MOORLACH UPDATE — Mentoring — July 25, 2017

The Voice of OC provides its perspective on how the city leadership of Laguna Niguel is dealing with a Councilmember who is not playing team ball according to their preferences.

I love to work with reporters and deeply appreciate the journalism profession. Since it’s not too often when the reporter of a piece is referred to as an intern, after reading the Voice of OC piece below, I have a few suggestions to offer. And I do it as someone who wants to mentor, as I think this piece is the first of many more.

First, be more specific about what is actually happening. Do you remove someone from the city council? That would be done through a recall. Do you remove someone from the ceremonial position of Mayor? That would only take three votes of the city council. Not necessarily a big deal and should be in Robert’s Rules of Order.

Second, what is the cause or compelling reason for a special meeting? Asking that former employee’s names not be included on a brass plaque? Oh my. Finding out that the Mayor was a disappointed father who vented when his daughter was scorned? Whoa. This is not significant stuff.

Third, clarify what my relationship is to this brouhaha. I am currently a State Senator. But, I do not now have an "advisory committee."

Let me provide a little helpful elaboration. Current Laguna Niguel Mayor Jerry Slusiewicz served on my Treasurer’s Oversight Committee while I served as the elected Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector more than ten years ago.

Jerry has been involved in the community long before he ran for city council. And, he was an asset to my team and to the County of Orange (see MOORLACH UPDATE — “Vaxxed” — December 15, 2016 december 15, 2016 john moorlach). For a 2002 mention, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Proper Etiquette — December 4, 2012 december 4, 2012 john moorlach and, for a 2006 mention, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Toll — December 2, 2011 december 3, 2011 john moorlach.

Fourth, scratch below the surface. There was a special meeting to address a potential removal from the office of Mayor. Really? There is a better way to handle strong personalities than this. So, there must be something more.

Fifth, ask one of the best editors and publishers in the county, your boss, if you can spend more time on this matter. Perhaps the draft audit report must be very damning for the staff and its possible release may not reflect well on the sitting city council?

I get the sense that the audit report is providing awkward reportable conditions. What’s to do? Suppress it? Or go after the member who won’t go along with this tactic? Didn’t someone say that the cover up is even more disturbing than the crime?

I’ve been here before. I know what it’s like when a governing board has made up its mind and finds that retracting their position is too difficult. So let me provide some context. It happened to me a couple of times while serving on the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS) Board.

The first was a closed session meeting where we were informed of concerns about the system’s CEO. This was not the first time that issues were brought against her and I voted to terminate. The Board went nuts. They loved the CEO. How dare I step out of line and not support their idea to move her to a completely different building, where she would not have to interface with staff? Are you kidding me? For a glimpse of this fun experience, see MOORLACH UPDATE — POBs — February 5, 2011 february 5, 2011 john moorlach.

The second experience was the fixation of the OCERS Board to purchase premium land from The Irvine Company, as facilities at the Santa Ana Civic Center would be too dangerous. Are you kidding me? For an account of this fun chapter, find it in a classic Rick Reiff interview some twenty-one years ago, that garnered statewide attention, in MOORLACH UPDATE — Wild Animals — August 5, 2011 august 5, 2011 john moorlach.

Sixth, the publisher of the Voice of OC knows that drafts are not subject to public records requests. But, audit workpapers are not client privileged documents. Jerry Slusiewicz is dropping bread crumbs. Follow them and you may have a really note worthy story and a great intern experience.

BONUS: It’s time for a summer BBQ near the beach. Please come to my August 10th evening BBQ at the Baugh residence in Huntington Beach. For an affordable fund raiser that is filling up quickly, go to MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — BBQ Invitation — July 22, 2017 july 22, 2017 john moorlach.


Laguna Niguel Investigates Complaints Against Mayor And How To Possibly Remove Him



The Laguna Niguel City Attorney will investigate a list of complaints and alleged municipal code violations against Mayor Jerry Slusiewicz and explore how to remove the mayor from office, a first for the south Orange County city.

“It’s a witch hunt,” Slusiewicz said during his opening comments on Monday night’s special meeting. “It’s a massive squandering of taxpayer resources.”

The City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to authorize City Attorney Terry Dixon to begin fact-finding on the alleged violations and complaints and come back Aug. 7 with his findings and a process for removing a mayor from office. Slusiewicz voted no.

“I believe it’s a conflict of interest for the Mayor to run this meeting,” Councilwoman Laurie Davies said during opening remarks.

“I’m here to run the meeting,” Slusiewicz shot back. “I’m the Mayor,”

Laguna Niguel, like many OC cities, is a council-manager form of local government. That means the mayor is appointed by the council and steers the council meetings and can place items on the agenda. However, the mayor can’t act on behalf of the City Council — the council has to vote on such directions.

Furthermore, city code prohibits any council member — including the mayor — from bypassing the city manager and giving direct orders to staff.

Since it’s incorporation in 1989, Laguna Niguel has never had a process to remove a mayor.

“In our 28 year history, we’ve never had to consider removing a city mayor. I don’t know, once we have all the information, if that’s something we want to do,” said Councilwoman Elaine Gennawey, adding the city should have already had a policy on how to remove a mayor.

Among the allegations is that Slusiewicz violated the city code by telling Public Works Director Nasser Abbasazadeh to remove the names of just-retired City Manager Rod Foster and former Assistant City Manager Dan Fox from a plaque on a bridge.

Foster retired Monday and Fox left Laguna Niguel for Diamond Bar last month — both due to Slusiewicz, according to a June 8 email from Foster to the City Council and city attorney.

While Slusiewicz didn’t address all of the accusations against him, he did say he was within his rights when he instructed their names be taken down.

“Acting within the scope of my duties as a mayor, that is exactly what I did. Have I bruised some feelings over the past six months? Perhaps. Since when was carrying out my duties as mayor grounds for removal by my colleagues?” Slusiewicz said about removing Foster’s and Fox’s names from the plaque.

Although Dixon didn’t say if Slusiewicz violated city code order or not, he summed up the allegations against Slusiewicz.

“What it really comes down to, to a great extent, is allegations of bullying … by Mayor Slusiewicz,” Dixon said.

“There’s always more than one version of reality,” Slusiewicz said.

Slusiewicz, in a phone interview Sunday, said the allegations surfaced once he started bringing to light possible code violations in a draft financial audit that indicate there are inconsistencies in spending limits within city staff. He also said he has more than 10 years of financial auditing experience, including time on state Sen. John Moorlach’s advisory committee and the city’s investment, banking and audit committee.

“My duty remains solely to the Laguna Niguel taxpayers, if the price of honoring my commitment to the taxpayers costs me the title of mayor, so be it,” Slusiewicz said Tuesday night.

“The audit is a concern of all of us, but the audit is incomplete,” Gennawey said. “I don’t want anyone to think that we are minimizing the audit or any review of the audit.”

Gennawey called on the city attorney to review the audit once it’s complete to make sure it wasn’t interfered with.

However, Finance Director Steve Erlandson said although the draft audit came out in late June, it wasn’t until July 12 that he and Dixon received a copy because of interference from Slusiewicz.

Dixon said Sluciewicz wouldn’t provide a copy of the draft audit and he tried calling the audit firm, but was told they couldn’t provide him with it due to Sluciewicz’ orders.

“That was the first time as city attorney that I was denied that document,” Dixon said, adding he had to “basically, in my opinion, force you to provide me with that draft audit.”

Laguna Niguel has been considered a leader in financial auditing because the mayor and mayor pro tem are permitted to direct the auditing firm to look at areas they instruct, which adds layers of transparency and surprise to the audit that make it harder for staff to hide finances, according to an article published by the OC Register last year.

Others on the council claimed Slusiewicz was sidestepping the real issues at hand by constantly referring back to the audit.

“It sounds like, to me, that you’re using this audit to defer your responsibilities and your behavior how you acted as mayor. And it never has come up yet. You keep talking about the audit,” Davies told Slusiewicz. “It’s your behavior … that’s the bottom line.”

“I support there being a special meeting for one purpose and that is to get out the complaints that were presented to us,” Councilman John Mark Jennings said, reminding residents the meeting wasn’t about the audit. “That’s something I can’t take lightly and you don’t want me to take that lightly.”

Additionally, Slusiewicz allegedly tried to use his city standing to get his daughter a part in a Laguna Niguel Community Theatre play, according to a June 5 email from theatre director Jeremy Golden.

“For the next 26 minutes he yelled at me, stating that he did a favor for me by supporting our fee waivers and allowing us to use city space for our productions and that I had failed to return the favor by granting his daughter a part in the play,” Golden wrote in the letter to Dixon.

Meanwhile, Slusiewicz called on the council to immediately send the draft audit to the District Attorney’s office.

“I don’t want the fox watching the henhouse,” Slusiewicz said.

“At this juncture, to turn over any documents to any other entities, is a little premature,” Mayor Pro Tem Fred Minagar said about turning over the audit, reminding Slusiewicz it wasn’t finalized yet.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC intern. He can be reached at spencercustodio.


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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — BBQ Invitation — July 22, 2017

Aloha! What a year this has been! You’ve been observing my efforts through the UPDATEs that I have been issuing, in real time, about the fun I’m having in the Capitol. You know that I’m working very hard for you and the 37th District.

Now I need you to work hard for me. Please come to a fun backyard BBQ and enjoy a gathering of generous supporters for a fun evening near the beach. I don’t ask you for financial support very often. But, with the recent craziness up in Sacramento, I need to raise funds in order to assist candidates that know how to read a balance sheet. I need reinforcements. We’ve got to fight for California!

The price of admission is extremely reasonable. Please invite and bring as many friends as you are able. Just forward this e-mail to those who would be interested in attending. I’ll make this a little more interesting. Those who raise $2,000 or more will receive the brand new Vintage California Hawaiian shirt just released by High Seas Trading Company (it’s not even on their website so see the photo below). For those who enjoy wearing Hawaiian shirts, like I do, this is a real classy conversation starter. Just be ready to give me your male or female shirt size.

