MOORLACH UPDATE — COAST Update — March 16, 2013

Allow me the chance to do a little fill-in. The first piece below is from Lynn Selich’s “Lynn’s Spin” column in a recent issue of the Newport Beach Independent. I enjoyed participating in the program for Richard Luehrs’ retirement reception. As you saw from a recent LOOK BACK, Richard and I go back at least twenty years. The order of the program may have been a little different than Lynn remembers it, but the evening was a heart-warming one.

The March edition of COAST Magazine features a photo of me with my mother on page 53. Well, Ruth Ding would be my mother if my mother would have been born in China, instead of the Netherlands. If anything, Ruth Ding and my mother could be sisters, they are both that beautiful and charming. So, whenever I have seen Ruth over these many years, I am certain to yell out, “Mom!”

The letter to the editor section of COAST also has a fun entry from one of the most preeminent estate planning attorneys in the OC. The building that he refers to houses the office of the State Treasurer (I’ve provided a photo below the submission). The phrase was also borrowed by one of my favorite historical novelists, Irving Stone, for his excellent, classic book, Men to Match My Mountains. This book is still selling well in paperback. It was copyrighted in 1956, making it as old as me! This is a book I have read twice and I will read a selected chapter on occasion. When I think I have it rough, I reread Chapter IX of Book Three, “Death Valley Earns Its Name.” All to say, I’m taking this opportunity to recommend this great fictional read on California history.

Lynn’s Spin: Hundreds Gather to Honor Richard Luehrs

It was an honor to join hundreds of well-wishers including city officials, dignitaries and business leaders who gathered recently at The Island Hotel for a heartfelt retirement party for Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Richard Luehrs.

Guests enjoyed a bountiful reception featuring a variety of themed stations as they mixed and mingled and shared good wishes with the guest of honor.

Richard Luehrs

During a special presentation emceed by former Chamber Chairman, Councilman Rush Hill, Luehrs was recognized by a slew of Orange County leaders, and awarded gifts and proclamations for his dedication.

Tim Brown, Chair of the Chamber, started things off by reflecting on Luehrs’ many accomplishments and honoring him with a Lifetime Membership in the Chamber. Skipper of the Chamber Commodores, Bill Barrington, followed, awarding Luehrs with an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Commodores.

Jim Dale, former Chair of the Chamber and former Villa Nova owner who worked with Luehrs for many years, shared a few memories with the crowd. He was followed by Lula Halfacre, former Chair of the Chamber along with Carol McDermott, current Secretary of the Chamber Board, who presented Luehrs with a beautiful pair of gold cufflinks (underwritten by Lula) featuring the Chamber logo (a nod to his love of French-cuffed shirts).

Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry presented Luehrs with a City Proclamation, followed by Supervisor John Moorlach, who presented a Proclamation from the County of Orange and commented “To see all these people in attendance this evening speaks volumes of Richard’s contributions.”

The final Proclamation was awarded by Scott Peotter and Betty Jo Woollett on behalf of the State Senate offices of Alan Mansoor and Mimi Walters. And finally, Gary Sherwin, President and CEO of Visit Newport Beach, along with the Newport Beach Marriott GM Debbie Snavely, presented Luehrs and his wife with a five night stay at the Marriott Kauai including airfare.

During his 30 year tenure, Luehrs worked with four different city managers, five police chiefs, 27 mayors, hundreds of council members and thousands of business members. Among his many accomplishments, he helped create Leadership Tomorrow, led the Taste of Newport for 24 years and took the Boat Parade and Awards Dinner to a whole new level.

As he spoke from the stage, Luehrs recalled some of the challenges and many fond experiences garnered during his leadership of the Chamber. He concluded with, “God Bless Newport Beach and all the volunteers and people who have supported the Chamber. Thank you all.”

Columnist Lynn Selich is the founder and editor-in-chief of – an online magazine devoted to covering philanthropic organizations and their events throughout Orange County. Reach her at Lynn.


The Lunar New Year celebrations at South Coast Plaza were stylish and creative affairs, featuring festive food, colorful costumes and skilled performances. Some 700 civic and business leaders from throughout Southern California gathered at the richly decorated Jewel Court. It was the fourth year South Coast Plaza has honored the Asian holiday, and this was the biggest yet.


On one of those great government buildings in Sacramento I saw carved in marble on the entablature California’s motto, “Bring Me Men to Match My Mountains.” Here in Orange County, we have brought forth such a man, and his name is Supervisor John M. W. Moorlach (Interview, February 2013, Coast). He is the salt of the earth and the light of the world. If California is to survive, we need more great leaders like Supervisor John Moorlach.





March 16


The LA Times Sunday “Orange County Commentary” section printed my letter to the editor, titled “County Hasn’t Lost Its Property Tax Case Yet.” Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom also weighed in and I’m providing his submission as a bonus. It turned out that Judge Watson was wrong, again.

Re "County Ignoring a Likely Disaster," March 9:

Robert A. Pool won a preliminary bout in Superior Court and believes the county should fold. Here are reasons it shouldn’t:

Judge John M. Watson ruled that the "recapture method" used by the state’s counties is unconstitutional.

He may be wrong. Numerous other judges around the state, reviewing the same or similar facts, came to the opposite conclusion.

Watson’s rulings have a high turnover rate. This trend may continue.

Watson’s certifying a class-action lawsuit means that Pool will want 20% of the potential refunds. Pool’s a nice guy, but not $80-million nice.

Watson’s decision applies to Orange County. Fifty-seven other counties need a higher-court decision to ensure uniformity.

The refunds will not come totally out of the county’s coffers. Cities and school districts will be making nearly 94% of the refunds.

Who benefits? Pool. Commercial landowners. And, at best, one-third of home-occupiers. That’s not pro-taxpayer.

Capitulating now would be "foolhardy and fiscally irresponsible." The taxpayers deserve a final resolution. An appeal provides it.

John M.W. Moorlach

Orange County

Treasurer-Tax Collector

There is nothing "likely" about Pool’s case. The final ruling has yet to be made, and because of its applicability to the state’s other 57 counties, it needs to make its way through the appeals process.

Pool also noted that he was "deeply troubled" by my revising an estimate of the potential effects of the case. Assessment of property taxes is an extremely complex process involving scores of factors applied over 400,000 potential payments. We revised our "gross order of magnitude" estimate when other factors became known to us and will continue to revise it as clarity comes to the case.

Due to a high degree of uncertainty, we would be best served by following the carpenter’s axiom "Measure twice, and cut once." I have briefed individual taxing authorities as to any potential impacts.

It is incumbent upon them to weigh their own fiscal situation in relationship to the case and to make the fiscal adjustments they deem necessary. The county’s share amounts to less than 10% of the total, and we can cover that from reserves, if necessary.

We are monitoring this case closely and are doing our part to expedite its resolution. We stand ready to make timely refunds (including interest) once the issue has been decided and the courts give us the appropriate direction.

David E. Sundstrom

Orange County


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