MOORLACH UPDATE — Seal Beach Sun — March 1, 2013

The Seal Beach Sun weighs in on the recent premature announcement of one potential career pursuit, among many, that I am considering following the conclusion of my Supervisorial term in 2014.  There is one misunderstanding in the piece that I would like to clarify.  In the June 2010 primary election, the voters of California approved Proposition 14.  Prop. 14 was a constitutional amendment known as the “Top Two Primaries Act.”  Simplified, the two candidates receiving the most votes in the Primary compete against each other in the November General Election.  Therefore, the concept of obtaining a party’s nomination is outdated.  We could now see the top two vote getters being from the same political party, which occurred in a few legislative races in last November’s General Election.  Consequently, to face Gov. Brown in the November General Election, one would have to place in first or second in the June Primary Election. 

BONUS:  The John Wayne Airport Arts Commission has an opening.  If you are interested, you can do a little research at and let my office know if you wish to apply.


Supervisor Moorlach considering gubernatorial run

By Charles M. Kelly


Orange County Second District Supervisor John Moorlach is thinking about running for governor of California..

“I’ll be at the California Republican Party Convention next weekend to gauge the potential of such a major endeavor,” Moorlach told the Sun on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Moorlach’s supervisorial district includes the cities of Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cypress and Huntington Beach (including the recently annexed Sunset Beach community). Moorlach’s website does not mention unincorporated communities such as Rossmoor that are also part of his district.

Locally, Moorlach is known for his efforts to move Orange County’s unincorporated “islands” into their nearest incorporated city neighbors. To date, the county’s efforts to move Rossmoor into Los Alamitos have met aggressive resistance. As a matter of California law, any attempt by Los Alamitos to annex Rossmoor would have to face a vote by residents. To date, Los Alamitos has made no effort to annex the entire Rossmoor community. There has been discussion of annexing the so-called “fourth corner” of Los Alamitos Boulevard and Katella Avenue—Rossmoor’s only business district, which generates roughly a quarter million a year in sales tax revenues for the Rossmoor Community Services District.

Moorlach has supported the annexation of the business district, arguing that it is the county’s to give to Los Alamitos. Rossmoor officials argue that it would be illegal to annex Rossmoor piecemeal.

If Moorlach decides to make the run for governor, he will first have to secure the Republican Party nomination in 2014. Then he has to defeat the Democratic candidate, who will almost certainly be once and present Gov. Jerry Brown.

Moorlach has already discussed his potential run with other news organizations and with his constituents in his latest e-mail “Update.”

Moorlach refers to the idea of running for governor as a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, a phrase he apparently took from books on successful management.

“It’s fun to ponder an idea that was never on my radar screen when my journey began,” Moorlach said in his Saturday e-mail to his constituents.

“After my wife and I had our first child thirty years ago, the question we would hear most often was ‘are you going to have another?’ With term limits, it’s déjà vu all over again, with the question now being, ‘what are you doing next?’ I just did not have an answer. Serving a third term made the most sense, but that was blocked by three of my colleagues,” Moorlach wrote.

“At the age of 57 I have accomplished a series of large goals,” he wrote.

“My political career started because I stepped into the forum to decry the irresponsible investing practices of Robert L. Citron with taxpayer dollars. The rest is history and is well documented in a long list of books and publications, including my ‘Look Backs,’” he wrote. The “Look Backs” are a feature of Moorlach’s e-mail “Update” that looks back on past occasions when Moorlach has been mentioned in various media.

“I love California, I love its history, and I would love to participate in turning its dismal financial condition around,” Moorlach wrote.

Moorlach has apparently not made a decision yet.

“I’m just laying things out for you as it relates to this very recent consideration of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I’m not campaigning or asking you to do anything at this time,” Moorlach told his constituents. “Just know that I am on a listening tour on what may be my Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, or Plan D. Proverbs 11:14 states that ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety.’ Accordingly, I’m calling as many individuals as time permits to ask for their counsel. It is nice to have options. It is great to have friends. It is amazingly wonderful to have a supportive wife and three great adult children (and son-in-law). Having a new granddaughter certainly provides the necessary perspective on life in general. My family has allowed me to risk and sacrifice in the past and they continue to allow me to dream big dreams. And for that I will be eternally grateful. In the meantime, I am fully focused on my current position, which commands more than 100 percent of my attention.”