I look forward to your joining me for a fun summer evening event by responding to the information provided below. We’ll need your name to get you pre-approved at the manned gate. I am grateful to have you on my team. Mahalo.

Please join us for a Backyard BBQ Bash in support of

Senator John Moorlach

**Hawaiian Shirt Optional Attire**

At the home of OCGOP Chairman Emeritus

Scott and Wendy Baugh

6662 Blue Heron Dr, Huntington Beach, CA 92648

August 10th, 2017

5pm – 7:30pm

$100 ticket, $150 per couple

(Maximum donation per person is $4,400. Contributions are not deductible for income tax purposes)

State Law requires that we obtain the following information:


Street Address______________________________________________________

Email _____________________________________________________________





Name or Company Name as you wish to be acknowledged 

publicly:                                 ______________________________


RSVP to: or call (818) 389-0385

Please make checks payable to:

Moorlach for Senate 2020 

and mail to:

Campaign Compliance Group at 9070 Irvine Center Drive,

Suite 150, Irvine, CA 92618

You can also contribute online:

Paid for by Moorlach for Senate 2020

ID# 1392543

MOORLACH UPDATE — Crushing Blow — July 21, 2017

The topic of the closure of the Fairview Development Center continues in the first piece below. The Daily Pilot is doing the heavy lifting on the details, including a link to the Department of Finance’s budget proposal, on the site study (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Cap and Trade — July 14, 2017 july 14, 2017 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Legislative Efforts — June 29, 2017 june 29, 2017 john moorlach).

How refreshing. When was the last time you saw a publication peel the layers of the onion? And there are a lot of layers to be peeled. Bravo!

The reverberations from this week’s "cap and trade" vote will be felt for years to come (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Bad News/Good News — July 18, 2017 july 18, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Cap and Trade — July 14, 2017 july 14, 2017 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017 july 11, 2017 john moorlach).

The disloyalty of eight Republican legislators will have a dramatic impact on the Party’s brand in California that may be as profound as to destroy it permanently.


It’s not because Republicans are not allowed to compromise on the non-important stuff or swim with the current. But, in matters of principle, members of my Party need to stand like a rock. Not for our own vanity, but for the people that we represent.

Right now, it’s not working that way in the Capitol. Every time the state legislature comes to a critical vote, where Republicans are needed, just enough Republicans caved to approve a Democratic initiative. Then it is called "bipartisanship," when in fact, it is not. Rather than stand for something, certain members of our party breathe too much of the Capitol air and forget who elected them. And all we have is an eroding, sandy beach Party, that diminishes every time there is a small storm or wave. This has been the case for the last two or more decades!

Cal Coast News addresses this week’s chapter in a litany of Republican turncoats in the second piece below. Now the awkward dance of rationalizing a very awkward vote begins. As the piece names names, allow me to be very candid. It is my policy not to identify colleagues by name, as it is bad form. But, since the piece does, let me comment just a little.

Sen. Tom Berryhill did not have to vote for AB 398. His vote was not necessary, as all 27 Democrats voted for the bill. He has been around the block a long time and could have abstained. This would have satisfied those who convinced him to bolt from the Republican Senate Caucus. He should also have passed on the photo ops, thus minimizing the damage to his reputation. This old pro missed a simple solution for an awkward vote.

The Republicans in the Assembly, however, have a completely different story to tell. Their votes in support of AB 398 allowed Democrats targeted by Republicans in next year’s election to vote in opposition. Consequently, a few key Democratic Assemblymembers critical to the super majority were able to break with the Democratic Party’s ranks. Assemblymembers Gray, Limon, Quirk-Silva, and Stone could vote in opposition. Assemblywoman Cervantes could abstain. Now former Assemblyman, and just sworn in Congressman, Jimmy Gomez was not missed. And Assemblywoman Irwin did not have to show up, as she made longstanding arrangements to be out of town this week. Most of them knew AB 398 was a bad bill and there would be repercussions to supporting it, and they dodged the bullet.

So, members of the Irrelevant party allowed members of the Monopoly party to get a pass. Terms like "self-sabotage" and "voter betrayal" are being used by commentators for these Republican legislators. What’s worse is that they didn’t just marginalize themselves, they also marginalized the rest of their Republican colleagues. And, I can’t defend my "cap and tax" accommodating colleagues against these assaults.

This is a critical inflection point in the Party’s history. It’s crisis management time. I just hope the Party can survive the next few months and years. Let’s see if it has any leaders left to claim that "these are not dark days; these are great days." I will try to buck it up, but with friends like these, as the old expression goes, who needs enemies?


Fairview’s $2-million mystery is solved, and it doesn’t look promising

By Barbara Venezia

Last week I started to track down the parameters of the $2-million site survey the state is planning for closing the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa by 2021.

What prompted this was my column last month about Fairview and Sen. John Moorlach’s bill, SB 59, which would require the state to include the city and county in any decision regarding repurposing of the state-owned property. Currently, Sacramento doesn’t have to do that.

I also talked about how Moorlach, a Costa Mesa resident, was working with a coalition from Hoag and St. Joseph hospitals, as well as county and Costa Mesa city officials, to address mental health issues and homelessness as part of a network.

Included in this coalition’s scope is how a portion of Fairview could be used by such a network.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley says of the more than 105 acres at Fairview, 50% could be set aside for single-family housing, 25% for open space, 15% for mental health institutional services of some sort and 10% left for an undetermined use.

In that column, Moorlach mentioned a $2-million site study in the state’s budget for the property. A reader wondered what that “site study” meant.

That simple question certainly lacked a simple answer. It has taken me two weeks of emails and calls to get somewhat of an answer.

Moorlach’s office tracked my progress. They too were interested in the details of the survey.

The question on everyone’s mind was: If you don’t know the scope of the survey to begin with, how do you price it at $2 million?

The answer would finally come from the state Department of Finance in a seven-page budget summary request document, which I posted to

The summary starts out explaining how on April 1, 2016, the California Department of Developmental Services submitted a closure plan for Fairview that was approved by the Legislature.

It also said the state Asset Management Branch (AMB) is responsible for identifying alternative reuses for the Fairview campus and is requesting $2,168,000 toward contracting consultants.

It goes on to say the “consultants will assist with the evaluation of appropriate re-use options in order to identify constraints and opportunities; to make revenue estimations; to work with the city of Costa Mesa to identify local stakeholder interest in the reuse of the property; and to identify options that will generate the highest return to the state.” Such a return could include revenue to fund programs for the developmentally disabled community.

With Californians paying a high rate of income taxes and the large government bureaucracy in Sacramento, you’d think there’d be staffers who could handle this and not have to spend $2 million on consultants. Apparently not.

The document states that for a “project of this size and complexity, AMB needs to contract for external consultants with expertise in stakeholder outreach, biological and cultural resource assessment, property condition and infrastructure capacity assessments, traffic studies.”

It also says in phase one and two, if required, will need “environmental site assessments, hydrology and water resource studies, master planning studies and collaboration, alternatives analysis and adaptive repurposing studies, market studies, economic modeling, cost estimating and financial analysis, appraisal, and contract negotiations that are not available within existing staff.”

This wordy document is drafted in the broadest of terms with the sole purpose of justifying hiring consultants.

Between the legalese and repetitiveness, it seems this was written so no one could actually understand the specifics totally — a prime example of government circle jerk at its best.

So here’s what’s budgeted in the $2,168,000 for consultants:

Project management: $160,000

Civil engineering and “site related”: $210,000

Environmental assessments: $740,000

Market and economic analyses: $210,000

Traffic analysis: $75,000

Structural engineering: $30,000

Architectural and planning services: $485,000

Cost estimating: $60,000

Disposition costs: $130,000

Distributed admin: $68,000

I question how they can budget for architectural and planning services, as well as structural and civil engineering, when there’s actually no building plan in place.

And taking into consideration how Fairview has operated since 1959, why is there $740,000 for environmental assessments? Shouldn’t they know its impact already?

Do we really need to start from scratch here?

I could go on and on taking this consultant list apart, but this proposal is only the first step for the state to determine what to do with the property.

It has nothing to do with a post-closure plan, which will eventually fold into this multistep process. Who knows how many millions each step along the way will cost.

I’m sure consultants are already lining up for those paydays.

So how much of our tax dollars will the state eventually spend on this Fairview closure?

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1.

News For The California Coast

Jordan Cunningham bucks his base on cap-and-trade

While nationally Republicans are attempting to roll back climate polices, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of Templeton joined seven other Republican legislators in voting to support Governor Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade program. The vote has led to a backlash against the eight Republican legislators who are accused of supporting tax increases.

Launched in 2012, cap-and-trade is a controversial mechanism designed to lower greenhouse gases. Under the program, many industrial companies are required to garner permits for emission allowances.

Companies can purchase the permits from other companies or from auctions held by the California Air Resources Board. Portions of the costs are then passed on to taxpayers.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a March 29 letter to Assemblymember Vince Fong that cap-and-trade could raise gas prices by an estimated 63 cents per gallon in 2021, increasing to 73 cents per gallon in 2031.

Earlier this week, eight Republican legislators voted to extend the cap-and-trade bill for 10 years: State Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Stanislaus), Assembly members Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Catherine Baker (R-Walnut Creek), Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside), Heath Flora (R-Modesto), Devin Mathis (R-Visalia), Mark Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga), and Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley).

Cunningham said the vote to extend cap-and-trade will reduce taxes and support California businesses.

“Today my colleagues and I were able to reduce the costs of taxes, fees and regulations by $16 billion a year,” Cunningham said. “This bill ends the fire tax permanently and extends a manufacturing tax credit that will keep jobs in California. We have commitments that revenues from the auction will support agriculture, help farmers upgrade their technology, and enable local fire departments to buy new trucks and equipment.”

At Wednesday evenings Republican Central Committee meeting, Cunningham called in to defend his vote saying it helps puts a nail in the coffin of the bullet train and lowers taxes.

Nevertheless, many Republican leaders contend the extension will raise the cost of living for most Californians.

