Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
If you’re looking for something to do between football games tomorrow, here are a couple of suggestions. This past Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the Tustin City Council’s dedication of the new Tustin Ranch Road bridge, which extends the road to The District on the former Tustin Marine Base. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), on which I serve as a Director, was a financial partner in bringing this multi-decade project to fruition. The weather was close to perfect and the crowd was some 500. If you enjoy playing “Where’s Waldo,” then you can search for me in the photo below from the OC Register’s website, attached to Sunday’s article covering the event.
Speaking of bridges, this summer the OCTA and Caltrans demolished the connector bridge from the San Diego 405 South to the Garden Grove 22 East. This is a bridge I’ve driven on for four decades. OCTA prepared a recap video of the removal of this bridge and it can be seen at:
BONUS: You are invited to our annual Christmas Open House. Please e-mail Cammy Danciu at Cammy.Danciu if you plan on attending. We have coordinated our Open House with that of some of our colleagues, so the Fifth Floor should be the place to be on December 17th. The invitation is below.
A crowd of between 400 and 500 guests attend the Tustin Ranch Road extension opening which took 40 years to plan and build. Now the road connects from I-5 directly to the District shopping center (Walnut to Warner avenues extension).
CHAS METIVIER, FOR THE REGISTER
FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS
Martin Wisckol of the OC Register devoted his weekly “The Buzz” column to the topic of “Campaign watchdog’s fight for oversight continues – Shirley Grindle would like a formal policing of campaign finance statements, but she isn’t optimistic it will happen.” In retrospect, it’s difficult to be optimistic about campaign oversight when those delivering this message do it in such a condescending manner. Instead of encouraging a beneficial solution, demands are imposed about what some believe should be done (and there is no room for deviation). Shirley Grindle means well, but has a prickly personality. Her devotion to monitoring every elected official’s campaign reports is a unique and telling behavior. But, it makes helping her accomplish her admirable goals a difficult slog. Regretfully, last year’s Grand Jury also fell into the same trap. Instead of stating that there are models that have been working in other jurisdictions and how they could be helpful for the County, the Grand Jury decided to call everyone corrupt and recommended an oversight panel in a very condescending manner. The County may have better oversight in the future if there are wiser messengers in the future.
Campaign watchdog Shirley Grindle is again pushing for a formalized policing of campaign finance filings, but she’s not pleased by the prospects.
Because the county Grand Jury called for the Board of Supervisors to establish such a panel, board Chairman John Moorlach has formed an ad hoc committee to study the issue and related campaign finance matters.
Grindle was one of Moorlach’s appointments to the 10-member committee. But a couple committee colleagues had Grindle fuming when she rang me last week.
Adam Probolsky and former state Sen. John Lewis are both political consultants, appointed to the committee by other supervisors. Grindle says they have a conflict of interest being on the panel, since campaign-donation limits are an issue, and the two make money from campaigns. The more money a campaign makes, Grindle reasons, the more money those two can make.
Probolsky and Lewis have worked for four of the five supervisors, and have collected a combined total of $68,000 from them since January 2006, according to Grindle’s analysis.
Probolsky, who’s had ongoing skirmishes with Grindle for years, brushed aside the complaint.
“It would be impractical, imprudent and inappropriate for the board to make decisions regarding campaign finance without input from people involved in campaigns,” he said.
Grindle made a scoffing throat sound when I relayed Probolsky’s logic.
“That’s like appointing a parolee to amend the penal code because they’ve been in jail,” she said.
In February, supervisor [sic] voted 3-2 to reject a proposal to ask voters whether they wanted a panel to oversee county campaign finance filings. Since 1978, the only people besides Grindle regularly policing the filings for violations have been candidates looking for opponents’ mistakes.
Grindle, 73, would like to see the task turned over to a formal entity – either a commission or a county employee assigned to the job. The grand jury agreed in its June report, and so an ad hoc committee is working on a recommendation.
As I said, Grindle isn’t optimistic. She’s worried that the influence of Probolsky and Lewis could actually end up weakening existing campaign law. Probolsky is open in his belief that there should be no campaign contribution limit – but says he would be happy now if the limit could be increased from $1,600 per donor to the state cap of $3,900.
Beside the contribution limit, there are a number of items in the existing ordinance that the committee is discussing for possible change – including whether the campaign finance ordinance should be repealed. The committee recommendation will go to county supervisors. Any change to the existing law would have to be put before voters for ratification.
Moorlach’s chief of staff, Mario Mainero, points out that the mediator being used by the committee – Sharon Browning – helped supervisors come to an agreement with the Sheriff’s Department on the establishment of a sheriff’s oversight committee. Such skills could help the current committee be productive, but Mainero wasn’t making any promises.
“I can’t tell where this committee is going,” he said.
William Lobdell, in his “Editor’s Notebook” column for the Daily Pilot, had an annual tradition. Every Thanksgiving season he would write a column titled something like this: “I’m thankful for these folks in community.” Here is the opening paragraph, followed by hundreds of names in alphabetical order, including my family:
The annual Thanksgiving tradition continues: The people in the Newport-Mesa community I’m thankful for – whether they be friends, people I admire from afar or folks with whom I rarely see eye to eye: . . . Linda Mook, the Moorlachs, Kevin Murphy . . .
The LA Times had a brief piece, titled “Supervisors Order Internet Listing of Campaign Donors,” which reflects my long-time position on transparency. After becoming a Supervisor, I took this concept a step further, requiring that campaign reports be electronically provided for even easier posting on the County’s website.
