Did I tell you that Junior Park Ranger Frank Mickadeit joined me on our hike on Saturday? What I should also tell you is that he has some impressive calves and is a natural tour guide himself. The next time you see him, be sure to ask him about the mule fat plant.
His column in today’s OC Register is the first piece below. It includes photos from the OC Register’s website, which includes our group leader, Michael O’Connell, myself, and Michael with John Gump. Thanks, again, Michael and John for a great outing.
Did I tell you that Executive Editor extraordinaire Rick Reiff of the Orange County Business Journal made a big deal of my 55th birthday fund raising event? He announced the dinner in the February 7th edition of the OCBJ. I try to have memorable fund raising events on my milestone birthdays. On my 35th birthday, the beneficiary was the Costa Mesa Historical Society. On my 40th, it became my Treasurer’s campaign account. For my 50th, we enjoyed Huell Howser’s company at the Grand Californian. The venue was perfect and we returned for my 55th. Dean Koontz had a deadline to meet, so we pushed the event from December to March. Today’s OCBJ provides Rick’s perspectives. Now that the event is history, I’ve also included his February 7th comments.
Life is moving too quickly, so it’s nice to celebrate milestones with friends and supporters and to take day hikes with friends and subscribers, and the media so that I can share the fun with you.
Mickadeit: Enjoy the land Bren gave us
By FRANK MICKADEIT
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
What makes grown men, some with beards, want to spend four hours on a Saturday looking at wildflowers, particularly when there is NCAA basketball on? Purely to answer this question, and for no other reason, I accepted an invitation to join Supervisor John Moorlach on a tour of Supervisor Bill Campbell’s splendid new 20,000-acre wilderness garden – aka The Land Don Bren Gave Us.
The first thing Ranger Mike showed the dozen or so gathered at the Augustine trailhead, just off Santiago Canyon Road, was the spot where Bren stood when he dedicated the land last year. Personally, I could have left right then and felt flush with His Grace, but after a moment of silence, we slung on our day packs and headed up Loma Ridge.
Mike O’Connell, executive director of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, stops at a cactus wren nest. Just off his right shoulder is the man-made bird box. To the right of his outstretched right hand, nestled in the cactus, is where the cactus wren built its nest. But wrens did decide to nest in a box elsewhere on the property.
FRANK MICKADEIT, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
As I’m more of a fauna expert than a flora guy, I paid more attention to what Ranger Mike was saying about birds, particularly after I misidentified a red-tailed hawk as a white-tailed kite. My favorite tidbit of on-trail discovery was when Ranger Mike (Mike O’Connell, also head of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy) showed us a bird house.
Built by Laguna Hills High School students with Fish and Game money, it was designed to encourage nesting by coastal cactus wrens, a species decimated by the Santiago Fire. There, on a pole with field-proven predator guards at the field-tested height and painted a cactusy green, stood the nifty box. And there, five feet away, in a stand of actual cactus, was where a cactus wren had decided to build an actual nest.
Ranger Mike said a pair of cactus wrens did populate a bird house elsewhere on the ranch.
Next, we saw a trap in which cowbirds are lured into a cage by captive, Judas, cowbirds. Cowbirds invade other birds’ nests, so it is desirable to get rid of them.
I was afraid somebody would ask what happens to the cowbirds, because in our party was a Disney lobbyist, Kyndell Paine, who I sensed had that Disneyesque notion of birds – if she calls them they will land on her finger, help her do her housework, etc. But somebody did ask, and Ranger Mike dutifully said that the cowbirds are euthanized. Paine’s face froze in shock. It was only with the utmost compassion, therefore, that I later pointed out to her a squished field mouse on the side of the trail.
We saw 22 species of wildflowers, many with humorous names, and the viewing season is just under way. The important thing to get across – and which I was pretty much committed to writing even before Ranger John Gump presented me with an official Junior Ranger badge – is that Our Creat-, I mean, Bren, intended the land be enjoyed by all. Hikes are yours for the signing up at irlandmarks.org.