“We believe that the proposed cap-and-trade extension combined with the gas tax and the car tax hikes will be a crushing blow to California residents and small businesses negatively impacting their quality of life,” Senator John Moorlach said in a letter to Governor Jerry Brown.


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Bad News/Good News — July 18, 2017

I have bad news and I have good news. Let’s start with the bad news. Last evening, both chambers of the state legislature voted to approve AB 398, the Cap and Tax extension bill. It passed thanks to the votes from the majority party, with a few Republican votes (very few) thrown in.

This is another Governor-Brown-cram-down, rushed through with the knowledge that the monopoly party would deliver the votes. Now, time will tell who is more prescient about the ramifications. Will California prove to the world that you can tax your way out of carbon dioxide? Or will it damage the state’s economy enough to push it ahead of other failing states, like Illinois or Connecticut, to insolvency?

All I can say, with such a short and hurried time line, we did our best to engage in the debate (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Cap and Trade — July 14, 2017
july 14, 2017 john moorlach). Only one Democrat rose to defend AB 398 yesterday afternoon, so I decided to jump in on the Senate Floor anyway, and shared my thoughts on a real threat to California: fiscal solvency (see

CBS Sacramento provides its perspective in the first piece below. The Associated Press had its world famous photographer, Rich Pedroncelli, on the Floor and he caught me listening during the discussion. My seat mate is Senator Andy Vidak. It’s the second piece below.

Now for the good news. Even with my opposition to his climate change agenda, the Governor signed three of my bills last evening. Thank you, Governor Brown.
The Highland Community News provides the Governor’s press release in the third piece below. For a refresher, here are the helpful links:

SB 665 — See MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 2: Another Tax! — July 7, 2017 july 7, 2017 john moorlach

SB 671 — MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 671/Prepayment — May 14, 2017 may 14, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — District Events — May 13, 2017 may 13, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Snubbing — May 10, 2017 may 10, 2017 john moorlach, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Repealing the Cap — May 7, 2017 may 7, 2017 john moorlach.

SB 742 — MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 2: Another Tax! — July 7, 2017 july 7, 2017 john moorlach, MOORLACH UPDATE — Legislative Efforts — June 29, 2017 june 29, 2017 john moorlach, and MOORLACH UPDATE — PACE and HERO — April 30, 2017 april 30, 2017 john moorlach.

California Cap And Trade Bill Passes Legislature With Republican Support

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California legislators passed an extension of the state’s program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Monday night, sending the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The bill was supported by one Republican senator and seven Republican Assembly members, which were needed to narrowly pass the legislation in both houses.

“That’s why we have Republicans voting here. That’s why we’re all here, Democrats and Republicans because we have a path forward,” said Brown in a news conference following the assembly vote.

He called Assembly Bill 398 a “durable foundation moving forward” and a way to “cut costs and cut emissions.”

The “cap and trade” bill requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions. The new legislation would keep it operating until 2030.

Supporters say it will move the state closer to lower emissions goals and set the stage for the world to follow. There are also protections for rural communities and areas with high unemployment and poverty.

“This is a huge win for all Californians,” said state Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, “the world is watching.”

De Leon said the bill was “not perfect” during his comments on the Senate floor. He continued saying, “we shouldn’t let perfect stand in the way of good.”

Opponents of the bill worry the financial burden of potentially rising energy costs could hurt all Californians.

“We continue to put pressure on poor people in California on the middle class, and we need to figure out other ways to address environmental concerns in California,” said Sen. Ted Gains.

Other Republicans chimed in on social media.

Sen. John Moorlach tweeting, “I don’t understand how addressing a minor change in temperature 100 years from now should rest primarily on CA taxpayers #capandtrade”

The California Environmental Justice Alliance also opposes the bill. The group stated the bill would “undermine the state’s ability to achieve California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.”

The statement continued “we are deeply concerned about the role Big Oil has played in drafting this legislation behind closed doors.”

Governor Brown finished his remarks late Monday night saying CO2 emissions are “not a local issue. They’re a global issue.” He called on California to be the example for the rest of the world.

Drew Bollea

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, left, listens as lawmakers debate a climate change bill, Monday, July 17, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. The Senate approved Assembly Bill 398, a bill to extend California’s cap-and-trade bill, and sent it to the Assembly for a final vote.

Governor Brown Issues Legislative Update

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has signed the following bills:

AB 212 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) – California Victim Compensation Board: claims.

AB 321 by Assemblymember Devon J. Mathis (R-Visalia) – Groundwater sustainability agencies.

AB 323 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) – CalFresh: emergency food provider referrals.

AB 1460 by Assemblymember Matthew M. Dababneh (D-Encino) – Licensees: fiduciary funds.

AB 1492 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) – State claims.

SB 141 by Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) – Personal income taxes: exclusion: loan discharge.

SB 240 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Davis) – County service areas: farmworker housing: County of Napa.

SB 324 by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) – Public officers: custodial officers.

SB 610 by Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) – Wrongful concealment: statute of limitations.

SB 665 by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – Elections: ballot measures.

SB 671 by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – County employees’ retirement: retirement funds: transfers.

SB 742 by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – City treasurers.

The Governor also announced that he has vetoed the following bill:

SB 341 by Senator Scott T. Wilk (R-Lancaster) – School bonds: citizens’ oversight committee: member terms. A veto message can be found here.

For full text of the bills, visit:

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Cap and Trade — July 14, 2017

The craziest story of the moment is the Governor’s insistence on passing even more draconian legislation on the topic of climate change in the form of extending what is known as cap and trade (or, in this iteration, maybe cap and tax) (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017 july 11, 2017 john moorlach).

Gov. Brown believes that "climate change is real" and that California has to be the guinea pig in the world stage on addressing it. Therefore, Californians have to make certain financial sacrifices now to protect those who follow us 100 years from now. And that is only if his postulation that "climate change is real."

With "quiet dignity and grace" (a line from "Young Frankenstein"), the Governor claimed that on Monday the Legislature would be making "the most important vote of our lifetimes."

Is the vote to disallow collective bargaining a la Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?

Is the vote to abolish the California Rule, and modify pension formulas going forward (see

Is the vote for establishing a hybrid pension plan that includes a defined contribution component?

Is it a plan to make state government more efficient, since California has the highest tax rates and still can’t deliver decent services and roads to its residents?

Is the vote to address the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation?


It’s about one man’s personal crusade to supposedly "save the planet," when the science may not support his claims (see

His comments culminated with the hysterical claim no one else in the country seems to believe enough to enact mitigating policy: “Climate change is a threat to organized human existence.” Pop some corn and enjoy his harangue.

No doubt, everyone is concerned about our planet. But, at a cost of some ninety cents per gallon of gas? Most people don’t think so.

Red, Green & Blue provides its perspective of the latest on this debate in the first piece below. At the beginning of this week we were told the vote would be on Thursday evening. It is now planned for Monday afternoon. For clarification, NGO means non-governmental organizations and EJ stands for Environmental Justice. The piece refers to a letter that the Senate Republican Caucus delivered to the Governor yesterday. It is provided in the second piece below, courtesy of the Highland Community News.

The third piece is from the Daily Pilot and provides an update on the Fairview Developmental Center closing site study. After the piece was submitted, the details of the projected cost was provided to the author. Stay tuned.

The fourth and final piece is in the OC Register’s Letter to the Editor section and provides an even crazier notion. As soon as my wife finds out where Tom Cagley, the letter’s author, resides, I’m not sure what she’ll do to him. But, I would recommend that he consider hiring a security team or a body guard. (Honey, I’m sure Mr. Cagley was just kidding.)

Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade bill passes Senate Environmental Quality Committee

Assembly Bill 398, Governor Jerry Brown’s legislation extending California’s controversial cap-and-trade program, passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee by a five- to-two party line vote today. It will head to the Senate floor on Monday, July 17.

By Dan Bacher
California cap and trade infographic from KQED by Andy Warner

The bill is opposed by many environmental justice, consumer and conservation groups, although supported by some “Big Green” NGOs, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the California League of Conservation Voters and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.

Background: California’s cap-and-trade bill is a giant wet kiss to big oil

In public testimony today, Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch California director, urged lawmakers to oppose AB 398, legislation that he says “gives major giveaways to the oil and gas lobby.”

“Governor Brown wants to give the oil and gas industry a pass to pollute for another decade.” said Scow. “This bill, that is supported by Sempra Energy and the fossil fuel industry, makes a mockery of California’s climate leadership.”

“Legislators who care about our state’s future should vote no on AB 398 and instead demand polluters make real emissions reductions at the source,” he concluded.

Julia May, senior scientist at Communities for a Better Environment, summed up the many problems with AB 398:

“The Cap & Trade extension was written by the oil industry, is even worse than the current failed program, includes preemptions from local action, gives away so many free credits we will never meet climate goals, and allows oil refineries to expand indefinitely with no program for Just Transition to clean energy that is so desperately needed in EJ communities,” May said.

Democratic Senators Jerry Hill, Nancy Skinner, Henry I. Stern, Bob Wieckowski (Chair) and Ricardo Lara voted for it, while Republican Senators Jeff Stone (Vice Chair) and Ted Gaines voted against AB 398.

Governor Brown made a passionate pitch at the hearing at the State Capitol on the legislative package that includes both AB 398 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and AB 617 by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). Brown unveiled AB 398 on Monday with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

“This isn’t about some cockamamie legacy,” Brown said in the hearing.

“A lot of you people are going to be alive, and you’re going to be alive in a horrible situation,” Brown said as he turned to the crowd. “This isn’t for me, I’m going to be dead. This is for you, and it’s real!”

Brown has been trying to get a two-thirds vote in favor of the package in order to avoid any legal challenges.

A letter from members of the Senate Republican Caucus was delivered to Governor Brown outlining their concerns on cap-and-trade this morning before the meeting. The letter conveys to the Governor that the “Caucus is united in opposition to the current efforts to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia).”

The letter was signed by Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine), Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado), Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga), Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County) and Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley).

