MOORLACH UPDATE — Governor Signs SB 496 — September 9, 2019

Admission Day

Happy California Admission Day! It’s the Golden State’s 169th birthday as the 31st state to be admitted into the Union.

Protecting Seniors

That’s not the only thing to celebrate today. On Friday, Gov. Newsom signed my bill, SB 496 — Protections Against Financial Abuse of Elder and Dependent Adults (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-496-protections-against-financial-abuse-elder-and-dependent-adults).

I want to thank the Financial Planning Association of Orange County for recommending the legislation and my staff for seeing it through to completion.

The Banning-Beaumont Patch provides the contents of the Governor’s press release in the piece below.

25th Anniversary Look Back

On September 9th, 1994, the OC Register’s Chris Knap authored one of the most frustrating articles of the post-election cycle, claiming that all my warnings were for naught. His piece, “O.C.’s SKY DIDN’T FALL—Government: Critics of the tactics of Treasurer Robert L. Citron had predicted financial doom,” should explain my car’s personalized license plates, SKY FELL.

It was an amazing article, recounting all of the warnings published in various publications during the campaign and still concluding that everything was fine. It claimed interest rates had leveled off—very, very wrong. (And tell me again that reporters are supposed to be objective.)

I can recall receiving calls from clients that day. This article was top-of-the-fold for the Business Section. They called to ask questions like, “Are you as stupid as the Register claims you are?” It was not pleasant. In fact, it motivated me to write a letter to then-publisher David Threshie about how sadly off the mark his paper was.

I would bump into then-editorial page editor Ken Grubbs a few weeks later and, when I asked about my letter and the lack of a response, all he could say was they were “bemused.” What a profoundly appropriate response. Many years later, the Register’s holding company would find itself in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection – twice. What a very strange twist of fate.

Here are some segments to give you a flavor of the fun summer I had 25 years ago. Talk about watching the band playing on the deck of the sinking Titanic.

Costa Mesa accountant John Moorlach, whose campaign against Citron fueled stories in the financial press, declared, “Regardless of who is elected on June 7, Orange County has a bleak future for its fiscal assets.”

Well, the campaign is over, interest rates are leveling out, and to tweak a line from Mark Twain, reports of Bob Citron’s death spiral appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

“All those dire predictions never came true,” Assistant Treasurer Matthew R. Raabe said. “It would appear that our investments were pretty well on target.”

In fact, county government’s budget managers say they relied on Citron’s arbitrage strategy to dig them out of a hole last year: The county issued $200 million in taxable notes – in effect borrowing at 3.95 percent interest – and Citron invested it in a series of higher-paying investments. Those secondary investments, known as reverse repurchases, returned 7 percent. After costs, the county earned $20 million.

“That’s what is helping us survive,” county budget manager Steve Franks said.

This year, Citron has been asked to invest $600 million the county has borrowed; arbitrage earnings are expected to be at least $40 million.

In total, according to figures provided by Franks and Auditor Steve Lewis, Citron’s investments will bring the county general fund $120 million this fiscal year, more than the county’s share of local property taxes.

“He has gone out and done a heck of a job as far as I’m concerned,” said Lewis, an independent elected official. “To (earn this interest) the county has taken some risks, but in my opinion the risks appear to be very well managed.”

Moorlach, who lost in the June election, was unrepentant in an interview this week, noting that leveraged private investment funds have continued to collapse, despite the leveling off of interest rates.

“I had predicted a pretty steep price to pay,” Moorlach said. “I think it’s too early to say that Citron has escaped that.”

During the campaign, Moorlach was accused by county officials of scaring jittery bond buyers, driving up the cost of Orange County’s borrowing.

Again, Moorlach defended his actions. He volunteered that he went to city officials in Costa Mesa after the June election and tried to convince them to pull out of the county pool. They refused.

“I was overly cautious (in the campaign). I was too conservative in my remarks. I had people tell me, ‘Make it (the investment pool) crash,’” Moorlach said. “I didn’t want to do that.”

“As far as rubbing Moorlach’s nose in what he said, I’m not interested in doing that,” said Citron, 69. “I’m not interested in creating another controversy.

“Sixty-one percent is not a landslide, but it’s certainly a strong election by the people of their faith in me. People just didn’t believe what (critics) were saying.”

My previous three LOOK BACKS can be seen at MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeowners Insurance Crisis — September 6, 2019, MOORLACH UPDATE — Hart, Handy and OPEBs — August 29, 2019, and MOORLACH UPDATE — Additional Pension Contributions — August 26, 2019.

17 New CA Laws Just Signed By Governor Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed more than a dozen bills into law this week. Read about each one here.

By Renee Schiavone, Patch Staff


https://patch.com/california/banning-beaumont/17-new-ca-laws-just-signed-governor-newsom

Governor Gavin Newsom this week signed more than a dozen bills into law, including one aimed at helping California homeowners who’ve faced unimaginable destruction, one aimed at helping youth find the resources they need when in a bad situation and another that’s supposed to help officials crack down on illegal gambling.

Senator Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, said he introduced Assembly Bill 178 with the goal of helping California fire victims trying to rebuild their homes. Starting in 2020, California law will require those who build in the state to install solar panels; Dahle said he wanted to help these fire victims by making them exempt from this requirement.

“Thousands of Californians who have tragically lost their home due to wildfires are now facing the sad reality that costs have risen due to mandates by the state. These mandates can add upwards of $15,000 to the cost of rebuilding a home,” said Dahle. “Losing a home in a catastrophic fire is traumatic enough and worrying about complying with this new mandate is added, unnecessary stress. This is a small exemption that will allow people to rebuild their home without this additional costly mandate which has nothing to do with structural safety.”

Gov. Newsom said he hopes the solar exemption “hastens” the rebuild process. The exemption is temporary, and ends in 2023.

“Many of our communities in California that have been devastated by catastrophic wildfires and floods, particularly the people of Paradise, are desperate to get their lives back on track and to rebuild their homes,” he said in his signing message.

Another new law, AB 1294, was introduced by Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, and is focused on gambling.

“This bill strengthens the ability of the California Department of Justice and other local law enforcement agencies to go after the bank accounts and assets of international gangs and organized criminals who are convicted of operating illegal gambling sites,” his office said in a news release.

Meanwhile, SB 316 is a less complex law. Introduced by Senator Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, will require California schools that issued student identification cards to have printed on them the telephone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Schools are already required to include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In addition to the above bills, Newsom took action on the following legislation (click on the link to read the full bill text):

· AB 178 by Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) – Energy: building standards: photovoltaic requirements. A signing message can be found here.

· AB 309 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) – Vehicles that appear to be used by law enforcement: ownership or operation by public historical society or museum.

· AB 419 by the Committee on Agriculture – Food and agriculture.

· AB 504 by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) – Voter registration: residency confirmation.

· AB 653 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) – State armories.

· AB 707 by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) – Santa Clara Valley Water District: contracts.

· AB 809 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) – Public postsecondary education: child development programs: priority enrollment: Title IX protection: pregnancy and parental status.

· AB 949 by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) – Unsafe used tires: installation.

· AB 1018 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) – Real estate appraisers.

· AB 1294 by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) – Criminal profiteering.

· AB 1515 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) – Planning and zoning: community plans: review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

· SB 316 by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) – Pupil and student safety: identification cards: domestic violence hotline telephone number.

· SB 400 by Senator Thomas Umberg (D-Santa Ana) – Reduction of greenhouse gases emissions: mobility options.

· SB 496 by Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) – Financial abuse of elder or dependent adults.

· SB 527 by Senator Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) – Local government: Williamson Act: cultivation of cannabis and hemp.

· SB 570 by Senator Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) – Insurance: low-cost automobile insurance program.

· SB 743 by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) – School facilities: design-build projects.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homeowners Insurance Crisis — September 6, 2019

As this first year of the 2019-2020 legislative session winds down, it is interesting to reflect on some of the intriguing topics. There were so many critical issues to address, with wildfires and electric utilities being high on the list.

Serving on the Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, Housing Committee, Insurance Committee and Budget and Fiscal Review Committee certainly kept me at the forefront. Add to this, the assignment on the newly created Senate Select Committee on the Governor’s 2019 Report: Wildfires and Climate Change–California’s Energy Future was the icing on the cake.

The culmination of the numerous hearings resulted in AB 1054 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 1054 and Investor-Owned Utilities — July 9, 2019). Sacramento has tried to address the utilities and wildfire victims. It put some funding in the budget for fire suppression efforts, but minimal funding on addressing the root cause of the electrical line causation of the conflagrations (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 And The Facts — November 19, 2018 and MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Epilogue — October 4, 2018).

What is left to resolve? The insurance industry’s reaction was to increase insurance rates, especially after these recent wildfires consumed their reserves, built over the years, to address such major disasters.

The California Globe provides a perspective on the next shoe to drop: the shocking increase of homeowners insurance costs and its impacts on personal budgets and housing values. For an assist on the piece below, WUI stands for Wildland Urban Interface. This means homes near urban centers, but in wildfire zones.

Three decades ago, California’s voters narrowly passed Proposition 103 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proposition_103). This initiative has provided more transparency in the insurance industry, but it may also have been detrimental in attracting more insurance providers to our state. This will only exacerbate the current frustrations of energy, utilities, housing, insurance, budgets, wildfires and climate change.

25th Anniversary Look Back

Although not directly related to the then-upcoming bankruptcy filing for Orange County, I continued to stay involved in the meetings of my city council after the election.

On September 7, 1994, the Daily Pilot covered a concern I addressed that could be the embryo of a theme that follows me to this day. The piece was titled "Costa Mesa police, firefighters to join state benefits program — Safety personnel were previously covered by city plan. Officials say move will save money." Save money? I don’t think so.

As the Finance & Pension Advisory Committee analyzes why its city, Costa Mesa, is in the worst fiscal shape in Orange County, maybe the vote to drop its independent plan to migrate to the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) 25 years ago may be a component of the current predicament (see MOORLACH UPDATE — State and OC Cities Finances — August 4, 2019 august 4, 2019 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy 130th Birthday, Orange County! — August 1, 2019).

Here are a couple of selected paragraphs:

Tom Lightvoet, an investment consultant to the city’s Retirement Committee, objected to the move, saying the city would actually lose money over the years.

Lightvoet said PERS has a deficit of $2.9 billion and that the system assumes investments will earn 8.75% annually. Such an elevated return estimate is unrealistic in this economy he said.

PERS earned only 2% last year and has no surplus to cover this drop, Lightvoet said.

Accountant and political activist John Moorlach, meanwhile, warned the council that going to PERS for police and fire employees would mean relinquishing "control" to the state. Moorlach pointed to problems with pension spiking in Huntington Beach as an example of how cities can lose control.

Why is CA Insurance Commish Ricardo Lara Quiet on Hundreds of Thousands of Homeowners Insurance Cancellations?

Insurance Commish toadies for insurance industry while real estate crisis could be looming

By Katy Grimes

https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/why-is-ca-insurance-commish-ricardo-lara-quiet-on-hundreds-of-thousands-of-homeowners-insurance-cancellations/

The number of California’s rural homeowners dropped by insurance companies is up to 350,000 in just four years, California Globe recently reported, but that was just through 2018. Since then, homeowners in Riverside and San Bernardino counties have experienced “a surge in insurance companies declining to renew policies, or hiking premiums, in areas with higher risk of wildfire, like Pine Cove in the San Bernardino National Forest, leaving homeowners with few options,” the Press Enterprise reported.

