MOORLACH UPDATE — John Williams — February 8, 2012

The OC Register covers the conclusion of the resignation of John Williams as the County’s elected Public Administrator.  It is the first piece below.

The OC Register also provides a plug for tomorrow’s luncheon speaking engagement.  However, with the recent redistricting, Garden Grove is no longer in the Second District.  The announcement is the second piece below.

The final OC Insider column by Rick Reiff, published in last week’s Orange County Business Journal, mentioned a number of Long Beach State grads who have fared well in the OC.  I was not mentioned in Rick’s final column.  It was quite devastating.  However, I am mentioned in Jerry Sullivan’s premier column which appears in this week’s edition.  All is well.  I’m providing the title, opening paragraph, and the mention in the third piece below.

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Williams steps down as public administrator

Andrew Galvin Register Writer

John S. Williams, Orange County’s locked-out public administrator, gave up his elected office on Tuesday, two weeks after what he had said would be his last day.

Williams sued the county after the Board of Supervisors held him to his statement that he intended to retire as of Jan. 23.

When he didn’t, the locks on Williams’ office were changed and a court battle over whether he would stay or go began. That case was settled on Tuesday.

“Mr. Williams has agreed to honor the terms of his original March 2011 resignation, which became effective Jan. 23, 2012,” Leon Page, deputy county counsel, said in a written statement. “A letter reaffirming his resignation is on file with the Clerk of the Board.”

Those original terms include the possibility of Williams being retained as a consultant to the county for transition purposes. Williams is to be paid $25,000 for the consulting work, said John Moorlach, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Williams “got nothing new by this perturbation of the universe that he caused in the last week or so,” said Supervisor Bill Campbell, who was chairman last year when the terms of Williams’ departure were first negotiated. “We’re going to honor what we agreed to last March.”

Williams’ new resignation letter, dated Monday, says: “This letter shall serve as my resignation as the Public Administrator of Orange County effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.”

Williams’ attorney, Phil Greer, declined to discuss the settlement. He said he met with supervisors Campbell and Shawn Nelson and came to an agreement “in the best interest of the county.”

Judge William Monroe of Orange County Superior Court last week denied Williams’ bid to be immediately reinstated to his office.

Williams, facing accusations that he had mismanaged his department and the estates of some deceased people, first signaled his intention to leave office nearly a year ago in a letter to Campbell, stating: “It is my intention to retire as Public Administrator – Public Guardian on Jan. 23, 2012.”

The board made several agreements with Williams in exchange for his agreement to retire, according to a Jan. 24 letter to Williams from County Counsel Nick Chrisos:

“(1) The Board allowed you to remain as the Public Administrator for a one-year period following the beginning of your term of office, which commenced in January 2011, at your full salary for both Public Administrator and Public Guardian, even though the Board had the power to reduce your salary when it removed you as Public Guardian; (2) The Board would not publicly release the highly critical report of your performance prepared for the Board by Special Counsel, Michael Colantuono; (3) The Board discussed with the CEO the option for the CEO to, within his authority, retain you as a consultant to the County for transition purposes.”

However, Williams last month notified county officials that he did not intend to retire, and he reported to work on Jan. 24, staying at his office until about 2 p.m. After Williams left, county workers moved in to change the locks on his office.

Williams, 60, had served as the county’s elected public administrator since 2003.

He had also served as the appointed public guardian until the Board of Supervisors fired him from that role in June.

The public guardian handles the affairs of Orange County’s ill and elderly who have no one else to care for them.

The public administrator handles the estates of those who die without legal heirs.

Williams was most recently reelected public administrator in June 2010, when he received 204,175 votes, or 58.4 percent of the total cast, in a four-way race. His term would have expired in January 2015.

With Williams’ departure, the Public Administrator/Public Guardian office will continue to be managed by Lucille Lyon, a veteran estate administrator who was appointed public guardian by the Board of Supervisors last July.

The Board of Supervisors has placed a measure on the June ballot that would change the position of public administrator from an elected office to one that is appointed by the board, as the public guardian is.

CYPRESS

State of the County: The State of the County Luncheon, featuring Supervisor John Moorlach, will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. The luncheon will cover past developments and future plans for cities in Moorlach’s district, including Cypress, La Palma and Garden Grove. It’s open to the public. Cost is $30; reservations are required. Information: cypresschamber.org.

