MOORLACH UPDATE — Santa Clara County School Districts — February 14, 2019

A local prominent legislative advocate posted my review of Sacramento County’s school districts yesterday and it generated significant activity (MOORLACH UPDATE — Sacramento County School Districts — January 14, 2019). Residents should be concerned about their school districts and how they can assist in addressing distressed balance sheets.

Below, in Fox & Hounds, I provide a review of Santa Clara County’s school districts. For other counties, see:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Los Angeles County School Districts — December 2, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — School Districts of San Diego County — November 16, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — San Diego County School Districts — November 7, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — San Bernardino County School Districts — November 5, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Public Schools Financial Crisis — November 3, 2018.

* MOORLACH UPDATE — San Bernardino County School Districts — November 5, 2018

Orange County:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Facing Fiscal Realities — October 30, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Trick or Treat? — October 26, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Get Mad, Get Motivated — October 19, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — LAUSD vs. OC School Districts — September 18, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Measure It, Improve It — March 14, 2018

* MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings, Vol. 10 — February 27, 2018

Just one Santa Clara County School District Outputs a Positive Balance Sheet

John Moorlach

By John MoorlachState Senator representing the 37th Senate District

Silicon Valley might have to change its name to Red Ink Valley. Officially named Santa Clara County, just one of its 31 public school districts, Orchard Elementary, enjoys a positive balance sheet, according to my tally of all 944 districts in California. Not just its teachers, but Orchard’s administrators deserve apples.

All the other 30 districts’ balance sheets are in the red, some seriously so. One is Cupertino Union, whose district boundaries include Apple Inc., the world’s second most valuable corporation. It is strange that the area in America with the most concentrated wealth has school districts in fiscal distress.

The scorecard is provided in my recent report, “Financial Soundness Rankings for California’s Public School Districts, Colleges & Universities.” It was compiled after reviewing the financial soundness of all 944 California public school districts.

The “algorithm,” to use a digital term, for the rankings is derived from each district’s latest Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which you should be able to find on their respective websites. In each CAFR, look for the “Basic Financial Statements,” starting with the page titled “Statement of Net Position.”

Look at the top row for “Government Activities.” Then look down the column to where it says, first “Net Position,” then “Unrestricted.”

That’s the number you want: the Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP.

The number will either be positive or, with parentheses around it, negative.

I then divide the UNP by the district’s population, according to the latest numbers from the California Department of Education, to get a per-capita UNP. If negative, that’s the amount each person in the district is in hock for, whether or not your children attend school. Citizens should be concerned about the trajectory of these negative balances, commonly attributed to unfunded pension liabilities.

If the negative number runs too high too long, it will mean cuts in teachers, equipment, band and sports, and ultimately calls for parcel taxes and more statewide tax increases like Proposition 30. In the worst cases, takeover by the state is not out of the question.

Orchard Valley scored a UNP of $12 per capita, just into positive territory, and the 115th best of the 944 California districts.

After that, every other district ran a negative UNP. The second best in the county was Campbell Union High in San Jose, at ($169) per capita, 164th best in California. Next is Fremont Union High in Sunnyvale at ($244), 191st in the State; it includes Homestead High, the alma mater of Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs. Then comes East Side Union High in San Jose at ($298), 214th in the State.

The worst districts are in pretty bad shape. Saratoga Union High in Saratoga clocked at ($2,280) per capita, 934th of 944 California districts. Then came Palo Alto Unified at ($2,241), ranking 927th. Maybe the Hoover Institution can lend an assist? Then came Gilroy Unified at ($2,129), 911th on the state list.

The districts on the lower half of the list, suffering a per capita UNP of ($690) or lower, are most at risk. Of Santa Clara county’s 31 districts, 11 are in such bad shape. That’s about a third of the county’s districts.

Here’s the full list of the districts listed by per capita UNP:

1 Orchard Elementary $ 12
2 Campbell Union High ($169)
3 Fremont Union High ($244)
4 East Side Union High ($298)
5 Lakeside Joint ($314)
6 Cambrian ($345)
7 Santa Clara Unified ($441)
8 Sunnyvale ($472)
9 Moreland ($515)
10 Mountain View Whisman ($523)
11 Mountain View-Los Altos ($529)
12 Morgan Hill Unified ($548)
13 Campbell Union ($549)
14 Union Elementary ($552)
15 Los Gatos Union Elem ($569)
16 Berryessa Union Elem ($596)
17 Oak Grove Elementary ($598)
18 Luther Burbank ($638)
19 Franklin-McKinley Elem ($643)
20 Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint ($662)
21 San Jose Unified ($686)
22 Alum Rock Union Elem ($694)
23 Los Altos Elementary ($781)
24 Evergreen Elementary ($898)
25 Mount Pleasant Elem ($902)
26 Cupertino Union ($922)
27 Milpitas Unified ($942)
28 Loma Prieta Joint Union ($1,145)
29 Gilroy Unified ($2,129)
30 Palo Alto Unified ($2,421)
31 Saratoga Union Elem ($2,820)

This year, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board for the first time will require balance sheets to include unfunded retiree medical care liabilities, which will show even more school districts in critical condition. Expect to see the impact in the most recently released CAFRs for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018.

With all that petabyte brainpower, Santa Clara County can do better. State and local leaders need to focus on a long-term strategic financial plan for each school district.

Sen. John M.W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate


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MOORLACH UPDATE — State of the State Reaction — February 13, 2019

The big welcomed surprise from the State of the State was the announcement that the High Speed Rail project would be modified. Though it’s not exactly what skeptics had hoped for, it’s a step in the right direction. But, stay tuned, as I don’t want this project to drip on forever. Gov. Newsom also touched upon many of my five concerns (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2019 State of the State — February 12, 2019).

The Governor is also renewing the saber-rattling with the White House. I worried two years ago that this activity, then largely by the Democratic leaders in the Senate, may be harmful to California’s counties and cities, as they receive the lion’s share of Federal funding (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Eric Holder — January 5, 2017).

The San Francisco Chronicle highlights Gov. Newsom’s jousting in the piece below. As always, I’m more about leadership versus showmanship and would prefer that Gavin pick up on the beginnings of a relationship, when he and President Trump toured Paradise and Santa Monica after their tragic fires. We are "one nation . . . indivisible," and the Governor should be working with D.C. in a collaborative and productive manner.

After the State of the State, I was interviewed on the Assembly Floor.


On February 7th, 1994, at 10 a.m., on a very rainy morning, I held a press conference to announce my candidacy for Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector in my firm’s conference room. Only one reporter attended, Valerie Haynes of then News Channel 3 for the Costa Mesa Cable News Station.

I provided a six-page Press Kit, addressing the position, the incumbent, the challenger (me), quotes from key individuals, and my candidacy announcement speech. Here is a paragraph, where I parroted what U.S. Presidential candidate Ross Perot had stated the year before. The point of this paragraph was not picked up by the media at the time, but it would become obviously clear and prescient in the weeks and months to follow:

"It’s one thing to announce that we need to ‘open the hood and fix the problem.’ It’s another to send in a qualified mechanic. It’s also dangerous to rely on the old cliche ‘that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.’ How do we know it isn’t broken? Who is keeping the incumbent accountable? What if he is running his ‘investments’ beyond the motor’s ‘red line’ month after month? Then who is to say we are not headed for problems?"

The next day, the Daily Pilot’s headline read "Costa Mesa’s Moorlach to run for county position — Republican Party activist will seek treasurer-tax assessor (sic) office instead of council or Assembly post." It was written by Russ Loar. (Position titles were difficult even back then.) I was realistic about my chances, but I certainly missed the mark on the amount of media coverage the campaign would actually receive. I thought it would be two articles, Moorlach announces and Moorlach lost.

