MOORLACH UPDATE — Chair Nelson — January 9, 2013

I will be passing the gavel as Chair of the Board of Supervisors to Supervisor Nelson at next Tuesday’s Board meeting.  The first article below to cover the news is in the OC Register.  The second is in the Newport Beach – Corona del Mar Patch.  And the third is in the Orange County Breeze

This past year was a momentous one, with state prisoner realignment (AB 109) heading into only its fourth month, termination of redevelopment agencies occurring the last week of 2011 accompanied by a stringent implementation timetable during the following months, and an ongoing legal debate over property taxes/vehicle license fees (SB 89) with the Department of Finance.  To these new layers of activity add the contemptible behavior of a county manager and the subsequent mismanagement of his disciplinary actions, which, among other factors, led to the departure of the County’s CEO.  We also had three countywide elected officials resign during the year.  However, in the middle of all of this turmoil, my Board colleagues and County management diligently participated in the review of the County’s strategic plan, an effort for which I am most grateful.  In November, I was also elected to serve as the 2013 Chair of the Urban County Caucus, so I’ll have some fun obligations over the next twelve months.  These represent only a few of the past year’s highlights.  All in all, it was one of the toughest, busiest years that I can recall.  But, amidst all the challenges, there were many opportunities to lead and to grow, and I was honored to fulfill the role of Chair over these last twelve months.  I want to thank my Board colleagues, the Department Heads, and all of the employees of the County for their dedication to the County during these most difficult economic and transitional times.  I especially want to thank my District staff, who served me above and beyond the call of duty during an extremely packed year (did I mention the fun at OCTA or the annexation efforts at LAFCO?).

Allow me to express my best wishes to Chair Nelson.  It is my sincere hope that he enjoys leading through the many challenges facing our Board over the coming year; I know he’s up to the task.  (Also, today’s LOOK BACK could not have been more timely.)


Nelson is consensus choice for supervisors’ chair


There was much talk of consensus Tuesday as the five members of Orange County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to make Supervisor Shawn Nelson their chairman for 2013.

It was a change from last month.

There had been a kerfuffle in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s public vote. Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who has clashed with Nelson in board discussions, supported incoming Supervisor Todd Spitzer for the chairmanship. Spitzer, while saying he wasn’t seeking to be chair, didn’t squelch the talk.

Supervisor and outgoing Chairman John Moorlach backed Nelson, who was vice chairman in 2012 and therefore due to step up to chairman under the informal rotation the board has practiced in recent years.

What the split effectively meant was that the decision belonged to Supervisor Pat Bates, who tended to support the rotation but wanted assurances from Nelson on how he would handle the role.

Bates said Monday that she got those assurances from Nelson in "a very long conversation with him over the weekend." She came away with the feeling that "he was really determined to be a good leader" and was "concerned about consensus building."

Nguyen said during Tuesday’s board meeting that she met with Nelson Monday. She publicly thanked him for a "great dialogue," saying the two got to know each other better and discussed "coming to a consensus and being able to work together as a full board."

Nelson, a plaintiffs’ attorney by profession whose sometimes-confrontational style at board meetings had given Bates pause, declined Tuesday to discuss what he said in private conversations with Nguyen and Bates. Of his colleagues, he said, "their comments to you are different than their comments to me."

As chairman, Nelson said, he plans to converse with the other supervisors and "understand what their goals are, because quite frankly my goals are irrelevant unless they’re shared with my colleagues."

"The chair’s job is to make sure that the expression of the majority is being fulfilled," he said.

The board chair is a largely ceremonial post, although it does have some prerogatives in setting the agenda and running board meetings. Also, the chair often acts as spokesperson for the entire board when addressing the media.

Nelson said he won’t interfere with colleagues who want to read aloud obituaries of constituents at the close of board meetings, although he doesn’t plan to adopt the practice himself.

Bates had sought that assurance from Nelson, saying the practice of adjourning meetings in memory of "members of our districts who have left a mark" is something board members do "to recognize our humanity and the importance of human relations."

