MOORLACH UPDATE — USO @ JWA – May 10, 2014

The Board of Supervisors approved a relationship with USO (United Service Organizations) at last week’s meeting. The Daily Pilot covers the approval in the first piece below. The Orange County Breeze and the Newport Beach-Corona del Mar Patch provide the press release that was issued to announce the news in the second piece below.

The Daily Pilot also covers the OC Animal Care discussion from this week’s Board meeting (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Walter D. Ehlers Day — May 7, 2014 and MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Animal Care — May 6, 2014). Thanks to all those who have provided feedback on this topic. That is the reason for issuing UPDATES.

John Wayne to build USO center

Board of Supervisors approves a five-year lease; the facility will act as a welcome-home area for troops.

By Jill Cowan

For the first time in the organization’s more than 70-year history, John Wayne Airport will be home to a United Service Organization center, officials announced this week.

USO centers act as welcoming facilities for returning troops, where military members can hang out with their families, watching movies, eating, using Wi-Fi or getting travel assistance.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a five-year lease with the USO of Greater Los Angeles in a unanimous vote late last month, paving the way for the center, which will be in Terminal B, near the baggage claim area. Rent was set at $1 per year.

Irvine-based firm Snyder Langston has signed on to design and build the center as an in-kind donation, according to a news release.

"Our armed service members work tirelessly to safeguard our freedom and our security," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson in a statement. "We are proud of their service and delighted to work with the Bob Hope USO to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment at JWA for traveling service members and their families."

Officials at Bob Hope USO, which manages centers in the greater Southern California area, estimated that about 20,000 military members traveling on orders pass through JWA over the course of a year.

Bob Hope USO already runs facilities at Los Angeles International Airport, Ontario International Airport and Palm Springs Airport. It is one of the largest regional USO operations in the country, serving more than 130,000 military members and their families annually.

"We are thrilled that we can now make their travels a little better, whether it’s by helping a soldier about to deploy or one who’s far from home and just looking for some support and comfort," said Bob Kurkjian, executive director of Bob Hope USO, in a statement.

Kurkjian added that all services are free for visitors, and centers are staffed largely by volunteers.

Supervisor John Moorlach said in a statement that he looks forward to a "long relationship" with the USO at JWA.

"Orange County has a very strong commitment to those who serve in the military," he said.

Supervisors vote to allow USO center at John Wayne Airport

For 73 years, USO centers have welcomed troops and their families at airports across the nation. A unanimous vote last week by the Orange County Board of Supervisors will allow that warm welcome to be extended, for the very first time, at John Wayne Airport (JWA).

“Our armed service members work tirelessly to safeguard our freedom and our security,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “We are proud of their service and delighted to work with the Bob Hope USO to provide a comfortable and welcoming environment at JWA for traveling service members and their families.”

The center will be located in the Airport’s Terminal B, next to the baggage claim area on the Arrivals Level. Staffed by volunteers, the center will feature a canteen, movies, travel assistance and Wi-Fi. Active and reserve members and their dependents are welcome, as well as military retirees on a space available basis.

All services are complimentary for troops and guests.

“More than 20,000 military members traveling on orders pass through John Wayne Airport each year. We are thrilled that we can now make their travels a little better, whether it’s by helping a soldier about to deploy or one who’s far from home and just looking for some support and comfort,” said Bob Kurkjian, Executive Director of Bob Hope USO, one of the nation’s largest USO operations, managing centers at Los Angeles, Ontario and Palm Springs airports.

Bob Hope USO credited the Board of Supervisors and John Wayne Airport, and their dedication to supporting troops and their families, for making the center a reality.

The County is leasing the space to Bob Hope USO under a five-year agreement for $1 per year.

“Orange County has a very strong commitment to those who serve in the military,” commented Supervisor John Moorlach, in whose district the Airport is located. “Nearly every Board meeting starts with an invocation that includes those in uniform protecting our nation. The partnership with Bob Hope USO is welcomed and we look forward to a long relationship.”

“The Bob Hope USO serves Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties, and is a private, non-profit charitable organization,” adds Kurkjian. “Although the USO is chartered by Congress, we receive no funding from the government or the Department of Defense. We provide all our services at no charge to our guests, who are often in transit and heading into harm’s way. We are totally dependent on funding from individuals, philanthropic service organizations and generous corporate and foundation donors to provide these services as well as build, furnish and manage our airport centers, and support troops and their families in the communities we serve.”