Moorlach . . . says he expects it will be tough to unseat an incumbent in a political race unlikely to generate much media coverage.

The LA Times had the following piece by Jodi Wilgoren, "Citron to Face 1st Challenger in 23 Years — Politics: Costa Mesa accountant calls the incumbent county treasurer-tax collector a bureaucracy ‘lifer.’" The incumbent had held the seat since 1970.

"I’d like to have some new blood in there. I just want to provide some professional skepticism, do some digging," said Moorlach. "I want to provide a fresh face and give the voters a real chance at term limits."

Gavin Newsom wants California to be its own nation-state in the Trump era

By Joe Garofoli

SACRAMENTO — Just five weeks into the job, Gov. Gavin Newsom has crystallized his vision of what California will look like in the Trump era: It won’t just be the hub of the resistance against the president; it will be its own nation-state.

But before Newsom can create a country-within-a-country, he had to defuse two multibillion-dollar grenades that his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, left in his in-box: high-speed rail and the delta tunnels project. In proposing Tuesday to scale back both of Brown’s unpopular legacy projects, Newsom hopes he can preserve enough political capital to get his own legacy projects on the fast track.

If he can do that, he can lead California down its own path for as long as Trump is president. California must go it alone, because Trump’s portrait of America is “fundamentally at odds with California values,” the governor said Tuesday in his first State of the State speech.

Newsom said the president has “described a country where inequality doesn’t seem to be a problem, where climate change doesn’t exist, and where the greatest threat we face comes from families seeking asylum.”

So California, as the world’s fifth-largest economy, is going to be a counterweight, a West Coast enclave built on its own values and funded, in part, by an anticipated $21.6 billion surplus.

So while the White House is “laser-focused on destroying the Affordable Care Act,” as Newsom said Tuesday, he proposes that California offer its own health-insurance subsidies to families earning up to $150,000. He wants to expand Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians, including undocumented immigrants, until they are 26.

To counter what Newsom characterized as a “so-called emergency” at the nation’s southern border, he said Monday that California will remove its National Guard troops stationed there and redeploy them to take care of state issues like wildfire protection and the eradication of illegal cannabis farms.

Newsom even appointed California’s own surgeon general — Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician who is the chief executive of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco.

Even as he offered rare praise for Trump for calling attention to soaring prescription drug prices, Newsom highlighted his executive order that would create a single-purchasing system for medication, which he said “will save hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the people of California.”

Since Trump and the GOP-led Congress passed a new tax law that largely benefited the wealthy, Newsom wants California to expand its earned income tax credit to “a million more Californians who need it the most.”

Newsom has already proposed that California extend paid family leave and offer universal preschool and free community college to help low-income residents, since little is being done in Washington to address wealth inequality.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said California has little choice but to act on its own.

“The federal government is no longer a reliable partner in delivering health care, in supporting immigrants, supporting LGBT people, in protecting the environment, so we need to forge our own path,” Wiener said. “We can do everything in our power to protect our state, but we need a reliable federal partner. And right now we don’t have that.”

But even Newsom realizes he can’t go it entirely alone. In scaling back high-speed rail to a Central Valley-only project for the foreseeable future, the governor nodded to the $3.5 billion that Washington has allocated for the train line so far. He could have added that far more money from the federal government will be needed if the state ever tries to build out the line that voters envisioned when they agreed to pay for high-speed rail in 2008.

And Congress has yet to approve $9 billion that California needs to recover from two years of devastating wildfires. Newsom has taken pains not to antagonize Trump on the subject, passing up an opportunity to needle the president when he suggested that the state’s forests would be much safer if they were only raked regularly. Last week, Trump tweeted his appreciation for how “nice” Newsom had been to him.

Orange County Republican state Sen. John Moorlach worries about the California vs. Trump battle getting too personal. While Newsom is creating task forces and commissions to deal with everything from privacy issues to homelessness, Moorlach said, “We should be doing the same with D.C. How do we work together collaboratively to get things done instead of just shooting statements back and forth?

“I can appreciate his wanting to make an emphasis of (sparring with Trump). That’s probably smart politics,” Moorlachsaid. “But I’d like to see the governor and the Legislature get past that. … I don’t want to jeopardize innocent municipalities in a personal feud.”

Joe Garofoli is The San Francisco Chronicle’s senior political writer. Email: jgarofoli Twitter: @joegarofoli


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MOORLACH UPDATE — 2019 State of the State — February 12, 2019

The first State of the State Address by Gov. Newsom will occur this morning. In anticipation of the occasion, I submitted some concerns that I would like to see our new Governor address. My submission is in the California Globe and is the piece below.

The Real State of the State: California 2019

Key areas where our Governor might focus

By Senator John Moorlach

When he gives his State of the State address today, Gov. Gavin Newsom understandably will paint a largely rosy picture of California, with some problem areas needing to be fixed. I’m hoping to work with him on options that improve the state and, in particular, prevent it from falling into insolvency. Let’s discuss a few key areas where our Governor may focus.

Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liabilities

Financial solutions must come first because, if there’s no money, there’s no way to pay for existing programs, let alone solutions to problems. The two gigantic downturns of recent decades, the dot-com bust of 2000-01 and the Great Recession of 2007-09, hammered state and local budgets. Major budget cuts, in particular to education, precluded anything but survival.

So the primary items to be addressed are the unfunded liabilities of the state as well as of local governments, specifically pension and retiree medical care. Gov. Jerry Brown worked out a partial reform with the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, called PEPRA. It was a valiant, but meager attempt and did little to bring down immediate costs.

Gov. Newsom’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019-20 scored $257 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree pensions and medical care.

Commendably, the budget dedicated “all of the Proposition 2 debt payments – $1.8 billion in 2019-20 – toward paying down the state’s retiree health and unfunded pension liabilities,” including $1.1 billion in the current budget year. And it included $1.8 billion extra to pay down CalSTRS’ unfunded liability.

Savings are estimated to be $7.4 billion over the next three decades from a $1.8 billion earlier payment investment if actuarial assumptions are actually achieved. But that’s only 1.75 percent of the $103 billion liability for teachers’ pensions. Just think what a 3.5 percent or more reduction of this high interest obligation could generate in future savings. California clearly needs to work more on comprehensive pension reform or it will see higher contributions crowding out other budgeted programs.


Then there are the liabilities for the university and public-school systems, which I analyzed in my recent report, “Financial Soundness Rankings for California’s Public School Districts, Colleges & Universities.” The key number for each is the Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP, which comes from each Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR.

For the University of California, the UNP is a negative $18.9 billion, or a burden of $478 for each Californian for fiscal year 2017-18. That’s what $9.8 billion in pension and $18.9 billion in retiree health liabilities can do to a balance sheet.

Cal State’s equivalent numbers are a negative UNP of $3.66 billion for June 30, 2017, or $122 per capita, if shared equally by every resident.

Of the 72 community colleges, only one is in positive territory, South Orange County with a positive UNP of $83 million, or $141 per capita. The worst is Santa Monica at a negative $180 million, or a negative $2,391 per capita.

For public schools, the financial woes of the Los Angeles Unified School District were publicized during the recent teachers’ strike. My own analysis came in a December 27 op-ed, “Can we prevent the LAUSD budget crisis from taking down the California state budget?” Based on the district’s CAFR released a few days earlier, it tallied a negative UNP of $19.6 billion, or $4,180 per capita for those living within the district’s borders.

As I noted, if the state has to take over the school district to straighten out its finances, the cost could include a loan somewhere up to $19.6 billion. Where will that money come from?

Other school districts in bad shape include negative UNPs of $1.5 billion for San Diego Unified, $849 million for Fresno Unified and $770 million for San Francisco Unified.

