rossmoor is taking a my-way-or-the-highway approach and that doesn’t work when you are playing with others.”

He added: “They [Rossmoor] are like a spoiled child. When they don’t get what they want, they get mad." Moorlach said if Los Alamitos is willing to annex the corner, "I have to figure out a way to get rid of it.”

But Taboada said Rossmoor residents intend to show up in force to protest the concept.

“We might not be able to stop this,” he said. “But we intend on letting the county know, letting Los Alamitos know and letting the people who care know that Rossmoor isn’t going to stand by and just be plowed over.”

Monday’s meeting is set to start at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 3191 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

August 21

1996

It looks like I had fun with pension issues fifteen years ago.  Since the Internal Revenue Code 457 retirement accounts for county employees took a hit, a fund manager was willing to cover the losses for a long-term contract.  How would it recoup its investment?  It would probably be done by charging higher administrative fees and expense ratios in the future to the impacted employees.  That had an odd aroma to it.  Shelby Grad of the LA Times covered my concerns in “Supervisors Delay Action on Retirement Accounts.”

                At the request of employee unions, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday postponed action on a proposal to transfer control of deferred compensation accounts of county workers from the treasurer’s office to a private firm.

                The move comes after Treasurer John M. W. Moorlach expressed concerns about the plan, which would make the National Assn. of Counties and two other firms responsible for the $83 million that some employees have set aside voluntarily for retirement.

                Moorlach raised questions about the portion of the plan that requires the county to deposit only $75 million of the $83 million total with the National Assn. of Counties.

                The county could keep a portion of the $8 million difference, depending on the amount of reimbursements the association makes to employees.

                Moorlach said the plan might prompt the association to charge higher fees or offer lower returns to county employees.

                County Chief Executive Officer Jan Mittermeier and other officials disagree with Moorlach’s criticism.  They insist that the proposal would save the county money and benefit workers.

                Officials said that county employees would earn the same returns and pay the same fees as the thousands of other participants from around the country who already use the program.

                John Sawyer, general manager of the Orange County Employees Assn., said he shared some of Moorlach’s concerns and urged the county to reexamine the proposal.

                “This needs to be explained in plain English.  They need to know the downside,” Sawyer said.  “The county needs to make sure the workers are not put at risk by this.”

2006

Alicia Robinson of the Daily Pilot also had some fun with my California State Historical Landmark hobby in “1,001 down; 66 historical sites to go – County treasurer is on a quest, nearly three decades long, to photograph state’s historical landmarks.”  I haven’t had a chance to update my count, but as soon as I do, I’ll let you know where I currently stand.  It should be somewhere above 1,040.  The article also included an adjoining piece, titled “HISTORY IN THE BACKYARD,” that informed readers that of the 25 state historic landmarks in Orange County; five of which are in Newport-Mesa.  They are Numbers 198, 227, 775, 794, and 959.  Here is the piece in full:

Orange County Treasurer John Moorlach has spent nearly three decades pursuing a goal, and it’s just now come within reach: to visit and photograph every one of California’s 1,067 historic sites.

A Costa Mesa resident and Orange County Supervisor-elect, Moorlach is beyond an enthusiast when it comes to California history. It might not be a stretch to call him obsessed.

On a family vacation this month, he hit 24 state historic sites, bringing his total to 1,001. While state officials count the total as 1,043, Moorlach said some are groups of sites that bear one number, and he counts them separately.

If you ask him to see photos, you’d better have some time on your hands. He’s got six red binders that are each easily four inches thick, and they’re filled with photos, booklets and maps from his travels across the state.

"It’s sort of like a scavenger hunt," Moorlach said. "There’s sort of a fun component to it."

He photographed his first state landmark in Inyo County in August 1978 on a church backpacking trip. The site was No. 229, the home of Mary Austin, who wrote about the Indians of the Mojave Desert and also about the Owens Valley.

Since then, he got married and had three children, who can be seen growing from one photo album to the next.

"It’s sort of become like a family album of the kids at different times in their lives," he said. "You also get to see all my wife’s different hairstyles."

The sites encompass a wide variety: historic figures’ homes, battlefields, gold mining sites, a Japanese internment camp.

Some sites are hard to find because there’s nothing left of them — for example, the state grants historic status but it doesn’t buy the commemorative plaques, so if no one else foots the bill, a plaque is never put up.

And other sites have their own horror stories. When Moorlach took his family to Camp Cady, a military training site in Barstow, their minivan sank in the sand.

"It’s a hundred degrees, we’re looking for wood, trying to back it [the van] up, there were ants — and no cellphone reception," he said. "We called AAA, and it took them forever to find us."

One of the most memorable trips to Moorlach was the visit to Hula Ville, a collection of poems and statues near Hesperia built by folk artist Miles Mahan, a retired carnival worker.

It was 1990 and Moorlach was driving with friends who planned to go backpacking. They complained about stopping at such a weird place, he said, but "It’s the only one I’ve ever been to where the guy was actually still alive."

In fact, he met Mahan, who gave Moorlach a book of his poetry and even autographed it.

Moorlach likens the historical sites and their meaning in the grand scheme of the state’s history to a needlepoint design.

"When you look at the underside of needlepoint work, it’s really a mess," he said. "But when you flip it over you see what it really is. You understand the importance of John Sutter; You appreciate the significance of Junipero Serra."

Not content to keep his quest personal, Moorlach may share his enthusiasm with all of California. He said he’s considered applying for historic landmark status for the county administration buildings as the site of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

And once he’s done with California, he might branch out to other states. But right now, he joked, "When my wife sees me buy the landmark book for Nevada and Wyoming, she freaks out." 

August 22

2001

The OC Register’s Business section had a brief article on an Orange County Employees Retirement System matter in “O.C. retirement board fires investment firm – Returns in Siphron’s portion of the staff pension portfolio deemed inadequate.”  The poor firm just refused to invest in dot-com stocks that had no revenues.  It may make you a wise investor, but it didn’t help you when you were measured against an index.  Oh, well.  Here are the first and last paragraphs.

                The board of directors of the Orange County Employees Retirement System voted 7-1 Monday to dismiss one of its investment management firms because of concern over returns.

County Treasurer John Moorlach was the sole OCERS board member to vote to retain Siphron.  He said he believes Siphron had done a satisfactory job.

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