Sometimes you are presented with an idea that sounds just and righteous, but it makes you hesitate in bewilderment as to why it is even necessary. And, if it is implemented, whether it may have overreaching impacts that were not intended. Consequently, with agenda item #22 on yesterday’s Board agenda, I asked a number of questions to understand and appreciate what was being proposed. I did not ask all of my questions, so the offer to continue the item to give us more time to consider this proposal was a welcomed recommendation.
I believe we all wish to reduce the number of individuals driving under the influence (DUI) on our streets and freeways. And our state has laws on its books to deal with this matter. However, it was pointed out that there are gaps in these laws. I need to determine if the proposed patch is sufficient or if it impinges on the civil liberties of those who reside in the unincorporated areas of my District, particularly Rossmoor. Consequently, I will be seeking additional legal research assistance on this matter. I also hope to receive input from the Rossmoor Homeowners Association Board of Directors. The Rancho Santa Margarita Patch covers the topic below.
County Delays Action on Hosts Who Allow Underage Drinking
‘Social Host Ordinance’ would fine first-time offenders $750, and future offenses would be misdemeanor criminal charges.
Posted by Martin Henderson (Editor)
By City News Service
Orange County supervisors, concerned about encroaching on civil liberties, postponed action Tuesday on holding adults accountable for underage drinking on their property.
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a former police officer and prosecutor, proposed an ordinance and lined up testimonials from supporters, including Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and a woman whose daughter was killed by a drunken driver.
The Social Host Ordinance would provide for fining offenders $750 for a first offense and handling future offenses as a misdemeanor criminal charge.
Property owners who lease their land or act as landlords would not be held accountable for underage drinking if they were unaware of it.
Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo and Orange have similar ordinances. Other counties with similar ordinances include Contra Costa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Ventura.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson and Supervisor Patricia Bates raised questions about the potential for violating civil liberties. The supervisors voted to keep working on the legislation to address those issues and schedule it for a vote Dec. 10.
Spitzer recalled the death of his chief of staff Steve Ambriz, a former Orange City Councilman killed by a drunken driver in 2006.
"I vowed from then on I would focus a lot of my elective office energies on what I could do to reduce drunken driving," Spitzer said. "This is one more approach. … It’s not the ultimate solution. It’s not a magic pill. There’s no such thing."
Garden Grove police Chief Kevin Raney said a similar ordinance approved in his city four months ago made it easier for officers to enforce against underage drinking laws.
"There’s a gap in the law" against underage drinking, because (the state statute) requires officers to witness an adult giving liquor to a minor, Raney said.
Marilyn Ellis of Mothers Against Drunk Driving told the supervisors how her daughter, Kimberly, was a casualty of a drunken driver in 1997.
"The pain never goes away," Ellis said.
Ellis, a former high school teacher, told the board that some of her students would rationalize their drinking by saying they did it at home with the blessing of their parents, and that enabled them to avoid arrests. A coach would give his football players booze after a game if they won, she said.
"I feel, as a personal victim of this, that this needs to be passed," Ellis said.
Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach raised the question of whether new laws were needed.
"Don’t we already have laws prohibiting minors from drinking?" Moorlach asked.
Bates noted that the county has a problem in the coastal cities with minors having prescription pill parties, using narcotics often taken from their parents. She asked why Spitzer’s ordinance did not extend to prescription narcotics.
"I didn’t want to give more off-ramps at this point," Spitzer said. "I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew at this point."
Nelson took a more libertarian view of the issue and emphasized that existing laws regarding substance abuse were enough.
"I have a real concern when we start talking about making one adult responsible for the behavior of a minor," Nelson said. "Providing alcohol to a minor is already illegal. Drinking and driving is already illegal …. Our system is not set up to give police unbridled authority to go into people’s houses. There are civil liberties for a good reason. What’s next? I thought I saw someone drinking?… If more laws were the answer then we wouldn’t have a drug problem in this country. There’s a drug problem in prison for God’s sakes."
