MOORLACH UPDATE — Costa Mesa 1940-2003 — October 8, 2016

One of the residual benefits of having predicted the Orange County financial collapse that occurred at the end of 1994 is that I get to appear in a number of books describing this event.

I have customarily tried to provide them as they were published. Although I’ve been rather busy, there are a number of books that have been released recently that I’m trying to acquire for my personal library and will share with you from time to time (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Book Inclusions — October 1, 2015 october 2, 2015 john moorlach).

Today’s featured book is an effort by the Costa Mesa Historical Society and is in the Arcadia Publishing paperback series known as "Images of America." The title is "Costa Mesa 1940-2003." It provides a brief narrative and is a wonderful collection of historically significant photos covering this era in the city’s history. The authors are longtime friends, Art and Mary Ellen Goddard (Copyright 2016.)

Below is the brief mention in the concise Introduction to the book, which is a fun read that is packed with subtle biases that would make a local appreciate the word selections. In fact, I’ll include a couple of extra paragraphs to give you a flavor of the fun you can expect from "Costa Mesa 1940-2003." Two thoughts. The first is that my District Office is located in the South Coast Metro area that is mentioned. The second is the limited losses the city incurred. The wording of a resolution that I received from the City of Costa Mesa is provided as a bonus at the bottom.

BONUS: If you are not attending my event, Art Goddard will discuss his book, "Costa Mesa 1940-2003," at the Orange County Historical Society meeting on October 13th, at 7:30 p.m. (see

As Costa Mesa rolled into the 1992, regional issues took center stage. After years of delay, State Route 55 was extended from the fairgrounds south to Nineteenth Street. The extension became a holding ramp for motorists awaiting entry into the freeway-averse City of Newport Beach. Further extension of the freeway from Nineteenth Street to the city limits would prove to be a Gordian knot left for future generations to unravel.

In 1993, the federal government announced its intent to close El Toro Marine Corps Air Station (ETMCAS). Thus began a decade of wrangling to convert ETMCAS into an international airport serving Orange County. The anti-airport faction won that contest decisively in 2002, leaving the county residents with a giant balloon at ETMCAS and leaving Costa Mesa with an established airport, John Wayne International, close by. The area of north Costa Mesa, with its intersection of freeways and airport, had become an edge city known as South Coast Metro.

As the airport issue was unfolding, Costa Mesa resident John Moorlach pointed out the risks of Orange County’s investment strategy. On December 6, 1994, one day short of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Orange County declared bankruptcy and soon thereafter found it had lost $1.6 billion. Costa Mesa was lightly invested in the county pool and faced a potential loss of $3 million.

DOUBLE BONUS: Learn more about the Costa Mesa Historical Society here:

TRIPLE BONUS: The Proclamation, with background:

For an account that describes then Costa Mesa Mayor Joe Erickson’s reaction to my assisting the city in withdrawing funds from the Orange County Investment Pool, in the nick of time, go to the USA TODAY article in the LOOK BACK section of MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 7, 2009 december 7, 2009 john moorlach.

For a description of activities on the day of the OC bankruptcy filing decision, providing some historical background to this major historic event, go to MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 6, 2009 december 6, 2009 john moorlach.

Some three months later, Mayor Joe Erickson would sign the following Proclamation from the City of Costa Mesa:

City of Costa Mesa Proclamation

WHEREAS, John Moorlach is a long time resident of Costa Mesa and respected member of the local business community with the accounting firm of Balser, Horowitz, Frank and Wakeling; and

WHEREAS, John has been actively involved in civic affairs involving the health and prosperity of the community through religious, political and service organizations; and

WHEREAS, John sought to advance his community involvement through the electoral process in 1994 by seeking the position of Treasurer for the County of Orange; and

WHEREAS, through John’s diligence in preparing himself for that office, revealed significant, serious concern regarding the Orange County Treasurer’s Investment Pool; and

WHEREAS, John took it upon himself to share his findings with government officials, the news media, and the public at large; and

WHEREAS, John continued his efforts to advice and consult with government officials after the 1994 election as a result of his concern for the financial welfare of Costa Mesa and the Country of Orange; and

WHEREAS, in large part due to John’s persistence and careful research of the Orange County Treasurers Investment Pool, the City of Costa Mesa choose to withdraw funds from the Pool; and

WHEREAS, the significant withdrawal of City funds prior to the declaration of bankruptcy by the County of Orange on December 6, 1994, saved local residents and businesses the potential loss of millions of tax dollars; and

WHEREAS, the actions of John Moorlach not only helped save the loss of previous tax dollars but exemplifies the importance of citizen participation and involvement in their government;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOE ERICKSON, Mayor of the City of Costa Mesa do hereby officially commend John Moorlach for his invaluable assistance to the City of Costa Mesa and recognize his contributions on behalf of his community as serving the public interest on the highest order.

DATED this 1st day of March, 1995.


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