MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 1217 Echo — December 16, 2016

One of the more personally irritating bills for me this year was AB 1217 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 1217 — August 16, 2016 august 16, 2016 john moorlach).

I would characterize AB 1217 as a firefighter union’s play to mess with the Orange County Fire Authority’s Board of Directors (OCFA) during a season of bargaining unit negotiations. It was also another effort for Sacramento to meddle in local affairs (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Butt Out — June 13, 2015 june 13, 2015 john moorlach).

The bill is still being discussed in Orange County, as can be seen by the Seal Beach Sun article below. Seal Beach was in my Second Supervisorial District, so I’ve had mentions in the Sun numerous times. It’s fun to be back.

When AB 1217 came up in 2015, Sen. Robert Hertzberg attempted to arrive at a compromise, so the bill drifted into 2016. On June 29th, although not impressed with the negotiated deal when it came before the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, which Sen. Hertzberg chairs, I voted for it anyway.

When it came to the Senate Floor, I had a change of heart. The bill was still an intrusion into the County of Orange and I just could not stand by. I politely informed Sen. Hertzberg that I would vote against it and possibly speak in opposition.

I spoke against AB 1217. It failed to get enough votes and a reconsideration was granted. Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson was presiding and called on Sen. Hertzberg regarding another bill in the agenda’s order, "Would you like to try again?" It was a funny moment on the Floor and Sen. Hertzberg joked about how this next bill "had nothing to do with Orange County."

It eventually obtained the necessary votes that afternoon. But, it does show that a Republican can stand up and possibly convince his colleagues across the aisle to not vote for certain bills. All the same, many OCFA members are still frustrated, as alternates to its Board have been eliminated. And, in Seal Beach’s case, they did not achieve the outcome they were looking for, but had very expensive lobbying costs.

BONUS: I had an opportunity to discuss the pension crisis facing California on PBS SoCal’s "Studio SoCal." You can watch the half-hour show at http://www.pbssocal.org/programs/studio-socal/.

DOUBLE BONUS: I also had a fun interview with Phil Cowan of AM 1380’s "The Answer — Intelligent Conservative Talk Radio" in Sacramento. You can link to the segment at http://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/pension-crisis-update-senator-moorlach-ktkz-am-1380s-capitol-hour

Senator says lobbyist did not contact her

By Charles M. Kelly

State Sen. Janet Nguyen told the City Council this week that a lobbyist Seal Beach hired never contacted her to lobby to keep Seal Beach’s seat on the Orange County Fire Authority board.

The city paid Khouri Consulting more than $150,000 to lobby against a bill that changed local representation on the fire agency board. Assembly Bill 1217, which became law in September, eliminated alternate representation on the Fire Authority board. The original version would have reduced the number of seats on the board, eliminating the representation for small Orange County cities. During the public comment segment of this week’s City Council meeting, resident Dr. Robert Goldberg raised concern that the city had spent more than $150,000 on a lobbyist to oppose a bill that had passed. He also criticized Sen. Nguyen for voting in favor of the bill.

Nguyen was at the meeting to update the council on state legislation and to honor departing councilmen Gary Miller and David Sloan.

District Four Councilman Miller said he spoke with state senators Nguyen and John Moorlach and as far as he knew, the lobbyist never spoke with either of them. Miller has been a consistent critic of the city’s lobbyist.

Nguyen later came up to the podium and confirmed that the lobbyist never contacted her. She defended her vote in favor of the final version of the bill as that simply ratified a previous decision of the OCFA board. She also argued that Senate Democrats could have replaced the final version of the bill with the original if she had not continued to vote in favor of the final version. District One Councilwoman Ellery Deaton said she understood the process, but said the bill was a “foot in the door” for the state to interfere in the operation of the Fire Authority board. She said she, District Two Councilman Sloan and City Manager Jill Ingram had discussed the issue with Nguyen.

Mayor Sandra Massa-Lavitt told Nguyen that Seal Beach wants the alternate representative position restored. Massa-Lavitt also said she was disappointed that Seal Beach’s lobbyist did not speak to her.

As for the issue of an alternate representative on the Fire Authority board, Deaton said if Councilman Sloan had been sick on the night of a given meeting, Seal Beach would not be represented at that meeting.

Some individuals in the audience, impatient for public comment to resume, began calling for the council to “get on with it” and began slowly clapping. Massa-Lavitt tapped her gavel and called for order. Public comment then resumed.

That night the City Council also:

• Joined the Concerned Coastal Communities Coalition for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on July 30.

• Rejected all bids on a landscape maintenance contract and directed staff to do a cost-benefit analysis of having the work done by city employees.

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