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
Jean O. Pasco of the LA Times did a profile on a countywide elected official in “His Job Is to Know Where the Dollars Go – Auditor-controller Sundstrom, drawn to O.C. by the bankruptcy, keeps tabs on spending — especially any sweetening of employee contracts.” David Sundstrom is now the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector for the County of Sonoma. He recently recruited OC Chief Investment Officer Paul Cocking from the Treasurer’s office. Paul was one of my hires and he served the county with distinction and will be missed. Below are the opening paragraphs to the piece. There was also a reference to David’s license plate, “SLOW CPA,” and mentioned mine, “SKY FELL,” but missed mentioning another plate I have, “DULL CPA” (as flamboyant wouldn’t fit — J). As a postscript on the thrust of this piece, David would let me down the following year on the Board’s decision to approve the “2.7% @ 55” pension formula for general employees.
David E. Sundstrom isn’t a name that rings many bells. Residents don’t pay taxes to him, they don’t record legal documents through him, they aren’t arrested by him and they don’t read about him much in the paper.
But as auditor-controller, Sundstrom has an essential task: overseeing how public money is spent.
In recent months, he hasn’t liked what he’s seen.
Sundstrom has repeatedly questioned the burden of popular wage-and-benefit boosts granted to county employees.
He criticized as too risky a proposed bond issue deemed safe by finance officials.
He advised county supervisors to end a decades-old system for charging for building inspections and plan checks.
Last week, County Executive Officer James D. Ruth assured the Board of Supervisors that Sundstrom, 51, would be the taxpayers’ point man on a new committee that will assess the effect on future budgets of any sweetening of a dozen employee contracts up next year.
The role, suggested by two supervisors, was endorsed by the Orange County Grand Jury, which criticized board decisions for not adequately safeguarding taxpayers.
"From a conservative financial standpoint, David and I agree on basically everything," said John M.W. Moorlach, the county’s much more visible and flamboyant treasurer, who gained fame for questioning the risky investments that led to Orange County’s historic 1994 bankruptcy.
In a lengthy Letter to the Editor, “Monahan, Bever should be reelected,” in the Daily Pilot, which addressed the upcoming Costa Mesa City Council election, this paragraph was included:
Bever and Monahan have been effective in working with their peers in all areas of public service. These include neighboring cities, county, state and federal bodies. Our county champion, Supervisor John Moorlach, has consistently worked with and enthusiastically endorsed both Monahan and Bever.
Christian and Kathleen Eric
“The Buzz” column in the OC Register, written by Dennis Foley, a Monday staple, was titled “Labor sees call for audit as double-cross.” The piece clearly provides the standard public employee union intimidation strategies, straight from their play book, to take aim at elected county officers who dare question their benefits. This union would spend a lot more than $100,000 to oppose my 2006 campaign for Supervisor. And, the expensive annual leave benefit that was recently covered for its costs and this union avowed any involvement in promoting it (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Birthday! — September 30, 2013). Here are the opening paragraphs:
Labor leaders for the 1,800 sheriff’s deputies and district attorney’s investigators Tuesday protested an effort by county Supervisors Chuck Smith and Chris Norby to put in the union’s new, one-year contract a requirement for a financial review of the union-managed health-care trust fund by the board’s internal auditor.
Bob MacLeod, the union’s general manager, said the demand was distressing, given that members approved a contract with no wage increase because they recognized the county’s budget woes.
“We came to the negotiating table under a white flag and were double-crossed,” he said.
Supervisors approved the contract 3-2, minus the internal audit requirement.
Norby said he wanted to open up the health-fund books because supervisors are accountable to the public for how tax money is spent.
“I don’t feel like I’ve double-crossed anyone,” he said.
The sheriff’s union leaders have been angered that Norby, Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach and Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom have raised questions about the benefits and pay county negotiators and supervisors have granted government unions.
The sheriff’s union has been pushing to raise $100,000 for its political-action committee, and in a newsletter union President Wayne Quint says “we can’t allow politicians who don’t support us to get elected and re-elected.”