The only communication from California’s troubled Insurance Commissioner came August 20: “I have heard from many local communities about how not being able to obtain insurance can create a domino effect for the local economy, affecting home sales and property taxes,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a prepared statement on his website. “This data should be a wake-up call for state and local policymakers that without action to reduce the risk from extreme wildfires and preserve the insurance market we could see communities unraveling.”

There is no breakdown on the current rate of cancellations and non-renewals on the Insurance Commissioner website, other than for 2018. This needs to be immediately updated as thousands more homeowners lose their insurance.

Meanwhile, a real estate crisis could be looming because without the ability to properly insure the home, many homeowners say their homes are rendered worthless because they cannot sell them. All mortgage companies require real estate property owners to carry homeowners insurance.

However, the Insurance Commissioner website says, “new data does not measure the full impact of non-renewals of homeowner policies linked to the devastating 2018 wildfires, including the Camp, Carr and Woolsey/Hill fires.”

Why not? They’ve certainly had enough time to update since 2018.

Perhaps because “State Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, a former Democrat State Senator and Assemblyman, organized a reelection committee that began accepting tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from people with ties to companies he regulates,” California Globe recently reported. Following “revelations that Lara took oodles of money from the industry prior to making decisions in their favor, gave critics more ammunition to claim that he is an industry shill,” California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is under fire for his secretive speech to a convention of industry executives where he expressed support for revamping consumer protection laws in their favor.

Additionally, Politico reported, “Lara has charged taxpayers thousands of dollars since his January inauguration for renting a residence in Sacramento, state records show, in an unusual arrangement watchdogs say constitutes an ethical gray area at best — and at worst another political maelstrom for an official already under scrutiny.”

A 2018 report prepared by California Department of Insurance’s Availability and Affordability of Residential Property Insurance Task Force found:

“Since the Valley and Butte wildfires, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) has received increased complaints, evidence, and feedback from consumers, consumer groups, public officials, and other stakeholders that homeowners’ insurance coverage in the WUI is increasingly difficult to obtain and, if available, is unaffordable to many that need it.”

and

“Many of the currently proposed solutions are based on the expectation that the insurance industry will voluntarily agree to change some of its current business practices and how it uses certain decision-making tools.”

The 2018 report called for a legislative solution:

“The Legislature should create a framework within which insurers will, under certain conditions: (1) offer homeowners’ insurance in the WUI if the insured conducts specific wildfire mitigation, but also permit the insurer to avoid the requirement of offering homeowners’ insurance in the WUI if the insurer instead offers a “difference in conditions” policy or a “premises liability” policy; (2) offer a mitigation premium credit for those property owners that conduct proper mitigation; (3) obtain approval for wildfire-risk models used in rating or underwriting; (4) allow for an appeal process before an adverse decision is finalized; and (5) stabilize the rating structure in order to ensure that homeowners’ insurance rates and premiums are adequate, but not excessive, for the true wildfire risk.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom created a strike force that outlined three major options for handling utilities’ liability costs, but nothing dealing with insurance. The state appeared to be more concerned with its liability, rather than people burned out of their homes. Lawmakers appeared more interested in passing legislation to retrofit homes making for fire safety and prevention.

In July, Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) said in a Sacramento Bee article he was disappointed by what he saw as a limited focus on wildfires in recent budget negotiations. “Where’s the seriousness of it all?” Moorlach said. “I know the governor wants to get something done, but I’m not finding it. … The Democrats aren’t showing a real priority to dealing with wildfires.”

Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), told The Sacramento Bee wildfire issues would be “front and center” because “communities are being devastated,” while Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon cited the state’s housing crisis and wildfires as the two biggest problems lawmakers would focus on going into the legislative session.

Everyone in California is subject to new wildfire underwriting guidelines following the 2018 wildfires under “The Fireline Score.”

The assessment FireLine “is a score from 0-30, and it combines several different risk factors regarding a home, the satellite imagery around the home, and pinpoints it to the property address,” one insurance company explains.

There are three critical factors that affect the risk of wildfire loss:

1. Fuel—Grass, trees, or dense brush can feed a wildfire. FireLine calculates an average of fuels in a 3 radial distance within a mile of the dwelling.

2. Slope—Steeper slopes can increase the speed and intensity of wildfire. They also increase prices of rebuilding if necessary.

3. Access—Identifies whether a dwelling is located where firefighting equipment may have trouble negotiating, such as dead-end roads. FireLine calculates the risk from each of these factors, as well as provides hazard ratings for specific properties. FireLine also identifies properties located in Special Hazard Interface Areas—risks outside fuel areas but exposed to wind-borne embers and high heat from nearby fuels.

According to the Insurance Commissioner: If California residents cannot obtain insurance on the voluntary market, their only options are to find insurance coverage under the FAIR Plan or from surplus lines, often at much higher costs. When looking at the 10 counties with the most homes in high or very high-risk areas, there is a steady rise in new FAIR Plan policies growing 177% between 2015 and 2018. Nearly 57% of the new FAIR Plan policies written are now written in State Responsibility Areas up from 47% in 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of surplus lines policies in the State Responsibility Area increased by 49% (from 10,521 to 15,636).

The 10 counties with the most homes in high or very high-risk areas include Tuolumne, Trinity, Nevada, Mariposa, Plumas, Alpine, Calaveras, Sierra, Amador, and El Dorado. The five counties with the least homes at risk include Yolo, Merced, Sutter, Imperial, and Kings. The 10 counties are being compared to five counties so each set would have roughly the same number of housing units based on Census data. According to the California Department of Finance, in 2018, there were 248,958 housing units in counties with the most high-risk homes and 260,718 housing units in counties with the most low-risk homes.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Anaphylactic Shock — September 5, 2019

One of the more contentious bills this year has been SB 276, which would complicate the medical exemption process for vaccine-sensitive people (see MOORLACH UPDATE — House of Origin Deadline — May 23, 2019).

After being brought up for surprise debate and a vote on the Assembly Floor on Tuesday evening, yesterday morning it was the first bill the Senate heard because it circumvented normal Senate protocol and jumped to the front of the line. In my floor speech opposing the bill, I explained that I recently added anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock to my vocabulary. These are the medical terms for a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. It is why some people carry an EpiPen with them wherever they go.

We are warned in just about every pharmaceutical television ad to not use a promoted drug "if you’re allergic to" it, or to watch for "allergic reactions," and "serious side effects."

I am not opposed to vaccines. As a former Rotarian, I support vaccinations and helped in their campaign to eradicate polio from the planet. Conversely, I am sensitive to allergic reactions.

If an infant is allergic to a vaccine or one of its ingredients, would Sacramento really force the injection? Some toddlers never recover fully from anaphylactic shock. How could we possibly condemn children to live a developmentally disabled life? This is why so many sincere parents, many with more than one child, have been coming up to Sacramento to testify, march and meet with their legislators.

Due to these legitimate concerns, and because California’s Medical Board should be used to weed out the bad actors illegally selling medical exemptions, I voted against SB 276.

Sen. Pan Jamming Gov. Newsom on Vaccine Exemption Bill?

Why did legislative leaders bring SB 276 to vote in Assembly and Senate before Governor’s amendments added?

By Katy Grimes

https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/sen-pan-jamming-gov-newsom-on-vaccine-exemption-bill/

Not once did Sen. Pan ever acknowledge or address vaccine-injured children.

Is it civil discourse to force people to a lifetime of disability?

The question was posed by a Capitol staffer while Senate Bill 276, to eliminate most physicians vaccine exemptions, was being debated in the Senate Wednesday. It passed 28-11.

SB 276 by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), was debated in the Assembly Tuesday. It passed 47-17.

While the importance of civil discourse was discussed along with the merits of the bill, frustrated parents sat in the gallery of both houses of the Legislature. Some booed, some chanted. Floor leaders called for civility in the chambers.

Notably, when protesters are on the side of Democrats, lawmakers often clap and lead them in chants – in chambers.

The primary objection by parents to Senate Bill 276 – it disallows medical exemptions, even for families with previously vaccine-injured children.

Senate Bill 276 would eliminate almost all vaccine medical exemptions, allegedly to crack down on fraud, California Globe reported. “Under this bill, State bureaucrats — not physicians –would be in charge of deciding whether children may receive medical exemptions and thus whether they can attend school.”

Both Tuesday and Wednesday the bill was surprisingly brought to the floor for a vote ahead of amendments Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to add in to the bill. Lawmakers were caught off guard. While they did not break rules to do this, it is disingenuous, and clearly an attempt to jam the Governor. Many are watching to see who stands their ground on this volatile issue.

Recently, in a California Globe op ed, Attorney Mary Holland asked, “When a physician decides that a child is too medically fragile to receive a vaccine, but is not allowed to submit a medical exemption because it is not a listed CDC contraindication, and that child suffers a life-threatening reaction, such as multiple seizures or encephalitis (both listed on vaccine manufacturer inserts), is the doctor liable, or the state official, who denied the exemption?”

Her question was not answered either day in the California Legislature.

Tuesday, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) referred to “fake medical exemptions” when presenting SB 276. She said the bill is “based on science.”

In Wednesday’s Senate debate Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) also referred to science. “This is about science, and whether we believe it. We’ve seen it around climate change – there are people who deny science.” Wiener said, “this is unacceptable.”

While debating the “science,” and the collective health of the state, the unspoken “collateral damage” of the vaccine-injured children was a constant undercurrent. Not once did Sen. Pan ever acknowledge or address vaccine-injured children.

Tuesday in the Assembly, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), who was a co-sponsor of Pan’s SB 277, said SB 276 was an overreach, and wasn’t about the collective health of the state since the herd-immunity level is at 92 percent. “This is an issue of control now,” Nazarian said. With only 1,411 individuals claiming medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations since SB 277 was passed, Nazarian asked, “why aren’t we spending the money in going after that eight percent?” He also noted, “some o our vaccinations haven’t been updated in 52 years.”

Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) said SB 276 “is not the right solution. We should focus on the bad actor doctors who may be exploiting the exemptions.”

Each of the legislators who spoke in opposition to SB 276 said they believe in vaccines, and vaccinated their children.

“Sometimes vaccinations have serious complications,” Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake) said. “It’s rare but it does happen. Parent should be able to make the choice.”

Senator Jeff Stone (R-Temecula), a 30-year practicing pharmacist said, “Immunizations have saved millions of lives.” He noted as an author of Pan’s previous bill, SB 277, “we promised exemptions for children with medical issues.” Stone noted that side effects from vaccines are rare, “but when you see the injuries, they are major. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work.”

A simple solution for doctors abusing exemptions “is to lean on the Medical Board,” Stone said. He questioned why the Department of Health was being given the power to do this instead of the State Medical Board. “It’s an abrogation of responsibility. Now parents will have to appeal to a state bureaucracy and a California Department of Motor Vehicles type of process,” he said.

“Every patient is unique,” Stone said. “The number of exemptions amortized over all vaccinations given… we still have effective herd immunity.”

Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove brought up the more than 800 doctors offices contacted about medical exemptions.

“Parents say because of this bill, they are already running into doctors offices who won’t touch a valid vaccine exemption request,” California Globe previously reported. “In calling 882 California doctors to ask for a medical exemption for a child who suffered anaphylactic reaction after their 12-month shots, they were told no.”

“Unfortunately at our office we wouldn’t do that for you.”

“Our doctors do not write medical exemptions.”

“We have a strict rule here that all children are immunized without exception.”

Parents put together a Youtube video about this:.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) weighed in: “Scaring and limiting medical professionals who are trying to prevent anaphylaxis is, in my opinion, legislative malpractice.”

Sen. Pan doubled down in his close: “We all want freedom… without catching a dangerous disease.”

