MOORLACH UPDATE — Family Time — September 9, 2013

Trying to describe how important my family is to me is not as easy as I thought it would be. My father and mother immigrated to the United States when I was 4 years old and my brother was 2. They would go on to have a total of four children and we are all very close. I know what it is like to live thousands of miles away from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And, I know that separating my mother from her siblings, especially her only sister, was very difficult for her. So when my sister was transferred by her Irvine-based company to the Denver area a couple of decades ago, it was not easy on us. In Colorado, she met and married her husband. They now have four wonderful children. Unfortunately, I only get to see them when I’m out there or they are visiting here, which is not often enough. Earlier this year my youngest brother accepted a new position and moved his family of five to the state of Tennessee. This hit me harder than I thought it would. So when my daughter’s husband recently accepted a position in Wisconsin, it was another big blow. It means that they are moving 2,000 miles away with my only grandchild. Consequently, I am spending as much time as my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter can set aside between now and the end of the month. A week ago we enjoyed the Oceanside pier:

For now, this is my top priority. Serving in this position of Supervisor is busy enough, so putting the potential Congressional campaign on pause for a few more weeks is a move that I am comfortable with. After all, my family has made plenty of sacrifices for me to serve the public over these past eighteen years, I can make a small sacrifice myself. Then, with my family spread over this wonderful country, seeking a Federal position makes even more sense. Martin Wisckol covers this decision in his weekly OC Register column in the first piece below.

The Voice of OC provides an editorial on an item that will be discussed in closed session at tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting. As a recent MOORLACH UPDATE is invoked (see MOORLACH UPDATE — PBS SoCal Real Orange — August 30, 2013), I’m printing the piece. Ironically, the piece includes this photo of the Saddle Crest property:

I am a big California plein air fan and my favorite topic is golden California hills covered with oak and sycamore trees. The photo above seems to lack the second component. The piece below, Pacheco Pass, is one of many such paintings and giclees that hang in my home and is by renowned painter June Carey. It has oaks. Consequently, I take exception to the author’s arguments in the second piece below, but respect her right to air them.

Field grows to replace Rep. John Campbell

Investor Pat Maciariello brings the field to three or four, depending whether you count John Moorlach’s stated plan to join the race.



The Republican field to replace retiring Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine, grew to 3½ on Thursday, with Laguna Hills investor Pat Maciariello announcing his entry into the race. (County Supervisor John Moorlach accounts for the half-candidacy – I’ll get to that in a minute.)

It’s Maciariello’s debut as a candidate, although he’s a vice president of the well-heeled Lincoln Club of Orange County and has been member of the GOP-leaning group of business people for eight years.

The early frontrunner in the race is state Sen. Mimi Walters, a former assemblywoman and Laguna Niguel city councilwoman who’s compiled an impressive endorsement list of Republican leaders. Maciariello doesn’t draw many policy distinctions between himself and Walters, but thinks his non-politician status makes him the better prospect.

“I’m coming directly from the private sector, and I’ve seen firsthand how the policies of Washington have hurt the private sector and the workforce,” said Maciariello, 38.

Walters, 51, spent seven years as a stockbroker before entering politics, but Maciariello argues that his experience in the financial arena is more pertinent because it’s more current. He said he anticipates needing more than $1 million to be competitive and that he’ll spend money on his own campaign, although he doesn’t plan to fund it entirely with his own cabbage.

Greg Raths, a retired Marine colonel who spent three years as assistant chief of staff of the White House Military Office and was the first to launch a campaign, said he hopes to raise nearly $1 million for the primary.

While Raths shares Maciariello’s problem of name recognition, he’s working full-time to address the shortcoming. As evidenced by photos on his Facebook page, he often attends three events a day – the meetings of service clubs, veterans and church groups, women’s organizations, city council meetings and basically everything you can imagine. And if he doesn’t have a morning meeting lined up, you may find him on a street corner waving a campaign sign.

Republicans have a 45 percent to 28 percent advantage in the district’s voter registration. A Democratic candidate has yet to emerge.

The Moorlach factor

Moorlach, who sounded advance warning of the county’s 1994 bankruptcy, physically towers over most other mortals. But he only gets a half-entry in this congressional race because he told me in early July he planned to enter the race but still has not made it official. And he doesn’t plan to before mid-October.

Moorlach said he put his plans on hold about a month ago, when his son-in-law accepted a job in Milwaukee. That means Moorlach’s daughter, Sarah, and his 14-month-old granddaughter all will be moving from San Diego at the end of September.

“Half of my immediate family is leaving,” said Moorlach, who’s married with three children. “While they’re still a couple hours away, I’d like to have my weekends free. I sort of decided it wouldn’t have an impact on my campaign. … If it hurts my campaign, it hurts my campaign.”

Syria polling in O.C.

If anything, Orange County residents of all political persuasions are even more opposed to a U.S. military strike in Syria than those nationwide, according to an OC Political Pulse poll.

A nationwide poll by the Washington Post found opposition to any action was more common: 59 percent opposed and 36 percent in favor. Among Republicans, 55 percent were opposed, 43 percent in favor. Democrats, 54 percent were opposed, 42 percent in favor. Independents were 66 percent opposed, 30 percent in favor.

The Pulse poll of Orange County voters found that of 132 Republican respondents, 72 percent were opposed to military action and 22 percent were in favor. Of the 66 Democratic respondents, 56 percent were opposed and 32 percent were supportive. Of 44 independents, 77 percent were opposed and 16 percent were in favor.