Other organizations and agencies listed in opposition to AB 398 by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee include: the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, Consumer Watchdog, Friends of the Earth US, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, Sierra Club California and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Then today, “a broad and deep coalition” of climate and environmental justice groups announced their opposition to AB 398, “the cap and trade bill that began with a Western States Petroleum Association wish list,” according to a press release from RL Miller at Climate Hawks Vote:….

On June 28, In These Times revealed that leaked documents show that the Brown administration was promoting a cap-and-trade measure, not then yet a bill, “laden with talking points that appear to be ripped near verbatim from a policy paper by the state’s influential oil and gas lobby.” (…)

(Image from KQED by Andy Warner)

Senate Republicans Convey Cap-and-Trade Concerns to Governor

Senator Mike Morrell joins opposition

SACRAMENTO – This morning, a letter from members of the Senate Republican Caucus was delivered to Governor Jerry Brown outlining their concerns on cap-and-trade. The letter conveys to the Governor that the "… Caucus is united in opposition to the current efforts to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia)."

Below is the full letter to Governor Brown:

July 11, 2017

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Governor, State of California

State Capitol

Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

California State Senate Republicans share the concerns of our constituents and fellow Californians. We are committed to protecting and enhancing California’s environment while ensuring public health and preserving quality of life for today’s Californians and for future generations.

Preserving quality of life for all Californians requires thoughtful policies that provide for balance and protection of California’s fragile economy. For this reason, we write to advise you that our Caucus is united in opposition to the current efforts to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program through Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia).

Just last year, California adopted legislation expanding climate change emission goals. Senate Bill 32 mandated a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 with no consideration of the economic side effects. Senate Republicans opposed SB 32 because of concerns that it would adversely impact many households and businesses statewide. The California Chamber of Commerce correctly labeled SB 32 as a job killer.

Unfortunately, many of the mechanisms the state’s regulatory agencies have used to reduce carbon emissions have increased costs for consumers and for employers. Included in those increased costs are increases in the prices of electricity and transportation fuels. We are concerned that this rushed effort to enact a cap-and-trade extension will be no different.

We know that we do not need to remind you that this year’s Senate Bill 1 enacted a gas tax increase of 19 cents per gallon and a significant car tax increase. The Legislative Analyst’s Office advised in a March 29, 2017 letter to Assemblymember Vince Fong that cap-and-trade could raise gas prices by an estimated 63 cents per gallon in 2021, increasing to 73 cents per gallon in 2031. The cap-and-trade price impacts will be imposed on top of the tax hikes attributable to SB 1. We believe that the proposed cap-and-trade extension combined with the gas tax and car tax hikes will be a crushing blow to California residents and small businesses negatively impacting their quality of life.

We are also deeply concerned about the way in which AB 398 is being handled and rushed to a vote. This bill would extend and significantly reconfigure a multi-billion dollar program, whose effects on the State’s economy to date have not been seriously examined and discussed. Given the magnitude of its effect on the price of food, fuel, electricity, manufactured goods, and numerous statewide businesses that are sensitive to price increases in the price of fuel and power, it is astounding that a bill of this import would be rushed through the Legislature so quickly without time for meaningful public discussion and debate.

It is also difficult for the Senate Republican Caucus to envision supporting this program simply based on the fact that there are no binding guarantees that the revenues collected will not be diverted for other purposes. Time and time again, we have seen fees and taxes created for noble and important purposes, only to have them be spent on other priorities entirely unrelated to what was promised.

It should come as no surprise that the Senate Republican Caucus objects to the continued use of significant cap-and-trade revenues to fund the high speed rail program, which will do nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.

Lastly, we believe that it is wholly improper to give the Air Resources Board (ARB) such wide latitude to draft the regulations which implement this program. Although this bill sets out some useful guidelines to guide the ARB in this task, it still lacks any provision that would give the Legislature the ability to review or modify any of the proposed regulations as they are being prepared. This is deeply concerning, especially since this bill empowers the ARB to determine the floor and ceiling price of the allowances being sold, as well as actual number. This will give that agency enormous power over the state’s economy and the disposable income of its citizens. We cannot abide any legislation that is so deeply antithetical to representative government and the separation of powers.


Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel)

Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine)

Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield)

Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado)

Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)

Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga)

Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove)

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama)

Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County)

Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford)

Senator Scott Wilk (R-Antelope Valley)

The Fairview Developmental Center and its $2-million mystery

Barbara Venezia

From time to time I like to update readers on storylines they’ve shown interest in.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which is slated to close in 2021 and state Sen. John Moorlach’s Senate Bill 59, which would force the state to include the city of Costa Mesa and Orange County in any decision regarding future reuse of the Fairview property.

Moorlach proposed the bill to address concerns about how Sacramento could hypothetically do whatever it deems fit with the state-owned land without consulting local governments.

Moorlach noted $2 million in the governor’s budget for a site survey. That prompted a reader to ask me what exactly a $2-million site survey includes.

I went back to Moorlach.

The Costa Mesa Republican explained this price quote was also given by the state Department of General Services for the Sonoma Developmental Center, which is also closing.

Speaking with spokeswoman Monica Hassan from the Department of General Services, she really didn’t have any information other than saying the survey should take place before the closing of Fairview, and no parameters for it have been determined.

She said part of the survey would most likely include options as to what to do with the property moving forward.

That left me wondering: If you don’t know the scope of the survey to begin with, how do you price it at $2 million?

Hassan suggested I call the Department of Finance. I’ll keep readers posted when those folks get back to me.

Letters: Travis Allen for governor

Gov. Moorlach?

Your list of gubernatorial candidates resembles the presidential candidates, or most of them, for both parties in 2016: With the exception of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the GOP had the same old tired wannabes’ and the Democrats were no better with its list of has-been or never weres.

Look at the list of Democrats and all that are there are politically correct candidates with agendas that are not just suspect, but discredited. I don’t know the GOP candidates you name, but probably neither does anyone else outside of their respective districts.

Personally, I would prefer someone that is a bit of a maverick, such as state Sen. John Moorlach. One of his more enduring qualities is he is not an attorney. He ran against the GOP establishment and got elected to the Senate.

Sen. Moorlach, in my opinion, is interested in pragmatic solutions, not political correctness.

— Tom Cagley, Lake Forest

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MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 1250 Labor Dominance — July 13, 2017

Assembly Bill 1250 was presented to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee yesterday morning (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Who’s Your Daddy? — July 1, 2017 july 1, 2017 john moorlach).

This bill is supported by public employee unions who wish to continue their dominance in county functions. Here is a partial list of acknowledged supporters of the bill:

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
AFL-CIO (Sponsor)
California State Council of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Orange County Employees Association

The list of those in opposition would fill a couple of pages, so I’ll spare you. But, they showed up to voice their concerns.

I advised the author that working with counties, their impacted nonprofit organizations that perform various services, and other contractors, would be the best way to obtain a proper form of balance on addressing the services that the state requires they perform.

There are times when employees can do a better job than having the services outsourced. I proved that when I served as the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector for twelve years. But, always emphasizing the of hiring public employees is not the best way to perform the core responsibilities of government. This is especially true with the ever increasing costs of hiring government employees with their various above market benefits.

I mentioned that this week AFSCME filed a grievance against Western Michigan University because it hired a crew to clear land of poison ivy on the campus. AFSCME protested because it felt that it took jobs that supposedly belong to union workers. So, who did the University hire? A herd of goats, who could eat the poison ivy and other noxious weeds for a very low cost. See

I stated that with such pressure by public employee unions to dominate to this extreme, it reminded me of the phrase, "Who’s your Daddy?" That got a strong reaction from those in attendance. The Ventura County Star provides its perspectives in the piece below.

I opposed AB 1250 due the exemption of certain services in Santa Clara County (which includes the city of San Jose), an awkward and disingenuous technique used by the monopoly party to get the necessary votes for passage. And while the committee was lectured by the authors about how local government needed to move forward aggressively, what they failed to mention is that cities were also exempted from this bill. So, San Francisco County was also exempted. And a recent budget trailer bill exempted Marin County from providing affordable housing.

More importantly, I opposed it for the onerous costs it would place on the remaining 56 counties. California needs to observe Connecticut and Illinois, two failing states, and be proactive in the emphasis of pursuing more outsourcing wherever possible, not less. (See my Committee opening remarks at

Panel OK’s contracting bill in close vote

Kathleen Wilson

A state Senate panel OK’d a controversial bill Wednesday that would impose controls over outsourcing of county government jobs.

Voting 4-2 with one abstention, the Senate Governance & Finance Committee approved the bill staunchly supported by labor and adamantly opposed by leaders of county governments. County managers would have to prove that contracting is cheaper and as equitable as having public employees do the jobs under Assembly Bill 1250.

In Ventura County and around the state, managers of county governments say the legislation will inhibit their ability to provide vital public services, including health care and social programs.

The legislation does not ban contracting, but critics say it sets such onerous requirements that it would have that effect. The bill protects jobs and holds private agencies accountable, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is sponsoring the legislation.

In the Ventura County government, $445 million or 20 percent of the $2.24 billion budget this year goes to private contractors. They supply services ranging from medical care and counseling to cybersecurity, employing close to 1,500 people, officials said.

The legislation has already passed in the Assembly, but Wednesday’s vote marked the first hearing and vote by a panel in the Senate. If OK’d in the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate, the bill would have to go back to the Assembly because it has been amended, county officials said.

Voting yes were Sens. Jim Beall, D-San Jose; Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina; Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; and Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys. Voting no were Sens. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, and Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove.

Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, abstained after expressing concerns about the ability of small, rural counties to comply with the bill.

Legislators suggested that the bill may be amended as it moves through the Senate to provide flexibility for rural areas and nonprofit agencies.

All California counties but San Francisco, which has a unified county-city government, would be covered by the bill. An exemption is also being entertained for health care services offered by Santa Clara County.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — DA Drama — July 12, 2017

The District Attorney drama in Orange County continues. It reminds me of the Jim Sleeper book on Orange County history, titled "Turn the Rascals Out: The Life and Times of Orange County’s Fighting Editor Dan M. Baker."