Many are now waiting for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s amendments, as well as the reaction by Sen. Richard Pan.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 County Per Capita UNPs — September 4, 2019

My rankings of California’s 58 counties last year have been modified for two counties (see MOORLACH UPDATE — San Francisco County #56/57 — March 20, 2018).

Modoc County has been traditionally late for every county ranking I’ve prepared over the last seven years. We were able to obtain the Unrestricted Net Deficit for Modoc for June 30, 2016, and its unfunded Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEBs) for the years ended June 30, 2017 and 2018 to come up with reasonable estimates.

Imperial County is a mystery. Last year we used their June 30, 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) number. Their June 30, 2017 CAFR reflected a positive Net Unrestricted Assets. It looks like there was a reclassification of what was considered restricted in 2017. Their position reversed for the year ended June 30, 2018. Add to that the OPEB liabilities of $268,150,000 and it had a dramatic drop in the rankings.

The first chart below provides the rankings of all 58 counties by the per capita Unrestricted Net Position (UNP) for the year ended June 30, 2018. The second chart compares the rankings between June 30, 2018 and 2017. The third chart lists and compares the UNPs in order, from largest to lowest, for 2018 and 2017.

The total combined Unrestricted Net Deficit for the 58 counties has grown by $13.5 billion, up by 32.5%, with LA County representing $10.4 billion (77%) of the increase. All the same, the county rankings have not moved dramatically when reviewing the UNPs (other than the anomaly of Imperial County), as can be seen in the third chart. But, the per capita rankings in the second chart saw some volatility for a few of the counties and it would be interesting to learn their individual stories.

County Rankings — Year Ended June 30, 2018

Rank County 2018 Population Estimate 2018 UNP/Cap
1 San Mateo 774,155 $969,478,000 $1,252
2 Alameda 1,660,202 $163,925,000 $99
3 San Benito 57,088 ($2,901,358) ($51)
4 Ventura 859,073 ($167,704,000) ($195)
5 Napa 141,294 ($45,421,748) ($321)
6 San Diego 3,337,456 ($1,250,068,000) ($375)
7 Tulare 475,834 ($193,115,000) ($406)
8 Monterey 443,281 ($180,147,335) ($406)
9 San Bernardino 2,174,938 ($887,566,000) ($408)
10 Stanislaus 555,624 ($308,359,785) ($555)
11 Lake 65,081 ($43,801,385) ($673)
12 Solano 439,793 ($316,265,304) ($719)
13 Fresno 1,007,229 ($735,368,000) ($730)
14 Kings 151,662 ($115,419,194) ($761)
15 San Luis Obispo 280,101 ($217,606,000) ($777)
16 Riverside 2,415,955 ($1,947,282,000) ($806)
17 Amador 38,094 ($30,960,943) ($813)
18 Contra Costa 1,149,363 ($939,047,000) ($817)
19 Calaveras 45,157 ($38,290,054) ($848)
20 Tehama 64,039 ($55,231,805) ($862)
21 Marin 263,886 ($244,489,974) ($926)
22 Yolo 221,270 ($206,494,891) ($933)
23 Placer 389,532 ($383,463,000) ($984)
24 Merced 279,977 ($285,353,575) ($1,019)
25 Orange 3,221,103 ($3,312,306,000) ($1,028)
26 Lassen 30,911 ($32,044,808) ($1,037)
27 San Joaquin 758,744 ($811,650,698) ($1,070)
28 Santa Clara 1,956,598 ($2,277,610,000) ($1,164)
29 Sutter 97,238 ($115,810,680) ($1,191)
30 Butte 227,621 ($279,061,376) ($1,226)
31 Santa Barbara 453,457 ($562,947,000) ($1,241)
32 Sonoma 503,332 ($649,958,000) ($1,291)
33 Nevada 99,155 ($130,832,826) ($1,319)
34 Shasta 178,271 ($250,319,261) ($1,404)
35 El Dorado 188,399 ($276,994,712) ($1,470)
36 Santa Cruz 276,864 ($425,382,137) ($1,536)
37 Humboldt 136,002 ($221,987,842) ($1,632)
38 Sacramento 1,529,501 ($2,531,677,000) ($1,655)
39 Plumas 19,773 ($34,330,857) ($1,736)
40 Modoc 9,612 ($17,378,222) ($1,808)
41 Kern 905,801 ($1,689,857,000) ($1,866)
42 Madera 158,894 ($314,570,478) ($1,980)
43 Mendocino 89,299 ($177,033,033) ($1,982)
44 Imperial 190,624 ($378,258,000) ($1,984)
45 Tuolumne 54,740 ($121,719,478) ($2,224)
46 Yuba 74,727 ($173,947,680) ($2,328)
47 Colusa 22,098 ($56,012,370) ($2,535)
48 Siskiyou 44,612 ($113,592,214) ($2,546)
49 Los Angeles 10,283,729 ($29,158,786,000) ($2,835)
50 Mono 13,822 ($40,825,597) ($2,954)
51 San Francisco 883,963 ($2,950,722,000) ($3,338)
52 Glenn 28,796 ($102,630,299) ($3,564)
53 Inyo 18,577 ($71,371,486) ($3,842)
54 Mariposa 18,129 ($80,099,278) ($4,418)
55 Del Norte 27,221 ($127,409,084) ($4,681)
56 Sierra 3,207 ($20,736,868) ($6,466)
57 Trinity 13,635 ($92,606,153) ($6,792)
58 Alpine 1,154 ($11,678,443) ($10,120)

UNP Per Capitas – YE June 30, 2018 vs June 30, 2017

Rank County UNP/Cap Rank County Per Capita Change
1 San Mateo $1,252 1 San Mateo $1,341 0
2 Alameda $99 2 Imperial $143 -42
3 San Benito ($51) 3 Alameda $70 1
4 Ventura ($195) 4 San Benito ($78) 1
5 Napa ($321) 5 Napa ($142) 0
6 San Diego ($375) 6 Ventura ($231) 2
7 Tulare ($406) 7 Tulare ($321) 0
8 Monterey ($406) 8 San Diego ($347) 2
9 San Bernardino ($408) 9 Monterey ($357) 1
10 Stanislaus ($555) 10 Marin ($385) -11
11 Lake ($673) 11 Stanislaus ($458) 1
12 Solano ($719) 12 San Bernardino ($465) 3
13 Fresno ($730) 13 Lake ($529) 2
14 Kings ($761) 14 Kings ($532) 0
15 San Luis Obispo ($777) 15 Placer ($555) -8
16 Riverside ($806) 16 Solano ($660) 4
17 Amador ($813) 17 Lassen ($687) -9
18 Contra Costa ($817) 18 Riverside ($709) 2
19 Calaveras ($848) 19 Tehama ($724) -1
20 Tehama ($862) 20 Amador ($749) 3
21 Marin ($926) 21 San Luis Obispo ($810) 6
22 Yolo ($933) 22 Santa Clara ($819) -6
23 Placer ($984) 23 Calaveras ($839) 4
24 Merced ($1,019) 24 Sonoma ($906) -8
25 Orange ($1,028) 25 Shasta ($937) -9
26 Lassen ($1,037) 26 Fresno ($943) 13
27 San Joaquin ($1,070) 27 Orange ($963) 2
28 Santa Clara ($1,164) 28 Butte ($999) -2
29 Sutter ($1,191) 29 San Joaquin ($1,045) 2
30 Butte ($1,226) 30 Nevada ($1,081) -3
31 Santa Barbara ($1,241) 31 Contra Costa ($1,093) 13
32 Sonoma ($1,291) 32 Merced ($1,114) 8
33 Nevada ($1,319) 33 Yolo ($1,145) 11
34 Shasta ($1,404) 34 Santa Barbara ($1,183) 3
35 El Dorado ($1,470) 35 Sutter ($1,216) 6
36 Santa Cruz ($1,536) 36 El Dorado ($1,219) 1
37 Humboldt ($1,632) 37 Alpine ($1,228) -21
38 Sacramento ($1,655) 38 Santa Cruz ($1,313) 2
39 Plumas ($1,736) 39 Madera ($1,414) -3
40 Modoc ($1,808) 40 Mono ($1,441) -10
41 Kern ($1,866) 41 Humboldt ($1,465) 4
42 Madera ($1,980) 42 Sacramento ($1,553) 4
43 Mendocino ($1,982) 43 Colusa ($1,561) -4
44 Imperial ($1,984) 44 Plumas ($1,582) 5
45 Tuolumne ($2,224) 45 Modoc ($1,774) 5
46 Yuba ($2,328) 46 Los Angeles ($1,829) -3
47 Colusa ($2,535) 47 Tuolumne ($1,830) 2
48 Siskiyou ($2,546) 48 Mendocino ($1,834) 5
49 Los Angeles ($2,835) 49 Siskiyou ($1,836) 1
50 Mono ($2,954) 50 Kern ($1,914) 9
51 San Francisco ($3,338) 51 Del Norte ($1,917) -4
52 Glenn ($3,564) 52 Mariposa ($2,046) -2
53 Inyo ($3,842) 53 Yuba ($2,053) 7
54 Mariposa ($4,418) 54 Inyo ($2,206) 1
55 Del Norte ($4,681) 55 Glenn ($2,294) 3
56 Sierra ($6,466) 56 San Francisco ($2,929) 5
57 Trinity ($6,792) 57 Trinity ($3,977) 0
58 Alpine ($10,120) 58 Sierra ($5,360) 2

