MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013

This week is ending with a bang. The first topic below provides an update on our CEO search. I received notification of Chandra Wallar’s decision to decline the position after the close of business yesterday. As this is the first CEO search for the current Board, let me provide some insights into the process. The County retained a search firm, we received a large response, and the top ten candidates were provided. The Board narrowed this field down to five and interviewed these candidates. We were split, but agreed on the top three candidates. We then interviewed the top two candidates a second time. Throughout this process it was clearly telegraphed that Orange County has concerns about hiring double-dippers and that employees should pay for their employee portion of the defined benefit pension costs. For Orange County, that also includes an additional withholding, known as “reverse pick up,” for the unfunded actuarial accrued liability created when the majority of the 2004 Board approved the “2.7% at 55” retirement formula, retroactive to the date of hire. Those close to the County are aware of these vocalized preferences. Customarily, the Board selects two members to negotiate with Board-appointed position holders, like the Clerk of the Board and County Counsel. After the negotiations have been concluded, then the tentative agreement, including salary and related benefits, is put on the Board’s agenda for a vote. For Chandra Wallar, Supervisors Nguyen and Bates were assigned the ad hoc committee task of negotiating her tentative contract and compensation package. During their negotiation process, two Board members clearly communicated their concerns about not exceeding the previous CEO’s gross wages, including during a recent public session. The ad hoc committee provided the results of their negotiations at Tuesday’s Board meeting and it exceeded the wage threshold of the two other Board members. Consequently, I offered a compromise offer, which must not have met with the satisfaction of Ms. Wallar.

Each one of the top three candidates would make a great CEO for the County. The current top candidate is addressed in the OC Register’s article, which is the first one provided below. Ms. Wallar would not allow us to make background check telephone calls until we had extended her a formal, though tentative, offer. Once we were cleared to start checking references, we were only provided with selected names and telephone numbers of those that we were allowed to contact. Fortunately, all three of the references were individuals that I had relationships with. The phone conversations went extremely well. Chandra Wallar is an excellent candidate. Unfortunately, I was not given permission to call a couple of the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors with whom I enjoy relations through the California State Association of Counties. Consequently, I was devastated when Ms. Wallar’s name was leaked by a news outlet, as I had not had the opportunity to personally give my friends on the Santa Barbara Board of Supervisors a courtesy call first and because I also respected the importance of confidentiality to Ms. Wallar.

Yet leaks are a part of the game in this industry. I’m very pleased that the leaks were kept to one and it was very close to the conclusion of the process. In fact, ten years ago I was also the victim of a leak when I submitted my name for the Orange County CEO position. I was not amused that it happened, but I certainly knew that the risk of it occurring was high. And, thanks to the city of Bell, another top story for today, discussions of position salaries must be done in public. It is and was not pleasant, fun or professional. But, it is what it is, and everyone in the industry should understand that this is the new normal.

I want to wish Ms. Wallar all the best. She was an outstanding candidate and the residents of Santa Barbara County are fortunate to have her. I would be the first to admit that the process had flaws, but for our first CEO recruitment effort, I would say that it went better than expected. Leaks were kept to a minimum. Positions on compensation were self-evident. An attempt was made to find a reasonable solution. The offer was declined. That’s all part of the process.

Last year as Board Chair was a very busy time, and in the mix were the closed-door negotiations on the extension of the John Wayne Airport settlement agreement. The Daily Pilot does a great job of providing the details in the second piece below. This is followed by OC Register’s Barbara Venezia’s column on the subject. Every topic has its tensions, with polar opposite positions. Holding to one extreme may be easy to do, but may not be realistic from a pragmatic standpoint. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The third topic, plagiarism-gate, is one you’re familiar with. The OC Register provides their take in the fourth piece below, followed by another Voice of OC piece from yesterday.

The sixth and final piece is from the Daily Pilot. The “Community & Clubs” column by Jim de Boom provides a couple of dates for you to consider adding to your calendar.

County CEO candidate declines job offer

Board didn’t agree to pay Chandra Wallar what she wanted. She complains of leak to news media.

By ANDREW GALVIN

Chandra Wallar, whom all five members of the Board of Supervisors said they wanted to hire as the county’s new CEO, declined Thursday to accept the job after the board failed to agree to pay her what she wanted.

