MOORLACH UPDATE — Man of the Year — April 11, 2014

Shelley Henderson, editor and publisher of the Orange County Breeze, expands on my last UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — You’re Being Political — April 9, 2014), to make a fun announcement below. I will be recognized by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce as their 2014 Man of the Year. This is a very humbling honor. The dinner is scheduled for June 19th, and I would be honored if you are able to attend. Shelley will be recognized as the 2014 Woman of the Year, so I’m in very good company.

This gives me a QUASQUICENTENNIAL opportunity, as Cypress is a very special city in my life’s history.

Last evening, at the monthly meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, my wife, my parents and I listened to John Olson make his presentation “History of the City of Cypress.” If you get a chance to catch John Olson, please do so. His slides and narrative brought back so many memories. Cypress was my first home in California in 1960. We then resided in Bellflower for a brief time before moving onto my uncle’s dairy at 5352 Orange Avenue. The dairy would become a commercial center and a housing development. Directly across the street, the dairies would become the Cypress City Hall and Library. Here is a photo of the dairy residence that became the Cypress Police Department in the 1960s:

Here is another former neighbor’s residence that became the Cypress City Council Chambers in 1965:

My first, second and third grade school principal at Cypress Christian School (now the Crescent Avenue Church of the Nazarene on the corner of Walker and Crescent) was Ms. Wilhelmina Van Hunnick. She lived on her father’s dairy property on Valley View, directly across from Cypress College. See the photo below, taken in the 1950s.

At the right of the home is the dairy cow milking building and a service building. In my senior year of high school and freshman year of college timeframe, I worked for Trojan Drive-In Dairy. It had two locations, one on Lincoln, on the west side of the Post Office. The other was the Van Hunnick Dairy. I would wait for customers in the service building and the refrigerators were in the front of the dairy. Customers would use the U-shaped driveway to purchase their milk and other related groceries. Working next door to Ms. Van Hunnick kept me in touch with her at that time in my life. We would reconnect again a few years ago, shortly before she passed. And there is your Quasquicentennial moment, as we appreciate the history and people of Orange County.

BONUS: We’re planning another Saturday day hike for June 14th, from 9 a.m. to noon. We will meet at the Pacific Ridge Trailhead and hike toward the coast to El Morro. We may even do a picnic at our destination. Please e-mail your interest to Cammy.Danciu.

CORRECTION: Point 6 below is incorrect. It is not $1.7 billion, it’s $1.7 trillion!! I misread the financial report. Usually you drop the thousands, in the Federal Government’s case, you drop the millions! $1,763,614,000,000! (With a population of 314 million, that’s $5,616 owed by everyone in this nation!)

Supervisor Moorlach votes against “apple pie”

In his email newsletter yesterday, Second District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach explained his no vote when the Board of Supervisors was asked to support AB 1453.

Introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (who represents Cypress and parts east), the bill “would require the [California Department of Veterans], in voluntary cooperation with the Orange County Board of Supervisors and city councils of other participating southern California cities, to design, develop, and construct a state-owned and state-operated Southern California Veterans Cemetery.”

Supervisor Moorlach’s explanation (appended below) is clear and well-reasoned.

I encourage everyone to read it. I wish only to add this: when a politician loudly points in one direction, you should always look at what your attention is being distracted from.

In this case, Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva is loudly and publicly supporting an “apple pie” issue in a district with a large conservative voter base, and is facing a strong conservative challenger. She wants those conservative voters remembering her push for a veteran’s cemetery in Orange County, not her votes on other issues:

Bill Number Description
AB 10 Raise state minimum wage yes
AB 60 Issue driver’s license to illegal immigrants yes
AB 48 Prohibit large-capacity magazines and large-capacity conversion kits yes
SB 4 Amends hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) laws yes
AB 4 Prohibits law enforcement from detaining individuals solely based on immigration status yes
AB 711 Prohibits lead ammunition for hunting yes
AB 154 Authorizes certain individuals to perform aspiration abortion procedures yes

(Voting record information courtesy of Vote Smart.)

Transparency disclaimer

I have not been shy about my pleasure at how Supervisor Moorlach has comported himself since he first attracted attention prior to Orange County declaring bankruptcy. I continue to be a big fan.

It is, therefore, with a huge amount of pleasure that I report that Supervisor Moorlach will be honored on June 19 at the annual business awards ceremony hosted by the Cypress Chamber of Commerce.

Supervisor Moorlach will be recognized as 2014 Man of the Year.

Union Bank of California (Cypress branch) will be recognized as 2014 Business of the Year.

Tim and Linda Keenan will be recognized for Lifetime Achievement.

And, much to my astonishment and great honor, I will be recognized as 2014 Woman of the Year.

Explanation by Supervisor Moorlach

The text below is taken from Supervisor Moorlach’s email newsletter. Introductory remarks and links are omitted.

The Board was asked to approve a “Support” position on Assembly Bill (AB) 1453, which was promoting a Veteran’s Cemetery in Orange County, specifically at the Great Park. You can’t find a bill more apple pie, God and country. But, when someone wraps themselves in the Flag, and provides a glimmer of hope to an extremely important segment of our community, the veterans, then don’t do it for self-aggrandizement. Do it for the right reasons.

The Bill would require the state Department of Veterans Affairs, through its Veterans Cemetery division, to apply for a grant from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program. Admirable. But, let’s peel off the layers and see what we find.

