MOORLACH UPDATE — Finding Monica — April 27, 2013

OC Register “Food for Thought” columnist, Barbara Venezia, provides a more in depth piece on the busing of Monica from a psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas to Anaheim (see MOORLACH UPDATE — April 15th — April 15, 2013 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Rings — April 24, 2013). Many in California are not reacting well to this sad episode and the Governor of Nevada, Brian Sandoval, is feeling the heat of the reaction, even making it to the national news. This nonsense is providing an odd counter-balance to his ad campaign in California, “Don’t Fence Me In,” which you may have seen recently on television (see The only thing that the commercial is missing is a Greyhound bus.

The second piece is a photo in the Daily Pilot. Thursday evening my wife and I attended the inaugural Costa Mesa Mayor’s Dinner at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Samueli Theatre. "Costa Mesa Mayor’s Celebration: The Art of Leadership" included a hosted reception, dinner and a Beatles tribute show. Costa Mesans were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Mayor’s Award. Former Mayor Jack Hammett received the Mayor’s Award and is the focus of the photo. I am to his right (your left) and Anton Segerstrom is to his left (your right), and we are enjoying conversation with Werner Escher, a longtime friend and the Executive Director of Domestic and International Markets for South Coast Plaza. The Segerstrom family was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Many of the family members were in attendance and were represented by Anton Segerstrom during the award presentation. For more on the Segerstrom family’s legacy, today’s LOOK BACKS should fit the bill.

BONUS: California State University of Fullerton is holding its Center For Leadership 4th Annual Spring Conference next Friday, May 3rd from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is titled “Learning from the Masters: Lessons about Overcoming Adversity from Local Business Founders and CEOs.” It will be at the Fairmont Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. To register, go to To learn more, go to I am currently serving on the Advisory Board (see and encourage you to consider this continuing professional education opportunity.

Is Nevada dumping mentally ill patients in O.C.?

Sacramento Bee investigation details how Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has sent patients around the country – including Anaheim and Santa Ana – without notifying mental-health officials.



Are mentally ill patients from Las Vegas being dumped in Orange County?

Since March, Dan Morain, the Sacramento Bee’s senior editor-opinion, and reporter Cynthia Hubert have written a series of articles on how the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas has been releasing mentally ill patients by giving them a Greyhound bus ticket and literally shipping them around the country – including Orange County – without notifying mental-health officials in these states.

Through public record requests, Morain discovered 1,500 bus receipts that Nevada mental-health officials purchased over a five-year period as mentally ill patients were sent all over the country.

"We counted 27 went to Anaheim and Santa Ana, a couple of hundred to L.A. and around 300 were sent to San Diego. Statewide, it was about 500," Morain told me.

A missing woman named Monica brought it to the attention of Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach.

Moorlach got a call last week from Morain, who was tracking a patient named Monica who had been sent to Anaheim from Rawson-Neal.

"He asked me if anyone named Monica had been added to our mental-health rolls," Moorlach said.

The supervisor says the he was shocked and disturbed when Morain explained the situation.

"It’s immoral and unconscionable," he said.

Moorlach said he called Orange County Behavioral Health Director Mary Hale.

Hale said she immediately alerted her staff, other health-care agencies and homeless shelters in Orange County to be on the lookout for Monica.

Due to confidentiality laws, Morain didn’t have a last name or even a description of Monica.

So far she hasn’t been found, according to Hale.

"It’s possible that Monica may have been met by family or friends in the area and safely linked to treatment," she said. "My concern is that we don’t know that."

The articles have gotten the attention of Nevada health officials.

Mary Woods, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, told me her department started an investigation immediately after they became aware of the incidents in March.

"As a direct result of the investigation, a more rigorous review and approval process for patient discharge is now in place," Woods said.

The initial report findings show Nevada health officials didn’t follow protocol.

Hale said she is concerned there are others from Rawson-Neal in Orange County who haven’t shown up in the system.

When moving a patient out of state, the accepted practice is to notify public health officials on the receiving end so there is what Hale calls, "a warm hand-off."

Kathryn Radtkey-Gaither, chief deputy director of California’s Department of State Hospitals, sent me a lengthy email outlining California’s protocols in discharging mentally ill patients. She stated most are "typically released to their committing county."

In 2011 the agency discharged eight patients to out-of-state locations, she wrote.

When patients request to go to other states, resources including family support and mental- health services are evaluated before release, according to Radtkey-Gaither.

In the Rawson-Neal cases, this wasn’t done, according to the reports by Morain and Hubert.

Morain told me how he and Hubert first made the discovery.

On Feb. 12, after a 15-hour bus trip, Rawson-Neal patient James Flavy Coy Brown, 48, arrived in Sacramento with nothing more than instructions to call 911 when he got there, Morain said.

"It was 6:30 in the morning," he said. "He didn’t have any money. It was cold so he walked across the street to the police station."

The cops gave Brown a ride to a homeless social services agency called Loaves & Fishes in downtown Sacramento.

Brown told a social worker how he got there. She got his permission to call Hubert, who broke the story.