UNP — Year Ended June 30, 2018 versus June 30,2017

Rank County 2018 Rank County 2017 Change
1 San Mateo $969,478,000 1 San Mateo $1,032,917,000 0
2 Alameda $163,925,000 2 Alameda $115,106,000 0
3 San Benito ($2,901,358) 3 Imperial $26,949,000 -39
4 Alpine ($11,678,443) 4 Alpine ($1,413,568) 0
5 Modoc ($17,378,222) 5 San Benito ($4,444,297) 2
6 Sierra ($20,736,868) 6 Modoc ($16,992,162) 1
7 Amador ($30,960,943) 7 Sierra ($17,190,950) 1
8 Lassen ($32,044,808) 8 Mono ($19,765,256) -3
9 Plumas ($34,330,857) 9 Napa ($20,269,000) -4
10 Calaveras ($38,290,054) 10 Lassen ($21,243,147) 2
11 Mono ($40,825,597) 11 Amador ($28,746,924) 4
12 Lake ($43,801,385) 12 Plumas ($31,353,531) 3
13 Napa ($45,421,748) 13 Lake ($34,337,436) 1
14 Tehama ($55,231,805) 14 Colusa ($34,403,557) -1
15 Colusa ($56,012,370) 15 Mariposa ($37,130,513) -2
16 Inyo ($71,371,486) 16 Calaveras ($37,912,384) 6
17 Mariposa ($80,099,278) 17 Inyo ($41,082,055) 1
18 Trinity ($92,606,153) 18 Tehama ($46,360,517) 4
19 Glenn ($102,630,299) 19 Del Norte ($51,993,373) -5
20 Siskiyou ($113,592,214) 20 Trinity ($54,192,327) 2
21 Kings ($115,419,194) 21 Glenn ($65,896,660) 2
22 Sutter ($115,810,680) 22 Kings ($79,544,253) 1
23 Tuolumne ($121,719,478) 23 Siskiyou ($82,058,669) 3
24 Del Norte ($127,409,084) 24 Tuolumne ($100,120,000) 1
25 Nevada ($130,832,826) 25 Marin ($101,488,000) -9
26 Ventura ($167,704,000) 26 Nevada ($106,803,720) 1
27 Yuba ($173,947,680) 27 Sutter ($117,888,830) 5
28 Mendocino ($177,033,033) 28 Tulare ($151,683,000) -2
29 Monterey ($180,147,335) 29 Yuba ($153,077,504) 2
30 Tulare ($193,115,000) 30 Monterey ($157,800,000) 1
31 Yolo ($206,494,891) 31 Mendocino ($163,486,575) 3
32 San Luis Obispo ($217,606,000) 32 Shasta ($167,268,000) -3
33 Humboldt ($221,987,842) 33 Ventura ($198,202,000) 7
34 Marin ($244,489,974) 34 Humboldt ($200,656,339) 1
35 Shasta ($250,319,261) 35 Placer ($212,323,000) -8
36 El Dorado ($276,994,712) 36 Madera ($221,281,000) -4
37 Butte ($279,061,376) 37 El Dorado ($225,513,596) 1
38 Merced ($285,353,575) 38 Butte ($226,249,000) 1
39 Stanislaus ($308,359,785) 39 San Luis Obispo ($226,970,000) 7
40 Madera ($314,570,478) 40 Yolo ($250,552,000) 9
41 Solano ($316,265,304) 41 Stanislaus ($250,775,999) 2
42 Imperial ($378,258,000) 42 Solano ($287,817,986) 1
43 Placer ($383,463,000) 43 Merced ($305,869,526) 5
44 Santa Cruz ($425,382,137) 44 Santa Cruz ($363,117,518) 0
45 Santa Barbara ($562,947,000) 45 Sonoma ($457,536,000) -1
46 Sonoma ($649,958,000) 46 Santa Barbara ($532,968,000) 1
47 Fresno ($735,368,000) 47 San Joaquin ($780,575,000) -1
48 San Joaquin ($811,650,698) 48 Fresno ($939,690,000) 1
49 San Bernardino ($887,566,000) 49 San Bernardino ($1,004,921,000) 0
50 Contra Costa ($939,047,000) 50 San Diego ($1,151,817,000) -1
51 San Diego ($1,250,068,000) 51 Contra Costa ($1,245,474,000) 1
52 Kern ($1,689,857,000) 52 Santa Clara ($1,586,614,000) -2
53 Riverside ($1,947,282,000) 53 Riverside ($1,689,770,000) 0
54 Santa Clara ($2,277,610,000) 54 Kern ($1,713,301,000) 2
55 Sacramento ($2,531,677,000) 55 Sacramento ($2,351,925,000) 0
56 San Francisco ($2,950,722,000) 56 San Francisco ($2,560,735,000) 0
57 Orange ($3,312,306,000) 57 Orange ($3,074,958,000) 0
58 Los Angeles ($29,158,786,000) 58 Los Angeles ($18,728,499,000) 0

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Hart, Handy and OPEBs — August 29, 2019

Protecting Parks

This year, I have been working with the City of Orange to protect Hart Park and Handy Park with Senate Bill 447 (see https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senate-bill-447-city-orange-park-leases).

Caltrans wants to get out of the land leasing business and wishes to sell certain holdings at fair market value. This becomes an issue when the land in question is in the middle of a public park. The OC Register addresses this conundrum over Hart and Handy Parks in the first piece below.

By coincidence, I met with the Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, Sen. Jim Beall, this morning to discuss the bill and various alternatives to accomplishing a successful and fair transition to the City of Orange.

Financial Woes

The second piece is from The Reporter and provides a look at one California city dealing with its unfunded retiree medical liabilities, the main part of its Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEBs). It may be a preview of what the Golden State’s other 481 cities will be dealing with in the months and years to come.

Fifty State Update

Speaking of OPEBs, the state of Illinois released its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report this morning. Last week I estimated an Unrestricted Net Deficit of $217.3 billion for the Land of Lincoln. The actual amount is $209.9 billion. This means California has dropped from 48th to 49th place in last week’s rankings based on the Unrestricted Net Positions, with Illinois now in 48th (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 State Per Capita UNPs — August 22, 2019).

Fox and Hounds was also kind enough to publish our report (see http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2019/08/cas-finances-now-213-billion-in-the-red-nj-il-worse/).

25th Anniversary Look Back

On August 30, 1994, in a “the band played on” scenario, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the issuance of Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs) for refinancing its supposed Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability, a liability due to the Orange County Employees Retirement System (OCERS).

The truth was, Robert Citron was running out of cash to make the collateral (margin) calls and OCERS put the cash proceeds into his Orange County Investment Pool (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 598 Moves On — May 16, 2019). One of the two issuances provided that the Investment Pool would purchase back any bonds the owners could not sell in the open market through a remarketing agent.

When the Investment Pool also filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, it could not honor this provision. The default on these particular POBs is what shattered Orange County’s great credit rating for years to follow. It was also a point of malfeasance, as the Board of Supervisors approved the POBs knowing that interest income was a significant component of the County’s annual budget. It was also revealed that there had been collateral calls during the prior months (thanks to my campaign).

The Securities and Exchange Commission conducted an investigation. Its January 26, 1996 report stated that the Orange County “Supervisors testified that they did not understand the investment strategy, the risks of that strategy or the potential risk of loss to the County Pools’ principal” (see https://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/3436761.txt). Consequently, I read everything as the County Treasurer-Tax Collector and Supervisor, and continue this discipline as a State Senator.

Orange is trying to save Handy and Hart parks before its leases with Caltrans expire

By JEONG PARK

https://www.ocregister.com/2019/08/29/orange-doesnt-own-all-of-handy-and-hart-parks-a-proposed-bill-would-make-keeping-that-land-more-affordable/

Two of Orange’s most popular parks, Hart and Handy, may get chipped away at in the next few years, and city officials are reaching out to the state leadership to intervene.

Caltrans for nearly 50 years has leased Orange 9 out of 41 acres in Hart Park and 6 out of 7 acres in Handy Park. But in 2017, the agency notified the city it will not renew the leases, which expire in 2023 for Hart Park and 2024 for Handy Park.

Caltrans’ guidelines would require the agency sell the property to the city at fair market value, Orange Community Services Director Bonnie Hagan said. That could be nearly $2.3 million, according to an appraisal commissioned by the city last year.

State Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican who represents most of Orange, has proposed a bill that would let Caltrans to transfer the land to Orange as long as the city agrees to keep it as parks in perpetuity. That could allow the city to buy their parks for much less – possibly even free.

The bill, which has been held over to the 2020 legislative year for more discussion, “would ensure those two crucial public parks continue to be recreational and open space forever,” Hagan said.

“There is no telling what may become of these parks if the city cannot guarantee their future,” Moorlach said in a committee hearing in April, describing the parks as popular to his colleagues.

The Orange City Council is spending $30,000 on lobbying for its passage.

Caltrans also owns the majority of Cascade Park off the 405 Freeway, and Westminster’s lease for the park is also up soon. Westminster Public Works Director Marwan Youssef said he contacted the city’s attorneys to have them get in touch with Orange officials to learn more about the proposed bill.

As the state agency built the 55 and 22 freeways in the 1950s and the 1960s, Caltrans came to own land in Orange for potential improvements. Orange signed a 50-year lease with Caltrans in the mid-1970s to use some of the property for park space.

At Hart Park, the Caltrans-owned property next to the 22 Freeway is used for a softball field, restrooms and the historic orange grove.

In Handy Park, the property next to the 55 Freeway is set aside for two softball fields, two sand volleyball courts and a snack bar building, among other amenities.

Caltrans officials alerted city leaders in 2017 the agency intends to decommission the lands once their leases expire. An agency spokeswoman, citing pending legislation, declined to comment.

Under agency guidelines, the city will be given the first opportunity to buy the property. If the city can buy the land at what Hagan called a “fair and reasonable price,” perhaps based on how much Caltrans paid in the first place, the city could save a lot of money while preserving its park spaces, she said.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be free,” she said. But, “it’s about ensuring those stay as parks in perpetuity and the taxpayers pay an appropriate amount.”

Vacaville City Council approves grand jury response, suggests looking into creation of citizens advisory committee

By NICK SESTANOVICH

https://www.thereporter.com/2019/08/28/vacaville-city-council-approves-grand-jury-response-suggests-looking-into-creation-of-citizens-advisory-committee/

The Vacaville City Council approved the city’s response to a Solano County Grand Jury report scrutinizing the city’s retirement benefits package, while suggesting the city look into establishing a citizens advisory committee.

On June 25, the grand jury authored a report warning that the city’s Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) package for city retirees was “not sustainable” and would lead to a loss of employees and services to citizens if not addressed.

Among the report’s recommendations were to establish a citizens oversight committee to study OPEB and make recommendations to the council, placing OPEB-related items on the council’s main agenda rather than the consent calendar and directing staff to include the fiscal impact of changes and methodology used in determining the financial impact of OPEB in simpler language.

The city partially disagreed with several of the report’s findings, including the implementation of a citizens oversight committee. The city noted that it was making “steady progress” to address the city’s unfunded liability and such a committee was “not necessary” at the moment.

The city’s full response can be viewed at vacaville.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=1631&meta_id=82748.

During the public comment portion, several speakers took issue with the city’s response. Resident Danny Wells delivered a presentation, highlighting the city’s financial status. He cited a report by Sen. John Moorlach which ranked Vacaville in the bottom 10 percent among California’s 482 cities and that Vacaville had only 23 percent of the asset reserves to cover an OPEB liability of $106 million, leaving an unfunded liability of $82 million. He also took issue with the City Council approving an 11 percent pay raise for firefighters.

“The benefits of this is $3.7 million that had not been previously budgeted for this purpose, using essentially all of Measure M funds for the firefighters contract alone in 2023,” he said.

Former Councilman Curtis Hunt saw the grand jury report as “a platform to make real change and come up with public policy.” He subsequently expressed three points: lifetime retired medical benefits for employees and their families was not sustainable, that 85 percent of Kaiser continued to expose the city to major fiscal risk and that memorandums of understanding between labor groups should not be placed on the consent calendar as they have in the past.

“The consent calendar is for items that require little or no discussion (and) are not controversial,” he said of the third point. “Yet, the last two council meetings…you have made efforts to approve a 9 percent increase to police salaries, an 11 percent increase to firefighters in the consent calendar.”

Hunt suggested more time was needed for the city to develop, short-term, long-term and medium strategies.

“Your dismissive response to the grand jury is really poking a bear,” he said. “The next six months, you’ll see whether you’ve poked a teddy bear or whether you’ve poked a grizzly bear.”

George Guynn, past president of the Solano County Taxpayers’ Association, suggested the council take the grand jury’s recommendations into consideration.

“They’re gonna help you get in a position where you don’t have a lot of people trying to peck on you all the time,” he said.

Several speakers suggested the city seriously consider the recommendation of a citizens oversight committee.

“Way too often, things happen in here that the community doesn’t know about until it’s actually happening and they can’t do anything about it,” resident Alice Reed said. “Just listening to people that were here tonight shows that there’s a lot of good, smart people out here that can help you solve this problem.”

Vice Mayor Dilenna Harris agreed with the report that all matters concerning OPEB or MOUs should be on the regular agenda rather than the consent calendar.

“I don’t want to discuss that more,” she said. “I want that to happen.”

Councilman Nolan Sullivan agreed that a citizens oversight committee should be established, containing at least one active retiree, employee and the city treasurer.

“We have a duty to educate and engage the public, and I think this is a great opportunity to do that,” he said.

Councilman Mitch Mashburn said that past councils had worked hard to eliminate OPEB.

“We have to do this through a negotiation process with the employees,” he said. “As Vice Mayor Harris pointed out, that ends up being an expensive proposition.”

Mashburn also corrected the citation of an 11 percent raise for firefighters.