Oakland Unified, also in the news after its teachers authorized by a 95 percent vote a strike that could hit on February 15, had a negative UNP of $427 million, or $1,001 per capita.

Overall, of 944 school districts in California, about two thirds are in negative territory.

These negative numbers are caused by a number of factors, including pension and retiree medical liabilities. If the related debt payments are not controlled, they could devour state and local budgets like a plague of locusts.


I’m a fiscal conservative. But government does provide essential services. And it needs money to deal with an ongoing crises. Housing is among the greatest of these now, which is somewhat correlated with the epidemic of homelessness.

In his Inaugural Address, Gov. Newsom commendably called for a Marshall Plan to end homelessness in California. After World War II, the Marshall Plan helped Europe rebuild itself from wartime devastation. I have supported such reforms as Assembly Bill 448, which establishes a Joint Powers Authority in Orange County to provide long-term housing for the homeless.

Any funding will depend on getting the state’s fiscal house in order, as outlined above.

Also crucial is reform of the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, to allow for more speedy approval of housing developments, not just for the homeless or those with low incomes, but for everybody. As an editorial in the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, it shouldn’t be only sports stadiums for teams owned by billionaires that are green-lighted quickly “by requiring that all environmental lawsuits, including appeals, be done within nine months.”

The same nine-month rule should be applied to all housing in California until the crisis has improved.

Unfortunately, Kate Gordon, the governor’s director of the Office of Planning and Research, poured ice on the CEQA reform flame. “I don’t see us doing a giant overhaul anytime soon,” she said recently. “I do think that CEQA is going to come into play as we’re thinking through these big crises: the affordability crisis and wildfire crisis.”

Perhaps the governor can clarify his administration’s stance on CEQA reform in his address.

I also have to bring up that the wrong way to deal with homelessness is a heavy-handed intervention in cities, such as Huntington Beach, that are grappling with the crisis. That is why, as I have explained, I objected to the governor working with Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a lawsuit against Surf City. This and other cities need to be given time to advance housing construction before being hit with lawsuits.


Seeing large sections of California burn down was shocking. Many of the fires were caused by sparks from downed power lines. I authored two bills in 2016 and 2018, both numbered Senate Bill 1463 and described here, to mitigate wildfires by undergrounding power lines and using cap-and-trade funds for undergounding and other efforts to reduce the causes of wildfires. Neither bill became law.

But the cap-and-trade idea was incorporated into Senate Bill 901 by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, which I supported. It included $200 million in cap-and-trade funds for mitigating wildfires. This year, I am working on new legislation to extend this idea to other revenue streams not being utilized for their intended purpose.

Such an approach is crucial because the 2018 wildfires generated greenhouse gases equivalent to that of a year’s worth of electricity, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Securing Voting Rights

There are many more issues I could highlight that affect California. But let me stress one more, voting rights. The right to vote is sacred in our democracy. But that includes securing the integrity of the voting process.

The motor-voter law, passed in 2014, has turned out to be a disaster. The DMV, which has numerous other problems, just wasn’t prepared to implement signing citizens up to vote right when they were given drivers’ licenses.

As the Sacramento Bee recently reported, “As California prepared to launch its new Motor Voter program last year, top elections officials say they asked Secretary of State Alex Padilla to hold off on the roll-out.” He went ahead anyway.

Gov. Newsom has created a DMV Strike Team to fix a bureaucracy that has so many problems it’s like an old Yugo barely able to run downhill. Until the DMV itself is fixed, motor-voter should be delayed.

In summary, the great state of California remains a wonderful place to live, but has been stymied by governmental overreach and planning. The state will be much better once alternatives which allow for more freedom and prosperity are implemented to address these and other problems. The warnings of disaster are there for all to see. Yet the right spirit of cooperation – not government coercion – can be a driver for the right kind of change.

Senator John Moorlach

Sen. John M. W. Moorlach is a Republican California State Senator representing 37th Senate district, which includes portions of Orange County.


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Mediating Huntington Beach — February 8, 2019

Holding the title of California State Senator has been interesting at times, as many constituents confuse it with United States Senator. It’s amazing how many call my office and ask me to do something about the border, which is a Federal issue.

The confusion that many citizens may have is not helped when even reporters are using incorrect titles for legislators. The OC Register, in the second piece below, is an interesting example. While addressing the recent legal dust up between the Governor and the city of Huntington Beach, I’m referred to as an Assembly Member (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Really Addressing Housing Goals — January 29, 2019). It also infers credit to the Assembly Members for the letter written to the Governor encouraging mediation, when it was fellow State Senator Tom Umberg who wrote the correspondence and invited me and the two Assembly Members to sign on.

Other than that, I also enjoyed being interviewed for a podcast by Gimme Shelter of CALmatters, which is the first piece below. The hosts covered the topic of Huntington Beach and the Governor’s actions, including a conversation with Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, who authored the bill that started this fun.

Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Pod
Newsom vs. Huntington Beach, with Sen. John Moorlach and Asm. Miguel Santiago

Three lawsuits in two weeks: Huntington Beach and the state sue each other over affordable housing

Assembly members urge both sides to save taxpayer dollars with out-of-court mediation


On the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Jan. 25 about California’s lawsuit against Huntington Beach regarding affordable housing, new state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris issued a statement criticizing the litigation.

“I believe that this lawsuit is contrary to the thoughtful, deliberate and strategic approach that is required if we are to genuinely address California’s housing crisis,” said Petrie-Norris, a Laguna Beach Democrat whose district includes Huntington Beach. “This is not the time for political brinkmanship.”

But just hours later, she would learn Huntington Beach actually filed suit first.

City Attorney Michael Gates beat the state to the punch a week earlier, filing a suit against California over Senate Bill 35 – which forces cities behind on the state’s housing targets to accelerate the approval process. The suit argues the law impinges on the city’s right to control its own development.

Then 12 days later, using similar claims, Gates again sued the state over another affordable housing initiative, Senate Bill 166. At the Feb. 4 City Council meeting, Gates reported the second lawsuit was approved by council members 6-1 in closed session.

The two-way barrage of litigation has dampened Petrie-Norris’ initial hope that “both sides would seek mediation and settlement,” she said.

“Huntington Beach has chosen a different path,” she said. “That’s unfortunate for the city’s citizens who will miss out on funding streams that could be put to use in more productive ways. Both sides are spending taxpayer dollars in the courts – yet neither has enough money to do all the important things we need and want to do.”

California’s lawsuit seeks to force the city to increase the number of housing units affordable for a wide range of residents. The suit cites a unanimous Huntington Beach City Council vote in 2016 shelving a plan to meet state requirements by rezoning for more than 400 units.

The lawsuits originated by Huntington Beach contend the city’s charter status endows broad authority over local zoning. Huntington Beach is one of 121 charter cities in California, a designation decided by voters. Charter cities enjoy greater control over certain municipal affairs, as prescribed in the state constitution.

Gates made a similar argument about the autonomy of charter cities concerning California’s “sanctuary law,” SB 54. “The same general theory applies,” he said.

Last year, Gates sued the state over SB 54 – which limits, in some situations, sharing of information between police and immigration officers. In September, an Orange County Superior judge sided with the city. The California Department of Justice has appealed the ruling.

Gates said he has “heard people say” the state’s recent lawsuit against Huntington Beach “could be retaliation” for the city’s litigation against California.

“I have no direct evidence to support that,” he said. “It’s hard to tell what the motivation is. But it’s clear Huntington Beach is not the only city not in compliance, yet we are the only defendant named.”