February 26


John Underwood of the News-Enterprise provided a recapture case treatise with “Property Tax Case Picks Up Momentum.”  Here’s one of the two quotes:

                “Recapturing is justified under Article XIIIA of the constitution,” said county treasurer and defendant in the Pool suit John Moorlach.  “It resolves a number of ambiguities in the original legislation and gives us some flexibility in assessing a property based on current market values.”


Gwendolyn Driscoll of the OC Register was back with “’A-B-C’ food-grading system now under consideration for O.C. restaurants – Board of Supervisors says it will review Health Care Agency paper on alternative rating systems.”  Her previous article generated plenty of buzz (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Intriguing Dredging — February 25, 2013).

The possibility of a new food-rating system – potentially including an "A-B-C" letter-grading tool similar to that used by Los Angeles, San Diego and other neighboring counties – is under review by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The review comes in the wake of an investigation of food safety in Orange County by The Orange County Register. Readers have flooded the paper’s Web site, clicking on the stories more than 170,000 times since the articles first appeared online Friday.

Readers also wrote, e-mailed and telephoned the supervisors.

Board Chairman John M.W. Moorlach said Monday that he had requested a paper written by Richard Sanchez, the Orange County Health Care Agency’s environmental health department head, detailing "alternatives on rating systems."

Moorlach said the paper, written about six months ago, was never delivered to the supervisors. Instead, Moorlach said, it was delivered to "a different board office."

He declined to name that office, saying, "I’d like to not tell you yet until we pin that down. I don’t need to create friction until I know all the facts."

However, Howard Sutter, a spokesman for the Orange County Health Care Agency, said the paper was originally sent to another supervisor.

Sutter said the paper "laid out all the options," including the possibility of a letter-grading system.

Moorlach said his staff would review the study in detail, "so we have a full analysis of the options including the costs."

That rating system mandates that restaurant owners publically post a letter "grade" – A, B or C – to alert consumers as to the level of hygiene found by health inspectors in the restaurant. All neighboring counties currently use such a system, which supporters says compels restaurateurs to practice good hygiene in order to garner the coveted “A” rating.

Critics of the system say it is unduly punitive, sometimes downgrading restaurants for problems outside of their control.

Currently, the Orange County Health Care Agency posts inspection reports on their Web site and gives "Awards of Excellence" to restaurants with few or no violations.

The county does not use an "A-B-C" rating system or any other publically posted alert for consumers to see at a restaurant’s premises.

February 27


When you goad someone, they react.  And that was one of the fun parts of righting columns.  The Daily Pilot printed the letter to the editor, “Stupid comments,” to take me to task.  If you have not seen the movie “Lincoln,” do so.  Tommy Lee Jones plays the part of Thaddeus Stevens and his manuscript is quiet colorful.  Twenty years later and conservative columnists for the Daily Pilot still get similar letters to the editor.  The writer seems to have quickly forgotten Clinton’s campaign theme, “It’s the economy, Stupid,” and therefore lost the irony of the humor.  However, the writer’s observations were good for me and an important critique in my personal growth.

                I am still taking your newspaper but I’m not sure why except I can read what you have bad to say about everything and then I know, who’s attacking us.

                At any rate, for a newspaper that is local news only your community forum this morning certainly has some editorials about our new president.  Is that considered local news?

I don’t know where you found John Moorlach but he certainly is, as he quotes, “stupid.”  I can’t believe the rash of insults that he lays upon our president, the President of the United States.  I mean, we haven’t got Mr. Bush, who Mr. Moorlach doesn’t like any better than he likes Mr. Clinton.  But we haven’t got the old gipper anymore, you know.  He’s gone off the movie star heaven and if that’s the sort of politics that you are going to print in your paper for local news only.

Thank God for Mark Petracca.  He certainly has a head on his shoulders and there are a few in Orange County who think and just don’t make a lot of noise.