“These few phony politicians all have agendas of their own,” he wrote.
The union leaders previously lamented Norby’s defeat of incumbent Cynthia Coad, whom they had endorsed, and tussled with Sundstrom over a grand jury report questioning the cost of an annual-leave benefit.
Susan Valot of KPCC 89.3 FM provided an election-related interview with “Measure would give OC voters a say in future county pension hikes.”
Orange County voters will decide tomorrow whether they’ll have the final say on future increases in county worker pensions. KPCC’s Susan Valot takes a look at Measure J.
Susan Valot: Right now, Orange County’s pensions are only about three-quarters funded. That means more money’s going out than coming in. And that could turn into a bigger problem as more and more "baby boomers" start to retire.
If approved, Orange County’s Measure J would require voter approval of any future county pension increase. County Supervisor Chair John Moorlach is behind the measure.
John Moorlach: When you propose a new debt for the county, you should bring that to the voters for approval. A pension increase is also a form of a debt, we’re also requesting to require that it go before the voters for approval.
Valot: Moorlach points out that San Francisco has required voter approval for pension increases for a century now. Its pension plan is fully funded. He says Orange County’s pensions used to be fully funded, but two pension increases in the past decade pushed the plan into the red.
Moorlach: The pension plan has earned some 9 percent for the last 15 years annualized, so it hasn’t been a return problem in the plan. We’re still $2.7 billion underfunded.
So we’re saying, "Hey, instead of requiring a board of only three members to encumber the citizens who have to pay this debt, why not bring it to the public for a vote?"
Valot: But Nick Berardino of the Orange County Employees Association says it shouldn’t be the public’s job to decide on pension increases.
Nick Berardino: We live in a republic. We elect officials to make decisions. And this is one of the things they ought to be making decisions about.
To kick it over to the public just demonstrates that not only does the public not trust politicians, politicians obviously no longer trust politicians to make the decisions that they’re elected to make.
Valot: Supervisor Chair John Moorlach says he agrees that it’s the government’s job to make those kinds of decisions, but…
Moorlach: We have 50 years of empirical data that shows elected officials are put into those positions due to the funding of special interest groups – i.e. unions – and those individuals then support the union platform ’cause that’s who brought ’em to the dance. So yes, supervisors should do it, but they don’t because they are obligated to those who funded their campaigns.
Valot: Berardino calls Orange County’s Measure J "misleading" because it wouldn’t make much of a difference. He says it’s simply a way for local lawmakers to look better and boost their approval ratings.
Berardino: It is a political move because there really isn’t anything of substantial nature to be adjudicated here. Our retirement benefit formulas are as high as we ever want them to be. We are not going to be going for any benefit formula improvements for decades.
Valot: Berardino says Measure J is another attack on working people and on unions. The measure comes to voters as Orange County’s lawsuit against the sheriff’s union makes its way through the court system. County supervisors approved a "3 percent at 50" pension increase for deputies several years ago.
But now, they argue the retroactive increase was an illegal gift of public funds. Moorlach says Measure J could prevent a similar situation in the future, by giving the public the final say on unfunded pension increases. He says it’s not an attack on unions, but a fiscally responsible move to ensure retirees get their pensions.
Nick Berardino of the Orange County Employees Association disagrees. But he says voters who don’t work for the government ought to look at this a different way.
Berardino: The individuals see this as, "Well, why should we help, you know, public employees with their pensions?" as opposed to saying, "Why are we out in the cold? Why don’t we have pensions?" And the reason why is that, true, the public sector is more organized than the private sector and able to stand up and fight better.
Valot: But Berardino’s union isn’t fighting Measure J… at least, not with ads, billboards, or mailers to voters. The union chief is against J – but he says, given the current economic climate, there’s not much of a chance of beating it.
