MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Birthday! — September 30, 2013

Today is my daughter’s birthday. It is also the fifteen-month birthday of my granddaughter. They are spending it enjoying their final day in California. Tomorrow they fly to Wisconsin to begin a new adventure supporting their husband/father in his new job.

To my daughter and granddaughter: Happy Birthday! To my son-in-law: May the Lord richly bless you in your new position and please take great care of my girls. It was a privilege to have you three in the area and Mom and I will miss our ability to be together with you on a regular basis. We have been blessed to watch our granddaughter grow from new born infant to the early walking stage, and to hear her clearly say “Opa!” Thanks for giving us so much of your time this last month, one that has been plenty busy for your family. May the next chapter in your lives be amazing and blessed. We will miss you more than you will ever know. See you on Skype and FaceTime until we’re able to visit with you in person again. Love, Opa and Oma.

(Opa and Oma enjoying one more pier last week with our granddaughter – Manhattan Beach Pier, California Historical Landmark No. 1018.)

Now, back to the fun here in the OC.  Sunday’s OC Register had another piece on the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Pension Editorials — September 19, 2013, MOORLACH UPDATE — Pension Debt — September 12, 2013, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Board Decisions — September 18, 2013).  I am reminded of my Little League days in Buena Park.  It was always amusing to hear someone blaming their bat.  The two largest public employee unions in the County increased the unfunded actuarial accrued liability (UAAL) by 50 percent, literally overnight, thanks to the granting of retirement benefits retroactive to the date of hire, causing a fully funded OCERS to become only two-thirds funded.  The OCERS Board is now trying to manage this impact.  The unions don’t want to face the reverberation, but instead of taking responsibility, they are blaming the bat!  The OCERS Board wants to address the UAAL as appropriately as possible, but according to the unions, it can’t be too hot (aggressive).  Well, for the members, it can’t be too cold (laid-back), either.  So, in trying to strike the balance, a little blustering on their part may work.  It certainly did a decade ago.  The threats then of moving to CalPERS caused the then-OCERS Board to lengthen amortization periods to be more “PERS-like,” over my votes of opposition.  Now OCERS, and even CalPERS, are realizing that debt reduction is critical.  One can only hope that the unions will appreciate this focus as well.  (The “fund performance” chart with the article is missing the three consecutive negative years of 2000, 2001, and 2002.)

The second piece below is from the Voice of OC and addresses another area where I have had my frustrations.  Let me make one observation.  When the system is bad, it does not mean that those in the system are bad.  So, when we discuss the system, we are not discussing the individuals within the system (there is no need to personalize the debate over the appropriateness of the current policies or future recommended policies).  But, the County’s “annual leave” policies definitely need to be reevaluated, and soon.  I have made one strong recommendation in recent years, which is discussed below.  Another is to have departments set the funds aside as they accrue, and let the balances follow the employee, in a pay-as-you-go fashion.  Currently, as I understand it, the last department to have the employee is saddled with the accrued costs and has to absorb it in its budget.

 

Can workers abandon O.C. pension system?

A move to the seemingly greener grass of CalPERS, the state retirement fund, would be possible, but not easy.

 

TERI SFORZA

REGISTER COLUMNIST

 

The union representing 18,000 county workers is quite unhappy with the frugal new math adopted by the county retirement system, and it’s threatening to bail.

 

Rather than fork over more money now to fund benefits later, as the Orange County Employees Retirement System would have them do, workers are making goo-goo eyes at the state pension system, which makes more optimistic economic assumptions that would drain less from their wallets.

 

In Orange County, rightwing extremists are trying to make public pensions appear unsustainable, the union has charged.

 

“As the politically appointed members of the OCERS Board of Trustees continue to make decisions aimed at artificially and unnecessarily inflating costs for taxpayers and employees, it’s only responsible for ratepayers and city officials to weigh other options,” Jennifer Muir of Orange County Employees Association, county government’s largest workers union, told us by email.

 

“We have an obligation to protect our members’ retirement security from being held hostage for political purposes, which is exactly what is happening on the OCERS board.” We at The Watchdog found these threats to jump ship in favor of the California Public Employees Retirement System – threats echoed by court employees and sheriff’s deputies – rather fascinating, and decided to drill down on them a bit. Can county workers really snatch their ball away and go next door to play?

 

Turns out the fence to the neighbor’s yard is rather high and difficult to climb.

