MOORLACH UPDATE — OC METRO — March 1, 2010

The March issue of OC METRO is out and I’m mentioned in an article on the Forum for Corporate Directors (FCD) annual Director of the Year Dinner.  Former Supervisor Harriett Wieder served on the FCD Board of Directors and plugged me in to this fine business group.  This was the second Director of the Year dinner that I’ve attended, as well as attending many of their other functions while serving as Supervisor.  I also served on a FCD breakfast program panel with John Della Grotta last April, so it was a privilege to be included in a photo with him.

One of my efforts as Supervisor has been to reach out to the corporate community.  This organization has been a big assist in this endeavor.

A strong county needs a strong business community.  And a strong business community needs a well run government.  This is one recent association that I really enjoy.  Plus, it was fun to personally congratulate Tom McKernan, who has a fine establishment in my District.

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AWARDS & RECOGNITION

Forum for Corporate Directors honors individuals for business excellence

Fifteenth annual event was held at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in February.

By Tamirra Stewart

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Directors of the Year pause with event co-chairs John Della Grotta, Terry Goldfarb-Lee.

The Forum for Corporate Directors recently recognized this year’s Director of the Year honorees for their corporate excellence and leadership, as well as their dedication to the local business industry.

The 15th annual Director of the Year Awards, which were held in February at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, also featured Abbot Medical Optics executive Jim Mazzo as the guest speaker. The five awardees were recognized across a range of categories. Here’s a breakdown of the honors:

  • Beckman Coulter President and CEO Scott Garrett: Enhancement of Economic Value
  • Catalina Ventures founder and Managing Director Randall Lunn: Early-Stage Companies
  • Automobile Club of Southern California CEO Thomas McKernan: Corporate Citizenship
  • Conexant Systems CEO and Chairman Scott Mercer: Corporate Leadership and Service
  • Joseph Sullivan, who serves on the boards of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, AutoGenomics, Cymetrix, HCP, Maguire Properties and Rand Health: Corporate Growth & Development

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“Whether overseeing business strategies to drive growth, building long-term value creation for investors, re-establishing credibility among shareholders or making meaningful contributions of their time and leadership skills to communities they live, these individuals have all played significant roles in creating success and excellence for their organizations,” says John Della Grotta, chairman of the Forum for Corporate Directors and a partner at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP (pictured right with 2nd District Supervisor John Moorlach).

The honorees join more than 80 other individuals who have garnered the honor from the nonprofit organization, which works to promote corporate governance.

“In a world of economic uncertainty, complicated by new legislation and increased regulatory oversight, there is more need than ever for a forum such as FCD where directors, C-level officers and those who support boards can meet in a peer setting to exchange ideas on new and developing best practices to conduct business in a global and changing economy,” finishes Della Grotta.

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

March 1

1995

The March/April issue of the Columbia Journalism Review had an interesting contrast in their regular “Darts and Laurels” column. 

As a result of my “journalistic” experience in 1994, I did find two heroes:  Cleveland Plain Dealer reporters Joel Rutchick and Timothy Heider.  I’ll let the portion of the CJR below do the explaining. 

In the summer of 1999, when we traveled through Cleveland on a family vacation, we passed up the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and paid a visit on these two reporters. 

Although they did not win the Pulitzer for their work (which I thought they deserved), they did receive the Gerald Loeb Award for business/financial journalism.

Their work was remarkable in one major regard:  they printed the truth.  What a concept!  That beats this lame excuse that was in the American Journalism Review article:

And, says Times reporter Jeff Brazil, what might have happened if the media exposed Citron’s gamble and caused a run on the fund?  "The newspaper…has a responsibility to the community," he says. "Just because you know something doesn’t mean it should go in the newspaper."

I took a photo with the both Joel and Tim, standing next to their award, during our visit.

I think my kids enjoyed the tour more than they would have the museum, at the time.  (At least I’d like to think so.)

The Laurel is one long paragraph.