Jessica Rubio

714-704-3794 jrubio@ocregister.com

ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

A Tip of the Hat; New Majority’s Cap; Home Prospect at Fairgrounds

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I’ll start with a tip of the hat to my predecessor, Rick Reiff, for whom I worked as a reporter and managing editor before becoming editor myself. Rick’s TV show—now called SoCal Insider—is claiming more of his time, but he defined this column and will continue to help glean OC’s pulse as executive editor. Here’s how Rick would put it: EE RR’s picture is gone but he’s still in the picture at the OCBJ …

A recent list of prominent Cal State Long Beach grads in OC missed at least one: County Supe John Moorlach. Others? …

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

2007

February 7

A couple of exciting news stories appeared this day in the OC Register.  The first was titled “It’s Janet Nguyen, unofficially – She leads Trung Nguyen by 52 votes.  Remaining absentee ballots will be counted today.”  The team of reporters were Peggy Lowe, Martin Wisckol and Amy Taxin.  The piece is good history, so I’m including it in full, including the unofficial vote count.

Up by just 52 votes late Tuesday night, Janet Nguyen vowed to be at the Registrar of Voters office early today to wait for the final count in her race for the First District Supervisor’s seat.

Another 2,575 ballots must still be counted and won’t be finished until later today, Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said after the final tallies were posted at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Janet Nguyen’s rival in Little Saigon, Trung Nguyen, said the race could still go his way, given that he won the majority of the absentee ballots.

"It’s definitely not over," said Saulo Londono, Trung Nguyen’s campaign manager. "If the absentee trend continues, we’ll be good."

No matter which Nguyen wins, the first Vietnamese-American will be serving on the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the panel’s five members will all be Republicans.

Although the Vietnamese candidates’ good showing wasn’t unexpected — record numbers of Vietnamese voters used the early absentee ballots in Garden Grove, Westminster and Santa Ana — their besting of Tom Umberg in a traditionally Democratic central county seat was surprising. Umberg was considered the front-runner even by most Republicans, and his name recognition and hefty financial help from the unions was considered unbeatable.

The Nguyens, who are not related, claiming the top two spots in a crowded field clearly shows how the new immigrant community has become a political powerhouse and one that leans Republican.

"This outcome, regardless of what it is, has made a huge statement to anyone who runs in this area not to ignore this (Vietnamese-American) voting bloc," said Janet Nguyen.

The winner in this special election will fill the seat left vacant by Lou Correa, a Democrat who was elected in November to the state Senate.

The two Vietnamese candidates also lead the money-raising list and bested Bustamante, the GOP establishment’s choice. The rest of the pack following the top four were Mark Rosen, Brett Franklin, Kermit Marsh (who dropped out), Larry Phan, Lupe Moreno (who also dropped out), and Benny Diaz.

The winner will round out a board already loaded with four GOP members and two newcomers – John Moorlach and Patricia Bates. The panel will face tough issues in the next four years, including the skyrocketing cost of employee pensions, further development of ever-shrinking available land and a backlog of upkeep on county parks.

Unions joined up with the Democrats as soon as Correa won his Senate seat last November, hoping to find a candidate who will protect hard-fought pay and pension gains. The powerful Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, with its 1,800 members, and the Orange County Association of County Employees, with its 13,500, backed Umberg by spending hundreds of thousands in independent mailings and helping Democrats with a large get-out-the-vote campaign.

The unions felt they needed a friend on the board after Moorlach took office and quickly jumped into a tussle with the deputy sheriffs’ union, describing its leadership as "thugs" and calling for an audit of its health fund. Democrats hoped to hold on to their one seat on the board in a party stronghold.

The unions and the Democrats organized extensively, unleashing the get-out-the-vote campaign the weekend before Election Day. The campaign had earlier made 50,000 phone calls, which yielded 6,000 voters who said they planned to vote for Umberg, said Mike Levin, executive director of the county Democrats. They then put crews on the ground in each precinct, knocking on doors and providing transportation to the polls.

"This is the first time we’ve had a united effort like this," Levin said. "This time, we decided we want our endorsement to mean something."

Bustamante was supported by independent mailings by at least two GOP groups, including an anti-abortion group. But when early absentee ballot numbers were posted last week, showing a 50-plus percent turnout of Vietnamese voters in all three cities, most watchers conceded the top GOP slots in the race to the two Nguyens.

The race was especially nasty in Little Saigon, as the two Nguyens battled it out in the Vietnamese media. Trung Nguyen was backed by GOP Assemblyman Van Tran, considered the controversial political godfather of Little Saigon. Janet Nguyen hired a prominent Sacramento campaign manager and won the fundraising title, reporting contributions of nearly $250,000. Trung Nguyen raised about $230,000, which included a personal loan of $133,000.