So, let’s provide a little history about recent Orange County District Attorneys, with the assistance of the internet. If history is not your thing, then jump down to the LA Times article below (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017 july 11, 2017 john moorlach).

We start with Cecil Hicks, who served as Orange County District Attorney from 1966 to 1989 (see This link provides an introduction to his successor, Michael Capizzi.

Orange County Michael Capizzi would emulate his mentor. But he made a major move, or misstep, depending on which side of the story you’re on, in pursuing campaign concerns with former State Assemblyman Scott Baugh (see A review of these actions were addressed in the LOOK BACK for November 2, 1997 at MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — November 2, 2012 november 2, 2012 john moorlach).

As a postscript, Michael Capizzi, who served as the OC DA from 1989 to 1998, failed in is attempt to become California’s Attorney General. He would follow that with a failed campaign to be elected to a Superior Court judgeship. So, you now have the context for my quote below in the LA Times piece on the race to become the next District Attorney in 2019.

Michael Capizzi was the DA when the OC bankruptcy occurred. He had received all of the audit reports prepared by then OC Auditor-Controller Steven Lewis, but decided to prosecute the OC Supervisors, those who had not termed out at the end of 1994, anyway. You can see the ire of the Board of Supervisors in the July 21, 1998 LOOK BACK, as they performed probably the only review of countywide elected officials, at MOORLACH UPDATE — I-405 Hearing — July 24, 2013 july 24, 2013 john moorlach.

Michael Capizzi also settled independently with Merrill Lynch and sealed the investigation records, which rightfully sent the County’s leadership into a tizzy. See the June 20, 1997, LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — Community Volunteers — June 20, 2012 june 20, 2012 john moorlach, the July 24, 1997, LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — August 23, 2012 august 23, 2012 john moorlach, and the June 17, 1998, LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — June 18, 2013 june 18, 2013 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — August 23, 2012 august 23, 2012 john moorlach.

Ten years later, I was still miffed, as you can see from the LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013 march 22, 2013 john moorlach.

The July 22, 1998 LOOK BACK in the same link provides a little history of the transition between Michael Capizzi and his successor, Tony Rackauckas. As a piece of trivia, then Supervisor Todd Spitzer is included in the discussion. For another similar link, see June 23, 2008, at MOORLACH UPDATE — Begets a New Vote — June 25, 2012 june 25, 2013 john moorlach.

Tony Rackauckas would have to decide on the fate of these bankruptcy Supervisors, as an obvious conflict of interest concern needed to be addressed. See the November 3, 2000, LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — Election Night — November 3, 2010 november 3, 2010 john moorlach and the March 9, 2001 LOOK BACK at MOORLACH UPDATE — — March 9, 2011 march 9, 2011 john moorlach.

For a fun overall review of the bankruptcy, from the tenth anniversary perspective, Rick Reiff has a great column in the December 13, 2004, LOOK BACK at the MOORLACH UPDATE — Election Night — November 3, 2010 november 3, 2010 john moorlach.

There you have some fifty years of OC DA history. And as a new chapter begins on this office, the drama will get more interesting over the next year, I’m sure.

As for cap and trade, the Thursday night Senate Floor Session has been postponed to noon next Monday (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017 july 11, 2017 john moorlach).

Orange County D.A. is investigating his biggest critic — a former ally — as ugly political battle looms

By Adam Elmahrek

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas had groomed his senior prosecutor Todd Spitzer as his successor — and then he fired him.

The termination seven years ago set off a bitter political rivalry that is expected to culminate in 2018 when the two face off in an election for Orange County’s top prosecutor.

But their campaigns are likely to be complicated by one fact: Spitzer has been the subject of an investigation by Rackauckas’ office and state authorities, according to four sources familiar with the probe.

The Orange County district attorney’s office and the Fair Political Practices Commission have been looking at how Spitzer raised campaign money.

They also are examining the supervisor’s hiring of a former legal client who said she paid off a legal debt to Spitzer by working for his campaign and in his supervisorial office, the sources said. No one has been charged or accused of wrongdoing.

‘Two kids … hitting each other’

“It’s just going to be viewed down here as political rivalry,” said Shirley Grindle, the county’s longtime campaign finance watchdog and a vocal critic of Rackauckas. “The two kids on the block hitting each other.”

Last year, Rackauckas accused Spitzer of “falsely impersonating” a prosecutor in robo-calls promoting a ballot measure. And in May, Spitzer sent a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions calling for a federal takeover of the district attorney’s office and accusing Rackauckas of misconduct, including interfering in political corruption investigations.

Rackauckas’ office didn’t return phone calls for comment. Spitzer declined to comment in a message sent to a reporter by an advisor.

Grindle and others said that this investigation is unusual because Rackauckas’ office has prosecuted so few political figures. By contrast, Rackauckas’ predecessor, Michael Capizzi, had a reputation for his aggressive pursuit of political corruption dating back to the 1970s, when as a prosecutor in the office, he brought charges against dozens of elected officials, including two county supervisors and a former congressman.

“If anything, Tony has been very laissez-faire about investigating elected officials,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, a former elected county treasurer and ex-county supervisor. “He’s the anti-Mike Capizzi.”

In May, Rackauckas’ former chief of investigations, Craig Hunter, filed a claim against the office alleging that Rackauckas “interfered in political corruption criminal investigations in the County of Orange, involving candidates that he endorsed politically.” The district attorney’s office has denied the allegations and called them an attempt by a former official “to get money from Orange County taxpayers,” according to reports in Voice of OC and the Orange County Register.

District attorney probing financial questions

The Times spoke to three witnesses who said they had been contacted by investigators as part of the probe: Spitzer’s former chief of staff George Cardenas, ex-campaign staffer and former chief of staff Mike Johnson, and a woman who worked for both the campaign and Spitzer’s supervisorial office, Christine Richters.

Also, sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity described the outlines of the investigation to The Times.

The investigation focuses specifically on whether Spitzer improperly spent campaign funds for personal benefit at places such as Costco, sources told The Times.

Investigators are also looking into whether Spitzer violated any laws when he hired a former legal client, Richters, to his campaign and later his supervisorial office, according to Richters and other sources.

In an interview with The Times, Richters said she told investigators she owed money to Spitzer to cover legal bills she racked up when Spitzer represented her as a private attorney. She said she did not have the means to pay him. So, she told investigators, they agreed on a deal in which she would work for his 2012 supervisorial campaign — and later his supervisorial office — then pay him back with money she earned.

Richters said she told prosecutors she deposited paychecks from the campaign fund and public money from the supervisor’s office and gave the cash back to Spitzer. She met Spitzer at the county parking lot and her home to give him the cash, which she told investigators totaled about $7,000.

A second source told The Times that this is roughly the account Richters gave to investigators.

Johnson, another former campaign staffer and ex-chief of staff, told The Times that he drove Richters home frequently and, on one of those occasions, he gave a check to Richters; she then told him that she was giving the money right back to Spitzer, Johnson said.

Richters is now suing Spitzer for wrongful termination and alleges in her lawsuit that he had a “raging temper.” The suit does not mention paying Spitzer money she made while working for him.

Can a district attorney investigate a rival?

Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham University, said the Spitzer investigation could present hurdles should the district attorney’s office attempt to prosecute.

“The opposing candidate, if he ever were indicted, would have a pretty good argument that the prosecutor’s office has an impermissible conflict of interest,” Green said. “The prosecutor should be concerned and the public should be concerned.”

The investigation could also indirectly give Rackauckas a campaign advantage against Spitzer.

“It does create a risk that people who are potential donors will perceive they are in jeopardy if they contribute to the opponent under investigation,” Green said.

Rackauckas has himself been in the political hot seat recently, including a scandal over his office’s use of jailhouse snitches in criminal cases. The state attorney general’s office and federal Department of Justice are still investigating the matter.

The Fair Political Practices Commission — which partnered with Rackauckas in the Spitzer probe — is also investigating whether Rackauckas violated state law by failing to report donations he requested be made to a nonprofit, and by approving public funds to promote his chief of staff’s partner in a music marketing business.

Rackauckas is also contending with two claims filed by his own investigators, including Tom Conklin — who sources say is the lead investigator in the Spitzer case — alleging that Rackauckas and his circle of top prosecutors engaged in misconduct and coverups.

One case involved a former Cypress Police Department investigator accused of committing perjury during a capital murder trial. Another revolved around the alleged coverup by Fullerton police of a former city manager’s drunk driving. Conklin and the other investigator said in their claim that they were retaliated against for testifying before the grand jury about the district attorney’s office.

Spitzer, a two-time county supervisor and former state assemblyman, is probably the most formidable opponent Rackauckas has faced. He is an aggressive campaign fundraiser and he has seized on the scandals dogging Rackauckas by presenting himself as a crusader against abuses of power by the district attorney’s office.

Real scandal or desperation?

A spokeswoman for Rackauckas slammed Spitzer’s call for the federal government to take over the district attorney’s office as a shameless ploy.

On Monday, after announcing he would challenge Rackauckas next year, Spitzer quickly went after the top prosecutor.

“I refuse to stand by as Tony Rackauckas destroys the district attorney’s office and uses it as his own personal fiefdom for he and his cronies while the public’s safety suffers,” Spitzer said in a news release.

A campaign consultant for Rackauckas responded: “Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is proud to run on his record of keeping local citizens safe and proud of the fact that he is supported by the county’s law enforcement and crime victim leaders as well as the major elected officials who know both candidates.”


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017

Surprise! It’s official, Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer is running for Orange County District Attorney in 2018. The Voice of OC provides the stunning news in the first piece below. Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — DA Doubts — July 9, 2017 july 9, 2017 john moorlach.

Surprise! Gov. Brown ordered two bills to be gutted and amended around 6 p.m. last night to accomplish his climate change agenda before the end of this week!

Surprise! The Senate will have an unprecedented short Session around noon today to allow bills to be heard in committee without being in print for three days.

Surprise! The Senate will convene at 6 p.m. Thursday evening, after the newly required 72-hours have passed, in order to take up these two items.