 

Let us step back just a bit. The public pension wars have taken an inter- esting twist here in Orange County, where once upon a time, officials granted rather generous retirement benefits to workers, then came to Jesus over unfunded liabilities of some $5.7 billion.

 

Benefits have been cut back for new workers; workers are kicking in more to cover their pension costs; and – in what seems like an egghead accounting move, but one that wallops people’s pocketbooks – OCERS decided to embrace more sober expectations on what its investments will earn going forward, and how long it will take to pay the debt down.

 

Now, this sobriety is happening all over the nation among responsible retirement system types. Cal-PERS, for example, recently reduced its expected return rate by a quarter percent – from 7.75 to 7.5 percent.

 

But OCERS went further, reducing its expected return rate by double that – half a percent – from 7.75 percent to 7.25 percent.

 

Ouch, say county workers.

 

If you need $5.7 billion and you expect lower returns, you need to cough up more cash right now.

 

This cash will need to come from both the county government and its workers.

 

BATTLE

 

And so there’s this pitched political battle at the OCERS board, where county workers are demanding that OCERS raise the assumed rate of return to (a more CalPERS-esque) 7.5 percent, and/or adjust how long it will take to pay the debt down.

 

Assuming better returns (and more time to pay) would mean workers – and the county government – pay less out of their pockets and into the pension fund each year. Leaving everyone more mad money.

 

If OCERS doesn’t embrace a more rosy view of the future, workers say, they will revolt and rush into the waiting arms of Cal-PERS, where returns are expected to be brighter.

 

“When the costs of retirements are being artificially inflated, we must look at alternatives,” said Tom Dominguez, president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. “If there is an ability to save taxpayer money and continue to provide the same benefit, then it’s an option that needs to be considered.”

 

“Access to critical public services and sound fiscal stewardship of public resources must be balanced,” said Superior Court workers in a missive to OCERS’ top brass. “The Court needs to explore alternatives to OCERS to fulfill that obligation.”

 

CalPERS, then, is the pretty girl next door.

 

DEFECTION?

 

There are two questions at work here.

 

The first is, can individual employees just up and leave OCERS for CalPERS? The answer there is apparently “no.”

 

As the law now stands, the County of Orange and its workers cannot simply withdraw from OCERS, said Julie Wyne, OCERS’ assistant CEO for external and legal operations. They would need to obtain a legislative change to be able to do so, she said via email.

 

OCERS, you see, is this legal beast. The good people of Orange County passed a proposition creating it in 1944 (under the County Employees Retirement Act of 1937), and OCERS was officially born as the county’s retirement plan manager in 1945.

 

The only way an individual can move from OCERS to CalPERS is by leaving the county (or other OCERScontracted agency) and getting a job with a Cal-PERS-covered employer, said CalPERS spokeswoman Amy Norris by email.

 

The second question: Can the county Board of Supervisors and/or other plan sponsors (such as the O.C. Fire Authority) decide to ditch OCERS for CalPERS? The answer is clearly “yes.”

 

Those separate little governments that are in OCERS could walk, so long as their boards voted to do so, and take their (likely prohibitive) share of unfunded liabilities with them.

 

The county, OCERS’ big gorilla, also could leave if the Board of Supervisors decided to do so.

 

UNDETERRED

 

“OCEA in the past has looked into moving into Cal-PERS, and it can be done,” said the union’s Muir by email.

 

“It would require support from the Board of Supervisors; however, we are currently working on a possible legislative strategy to modify the 1937 Act for Orange County only,” she said.

 

“OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino … has hosted meetings with a variety of legislators, actuaries and attorneys. If legislative action proves to be an appropriate vehicle, legislation specific only to Orange County will be introduced in January that could allow Orange County employees as well as plan sponsors to leave OCERS. Much more work needs to be done on this option, but we are feeling pretty good about what we have learned so far.”

 

Wait. Let’s hear that again. The support of the supervisors? Yes, it would be the county Board of Supervisors’ job to approve a switch, and right now, that seems unlikely.

 

“I don’t know about the wisdom of having an employee have the ability to shop a system,” said Supervisor (and pension warrior) John ‍Moorlach. “What OCEA is trying to do is put leverage on the board of OCERS to not be more conservative in its assumptions. I see it more as bluster than anything else.”

 

Supes are also still weighing whether to appoint a more frugal or more optimistic member to OCERS’ board. Smart money is on the former, but the fight has been pitched.