“That’s in totality over four years,” he said. “If we were to look back to 2008 and in totality look at the raises that the employees gave up for the money that they gave back, and what they have gained since then. Our firefighters have gained about 1 percent a year, which doesn’t even keep up with inflation.”

Finally, Mashburn took issue with a citizen-based committee being termed an “oversight committee” because it suggested the committee would have some jurisdiction over OPEB policies.

“I would not be in support of the council surrendering any of its responsibilities or its authority with regard to governance of the policy in regard to OPEB,” he said.

However, Mashburn said he would support a citizens advisory committee to provide suggestions to the council.

“I’m always open to solutions,” he said.

Mayor Ron Rowlett asked City Manager Jeremy Craig if the council would have to go over what an advisory committee would entail. Craig said it could come back as an item at a later council meeting.

The council unanimously voted to accept the response with the suggestion of setting aside time to formulating the methodology of establishing a citizens advisory committee and stipulating that OPEB and MOU items always be placed on the main agenda.

In other business, the council unanimously approved an ordinance levying special taxes within the annexed property of the Farmstead at North Orchard property to pay for police and fire services.

The council’s next scheduled meeting on Sept. 10 has been canceled. The next regular meeting will be Sept. 24.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SCR 21 Honoring Michael Kreza — August 28, 2019

Resolutions are few and special. Senator Pat Bates and I joint-authored Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, which received a unanimous roll call during Monday afternoon’s Senate Floor Session. We have Assemblymembers Brough and Petrie-Norris as Principal Coauthors and Senators Chang and Umberg as Coauthors. It’s an OC bipartisan effort. So you can see, this effort is special in more ways than one.

The effort is to recognize Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza, who was killed while riding his bicycle last November by a driver being charged with driving under the influence and second-degree murder. He left behind his wife and three daughters. I have individuals who were close to me and my family who have recently died when struck by moving vehicles where the drivers made mental errors. It’s very traumatic and tragic and the pain lingers. I wish I could find a way to legislate smarter driving to protect innocent pedestrians and bicyclists. Consequently, my heart goes out to the Kreza family for their loss.

Donations can be made to the Kreza Family and the Costa Mesa Widows and Orphans Fund.

Here is the Resolution in full, followed by the pieces in MyNewsLA.com, Patch Newport Beach/Corona del Mar, the Daily Pilot and the OC Register.

WHEREAS, The untimely passing of Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Michael Kreza, at 44 years of age, on November 5, 2018, has brought a sense of immense sorrow and loss to people throughout California; and
WHEREAS, Fire Captain Michael Kreza was a distinguished California firefighter and much-loved family man, whose character, integrity, and singular commitment earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow firefighters, the members of the greater Costa Mesa community, and the countless other individuals whose lives he touched; and
WHEREAS, Michael Kreza, who was the son of a police officer, grew up in the City of Irvine and chose to follow in his father’s footsteps by engaging his passion in a career protecting the public, and enrolled in fire science classes at Santa Ana College after high school, which inaugurated his commitment to the firefighting profession as a Paid Call Firefighter with the Orange County Fire Authority; and
WHEREAS, Following his graduation from the Crafton Hills Fire Academy in 1993, Michael Kreza sought to further advance his emergency responder skills, and while working in the Hoag Hospital Irvine Emergency Department, he was accepted to the Paramedic Program at Saddleback College, from which he graduated in 1997; and
WHEREAS, Having subsequently gained experience as an Emergency Department Technician in Seattle, Washington, and as a paramedic in Las Vegas, Nevada, Michael Kreza returned to California, where he worked as a firefighter for the Big Bear Fire Department before being hired in 2000 by the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department; and
WHEREAS, Throughout his 18-year tenure with Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue, Fire Captain Kreza brought his tireless dedication and boundless zeal to the force through his participation as a wholly engaged member of the department’s close-knit firefighting community, within which he shared his experience and leadership by, among other things, serving as a member of the Tools and Equipment Committee, managing the charity fund, and participating in the Honor Guard; and
WHEREAS, As Michael Kreza rose to the rank of Fire Captain and took his well-merited position as an esteemed veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department, Fire Captain Kreza also served as an ever-inspiring role model, pursued his love of being an accomplished Ironman athlete, earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia Southern University, and continually derived joy from his role as a devoted husband to his wife, Shanna, and a loving father to his three daughters; and
WHEREAS, The people of California have a special and enduring respect for the valiant individuals who daily commit themselves to the often perilous duties performed by firefighters, and the exceptional respect Fire Captain Kreza earned among his fellow firefighters and within the City of Costa Mesa bears testament to the positive impact he had in his community and in the lives of his fellow firefighters by virtue of his estimable character, leadership, and sincere concern for others; and
WHEREAS, Fire Captain Michael Kreza exemplified all the best attributes of a professional firefighter, who was known to be the heart of his family, and who leaves to mourn his passing and celebrate his legacy his devoted wife, Shanna, his daughters, Kaylie, Layla, and Audrey, and the members of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department, all of whom had the good fortune to share his company during his all too brief time with them; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature expresses its deepest sympathy at the passing of Fire Captain Michael Kreza of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department and, by this resolution, memorializes him for his exemplary record of personal, professional, and civic achievements, as well as the love and devotion he shared with his family and friends by designating the portion of State Route 55 from 19th Street (PM 2.021) to MacArthur Boulevard (R6.985) in the County of Orange as the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway; and be it further
Resolved, That the Department of Transportation is requested to determine the cost of appropriate signs consistent with the signing requirements for the state highway system showing this special designation and, upon receiving donations from nonstate sources sufficient to cover the cost, to erect those signs; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the Director of Transportation and to the author for appropriate distribution.

Stretch of Costa Mesa Freeway to Be Named in Honor of Late Fire Captain

POSTED BY CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

https://mynewsla.com/orange-county/2019/08/26/stretch-of-freeway-to-be-designed-in-honor-of-late-fire-captain/

A stretch of the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway will be designated in honor of a Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department captain who was struck and killed while bicycling following unanimous approval of a resolution by the state Senate Monday.

The freeway will be known as the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway between 19th Street in Costa Mesa to MacArthur Boulevard on the border of Irvine and Santa Ana.

Because Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 was previously approved by the Assembly, it will soon become law as it does not need Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

“No words and no act can ever truly express the gratitude that we have for Capt. Mike Kreza’s life of service,” said Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, who co-authored the resolution with Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

“However, I do hope that the highway naming in his honor will remind people of his commitment to keep Orange County safe. May his memory continue to inspire others as we need more role models like him.”

Kreza, 44, was off duty and training for a triathlon when he was struck by a van driven by Stephen Taylor Scarpa about 8 a.m. Nov. 3 in Mission Viejo and died two days later, according to Carrie Braun of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Scarpa has been charged with second-degree murder and DUI. Sheriff’s investigators found several prescription medications in the van, Braun said.

Costa Mesa Fire Captain’s Memory Honored Through Freeway Renaming

In a unanimous decision, a stretch of the 55 Freeway will bear the name of CM Fire Capt. Mike Kreza, struck and killed in November of 2018.

By Ashley Ludwig, Patch Staff

HTTPS://PATCH.COM/CALIFORNIA/NEWPORTBEACH/COSTA-MESA-FIRE-CAPTAINS-MEMORY-HONORED-FREEWAY-RENAMING
COSTA MESA, CA — A Costa Mesa Fire and Rescue captain is having a stretch of the 55 Freeway named in his honor. The California state Senate approved the motion on Monday, made by Orange County state Senators John Moorlach and Patricia Bates.

The freeway will now be known as the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway between 19th Street in Costa Mesa to MacArthur Boulevard on the border of Irvine and Santa Ana.

The Senate Concurrent Resolution 21 was previously approved by the Assembly, and will soon become law, and does not require Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to take effect.

Kreza was struck while off duty and training for a triathlon in Mission Viejo in Nov. of 2018. He died two days later, surrounded by loved ones.

The van driver, Stephen Taylor Scarpa, was charged with second-degree murder and DUI. Sheriff’s investigators found several prescription medications in the van, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

Kreza was an 18-year veteran of the department.

“We are eternally grateful for the outpouring of support from our brothers and sisters from fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and the collective communities throughout the state,” the Costa Mesa Fire Department said at the time of his death.

“No words and no action can ever truly express the gratitude that we have for Capt. Mike Kreza’s life of service,” said Sen. Patricia Bates, R- Laguna Niguel, who co-authored the resolution with Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa. “However, I do hope that the highway naming in his honor will remind people of his commitment to keeping Orange County safe. May his memory continue to inspire others as we need more role models like him.”

Donations to the Kreza Family, and the Costa Mesa Widows and Orphans fund, are still being accepted.

Capt. Mike Kreza and family.Capt. Mike Kreza and family. (GoFundMe Photo)

Stretch of 55 Freeway will be named for late Costa Mesa fire captain

3065412_tn-dpt-me-kreza-memorial-A floral arrangement sits outside the November memorial service for Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza.
(File Photo)

By HILLARY DAVIS

https://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/story/2019-08-27/stretch-of-55-freeway-will-be-named-for-late-costa-mesa-fire-captain

A 5-mile stretch of the 55 Freeway running through Costa Mesa will be named in honor of a city fire captain who died last year after being struck by an allegedly impaired driver.

The newly designated “Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway” will run from 19th Street to MacArthur Boulevard, thanks to a resolution the state Senate and Assembly passed this month.

Kreza, 44, of Rancho Santa Margarita was based at Costa Mesa Fire Station 6 near South Coast Plaza and was an 18-year veteran of the Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Department. He died Nov. 5, two days after being hit by a van while riding his bicycle off-duty in Mission Viejo. He is survived by his wife and three young daughters.

“The people of California have a special and enduring respect for the valiant individuals who daily commit themselves to the often perilous duties performed by firefighters, and the exceptional respect Fire Captain Kreza earned among his fellow firefighters and within the city of Costa Mesa bears testament to the positive impact he had in his community and in the lives of his fellow firefighters by virtue of his estimable character, leadership and sincere concern for others,” the Legislature-approved resolution states.

State Sens. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) sponsored the resolution, which passed the Senate without dissent Monday and likewise cleared the Assembly last Thursday. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) was a co-sponsor.

The Costa Mesa City Council also unanimously backed the resolution in May.

The state Department of Transportation will use donated funds to erect signs showing the special designation. The cost is yet to be determined.

“Family, crew members and visitors to our city will always remember Mike Kreza,” the Costa Mesa Firefighters Assn. wrote in a Facebook post about the resolution.

The man accused of driving the van that struck Kreza — Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo — is charged with one count of murder. He previously pleaded not guilty.

Sheriff’s deputies and a forensic toxicologist testified at a court hearing last week that Scarpa showed signs of impairment right after the crash, and tests showed he had several substances in his blood, including methamphetamine, painkillers and sedatives.

Stretch of 55 will be named after
Costa Mesa firefighter, fatally
struck by motorist

After unanimous approval by the state Senate on Monday, Aug. 26, a stretch of the 55 Freeway will be dedicated to Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue Captain Michael Kreza who died in November 2018 after being struck by a suspected DUI driver. (File Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)By ALMA FAUSTO

A Costa Mesa fire captain who authorities say was fatally struck while riding his bicycle by a suspected DUI motorist is set to get a stretch of the 55 Freeway named in his honor.

The proposal, unanimously approved by the state Senate on Monday, Aug. 26, will name the freeway, from 19th Street to MacArthur Boulevard, the Costa Mesa Fire Captain Michael Kreza Memorial Highway. The Assembly had already approved it.