Patty Lillegraven

Balboa Island


The OC Register printed a letter in response to my recent editorial submission (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Governor — February 23, 2013).  The joy of writing an editorial is the limit on how many words you can use.  Accordingly, you can’t fit in every nuance.  The letter writer, a retired County probation officer and former Orange County Employees Retirement System Board member.  The submission had the headline of “Public-safety pension plan is no tax-paid windfall.”  Note:  The newspaper determines the headlines.  Therefore, the use of the word “spike” in my submission’s title was the choice of the editors and headline writers.  (Update:  Probation officers now receive a “3 percent at 50” plan.)

                John Moorlach, the Orange County treasurer-tax collector, gives a good account of how public pension plans are funded, but his analysis on pension spiking safety officers is inflammatory and inaccurate [“Pension spike:  The bill arrives,” Feb. 23].

                He cites probation officers along with the sheriff and the fire authority as having a “3 percent at 50” retirement plan.  In fact probation officers have only a “2 percent at 50” plan.  Further, Moorlach gives the impression that the taxpayer pays for the entire pension benefit for Orange County employees.  This is not true.

Most employees pay a percentage of their pay into the pension plan.  For example, probation officers pay an average of 8 percent of pay plus another $118 per month to fund their 2 percent at 50 plan.  The average probation officer is paying more than $6,200 per year for his or her pension.  After 30 years this amounts to more than $187,000.

                I would not describe this as pension-spiking or a freebie to the employee.  After 9/11, I think we can see public-safety officers take greater risks in their jobs.  Many of these first-responders did not come home to their families after the attack on the World Trade Center.

                Bruce A. Moore



Michael Miller and Daniel Tedford of the Daily Pilot covered my speech the previous evening in “Goal:  Keep JWA at capacity.”  Over the years, I have worked with former El Toro opponents in South County to be supportive of our efforts with John Wayne Airport.  The good news, the vast majority are supportive of Newport Beach’s concerns about JWA.

The chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors is intent on keeping John Wayne Airport at its current capacity, officials said Tuesday night.

The Airport Working Group of Orange County, an activist group that has sought to limit past expansion efforts at John Wayne Airport, gathered for its annual meeting Tuesday.

John Moorlach, the chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, spoke on some of the concerns surrounding John Wayne Airport as the expiration of AWG settlement is in sight.

“South County is still your enemy,” Moorlach said, clarifying later he was speaking about Leonard Kranser, a Dana Point resident who opposed an airport in El Toro. “We get regular e-mails that tell us John Wayne Airport can handle a lot more flights.”

Moorlach, and his Chief of Staff Mario Mainero, outlined the goal at John Wayne was to extend the settlement after it expires in 2015, keeping, along with current capacity, noise levels and flight curfews the same.

The AWG entered into a 1985 settlement agreement with the Board of Supervisors, the city of Newport Beach and the environmental group Stop Polluting Our Newport that placed limits on John Wayne Airport’s number of passengers, daily departures and more. The agreement was amended in part in 2003. The limit of 10.3 million annual passengers is set to expire in 2010, with a subsequent cap of 10.8 million passengers to end in 2015.

“Let’s start planning a strategic plan to have a good marketing appeal,” Moorlach said. “If you’re shooting at the wrong target, they may bag you again.”

Law states a new extension can’t be negotiated until 2011, Moorlach said.

The airport is in the process of adding a terminal and remodeling at a price tag of $600 million. Some have alluded to that construction as an expansion, which prepares the airport to accept more passengers after the cap is lifted.

Ron Darling, a member of the Airport Working Group’s board of directors, is one of those concerned.

“With the building of the new terminal, the concern is that the airport will have the capacity to service substantially more than 10.8 million passengers,” Darling said. “Since the caps go away in 2015, they will have the legal right to do that, and we want to make sure the public understands that.”

Mainero said the terminal additions were under the original agreement and are needed for the current capacity. The airport was built to handle 8.4 million passengers, Mainero said. The new terminal would help alleviate backup at the current levels, Mainero said. He added John Wayne Airport has the most passengers per gate in the United States.