Campaign finance reports for all Orange County elected officials and candidates for elected office will be posted on the Internet, the Orange County Board of Supervisors decided unanimously Tuesday.
State law requires candidates for elected office to submit reports identifying campaign contributors. Those documents will now be scanned electronically by the registrar of voters and placed on the county’s Web site.
Several elected county officials spoke in favor of the plan, including Auditor-Controller David E. Sundstrom and Treasurer-Tax Collector John M.W. Moorlach, who said he supports easier access to the records because, he said, "I like to have full daylight on everything."
The county will block out the addresses of donors before posting the reports on the Internet to comply with state law, said Steve Rodermund, the county’s interim registrar of voters.
Norberto Santana, Jr., of the OC Register addressed an independent review of the County’s jails in “OC jail audit: More deputies, investment needed.” It was an initiative pursued by Sheriff Hutchens and provides for some additional concerns as we handle the prisoners shifted to the County by Gov. Brown. Here is the piece in full:
A long-awaited jail audit report landed with a thud Tuesday at the County Board of Supervisors as two private consultants called for hiring nearly 500 more deputies as well as spending more on aging jail facilities.
The consultant report, crafted by the firm of Crout & Sida, concluded that Orange County jails are severely undermanned and facilities are increasingly overburdened.
The consultants recommended that nearly 500 more deputies be hired, and essentially advised against using civilian jailers – a solution most county supervisors were leaning toward.
"It’s a startling number," said Supervisor Bill Campbell after hearing the conclusions of the report, which cost nearly $250,000 and took six months to complete. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens ordered the report just after she was appointed by supervisors to finish the term of former Sheriff Mike Carona in June. County supervisors expected to hear a discussion about using cheaper jail workers, something that the majority of California counties are doing.
Supervisors’ Chairman John Moorlach asked the two auditors leading the report about his favorite topic: Privatization.
But he didn’t hear anything close to what he hoped.
"You can’t contract away your responsibility," said James Sida, part of the duo that analyzed the jails. "We’d never recommend that," he said.
That prompted Supervisor Chris Norby to fire back, "maybe we ought to get some information from somewhere else." Norby then noted that "privatized jails deserve more of an objective look than they are capable of."
"I know this couldn’t come at a worse time," said Sheriff Sandra Hutchens shortly after county supervisors spent the majority of their meeting cutting more than $30 million from the budget.
Hutchens has said she would consider a limited embrace of civilian jailers, saying she might go for as much as a 30 percent mix through attrition in future years. Supervisors asked Hutchens to give them another update on the report’s conclusions within 60 days.
Wayne Quint, a Sheriff’s Sergeant who is president of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, was wearing an ear-to-ear grin after the report was presented.
"Be careful what you wish for," said Quint noting the call for more deputies and jail spending. He said the report shows what a solid job deputies perform in the jails despite being undermanned and working in aging facilities with an ever expanding jail population.
"The report clarifies what AOCDS has been saying all along. Chamberlain was an aberration," Quint said.
He is referring to the 2006 jail beating death of John Derek Chamberlain, which prompted a grand jury along with several prosecutions of jail inmates. The ensuing cover up at the Sheriff’s Department also triggered the firing and retirement of several high ranking officers. It also led to the inception of an Office of Independent Review. On Tuesday, Quint criticized Moorlach for pushing for the review office, noting that the jail report didn’t note any cultural problems.
Quint said the report shows that deputies in some cases cannot follow all the county’s procedures because it would freeze operations. Jail consultants said deputies oftentimes even go without lunch hours because of the short staffing. Quint said the report proves that taxpayers are getting a good deal, despite high amounts of overtime which boost many deputies over $150,000 in pay.
"They’re getting the best bargain in the history of government," he said.
Jim De Boom, in his weekly “Community & Clubs” column for the Daily Pilot, titled “The picks for Turkey, Eagle,” provided a reminder of the previous year’s recipients. Here are selected paragraphs:
For the seventh year in a row, I deviate from the traditional Community & Clubs format to present the Turkey and Eagle Awards for Newport-Mesa. The nominees come from the pages of the Daily Pilot as both the Turkey and Eagle are newsmakers in our community.
The votes are in, and for 2008, we, the nominating committee, have selected Turkey of the Year who is none other than “Let’s sue the City of Newport Beach” Allan Beek. Beek filed a lawsuit against Newport Beach a year ago to stop Measure B from going to the voters. Beek ended up zero for three in legal hearings on his suit, as he tried to stop the development of the city hall in a park at Fashion Island that cost the city between $20,000 and $30,000 in legal defense fees.
The 2007 Turkey of the Year was then-Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Michael S. Carona and County Treasurer/Tax Collector Chriss Street, who was also under investigation after a bankruptcy filing while he was the trustee liquidating Fruehauf Trailer Corp. This summer, prosecutors decided not to file any charges and closed the case.
The Eagle of the Year Award is given annually to those who soar in the community, with honesty, integrity and service above and beyond the norm.
The sixth annual Eagle of the Year Award goes to former Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson, who resigned rather than follow orders from the new owners of Tribune Co. to lay off more Daily Pilot staff this past summer. The Pilot had already gone through two rounds of layoffs and buyouts, reducing its staff considerably as the new Tribune owners try to maximize corporate profit.
The 2007 Eagle of the Year was Costa Mesa resident and Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who consistently stands up for what he believes is best for all citizens and against wrongdoing. Moorlach, a mentor to Street, had called on Street and Carona to resign.
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