Surprise! It is rumored that neither of the two bills addresses dihydrogen monoxide, which is reported to cause nearly 80 percent of the greenhouse gases that affect the earth’s temperature.

Surprise! It’s another Jerry Brown Cram Down!

Surprise! This is a critical topic of debate, so my submittal was printed by Fox & Hounds in the second piece below. My website has more on the subject of climate change (see

Surprise! The bills are a supposed compromise between business and environmentalists.

Surprise! The compromise will kill your family budget and you don’t get a say in that.

Surprise! Since this initiative will raise gasoline taxes dramatically, it is predicted that the votes will go down along party lines.

Surprise! The monopoly party will not let their super-majority be a missed opportunity.

Surprise! The monopoly party has the necessary minimum votes in the Senate. As you may recall, the status of one State Senator is in jeopardy. So, it’s time for the Governor to move quickly.

Surprise! The State Controller announced yesterday that California’s revenues were $2.68 billion short of projections for the Governor’s revised budget for 2016-2017.

Surprise! California is right behind the states of Connecticut and Illinois in terms of a race to a Federal courtroom for fiscal relief. California’s Governor and its Legislature have real problems to solve! Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 32 and Propositions — September 18, 2016 september 18, 2016 john moorlach.

Surprise! The Governor wants to step up and counter the new U.S. President’s position on global warming, thus proving that a certain amount of self ego is a trait found in many of those seeking office. There, I went full circle.

Spitzer Officially Declares His Run Against Rackauckas for DA

By Nick Gerda

County Supervisor Todd Spitzer announced Monday he will run against incumbent Tony Rackauckas next year for Orange County District Attorney.

The move, which had been expected for years, set the stage for what is anticipated to be an intense election campaign.

Spitzer, a former heir apparent to Rackauckas who was fired by the DA in 2010, took direct aim at Rackauckas when announcing his run Monday.

“I refuse to stand by as Tony Rackauckas destroys the District Attorney’s office and uses it as his own personal fiefdom for he and his cronies while the public’s safety suffers,” Spitzer wrote in his news release.

“I’m proud to announce my campaign for District Attorney and pledge to always uphold the rule of law, put people’s safety first and work tirelessly to make certain justice is served for victims and their families. We must restore faith and trust in our law enforcement and justice system.”

Rackauckas’ office has been mired in an ongoing jailhouse informants scandal that has led to state and federal investigations, and convictions being overturned for murder and other serious criminal convictions against at least six people, due to alleged misconduct by his prosecutors.

Rackauckas also has been accused of intervening in DA prosecutions in order to protect his political allies.

Spitzer, meanwhile, has had his own share of controversies. His handcuffing of a Christian preacher at a Wahoo’s Fish Taco restaurant in 2015, for allegedly looking at a table knife, has raised questions about his judgement.

Those questions intensified after public records, which Spitzer fought to keep secret, showed he tried to publicly claim he could have used deadly force against the preacher.

And Spitzer appears to have used his power as a county supervisor to pressure county government vendors to donate to his election campaign.

In his announcement, Spitzer claims he’s starting the race with $1.2 million in campaign cash, compared to $45,000 for Rackauckas. But the relatively small figure he reports for Rackauckas is from more than six months ago, at the end of 2016.

Rackauckas is well positioned to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his run, as he has in the past, through his deep relationships with county Republican elected officials, businesses and Newport Beach-area donors.

The DA has already held a major fundraiser, last month in Costa Mesa, that is not reflected in the latest campaign finance filings.

The next set of campaign filings, covering the January through June of this year, are due by the end of this month.

Rackauckas, who has been Orange County’s elected DA since 1999, has been endorsed for his re-election by a who’s who of high-profile Republican elected officials. They include Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, county Supervisor Michelle Steel, Congressmen Darrell Issa and Dana Rohrabacher, Congresswoman Mimi Walters, state Sen. Pat Bates, Irvine Mayor Don Wagner, Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer, state Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey, and Assemblyman Matt Harper.

Congressman Lou Correa and state Assemblyman Tom Daly, both Democrats, have also endorsed Rackauckas’ re-election

Former elected officials who have endorsed Rackauckas’ run include Dick Ackerman (former state senator), Scott Baugh (former state assemblyman and chair of the county Republican Party), Bill Steiner (former county supervisor), Steve Cooley (former LA County district attorney), Collene Campbell (former mayor of San Juan Capistrano).

Spitzer, meanwhile, is promising not to accept endorsements from any elected officials.

“First we have to clean up the corruption in the DA’s office and be fearless in the pursuit of public corruption wherever it exists. That’s why I will not accept endorsements from any current elected official,” Spitzer wrote in his announcement.

“The DA must be impartial and beholden to no one.”

A third contender for DA, Chapman University law professor Mario Mainero, has also been considering a run. He previously served as chief of staff to state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Irvine), when Moorlach was a county supervisor.

Orange County Democrats, who now have nearly as many registered voters in OC as Republicans, are not planning at this point on running a candidate for DA, according to sources close to the party.

The election will be held in June 2018. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, they win outright. If not, the top two vote-getters will face off in the November general election.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda.

Excessive Climate Policies Could Damage California Economy

John Moorlach

By John Moorlach

State Senator representing the 37th Senate District

The topic of climate change, or anthropogenic global warming (AGW), has somehow been linked – directly or indirectly – with nearly every policy area debated at the State Capitol. While I am not a scientist, I recognize there are many differing views on what the climate-related scientific research actually means. I have been and continue to be willing to have conversations on the implications concerning policy prescriptions to address this purported global warming.

However, as I am an accountant, data and models are important to me in making informed decisions about complex issues. It is unclear to me how significant human activity is in climate change, since change is an inherent characteristic of climate. From what I have seen, the data does not convince me that human activity is a primary or significant driver in warming the globe.

I struggle with the failure of even the most advanced computer models in the world to accurately predict climate outcomes. I am even less sure that dramatic action in the halls of government will have a meaningful impact on global temperatures without damaging a fragile economy still recovering from one of the worst downturns since the Great Depression.

Even so, the California Legislature has decided to aggressively move forward on policies meant to address AGW ever since the codifying of Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Cap and trade – a major component of the first stage of California’s burdensome regulatory regime concerning greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions – has nearly run its course.

To alleviate the billions of dollars in compliance costs for the 600 industrial facilities and electricity generators captured by the most cumbersome regulations, there is a strong push to rework and reauthorize the cap-and-trade program. It has been estimated that gas prices could increase by 73 cents a gallon under a mature cap-and-trade program. That would be in addition to the transportation tax increases of 12 to 19 cents per gallon taking effect this Nov. 1.

Supporters of the cap-and-trade program argue that, if nothing happens, direct regulatory actions by the Air Resources Board (ARB) could cost around $1.50 per gallon. These unnecessary and costly regulations on California residents will not substantively reduce GHGs here, or anywhere in the world, no matter how much California tightens its belt.

Further, all this really does is reorganize California’s economy to be even less competitive (if that’s possible) with the other 49 states, requiring an even greater centralized government approach, while abandoning true market-based incentives.

Another problem not often considered is that such large price increases could also increase black-market gasoline sales and gasoline theft, requiring even greater government policing.

Even though California has the largest gross domestic product (GDP) in the nation, I agree with Gov. Jerry Brown that there is likely to be another negative economic adjustment soon. My legislative colleagues have engaged in a passionate debate about global warming and the need for California to be the world leader on the issue, but where is the dialogue about fixing California’s balance sheet, which carries the largest unrestricted net deficit in the United States?

Our state’s unfunded pension liabilities, unfunded retiree medical liabilities and unaddressed infrastructure deficits total a combined $400 billion or more in red ink. If we do not have our fiscal house in order, efforts to address climate-change policy will have been for naught. This misdirected effort will only further jeopardize this state’s fiscal plight. This is a disturbing sacrifice to impose on our residents.

Based on the cold, fiscal facts, I do not understand why the costs of addressing a nominal change in temperature 100 years from now should rest primarily upon the shoulders of California’s taxpayers, ratepayers and consumers today, simply to demonstrate climate leadership. Polls of the voters bear out my concerns. We must consider if higher transportation, energy and food prices, in the billions of dollars in economic costs, are worth the Legislature’s continued liaison with climate-change mitigation.

I am in favor of being good stewards of our environment and resources and have supported legislation to improve our state’s ecology. In fact, I have probably backpacked more miles in California’s mountain ranges, and summited more of its peaks, than 99 percent of its residents. I am a bona fide tree hugger. But, believing that issues of science are not settled by political votes, I think the jury is still out about the impacts humans have on climate.

We need leadership to deal with the very real fiscal challenges that continue to distress our economy in a real, tangible and immediate way so that we can act accordingly, rather than pursue more state-sponsored policies on global climate change – policies that are costly distractions in addressing a matter in which the state has very little control.

Note: For an extensive review of climate issues, please check out my policy paper, “Climate Change: Policies in California,” on


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Do You Recall? — July 10, 2017

What do you do when you’re in the super-minority in the Legislature and you watch the monopoly party abuse their dominance to maintain it? You have a little fun.

Let’s recall what has happened of late. Gov. Jerry Brown has not made fixing roads a priority. A review of the state’s budgets for the last thirteen years proves it.

While gas taxes were rising, spending on roads remained flat or declined. This means that the Governor reallocated the higher gas tax revenues to other general fund expenditures. Can anyone say "public employee defined benefit pension plans"?

Instead of moving more funding to the Caltrans budget, the Governor allowed for some $40 billion in budget growth to go elsewhere. What to do? Simple. Blame the voters for the poor condition of the roads, use the super-majority dominance to unilaterally impose a $5.2 billion annual gas and auto tax, and refer to anyone who objects as a "free loader." Never mind that the Governor came in with the principle of allowing voters to increase taxes on themselves — do you recall Proposition 30? I’ll leave a lesson on the word "irony" for another time.

With the necessity of obtaining 27 votes in the Senate, where there are 27 Democrats, one of them refused to foist this egregious tax mandate on his constituents. Wow! A Democrat with a conscience. With some sense of irony, you may recall that this Senator was the Governor’s campaign manager in 2012. You may also recall that the language and terms directed toward Brown’s opponent that year were referred to as "salty" by this campaign manager.