Jaimee Lynn Fletcher of the OC Register did one more piece on “Rossmoor residents to vote on cityhood – Supporters and opponents debate taxes, safety and quality of service.” Here is a sampling of the article:
But Mark Nitikman, who wants to see Rossmoor become a city, said it is not an indicator that financial hardship would ensue.
"Residents have voted three times to raise taxes to enhance the community," he said. "The idea that we would be broke and just scraping by is unfounded."
The famous Rossmoor brick wall surrounding the county island and Rush Park are examples of residents paying more taxes for the benefit of the community, he said.
Community services, Nitikman added, will also be enhanced including animal control, code enforcement and public safety.
County officials have forecast a decline in services to unincorporated areas citing budget constraints, said Rick Francis, deputy chief of staff for Supervisor John Moorlach.
Nitikman said the county is facing a $600,000 deficit, and it could cut $415,000 in services for unincorporated areas.
"If we don’t become a city, we can look forward to reduced services from the current level which many of us believe are already unacceptable," he said.
The most memorable evening of my tenure as Supervisor was a public hearing in Huntington Beach to discuss the proposed bridge for 19th Street over the Santa Ana River. This topic was resurrected at the request of a Newport Beach city councilmember. I informed him that I had opposed this proposal in the past, but he still wanted to move forward anyway. I thought the idea would die early, but it kept moving forward to the point of discussing it in a public setting. The public showed up en masse and strongly opposed the bridge. As a result, the OCTA Board of Directors removed it from the arterial plan of highways (about two decades after my public request below). My history is provided with this editorial submission to the Daily Pilot, which it titled “Tell ‘em to stick it – If leaderless county tries financial blackmail over proposed Santa Ana River bridges, Costa Mesa City Council should tell supervisors to keep their blood money.” (The title, with minor modifications, seems applicable to the current effort by Caltrans to convert free lanes to toll lanes on the San Diego Freeway; but I digress.)
I believe we’ve finally found an issue that everyone agrees on: don’t build bridges over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street and Gisler Avenue. The homeowners’ associations, the no-growthers, the Chamber of Commerce, and C. J. Segerstrom & Sons don’t want the bridges. Period.
So why are the bridges included in Costa Mesa’s newest General Plan? Because they are on the County of Orange’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways. If we remove the bridges from our General Plan the county can and will withhold tax revenues collected by them and distributed to Costa Mesa for road improvements.
A recent Daily Pilot article stated that this amount is over $1 million per year.
The county has used the leverage of the loss of these funds to impose the potential construction of the bridges on us. Taking a leadership role, our city has initiated cooperative studies with the county in an attempt to remove the bridges from its master plan. The studies led to public hearings, which led to Transportation Commission and City Council hearings.
The City Council meeting was attended by the Orange County supervisor for our area, Harriett Wieder. She implied that she “had felt our pain” and would recommend the removal of the bridges to the Board of Supervisors if the cities impacted come up with alternative ways to improve traffic.
Maybe she has a tunnel in mind? She clearly stated that for politicians “there is a time to lead and a time to be led.”
Harriett Wieder punted. The Board of Supervisors will hear her recommendation on Dec. 7. If they still want bridges then we are at an impasse. We face a catch-22. Do we let the county build the bridges (which no one wants) to keep the funding (which is significant)? Or do we oppose the bridges and forfeit their blood money?
The Costa Mesa City Council should tell the county to keep its money. When money talks, the truth is silent. Some of the weirdest things happen because of money. If it is a time to lead, then our City Council should find its backbone and tell the county to stick it.
The bridges have been on the master plan since 1956 or 1957. They’ve had plenty of time to build them. Now it is too late. They screwed up by hesitating, and we don’t want to live with their belated solutions now.
Our City Council buckled at the threat of losing federal grant money when it took a position on illegal aliens. The city did not want Community Development Block Grant funds going to illegal aliens. Great policy. We have a federal government that guards its borders only to fed those successful enough to cross them.