1. California is in the worst financial shape that it has been in in its entire history. Below is a concise recap of the most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the state of California, as of June 30, 2012 (as the June 30, 2013 CAFR has not been completed by the State’s outside independent auditors). California has more in booked debt than it does in assets. I say booked, as the unfunded liabilities for its defined benefit pension plans and retiree medical benefits are not on the books, which I’ve added in the second slide below. I don’t want to worry you too much, although you should be worried, but the net per capita deficit is twice that of Jefferson County, Alabama ($1,607), which filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy a couple of years ago. The state has no money to assist Orange County with a Veteran’s cemetery.

2. California only has two Veterans Cemeteries, only one is funded. It is in the unincorporated area of Igo, which has some 625 residents, and is 9 miles west of the city of Redding. The Northern California Veterans Cemetery was dedicated in December of 2005. A third cemetery, the Central California Coast Veterans Cemetery, to be located in Monterey County, is in the planning stage. It will complement the two closed National Cemeteries in San Francisco. This is a fledgling organization that is soliciting donations. I would not expect the state to be a strong funder of this agency or for the proposed Southern California Veterans Cemetery Master Development Fund.

3. Orange County is not excited about inviting state agencies into its borders. Recently, the state offered a $100 million grant to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for a jail expansion through AB 900. When it became clear that it would be a state run penitentiary, we politely declined the funds. Once the state gave the County control over the funding to improve our existing facilities, manned by Deputy Sheriffs, then we gladly accepted the funding.

4. The main purpose of the California Veterans Cemetery program is to serve where National Cemeteries are inadequate. But, we have four National Cemeteries within driving distance, two in San Diego County, one in Riverside County, and one in Los Angeles County (which is now full). If you want a great day trip, I would recommend that you visit the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on the Point Loma Peninsula. It is California Historical Landmark No. 55, which reads: “FORT ROSECRANS NATIONAL CEMETERY – A burial ground before 1847, this graveyard became an Army post cemetery in the 1860s. It is the final resting place for most who fell at San Pasqual in 1846, and for the USS Bennington victims of 1905. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973. Over 50,000 who served the U.S. honorably in war and peace lie here.”

5. When you go to the National Cemetery Administration, you learn that only 39 states have a National Cemetery. Consequently, I’m not so sure that one could make the claim that our area is underserved.

6. A look at the Condensed Financial Statements for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide much comfort. The net financial position is a deficit of $1,721,321,000! Ironically, it is due to one line item in the Liabilities section of the balance sheet: “Federal Employee and Veterans Benefits Liabilities” of $1,763,614,000! Accordingly, there really isn’t much in the way of grant funding to be hopeful for. In fact, the income statement reflects an operating loss of some $223 million for the year ending September 30, 2012.

I would suggest to you that if the Great Park allotted the space for a Veterans Cemetery, that the funding and installation will not happen for a decade or two. There is no funding. And there is no compelling need.

I have visited a number of National Cemeteries in this country, including Civil War sites, and outside of this country, including the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as displayed in the recent movie “Saving Private Ryan.” I am a beneficiary of the sacrifice made by United States veterans with their liberation of Nazi-occupied Netherlands. My father-in-law was a veteran and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries incurred during his service in western Europe. I just attended the funeral service of nearly life-long friend Walter Ehlers at the Riverside National Cemetery. I am pro-Veteran. However, I do not appreciate exploiting them for political purposes.

I made a very simple request to amend AB 1453, change it to “Support, if Amended.” Instead of giving our Orange County Veterans a pipe dream, let’s actually build, fund, and operate a Veterans Cemetery. Here was my proposal:

1. The State of California, through its Department of Finance, wants the County of Orange to pay it $150 million for what it stipulates are Vehicle License Fees (VLF). These funds are actually property tax revenues that were re-characterized as VLF. This is a money grab by Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to state that Orange County shall retain the $150 million if it contributes 5 percent ($7.5 million) to endow the cemetery on land contributed by the Great Park.

2. The State of California also wants the County of Orange to transfer $73 million per year out of the its General Fund to Sacramento. The Bill should be modified to allow Orange County to retain its rightful funds if it contributes 5 percent ($3.65 million) each year to underwrite the costs of the Veterans Cemetery. The Orange County Cemetery District has annual expenditures between $3 million and $3.2 million, so this funding should be adequate.

3. The Bill should be modified to have the Orange County Cemetery District as the lead agency to oversee the new Veterans Cemetery. This will eliminate duplicate administration and provided for a staff that is already experienced in running cemeteries in Orange County and can do it in conjunction with the requirements and internment policies established by the National Cemeteries.

4. The author of AB 1453 drafted the legislation that provided for the terms of Orange County’s surrender of the VLF funds to the State of California with AB 701. I would suggest that she do everyone a favor by righting a grievous wrong with the State’s money grab and obtain an immediate funding source to create a viable sanctuary for those who honorably served or will serve our nation in the future.

As I could not get a second for my motion, I voted against the recommendation to “Support” AB 1453. I see this bill as an exercise that rings hollow and smacks of grandstanding during silly season. Therefore, adopting a policy on a sphere of influence on what legislation the Board of Supervisors should take a position on in the future would be a helpful exercise.

Featured photo

Second District Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach riding in the 2012 La Palma Days Parade. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.

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