Fifty-one cities – about 10 percent of California’s 482 cities – are out of compliance with state requirements for affordable housing, according to the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

Like Petrie-Norris, former Westminster councilman Tyler Diep is new to Sacramento. Assemblyman Diep, who represents part of Huntington Beach, said he disagrees with the state’s lawsuit.

“Litigation to force housing in any city is an ineffective way to approach the housing shortage,” he said.

“As a legal tactic,” the Republican assemblyman said he understands the city’s lawsuits.

“Huntington Beach was right to go on the offensive,” Diep said. “Both parties are now plaintiffs. That puts Huntington Beach on the same legal footing as the state.”

However, Diep emphasized: “I strongly support affordable housing, and I think Huntington Beach should help provide more of it.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 6, Diep and Petrie-Norris joined in a bipartisan letter decrying all three lawsuits. It is addressed to both Huntington Beach Mayor Erik Peterson and Gov. Newsom.

Another two Huntington Beach area assembly members, Tom Umberg and John Moorlach, also signed the entreaty urging the city and state “to immediately begin to mediate this disagreement.”

“These three cases alone will cost millions of dollars and take years to resolve,” the letter reads. “In the meantime, little or no additional housing will be constructed for the populations who need it most.”


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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1421 and CNPA — February 7, 2019

Senate Bill 1421 continues to be in the headlines and was feted this week at the annual California News Publishers Association convention in Sacramento. The gathering brought by a couple members to my Capitol office, including Norberto Santana, who provides CNPA’s perspectives on the recent developments (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Philosophically Consistent — October 14, 2018).

Santana: California Publishers Gear Up for Battle Over Public Records Access

By Norberto Santana Jr.NORBERTO SANTANA JR.

California news publishers from across the state this week voiced strong support for an unprecedented joint legal and journalistic effort to make police misconduct records open to public review during their annual Sacramento capital conference.

Their action comes just as Attorney General Xavier Becerra halts the release of any misconduct records pending the outcomes of court cases where police unions are trying to block public release of documents.

The battle began after state legislators adopted SB 1241 (sic) last fall, which amends the California Public Records Act to allow for inspection of three select areas of police misconduct records; including use of force, sexual assault and lying while on duty.

Police unions across the state fought the bill all the way through the legislature and once adopted, attempted to immediately contest it before the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Since then, police unions went into local courts across the state to block releases of records.

A strong coalition of journalists and publishers have, in turn, filed lawsuits throughout California opposing police union efforts to keep such misconduct records secret.

Reporters from a variety of media outlets are also working together to track public records requests across counties and report out the results.

Today, one of the first of lawsuits will play out in Orange County as Voice of OC leads a media coalition – including the LA Times and Southern California Public Radio – headed into the Superior Court of Judge Nathan Scott.

Paulette Brown Hinds, publisher of the Black Voice News in Riverside, is the new President of the California News Publishers Association

At her installation as the incoming president of the California News Publishers Association earlier this week, Paulette Brown- Hinds, who publishes the Black Voice News in Riverside – reiterated that statewide publishers would remain strongly committed toward seeing these joint efforts through.

At the conference, publishers also awarded Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, a Freedom of Information award for her efforts to move her legislation, SB 1421, which had stalled in previous sessions, through the Senate public safety committee and onto the floor for ultimate approval.

CNPA General Counsel Jim Ewert with State Sen. Nancy Skinner.

Her legislation could revolutionize police accountability in California, reversing decades of sanctioned secrecy over officer misconduct.

Police unions argue that because the legislature didn’t expressly indicate that SB 1421 would cover incidents that had already occurred, the law should not apply to the past. They’ve called it a “retroactive” application of the law and also argue that legislators’ intent isn’t clear.

Except when you talk to Skinner, she’s very clear.

“It’s a smokescreen,” said Skinner at the CNPA reception about the use of the word, “retroactive.”

It doesn’t apply, she reasons, because she aimed to amend the Public Records Act to allow for the release of select police misconduct records.


It doesn’t matter when the incident occurred.

The records are public, Skinner argues.

Now, one of Skinner’s Republican co-sponsors, State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa – who is vice chair of the public safety committee – is a bit more swayed by the “retroactive” argument.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, in his Sacramento office

Moorlach – who sat down with me in his Sacramento capital office earlier this week for a podcast that will air later – said he doesn’t like retroactively applying standards in legislation like tax bills or for pension benefits.

He wonders aloud whether legislators made a mistake in not expressively saying the bill would cover previous incidents.

“Certainly an oversight in the writing of the bill,” Moorlach said. “I’m still debating internally how I feel.”

Yet Moorlach also calls the bill “the right thing to do.”

He’s anxious to let the issue play out in the courts.

Moorlach told me he is really taken back by the big police union effort to protect disclosure of misdeeds, saying it makes him wonder what’s there.

“I just think the reaction is just showing maybe things aren’t as good as they should be. Maybe there are things that are being hidden,” he said.

Skinner says she gets the intensity of opposition. As a former union member she said she understands that “you fight to keep your rights.”

However, Skinner said that there’s an important broader point to be taken into account and that’s precisely why the legislature took action.

“Law enforcement officials need the trust of the community.”


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Discussion — February 4, 2019

Three months ago, I submitted a piece to Fox & Hounds on the housing crisis and homelessness (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Joint Informational Hearings — November 1, 2018). I see that it got some well-deserved attention by Tim Coyle, one of the most respected voices in California on the challenges to building housing of all kinds in this state.

He and I generally agree that the state has made the building of housing a nearly impossible task and the best way to get affordable housing – or housing of a significant quantity that the economics make it affordable – is for government to get out of the way, of sorts, by being more accommodating.

So it looks like we may be talking a bit past each other, because my submission was a summary of some of the key points discussed at an October 2nd Senate hearing I attended. It was focused on affordable housing, not necessarily homelessness, though there are some correlations which Mr. Coyle addresses.

So, the first Fox & Hounds piece below is a little confusing, as mentions of AB 448 only came up tangentially, noting them in my piece mostly for context. But, I wish to thank the author for his kind words on my recent efforts for the No Place Like Home initiative, Proposition 2, which voters passed last November and his wrapping up with a shared view that there is a need for “more housing, of all kinds.”

Let me share a few thoughts. California has a mental health crisis and Sacramento seems to ignore it’s seriously mental ill population, representing roughly 4% of our population. Rather than focus on the most pressing issues on those with extremely challenging diagnoses and issues that are impacting an increasing number of afflicted families, our public policy usually throws money at the problem rather than looking at it holistically.

While I tend to be more small “L” libertarian in nature and believe that the market and private institutions can and should figure out most policy problems, I think that there is a very real and significant role that government should assume with this neglected segment of the population.

Addressing that and the involvement of government with the homelessness crisis could fill pages. Consequently, I’m not going to debate these issues in total right now. I want to find viable alternatives to the failed policies of our post-Lanterman world. Once upon a time, there was government housing of those with mental illness. Now there is minimal assistance. This is where I’ve been focusing my efforts, including providing more psychiatric beds with SB 1273, with Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) revenues (Prop. 63) (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1255 and SB 1273 — July 25, 2016).

I have been working diligently with members across the aisle on these matters. So, I am not necessarily humored when others choose to make this partisan. Addressing homelessness and those who are mentally ill will require a very serious and difficult adult discussion, which I will gladly do with any stakeholder that wants to come to the table.

With the No Place Like Home initiative, where existing MHSA revenues are deployed to address mentally ill homeless individuals, I have some great news. Last week the County of Orange (of which I served as a County Supervisor for eight years), CalOptima (a county operated health system where I served on the board for four years) and the Orange County Hospital Association announced a collaboration to build a 60,000 square-foot building to assist those with mental illness (see This is the visionary effort that I’ve been encouraging for years.