Finally, a local government told the feds to get a clue. It was bold. It was daring. It was appropriate. But, when money talks, the truth is silent. And our City Council caved in to money.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and fellow conservative Jack Kemp, who is a former homeowner from Costa Mesa, personally overrode a HUD legal opinion agreeing with Costa Mesa.
Our City Council has to stand firm and resolute. It must continue its steady attempts to remove the bridges from the county’s master plan. It must not buckle over money, again.
There is a time to lead and this is it. The Costa Mesa City Council has been leading. It is Harriet Wieder’s turn. If she effectively leads the charge and convinces the rest of the Board of Supervisors to drop the bridges (period), then she will have, at the end of her final term, given Costa Mesa a wonderful farewell gift.
John M. W. Moorlach, a Costa Mesa businessman and resident, is the past president of the Costa Mesa Republican Assembly.
Jennifer Ragland of the Daily Pilot provided an election result update in “Newport council race still a tossup – Ridgeway holds 714 vote lead over Kranzley for peninsula seat, but many ballots remain uncounted. Adams wins in District 4.” Inside the piece was tucked a rumor, which, as time has proven, was only a rumor.
The close race was familiar territory for city officials, who witnessed a similar situation four years ago, when it appeared Mayor Tom Edwards had been beat by actor Ron Winship on election night. Two weeks later, Edwards was declared the victor with a 780-vote swing.
Winship tried again this year against Planning Commissioner Gary Adams, but didn’t have as favorable results.
Adams won nearly 85% of the vote against Winship, according to the final unofficial tally.
“I’m very happy, but I don’t know if I’m happier that I won or that it’s over,” Adams said Wednesday. “It’s been pretty grueling, and trying to balance my job and my campaign has been difficult.”
However, the large margin by which he won helped make up for it, he said.
“I didn’t think it would be quite that high,” he said. “My feeling is people remembered from four years ago, and that was a hard thing to overcome for Ron.”
Winship conceded the defeat but said he wasn’t too upset by it.
“We didn’t even bother to put a candidate’s statement in,” he said Wednesday.
Winship said he has his sights set on Marilyn Brewer’s state assembly seat in 2000, which Newport Beach Councilman John Hedges and county Treasurer John Moorlach have also been rumored to be eying.
The OC Register’s Letter to the Editor section contained a letter in keeping with the theme of the week in “What are deputies union leaders afraid of?”
Bob MacLeod, the general manager of the sheriff’s deputies union, calls it a “double cross” when some supervisors eschew the customary path of pandering and do their job by calling for fiscal scrutiny of the union health care trust fund. Does anyone remember the O.C. bankruptcy? Are we aware of California’s fiscal condition and direction?
Thank goodness that we have folks like Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach and Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom proposing public awareness and financial oversight. Thanks also that some of our supervisors realize that they should be aware of how tax money is spent and that they are accountable to the taxpayers, not to special interests, and, in this case, not to “agendas of their own,” quoting union President Wayne Quint’s spin.
The previous day the General Election was held, so it was time for the news of the results. Norberto Santana, Jr., of the OC Register provided the good news on Measure J in “Voters overwhelmingly support effort to block pension spikes – Measure requiring public vote for future pension increases wins handily.”
Voters overwhelmingly endorsed limiting the power of county supervisors to sweeten pension payouts for public employees.
In early returns, Measure J was supported by a whopping 78 percent of the vote, among the absentee and early voting results being reporting as of 9:30 p.m. last night.
The measure is a public rebuke of the stewardship that county supervisors have given the pension system, which is now only 73 percent funded and runs a $3 billion unfunded liability.
It’s also a distinguishing mark of the times, where most voters working in the private sector have seen the value of their 401K retirement accounts erode while watching public workers have their retirement benefits expanded.
Under Measure J, any future labor contract negotiated by county supervisors that would increase the retirement benefits of any public employee or elected official would have to then be approved at the ballot. While the county could negotiate such increases, none could take effect until approved by voters.