Of the 12 Pulse groups polled, the Occupy OC respondents were most strongly opposed (89 percent), followed by anti-illegal immigration respondents (84 percent) and Tea Party respondents (83 percent).

The Register’s OC Political Pulse poll is not scientifically vetted, but has a record of paralleling similar polling.

Contact the writer: 714-796-6753 or mwisckol

Community Editorial: Supervisors Should Drop Saddle Crest Lawsuit

BY Gloria Sefton

Supervisor John Moorlach recently posted an update on his website (Moorlach Update, August 30, 2013) after the airing of a PBS SoCal/Real Orange report on the Saddle Crest development in Trabuco Canyon.

Reporter David Nazar interviewed Moorlach shortly after Superior Court Judge Steven L. Perk issued a ruling against the actions of the board of supervisors in approving the Saddle Crest development and changes to the Foothill-Trabuco Specific Plan and the county’s general plan.

Moorlach’s update contains a falsehood about the Saddle Crest property that he should correct.

He wrote that he has “personally walked on the Saddle Crest property” and that “[i]t does not host ancient oak forests, or anything similar.”

It would be good for him to get the facts from the environmental impact report for Saddle Crest, which he and his fellow supervisors voted to certify last October, before the board decides in closed session this Tuesday whether to appeal the court’s sound ruling.

The EIR contains numerous photographs and descriptions of coast live oak trees and oak woodlands on the property.

In fact, the EIR identified 197 coast live oak trees within the proposed development envelope and provided all relevant details of the 151 oaks (some with trunk diameters greater than 3 feet) that would have to be destroyed to make room for the 65 tract homes.

The development could not have moved forward without the supervisors vote to gut the Foothill-Trabuco Specific Plan, a land-use plan the county board of supervisors itself adopted in 1991.

The primary goals of the plan are to preserve the rural character of the canyon areas and provide a buffer between urbanization and the Cleveland National Forest. Those goals are completely forsaken when oaks are bulldozed, land is flattened, and a suburban tract gate-guarded development is shoehorned in.

Although Supervisor Moorlach failed to notice the trees while he walked the property and also apparently failed to read about them in the EIR, Judge Perk was paying close attention.

The court ruled that the amendments to the FTSP that would have allowed destruction of the oaks were inconsistent with the county’s general plan and the FTSP’s goals to manage and preserve mature oak trees. Loosening of grading and density limits were also found to be unlawful, as were the county’s failure to adequately analyze traffic hazards on Santiago Canyon Road and future impacts of the FTSP and general plan amendments beyond the project site.

At least for now, barring any misguided appeal by the county or the developer, the court’s ruling has stopped the bulldozers. The county was ordered to set aside the Saddle Crest approvals until it complies with California’s environmental laws, its planning and zoning laws, the county general plan, and the FTSP.

Instead of now waging a ludicrous squabble about whether or not there are oaks on the canyon property, it would be much more becoming for this elected official to offer some contrition after the court found the board’s actions illegal when they approved Saddle Crest.

Supervisor Moorlach and the other supervisors, led by former 3rd District Supervisor Bill Campbell in whose district the Saddle Crest property lies, completely ignored over 2000 petitions and impassioned testimony and letters from citizens who urged them last year to reject the development and the gutting amendments to the FTSP and general plan.

The supervisorial prerogative – that unstated rule that the supervisor in whose district a project lies dictates how the other supervisors vote – must have worked to the point where the others blindly put their trust in Campbell, perhaps so much so that they felt it unnecessary to review facts about the property and the impacts of the changes they were unleashing with the FTSP and general plan amendments.

Supervisor Moorlach also implied in his posting that those who challenge unlawful county land-use decisions should buy the contested property (“the protestors, also a conservancy, did not wish to purchase this property, and stated so when I inquired during the Board meeting where the Saddle Crest development proposal was approved.”)

It is absurd for Moorlach to suggest that petitioners in a legal challenge ought to have to purchase the contested land.

The Saddleback Canyons Conservancy, a non-profit citizens group and one of five plaintiffs in the lawsuit, had enough on its hands raising funds to bring the successful legal challenge against the board’s irresponsible decision, let alone purchasing the 113.7 acre parcel.

If the board of supervisors followed the law as they are supposed to do, these expensive legal challenges would not be necessary, and maybe organizations like Saddleback Canyons Conservancy could spend their money on land acquisitions.

But bad decisions by the board are not the right path to making that happen.

Supervisor Moorlach should review the EIR and at least correct his statements about the oak tree resources on the project site.

In the meantime, we are seeing hopeful signs from Campbell’s successor, Todd Spitzer.

Supervisor Spitzer had no part in the approval of Saddle Crest (it was before his time) and now perhaps he can use the supervisorial prerogative in a positive way: by leading the other supervisors away from an appeal of the court’s sound decision.

That would go a long way to defeating the common perception that the county is owned by developers.

Perhaps Supervisor Spitzer will see the forest for the trees and the immense value that land-use guidelines such as the FTSP provide to all of Orange County.


September 9


Robert Fauteux of the Foothills Sentry had the following entry, “Moorlach Quarantine,” in his “Dodging the Bullet” commentary page:

A pundit observer of the County’s government scene made the following comparison of John Moorlach’s CEO job application to how our personal computers work. When his resume showed up the anti-virus protection for the county government’s operating system immediately identified it as a threat to the status quo. It was isolated and then quarantined to the we-know-its-there discard bin.

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