In a letter to the supervisors, Wallar, the CEO of Santa Barbara County, also said the situation "was made more difficult and awkward by the board’s leaking of information to the press and open session discussions of compensation after deal points were negotiated."

"I think she felt she had been sabotaged," said Supervisor Todd Spitzer, regarding the leak of her name to the Voice of OC news website while she was still negotiating with a subcommittee of the board. The leak forced Wallar to disclose to her own Board of Supervisors in Santa Barbara that she was in talks to leave her job there.

The process was further complicated by a brochure put out by the county’s recruiter that said the salary for the CEO position was "open." Some supervisors later disclosed they actually had a narrow salary range in mind.

Spitzer and board Chairman Shawn Nelson, for example, said they weren’t willing to pay more than the $254,000 earned by former CEO Tom Mauk, who retired last year.

Wallar asked for $270,000 on her application, then raised her request to $290,000 after she was told she’d be expected to pay the full employee share of her pension cost, Spitzer said.

Only this week did the board have a full discussion, in open session as now required by state law, of what they would be willing to pay Wallar. Nelson said it would have been better if that discussion had been held three weeks earlier, as he originally scheduled it.

However, Supervisor Pat Bates said at the time she was uncomfortable discussing salary in public while negotiations with the candidate were continuing. Bates and Supervisor Janet Nguyen comprised the subcommittee that negotiated with Wallar.

The supervisors are pushing all employee unions to pay their full pension share, and they expected Wallar to lead by example. However, Wallar and the other candidates should have been advised of the board’s pension stance at the outset, said Spitzer, who wasn’t yet on the board last year when the recruitment began.

"And then the board started doing takeaways. … I believe she just soured on the whole situation," Spitzer said.

However, Spitzer said $254,000 is "a very, very generous salary," even after deducting pension costs, which would have been more than 10 percent in her case. He said she was "tone deaf" to the county’s financial and labor situations.

Her contract with Santa Barbara calls for an annual salary of $232,000.

It’s unclear where the search will go next. Nelson said the board should look at internal candidates and in the private sector. Supervisor John Moorlach said the board’s third choice, an internal candidate, should be considered.

The board’s first choice was rejected after he said he would begin taking a government pension from a former job, Moorlach said. The board has taken a hard line against so-called "double dippers." Wallar was the board’s second choice.

Contact the writer: agalvin

Airport curfew could be extended until 2035

By Jill Cowan

After nearly two years of closed-door negotiations, Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry announced Thursday that the strict curfews governing John Wayne Airport’s operations could remain in place through 2035 if a proposed airport settlement agreement extension is approved.

But limits on the number of passengers and flights that can pass through the airport would grow starting in 2021.

"This is a balanced approach that will follow the law and maintain the protection of our community," Curry said at a press conference in the Newport Beach Police Department auditorium. "Growth, after all, is part of life at the airport."

The current agreement, which resulted from a 1985 legal settlement aimed at curbing the airport’s impacts on the surrounding community, is set to expire in 2015.

The city had been waiting for feedback from the Federal Aviation Administration before announcing the proposed new terms, which must toe a fine line between allowing JWA room to grow and hanging on to some of the nation’s strictest airport noise and traffic restrictions.

Orange County was able to grandfather in its airport regulations, despite some conflicting with the federal 1990 Airport Noise and Capacity Act, meaning that any new settlement terms cannot impose more stringent limits than already exist.

Traffic Limits

According to the proposal, the airport’s traffic limits, which currently cap annual passengers at 10.8 million, would stay at that level through 2020.

In 2021, that number would be bumped up to 11.8, effective through 2025.

Then, in 2026, that cap would be subject to another increase, based on whether the airport’s actual traffic hits a "trigger" level of 11.21 million annual passengers in any year from 2021 to 2025.

If traffic does hit that level, the passenger cap would increase to 12.5 million annually between 2026 and 2030. If not, the cap would increase to 12.2 million annual passengers.

Departure Limits

And under the proposal, the number of loud, commercial Class A planes allowed to take off on average each day would stay at 89 — 85 passenger and four cargo flights — through 2020. Those numbers would jump to 99 total in 2021: 95 Class A passenger departures and still just four cargo flights.

JWA’s noise-based curfews — which ban commercial departures before 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday, before 8 a.m. Sundays and after 10 p.m. daily and arrivals after 11 p.m. daily, except in emergencies — are regulated by a county law.