The second Fox & Hounds piece below provides a review of my bill, SB 1074, that requested the components of the price of a gallon of gasoline (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Worked So Hard — May 19, 2018, MOORLACH UPDATE — Selected to Serve — May 28, 2018, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Conference Committee Cram Down — June 8, 2018).

Just remember this, the next time you hear a Democrat legislator complain about the cost of gas, tell them to quit raising gas taxes and to have Caltrans better spend the money it receives. Then ask them to vote for a bill that gives honest transparency for the additional costs we are forced to pay at the pump.

Misguided Solutions to State Homeless Problem

Timothy L. Coyle

By Timothy L. CoyleConsultant specializing in housing issues

Recently, state Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County) wrote in this space about California’s struggle to solve the problem of homelessness. In his piece “Grappling with California’s Housing Crisis” Moorlach, however, comes dangerously close to accepting the notion that if government throws enough money at a problem like homelessness we can solve it.

Homelessness in California is a grand example of how government largesse may be hurting and not helping. As Moorlach’s Democrat colleague Jim Beall said at last year’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing, “more than $10 billion has been spent on the homeless the last few years, yet, the crisis is not over . . .” Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If true, the state’s policy towards the homeless, as articulated by Committee Chairman Beall, is insane.

While it’s likely Democrat Beall would just as soon press on with more spending, I’m surprised Republican Moorlach, who asked good questions at the hearing, didn’t ask something like “$10 billion spent and what do we have to show for it?” Or, “if we’ve spent that kind of money trying to build our way out of the problem – and it’s not working – why haven’t we tried something different?”

California has indeed spent billions of dollars over the years building housing to deal with its chronic and episodic homeless problems and they’re still with us today. In fact, homelessness has gotten worse. The condition in the City of Los Angeles, according to the LA Times, has risen a breathtakingly 75 percent over the past six years. The City of San Francisco is not far behind as almost all urban areas in California have experienced profound increases. Some estimates have homelessness growing in the state by over 65 percent over the past few years.

Past solutions clearly don’t work. Plus, building has its own set of complications:

First, on average, a unit of affordable housing costs nearly $400,000 to build in California – even more in the state’s high-cost areas. Given that situation, the historic level of funding in Proposition 1 ($4 billion) will barely support 10,000 units. Proposition 2, spending half as much as its sister measure, may only build 5,000 units of housing for the homeless mentally ill – that’s barely enough to match the population of living on the street tonight in Sacramento.

Secondly, getting past the legions of activist neighbors who frown on new housing of any kind, will take some doing. A 150-unit project for seniors was just dismissed from a San Francisco neighborhood after opponents spoke up. NIMBYs have just commenced a lawsuit to stop a “smart” development in San Diego. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was recently confronted by a roomful of angry beach residents over the prospect of erecting a new homeless facility nearby. A bill in the state Legislature to promote greater downtown living was defeated after several housing combatants stormed a hearing room to express their outrage.

Lastly, forcing someone into a rental housing situation may not be a solution. When 63 percent of tent-dwellers in Seattle recently refused to leave their current street abodes for the warmth and security of emergency shelter something is wrong. So, simply “housing the homeless” doesn’t work. Moreover, despite some evidence to the contrary, there is little direct correlation between homelessness and the obvious lack of affordable housing – competing data suggests that nexus only exists for a few. By contrast, according to a survey done in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) nearly half of the homeless population suffers from mental illnesses. In addition, the National Coalition for the Homeless tells us that drug addiction is clearly a factor in remaining homeless. Is it possible we’ve been flying blind all these years? In other words, have we been enacting billion-dollar policies while ignoring the facts? Even if California had the fiscal and political wherewithal to build more permanent housing for the homeless, it won’t solve the problem.

Senator Moorlach deserves praise for co-sponsoring the state legislation that authorized SB 2 and put it on the 2018 ballot. Its assistance – importantly, including services – is, by definition, aimed at caring for homeless individuals with mental illnesses. Against prevailing attitudes, he seems to be admitting that housing isn’t the only problem. “So many of the homeless are on the streets because of substance dependency and mental issues,” Moorlach states.

But then, inexplicably, he falls back on endorsing the failed strategies of the past, saying “In Orange County, we hope to harness existing public and private funds and contributions from governments and foundations” to build more housing. He further applauds fellow Orange County legislators Tom Daly (D-Anaheim) and Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) for authoring AB 448 “which sets up the Orange County Housing Finance Trust to enable local municipalities to plan and construct additional housing for the homeless.”

As compassionate as I know Senator Moorlach is – and his consideration of policies that address the various ills that affect homeless populations is unmatched in Sacramento – he should be consistent in his policy making and associated rhetoric. The homeless problem in California is not one dimensional (housing, only) and Senator Moorlach knows it isn’t. Social scholars Alice Baum and Donald Burnes tell us, instead, homelessness is a disengagement from ordinary society – from family, friends, neighborhood, church and community.

With the right policies coming from Sacramento, we can begin to arrest the social decline and downward spiral of so many fellow Californians. Starting with:

* • Immediately building or rehabilitating temporary, emergency shelters;
* • With teams of volunteers, removing the homeless from street living;
* • Providing regular on-site addiction, mental health and medical services;
* • Facilitating the provision of these services through qualified non-profits;
* • Considering a state policy for “re-institutionalizing” the mentally ill; and
* • Yes, help clear a land-use path for building more housing, of all kinds.

Lawmakers Already Killed Measure Supporting Transparency at the Pump

Ronald Stein

By Ronald Stein

Founder and Ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure of PTS Advance, headquartered in Irvine, California

California lawmakers are at it again. A 2018 bill, SB 1074, sponsored by State Senator John Moorlach (R) from Costa Mesa and championed by the minority party in the State was effectively bottom drawered by the ruling party, the Democrats. They are now fueling the idea, pun intended, that the oil companies are filling their pockets with the extra money California consumers experience at the pump. The local media are unknowing co-conspirators in this ruse.

The current rhetoric the legislature is putting out is they can’t explain why the cost of gas at the pump in California is noticeably higher, hovering around a dollar, than the rest of the country. They’ve called for the Attorney General’s office to investigate this phenomenon. Yeah, like the AG’s not in bed with the idea that the Oil and Gas industry is the go-to scape goat, the established bad guy, the Snidely Whiplash who can be blamed for any and everything that goes wrong today and tomorrow anywhere in the great State of California.

Cap and trade went into effect in 2013, following the earlier Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Now the Attorney General’s office and the legislature’s designated talking heads say they can’t seem to figure out why the prices jumped considerably. The people who make the laws and spin the tales decide the angle of the truth they want you to hear. Besides, they don’t want to have to explain what cap and trade is for the hundredth time after President Trump has literally designated it a bad word.

Because Cap and Trade and other environmental regulations are the Gold Rush State’s atta-boy when it comes to their green direction initiatives, mentioning it as part culprit would take some of the pressure off their designated evil-doer, Oil and Gas.

With the summer blend of fuel costs hitting the pumps, lawmakers are once again getting press about challenging why Californians continue to pay almost $1.00 more per gallon of fuel than the rest of the country. Some of the costs hidden in the all-in posted price of fuel at the pump are:

· Federal tax per gallon

· Excise tax per gallon

· State tax per gallon

· Local sales tax per gallon

· Cap and trade program compliance costs per gallon

· Low-carbon fuel standard program compliance costs per gallon

· Renewable fuels standard program compliance costs per gallon

· Refinery winter and summer reformatting costs per gallon

As the Cap & Trade and Low Carbon Fuel Standard Programs kick into higher gear in the coming years, more costs onto fuels are projected by 2030 which may add another dollar or two to the per gallon fuel cost consumers will pay at the pump.