The 18-year veteran of Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue died Nov. 5, 2018, two days after getting hit while he was off-duty and cycling in Mission Viejo, training for his next Ironman competition.

Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, co-authored the resolution with Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

Kreza lived in Rancho Santa Margarita, a city in Bates’ district.

“There’s so much community interest and it’s hard, especially when we lose hometown heroes,” she said on Tuesday. “I reached out to his family and to the Costa Mesa fire department about doing something to honor him.”

That strip of freeway is close to Station No. 3, where Kreza was first stationed.

“It’s something to remember his career of service to this county,” Bates said.

Two signs, covered by donations, will be put up by Caltrans, perhaps sometime next year.

In a memorial Facebook page run by Kreza’s family, his wife, Shanna, wrote: “I envision when the girls are teenagers they will be able to drive that stretch and see their daddy’s sign every time they go to the beach.”

The 44-year-old’s hospitalization and subsequent death prompted an outpouring of support for his wife, three young daughters and colleagues and led to community events in his honor, including fundraisers and bike rides.

Kreza attended Irvine High School and Santa Ana College. He was a paramedic and firefighter in Seattle, Las Vegas and Big Bear before joining Costa Mesa Fire & Rescue.

The fire captain’s passion for triathlons and other athletic activities earned him the nickname “Ironman Mike.”

Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo is accused of driving the van while under the influence of a controlled substance. He faces a charge of murder. Scarpa told investigators that he was on prescribed medications.

“Captain Kreza served with distinction and it is right to memorialize him with this segment of the Costa Mesa Freeway,” Moorlach said in a statement. “I’m hoping it will also be a reminder that vehicle operators need to be respectful of bicyclists and pedestrians.”

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Additional Pension Contributions — August 26, 2019

Sometimes you see a glimmer of hope on the defined benefit pension plan front. When you see it, then you should praise it. No matter how small the gesture may be. This is what I did in The Sacramento Bee piece below on the possibility of one bargaining unit’s willingness to forgo a portion of a proposed pay increase and diverting it toward reducing the unfunded actuarial accrued liability for the pension plan.

25th Anniversary Look Back

I received an interesting response after making a simple request for records produced by the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Lanterman-Petris-Short Act — August 17, 2019). It is provided below.

You can understand why, after I was appointed to the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector position, I posted everything on the internet, providing the monthly reports on the department’s website.

The Look Back prior to my correspondence can be found at MOORLACH UPDATE — Sacramental Seal of Confession — August 16, 2019.

Subject: Request for Information

Dear Mr. Moorlach:

We are in receipt of your letter dated August 17, 1994 in which you have requested that we accept a deposit of monies from you and that we supply you with monthly reports of investment activity until the deposit is exhausted, and then notify you so that you may replenish the deposit.

Please be advised that this office does not accept the sort of deposit you wish to make. We have neither the extra accounting facilities nor staff time available to grant your request. As you can imagine, if we were to accept your deposit, we would also need to do the same for any other person who made such a request. Therefore, we are returning your check of $100.

We will retrieve the copies you have requested and will inform you of the costs. At that time we would be pleased to accept payment from you and deliver the copies.

Thank you for your inquiry. Please feel free to contact the undersigned should you have any questions.

Very truly yours,

Matthew R. Raabe
Assistant Treasurer

California state workers are giving up a raise. New contract reflects pension debt concerns

BY WES VENTEICHER

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article234328682.html

Its impact might be minor, but a state union’s offer to give up part of a raise to reduce pension debt is notable for what it might signal.

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen, which represents about 6,700 uniformed CHP officers, recently reached a four-year agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration that diverts about a half-percent of a 3.5 percent raise to go toward pension debt. The proposal still requires approval from union members and the Legislature.

The agreement is unique because it specifies the diverted money — about $25 million over four years — will go toward reducing the long-term unfunded debts for California Highway Patrol pensions.

The $378 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System as a whole has assets worth about 70 percent of what it owes to public workers and retirees.

Within the fund are many accounts for various public agencies with different funded ratios,including local governments. In a worst-case scenario, a cash-strapped public agency could stop paying its pension bills, triggering a reduction in benefit payments to retirees from CalPERS.

The patrol plan within the California Public Employees’ Retirement System has about 64 percent of what it would need to pay all its current and future obligations, leaving it with a $4.8 billion gap, or unfunded liability.

“Our association does things a little bit different in terms of being very blunt with our members and feeling like, with the unfunded liability, we have to be owners of that along with the employer,” said Jon Hamm, former CEO of CHP union. Hamm helped current CEO Carrie Lane negotiate the new contract.

While workers and their state employers typically split the “normal cost” of retirement benefits, keeping them funded at current levels, the state generally shoulders the unfunded liability on its own by sending more money from its operating accounts to CalPERS.

In addition to setting aside money from officers for the unfunded liability, the proposed CHP contract specifies that the state will contribute about $343 million from two different funds toward the patrol plan’s unfunded liability.

PAY NOW, OR PAY MORE LATER

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, suggested other unions could follow in officers’ footsteps.

“It’s got to start and it’s got to gradually go in this direction,” said Moorlach, a member of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

Moorlach said that absent a change to the California Rule, the legal precedent prevents public employers from reducing future benefits for any current worker, the state has few tools to reduce pension liabilities.

“You either start doing it now or you do it later with massive pay cuts,” he said, referring to a recession scenario.

The CHP pay structure is also unique in that officers receive automatic salary increases each year based on a salary survey of peace officers in five local law enforcement department in the Bay Area and Southern California.

The rest of the state’s unions must bargain for annual raises, which are identified in each new contract. Since workers in those unions don’t receive automatic raises like the CHP officers, it wouldn’t make as much sense for their contracts to identify pension-related concessions; they would be baked into the negotiations and the final raises reflected in the contracts.

“A concession we rarely if ever make is saying, ‘members will receive less than what they’re promised,” said Steve Smith, spokesman for the California Labor Federation.

“But there have been changes on contribution side,” he said, referring to unions increasing their share of pensions’ normal costs. “Our goal is to make sure these funds are healthy and sustainable for the future. There’s a shared responsibility we all have — workers, unions and employers, to make sure that happens.”

NEWSOM’S PENSION BUDGET

The California Highway Patrol Member Retirement plan is in the worst financial shape among five state employee retirement funds administered by CalPERS.

The state pays about 59 cents toward retirement benefits to the fund for every dollar it spends on patrol officers’ salaries.

The fund that is in the next-worst shape is for state firefighters and peace officers, including correctional officers. The state this year will pay about 47 cents for every dollar it spends on those workers’ salaries, and the plan is about 68 percent funded.

For safety workers, the state contribution is 22 cents on the salary dollar; for industrial workers it’s 21 cents; and for the fund for miscellaneous workers, it’s about 31 cents. Those funds are 70 percent to about 78 percent funded.

Newsom’s budget for the year included about $7.8 billion in optional payments to CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to reduce the burdenof unfunded pension liabilities on state and school employers. The $3 billion CalPERS portion will be spread among the five state funds.

So far, other contracts the Newsom administration has reached with other unions haven’t included specific provisions designating payments to unfunded liabilities. Nor has the state’s estimated $21 billion budget surplus resulted in raises outside the bounds of past increases.

The agreements Newsom’s bargaining team has reached are in accord with his past, including his support, as mayor of San Francisco, for a 2010 initiative that led to city employees paying more money to fund their retirements.

He was a member of the University of California Board of Regents when it in 2016 created an alternate retirement program that lets new workers choose a 401(k) style plan instead of a pension. Unions last year fought and killed a proposal that would have created a similar option for state workers.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — 2018 State Per Capita UNPs — August 22, 2019

Drum roll, please. It is time for my annual State Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) Ranking Update.

I have been providing this report on an annual basis in my public speeches. Last year I included the per capita listing in my UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 State Per Capita UNPs — April 2, 2018). Because five states were late in completing and releasing their June 30, 2017 CAFRs, I used their June 30, 2016 CAFRs to prepare the ranking.

A year later, these five states have since released their June 30, 2017 CAFRs, allowing me to update the 2017 rankings in the listing provided in the first chart below.

What changed in the 2017 rankings? Nevada moved up from 17th place to 14th; Indiana moved up one position; Alabama and New Jersey retained their rankings; and New Mexico dropped 22 positions.

The year ended June 30, 2018 is much different. For this fiscal year, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) requires that Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEBs), like unfunded retiree medical, be reported in the liability section of the balance sheet. Consequently, I decided to wait until all of the CAFRs were issued.

It’s nearly September, some 14 months after the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year. However, the state of Illinois still has not released its CAFR for the year ended June 30, 2018. All the same, it’s time to project what the CAFR for Illinois may look like. Based on the other 49 states, the trends are easy to see. The result is so astonishing, it’s possibly the reason Illinois is holding back its release.

I have taken Illinois’ June 30, 2017 Unrestricted Net Deficit and added the published amount for this state’s unfunded retiree medical, reportedly $72.6 billion, and reduced it by the $16,484,893,000 of OPEBs reported on last year’s CAFR. This arrives at an estimated Unrestricted Net Position of a negative $217,354,522,000. This makes it the largest in the nation and is based on a reasonable and conservative estimate.

The second chart below is the ranking for all 50 states for the year ended June 30, 2018 (or in that range for states with later year ends).

What are the big takeaways?

1. California is still in the bottom 10 states. But, there is good news. The Golden State moved up one position to 41st place. It has the states of Delaware (which dropped 4 positions) and Vermont (which dropped 3 positions) to thank for that, as the state of Rhode Island moved up three rankings to 40th place. So, our state is still moving up, while standing still, even though its per capita jumped up by $1,106 per resident! That’s more than a 25 percent increase. For contrast purposes, half the states have an overall per capita lower than the one year increase California just incurred!

2. Preeminent “no personal income tax” states, like Texas, Florida and Nevada made significant drops in the rankings, by 17, 6 and 5, respectively.

3. The top 12 states remained in this top percentile.

4. The state of Montana continues its rise, up 10 positions.

I’m also providing a bonus third chart. It shows the Unrestricted Net Positions, in order, from largest to smallest, for June 30, 2018 and June 30, 2017 (or similar year end). Here are some observations:

1. California’s Unrestricted Net Deficit grew by nearly $44 billion!

2. However, Illinois and New Jersey bumped California out of 50th place!

3. The increase to the overall combined net deficit of all 50 states is $336 billion! A dramatic increase of 38 percent, thanks mostly to adding the Other Post Employment Benefits to the balance sheets!

4. The state of North Carolina’s total liabilities rose by more than $6 billion, thus moving the state down 24 positions.

5. The combined four bottom states represent Unrestricted Net Deficits totaling roughly three-quarters of a trillion dollars! This is 62 percent of the sum of the Unrestricted Net Positions of all 50 states.

The long-term neglect by GASB of not requiring the reporting of unfunded promises in full until now has had a massive impact on the balance sheets of municipalities and this year’s state audited financial statements prove it.

Future generations will be facing heavy financial burdens and it behooves current state elected leaders and legislators to begin the difficult task of addressing these liabilities as quickly as possible. Why? Because the next recession will be even more difficult on state budgets than downturns in previous years.