Fortunately for the Governor, to get a massive gas tax to pass, he was able to flip one Republican Senator to obtain the necessary 27th vote. You may recall that the Republicans historically have always had one malleable legislator. You may recall one Abel Maldonado, of whom one well known pundit stated something like "he believes there is no issue upon which one can’t compromise." But, I digress.

Senate Bill 1, the gas tax, passed with the minimum votes required. What to do? Well, one newly elected Senator with a good portion of his District in Orange County, has stated often that he reflects the views of his constituents. This became news to them, as they were not in favor of a gas tax. And, they are probably not in favor of Senate Bill 2 and its new tax, as well (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 2: Another Tax! — July 7, 2017 july 7, 2017 john moorlach). This tax also passed with the minimum 27 required Democrat votes. So, the voters in Senate District 29 have been providing signatures by the droves to pursue a recall campaign at a fast and furious pace.

Seeing this tidal wave of angst, the monopoly party had to figure out how to slow it down. Being clever, they used a budget trailer bill to make the recall process more laborious and time consuming (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Stinky Budget Tactics — June 19, 2017 june 19, 2017 john moorlach).

The bill created a 30-day period for citizens to withdraw their signatures from a recall initiative and calls for the Department of Finance (run by the Governor) to do a cost analysis of holding a special election, which is to be reviewed within 30 days by a legislative committee for comment (whatever that means). Suffice it to say, that if one is elected to the Assembly, that legislator would be immune from being recalled, as the process would take longer than the two-year term of that office.

This Machiavellian ploy infuriated the voters and volunteers all the more. The number of signatures gathered far exceeded the minimum required to qualify the recall for the ballot. So, what do the Democrats do next? They started pressuring the Fair Political Practices Commission to increase the contribution limitations on legislators, so that they could donate more than the $4,400 cap to fight the recall.

But, that was not all. Then they sued California State University Fullerton students for volunteering to obtain these signatures. You’ve just got to love the monopoly party.

Now, back to my idea of fun. In last week’s Senate Governance and Finance Committee, Assembly Bill 943 was sailing along comfortably until Sen. Robert Hertzberg shared his concerns about changing the rules of the game when it came to longstanding election traditions (see

Wow! What an insight. So I decided to remind my colleagues, in a subtle manner, that I recalled that something similar just happened literally a few days earlier (see the video clip at

For fun, I did it again on a budget trailer bill and on the SB 2 vote during Thursday’s Senate Floor Session (see the clips at and

After you watch the clips, you’ll see that I never threatened a recall. I just used the word "recall" as it has two meanings. Can you say "double entendre" or "pun"?

Why this long preamble? Because using the word "recall" was so subtle. I’m sure everyone listening and paying attention on the Senate Floor understood exactly what I was doing. But, without knowing the full context, you will miss the subtlety of it, as one reporter did in the Voice of San Diego piece, the first below. The reporter clearly heard what I said, but didn’t understand the nuance of my delivery, which is the joy of overly clever double entendres. The reporter also missed the difference between a fee and a tax. And her piece’s emphasis (bias) was on what a big favor these 27 Democrats are doing for California.

I don’t have much history with this online media outlet, but one might assume the reporter is a summer intern, but that would be wrong. Oh, well, at least you will recall that I’m having a little fun.

The second piece is from the Sacramento Bee and deals with AB 291, a bill that I opposed in a recent Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. For this immigrant, it has not been a frightening time since last November’s election. I empathize with those who have malicious landlords, but I am not in the mood to vote for a blanket solution as a result of a few bad apples. On the whole, most landlords are happy to have good, long-term, paying tenants. My biggest concern for voting against this bill was that it gave nonprofit organizations standing to sue in place of the tenant.

Sacramento Report: Atkins Bill to Fund Affordable Housing Clears Senate

By Sara Libby

Sen. Toni Atkins’ bill to fund construction of affordable housing, one of her signature efforts as a state legislator, cleared a big hurdle this week when it passed the state Senate on Thursday.

SB 2 would impose a $75 fee on certain real estate documents.

Because the bill imposes a new fee, it had a high bar to clear: a two-thirds vote. It got there.

On top of funding housing subsidies, the bill “would also allow the money to be used for community plan updates or fiscal incentives for local governments to approve new low-income housing,” Maya Srikrishnan reported earlier this year.

More than 100 housing bills were introduced in the Legislature this session – many of them targeting localities that don’t do enough to greenlight and actually build new housing.

SB 2 is a key piece of the puzzle because it actually provides a funding source for new construction.

Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican who represents portions of Orange County, urged his colleagues to vote against the measure, and suggested that if they didn’t, they could face a recall effort similar to the one facing Assemblyman Josh Newman over his vote in support of a new gas tax.

“This is a vote, colleagues, that your constituents will hold you accountable to. And they will help you recall this vote,” Moorlach said (emphasis mine).

San Diego Sen. Ben Hueso had a response for that. On top of heaping praise on Atkins, Hueso challenged the idea that constituents would revolt over the measure.

“This is going to make an enormous difference for the people of California. And while yes, nobody likes fees, nobody likes taxes, I know how that works,” Hueso said. “But when you see results with the dollars that you pay into services, when you can pay into something that changes our state, that improves the quality of people’s lives, that contributes to the economy, I’m telling you – people are adults in this state. They will welcome these investments in their community, and they will be thankful for our efforts to provide more affordable housing.”

The bill now heads to the state Assembly.

Rent increases, evictions up in immigrant communities under Trump, housing lawyers say



When Maria got an eviction notice telling her she had to be out of her Redwood City apartment by late February, she thought something seemed fishy.

She contacted housing attorneys, who confirmed to her landlord that the notice was not served legally and she didn’t have to move out right away.

Her landlord responded with a text message threatening to call immigration authorities on Maria if she didn’t comply, saying it was a “duty” to report anyone who is undocumented.

A second text from the landlord referenced Maria’s attorney, Daniel Saver, who works for an East Palo Alto nonprofit law firm.

The landlord warned of reporting Saver to the State Bar of California “for helping his clients who illegally live in the United States of America,” according to text message correspondence Saver sent to a legislative committee in March.

The text continued: “I believe the State Bar of California will be interested (in) my complaint, under the new leadership of our president.”

“This has gotten pretty pervasive,” said Saver, a lawyer at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto.

Even before Donald Trump’s presidency, landlords across California were capitalizing on the state’s tight housing market by jacking up rent, delaying costly health and safety repairs and evicting tenants to move in higher-income renters, housing attorneys say. But since Trump took office, they say, tenant harassment, intimidation and discrimination have gotten worse – especially in immigrant communities throughout California, from Los Angeles and the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Sacramento.

“It isn’t anything new that immigrant tenants are threatened by landlords, or that they’re fearful about complaining about unhealthy conditions or asserting their rights,” Saver said. “What has changed now is the tenor of those threats and the brazenness of landlords who make those threats. That has shifted in the Trump era. This is not anything we’ve ever seen before.”

Backing up lawyers’ reports with specific data is difficult. No agencies track data on the reasons people are evicted or loss of housing due to someone’s immigration status. And immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, are reluctant to come forward out of heightened concern that they, or their family members, will face repercussions. The Sacramento Bee agreed to use the pseudonym Maria, which Saver used in his testimony, because she is fearful of being identified by immigration authorities.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he isn’t surprised tensions are running high. He said the state shouldn’t “protect illegal immigrants and keep them in housing when we’re trying to find housing for legal residents.”

“There’s always a concern that illegal immigrants are taking jobs from U.S. citizens,” Moorlach said. “Now we have an issue of them taking housing away when it is getting so expensive, and our young kids are moving out of the state because of it.”

State and federal fair housing laws, however, cover undocumented immigrants and make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, disability and more. Still, some state lawmakers say California must strengthen tenant protections.

Estimates show California is home to roughly 2.5 million undocumented immigrants.

“Most of them are renters, and landlords almost always known the immigration status of their tenants. They are even more vulnerable than other low-income tenants because they have this fear of being deported or their landlord reporting them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said Jith Meganathan, an attorney and policy advocate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

“We’d like to think this is happening in the dusty corners of the San Joaquin Valley, where there are more farmworkers, but it’s happening everywhere – Silicon Valley, Oakland, throughout Los Angeles, on the Peninsula and in the East Bay,” Meganathan said. “It’s all since November, with the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from this new administration. Many more of these threats are being made, often times with invocations of Trump.”

Maria Estrada said she and her family were forced out of their Oakland apartment after her landlord threatened to call immigration agents.

“He (said) he’s going to report us to ICE,” Estrada said. “Any car we saw stop in front of the place, we couldn’t even go back to sleep because we (were) scared. Every time he would stop by the house and talk to us, he’d say ICE is going to pick you up … when we hear that, we’d run away for the whole day.”

Estrada, 56, is in the country legally, but some in her family are not.

“I was worried what would happen to them, and for me, too,” she said. “I’m not a criminal.”

Abel Gonzalez said his landlord threatened to call immigration on him and his family, then sought to evict them from their southeast Los Angeles apartment that they’d lived in for seven years.

“I said, ‘Please don’t threaten us with this,’ ” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez, 46, said he and his wife are going through process of getting a green card and had spent their disposable income on “solving their status issue.”

“It felt really bad. We’ve been here 25 years,” he said.

With the help of their 21-year-old son who was born in the U.S., the couple negotiated an agreement with their landlord to stay in their apartment in exchange for paying higher rent. They now pay $2,000 per month for their two-bedroom apartment, up from $1,200 previously.

“We’re still worried,” said Gonzalez, one of hundreds of tenants across the state participating in the activist group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, also known as Housing Now, which is trying to put pressure on elected officials to enact rent control and stronger anti-eviction policies across the state.

Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said something must be done to to help tenants facing extreme rent increases, evictions and deportation threats. He has proposed legislation that seeks to prevent landlords from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities or disclosing their immigration status themselves.

