MOORLACH UPDATE — Another Alternative — June 28, 2013

At Tuesday’s Board meeting, during Board Comments, I requested assistance from the Director of OC Parks to review alternatives to the demolition of the Santa Ana Army Air Base building on the OC Fair & Event Center grounds that has been used for decades as an OC Fair Board room and as a hospitality center during the annual fairs. I photograph California Historical Landmarks. More than 25 years ago, I also photographed the plaque for Orange County’s Landmark No. 16, also known as the Memorial Garden. In fact, I found the color photos and they are below. From left to right are my daughter, Sarah, Patrick Gorman, my oldest son, Caleb, (our third-born had not arrived on the scene quite yet), and Meagan Gorman. Let’s just say I have some history with this Costa Mesa landmark. Reading about its upcoming demolition was a heart-breaker. Alternatives include moving it somewhere else on the OC Fair grounds, somewhere nearby in the city of Costa Mesa, or to a location within a County park. Preliminary review indicates that the OC Fair Board may be in violation of CEQA requirements if the building is destroyed as the Environmental Impact Report appears to be silent on the historical importance of this landmark. I don’t want to see one of the last remaining reminders of this important heritage disappear, so let’s consider some creative alternatives. Other California fairgrounds are known historically for their World War II connections, mostly for being temporary detention camps for Japanese residents (California Historical Landmark series No. 934 – Fresno, Los Angeles, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare) prior to being located to a permanent facility, like Manzanar (California Historical Landmark No. 850; see http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm and http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21422). The OC Register covers this topic in the first piece below.

The second OC Register piece was the shocking news that friend and fellow C.P.A., U.S. Representative John Campbell, is not seeking re-election next year. This provides me with another alternative to consider. The phone calls, e-mails and texts certainly have been fun to receive since the announcement late yesterday afternoon. There will be a family meeting this weekend with my three adult children, plus my son-in-law, to discuss this alternative, probably on Shelter Island, where we will be celebrating my granddaughter’s first birthday.

War museum at OC fairgrounds gets support

Supervisor moves to save historic Memorial Gardens building that was once a barracks at the Santa Ana Army Air Base during WWII.

Can this building be saved? The Memorial Gardens Building, a World War II barracks, is one of the few buildings that remain from the former Santa Ana Army Air Base. Fair officials plan to demolish it this fall, but county Supervisor John Moorlach is trying to save it.

COURTESY OF THE COSTA MESA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

By NICOLE SHINE

COSTA MESA – A war museum honoring the county’s and nation’s veterans could one day be housed at the Orange County fairgrounds.

On Thursday, the Fair Board unanimously approved steps to establish a war museum on the fairgrounds, starting a committee to seek input from veterans groups and directing staff to study the idea’s feasibility.

Board member Nick Berardino, who proposed the museum, was tapped to head the committee, which will also include board Chairman Douglas La Belle and member Ashleigh Aitken.

"What we sit on here is hallowed ground," Berardino said. "It’s worthy of space, it’s worthy of time, it’s worthy of money."

Veterans and supporters cheered the decision, which came after a few veterans choked up as they spoke of their own war experience and that of others.

Several called the fairgrounds, once the site of the Santa Ana Army Air Base during World War II, a sacred part of the county’s history and one worth preserving for future generations.

David Hayward, a Huntington Beach resident and secretary-treasurer of the 22nd Bomb Squadron Association, said about two-thirds of the group’s members are the children and grandchildren of veterans who joined to learn the country’s history.

"They want to know what their fathers and grandfathers did," he said.

A museum like this, he said, would educate them.

Some suggested the museum honor all military branches and all veterans. No one discussed specifics, such as where money for the museum would come from.

Terry McCarty, the former chair of the county Veterans Advisory Council, talked about that group’s failed efforts to start a veterans museum at the former Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin and called the idea "past due."

The proposal comes just a few months before the fair plans to raze the historic Memorial Gardens building to make room for an events plaza. The building, a former barracks, is one of the few remaining from when the fairgrounds were a World War II air base.