SB 1074 would have required gas stations to post near each gas and diesel pump a list of cost factors, such as federal, state and local taxes, as well as costs associated with environmental rules and regulations including the cap-and-trade tax, low-carbon fuel standard, and the renewable fuels standard.

The difference between those “fixed” governmental costs from taxes and environmental regulations would obviously explain the total costs the manufacturers of those fuels charge the vendors who add their markup and adjust the actual price the consumer experiences at the pump. That’s a lot of taxes and costs.

Beginning last November 2018, SB 1 added 12 cents to a gallon of gasoline and 20 cents to each gallon of diesel for infrastructure improvements, and now we’re looking at even more costs for the upcoming “summer blend” for fuels.

Numerous laypersons and organization spokespersons weighed in in support of Senator Moorlach’s bill at an April 23, 2018 hearing before the State Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. I testified myself. But the Democratic-controlled committee was very vocal that they didn’t want the public to know why we’re paying so much and voted to kill the transparency bill from future consideration. Chuckleheads.

Hiding details of costs to the public provides a better understanding of why California suffers the highest percentage of people in poverty and a homeless crisis so acute it shocks the world.

· California has 25% of the homeless in the nation, and double the national average of homeless per 1000 persons (page 12).

· State by State Poverty rates, geographically adjusted, places California highest in the nation at 23.8%.

The transparency bill SB 1074 would have given motorists information on what’s really going on. But for the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature, bliss is keeping Californians ignorant. As expected, the current vocal concerns of lawmakers will get discussed again and again, but action toward transparency to the public will be avoided.


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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Then There Were Two — February 2, 2019

The Daily Pilot’s electronic edition piece below provides the strong potential for another upcoming announcement for next year’s campaign season.


Derivatives Week
, a publication of Institutional Investor, Inc., had a revealing headline in its January 31, 1994 edition: “ORANGE COUNTY NETS BIG RETURNS WITH GUTSY REPO STRATEGY.”

The front-page teaser had a small error, as it was not the pension fund, although some pension funds were in the Orange County Investment Pool. However, this paragraph provided the crux of my campaign. For a tutorial on reverse repurchase agreements (reverse repos), see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Tarnished State — December 17, 2018. For more on the inverted yield curve, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Judicious Budget — December 18, 2018.

Orange County California’s $7.5 billion pension fund has profited handsomely by amassing an average monthly position of $5 billion in reverse repos, but an inversion of the yield curve or an interest rate rise could leave the fund with hefty losses, according to dealers who question the prudence of the practice. “On the Street, we call this kind of leveraged reverse repo strategy the death spiral because one significant market move can blow down the strategy in one puff,” said one muni expert. “I think it is a scandal waiting to happen. It is a brilliant idea for hedge funds, but I am not sure it is a good idea for a muni fund,” said another banker.

Derivatives Week was no minor magazine and its piece would be mentioned in articles during the upcoming campaign. The “death spiral” and “scandal waiting to happen” quotes have since made it to numerous publications and books subsequent to the Orange County Chapter 9 filing (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Global Derivative Debacles — February 1, 2011).

Political Landscape: Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley takes step toward possible state Senate bid


Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley has filed campaign paperwork indicating she’s considering a run for the state’s 37th Senate District seat in 2020, according to information posted online by the California secretary of state’s office.

The move positions her to potentially mount a bid against state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who has held the seat since 2015.

Foley did not respond to requests for comment this week.

The 37th District covers a swath of Orange County including Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach and parts of Huntington Beach.

Foley, a Democrat and lawyer, rejoined the Costa Mesa City Council in 2014 after having served from 2004 to 2010. She became the city’s first directly elected mayor in November, winning a two-year term.

Should she officially decide to run, Foley would be the second Democrat to enter the state Senate race. The other is Irvine resident Dave Min, a law professor at UC Irvine.

In a news release announcing his candidacy, Min said he’s running “to build a brighter economic future for all 37th District families and to provide them with representation that reflects our values and priorities,” including the“need to focus on universal health care, protecting our environment, ending the gun violence epidemic, building more affordable housing and protecting our immigrant communities from the disastrous policies of the Trump administration.”

MOORLACH UPDATE — Rushing Motor Voter — January 31, 2019

The Democrats have been dominating California’s Capital for four decades. This is not enough. Consequently, in their efforts to pile on in the 2018 elections, they rushed motor voter registrations at the Department of Motor Vehicles to juice up their numbers.

It was done, even after the implementation was obviously premature. But, the motives are clearly spelled out in The Sacramento Bee and Napa Valley Register piece below.

“The fact that [registering voters at the DMV] helps us politically . . .” is an amazingly honest and forthright admission on the true motivations of this program.

So, what if a few noncitizens get caught up in this initiative’s net? And when it is clear that the project was mismanaged, of course you blame another department and its department head. Brilliant. Better yet, don’t respond to reporter calls when they’re doing what they are supposed to do, investigative journalism.

And the Democrats in D.C. are focused on the alleged Russian interference in the national elections of 2016? It looks like they should clean up their very own messy problems here in Sacramento.

Election officials said DMV wasn’t ready to launch Motor Voter. California went ahead anyway

By Bryan Anderson The Sacramento Bee

As California prepared to launch its new Motor Voter program last year, top elections officials say they asked Secretary of State Alex Padilla to hold off on the roll-out.

The plan called for the Department of Motor Vehicles to automatically register people who came into its offices, one of several efforts by Democrats controlling California politics to make it easier for more people to vote.

With the June 2018 primary approaching, election officials said they warned that the department that manages car registration and boat licenses was not yet prepared to register voters.

“There wasn’t the appropriate readiness to go forward in April, and that was brought to the Secretary of State,” said Dean Logan, registrar for Los Angeles County, adding that he “definitely expressed concern” to the Secretary of State’s Office, as well as Padilla himself.

“The concern from registrars across the state, including myself, was not a resistance to moving forward. We supported the move to the New Motor Voter program in the long term. The concern was had there been adequate testing and development to be ready for the June election.”

California moved forward anyway.

The DMV has since acknowledged making 105,000 registration errors since Motor Voter began on April 23, 2018. Some customers were registered with the wrong party. Others who wished to opt out of the program were nevertheless signed up. At least one non-citizen was added to the voter rolls, and the Secretary of State’s Office is continuing to investigate whether more non-citizens were included.

Padilla declined to be interviewed after repeated requests from The Bee. Officials for the DMV and the California Department of Technology declined to comment.

“The decision to launch Motor Voter was jointly made by the Secretary of State’s office, DMV, CDT, and Governor (Jerry) Brown’s Administration,” Padilla said in a statement issued by his office. “This project took into consideration workload and logistics for all partners. While I have expressed frustration with some of the data transfer errors since the launch of Motor Voter, the program has been an overall success, adding over 800,000 new voters to the rolls. I look forward to working with Governor Newsom and his administration to continue improving voter registration at the DMV.”

A news conference to promote the kick-off was scheduled for April 16, 2018.

But Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who worked closely with Padilla to pass the 2015 bill that would register Californians to vote at DMV offices unless they opted out, said the event was abruptly canceled. Gonzalez said the DMV notified Padilla and her office of technical issues with the program and postponed the launch by a week.

“In hindsight, I wish we could figure out the damn technology issues that we have in state government,” Gonzalez said. “We were scheduled to launch on Monday (April 16). On Thursday (April 12), they called and said they weren’t ready.”

Joe Holland, president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, said he warned Padilla’s office against the April launch. Ultimately, he said, it was not his call to make.

“Our recommendation was not to deploy it that close to an election,” he said. “That was the opinion of most registrar of voters.”