Ideas to deal with increasing demand are still being discussed. Moorlach pointed to surrounding areas as a means to deter traffic at John Wayne.

“Ontario [airport] is asking for more flights,” said Moorlach, who also pointed to Palmdale airport as an option. “We just have to figure out how to move people.”

My efforts to establish an Office of Independent Review were consummated and Christian Berthelsen of the LA Times provided the great news in O.C. officials OK sheriff’s watchdog – Supervisors approve an agency to provide civilian oversight of the department, including reviewing complaints of misconduct.”

Orange County supervisors Tuesday gave final approval to a plan to create a civilian oversight agency that will review misconduct complaints against county law enforcement officers, capping months of planning to establish it.

The plan, put forward in May by board Chairman John Moorlach, creates a review board modeled on one used in Los Angeles County to take citizen complaints, investigate deaths and serious injuries involving Sheriff’s Department personnel, and examine all deaths in custody.


The board voted to move forward with the idea last spring, over the opposition of then-Sheriff Michael S. Carona, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and the union representing sheriff’s deputies.

But over the last several months, opposition was winnowed down. Carona left office after his indictment on federal corruption charges, and his replacement, acting Sheriff Jack Anderson, has supported the plan.

The concept was also narrowed: Though it once would have covered all county law enforcement personnel, the final version covers only the Sheriff’s Department, leaving out probation officers and personnel of the district attorney’s office. It also gives the unions representing peace officers a say in the selection of the agency’s executive director.

"We’ve given them a seat at the table," Moorlach said.

The motion was approved unanimously Tuesday without debate or discussion.

The Office of Independent Review, as it will be called, is expected to cost $750,000 a year for staff.

It will provide periodic reports to the public on use-of-force reviews, help guide internal-affairs investigations in the Sheriff’s Department and review department policies, in addition to the main duties of handling complaints and conducting investigations. The agency will not have subpoena power.

Supervisors directed county staff to find a lawyer who would work as the agency’s executive director on a contract basis and to come back with a proposed agreement in 60 days.

One possible candidate is Mike Gennaco, who is executive director of Los Angeles County’s Office of Independent Review and helped Orange County develop its model for the oversight function.

Gennaco works for Los Angeles County on a contract basis, which theoretically would allow him to accept a contract to serve Orange County as well, though they are both full-time jobs.

Gennaco declined to comment on whether such an arrangement was under discussion but said, "I’ll continue to work with [Orange County] to any degree I can."

Peggy  Lowe of the OC Register covered the story in “Oversight for O.C. Jail approved – Supervisors OK review after beating death of an inmate by other prisoners.”

The Board of Supervisors gave final approval Tuesday to a plan that will provide independent civilian oversight to the county’s jail. It was given first round approval earlier this month.

Despite an initial outcry from then-Sheriff Mike Carona — and the deputies union’s continued opposition — the plan passed 4-0 today with no debate.

This was originally proposed by Supervisor John Moorlach and was triggered after the beating death of Theo Lacy inmate John Chamberlain. A grand jury investigation into Chamberlain’s death, allegedly at the hands of other inmates while deputies watched a ball game on TV, is being done by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and is expected to be completed any day.

Moorlach’s initial plan was a civilian review panel, but has since been changed to model a Los Angeles County agency called the Office of Independent Review.  It will be comprised of civil rights attorneys who monitor and advise the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit.

February 28


Daily Pilot columnist Joseph N. Bell was back, as he too attended the AWG dinner meeting two nights prior.  His column, “The Bell Curve,” was titled “Lead us, Moorlach.”  I’m providing the piece in full, as the second half topic is still a top news item.

As I write this, I’ve just returned from the annual meeting and dinner of the Airport Working Group, where the featured speaker was Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach. In my column last week, I urged local citizens to attend the meeting, which was public, and suggested that Moorlach — who has consistently supported our efforts to check the expansion of John Wayne airport — would give us “marching orders” to that end.