June 30, 2017 Rankings (Revised)

Rank State Population UNP Per Capita
1 Alaska         739,795 $14,558,125,000 $19,679
2 North Dakota         755,393 $5,989,501,438 $7,929
3 Wyoming         579,315 $4,518,975,575 $7,801
4 Idaho     1,716,943 $1,146,468,000 $668
5 Tennessee     6,715,984 $2,736,079,000 $407
6 Oklahoma     3,930,864 $1,484,206,000 $378
7 South Dakota         869,666 $267,296,000 $307
8 Nebraska     1,920,076 $550,525,000 $287
9 Utah     3,101,833 $819,880,000 $264
10 North Carolina   10,273,419 $1,822,821,000 $177
11 Iowa     3,145,711 ($999,603,000) ($318)
12 Washington     7,405,743 ($3,376,575,000) ($456)
13 Georgia   10,429,379 ($5,210,957,000) ($500)
14 Nevada     2,998,039 ($1,580,030,000) ($527)
15 Florida   20,984,400 ($12,401,193,000) ($591)
16 Oregon     4,142,776 ($2,482,259,000) ($599)
17 Virginia     8,470,020 ($5,344,284,000) ($631)
18 South Carolina     5,024,369 ($3,497,642,000) ($696)
19 Arkansas     3,004,279 ($2,160,882,000) ($719)
20 Arizona     7,016,270 ($5,341,848,000) ($761)
21 Indiana     6,666,818 ($5,319,406,000) ($798)
22 Texas   28,304,596 ($25,170,339,000) ($889)
23 Minnesota     5,576,606 ($5,029,153,000) ($902)
24 Ohio   11,658,609 ($10,571,925,000) ($907)
25 Montana     1,050,493 ($971,795,000) ($925)
26 Missouri     6,113,532 ($5,787,207,000) ($947)
27 Michigan     9,962,311 ($9,848,197,000) ($989)
28 Kansas     2,913,123 ($3,205,914,000) ($1,101)
29 New Hampshire     1,342,795 ($1,683,141,000) ($1,253)
30 Maine     1,335,907 ($1,885,023,000) ($1,411)
31 Wisconsin     5,795,483 ($8,361,432,000) ($1,443)
32 Colorado     5,607,154 ($8,359,538,000) ($1,491)
33 New Mexico     2,088,070 ($3,311,311,000) ($1,586)
34 Pennsylvania   12,805,537 ($21,275,848,000) ($1,661)
35 Alabama     4,874,747 ($8,608,527,000) ($1,766)
36 Mississippi     2,984,100 ($6,058,425,000) ($2,030)
37 New York   19,849,399 ($45,599,000,000) ($2,297)
38 West Virginia     1,815,857 ($4,455,964,000) ($2,454)
39 Louisiana     4,684,333 ($11,949,852,000) ($2,551)
40 Vermont         623,657 ($2,263,168,022) ($3,629)
41 Delaware         961,939 ($3,622,572,000) ($3,766)
42 California   39,536,653 ($169,499,683,000) ($4,287)
43 Rhode Island     1,059,639 ($4,581,514,000) ($4,324)
44 Maryland     6,052,177 ($27,010,946,000) ($4,463)
45 Hawaii     1,427,538 ($7,996,567,000) ($5,602)
46 Kentucky     4,454,189 ($40,157,358,000) ($9,016)
47 Massachusetts     6,859,819 ($63,992,915,000) ($9,329)
48 Illinois   12,802,023 ($161,239,415,000) ($12,595)
49 Connecticut     3,588,184 ($52,826,131,000) ($14,722)
50 New Jersey     9,005,644 ($148,863,714,435) ($16,530)

June 30, 2018 Rankings

Rank State Population 2018 UNP Per Cap Change
1 Alaska        737,438 $17,387,310,000 $23,578 0
2 North Dakota        760,077 $7,172,275,944 $9,436 0
3 Wyoming        577,737 $4,237,698,833 $7,335 0
4 Idaho     1,754,208 $1,256,840,000 $716 0
5 Oklahoma     3,943,079 $1,853,248,000 $470 1
6 Tennessee     6,770,010 $2,704,085,000 $399 -1
7 Utah     3,161,105 $1,249,827,000 $395 2
8 South Dakota        882,235 $283,343,000 $321 -1
9 Nebraska     1,929,268 $503,722,000 $261 -1
10 Iowa     3,156,145 ($1,013,268,000) ($321) 1
11 Washington     7,535,591 ($4,163,206,000) ($552) 1
12 North Carolina  10,383,620 ($5,884,784,000) ($567) -2
13 Oregon     4,190,713 ($2,466,140,000) ($588) 3
14 Virginia     8,517,685 ($5,115,028,000) ($601) 3
15 Montana     1,062,305 ($642,952,000) ($605) 10
16 South Carolina     5,084,127 ($3,578,770,000) ($704) 2
17 Indiana     6,691,878 ($5,062,064,000) ($756) 4
18 Arizona     7,171,646 ($5,522,793,000) ($770) 2
19 Nevada     3,034,392 ($2,448,744,000) ($807) -5
20 Georgia  10,519,475 ($8,506,350,000) ($809) -7
21 Florida  21,299,325 ($17,686,725,000) ($830) -6
22 Kansas     2,911,505 ($2,617,412,000) ($899) 6
23 Minnesota     5,611,179 ($5,629,152,000) ($1,003) 0
24 Arkansas     3,013,825 ($3,115,348,000) ($1,034) -5
25 Ohio  11,689,442 ($12,787,140,000) ($1,094) -1
26 Colorado     5,695,564 ($7,251,155,000) ($1,273) 6
27 Missouri     6,126,452 ($7,922,530,000) ($1,293) -1
28 Wisconsin     5,813,568 ($8,542,138,000) ($1,469) 3
29 Michigan     9,995,915 ($14,946,883,000) ($1,495) -2
30 Mississippi     2,986,530 ($5,845,872,000) ($1,957) 6
31 Alabama     4,887,871 ($9,597,426,000) ($1,964) 4
32 New Mexico     2,095,428 ($4,690,920,000) ($2,239) 1
33 West Virginia     1,805,832 ($4,119,293,000) ($2,281) 5
34 New York  19,542,209 ($45,231,000,000) ($2,315) 3
35 New Hampshire     1,356,458 ($3,221,260,000) ($2,375) -6
36 Maine     1,338,404 ($3,491,939,000) ($2,609) -6
37 Pennsylvania  12,807,060 ($42,892,246,000) ($3,349) -3
38 Louisiana     4,659,978 ($16,052,435,000) ($3,445) 1
39 Texas  28,701,845 ($104,638,813,000) ($3,646) -17
40 Rhode Island     1,057,315 ($4,702,373,000) ($4,447) 3
41 California  39,557,045 ($213,316,033,000) ($5,393) 1
42 Maryland     6,042,718 ($34,404,356,000) ($5,694) 2
43 Vermont        626,299 ($3,831,618,339) ($6,118) -3
44 Hawaii     1,420,491 ($11,381,725,000) ($8,013) 1
45 Delaware        967,171 ($8,475,290,000) ($8,763) -4
46 Kentucky     4,468,402 ($42,257,250,000) ($9,457) 0
47 Massachusetts     6,902,149 ($74,254,002,000) ($10,758) 0
48 Illinois  12,741,080 ($217,354,522,000) ($17,059) 0
49 Connecticut     3,572,665 ($61,949,017,000) ($17,340) 0
50 New Jersey     8,908,520 ($214,093,149,142) ($24,032) 0

Unrestricted Net Positions — June 30, 2018 vs 2017

Rank State 2018 UNP State 2017 UNP Change
1 Alaska $17,387,310,000 Alaska $14,558,125,000 0
2 North Dakota $7,172,275,944 North Dakota $5,989,501,438 0
3 Wyoming $4,237,698,833 Wyoming $4,518,975,575 0
4 Tennessee $2,704,085,000 Tennessee $2,736,079,000 0
5 Oklahoma $1,853,248,000 North Carolina $1,822,821,000 -24
6 Idaho $1,256,840,000 Oklahoma $1,484,206,000 1
7 Utah $1,249,827,000 Idaho $1,146,468,000 1
8 Nebraska $503,722,000 Utah $819,880,000 1
9 South Dakota $283,343,000 Nebraska $550,525,000 1
10 Montana ($642,952,000) South Dakota $267,296,000 1
11 Iowa ($1,013,268,000) Montana ($971,795,000) 1
12 Nevada ($2,448,744,000) Iowa ($999,603,000) 1
13 Oregon ($2,466,140,000) Nevada ($1,580,030,000) 1
14 Kansas ($2,617,412,000) New Hampshire ($1,683,141,000) -2
15 Arkansas ($3,115,348,000) Maine ($1,885,023,000) -2
16 New Hampshire ($3,221,260,000) Arkansas ($2,160,882,000) 1
17 Maine ($3,491,939,000) Vermont ($2,263,168,022) -2
18 South Carolina ($3,578,770,000) Oregon ($2,482,259,000) 5
19 Vermont ($3,831,618,339) Kansas ($3,205,914,000) 5
20 West Virginia ($4,119,293,000) New Mexico ($3,311,311,000) -2
21 Washington ($4,163,206,000) Washington ($3,376,575,000) 0
22 New Mexico ($4,690,920,000) South Carolina ($3,497,642,000) 4
23 Rhode Island ($4,702,373,000) Delaware ($3,622,572,000) -9
24 Indiana ($5,062,064,000) West Virginia ($4,455,964,000) 4
25 Virginia ($5,115,028,000) Rhode Island ($4,581,514,000) 2
26 Arizona ($5,522,793,000) Minnesota ($5,029,153,000) -1
27 Minnesota ($5,629,152,000) Georgia ($5,210,957,000) -6
28 Mississippi ($5,845,872,000) Indiana ($5,319,406,000) 4
29 North Carolina ($5,884,784,000) Arizona ($5,341,848,000) 3
30 Colorado ($7,251,155,000) Virginia ($5,344,284,000) 5
31 Missouri ($7,922,530,000) Missouri ($5,787,207,000) 0
32 Delaware ($8,475,290,000) Mississippi ($6,058,425,000) 4
33 Georgia ($8,506,350,000) Hawaii ($7,996,567,000) -3
34 Wisconsin ($8,542,138,000) Colorado ($8,359,538,000) 4
35 Alabama ($9,597,426,000) Wisconsin ($8,361,432,000) 1
36 Hawaii ($11,381,725,000) Alabama ($8,608,527,000) 1
37 Ohio ($12,787,140,000) Michigan ($9,848,197,000) -1
38 Michigan ($14,946,883,000) Ohio ($10,571,925,000) 1
39 Louisiana ($16,052,435,000) Louisiana ($11,949,852,000) 0
40 Florida ($17,686,725,000) Florida ($12,401,193,000) 0
41 Maryland ($34,404,356,000) Pennsylvania ($21,275,848,000) -2
42 Kentucky ($42,257,250,000) Texas ($25,170,339,000) -5
43 Pennsylvania ($42,892,246,000) Maryland ($27,010,946,000) 2
44 New York ($45,231,000,000) Kentucky ($40,157,358,000) 2
45 Connecticut ($61,949,017,000) New York ($45,599,000,000) 1
46 Massachusetts ($74,254,002,000) Connecticut ($52,826,131,000) 1
47 Texas ($104,638,813,000) Massachusetts ($63,992,915,000) 1
48 California ($213,316,033,000) New Jersey ($148,863,714,435) -1
49 New Jersey ($214,093,149,142) Illinois ($161,239,415,000) -1
50 Illinois ($217,354,522,000) California ($169,499,683,000) 2
  Totals ($1,214,054,771,704) ($878,007,376,444)

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Lanterman-Petris-Short Act — August 17, 2019

It seems like a rare day when a righteous lawsuit prevails. But, it does happen. And more frequently of late in Sacramento. Unfortunately, the taxpayers are left with the legal costs for the inappropriate stances taken by our Governors and their supermajority legislators.