 

And just because Cal-PERS looks like the more attractive choice now doesn’t mean it will always be. Change may well be in the air for CalPERS as well: It’s in the midst of studying mortality rates, asset allocation and, yes, even that 7.5 percent return rate that looks so good from Orange County. Depending on what CalPERS’ board decides to do, these things could change employer rates, Cal-PERS’ Norris said.

 

CalPERS is doing this to maintain the sustainability of its plans, and has no comment on the OCEA’s proposal, she said.

 

Why should you care? OCERS provides retirement benefits to 14,000 county and local government retirees, and invests for another 26,000 public workers who haven’t retired. Its fiscal health matters to all of them – and to everyone else – as taxpayers are ultimately on the hook for making good on public pension promises.

 

Stay tuned.

 

CONTACT THE WRITER: tsforza@ocregister.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banked Leave Time Leads to Big Payouts

 

By DAVID WASHBURN and ADAM ELMAHREK

First in an ongoing series.

On April 1, 2009, Orange County Counsel Benjamin de Mayo officially retired from the county after a 32-year career and became eligible for a $226,713 annual pension, which amounted to nearly $14,000 more than his final year’s salary of $212,908.

On top of his pension, which is among the richest in county history, de Mayo was also handed a check for $352,097.34 — a payout for nearly 2,500 hours of unused sick and vacation time that he had racked up over his career.

De Mayo’s leave-time largesse was by far the most given to a departing county employee between 2008 and April of this year, according to a Voice of OC analysis of payout records.

But he is just one of many high-level employees who’ve walked away with sizable checks for unused leave time they banked during their careers.

Voice of OC’s analysis showed the county paid $43.8 million in sick and vacation time payouts to departing employees during the five-year period, an amount nearly equivalent to the annual general fund budget of Laguna Beach.

The most lucrative payouts went to the highest-ranking employees, including: agency directors; executive managers; senior deputy attorneys; and assistant sheriffs, among others.

The average payout of $31,928 to executives and managers in the county government was more than five times the average $5,593 payout to rank-and-file employees.

Meanwhile, top brass and supervisors at the Sheriff’s Department took home an average of $46,481 — the most of any employee group — while deputies and sergeants had payouts averaging $14,899, according to the Voice of OC analysis.

Here is a rundown of some of the findings from the analysis:

  • ·         The county paid out $18.2 million going to 3,266 departing general employees and Social Service Agency eligibility workers, during the five-year period. At the same time, $15.9 million went to a group of 561 outgoing executives, managers and attorneys.
  • ·         A total of $9.7 million went to 499 employees who left the Sheriff’s Department, including nine assistant sheriffs who were paid a total of $754,459.
  • ·         A group of 26 county employees, nearly all executives or high-level managers, cashed out more than $100,000 each, for a total of $3.5 million during the five-year period.

A Widespread Issue

While these payouts haven’t received anywhere near the same media coverage as public pensions, awareness of their impact on government budgets is growing from the local level to Sacramento.

“This is not in my opinion something we intended to become a practice,” said State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana).

Yet it is a practice in place in jurisdictions everywhere. For example, two years after de Mayo cashed his check from the county, departing Santa Ana City Manager Dave Ream walked with an even larger payout — $365,787.09 — for his accrued vacation and sick time.

Blame for the abuse of accrued sick and vacation balances often breaks down largely along ideological lines.

Conservative Republicans point to unions and the collective bargaining process as the reason why the system was developed in the first place.

“It stuns me that we have this kind of largesse going on, especially in a county that is supposed to be conservative,” said Jon Fleischman, publisher of the FlashReport, and online publication geared to the right. “But because collective bargaining mandates it, the people elected to make these decisions have to sit across the table from unions.”

Union leaders counter that, as with pensions, it’s the executive class that took a reasonable benefit and turned it into a windfall enjoyed disproportionately by those at the top.

“This is a clear example of how executives in Orange County approach working for local government, like they’re at a big corporation and entitled to huge bonuses and payouts,” said Jennifer Muir, the assistant general manager of the Orange County Employees Association. “They have rigged the system so they get more than anyone else.”

Supervisor John Moorlach, who says he abhors the county’s system, argues that rather than being rigged in favor of executives and managers it simply benefits them more because they have longer careers at the county than the average county worker and therefore have a longer period in which to bank time.

Records do show that the largest payouts to longtime employees. But it is also true that the policy is tilted heavily in favor of the executive suite, regardless of tenure.

And records and interviews also show that the county’s top executives specifically pushed for policy changes during labor talks in the late 1990s and early 2000s — which they claimed would lead to cost savings — that triggered a significant increase in annual leave balances.