"The most appalling thing is that he was in the psychiatric unit at Rawson-Neal and they didn’t do any background on him," Morain said.

He found Brown had no connection to Sacramento.

After asking Brown a few simple questions, Morain said he and Hubert found Brown’s daughter, a nurse in North Carolina. She had lost track of her dad; they have now been reunited there.

"If Nevada had lifted a finger they could have done this," Morain said.

Hubert and Morain’s articles have officials in Sacramento and Nevada asking for answers.

On March 5, Hubert reported, California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg sent a letter to the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, calling for an investigation.

We may never know what happened to the 1,500 who left Rawson-Neal over the years, but thanks to Morain and Hubert’s investigative efforts, maybe others won’t face this same fate.

( KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / April 25, 2013 )

Jack Hammett, second from left, shares a laugh with friends during the inaugural Mayor’s Celebration at Samueli Theater on Thursday. Hammett was given the 2013 Mayor’s Award.,0,2431724.story


April 28


Paul Clinton of the Daily Pilot provided the story of a set back by a normally successful strategist in “Overall, a record of success – The overturning of plans for the Mesa Verde Center was a rare rebuke for the family that built much of Costa Mesa, the Segerstroms.”

Earlier this month, the community that has thrived on a string of blockbuster retail, office and housing projects from C.J. Segerstrom & Sons turned away the latest project from the storied developer of South Coast Plaza, Metro Point and Home Ranch.

On April 7, the City Council rejected the Segerstrom’s bid to install a Kohl’s department store in Mesa Verde Center. The family has headed back to the drawing board to refashion the project with its track record of success intact, said John Moorlach, Orange County’s treasurer and a Mesa Verde resident.

"It was definitely an aberration," Moorlach said about the Kohl’s plan. "Overall, their legacy is incredible. … You cannot complain about what the Segerstroms have done [for Costa Mesa]."

The former ranchers-turned-developers have faced stiff resistance before, especially with their 12-year odyssey to develop a former lima bean field just north of the San Diego Freeway. That project was downsized twice, first in the 1980s after a voter referendum overturned a city approval. Finally, persistence paid off: In November 2001, the council approved a much-less intensive Home Ranch project that includes an IKEA store.

The Segerstroms also faced resistance on the Standard Pacific Homes project. The council approved 69 homes in Mesa Verde in 1999 instead of the 97 the Segerstroms had proposed.


Today, the Segerstrom name carries tremendous weight around town, even though the family has sold off most of its land holdings. At its apex, the Segerstroms owned some 2,000 acres in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. They now own about 300.

"We have modest land holdings as compared to the large developers in the county," said Paul Freeman, the Segerstrom spokesman. "But what we do have is a disproportionately large impact on the city."

The city receives an impressive $10 million a year alone from South Coast Plaza, which by almost any measure is among the most successful shopping centers in the nation. With more than $1 billion a year in annual sales, the plaza outsells Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, New York’s Madison Avenue and San Francisco’s Union Square.

Its retail stores include Cartier, Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co.

"The Segerstrom family has always focused on quality," said Debra Gunn Downing, the plaza’s spokeswoman. "They’ve always brought in the best of the best."

In addition to the plaza, the family owns and operates Mesa Verde Center and Mesa North Center, at Fairview Road and Baker Street.

The Segerstroms are also almost solely responsible for the South Coast Metro offices, the Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory. The Offices of South Coast Plaza, as they are known, include Plaza Tower, Center Tower, Imperial Bank Tower and the California Bank & Trust Building.

C.J. Segerstrom & Sons also still owns the Lake Center Office Park, the headquarters for PacifiCare Health Systems; Harbor Gateway Business Center, the headquarters to FileNet, Apria Healthcare Group and Emulex Corp.; Whittier Law School, at 3333 Harbor Blvd.; and National University’s campus, at 3390 Harbor Blvd.


Even opponents of the Kohl’s project acknowledge the family’s success. They say the rejection wasn’t a slight to the family, but rather the wrong project for Mesa Verde Center.

"They did a phenomenal job at making Kohl’s a sellable project," said Councilman Gary Monahan, who voted against it. "But the Kohl’s was not a fit there. … It was wrong for the spot."

The four council members who opposed it — Councilwoman Libby Cowan was the sole supporter — said the project would have created too much traffic and added another "big box" retailer to a neighborhood that already has large Home Depot and Target Greatland stores.

Freeman says the opposition to Kohl’s was "not rational," since some opponents called for a skate park, bowling alley or other recreational use. None of those uses are commercially viable, Freeman said.

"We are not as powerful as the marketplace," Freeman said. "Just wishing that a bowling alley will be successful, that doesn’t mean it will be."

Ironically, Kona Lanes announced it would close shortly before the Kohl’s vote. The Segerstroms has been keeping the bowling alley alive with rent breaks and other subsidies for several years, Freeman said.

What the future of the center is remains unclear. Councilman Allan Mansoor said he is keeping an open mind about plans for Mesa Verde Center, as long as it isn’t a large-scale retailer.

"People expressed to me that they would like to see smaller, classy venues," Mansoor said. "People are looking for something that is special and unique."

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