One organization that has come forward to assist in making the new USO center a reality is Snyder Langston, which has agreed to design and build out the space as an in-kind donation.

“Snyder Langston is proud of the opportunity to partner in a meaningful way for the good of the community. We are thrilled to assist the Bob Hope USO on a design-build basis to help provide much-needed services to the military members and their families who travel through JWA each year,” said Stephen Jones, Chairman/CEO, Snyder Langston.

To join in this patriotic mission and for more information on volunteer opportunities, sponsorships or donations to the new USO center, go to bobhopeuso.org.

About Bob Hope USO

Bob Hope USO operates airport centers at LAX, Ontario International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport and soon Orange County’s John Wayne Airport, as well as providing USO programming and outreach at military installations throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

USO relies entirely on contributions from patriotic Americans and philanthropic corporations and organizations. Each year, we provide direct service to over 130,000 military members, their families and military retirees.

About John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport (SNA) is owned by the County of Orange and is operated as a self-supporting enterprise that receives no general fund tax revenue.

The Airport serves more than nine million passengers annually and reaches more than 20 nonstop destinations in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

More information can be found at www.ocair.com.

The article above was released by Bob Hope USO.

County could charge more for dog licenses

Budget shortfall has Board of Supervisors facing tough choices regarding animal-control agency.

By Jill Cowan

The Orange County Board of Supervisors this week voted to consider fee hikes to bridge a budget shortfall in what staff members and volunteers said is an animal-control agency still recovering from years of disarray and accusations of mismanagement.

County staff members will calculate a proposed fee structure for services, such as pet licensing and microchipping, to be brought before the board during the county’s annual budgeting process next month.

The 3-1 vote, with one abstention, came after what Board Chairman Shawn Nelson called a "robust" discussion that touched on a broader philosophical quandary surrounding the future of Orange County Animal Care: What role should the board play in regulating an agency that functions largely through service fees and contracts with 17 of Orange County’s cities?

And what is the county’s burden to pay for it?

"We need to do some serious looking at what our model is," said Supervisor John Moorlach.

Moorlach, along with Nelson and Supervisor Todd Spitzer, voted in favor of moving forward with user-fee increases, while Supervisor Janet Nguyen voted against that route. Supervisor Pat Bates abstained.

About a dozen speakers, many of whom are regular shelter volunteers or local animal advocates, pleaded with supervisors to avoid deep service cuts — one of three options before the board aimed at making up the $626,300 shortfall of the approximately $18 million budget.

The proposed cuts — which would have shuttered the county’s animal shelter on Mondays, cut down animal intake hours, eliminated a public education officer’s position and reduced a community outreach supervisor’s job to half-time — were the least desirable way of making up that difference, speakers told the board.

The agency is understaffed and, as a result, could be forced to contend with a rise in workers’ compensation costs, said Kathleen Sage, speaking on behalf of the union that represents kennel attendants.

The job "has become Russian roulette," she said. "It’s not a question of, ‘Will they get injured?’ It’s a question of ‘When they will get injured?’"

According to a staff report before the board at its meeting Tuesday, the department is operating with 15% of 139 positions vacant to decrease costs.

Two other options detailed in the report were bumping up the agency’s budget with money from the county’s general fund or raising fees.

"I don’t see the logic in not approving a modest budget increase," said Sharon Hayhoe, who founded the Noble Friends Foundation for OC Animal Care, adding that the agency has continued a decade-long transformation under Director Ryan Drabek, who took the job in 2010. "It’s a whole different animal now — pun intended."

Added Judie Mancuso, a Laguna Beach animal advocate and state veterinary medical board member: "The shelter and volunteers have gone above and beyond what other shelters in the state have done [in terms of encouraging spaying and neutering pets]. Now we need your support to do the right thing."

Although most of those fees haven’t been changed since about 2008, a round of proposed increases that supervisors shot down in January would have pushed costs for pet owners higher than those in neighboring jurisdictions.

So Bates and Nguyen resisted that option, saying taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the extra burden.

Bates asked if the agency and the county could strike a compromise — perhaps with the county paying for just a part of the shortfall and looking for different, less painful cuts.

Drabek told the board the cuts proposed in the staff report would slash the department’s operations to the bare minimum.

Already, contract cities agreed to kick in $780,200 to prevent any service reductions, other than the ones listed in the report. Otherwise, the budget gap would have been larger — about $1.4 million.

Nevertheless, Nguyen said she’d rather make up the remaining difference out of the county’s general fund than charge constituents more to keep their pets, which she likened to beloved family members.

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