“Since Election Day last year, it has not been an easy time to be an immigrant in our country. For immigrant tenants, in particular, it has been a frightening time,” Chiu said. “We don’t think anyone should live in fear.”

State and federal fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on race or national origin, disability status, sexual orientation and gender. Assembly Bill 291 from Chiu would strengthen those laws by:

▪ Prohibiting landlords from threatening to report tenants to immigration authorities, either in retaliation for asserting their rights or to evict them.

▪ Bar landlords from disclosing a tenant’s immigration status.

▪ Allow tenants to sue landlords who disclose their immigration status to law enforcement.

▪ Prohibit questions about a tenant’s immigration status during a trial.

▪ Prohibit attorneys from reporting or threatening to report the immigration status of people involved in housing cases.

Moorlach criticized the bill for “seeking to legislate something based on a few bad apples.”

Though he and other Republicans in the Legislature voted against Chiu’s bill, it has no recorded opposition. The California Apartment Association, a statewide lobbying organization representing landlords, has endorsed it.

“The vast majority of landlords are in the business of providing housing. They’re not in the business of trying to identify, capture and report people to immigration officials – that’s just not their job,” said Debra Carlton, senior vice president for public affairs for the association. “Tenants shouldn’t have to worry after they’ve already been a tenant that their landlord is going to report them to ICE.”

Ilene Jacobs, statewide director of litigation for California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., called the bill is an important measure to help tenants facing unlawful eviction or deportation threats.

“People have rights to not be discriminated against because of who they are, or what language they speak, what they look like or what their gender expression is,” Jacobs said. “That doesn’t mean they are not discriminated against and it doesn’t mean they don’t need help enforcing those laws.”

The California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation is a co-sponsor of the bill along with the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

She said it’s critical to beef up the ranks of nonprofit lawyers in the state who can help tenants who need legal assistance.

The state’s recently adopted budget includes $45 million to assist undocumented immigrants, including those seeking help to become citizens, deportation defense and other legal and immigration-related services.

Dean Preston, executive Director of Tenants Together, a statewide housing advocacy organization, also endorsed Chiu’s bill. He has seen cases skyrocket this year amid soaring rents in the Bay Area.

“This is not an anecdote here and an anecdote there,” he said. “This is an ongoing problem that has gotten even worse since the election.”

Angela Hart: 916-326-5528, @ahartreports


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MOORLACH UPDATE — DA Doubts — July 9, 2017

June of 2018 is less than a year away, and for the second time in a month the race for Orange County District Attorney is making news (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Alumnus DA? — June 11, 2017 june 11, 2017 john moorlach).

The LA Times provides its perspectives on the current two obvious candidates in the piece below. It’s a good review, but there isn’t much new. For me, a fresh, unblemished prosecutor with proven managerial skill sets, would be a helpful addition to the mix.

BONUS: As you know, one of my hobbies is to photograph all of California’s State Historical Landmarks. Since I’m close to completing this massive undertaking, I now try to attend plaque dedications when they occur and are nearby. Well, have I got exciting news for you. California State Historical Landmark Number 1050 will have its plaque officially placed, unveiled and dedicated on September 18th at 2 p.m.

Orange County’s newest State Historic Landmark is the Historic District of Crystal Cove State Park ( I was able to photograph the plaque on my birthday in 2015 (see the photo below and MOORLACH UPDATE — Numbers 1050 and 49 — January 2, 2016 january 2, 2016 john moorlach). Although this landmark is not even up on the state’s website yet, here’s a description and photos.

1050 CRYSTAL COVE HISTORIC DISTRICT – It is a 12.3-acre coastal portion of the 2,791-acre Crystal Cove State Park. The federally listed Historic District is an enclave of 46 vintage rustic coastal cottages originally built as a seaside colony in the 1930’s & ‘40’s and nestled around the mouth of Los Trancos Creek. It is one of the last remaining examples of early 20th century Southern California coastal development.

For more information, please call Aly John at my District Office at 714-662-6050.

Despite scandals and doubts, Orange County district attorney wants another term, and a shot at vindication

Richard Winton, Adam Elmahrek and James QueallyContact Reporters

For nearly two decades, Tony Rackauckas has reigned over Orange County law enforcement as district attorney.

He’s survived allegations of cronyism and mismanagement while also winning praise for prosecuting police officers he accused of beating a homeless man to death in Fullerton.

But none of those firestorms can compare to the jailhouse informant scandal that has swirled around the county’s criminal justice system in recent years.

The snitch scandal has led to retrials in a number of murder cases, caused a judge to bar Rackauckas’ office from prosecuting a confessed mass murderer and sparked state and federal investigations into the Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office. Not since the fall of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona nearly a decade ago has local law enforcement been under such scrutiny.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced last month that she would not seek another term. Rackauckas fully intends to run for reelection in 2018, in what political observers think will be a referendum on the snitch scandal and Rackauckas’ controversial tenure.

That list of allegations might serve as a knockout blow for a politician in other parts of California. But in Orange County, a fiercely pro-law enforcement Republican enclave, the litany of scandals have barely grazed Rackauckas’ chin. His reputation as a hard-charging lawman in a region that’s partial to cops has led some local political experts to think he will emerge from the latest fracas unscathed.

County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a well-funded Republican foe who has called for the federal government to take over Rackauckas’ operation, stands ready to oppose him next year. But there are doubts about whether Spitzer can succeed.

“The question that Orange County voters and residents will be asking next year is, do they feel safe?” said Jon Fleischman, former executive director of the state Republican Party. “Todd Spitzer will run, and he’ll raise a bunch of money, but whether or not people fire their law enforcement officials comes to that question. Most people don’t read the newspaper or watch the news. If they feel safe, they don’t want change.”

Other Republican heavyweights in Orange County think Rackauckas needs to step aside so his office can have a clean slate.

“The thought of Todd running for D.A. has been the biggest boon to Tony,” said state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who said he doesn’t see either man as fit for the office. “Tony should not be D.A. anymore. He should not have been D.A. for a long time.”

The field for the 2018 district attorney’s race is far from set, but many expect it come down to a contest between Rackauckas and Spitzer, a former state assemblyman and ex-assistant district attorney who has a long-running feud with the county’s top prosecutor. Both are household names among Republicans in Orange County, but most pundits think Rackauckas would have the edge in an internal GOP fight unless the current scandals worsen.

“The recent news about the troubles in the D.A. office would need to go to another level in order for the local GOP to view Rackauckas as being too toxic a candidate to support,” said Stephen Stambough, a professor of political science at Cal State Fullerton.

Rackauckas last won reelection with 73.3% of the vote in 2014, and recently benefited from a grand jury report that dismissed allegations of a covert informant network as a “myth.”

Rackauckas’ campaign manager, Dave Gilliard, said he expects the grand jury’s take on the informant scandal to resonate more with voters than the continued accusations being made by local defense attorneys.

“There is a lot of noise around it, but at the end of the day, the grand jury labeled it a witch hunt,” he said.

Rackauckas hailed the report as vindication, but the fallout from the allegations continues to rock the county. Weeks after the grand jury report was released, an appellate court upheld a ruling vacating the conviction of a man accused of murdering a pregnant woman, based on prosecutors’ failure to disclose details about a jailhouse informant at trial.

Through a spokesman, Rackauckas said his office stands ready to retry the case.

The snitch scandal is far from the only controversy dogging Rackauckas these days. Last year, a panel of legal experts commissioned by Rackauckas found he had created a culture in the district attorney’s office where subordinates feared bringing troubling information to their boss. That report also said some prosecutors had developed a “win at all costs mentality,” doggedly pursuing convictions even in the face of possible violations of defendants’ constitutional rights, including the informant scandal.

Last month, three former district attorney’s investigators also made separate claims accusing Rackauckas and his circle of top prosecutors of interfering in cases against his political allies and covering up misconduct within the Fullerton Police Department.

Rackauckas and Spitzer declined to be interviewed for this story. But both have long histories in Orange County that could help or hurt them in what could be an ugly political clash.

Rackauckas began his career as a rising star in the district attorney’s homicide unit in the 1980s, and gained political capital by campaigning against a state Supreme Court justice opposed to death penalty sentences. He was appointed to the judiciary in 1990, where he earned some notoriety for showing leniency to nonviolent defendants facing lengthy jail terms under the state’s “three strikes” law.

As a teenager, Rackauckas was part of a Long Beach gang and wound up spending some nights in juvenile detention facilities. Rackauckas chose to drop out of high school and join the Army to straighten himself out. After his stint with the armed services, the future district attorney enrolled in law school.

Rackauckas won his first term as district attorney in 1998, riding a wave of frustration with his predecessor, Mike Capizzi, who found himself in the crosshairs of the county’s Republican party after he began to focus on public corruption cases.

A 2002 grand jury report accused him of interfering in prosecutions against campaign donors, earning an outright dismissal for one ally and a severely reduced sentence for another.

“Everybody kind of coalesced around Tony, but almost from the get-go, he was getting grand jury reports about his poor management,” Moorlach said. “Here we are almost 20 years later, and we’re still getting reports about his poor management.”

A two-time county supervisor and former state assemblyman, Spitzer has a record with its own blemishes. He was fired from the district attorney’s office in 2010 after Rackauckas accused him of misconduct. The two have been in a near constant war of words since. In May, Spitzer wrote a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions calling for an immediate federal takeover of Rackauckas’ office, which he described as “probably the most disrespected district attorney executive team in California.”

Spitzer, a reserve Los Angeles police officer, also was involved in a bizarre incident that saw him handcuff a man who was “preaching the word of God” at a Foothills Ranch restaurant in 2015. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department decided not to bring charges against Spitzer or the man he handcuffed in that incident.

Some also have expressed concerns about his management style. A lawsuit by a former employee accused Spitzer of having a “15-minute rule,” meaning he would dock the pay of workers who did not respond to his text messages within that time frame.

To some, the coming race is less a referendum on the scandals surrounding Rackauckas and more an indictment of county politics in general.

“Something has to improve. This is an elected position,” Moorlach said.


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