Unlike the two pension spikes approved in 2001 and 2004 – that triggered the county’s soaring unfunded liability – Measure J would force county officials to present voters with an actuarial study detailing the full cost of pension enhancements as well as its impact on the county’s unfunded liability. General cost of living adjustments are exempted.
County Supervisors’ Chairman John Moorlach was the main sponsor of the measure, which also was supported unanimously by all county supervisors.
"The voters in Orange County get it," said Moorlach after hearing the results while he was attending the main Republican party election night gathering in Irvine. “County supervisors didn’t handle it properly in the past. You don’t take anything away from people who handle it properly.”
Moorlach called Measure J "an insurance policy for the taxpayer," because it would hamper the kinds of private labor negotiations that produced recent pension enhancements. While both measures were voted on in public by county supervisors, Moorlach and other opponents of such enhancements criticize the public votes as largely rubber stamps on deals that are already negotiated.
Orange County supervisors in 2001 granted public safety employees – deputy sheriffs and firefighters – a radically enhanced retirement benefit that allows many to retire at age 50 with a significant portion of their paycheck guaranteed for life. In 2004, supervisors again granted general government employees a similar benefit that allows them to retire at age 55.
While the general employees contribute toward their benefit, public safety workers do not with taxpayers footing the entire bill.
Since both benefits were enacted, the county’s pension system has seen a $3 billion unfunded liability continue to balloon.
While labor leaders across the county were incensed by the text and inspiration behind Measure J, they all but conceded it’s broad support. Not one labor group even filed a response in the ballot arguments that voters received on Measure J.
NBC News also covered the story in “OC Voters Vote in Force for Pension-Changing Measure J.” Here are the opening and closing paragraphs:
Orange County residents overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday that gives voters final say on future county employee pension increases.
Measure J, which changes the county’s charter, stemmed from concern that pension increases approved previously will throw the county’s budget out of balance.
The main sponsor of the measure was Board of Supervisors Chair John Moorlach, who told his colleagues that already-approved pensions are just 73 percent funded.
In 2001, the board agreed to let deputies retire as early as age 50, with pensions that pay them 90 percent of their final salaries for life. That decision, Moorlach said, cost taxpayers $100 million to $200 million.
Following Moorlach’s lead, the board is challenging, with a lawsuit, retroactive provisions of that pension increase.
Susannah Rosenblatt of the LA Times provided an election update with “Rossmoor voters strongly reject cityhood – Foes said a utility tax would be needed if the O.C. community were to incorporate.” Since this chapter in history, the Local Agency Formation Commission has had a successful Islands Task Force that reviewed islands within cities (Rossmoor is not really an island) and the County is near completion on more detailed accounting analyses on unincorporated areas. It takes time, but we’re moving forward. The County has also had a victory with the unincorporated area of Sunset Beach being annexed by the city of Huntington Beach. Onward and forward. Here is the entire article:
Residents of the quiet, leafy corner of Orange County called Rossmoor declared loud and clear Tuesday that they like things just the way they are.
Voters in Rossmoor, the county’s would-be 35th city near Seal Beach and Los Alamitos, crushed a measure to incorporate by a margin of more than 2 to 1.
"The slogan that we use: ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,’ " said Phil Wyels, part of the Rossmoor Preservation Committee against cityhood and a resident for more than four decades. The committee argued that the community’s one small shopping center wasn’t enough to sustain Rossmoor financially — the limited tax base would have had to be supplemented by a new 7% or 9% utility tax.
Cityhood supporters had hoped that incorporation would improve local services such as law enforcement for Rossmoor’s 10,500 residents. The tiny patch of former beet fields, known for good schools, was created by Leisure World developer Ross Cortese in the late 1950s.
"We wanted to have a voice for ourselves," said Mike Bullock, a member of the Committee for Rossmoor Incorporation Now who has lived in the community since 1981. "All I can say is, I hope you call me up in a year from now and I can happily tell you I’m wrong, that we aren’t going to have diminishing services."
He attributes the rout in part to the faltering economy heightening worries about the new city’s fiscal future.