Well, that isn’t exactly what happened. In a speech that touched down periodically on airport issues amid funny and often insightful insider stories, Moorlach seemed to feel singled out unnecessarily for pressure, once asking: “Why are we whipping up issues when there aren’t any?” He then took this question directly to me and my column last Thursday, saying “What is Joe Bell thinking of?”

I’m grateful to him for the five minutes of fame this provided me and am happy — even if it is redundant — to supply an answer. Joe Bell is thinking that he lucked out in finding the best place in the world to live and that he doesn’t want to be forced to leave it. He is thinking that any more expansion might well push the allowable limit of noise and pollution from John Wayne air traffic to an intolerable level for those of us beneath it. And he is thinking that a growing army of local citizens who also don’t want to be forced to leave this paradise or live here in an increasingly polluted environment are ready to supply the same energy that made it possible for the citizens of south county to kill an El Toro airport. We’re scared.

We’re willing to man the trenches, but we want to be told how and where to harness this energy. That’s what Joe Bell and many of his neighbors are thinking. And why we were looking to Supervisor Moorlach to point the way.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Have you been tuned-in to The Further Adventures of the Great Park? If not you should pay attention. It’s a hoot. I keep thinking they can’t top themselves, and then they do. Twice in the last two weeks. First, the Demolition Caper. Then the Helium Hassle.

If you recall, we last visited the Great Parkers several months ago selling trips in the basket of a balloon that hovers over a maze of mostly empty concrete runways. It turns out that the balloon not only requires helium but also a pilot, just like a regular airplane. And last week, according to a lengthy story in the Los Angeles Times, a balloon pilot in training named Jonathan Bradford left the program, firing a fusillade of warnings of unsafe flight back over his shoulder.

As an old — very old — former military pilot, I find it remarkable that a balloon, tethered to the ground and limited to 500 feet in altitude can be deemed unsafe.

Nevertheless, Bradford was concerned that chief balloon pilot Gary Stevens fudged on the 500-foot ceiling, flirted with forbidden clouds, and didn’t pay proper respect to high winds and low visibility, thereby putting his passengers at risk. Stevens calls these charges “ridiculous and unprovable,” The Great Park’s operations manager, Rod Cooper, also denied them and described Bradford as a sorehead seeking revenge after he was dropped from the program.

The balloon ride is the first and only operative attraction at the Great Park. It cost $5 million to build. And its alleged safety problems are all the more painful because they surfaced just a week after another major Great Park headache I like to call the Demolition Caper. This one hit the news when a Colorado company called Recycled Materials that had been hanging around for three years preparing to break up the El Toro airport runways peremptorily packed up and went home, frustrated beyond endurance by repeated delays.

A senior Great Park project manager told a Los Angeles Times reporter that only about 2% of the runway demolition was accomplished before Recycled Materials cut out. This translated into breaking up a few feet of runway in order to deliver commemorative chunks of concrete to park officials to illustrate progress for TV cameras. The Great Parkers clearly know where to focus public attention.

It has occurred to me that these runways are being preserved by an act of God — or whatever force passes for God in dealings with the Great Parkers. We should be alert to the messages implicit in the retreat of Recycled Materials. It took four elections to convert El Toro from a desperately needed commercial airport into a mythical Great Park. So why not hire the mercenaries who put Measure B on the ballot in Newport Beach to perform the same service for a fifth vote on an El Toro airport? We won the first two. The runways are still there. Maybe we could win the fifth one.

If all this gloating over the problems of the Great Park hits you as sour grapes, of course it is. But it keeps me occupied when I’m sitting on my patio with a beer trying to listen to a ball game on my radio over the roar of airplane engines overhead. I guess that’s what I’m thinking, too.

Brianna Bailey and Chris Caesar of the Daily Pilot, in their weekly column “The Political Landscape,” had a segment titled “Moorlach to Block Annexation Bid.”  It would be really nice to conclude the status of these islands before my term concludes at the end of next year.

Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors John Moorlach said Wednesday he will not assist Santa Ana Country Club and a nearby neighborhood with its Newport Beach annexation bid because he believes Costa Mesa has a right to the land.