The county agreed not to touch that ordinance through at least 2020 in prior negotiations and, if approved, the new deal would extend that commitment for another 15 years.

For the city, negotiating a long-term curfew extension would be a boon.

"The extension of the curfew eliminates a major threat to the quality of life not only for Newport Beach but also for corridor cities impacted by airport operations," said City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who chairs Newport’s Citizens Aviation Committee, and was one of three council members who helped with negotiations.

Moving Forward

The new terms are contingent upon whether the proposed agreement slogs its way through the California Environmental Quality Act review process intact.

This week, city officials said they are optimistic about that prospect, and that the City Council will likely do its part in approving a memorandum of understanding between the four parties involved in the original settlement. Those groups are the city of Newport Beach, the County of Orange, the Airport Working Group and Stop Polluting Our Newport.

City Attorney Aaron Harp said the FAA didn’t find any legal "impediments" to moving forward with the proposed settlement.

Added Curry: "Suffice to say, we’re comfortable with their feedback."

Because the county will take the lead on developing environmental impact reports for multiple alternatives to the proposed agreement, representatives must remain neutral throughout the review process.

Under CEQA, the county Board of Supervisors can approve the MOU, but cannot take a position on it until the other alternatives are considered.

Still, Supervisor John Moorlach reiterated Thursday that, "it’s been a good collaborative effort."

Local residents’ advocacy groups who oppose the growth of the airport said that they were generally pleased with the proposed agreement — though, as expected, it was definitely a compromise.

"I think it strikes a balance between the needs of our community and aviation," said SPON President Marko Popovich. "It’s not exactly what we wanted, but like any compromise, we felt it was the best we could get."

In a statement, AirFair organizers thanked the settlement parties "for their steadfast work to keep the settlement agreement in place, and give us some certainty about what to expect in the future."

Nevertheless, the statement said, "We all need to continue to work together toward a future where JWA does not degrade the underlying neighborhoods, Ontario [International Airport] picks up its fair share, and the technological remedies for noise and pollution continue to increase."

But in the meantime, City Manager Dave Kiff said the new agreement will ideally serve as "our generation’s extension" — and that the people who helped negotiate it won’t have to "come back to the table."

jill.cowan

Venezia: More planes at JWA would mean more noise for us

By BARBARA VENEZIA
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
FOR THE REGISTER

bvontv

Newport Mayor Keith Curry made his announcement Thursday about the John Wayne Settlement Agreement extension proposal, which aims to extend the curfew until 2035.

But for months I’ve been hearing rumblings – off the record – from citizens close to the settlement agreement and curfew negotiations critical of our local politicians involved in the process.

The main complaint: their willingness to give away too much to the airport in regard to raising the passenger cap of 10.8 million annually.

In reality, those negotiating on the side of residents have little bargaining power. The Federal Aviation Administration has the ultimate say on airport issues.

With that in mind, when I’ve heard such leaders as Supervisor John Moorlach and Curry speak publicly about the issue, they’ve avoided talking about the caps – focusing only on keeping the curfew in place.

Though the curfew is something unique to JWA and vitally important, having more flights during that timeframe could bring its own set of issues.

Earlier this month I received an invitation to the March 13 Airport Working Group (AWG) annual meeting at the Balboa Yacht Club.

I was especially interested in attending this year to hear the latest on AWG’s efforts in regard to these negotiations.

Board President Tony Khoury and the group have tirelessly fought growth at JWA for more than 30 years. But at this last meeting I couldn’t help but feel this last round of negotiations has taken its toll on them.

With JWA being such an important issue, I can’t imagine why AWG’s message hasn’t hit a chord with younger residents in their 30’s and 40’s who will raise families under whatever new agreement is struck.

This was definitely not a demographic represented at the group’s last meeting.

As I looked around the room, most in attendance were well over 60.

And there were some familiar faces noticeably absent from this meeting as well.

Missing in the crowd were key board members from AirFair: Evelyn Hart, Melinda Seeley, Greg Carroll, Jeanne Price, Nancy Alston, Dr. Gloria J. Alkire, and Tim Stoaks.

Organized in 2002, AirFair’s Mission is to stop expansion of JWA according to their website http://www.jwairfair.com/airfair.html.

There’s always been a strong AirFair presence every year I’ve attended. Not this time.