Under the system that has evolved since that time, general employees are allowed to cash out a maximum of 320 annual hours at 100 percent of pay upon retirement, according to the union’s memorandum of understanding with the county.

Managers, however, can cash out up to 480 hours at 100 percent, while executives are allowed up to 580 hours, according to a policy adopted in 2007.

The disparity becomes even more pronounced when it comes to annual leave hours that employees can cash out while they are still working, according to the documents.

The county has budgeted $11.3 million for ongoing leave payouts to employees in fiscal year 2013-14 and already paid out $3.4 million, according to figures circulated last month to county department heads.

General employees are allowed to cash out up to 40 hours each year based on the discretion of their department head, while the number for managers is 90 hours. But executives get up to 170 hours, according to the 2007 policy.

Such a consistent tilt on pay and benefit issues is itself beginning to raise questions.

“The disparity between the top managers pay and the line workers pay is growing and it is kind of a scam,” said Chris Norby, a former supervisor and assemblyman. “It’s a badge of honorif you are paying them more it means they are worth more.”

Making the ongoing payouts even more costly to taxpayers than those given upon retirement is the fact that they are factored into an employee’s pension formula.

That’s largely why de Mayo’s annual pension is higher than his final year’s base salary, said county Human Resources Director Steve Danley.

De Mayo did not return a reporter’s call seeking comment.

‘Really Ticked Off’

Moorlach said the county’s system for cashing out unpaid leave needs fixing on several levels. Among the aspects bothering him the most is the policy that allows departing employees to cash out their unused leave time at their final pay rate, rather than at the rate they were being paid when they accrued it.

This is one of the reasons why the payouts to the long-tenured executives were so high. de Mayo, for example, began accruing his sick and vacation leave in the 1970s, but was able to cash all of it out at $102.36 per hour, the rate he was being paid when he retired in 2009.

“I have vocalized my outrage at that approach,” Moorlach said. “I hope the [CEO Mike Giancola] and Danley are working on some solution because that is a directive I’ve given twice.”

Giancola refused the opportunity to comment.

Another policy move that some say has come back to haunt county leaders was the decision more than a decade ago to lump sick leave and vacation leave, which were accrued in separate accounts, into one “annual leave” account.

Until the late 1970s, all employees were allowed to bank and cash out both their vacation and sick hours. Then in 1977, as personnel costs were spiraling, county leaders instituted a range of reforms that, among other things, turned sick time into a benefit that new employees either had to use or lose.

That lasted until 1998, when the county negotiated the change to the current annual leave system in its negotiations with the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS). The benefit was extended to county attorney managers and executives in 2000 and then to all employees in 2002, according to Danley.

A staff report from then-CEO Janice Mittermeier’s office in February 2000 described the change as “cost-effective” and said that it would not only reduce operational costs but also increase worker productivity.

“Implementation of the annual leave plan will provide incentive for employees to accumulate their leave balances, thus reducing absenteeism, increasing overall productivity and reducing training and recruitment costs,” the staff report read.

David Sundstrom, who was the county’s auditor-controller at the time, said he told executives that the change would absolutely not reduce costs, especially since employees were being allowed to convert their 100 percent of their use-it-or-lose-it sick balances into redeemable annual leave.

“I was really, really ticked off,” said Sundtrom, who now holds a similar position in Sonoma County. “They did a 100 percent conversion, which is not at all an industry standardit should have been closer to 60 percent based on usage rates.”

Sundstrom said he did a calculation based on every employee’s sick time balance and determined that the conversion would be a one-time hit of $28 million to the county’s balance sheet. He said other officials described his calculation as an estimate that was inaccurate.

There was also disagreement over whether there would be an ongoing cost associated with the policy change, given that employees were now allowed to cash out part of their leave each year. Danley said the CEO’s office issued a directive to track the costs on a monthly basis.

“After they tracked the costs for awhile it became obvious that there were substantial costs,” Danley said. “So they just stopped doing the reports.”

“You wanted to laugh but you had to cry,” he said.

AOCDS President Tom Dominguez, who was at the bargaining table in 1998, is adamant that the push for the policy change came from the management side.

“It was not a popular move for our guys, it was a concession,” Dominguez said. “I know that because I was there. This is not something we concocted by any stretch of the imagination — this is something that management wanted in order to save money.”

Fast-forward 15 years and management seems to have a decidedly different view of the county’s system. But change is likely to come later rather than sooner. Right now the primary focus is on pension and health benefits, Danley said.

