MOORLACH UPDATE — Worked So Hard — May 19, 2018

I started my first career in Costa Mesa in 1976. I married my lovely wife in 1980. We had our daughter in 1982 and our first son in 1984. It was time to sell my small condo near the South Coast Metro area. We purchased our first Costa Mesa home in 1984 and have enjoyed the Newport-Mesa area ever since. And, having my District Office near Bear Street, my main commuting route some forty years ago, brings my multiple-career experience full circle.

During the past three-plus decades, we purposed to make Costa Mesa, a city of more than 100,000 people, small. By the time our second son was born in 1991, we were on our way to enjoying Costa Mesa and Orange County as an intimate and close-knit community. It is amazing how many people you can develop relationships with if you work really hard to participate in various social opportunities that abound here.

Running for Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector in 1994 certainly gave me an appreciation of how big and glorious our county really is, even though it is less than 800 square miles. But, you can make it small by getting involved. And, there are so many wonderful people!

I start off with this reminiscing to make a small point. Because I have worked so hard, I now enjoy long standing relationships, including with the three Art of Leadership recipients that were recognized Thursday evening by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, the South Coast Metro Alliance, and Mayor Sandy Genis. Therefore, making my presentations was very special.

I have a very high regard for former Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden. He left the city in 2003, not because he no longer loved public safety, but because the pension formula made it somewhat necessary to retire. This was a lament that he made at his retirement dinner. (Receiving 90 percent of your salary if you retire makes it hard to explain to your spouse that you’re working full-time for the remaining 10 percent — hence the often repeated phrase, “Why work for free?”) As a western movies buff, Chief Snowden would go on to the best job he could ever have wanted, serving as the Police Chief of Beverly Hills. It is great to report that his legacy lives on in Costa Mesa.

Fran and Karen Ursini are community stalwarts and have one of the best barbeque restaurants in the area. Sacramento is loaded with excellent California BBQ establishments, but they seem fewer down here. So, when you’re in the mood, go to Newport Rib Company on Harbor Boulevard. If Fran is in, introduce yourself to the biggest man in Costa Mesa.

Charlene Ashendorf’s husband, Dennis, started my blog a decade or so ago. Their son, Jacob, interned for me when I served as a County Supervisor. After being elected to the Senate, he came on my staff and served in both the District and Capitol Offices. Now he is working for Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C. The Ashendorfs should be so proud. Best of all, Charlene was a real encouragement to my wife in her pursuit of oil painting.

It was a great evening celebration to fly home early for and it reminded all of us how important it is to settle in and grow deep roots in your community. The Daily Pilot provides the details in the first piece below.

Here is an insider’s scoop. I asked how the three honorees were selected and found out that Brad Long had suggested them a couple of years ago in an e-mail. How is that for an “amazing” tie-in for the evening? Brad Long was Costa Mesa’s version of my old friend, Huell Howser. Catch some of Brad’s video logs and you’ll see what I mean. He was given a wonderful tribute.

The second piece below is from Fox & Hounds. Ron Stein was the inspiration for my bill, SB 1074 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1297 – COO — April 19, 2018). For more details, see

Ron came up to Sacramento and served as my main witness in support of this bill and did an excellent job, but it was voted down in committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018).

Ron provides his perspectives on this exercise and accurately assesses the sensitivities of one State Senator, who recently added to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. Ron was most respectful by referring to him as “Mister,” only to be reprimanded by him with the demand to be referred to as “Senator.” Sensitive, indeed. It reminded me of a famous Barbara Boxer moment where she too acknowledged that she had “worked so hard” (for some levity, please see

Costa Mesa dinner honors community leaders and contributors


It was a night of laughs, cheers and, at times, tears Thursday as about 250 people gathered to honor some of Costa Mesa’s most influential leaders and devoted community contributors during the Art of Leadership Mayor’s Celebration.

This year’s honorees were longtime local volunteer and arts advocate Charlene Ashendorf, former Costa Mesa police chief Dave Snowden and the Ursini family, owners of Newport Rib Co.

“To me, art comes from the place where our heads and our hearts come together, and each of our honorees tonight really exemplifies this in their leadership and in their giving to the community,” Mayor Sandy Genis told the crowd at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa hotel.

The Art of Leadership award went toSnowden, who was Costa Mesa’s police chief for 17 years. He worked to develop community-oriented policing efforts and was deeply involved with local businesses and charities.

“Dave was a true servant leader — he put the organization before himself,” current Police Chief Rob Sharpnack said in a video message. “He had the wisdom and the understanding to allow people to move forward with projects on their own without micromanagement. … He was a good delegator.”

Snowden, who also led the police departments in Baldwin Park and Beverly Hills, said he was “truly humbled” to receive the award.

Leadership, he said, is about finding ways to inspire people to work together for a common purpose.