The election was an important one, as Democrats nationally sought to position themselves to regain control of the House of Representatives. Republicans would later charge that Motor Voter contributed to a Democratic wave that saw them lose seven congressional seats in California.

Like Padilla, Gonzalez said her motivation for launching Motor Voter was simply to encourage more people to vote.

“I, at my core belief, believe that the more people that engage and participate in elections, the better,” Gonzalez said. “The fact that it helps us politically is really secondary.”

Motor Voter registration data shows half of the 186,022 new voters registered without a party preference, while 35 percent were Democrats and 15 percent were Republicans. The unusual uptick in “no party preference” registrations has disproportionately hurt Republicans.

Paul Mitchell, a political consultant and vice president of the bipartisan voter data firm Political Data, said the DMV registration may have affected just one district that flipped for Democrats. “But in 2020, it could definitely have a huge impact on the candidates that get nominated in the primaries and in general election outcomes,” he said.

By October 2018, as a smaller number of errors surfaced at the DMV, Padilla said he was “deeply frustrated” with the mistakes and had “grave concerns” about the botched implementation.

In an Oct. 8 conference call with election officials, Padilla blamed the DMV and the state Department of Technology for the errors, according to documents obtained through a Public Records Act request. Padilla’s office initially withheld most of the 577 pages it provided. The Bee received more information after filing a legal complaint, though 17 pages remain redacted because the office considers them to be “investigative records.”

“I am deeply frustrated and disappointed that the DMV and CDT have failed in their basic responsibility to collect and transmit accurate voter registration information to us — and by extension — to you,” Padilla told county clerks, according to the documents. “These errors are completely unacceptable.”

“I don’t have to tell you that these errors at DMV damage voter confidence,” he added. “This has been an extremely frustrating situation, and I recognize the burden it has been on all of you.”

In an internal Oct. 8 memo, Padilla questioned whether the DMV’s former director, Jean Shiomoto, should resign.

“If the DMV and CDT do not seek an independent third party review of their practices and procedures for the New Motor Voter program, then leadership MUST change,” he wrote.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, thinks the DMV’s implementation was flawed, but said Padilla should have taken more personal responsibility.

“If you were warned by industry experts that you’re going to have difficulties with the launch, he should have respected that,” Moorlach said. “Now that it’s sort of blown up, for him to say, ‘Hey, it was the DMV’s fault,’ I think it’s disingenuous. It’s his fault. He should have respected the advice of the experts and implementers.”

Padilla considered a temporary halt to Motor Voter ahead of the November general election. He briefly asked the DMV and CDT to stop sending voter information to his office, prompting concerns from county clerks. They worried they would wind up with a large backlog of data right before the election.

But Padilla ultimately decided to keep the program running with an added layer of review.

He acknowledged in mid-October that a backlog “may have an adverse effect at an already busy election time,” but directed counties to process all valid registration records.

“We are less than two weeks before the close of the voter registration deadline,” Padilla wrote in an Oct. 8 memo. “During this time, tens of thousands of Californians will continue (to) register or update their voter registration information at the DMV — people that want to participate in the upcoming midterm elections. I do not want to deny this opportunity to these Californians.”


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Greenhouse Gas Generators — January 30, 2019

Wildfires in the Santa Ana Mountains have been a natural occurrence over the centuries. In fact, they should occur on occasion. Every 70 years is an appropriate burn cycle, but not every 7 years, which seems to be the new normal. Why? Because of human interaction with this otherwise pristine wilderness area, thanks to sparks from vehicles and electronic equipment, among other things.

This higher frequency of human-caused wildfires dramatically contributes to the production of greenhouse gases and needs to be addressed if Sacramento is really serious about climate change. I’m happy to say that I tried my best to help those on the other side to quantify, include in analyses, and fund for GHG reduction (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 And The Facts — November 19, 2018 and MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Epilogue — October 4, 2018). The California Globe piece below will provide you with the fun that my efforts encountered.

I’m one Senator who has produced significant legislation to address climate change in the last few years up in Sacramento (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Black Malibu — November 23, 2018 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Spewing Carbon Into The Air — August 8, 2018). And, in hindsight, these efforts could have made a difference in the tragic fires of 2017 and 2018. It’s a shame that some are misdiagnosing the impacts on the atmosphere by focusing on the wrong assumptions.


Gov. Gavin Newsom Appoints Environmental Justice Warrior To Key Post

Newsom’s top picks: California Globe will feature Newsom’s top appointed staff members in articles

By Katy Grimes

California’s new Governor Gavin Newsom has been busy setting up his team even since before officially taking office. And with his new team taking shape, many want to know who these appointees are, where they came from, and their backgrounds.

January 6, the eve of his swearing­ in, Governor-­elect Newsom announced the appointment of several key senior staff and finance and legislative deputies, including Rachel Machi Wagoner as a Deputy Legislative Secretary.

Newsom has made a point of supporting Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of California producing 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2045. And Newsom has hired an environmental justice warrior in Wagoner.

In the announcement, her bio said, “She has 22 years of legislative and public policy experience. She most recently served as Chief Consultant to the California State Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. Wagoner previously served as the Legislative Director to the Department of Toxic Substances Control and Deputy Legislative Secretary to Governor Gray Davis.”

Her Linkedin profile says, “Responsible for implementing City of Chicago Climate Action Plan communications strategy,” and “Advised on climate change and climate adaptation policy.”

What the bio doesn’t expand on is that she served as the Chief Consultant on the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, which was responsible in 2016 and 2018 for killing Costa Mesa Republican Sen. John Moorlach’s SB 1463, wildfire management bills. The first SB 1463 in 2016, was a bipartisan bill which would have given local governments more say in fire-prevention efforts through the Public Utilities Commission proceeding making maps of fire hazard areas around utility lines. Gov. Brown vetoed SB 1463, despite being passed by the Legislature, 75-0 in the Assembly and 39-0 in the Senate. Brown’s veto message claimed that the PUC and CalFire have already been doing what Moorlach’s bill sought to accomplish.

After SB 1463 was killed by Gov. Brown, Sen. Moorlach and his staff had an epiphany: Redirect the state’s accumulated cap-and-trade funds into wildfire prevention. Authored in 2018, the new Senate Bill 1463, aptly named “Cap and Trees,” “would continuously appropriate 25 percent of state cap-and-trade funds to counties to harden the state’s utility infrastructure and better manage wildlands and our overgrown and drought-weakened forests.”

The idea was to actually reduce the state’s highest source of greenhouse gas emissions, curb the impacts of future wildfires and prevent unnecessary damage to life and property, the new SB 1463 fact sheet reported.

Governor Newsom’s Appointee

Rachel Machi Wagoner wrote the only bill analysis done on the 2018 SB 1463, however, her name has since been replaced on the analysis with a male consultant of the Environmental Quality Committee. I know because I used her analysis in an August 2018 article I wrote, and referenced “her” and “she” in describing the committee consultant.

Here’s what she wrote:

”…natural disasters that emit GHGs (such as wildfires) occurred before climate change, will continue to occur as the climate continues to change, and will persist even if mankind ultimately solves the problem of climate change.”

“While science can now conclusively attribute individual extreme events to climate change, it is important to distinguish that extreme events like the recent wildfires in California are a symptom of climate change, not the cause.”

“The overwhelming consensus of climate scientists is that climate change is anthropogenic, meaning human activity has caused the rising GHG concentrations in the atmosphere and, therefore, increasing average global temperatures and the extreme events climate change causes.”