“It is a secondary item right now,” Danley said. “There are bigger fish we want to frybut it will end up on the (bargaining) table and at some point we will get a change.”

Regarding one group of employees, change doesn’t have to come at the bargaining table — it can come directly from the Board of Supervisors. That group is the high-level managers and executives.

But Danley doesn’t see that happening anytime soon either.

“I don’t think we would do that to the executives until we did it to everyone else,” he said.

Next: How vacation and sick leave payouts are a big issue in Orange County’s cities.

Please contact David Washburn directly at dwashburn@voiceofoc.org.

 

 

 

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

 

September 25

 

1998

 

The Daily Pilot published its annual list of “The Most Influential People of the Newport-Mesa Community,” or also known as the “Top 103.”  Number One was“Advantage, Lindsay – U.S. Open champ Lindsay Davenport aces Pilot’s annual influential list.”  I made it to the list for the fourth year in a row, making it to number 81, dropping from 51 in the prior year.

 

Orange County’s mighty treasurer/tax collector . . . Since predicting bankruptcy, when he talks, people listen . . . Created stir this year when he showed forgiveness to Merrill Lynch . . . Vice president of state’s Sesquicentennial Foundation . . . Spends every Thursday night fixing up 1974 Bricklin with son . . . is host of “Conservative Report” on cable access . . . Married, three children . . .

 

2008

 

Brianna Bailey and Alan Blank, in their weekly “The Political Landscape” column in the Daily Pilot, addressed “Fiscal plan relieves few – Local politicians raise a collective eyebrow at bailout strategy that asks for $700 billion.”  For those concerned about where I stood on the government bailout, I minced no words from the get go.

 

Area political leaders remained skeptical of a proposed $700 billion bank and mortgage federal bailout plan as U.S. markets edged lower Wednesday in the uncertain financial climate.

John Moorlach, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, knows a few things about money problems. He predicted the largest municipal bond portfolio loss and bankruptcy in U.S. history during his 1994 campaign.

Moorlach isn’t buying plans for the $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial system. The plan would only “enable” greedy Wall Street tycoons, he said.

“When I ran against Citron, I learned a lot about Wall Street and greed,” Moorlach said. “We’re going to step in to protect sloppy business decisions and leave taxpayers holding the bag.”

Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street is reassuring taxpayers this week that the county investment pool hasn’t been tainted by exposure to troubled firms. The treasurer’s office has $5.7 billion invested for the county, school districts and area cities.

“During this time of market stress, our office is giving each purchase heightened scrutiny and we are employing enhanced oversight techniques,” Street said in a written statement. “Taxpayer investments are safe, sound and secure.”

However, the county has a large chunk of holdings in troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Moorlach said.

“We’re safe now, but there’s more news every day, and we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said.

 

September 26

 

2003

 

The OC Register, in its “Letters to the Editor” section, provided a response to a previous Letter to the Editor in “Moorlach’s solution,” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Highway Robbery — September 23, 2013).

 

One thing came to mind when I read Steven Kea’s amusing letter.  I could hear the “oink, oinks” being squeezed out of the pork that Kea seems so afraid of losing.

 

Previously, I haven’t been able to see a solution to the corruption of public unions and their too-numerous doting O.C. employees, but along comescounty Treasurer John Moorlach with perhaps the only sensible way to drag Orange County out of her financial doldrums.

 

Moorlach may just start a trend of “taking back our souls” from the “friends among us” who worship at the altar of mammon – at our ever-increasing expense.

 

James Homer Russell

Rancho Santa Margarita

 

The LA Times provides an update on the recapture case in “Alarm Greets Prop. 13 Tax Case – Local and state leaders say they can’t afford the estimated $10 billion they’d have to give back if an O.C. ruling against valuations is upheld.”  In retrospect, it is interesting to observe how concerned Sacramento was about the dollar impact of the Superior Court ruling on its dire finances, but never volunteered to reimburse Orange County for its legal expenses in appealing the case.  To spoil the conclusion, my calm assurance on the potential result turned out to be on the mark.

Municipal and school budgets throughout California would collapse if an Orange County property tax lawsuit prevails on appeal in December and expands statewide, warn government officials arming to fight the ruling.

The state Department of Finance pegged the cost of losing the case at $10 billion — some $4.7 billion coming from counties and cities, and $5.3 billion from state government reimbursing schools for their lost revenue.