Contact: 714-796-4994 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Orange County Business Journal
Koontz Has Real Scare; Congress VIPs Visit OC
Dean Koontz, author of scary best-sellers, had a harrowing experience of his own recently. Koontz was rushed to Hoag after collapsing unconscious on the marble floor of his Newport Coast home. “I nearly died . . . I lost half my blood,” says Koontz, who was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer. He spent six and a half hours in ER, remained several days at Hoag and was sent home with orders to stay put for four weeks. But last week he ventured out five days early to keep a speaking date at a birthday party and fundraiser for OC Supe John Moorlach at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. “I wasn’t going to miss this,” says Koontz, a fan of Moorlach’s politics, as Moorlach is of Koontz’s thrillers, many set in OC . . .
Argyros Cables in Wikileaks Disclosures; Koontz for Moorlach
Dean Koontz—mega author, Pelican Hill resident and John Moorlach fan. The OC supe says that thanks to a friend who was painting Koontz’s house, he received “a nice contribution” from Koontz in 1994 for his failed run against Treasurer Bob Citron. Now Koontz will be guest speaker at Moorlach’s $250-per-person fundraiser March 23 at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. “I don’t know what he’s going to talk about,” says Moorlach, sounding thrilled just to be finally meeting Koontz, who he has only spoken with by phone. “What a nice guy … He’s in tune with what’s going on in the county.” Does the fundraiser signal the term-limited Moorlach’s intent to seek higher office in 2014? Maybe. But Moorlach says there could also be a pension-reform initiative to fund next year …
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
Continuing the fun with the Edison International investments, of which half had already been paid in full and the other half was paying interest on time, the Board made hay of it. The fun was reported by Jean O. Pasco of the LA Times in “O.C. Investment Policy Tightened — The Board of Supervisors adds four restrictions after dubious purchases last year of $40 million in Edison International notes.” The changes came from one Supervisor, not from the outside consultant. Initialing a memo, after a trade has been made, is cosmetic at best, but such is the joy of the public life.
The Board of Supervisors made four changes Tuesday to the county’s formal investment policy, intending to thwart a repeat of two questionable county purchases last year in struggling Edison International.
Among the edicts: Orange County Treasurer John M.W. Moorlach or his assistant must approve all investments by the close of the next business day.
The changes were triggered by the discovery in January of $40 million in Edison notes. The first $20 million was purchased last September, after Edison had been placed on credit watch by ratings agencies because of the state’s looming utility crisis.
Moorlach said he wasn’t aware for a week that the first investment had been made by his staff. He later apologized for both purchases.
"The board was very clear when we delegated the ability to make investments to the treasurer that we meant the treasurer," not staff, was to make the decisions, Supervisor Todd Spitzer said Tuesday.
Either Moorlach or Assistant Treasurer Richard Hilde must now sign off on county purchases by the close of business the next day.
Among other changes approved by the board: Securities under negative credit watch by any of three nationally recognized rating agencies cannot be purchased, and no security purchased can have a rating less than the minimum required for that class of investment.
Also, the board agreed that Moorlach can delegate investment authority to those within his office, though ultimate oversight rests with him.
The changes put Orange County investments on the shortest leash since the county’s 1994 declaration of bankruptcy. The county’s investment pool lost $1.64 billion to risky investments by former Treasurer Robert L. Citron; about half was later recovered.
Moorlach said his office can live with the changes, although they will restrict what can be bought and the return available.
"Time will tell what kind of impact it will have," he said.
The first $20-million note bought by the county matures on July 18. So far, Edison International has made all of its scheduled interest payments. A second $20-million bond, bought Dec. 7, was repaid.
Martin Wisckol of the OC Register also covered the story in “O.C. tightens its policy on investments – Risk-wary changes include a ban on buying certain issues.” Here’s the closing line:
The county pools have outperformed most similar funds, but Moorlach warned that that could change. Supervisors agreed that security is more important than a high investment return.
Norberto Santana, Jr., of the OC Register covered an Orange County Employees Retirement System Board appointment in “Pension board pick to be considered—Arthur Hidalgo of Irvine has 20 years of experience in finance, making some fear conflicts of interest.” It showed some of the fun I’ve been enjoying over the years. Union representatives constitute about two-thirds of the CalPERS board. Somehow, that is not a frightening conflict of interest. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
“There is this real benefit,” [Moorlach] said of professionals such as Hidalgo. “They know how pension boards work and how pensions invest.”
But Nick Berardino – who heads the county’s largest union – said that people such as Hidalgo are a “frightening conflict of interest.”
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