MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 584 Goes To Natural Resources — April 21, 2019

Wishing you a happy Easter! He is risen!

This is the last day of the Legislature’s Spring Break. It comes in the middle of presenting bills and a fast approaching deadline. Consequently, I’ll be presenting some 13 bills this coming week and attending some 10 committee meetings, hearings and Floor sessions. I don’t believe I’ve walked into a busier or crazier one-week schedule in my four years at the Capitol.

One of the bills that I will be presenting to a second committee is SB 584 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Bills 511, 584, 598, 496 and 640 — April 15, 2019). Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen and I successfully presented this bill to the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee (12-0) on April 10th. As it was double referred, we now go before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 23rd.

We’re serious about this effort and even produced a short video to explain the bill, which can be seen at the Laguna Beach Patch, which provides the piece below or at https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-584-wildfire-mitigation-through-undergrounding-power-lines.


25th Anniversary Look Back

If you wonder why I’m so big on government transparency, the April 19, 1994 LA Times page A2 table of contents teaser should make the hair on your neck stand straight up:

In response to a demand from his political opponent, Orange County Treasurer Robert L. Citron for the first time Monday released details of his aggressive investment of a $7.5-billion public funds portfolio.

Can you imagine? There were 187 separate non-County agencies invested in the OCIP and they put their money in with, perhaps, no details on how it was generating returns double that provided by the marketplace. And everyone was fine with that! The media should have been up in arms about the lack of transparency, but was not.

The quotes supporting Mr. Citron’s strategy were amazing. The piece by Jeff Brazil and Jodi Wilgoren can be found at https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-04-19-me-47798-story.html.

The closing paragraph provided another subtle, but critical clue to the inappropriateness of what Mr. Citron was doing.

Bill Sherwood, director of the investment division for the state treasurer’s office, said he does not use reverse repurchase agreements, but "a lot of people would consider us conservative," he said. "We always put safety and liquidity first."

Thank you, Mr. Sherwood. He reminded everyone about the SLY priorities: safety, liquidity, and then yield. The "beat" reporters missed it again.

I have to make a small confession. I already had the Pool’s investment report. But, apparently no one else did. And I was specific in what I asked for, but received pages of garbage. The Wall Street Journal, in its April 20th edition, would quote me as claiming "the listing is junk."

And, if you wonder why I’m a little sheepish about receiving "awards," it’s because Citron received them for reasons, that in retrospect, seem absurd. The next day, April 21st, the Orange County Chapter of the American Society for Public Accountants announced Mr. Citron "has been awarded the OUTSTANDING PUBLIC OFFICIAL AWARD." The criteria? "To recognize a [sic] elected public official who has made an exemplary contributions [sic] to government and the quality of life in Orange County while holding elected office." You just can’t make this stuff up. Public Accountants are not Certified Public Accountants (thank goodness).

Juxtapose the award with the April 22nd OC Register County Scan page which provides tidbits from every city. For the city of Orange, reporter Anne M. Peterson provided the following hint of uncomfortableness:

Councilwoman Joanne Coontz thinks city officials should re-evaluate their investment policies. She said an investment committee should be formed to look at past problems and review present investments. The city has more than $100 million invested in various ventures.

Laguna Beach Talks Power Line Undergrounding, SB 584

Utilities have taken the view that power lines underground are an aesthetic issue, but Laguna officials disagree. Here’s why.

By Ashley Ludwig, Patch Staff

https://patch.com/california/lagunabeach/laguna-beach-talks-power-line-undergrounding-sb-584

Can undergrounding (burying) power lines save residents lives and property in times of wildfire?

Mayor Bob Whalen and Senator John Moorlach are looking to save lives and property through the introduction of Senate Bill 584, the wildfire mitigation through the undergrounding of powerlines.

"Laguna Beach has restricted access with only three ways in and out," Whalen said. "We are concerned about things from a public safety standpoint."

The introduction of SB 584 expedites opportunities for high-risk jurisdictions to underground power lines, as well as to establish a Wildfire Mitigation Oversight Board to develop and implement policies that reduce the looming threat of more wildfires.

In their research, Laguna officials say overhead utility lines and equipment have caused devastating blazes, with the apparatus of California’s three largest utilities being responsible for igniting over 2,000 fires between 2014 and 2017.

According to the Laguna Beach Fire Department Fire Chief Mike Garcia, a downed power pole can either spark a fire or halt a mass exodus of residents fleeing in times of wildfire.

"As we work with our power companies, they come forward and say they will do a power shut off" in times of wildfire, Laguna Beach Fire Captain said. but that hampers communication which often relies on wifi in the homes and cell service.

"Cities and utilities need to work together," Moorlach said. "That time is now."

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