Hart and Alston apparently didn’t get an invitation for some reason.

Carroll was out of town.

Stoaks was away on business, and Seeley said she didn’t attend because she didn’t expect to hear anything new.

She was right.

Khoury opened with a speech explaining the history of JWA, how and why AWG formed, and its role in creating the current settlement agreement and curfew.

But when he started talking about the El Toro Airport again as a possibility, I could see some in the audience roll their eyes. That ship has sailed.

Khoury also spoke about Ontario Airport as an alternative to alleviating air traffic in Orange County.

Again, a concept he’s talked about many times before at this annual meeting, and one which never seems to grow legs.

When Mayor Curry took the podium, he said he hoped to be able to deliver news on the final agreement, but there were still some legal issues to iron out.

He did say once the news was announced, residents would be happy.

Though Curry spent most of this time giving the audience an update on the state of the city – as he did at the recent Mayor’s Dinner – when he did speak about JWA, he was cautious to say negotiations are always a give-and-take process.

During the question-and-answer period, I asked if as part of the negotiations, they agreed to increase the current passenger cap of 10.8 million to 12 million as had been rumored.

Curry weighed his words carefully and his body language indicated the question made him a bit uncomfortable.

He looked away and fidgeted a bit, then explained that Councilman Tony Petros had reviewed statistics regarding passengers at JWA and the number hasn’t reached 10.8.

Curry said if the 10.8 number was increased in the new agreement, he’s confident passengers traveling through JWA wouldn’t actually reach those either.

I’m not so sure of that.

The airport now has Customs handling international flights from Mexico and Canada.

In addition, you only have to drive past JWA to see the seemingly never-ending construction of new parking structures and terminals.

Is anyone really going to tell us all this isn’t going to equate to more passengers and more flights?

The good news is the curfew will stay in place, but the bad news is if more planes are flying during those hours over the next years, it means far more airplane noise invading our daily lives.

Not exactly the win-win situation many hoped for.

Consulting contract complicates clerk-recorder appointment

Assistant’s chances of succeeding Tom Daly could be affected by disclosures.

By ANDREW GALVIN

Chances that Renee Ramirez, the county’s assistant clerk-recorder, could be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to succeed her former boss, Tom Daly, have been complicated by revelations about decisions Daly made while he was the elected clerk-recorder.

Daly, now a state assemblyman, has found himself on the defensive over a consulting contract he granted to a political ally and an audit report on his former department’s purchase of a building in Santa Ana.

The $26,400 consulting contract was given last year by Daly to Jordan Brandman, now an Anaheim councilman. It called for Brandman to produce a researched report by July 31, 2012, on the feasibility of establishing a branch office for the clerk recorder in the west part of the county.

The contract, at Daly’s direction, was later extended twice, with the deadline pushed back to April 30. Brandman has delivered most sections of the report in draft form, totaling 20 pages, and has been paid $24,000 for his work so far.

While Daly has said he takes full responsibility for the contract, members of the Board of Supervisors say that Ramirez – who has been heading the department on an interim basis since December — can expect to face questions about her role when she interviews to be appointed as Daly’s successor.

The news website Voice of OC, which first reported on Brandman’s contract, found that sections of the draft report appeared to have been copied from other sources, including Wikipedia. A side-by-side comparison prepared by Voice of OC showed similarities between a section of Brandman’s draft and the Wikipedia entry on Orange County.

In a brief interview this week, Brandman said, "I am fulfilling the obligations of my contract with the clerk-recorder." Brandman declined to explain why he requested two deadline extensions. He also declined to comment on the allegation that the section of his draft covering population demographics was lifted from Wikipedia.

Last April, when Brandman turned in a portion of his report that included the section on population demographics, Brandman wrote in an email to Ramirez, "Please note by the watermark that these are completions of draft. As data is further collected and finalized, these sections will become fuller in breadth."

Daly, in an interview last week, said he authorized the deadline extensions for Brandman’s contract, "but at this point it is certainly reasonable for any county official to want the work finished."

In a March 15 memo to the Board of Supervisors, Ramirez said Brandman had agreed to a deadline of Friday to finalize the report.

Ramirez, who served as assistant clerk-recorder under Daly, has been employed by the department for 22 years. She is one of 11 candidates chosen to interview for the position of clerk-recorder by the Board of Supervisors. The board’s appointee will serve until voters elect a clerk-recorder next year.