She said some of Nelson’s staff have "a little bit of a reputation" for being "overly concerned" with issues that are within other members’ districts, but said Nelson is "very cognizant of working with me" on concerns in her South County district, such as the planned rebuilding of Dana Point Harbor.

Bates was elected 2013 vice chair, also on a 5-0 vote. Bates said she had been due to be vice chair last year, but let Nelson go ahead of her.

Shortly after their election of officers, the board withdrew to a closed meeting in which they were to interview candidates for County Executive Officer, the top non-elected post in county government.

Nelson said he’s looking for "a bold personality who’s going to step forward and hopefully lead us for a long time," saying "they need to light a fire." He said before Tuesday’s interviews that there were five candidates for CEO, including a couple from out of state.

Tom Mauk, the prior CEO, resigned under pressure in August amid revelations about the county’s botched internal investigation into sexual abuse complaints against former OC Public Works executive Carlos Bustamante. Bustamante, who has pleaded not guilty to a dozen felony charges stemming from the allegations, is scheduled to go to trial next month.

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OC Supervisors Choose Shawn Nelson Chairman

Things looked iffy for a while for Nelson, whose demeanor reportedly had rubbed some people the wrong way. But the vote wound up unanimous. Patricia Bates was chosen vice chair.

Shawn Nelson was selected by his fellow supervisors Tuesday as chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Nelson, who was vice chairman of the board and would normally move up to chairman under the board’s protocol, appeared to be in jeopardy of being passed over because of his demeanor during meetings and the way he has been interacting with staff, according to a supervisor who requested anonymity.

Nelson, however, met with his fellow supervisors and appeared to smooth over any differences. The vote to pick Nelson for the top spot was unanimous.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Supervisor Janet Nguyen said she met with Nelson and, "we had a great dialogue yesterday. … I do want to thank Supervisor Nelson for meeting with me and really getting to know each other and coming to a consensus to work together as a full board."

Supervisor Patricia Bates was selected vice chair of the board.

After the meeting, Nelson said his main goal for this year was to build consensus on the board.

"My goal is to spend time with my colleagues and see what their goals are, because my goals are irrelevant if we don’t have consensus," Nelson said. "Now my role is to represent the consensus."

Nelson’s ascension to chairman was expected Tuesday, since he already had the support of newly sworn-in Supervisor Todd Spitzer and Orange County Board Chairman John Moorlach.

Moorlach said Monday that it’s Nelson’s turn to become chairman. Spitzer agreed.

"It should go in the natural rotation," Spitzer said. "It’s the right thing to do and I’m confident Shawn will be a great chairman."

Spitzer said he was never part of the behind-the-scenes machinations that threatened Nelson’s chairmanship.

"I was not part of all the orchestration behind the scenes," Spitzer said. "I was never in the mix and I wasn’t driving this."

Spitzer added the board has more important issues to focus on.

"This board needs to be focusing on solving very pressing county issues and it can’t be so introspective about its own internal politics," Spitzer said.

"We’re here to solve problems and guide this county with a vision for the future. We’re not here to fight amongst ourselves to decide who’s going to be the top dog."

After Tuesday’s election of Nelson and Bates to lead the board, the supervisors went behind closed doors to interview a handful of candidates for chief executive officer.

–City News Service


District 4 Supervisor Nelson elected chairman

Posted By courtesy

The following information was released by the Fourth Supervisorial District of the County of Orange.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, representing the Fourth District, was unanimously elected Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors today during an annual reorganization of the Board.

“It is an honor to be elected by my colleagues to serve as Chair of the Board,” said Supervisor Nelson. “I am looking forward to a productive year. The work begins immediately with the selection of our County Executive Officer,” added the Supervisor. Supervisor Pat Bates was selected as the Vice Chair.

“We have another big year on deck and I believe today’s vote to elect Supervisors Nelson and Bates is an important step in the right direction,” said Supervisor John Moorlach, immediate past Chair. Supervisor Nelson represents the cities of Anaheim (portions of), Buena Park, Brea, Fullerton, La Habra and Placentia.