To include GHG emissions from natural disasters in the state’s inventory that tracks progress towards California’s climate goals, even ones that are made worse by climate change, betrays the fundamental scientific understanding that human activity is responsible for climate change.” (Her emphasis) 04/19/18- Senate Environmental Quality

Moorlach’s bill proposed requiring the California Air Resources Board include greenhouse gas emissions from wildlands and forest fires in the scoping plan, and appropriated 25 percent of cap and trade monies in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The problem is that the Air Resources Board Scoping Plan doesn’t include wildfire emissions in greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that “for every 2 to 3 days these wildfires burn, GHG emissions are roughly equal to the annual emissions from every car in the entire state of California,” USA Today/Reno Gazette reported in 2017.

The committee bent over backwards to justify not including wildfire/forest fire emissions in greenhouse gas emissions, and thusly, killed Moorlach’s second bill.

More from her analysis:

“Notably, emissions from wildfires and other natural disasters do not count against air basins with regard to their attainment status. Emissions from prescribed and agricultural burns, however, do count against air basins with regard to their attainment status.

Additionally, including natural disasters, like the recent wildfires, in the state’s GHG emissions inventory would shift the focus from the true cause of climate change—human activity—to sources of GHG emissions that, while individually large, are simply not responsible for long-term climate change. This would impede the state’s ability to address climate change, if not make it impossible outright.”

As this bill conflicts with AB 32, SB 32, implementing the scoping plan, the Federal Clean Air Act, as well as the intent of these laws to decrease GHG and air pollution emissions and improve conditions in disadvantaged communities, this bill should not be approved. (Her emphasis)

The bill failed to pass the committee, and Rachel Machi Wagoner is now the Deputy Legislative Secretary for the Governor.

California Globe will feature Newsom’s top appointed staff members in articles throughout the next few months.


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MOORLACH UPDATE — Really Addressing Housing Goals — January 29, 2019

In his swearing-in remarks, Gov. Newsom quoted from my favorite speech, the Sermon on the Mount, exhorting the need to build on a solid rock and not sinking sand.

Watching Sacramento’s salvo shot at Huntington Beach, it reminds me of a question that Jesus asked in Matthew 21:28-31 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — RHNA Retribution — January 26, 2019).

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

I believe many in Sacramento are getting a little tired of cities that say they are going to do what the law requires, but only provide lip service. If Huntington Beach had not changed its original housing plan in 2013, Newsom’s lawsuit would not have presumably occurred. But, when you look at what is actually happening in this city, there is plenty of building occurring, inasmuch as they can accommodate it. At least its leadership was honest in that it was reexamining its official documents.

Cities just giving the minimum on housing and homelessness issues, but not the follow through, is where the legislature and Governor should focus. Let me provide an example. California has numerous cities that have not complied with the requirements of SB 2, to establish a zone where year-round homeless shelters can be built. Many other cities have declared an SB 2 zone, but it is just to satisfy the state requirement. The possibility of an actual shelter being built there is next to zero.

I found this out the hard way with the city of Santa Ana. I watched intently as its city council selected their preferred SB 2 zone. Then I, along with my Supervisorial colleagues, opened escrow on a commercial building in that zone for a 200-bed shelter. What happened next? The Santa Ana City Council went apoplectic and killed the deal.

Were they guilty of lip service? Were they meeting the requirements with no intention of following through? I guess.

So, which is worse? The city that says it’s going to do something and doesn’t? Or the city that tells you the truth and then, after a little reflection, actually does what it is demanded to do?

MyNewsLA provides the City News Service piece below on the latest developments in this saber rattling exercise to get cities to do what they are demanded to do, versus just providing the lip service that is superficial but doesn’t meet the true spirit of the law.

Also, now that we’re on the subject of housing elements, I’ve been enjoying both questions and praise for my co-authorship of Senator Wiener’s bill, SB 50, which tries to incentivize housing being built near transit stations (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2019-20 Session Underway — December 4, 2018). Providing housing or governmental facilities alongside transit lines, in my opinion, has not fared well in Orange County.

We need to encourage cities to move their development processes along inasmuch as they can do so and eliminate barriers to entry that are so difficult to overcome that little new housing actually gets built in a timely fashion and without additional costs. SB 50 is an attempt to go after the low hanging fruit, but it’s not a perfect alternative.

I’m co-authoring the bill with the understanding that it doesn’t increase prevailing wage requirements. Some question my willingness to address a massive problem through a public, deliberative, legislative process. I find that this is a distinctly different – and I would argue – better way to find housing options rather than by fiat or litigation.

If the bill moves a direction I am not comfortable with or does things that I have consistently opposed, I’ll pull my support to the bill. And Senator Wiener is aware of this. Until then, if any of my constituents have a better idea on how to deal with this problem, you know where to find me.

OC Lawmakers Hope to Settle State’s Suit with Huntington Beach

Two Orange County legislators Monday said they were working to help settle a legal dispute between the state and Huntington Beach over affordable housing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a lawsuit Friday against the city, accusing it of blocking the production of affordable housing and worsening the statewide housing crisis.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, said she spent the weekend “connecting with members of the Huntington Beach City Council and the governor’s office.”

“My objective is for us to find a resolution for outside of the courts," Petrie-Norris said. "I think that having this go into litigation is not an efficient or productive way for us to solve this problem.”

Petrie-Norris said meetings with Newsom’s office continued Monday.

“Hopefully, we have more to share tomorrow,” she said.

Newsom spokesman Nathan Click, said the governor is open to a settlement.

“Our goal has always been for Huntington Beach to amend its housing plan to allow for more housing,” Click said.

“The governor supports and encourages all efforts to help the city come into compliance with state housing law, and the state will gladly drop its lawsuit once it does so. California has made repeated attempts to work with the city to bring their housing plan into compliance over the last four years and stands ready to do so once more.”

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he was “in the process of writing a letter to the governor saying, hey, let’s work together.”

“We’ve got to get everybody to calm down and let cooler heads prevail, and we have to look at the bigger picture,” Moorlach said.

Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates said the lawsuit would bog down efforts to negotiate a settlement.

Newsom’s office accused the city of amending its housing plan– which was in compliance with affordable housing mandates in 2013 — to “significantly” reduce “the number of new housing units able to be built.”

City officials then later rejected a proposed amendment that would have added the ability to build more affordable units, the governor’s office claimed.

“Cities and counties are important partners in addressing this housing crisis, and many cities are making herculean efforts to meet this crisis head-on,” Newsom said. “But some cities are refusing to do their part to address this crisis and willfully stand in violation of California law. Those cities will be held to account.”

Gates responded that the city has been “complying with all applicable state housing and zoning laws and has been, and will continue to, work with the California Department of Housing and Community Development regarding meeting the city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment.”

Gates said proof of that “is evidenced by the city’s recent court victories in lawsuits challenging the city’s actions to zone for additional housing, including affordable housing.”

Efforts by city officials to improve its zoning “has been caused by the city fighting lawsuits and court appeals filed by plaintiffs such as the Kennedy Commission.”

Gates said the lawsuit was “timed poorly as it now interrupts recent months of discussions with both (Housing and Community Development) and the Kennedy Commission with regard to a resolution to the remaining outstanding disputes.”

Since 2014, the city has “issued permits and filed inspections for over 2,500 new housing units, including approximately 100 very low-income and low-income deed-restricted units,” Gates said.

“Moreover, the city has also permitted or entitled all of its moderate-income (Regional Housing Needs Assessment) target,” Gates said. “The city has also established programs, such as our Tenant Based Rental Assistance program, dedicated to providing assistance to extremely low income and at-risk homeless households.”

Gates said it was “noteworthy” that Huntington Beach has been singled out “while over 50 other cities in California have not yet met their RHNA targets. That raises questions about the motivation for this lawsuit filed only against Huntington Beach.”

The city also is embroiled in a legal battle with the state over the so-called “sanctuary state” law that the city has claimed doesn’t apply to Huntington Beach because it is a charter city.


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