Although Daly authorized the Brandmancontract, it was signed by Ramirez, and she approved payments to Brandman as sections of the draft were delivered. In a March 14 memo to the supervisors, Ramirez wrote that Daly asked her to be the contact person for Brandman because she oversaw the department’s branch offices, and that her role in the contract, at Daly’s direction, "was to review that the task deliverable was received and, if so, authorize payment."

The second contract extension was executed in January, after Daly resigned as clerk-recorder, although Ramirez told the supervisors that it "was granted based on Tom’s direction before he was sworn into the state Assembly."

Shawn Nelson, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the situation creates "a real predicament" for Ramirez’s candidacy because her chief qualification for appointment is her experience with the department.

"You’ve got to be smart enough to realize that on the day you become acting clerk-recorder, you’ve got to deal with the problems that are outstanding," Nelson said. "There was apparently no urgency in getting this done."

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said that Ramirez "has a lot of explaining to do," particularly about why the contract was extended and why Brandman was paid for incomplete work. "I still think, depending on her answers, that she’s one of the front-runners" for the appointment, he said.

Supervisor John Moorlach also wants more explanation from Ramirez and said he’s taking a wait-and-see approach on her candidacy.

Register staff writers Art Marroquin and Tony Saavedra contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: agalvin

County Demands Refund or Report From Jordan Brandman

By ADAM ELMAHREK

County Counsel Nick Chrisos last Friday sent a letter to Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman demanding that he either complete a facility needs report – which in its current draft form has been heavily criticized for being inadequate and plagiarized from Wikipedia – or refund the $24,000 taxpayers have paid him for the incomplete work.

“Immediately finalize the facility needs assessment for the County Clerk Recorder on the viability of opening a West County branch office as required under the above-referenced contract or return the $24,000 paid to you under the contract without delay,” read the March 15, 2013 letter from Supervising Deputy Anne E. Fletcher on Chrisos’ behalf.

On Jan. 31, 2012, Brandman was assigned to complete a report on whether the Orange County Clerk-Recorder needs a branch office in western Orange County, just as his campaign for Anaheim city council was gearing up.

The contract was made under a no-bid contract granted by Brandman’s former boss and mentor, former Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly, who is now serving in the state assembly and has come under fire from County Internal Auditor Peter Hughes for the fiscal management of county funds as Clerk Recorder.

Brandman has already missed two deadlines to finish the report, but was nonetheless paid several $4,800 installments while he campaigned for his council seat. He claimed no other sources of income on a public statement of economic interests covering the campaign period, except for a salary position at the clerk-recorder’s office that ended the same day he received his consulting contract.

Brandman’s last contract extension gives him until April 3 to finish the report. However, interim clerk-recorder Renee Ramirez wrote in a memo in response to county supervisors concerns about the contract and report that Brandman agreed to a March 22 deadline.

County supervisors have questioned how Brandman was paid anything for draft work. Supervisor John Moorlach estimates that the county has already paid 24 times what the draft report is actually worth.

Meanwhile, submitting Brandman’s draft report through a well-known plagiarism detector at Turnitin.com found that significant portions – up to 23 percent – of the report were copied directly from other facilities needs studies, clerk-recorder documents, and other government sources.

For example, a bullet-point list of “questions pondered” in the report was copied almost verbatim from a Laguna Hills Recreation Facilities Needs Assessment prepared by the consultant GreenPlay, LLC, according to the Turnitin.com evaluation.

After learning about the similarities, GreenPlay CEO Teresa Penbrooke said that the company views copycat consultants as the “sincerest form of flattery.”

She said company officials were “unable to determine” whether Brandman plagiarized from GreenPlay’s report. The company doesn’t pursue copyright infringements, Penbrooke said.

“In the end, the key to whether a consultant will make it or not is whether they are effective, and help the communities for whom they work. Bad consultants don’t last long, and can give all consultants a bad name,” Penbrooke wrote in an email to Voice of OC. “The real question is, did the report provided by this consultant help the City move forward with good information, methods, and recommendations? We have no way of knowing that given current information.”

Brandman hasn’t returned numerous phone calls seeking comment since Voice of OC first began reporting this story.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek.

