MOORLACH UPDATE — The Gift of Hardening Measures — November 29, 2018

When I left the private sector and moved into the public sector on March 17, 1995, as a result of the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing by the County of Orange on December 6, 1994, I stepped into an arena that had a gift ban. You couldn’t even accept a cup of coffee. The ordinance would be modified eventually to allow for gifts of $5 or less to avoid the coffee or other beverage awkwardness.

I spend significant personal funds every year to pay for my breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I do not accept gifts. When someone doing business with the state informs me that, because I ate an appetizer, they are allocating a portion of their entire event to me, I quickly write a check to that vendor for the amount.

Fortunately, receptions in Sacramento have a sign-in sheet that allows me to state that I am not eating or drinking anything, only visiting. Attending and not imbibing is not a gift.

This brings us to today’s topic. Working with utilities was an ordinary and necessary component of doing county business while I served as a Supervisor. Maintaining business relationships with Southern California Edison, Sempra, Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric was part of the job. Especially as they transitioned into electronic meter reading and the related radio transmission locations that were installed in unincorporated areas.

Over the last three years, I’ve been pushing California to harden electric lines, as you know. So, meeting with representatives of utility companies would be a smart thing for me and my staff to do. Especially when I have been unrelenting (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Black Malibu — November 23, 2018).

Let me give you an example of how I stayed consistent on this topic. Sen. Bob Hertzberg had a Senate Joint Resolution this year, SJR 20, on hardening. Here’s the summary for the resolution:

This measure would urge Congress and the President of the United States to work together to implement grid hardening measures and to help ensure our nation’s critical electrical infrastructure is protected from threats from electromagnetic pulses and physical attacks on the infrastructure.

For the full description, go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SJR20.

Resolutions are usually approved without much in the way of discussion or debate on the Senate Floor. But, when this topic comes up, it gives me a chance to repeat my concerns about utility lines causing wildfires. So I did. Watch the video below.

So, when Sempra’s new government relations representative covering Orange County came on board, it would be only natural that she meet with my District Director. And, since gifts of less than $50 are not reportable, he did not find it necessary to fight over the tab. (And, the amount may be overstated, as he should not be assessed for the tip that was added to the cost voluntarily by the vendor’s representative.)

It is great to see a reporter actually read the disclosures and write about it. Bravo on the transparency. The San Diego Reader provides interesting details that I would love to see more often in the media in the first piece below.

BONUS: The article mentions the Karl Strauss Brewing Company. It is located directly across the street from my District Office in Costa Mesa. You’re invited to visit our District Office for our annual Christmas Open House. What better day to hold this event than on December 6th? The 24th anniversary of Orange County’s filing for bankruptcy protection. Scott Carpenter, my District Director, will be there, as will the rest of my Capitol and District Staff. The event will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Come as you are. Dress comfortably. Wearing a Reyn Spooner Christmas shirt will get you an extra cookie. And, then you can go back to Christmas shopping at the South Coast Plaza or Metropointe. You can even grab dinner at Karl Strauss. The invitation is the second piece below.

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Uber joins Sempra in sugar daddy game

Barona treats Dems and Reps to free meals

By Matt Potter

Party before the storm

Utility giant Sempra Energy and its subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric, enmeshed in a bevy of California controversies — including an ongoing effort to resist so-called Community Choice Aggregation in San Diego — have been plying elected officials with an array of goodies. Sempra’s most recent lobbyist disclosure filing with the state Secretary of State’s office for the third quarter of this year, reveals that Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara, who earlier this month beat Republican-turned-independent Steve Poizner to become the state’s next insurance commissioner, picked up a free admission valued at $80 to the September 27 JAY-Z and Beyoncé concert at SDCCU Stadium, formerly known as Qualcomm. A free meal worth $25.81 at Karl Strauss Brewing Company in Costa Mesa was had August 27 by Scott Carpenter, district director for Republican state Sen. John Moorlach, thanks to Sempra.

Other Republicans who got their dinner free thanks to Barona included Assembly members Vince Fong, Steve Choi, Matthew Harper, Tom Lackey, Chad Mayes, Jim Patterson, Randy Voepel, and Brian Maienschein. GOP senators present were Janet Nguyen, Ling Ling Chang, Jeff Stone, and Jim Nielsen. David Reade, chief of staff to Nielsen, also got the free food. Wilk and Acosta each picked up a free overnight stay and another meal from Barona worth an additional $144. Madera County supervisor Rob Poythress, who lost his state senate bid this month, also joined the festivities, as did senate hopeful Brian Jones, who won. Jones attended with his wife Heather. Another dinner recipient was GOP Ex-Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who won her state senate election battle. Reelection races still to be called include those of Maienschein, Harper, and Nguyen. Acosta lost his Los Angeles area Assembly seat to Democrat Christy Smith. Not to be outdone by the Republicans, five days later, on September 11, Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and her husband Nathan Fletcher, elected this month to the county board of supervisors, shared a free meal from Barona worth $76.50, per the filing.

No free rides

The latest big-money player in the battle for San Diego streets and sidewalks is electronic ride-hailing giant Uber, which is letting loose a fleet of 300 electric bikes loose in the city, mostly at beaches and downtown, where fast-moving legions of scooter riders and hourly rental bikes already crowd public spaces. “JUMP bikes are pedal-assist electric bikes, so the harder you pedal the faster you’ll go,” says the company’s website. “An integrated GPS and lock means that you can find a bike near you and go for a ride.”

And where e-bikes go, city hall’s corps of contract lobbyists — intent on jumping onto the influence peddling gravy train — are never far behind. In Uber’s case, it’s Republican ex-city councilman Jim Madaffer, whose Madaffer Enterprises registered on October 29 to lobby regarding “development of regulations for dock-less vehicles and other micro-mobility options.” Notes Madaffer’s website: “Our firm offers first-rate strategic planning services and an ability to impeccably execute those plans alongside access to an unrivaled network of relationships.”

After months of foot-dragging amidst a small epidemic of broken bones, GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer has proposed a regulatory scheme that critics say is half-baked and ripe for manipulation by the city’s league of e-transit companies, which in addition to Uber include Bird, Lime, and Ofo. Since 2007, disclosure filings show, Madaffer and his wife Robin, an attorney and lobbyist, have given a total of $33,336 to city campaigns, including $4100 to Faulconer and $3300 to Republican Chris Cate. Chris Ward got $1100 as did fellow Democrat Barbara Bry. Uber competitor Lime Bike has been using the services of influence peddler Rath Miller, whose co-founder Phil Rath was fined $5000 by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission this month for conflict of interest violations. Bird has hired Falcon Strategies.

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