MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Skepticism — December 18, 2015

Thank you to everyone who came by last evening for our Christmas Open House. You filled our new office with spirit, cheer and joy. Merry Christmas!

After an eleven month absence, I visited the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors’ meeting to reaffirm my long-time opposition to the idea of local cities building street car infrastructures. It was nice to visit a boardroom that I occupied as a County Supervisor for eight years. But, sometimes one has to repeat a strong concern.

I believe it is inappropriate for OCTA, which represents all of Orange County’s residents, to assume the subsidy of a street car system (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Control — August 13, 2014 august 13, 2014 john moorlach). I wrote an editorial providing ten reasons to oppose the street car (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Warning — June 16, 2014 june 16, 2014 john moorlach). A letter writer added an eleventh reason (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Feedback — June 21, 2014 june 21, 2014 john moorlach).

There is my minority opposition vote, along with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, at a previous OCTA Board meeting (MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Razing? — February 28, 2014 february 28, 2014 john moorlach). Plus the peril of eminent domain (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Desire — June 9, 2014 june 9, 2014 john moorlach).

With the numerous flaws, someone has to cut their losses and move on. The Anaheim Regional Intermodal Center (ARTIC) in Anaheim, near Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, is the butt of jokes. The High Speed Rail has a way making the blood boil in nearly all of my constituents. When will elected officials do things that are smart and effective, instead of cute? The OC Register‘s editorial board gets it in the first piece below.

In the second piece, the Voice of OC promotes the Inside OC with Rick Reiff television show. The piece starts with a mention of the most recent episode, featuring Norberto Santana, Jr. It is very enlightening and even includes a kind mention of me (thank you, Norberto). The piece also covers interviews with U.S. Representative Sanchez and yours truly.

Skepticism on streetcar

OCTA stalls on report critical of project.

Hopes for the proposed Anaheim streetcar’s derailment have ground to a halt for now, as the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted to postpone a decision for at least two months on a report compiled by an ad hoc committee that was critical of the project.

The committee’s leader, OCTA board Chairman and Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway, told the board that it would be inappropriate to consider cutting bus service and approve a project that could potentially cost the agency $500 million and would take people from ARTIC to Disneyland.

He also expressed concerns that the OCTA potentially could be on the hook for most of the costs because federal money likely wouldn’t come to a project mired in controversy and designed to benefit tourists rather than residents lacking transportation.

But many on the board voiced concerns about the process, preferring to send the report to a second committee rather than directly from the first committee to the board. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said it was really a question of priorities and choices and that the board should defer to the common good, which Mr. Tait said didn’t apply to the streetcar.

He noted that Anaheim Resort Transit already had a bus service that closely mirrored the proposed streetcar route between ARTIC, Disneyland and the Convention Center. That route, he said, averaged approximately 24 to 40 riders a day.

The cost was also a concern for state Sen. John ‍Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, a former OCTA board member who noted during public comment that “I did a lot of research last year when I was on the board on streetcar systems around the country and the reports aren’t good.

“I could only find one that is relatively solvent,” he said.

Anaheim planners have staked their fortunes on a streetcar supplemented downtown renaissance, but it’s our money their betting with. We hope the OCTA decides to cash out when the proposal returns to them.

PBS So Cal Broadcasts Reiff Interview on Voice of OC

By staff

This week on PBS So Cal, Inside OC is broadcasting a profile on Voice of OC and Publisher Norberto Santana Jr.

Orange County’s main broadcaster, Rick Reiff, sat down with Santana to talk about the development of Voice of OC and local investigative journalism.

Recently, the New York Times lamented the lack of investigative reporting across the nation and pointed to non-profit journalism as an outlet that is gaining steam.

Inside OC has joined a Voice of OC partner media initiative where local political content will be shared across both platforms. This week, the Foothills Sentry community newspaper in Orange also joined the Voice of OC partner media program.

The episode about Voice of OC runs this week on PBS So Cal’s main channel and across it’s two other digital channels, PBS SoCal Plus and PBS So Cal World all week long.

Inside OC also recently interviewed Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez about her U.S. Senate run and State Senator John Moorlach about his time in Sacramento.

Reiff hosted Sanchez, who took direct aim at Kamala Harris, saying the senate race will come down to the two of them and that she, Sanchez, will prevail by appealing to Latino voters and to southern Californians, who she said will make up two-thirds of the general electorate.

"If you’re a Southerner and are tired of the North running the business, then you’re going to be voting for me," Sanchez said.

She voiced sympathy for the plight of the drought-stricken Central Valley and said she supports development of new water sources, a key difference between her and Harris.

"We can’t stop taking showers forever," she said. "People down here are going to do what they can to conserve, but the reality is that in order to grow the economy of California, we need water."

She also touted her Washington experience, saying Harris has none, and her reputation for being able to work with Republicans.

Sanchez said a Harris supporter was responsible for disseminating the video of her making a "war cry" gesture while speaking to a caucus of Native Americans, prompting criticism of, and an apology from, Sanchez.

"Look at the record. I have been 100 percent on self-determination for the Native American people. She (Harris) has really gone after them on their sovereignty issues."

Sanchez, a member of both the Homeland Security Committee and Armed Services Committee, also said the country has made great strides in protecting itself against another terrorist attack.

Speaking just days before the Paris bombings and later the San Bernardino attacks, she described the country as being 95 percent safe. Getting to 100 percent, she said, would require "an incredible amount of money that we don’t have and a stripping of all of our rights as Americans."

Reiff also writes that Moorlach — the oft-confrontational former county supervisor is surprising many in Sacramento by making friends among Democrats, sometimes casting votes that go against his party’s line.

In his interview earlier this month, Reiff highlights that Moorlach was the lone Republican voting for a bill that allows a person taking a blood test to check a box to also be tested for HIV, as well as a bill that requires officers to record the race of anyone they pull over. Moorlach said members of the legislative black caucus surrounded him to thank him for the latter vote. "You’re not perceived as this staunch conservative "no on everything" — which we have seen happen, and it just doesn’t work."

But Moorlach tells Reiff he’s not compromising on fundamental issues, nor did he expect to win over Democrats on such issues.

Moorlach, a longtime critic of public employee unions during his county years, has continued that stance,. "Public employee unions really run the state. We call them the ‘B’ Team — they’ve been there, they’ll be there when I’m there and they’ll be there when I’m gone." He said the biggest challenge facing the state is its crushing debtload — a $117 billion "structural deficit" and even bigger unfunded employee pension and medical liabilities. He said the state’s options are to try to raise taxes, get serious about cutting expenses, capitalize on low interest rates to restructure debt, sell assets or, he added with a chuckle, look at "Who can we sue?"

Moorlach also discussed his on-going calls for reforms at Caltrans: "They are an easy target, aren’t they? … We’ve got the highest car tax, the highest gas tax and the worst roads."

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.

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