The 2001 ruling, by Orange County Superior Court Judge John M. Watson, declared unconstitutional a practice used by assessors statewide to increase property values greater than the 2%-a-year cap imposed by Proposition 13.

State assessors argue that the long-standing practice of catching up on otherwise-lost tax revenue because of stagnant real estate values, called recapturing, is legal. In the 1990s, some properties lost value and the owners paid less in taxes.

For government budget crunchers, the prospect of such a legal setback couldn’t come at a worse time. State officials this summer cobbled over most of a $38-billion budget gap through spending cuts, borrowing and one-time money shifts. The state faces an $8-billion shortfall next year if current trends continue.

The state is in no position to hand $5.3 billion to schools, argued John L. Burkey, attorney for the California Assn. of School Boards, in papers filed with the state appeals court challenging the ruling.

“Realistically, the whole house of cards of California school finance could crumble,” he wrote.

Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach said he isn’t worried about the impact because he doesn’t believe it will get that far.

“I think Judge Watson was just wrong,” Moorlach said, noting that the judge has had other rulings reversed. “If the appellate court doesn’t overturn this, though, then you’ll see everyone weighing in.”

A hearing before the state 4th District Court of Appeal has been scheduled for Dec. 16. Both sides have vowed to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case no matter what the decision.

2008

The OC Register’s Current “Around the Two Towns” columnist, Pat Michaels, made the following election season observation in his piece, titled “Finding a cop when you need one:”

Professor Mario Mainero, chief of staff for Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach has been appearing before Newport-Mesa service clubs urging support for Measure J on the November ballot.  The Measure would put restrictions on enacting laws boosting pension benefits for county employees without approval of the voting public.

September 27

 

1998

 

David Parrish of the OC Register provided an election update in “Silva has a lot riding on the runoff – POLITICS:  In 10 years, the teacher-turned-supervisor has become one of the most powerful politicians in O.C.”  I was mentioned in a discussion of what some perceived as one of Supervisor Silva’s weaknesses, his uneasiness in public.

 

His frequent reading from prepared notes contributes to the widely held belief among county employees that Silva is being propped up by his staff.  Sometimes his pre-written questions have already been answered or miss the point of the discussion.

 

In one instance in 1995, his propensity for reading prepared questions caused a brief flap.

 

Treasurer John Moorlach had just briefed the board with details of his new investment policy, when Silva – reading from notes – asked how many investigations there were of the county treasury.  Moorlach recalled being taken aback, because although at the time there were several continuing bankruptcy-related investigations, he was unaware of any directed at the newly revamped Treasurer’s Office.

 

After reading the same question again, Silva looked closer at the paper and realized he had made a mistake.  Silva then substituted “investors” for “investigations” and read the question for a third time.

 

Silva has heard this sort of criticism – especially about his reading from prepared notes –and is not amused.

 

“On the note cards, a lot of times that is my writing,” Silva said.  “I have bullet points.  I use that from my teaching background.”

 

Sometimes the board agenda can contain 90 or more items, and writing down notes and questions in advance is necessary, he said – something done by congressmen and other elected officials.

 

Moorlach said there is a refreshing side to Silva’s uneasiness at board meetings.

 

“There is something to be said about a guy who is uncomfortable but is truthful, rather than a toastmaster-plus speaker who is glib but lies to the people – like our president,” Moorlach said.

 

Lorenza Munoz of the LA Times also provided her perspectives in “Growing Apart:  Familiar Foes, Enduring Issues – Dave Sullivan’s environmental activism got him far in city politics.  His anti-airport views could be another matter.”  I was mentioned in a discussion on Supervisor’s Silva’s shared concerns on early debt retirement.

Born and reared in the district he now represents, Silva says he is proud of his record on the county board. He has established himself as a fiscal conservative who thinks of himself as a county spending watchdog.

He led colleagues to implement audit and treasurer oversight committees to ensure the county doesn’t again make the kind of risky investments that led to fiscal collapse four years ago. He also was the first supervisor to insist that all bankruptcy-related lawsuit settlements be earmarked to pay off the county’s remaining debt.

“I put these measures in place to guarantee that the people of Orange County will never have to suffer another bankruptcy,” he said.

Silva’s focus on paying off the bankruptcy debt also has earned him the backing of Treasurer John M.W. Moorlach, who had warned of then-Treasurer Robert L. Citron’s risky investments more than six months before the bankruptcy hit.

“I just think that Jim has proven himself,” Moorlach said about Silva’s work during the bankruptcy. “It was a very trying time. He was willing to deal with issues and talk finances.”

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