LAUREL to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and reporters Joel Rutchick and Timothy Heider, for a bullish approach to the political marketplace.  When in the course of last fall’s campaign for Ohio’s Tenth Congressional District seat the incumbent, Republican Martin Hoke, accused his challenger, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Francis E. Gaul, of mismanaging public funds, Rutchick and Heider didn’t write off the charges as low-interest political rhetoric; instead, they checked them out.  The result of their inquiry, which involved retaining the services of a university business professor and a computer-assisted analysis of some 1,800 transactions in the treasurer’s $1.8 billion investment pool known as the Secured Assets Fund Earnings (ironically, SAFE), was a page-one story in the Friday, October 7 PD.  It revealed, among other things, that Gaul and his staff of inexperienced, unschooled, and untrained appointees (the chief investment officer, for instance, had previously worked as a supermarket stock boy and shipping clerk) had exposed hundreds of millions of public dollars to risk by borrowing against bondholdings to buy other securities; had concealed more than $185 million in such leverages from auditors and consultants; and had been engaged in a trading frenzy that turned the portfolio over ten times in one year and netted local brokers more than $2 million in fees at a time when the bond market was in its worst downturn in half a century.  By Tuesday, October 11, Heider and Rutchick were able to report that county commissioners had shut down the SAFE program, had brought in a team of experts to manage all investments, and were crediting the PD with staving off financial catastrophe.  For contrast, consider the case of Orange County, California, where last spring similar predictions of impending financial doom were being fired into the political air by John Moorlach, the (losing) candidate for county treasurer, and where bearish local news organizations chose not to follow the smoke.  Perhaps an analysis of the situation, published in The Orange County Register on December 11, five days after the county had fallen into bankruptcy, tells the story best.  As an editor’s note points out, the piece had been written earlier, “before the county admitted its investment pool had dropped $1.5 billion in value.”  The note does not point out, however, that the paper had had the piece in its possession since October, at which time Moorlach had submitted it for publication without the courtesy of a reply.

Harold Johnson was an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and a contributing editor of National Review West.  He penned “Red Ink Blues – Will bankruptcy force Orange County to act like Orange County?” for the Reason Magazine’s March 1995 issue.  It can be found at http://reason.com/archives/1995/03/01/red-ink-blues/1.  Here are selected quotes:

The divide in the GOP between aggressive skeptics of big government and status-quo huggers is writ large in this most Republican of counties. Many local or county elected officials would make comfy chums for Bill or Hillary or other cheerleaders for government growth. At the very least they regard George Bush’s benevolent attitude toward taxes and regulations as the very model of good governance. Outgoing GOP County Supervisor Harriett Wieder actually endorsed Clinton, while her colleague Tom Riley has backed a stream of liberal primary opponents to right-wing legislators and congressmen. Wieder, Riley, and the rest of the supes gave Citron their high fives during his re-election race last June, while the county’s legislative and congressional delegations got behind Republican challenger John Moorlach, a CPA who warned that the treasurer’s investment bubble was about to pop.

The Lincoln Club, an influential group of GOP donors, has commissioned the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole to do a top-to-bottom review and offer a blueprint for a reinvented county government. "Orange County has the chance to be a test tube for the 21st-century model of a rationalized, downsized public sector," says Lincoln Club member Howard Klein.

The forces of inertia, of course, haven’t been routed, but the potential for a change is greater than any time in memory. And the battle charge has a stirring ring: At long last, let Orange County be Orange County.

March 2

1995

Jacqueline Doherty of The Dow Jones Capital Markets Report wire service sent out “Orange County’s Town Crier Getting Closer To Treasurer’s Post” just after the noon hour.  During this time period I was assisting Supervisor Silva in constructing the charter for a Treasury Oversight Committee.  I received a great template from Los Angeles County Supervisor Dean Dana’s Chief of Staff, Don Knabe.  I also stay in touch with Thomas Daxon, who continues to be a voice of conservative fiscal management in the State of Oklahoma.

                Orange County’s town crier appears to be one step closer to being appointed treasurer.

                At a special meeting Wednesday, members of the Board of Supervisors came out strongly in favor of appointing John Moorlach to the position of treasurer.  Moorlach lost the election for treasurer last year against long-time incumbent Robert Citron.

                “I personally am looking at one appointee here . . . Mr. John Moorlach.  That is a given,” said Supervisor Roger Stanton.   And the other supervisors also voiced their support for the former underdog.

But their support comes in the face of advice from their current interim treasurer, Thomas Daxon.  Daxon would like a newly created treasury oversight committee to search for a treasurer and make a recommendation to the board.  After going through a formal search process, Daxon said that he believes Moorlach would be considered and recommended.

“I do believe that this process will enhance his standing” because it will make clear that he’s being chosen on professional merits – not because of politics – and the county needs to send that message to Wall Street, Daxon said at the meeting.

“In this most recent campaign the incompetent candidate, Mr. Citron, beat the competent candidate,” Daxon said.  Moorlach was the voice crying in the wilderness . . .  I cannot say enough good things for what he did.”

The county’s new chief executive, William Popejoy, also has stated previously that he would prefer having a search done before an appointment is made.

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