Community & Clubs: The latest on healthcare from Hoag

By Jim de Boom

Community & Clubs Hall of Fame

Keep June 14 open. That’s when the fifth annual Daily Pilot Community & Clubs Hall of Fame luncheon is being held at American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291 on the Balboa Peninsula. Service clubs, church groups and community organizations can nominate one person each to be recognized for his or her service to youth and the community. County Supervisor John Moorlach will serve as the master of ceremonies, while Daily Pilot editor John Canalis, city editor Jamie Rowe and yours truly will induct the honorees.

Inducted into the Community & Clubs Hall of Fame in 2012 were John Kruse, Exchange Club of Newport Harbor; Carol Proctor, Harbor Mesa Lions Club; Joseph Panarisi, Kiwanis Club of Costa Mesa; Laura Dietz, Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club; Roger Gilbert, Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa; Sanjay Dalal, Newport-Irvine Rotary Club; Irvian Kanareck, Laurel House; Rich Kapko, Costa Mesa United; and Carol Cowden, Assistance League of Newport Harbor.

Service Club Meetings This Week

WEDNESDAY

Noon: The Exchange Club of Corona del Mar meets at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, 1601 Bayside Drive, Corona del Mar.

THURSDAY

Noon: The 55-member Newport-Irvine Rotary Club meets at the University Club, 801 E. Peltason Drive, Irvine, for a presentation by Talena Mara, vice president of education, and Tim Dunn, director of public relations for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, on the educational and community outreach of the center. On March 28, Moorlach will provide an update on Orange County.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

March 21

2003

The OC WEEKLY printed my tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor, “He-Man, Not Lawyer,” without any editorial retort (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — March 14, 2013).

Please be informed that I am totally offended by your new column, “The Adventures of John Moorlach.” In fact, I am seriously considering filing a lawsuit for libel for what was implied in your March 14, 2003, edition. I am not and never have been an “Esq.” I am an honest man. I am not an attorney. Please print this correction at your earliest convenience. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to future columns and photos as my adventures continue! Every day is a gift from God, and I’m having a blast!

John M. W. Moorlach, CPA, CFP©

Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector

2008

Julie Anne Ines of the OC Register announced an upcoming event with “Chamber offers opportunity to meet local, state leaders – City, county and state government representatives will attend the formal event.” Here is the accompanying photo and one paragraph from the piece:

Meet and Greet: County supervisor John Moorlach addressed the crowd last year at the Legislative Reception

State Assemblyman Van Tran, state Sen. Tom Harman, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, a representative from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office, the Fountain Valley City Council, representatives from city commissions and representatives from the fire and police departments are expected to attend, [Chamber of Commerce executive director Beverly] White said.

The OC Register Buzz column had the following printed in the dead tree version, titled “In Chamberlain Case, Mum’s the Word.”

The “Cone of Silence” remained Thursday over the entire Orange County bureaucracy in regards to a secret motion filed by the county to keep under wraps about 7,000 pages of grand jury records on the jailhouse death of John Derek Chamberlain.

Register watchdogs Tony Saavedra, Norberto Santana and Larry Welborn tried to get comment from county supervisors, prosecutors, legal representatives and the sheriff himself. Most everyone developed a case of lock-jaw. In fact, some officials wouldn’t take the call.

The only supervisor to discuss the issue as of 5:15 p.m. was Board Chairman John Moorlach, who said he doesn’t believe the Chamberlain papers should be sealed.

Moorlach, who calls himself a strong advocate for open government, says he is still stinging from former DA Mike Capizzi’s deal with Merrill Lynch that resulted in the permanent sealing of grand jury transcripts dealing with the county bankruptcy.

“I’m still frustrated and angry over that.”

Meanwhile, on the Chamberlain case, Saavedra heard one interesting snippet: County Counsel Ben de Mayo is apparently so adamant about keeping the grand jury testimony closed that if his motion is denied by Judge John A. Stotler, he will immediately take the case to the 4th District Court of Appeal.

The grand jury was formed to look at the 2005 killing of Chamberlain by inmates who thought he was a child molester. In fact, he was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography.

Nine inmates have been charged, but the grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing among the deputies.

Acting Sheriff Jack Anderson issued a terse statement Thursday through a spokesman: “We have been advised it is inappropriate to comment on grand jury proceedings. We look forward to the release of the transcripts.”

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