Advocates from both sides expressed surprise that the tally — nearly 72% of votes cast were against cityhood — was so lopsided. Voters also shot down the two utility tax increase options. Locals, Bullock said, "just didn’t see anything that was attractive enough for them to take a risk." It didn’t help that the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs poured thousands of dollars into phone calls and mailers against Rossmoor becoming a city.
"The only thing that caught us by complete surprise was that it was an overwhelming no," said Shawn Wilson, president of the Rossmoor Community Services District board of directors, which has five elected members. The board unanimously backed the cityhood measure.
Measure U’s resounding defeat calls into question how county officials can best manage these patches of unincorporated land, said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach, who supported the cityhood bid.
Since going bankrupt in 1994, the county has tried to divest itself of islands of county land to focus on regional, rather than local, planning.
The county paid $600,000 in the last fiscal year to help subsidize Rossmoor, according to an analysis by the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, which approves incorporation efforts. Some cityhood opponents, however, dispute that figure.
Moorlach plans to work with county officials in the next few weeks to develop a policy for how best to deal with these small areas.
The cityhood defeat isn’t likely to leave lasting scars in Rossmoor, Bullock said. Unlike the height limit measure next door in Seal Beach that polarized locals, folks in Rossmoor, he said, pretty much get along.
B. W. Cook of the Daily Pilot shared about “Lunch event raises funds for Boy Scouts,” which covered an event feting former Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder. Here are the opening paragraphs:
A “who’s who” crowd came to lunch last week at The Island Hotel, Newport Beach to honor a woman who has dedicated a great part of her life to improving the lives of others in the county of Orange.
The indefatigable redheaded wonder-woman was honored with the “2008 Good Scout Award,” presented by the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
More than 200 VIP guests including John Moorlach, Julianne Argyros, Susan Samueli, Bette and Wylie Aiken, Joseph Prevartil and Steven Rosansky joined in a rousing ovation for Weider, the first woman elected to the Board of Supervisors in Orange County.
Stephanie Baum of Dow Jones Financial News provided national coverage on the successful Measure J with “California county opens pension benefit increases to voter approval – Pension benefit enhancements will be subject to voter approval in one California county following the approval of a ballot measure in a move that could lead to the adoption of similar measures around the US for public employees systems.”
Voters in Orange County, California approved the measure by a three to one margin in a move designed to control spending for the $7bn (€5.4bn) defined benefit scheme.
When the measure is implemented next year, voters will see an actuarial study showing the cost of increased pension benefits and the impact on the county’s unfunded liability if the pension board approves enhancements to the pension fund.
Orange County has an unfunded liability of $2.7bn. Its funded status, the proportion of assets against liabilities, is 73%. In 2000, the scheme was fully funded, according to John Moorlach, the chairman of the board of supervisors for Orange County and author of the measure.
Moorlach said he introduced Ballot Measure J to control contribution rates that “have gone through the roof” in recent years.
Critics of the measure said financial decisions should not be left up to voters, but to the pension board.
San Francisco passed a similar measure 100 years ago and has fully funded employee pensions, according to Orange County documents making the case for Measure J.
Moorlach said pension fund members were paying to fund a retirement lifestyle they would be unlikely to share as a result of the shortfall. Although the measure alone will not reduce the shortfall, Moorlach said it would prevent it from rising.
Two years ago, the county established financial incentives to encourage pension fund participants to retire later in a move designed to increase the funding period.
Moorlach said several participants in the pension fund sector were eying the measure.
Many public pension funds have suffered losses as a result of the downturn in the equities and bond markets, asset classes where the majority of pension fund money is invested. Public employee pension plans in states such as California, Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina have had billions wiped off the value of their assets under management.
Separately, South Dakota voters rejected a ballot proposal to ban naked short selling, a move the state government had campaigned against, arguing it would create needless complications for businesses and hurt the local economy.
South Carolina residents rejected a ballot measure that would have invested some assets for post-employment benefits fund in the stock market.
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