January 9


Speaking of a new Chair, Christian Berthelsen of the LA Times announced the selection five years ago withMoorlach elected to lead O.C. Board of Supervisors – The former O.C. treasurer promises to protect revenue and streamline meetings. He succeeds Chris Norby.”

John Moorlach, the Orange County treasurer-turned-supervisor who threatened to upend the county’s relationships with its public employees unions when he took office little more than a year ago, became chairman of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday — but left out the fiery rhetoric that characterized his once-aggressive stance.

Instead, he spoke of continuing his predecessor’s practice of making board meetings more efficient and protecting county revenue from a potential raid by the state in a down economy.

"I want Orange County to be the best county we can possibly be," he said. "I want us to be the best in the state." He thanked his parents, who were in the audience.

Moorlach’s more muted tone came after a year in which he had a number of policy achievements, but some of his highest-profile crusades — including a plan to roll back the pensions of Orange County sheriff’s deputies — hit roadblocks or fell apart altogether.

He said he views the chairmanship as more ministerial than anything else, potentially reflecting a break with past practice in which the position, though largely honorary, has been used as a bully pulpit of sorts.

Moorlach gained fame as a candidate for county treasurer in 1994 who warned that incumbent Robert L. Citron’s investment strategy was too risky, only to be ignored. He was proved right when the county was forced to file for bankruptcy over $1.6 billion in losses. He was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the office vacated by Citron and served two subsequent terms.

Further emboldened by winning his supervisorial race with nearly 70% of the vote in his district despite heavy opposition from public employees unions, he practically declared war when he was sworn into office in December 2006. He spoke of ending what he termed the "one size fits all" system of raises for county employees — replacing them with merit pay increases — and reducing payments toward employee pensions.

Though the board supported a proposal to file a lawsuit rolling back pensions for sheriff’s deputies when Moorlach introduced it last year, at least one lawyer retained by the county to handle the case concluded it was not viable. In addition, the board twice rejected Moorlach’s effort to strip the new treasurer, Chriss Street, of his investment authority over questions about his private business dealings and conduct in office.

The board also declined to support Moorlach in his quest to seek authority to remove indicted Sheriff Michael S. Carona from office.

"I think he has become steeped in the reality of politics and the approach that is necessary to achieve his objectives," said Nick Berardino, the head of the Orange County Employees Assn., the largest union representing county workers. Of the first-year setbacks, he said, "I think that they were eye-openers that this isn’t going to be a single-man show."

Still, Moorlach achieved some notable objectives in his first year, including gaining rights for the county through labor contract negotiations to audit the deputies’ medical trust fund and putting the county on the path toward establishing a civilian oversight commission for the Sheriff’s Department.

The chairmanship does not afford much in the way of real additional power, but it has been used to set policy agendas. Chairmen also appoint members to boards and commissions who can further their causes.

Chris Norby, who passed the gavel to Moorlach, used the position to advance efforts to have the county issue identification cards for medical marijuana users, which was not an easy sell to an all-Republican Board of Supervisors in conservative Orange County. Though Norby acknowledged the new policy was "symbolic," he said: "Certainly, being the chairman was influential in that."

In the modern era, chairmanship has generally been a one-year assignment, though several people have held the post longer. Norby had been interested in extending his chairmanship to a second year, as his two predecessors had, but said he recognized that others wanted a chance at the job. He made the motion nominating Moorlach as chairman and Supervisor Patricia Bates as vice-chairman. The vote was unanimous.

Asked whether his temperate remarks Tuesday reflected a new kindler and gentler outlook, Moorlach said: "No. I’ve always been a kind, gentle guy."

He said he did not intend to use the transfer of power to lay out new goals. "I’m just going to be handling the meetings, so it’s just more of an administrative task for the year," he said of his role as chairman.

is continuing the effort to rein in deputy pensions, and the board may take a final vote this month on whether to proceed.

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