“I trust people; I delegate to people; I’m not afraid to pick people that I think are a hell of a lot smarter than I am to get the job done,” he said.

Fran and Karen Ursini and their children received the Lifetime Achievement Community Involvement award.

Since opening Newport Rib Co. in1984, the restaurant and family have become fixtures in Costa Mesa because of their food, philanthropic involvement and support of youth sports.

“They have given back so much in so many ways for so many causes and organziations,” said Peter Buffa, a former Costa Mesa mayor who emceed Thursday’s event. “They really are a life force in this community.”

Karen Ursini expressed the family’s gratitude. “We are very honored to know that we are part of Costa Mesa and have made it a part of our lives and a part of your lives,” she said.

Ashendorf was tabbed for the Art of Giving Back award. Her long history of community involvement continues with leadership positions on Costa Mesa’s Cultural Arts Committee and Senior Commission, as well as the foundation committee for Friends of the Costa Mesa Libraries.

“I’m sure we can agree that in the ‘City of the Arts’ our voices don’t always sing in perfect harmony, nor do we dance to the same beat,” Ashendorf said, referring to the city’s official motto. “But in service, we build a community of hearts. Each of us believes, by giving back, the most rewarding investment is the relationships that we create.”

The three honorees also received certificates of recognition from state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and the offices of U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel.

Proceeds from Thursday’s event — which was presented by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the South Coast Metro Alliance in partnership with the city — will benefit arts and educational programs at Costa Mesa and Estancia high schools, Save Our Youth, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Repertory.

The evening concluded with a tribute to Brad Long, a longtime Costa Mesa city employee who died last year.

Long worked for the city as a videographer and video production specialist, covering community meetings and events and filming other local segments for more than 20 years.

“He really was beloved by everyone who knew him and worked with him,” Buffa said. “I’ve known a lot of people in my life; he was by far the most optimistic, upbeat person I’ve ever met.”

Twitter @LukeMMoney

Legislatures Kill Transparency Pricing at the Pump

Ronald Stein

By Ronald SteinFounder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine

Californians now pay as much as $1.00 more per gallon of fuel than the rest of the country. Shouldn’t the motoring public know why?

A bill in the California Legislature to do just that was Senate Bill 1074, by state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. Called “Disclosure of government-imposed costs,” it would have required gas stations to post near each gas pump a list of cost factors, such as federal, state and local taxes, costs associated with environmental rules and regulations including the cap-and-trade tax.

Numerous folks and organizations spoke in support of the bill at an April 23 hearing before the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. I testified myself. Absolutely no one from the public spoke in opposition.

But the Democratic-controlled committee didn’t want the public to know why we’re paying so much, and voted to kill the bill from future consideration.

I watched closely the action on the Senate floor. The senator who spoke most against the bill was Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton. But when the time of the vote came and it became clear the bill would fail, he voted Aye, which could help him in his close recall election bid this June.

Newman already had enough problems on the issue because he provided the key vote last year to pass Senate Bill 1, which jacked up gas taxes $5.5 billion a year. An initiative to repeal that gouging at the gouging at the pump just submitted more than 1 million signatures and also should go before voters this November.

It’s strange that almost every other product we buy comes with the price listed on the tag, with the taxes then clearly added to the receipt: clothes, computers, cars, furniture, office supplies, books, etc.

By contrast, the price at the pump is not broken down by tax or other cost, but actually includes a multitude of taxes, as well as costs from numerous environmental regulations.

In addition to the federal tax on fuels that applies to all states, California’s state taxes are among the highest in the country. Beginning last November, SB 1 alone added 12 cents to a gallon of gasoline and 20 cents to diesel.

SB 1074 specified the multiple taxes and regulatory costs that would have to be listed: a) The federal fuel tax per gallon; b) the state fuel tax per gallon; c) the state sales tax per gallon; d) refinery reformatting costs per gallon; e) cap and trade program compliance costs per gallon; f) low-carbon fuel standard program compliance costs per gallon; and g) renewable fuels standard program compliance costs per gallon.

That’s a lot of taxes and costs.

The cap and trade costs, by the way, now are the major funding source for outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown’s favorite boondoggle, the Choo Choo train project.

The high fuel taxes impact not just drivers, but almost everything in our economy, such as the food carried to grocery stores, materials to housing construction and clothing to children’s stores. Even and other online retailers will charge more for shipping as their costs rise.

Especially hurt by the high cost of fuel are the working poor, who often must commute an hour or more inland because coastal housing is so expensive. Aren’t such people supposed to be a key constituency of the Democratic Party?

No wonder we now have a better understanding of why California suffers the highest percentage of people in poverty and a homeless crisis so acute it shocks the world.

SB 1074 would have given motorists information on what’s really going on. But for the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature, bliss is keeping Californians ignorant.

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