Until its deactivation in 1946, the base was a training ground for thousands of pilots, navigators and bombardiers, and provided care for them after combat missions.

Several at Thursday’s meeting spoke of trying to incorporate what could be salvaged of that building into the new museum.

But county Supervisor John Moorlach asked fair officials last week if the building could be moved to a different site, such as county land.

The county might buy the building or pay for its relocation, he told officials, adding it was too soon to get into specifics.

He also questioned whether the 2003 environmental report that set the stage for the building’s demolition took into account its historic nature.

Fair CEO Doug Lofstrom said their environmental consultant and attorney are looking into the matter. Lofstrom and the Fair Board hope to name the construction company that will make the renovations – and demolish the Memorial Gardens building – July 8.

Campbell to retire from Congress

State Sen. Mimi Walters is considered an early frontrunner to replace the fifth-term congressman.

By MARTIN WISCKOL

Rep. John Campbell, an Irvine Republican in his fifth term, said Thursday that we would not seek reelection next year – an unexpected announcement that prompted a flurry of speculation about potential candidates for the heavily GOP 45th Congressional District, which stretches from Anaheim Hills to Irvine to Mission Viejo.

It’s not clear what Campbell plans to do next or what prompted his decision, although he has expressed frustration with the politics of Washington. His wealth – estimated by Roll Call at $8.4 million – means he doesn’t need to stick around Capitol Hill for a paycheck.

"At the end of this term, I will have spent 14 years serving in full-time, elected politics," he said in emailed statement. "I am not nor did I ever intend to be a career politician. I am ready to begin a new chapter in my life."

State Sen. Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, said she is "definitely running" and had begun calling donors shortly after she got word of Campbell’s plans. She is considered by the county GOP chairman and several other insiders to be an early frontrunner for the seat.

Other possible Republican candidates include Irvine Assemblyman Don Wagner, county Supervisors John Moorlach and Pat Bates, former state Sen. Dick Ackerman, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, Dana Point Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, and former Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu.

Campbell, former owner of a series of car dealerships, served in the state Legislature for five years before winning a 2005 special congressional election to replace fellow Republican Christopher Cox.

Campbell, 57, has gained the reputation of being a firm fiscal conservative and has rallied against earmarks – and refused to seek them – even when others in his party perpetuated the practice.

"John’s been on the leading edge since he was in Sacramento in educating people about runaway government and he’s been at the cutting edge of ending earmarks," said Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County. "John’s done a great job and he’ll be missed."

In a phone interview, Campbell expanded somewhat on his decision to step down.

“We have a dysfunctional president and it’s going to be hard to get anything done in the next three years,” he said. “Did that weigh into the decision? Yes, but it wasn’t the only reason."

Campbell also said that the travel from California to Washington “wears on you.” He said he may get involved with a Republican presidential campaign if the right candidate emerges.

Campbell concluded his emailed statement, "Drive fast and live free."

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway said they would not be running for Campbell’s seat. Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel will not be running either, said BOE staffer Joel Angeles.

Voter registration in the district is 45 percent Republican and 28 percent Democrat.

Contact the writer: 714-796-6753 or mwisckol

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

June 29

2008

Peter Brennan of the Orange County Business Journal provided a story on an incorrect journal entry in a multi-billion portfolio, “’Honest Mistake’: OC Mislays Millions.” Talk about constant scrutiny. Fortunately, the error was found and promptly corrected. Here are the opening paragraphs and the closer:

A mistake in the Orange County Treasurer’s Office? Say it ain’t so.

An honest mistake is how Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach is characterizing what he called a “misclassified” $12.2 million. He said it’s not yet clear whether the county actually lost any money as a result of the error, but he also admitted the funds didn’t earn interest for nearly two years. And his office overpaid county agencies by about $1.1 million.

He said the funds were not lost, but when his department’s officials stumbled upon them last year in an account related to the county’s investment pool, they had no idea at first where the money came from.

“This is an honest mistake,” Moorlach said. “It was a bookkeeping error. This was not some grand scheme. And as perfect as we may want to try to be, errors may occur. And to make a big deal out of it would be showing a lack of understanding of the issue involved.”

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