“I think we’ve looked at all the studies of the area and concurred that certain properties should be in Newport Beach and some should be in Costa Mesa,” Moorlach, a longtime Costa Mesa resident, said. “After reaching that conclusion, I haven’t changed my mind.”

Newport Beach needed to enter into a standard tax sharing agreement with the county for the country club and nearby residents to complete an application to the county agency that makes decisions on annexations.

The tax sharing agreement must go to a vote before the Orange County Board of Supervisors next, but Moorlach said his office won’t put the agreement on the supervisors’ agenda.

Another board member could ask for a vote on the issue, but “protocol dictates it would probably be best that it come from my office,” Moorlach said.

Newport Beach voted 6-1 to move forward with the application Tuesday, even though city staff recommended the city let the application expire rather than risk a land battle with Costa Mesa over who should get the property.

Santa Ana Country Club and the residential neighborhood gathered more than enough signatures last year to petition for annexation to the county agency that oversees the process. Costa Mesa has a sphere of influence over the two areas and tried to annex them in 2002, but faced widespread opposition from property owners who petitioned against the annexation.

February 29


Christine Hanley and Stuart Pfeifer of the LA Times reported that acting Orange County Sheriff Jack Anderson did indeed break the law when he appeared before the San Clemente City Council in uniform attempting to discourage them from endorsing a former lieutenant running for sheriff.  The piece was titled “State rebukes O.C. sheriff – Anderson, in an earlier post, wore his uniform in a political context.”  Here are the closing paragraphs:

During the San Clemente meeting, the City Council was considering sending a formal letter to county supervisors, asking them to appoint Hunt if Carona were to step down in the face of the criminal charges.

Anderson told them Hunt was not qualified to serve as sheriff and urged the council not to endorse anyone.

The council voted unanimously to table the matter after hearing from Anderson, but after Carona resigned, the council endorsed Hunt.

Anderson, Carona’s hand-picked successor, has since announced that he wants to be the full-time sheriff and is competing for the job against Hunt and several other candidates. The Board of Supervisors will have the final say.

Hunt supporter Tim Whitacre, who filed the complaint leading to the review of Anderson’s conduct, said Thursday he was disappointed that the attorney general did not follow through with the second part of his request, which was to determine whether Anderson used his county-issued cellphone or computer to discuss the appearance with Carona, Galisky or anyone else in the department.

Hunt said he would let lawyers handling his retaliation lawsuit determine whether the admonishment of Anderson could help his case.

John M.W. Moorlach, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said he hoped Anderson would learn from his mistake. He would not say whether he thought it would affect Anderson’s candidacy.

"I think there’s room for a little grace on your first infraction," Moorlach said.

Jeff Overley of the OC Register did his piece on the AWG dinner in “Supervisor urges smarter PR to county airport growth – John Moorlach says past lessons show activists need to make flight noise more than a local concern.”  At least Jeff Overley observed that I was leading the membership to focus on an appropriate message, as hard as delivering that message may have been.

Local residents need a solid public-relations campaign to keep a lid on roaring flights at John Wayne Airport, Supervisor John Moorlach said in a speech Tuesday night.

Suggesting that activists had botched a 2002 effort to build an airport at the old El Toro Marine Corps base – a project locals hoped would siphon air traffic away from JWA – Moorlach implored members of the nonprofit Airport Working Group to give their message broader resonance.

"If you’re shooting at the wrong target, then they may bag you again," Moorlach said, referring to South County residents – particularly a prominent airport activist named Len Kranser – who feel JWA can handle far more flights than those allowed under a legal settlement.

Instead of adopting a "NIMBYish" stance that isolates airport-area neighborhoods in the public debate, activists must convey that "our flight restraints … are good for the entire county," Moorlach said.

That message was bungled during the El Toro fight in 2002, Moorlach suggested. Local residents unwisely focused on noise pollution caused by JWA, alerting South County residents to an airport’s quality-of-life impacts and spurring them to forcefully oppose construction of an international airport in their own back yard, he said.

Talks to extend a legal settlement that limits flights and passengers at JWA can begin in 2011, five years before the deal expires, said Mario Mainero, Moorlach’s chief of staff.