Candidates and their votes:

•  Janet Nguyen: 10,021 votes, 24.2 percent

•  Trung Nguyen: 9,969 votes, 24.1 percent

•  Tom Umberg: 8,716 votes, 21.1 percent

• Carlos Bustamante: 6,752 votes, 16.3 percent

• Mark Rosen: 2,050 votes, 5.0 percent

• Brett Franklin: 1,632 votes, 3.9 percent

• Larry Phan: 373 votes, 0.9 percent

• Benny Diaz: 253 votes, 0.6 percent

The second article was by Norberto Santana, Jr., of the OC Register.  Titled “Inmate tax proposed to bolster ER funds – Moorlach says illegal immigrants in jails should pay extra fines,” it created some attention, including an interview that evening on KFI 640’s “John and Ken” show.  The Hospital Association of Southern California wanted the Board to raise moving violation ticket penalties by 20 percent, with the proceeds going to emergency rooms.  I had a tough time finding a correlation between a traffic ticket and a visit to the ER.  I did find a correlation with certain inmates and ERs, however.  The reaction, looking at this piece in retrospect, was more comical than the proposal.  Instead of just opposing the craziness of piling on to moving violations, why not provide an alternative, like getting a similar revenue amount from undocumented inmates who are in the County’s jails for having committed a crime?  I’m also providing this article in full.

Orange County supervisors are scrambling to find a new way to steer more taxes to fund overburdened hospital emergency rooms.

To date, they’ve been unwilling to use a state law allowing them to hike fines for traffic tickets. But Supervisor John Moorlach has another idea.

Tax illegal immigrants landing in Orange County jails.

"Why don’t we penalize those people and then that becomes a revenue source for the emergency rooms in this county," Moorlach said. Referring to studies citing increased use of emergency rooms among undocumented immigrants, Moorlach asked, "Why don’t you penalize people that are closer to the problem?"

Moorlach won support from his colleagues Tuesday to study how to implement a fine on the rising number of illegal immigrants being identified in county and Costa Mesa jails.

Moorlach figures a fine between $250 and $400 per inmate should generate the $3.5 million annual subsidy advocated by the Hospital Association of Southern California to help them recover the costs of providing services.

Local activists were stunned by the idea.

"Truly inhuman," said Amin David, president of Los Amigos of Orange County. "I just can’t fathom it. I thought I’d heard everything. It just doesn’t stop."

"I’m not proposing penalizing every undocumented person, I’m just going after those who have been arrested," said Moorlach. "I’m just using a model that our state legislature has provided."

State Sen. Lou Correa also slammed the idea.

"Nobody talks about the benefits that the undocumented bring to this economy. It’s sad. These people can’t vote and they don’t have a say, so they’re a target."

Yet the idea of fining illegal immigrants isn’t new. Last year, one component of federal legislation aimed at reforming the immigration system included a $2,000 fine for undocumented residents who sought to become citizens.

A host of local cities and counties also have been coming up with a host of penalties and fines aimed at undocumented immigrants. One recent proposal in Escondido sought to fine landlords who rented apartments to undocumented immigrants.

"It demonstrates what a quagmire illegal immigration is," said Costa Mesa Mayor Alan Mansoor of Moorlach’s idea. "I think the taxpayers are getting tired of footing the bill."

Peter Zamora, acting regional counsel in the Washington, D.C., office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, acknowledged that "we’ve witnessed an increase in anti-immigrant state and local proposals. It’s critical that Congress act on comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible to relieve pressure at the state and local level."

Zamora said he would await more specifics on the proposed Orange County tax before commenting but did note that such a plan "potentially raises a host of legal and constitutional concerns, not least of which is that only the federal government can generally regulate in the field of immigration."

February 8

Scott Martindale of the OC Register provided the news that the leadership of a wonderful unincorporated area had convinced me to support their incorporation efforts in “County supervisor backs Rossmoor incorporation – John Moorlach says he will support Rossmoor’s intention to become a city.”  It’s a short article, so I’m providing it in full.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who has proposed creating a "supercity" combining Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach and Sunset Beach, said Thursday he would support Rossmoor’s quest to become its own city.

Speaking to a group of about 250 original Rossmoor homeowners during a luncheon at Seal Beach’s Old Ranch Country Club, Moorlach encouraged residents to proceed with caution and examine their options carefully.

"I’ll do whatever I can to help you out," said Moorlach, whose district includes the areas in the proposed "supercity."

Last month, officials for the 11,700-resident community of Rossmoor announced intentions to pursue incorporation rather than annexation by a neighboring city. The announcement follows a decision by county officials to place Rossmoor under the "sphere of influence" of the city of Los Alamitos, a designation intended to help the county plan for the area’s future.

A Rossmoor residents’ survey last year found that residents would prefer to become their own city rather than be annexed by neighboring Los Alamitos or Seal Beach.

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