Last year I spoke and voted against AB 1829 in the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Dubious Budget Trailer Bill — September 17, 2018). Redirecting lawsuit proceeds from impacted constituents to Sacramento was unethical and a legislative attempt to legitimize the action was a sad sight to behold. No wonder this bill ended up being held back at the end of last year’s Session.

What do you do when the good guys win? You celebrate with them. The Asian Journal shares the details in the first piece below.

Having been involved with homelessness issues for most of my career, the learning process in this area never stops. This year my staff has taken a deep dive into the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanterman%E2%80%93Petris%E2%80%93Short_Act). We have concluded that there is room for improvement and maybe even an entire new review of this half-century-old landmark legislative effort.

To share a little about the analysis we have been pursuing, I submitted a piece to Inside Sacramento to stimulate dialogue on the inability to provide better involuntary assistance for mentally ill homeless individuals. Doing so would get them on the proper course and help them mainstream into society. It is the second piece below.

25th Anniversary Look Back

On August 17th, 1994, I wrote Mr. Robert L. “Bob” Citron a letter. Some issues I just can’t seem to leave alone. I also stayed true to my overriding concern about marking to market (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Marking to Market — July 12, 2019). You can also see where my infatuation with Comprehensive Annual Financial Statements started.

Dear Mr. Citron:

Enclosed please find a check for $100 that I would like you to keep on deposit. It is my request that you please provide me with a copy of the Orange County Investment Pool’s Money Max report for each month, beginning with the month ended June 30, 1994, on a monthly basis.

For each month ended June 30, I would like a copy of the mark-to-market report that you have submitted to the outside auditors for their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report fair market value disclosure requirements.

Please notify me of the costs for photocopying, mailing and postage and apply it against this deposit. I will replenish my deposit in the future when the monthly mailings causes the balance to approach zero.

As in the past, I am fully aware of the California Freedom of Information Act’s ten-day period.

Very truly yours,

John M. W. Moorlach

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National Asian group celebrates housing settlement victory at California capitol 

by ASIAN JOURNAL PRESS

HTTPS://WWW.ASIANJOURNAL.COM/USA/CALIFORNIA/NATIONAL-ASIAN-GROUP-CELEBRATES-HOUSING-SETTLEMENT-VICTORY-AT-CALIFORNIA-CAPITOL%E2%80%AF/

National advocacy organizations that sought the return of $331 million to a fund for struggling homeowners attended a victory rally in Sacramento on Wednesday, August 14.

The National Asian American Coalition and the National Diversity Coalition, which led the lawsuit against then-California Governor Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats who diverted the funds for debt repayment, recently won suits to have the money returned to its original intent.

Several members of the Republican State Caucus from the Assembly and the Senate attended the press conference and gave brief remarks, including Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, Assemblymember Tom Lackey, Assemblymember Jim Patterson, AssemblymemberJay Obernolte, and Assemblymember Devon Mathis; and Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove, Senator John Moorlach, Senator Patricia Bates and Senator Ling Ling Chang.

The California Supreme Court upheld two lower court rulings which directed the State of California to return the funds to their original intent. In July, legislative Republicans delivered a letter to the current governor requesting him to outline a plan to repay the funds.

Current state Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month announced that he would return the funds to the rightful fund.

As previously reported by the Asian Journal, the State of California received $410 million in a 2012 settlement with the five largest mortgage services in the country: Ally, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. After the national mortgage crisis, these companies were charged with multiple federal violations and agreed to pay more than $20 billion to affected homeowners.

The companies also made a separate payment of $2.5 billion to states to be used for a mortgage fund as a resource for homeowners and renters, with California receiving $410 million. However, $331 million of what the state received was illegally diverted to pay off state debts.

Led by executive director NAAC/NDC president and CEO Faith Bautista, Robert Gnaizda, NDC General Counsel Steven Sugarman, pastors from different churches, and members of the NAAC/NDC, the organizers called on Newsom to consult with HUD-approved agencies and homeowners regarding the disbursement and distribution of the funds, and to follow through on his promise to assist distressed homeowners in the state.

Officials from the NAAC and NDC were also scheduled to hold meetings with state officials as well as Democrats and Republicans from both the Assembly and the Senate to present their proposals to strategically and effectively use the funds to help distressed homeowners in California.

Bautista said, “I am deeply grateful for the leadership of the Senate Republican Caucus and their advocacy for the past several years. Senate Republicans continue to press both former Governor Brown and Governor Newsom to do the right thing and repay the funds. This is a victory for all Californians.”

“The $331 million was only intended to help homeowners abused by lenders during the mortgage and foreclosure crisis, not to pay down the state debt. Senate Republicans are committed to ensuring the original terms of the mortgage settlement are met and the State of California is in compliance with the court ruling,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

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‘Not Humane’

WHY CAN’T STATE HELP MENTALLY ILL

HOMELESS?

By John M.W. Moorlach

https://insidesacramento.com/john-moorlach-homelessness/

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The homelessness problem keeps getting worse.

A survey released June 26 found Sacramento County’s homeless count jumped 19 percent the past two years, to an estimated 5,570. A study released three weeks earlier found Los Angeles County’s homeless population rose 12 percent in the past year, to almost 59,000—despite massive new spending to combat the crisis.

California is home to almost 25 percent of the nation’s homeless population, yet makes up only 12 percent of the total population.

Obviously, California’s homeless need more housing. That’s why in 2018 I co-authored Senate Bill 1206, the No Place Like Home Act, with then-Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

The bill resulted in Proposition 2, last November’s successful ballot measure. It provided $2 billion in funding for housing mentally ill homeless people.

But housing is just a part of the answer. Another major problem is mental illness, which drives many homeless people to live on the street. Why are they allowed to stay there?

The problem stems from civil commitment reforms created in the late 1960s that made it too difficult to care for individuals with serious mental illnesses if they refused treatment. As a result, many institutions that involuntarily housed mentally ill people were closed.

Reforms began with the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, written as a reaction to abuses occurring at the time. The LPS Act changed our civil commitment process in California. The result? Mentally ill individuals migrated to the streets, then often to county jails. Then and now, the outcome is not humane.

In April, Dr. Drew Pinsky, a noted psychiatrist with many years of clinical practice, explained the situation to me on his radio show.

“Psychiatric symptoms are given privileged positions in the law,” he said. “Not just the pathology, but the actual symptoms themselves are being privileged over the well-being of the individual displaying those symptoms, the safety of that individual, our ability to render care to them and the safety and sanitation of the surrounding community.”

Basically, our society has decided that someone shouting aimlessly on the street and eating out of garbage cans is not cause to treat him or her involuntarily for mental health issues.

I was on Pinsky’s show to advance SB 640, which I authored at the doctor’s suggestion. SB 640 sought to clarify the definition of “gravely disabled” and tie in an individual’s capacity to make informed decisions about his or her personal well-being.

The bill was shelved this year, but these definitional changes would have expanded treatment opportunities for our most vulnerable, put them into conservatorships and housing involuntarily, and helped diminish the inhumane neglect they currently suffer.

My office is putting together research for when the Senate reconsiders SB 640 next year. In January, an audit of the 1967 LPS Act should be finished. Let’s hope the State Auditor provides recommendations to help the Legislature reassess what the state must do.

Cost is another concern. As an accountant, I take money seriously. Currently, under Section 5150 of the state Welfare and Institutions Code, a person can be held involuntarily for up to 72 hours “for assessment, evaluation, and crisis intervention, or placement for evaluation and treatment in a facility designated by the county.”

If that period of holding is extended, hospitals are concerned their costs will rise.

So it’s imperative to locate funding sources. Private charities are crucial. In Orange County, where I was a county supervisor from 2006 to 2014, Mind OC and Be Well OC help find beds for those who need special assistance. And the county is one of the few that has a county-operated health system and is using CalOptima dollars to provide solutions.

Another source could be the Mental Health Services Act, passed by voters in 2004 as Proposition 63, which imposed a 1-percent tax on incomes of $1 million or greater.

While an Orange County supervisor in 2013, I worked with then-State Sen. Darrell Steinberg to pass SB 585. It allowed money from the Mental Health Services Act to fund Laura’s Law, a 2002 state law that created “an assisted outpatient treatment program for any person who is suffering from a mental disorder and meets certain criteria.”

Resources are available, but the problem always returns to the purported civil rights issue—that mentally ill homeless people have a right to refuse all treatment.

As Pinsky said, this is “privileging pathology over wellness.” From his clinical experience, he explained, when people finally get treated for their mental condition, “They’re furious when that happens. They go, ‘People left me in that condition? And look how good I am now? Who did that?’”

We don’t let our seniors with dementia fend for themselves. Why would we do the same with our severely mentally ill?

Homelessness clearly needs a two-pronged solution: first, more involuntary housing; second, reform of the 1967 LPS Act.

I’ll be working to improve the language in SB 640. The public has to understand that stranding people with serious mental illnesses on our streets is crueler than housing and treating them against their will.

As homelessness keeps getting worse, the need for this solution will become more obvious.

Sen. John M.W. Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) represents the 37th District in the California State Senate. His Sacramento office phone number is (916) 651-4037 and his website is https://moorlach.cssrc.us/.

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

MOORLACH UPDATE — Sacramental Seal of Confession — August 16, 2019

Senate Bill 360, a bill that would have required priests and other religious leaders to break the sacramental seal of confession, was withdrawn last month at the request of the author. It was a reaction to ongoing and disturbing current events (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Leap Day Activities — February 29, 2016).

I addressed my position and votes on SB 360 two months ago (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Review of Recent Votes — June 27, 2019) and also covered this bill as it went through the Senate Committee and Floor process (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Committee Season Has Started — April 3, 2019 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Sacred Votes — May 26, 2019).

Had this bill continued and been approved, as amended, by a majority of the members in the State Assembly, it would have come back to the Senate for concurrence and I would have voted against it. But, holding back my opposition was meant to send a signal. Simply, Roman Catholic Church, you brought this on yourself, and I urge continued reform and accountability.

Emil Monda has crafted an excellent column on this bill for the Laguna Beach Independent, and it is the piece below.

25th Anniversary Look Back

The Business section of the OC Register had two interesting clips in their “Finance Notes” column for June 30, 1994.

The first segment showed how the band played on. The recession at the time had hammered real estate values and reduced property tax revenues. Consequently, the additional revenues from a turbo-charged investment pool, which should have been invested in cash equivalents and not in derivatives (let alone borrowing), were helping the County of Orange balance its budget. At the time, it probably and sadly made sense that the then-Board of Supervisors and its Chief Administrative Officer did nothing.

The second segment indicated there was plenty to worry about. The investment pool being down 22.5 percent in value should have set off alarm bells.

For my last Look Back, see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 392 and Use of Deadly Force — July 30, 2019.

O.C. gets Standard & Poor’s highest grade for its notes

Standard & Poor’s likes Orange County. The New York credit-rating company has given its highest investment grade to $600 million in short-term notes issued by the county.

“The county has maintained a sound financial position, despite losing property taxes due to the state’s shift of monies to schools,” S&P said in its report. It noted that the county will lose $148 million in property taxes to schools in fiscal 1994. The net loss is softened, however, by $137 million in sales taxes as a result of the passage last November of Proposition 172, the half-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax for public safety.

The county is selling adjustable-rate notes linked to the London Interbank Offering Rate, or Libor index. The county’s goal is to earn interest on the notes in excess of its borrowing costs and transfer the earnings to its general fund.

Others can lose it, too: Speaking of county investments, Treasurer Bob Citron took some heat a few months back after taking a large paper loss on county money invested in high-risk derivatives. He was not the only treasurer to get hit.

Florida’s investment portfolio dropped $175 million in value this year, also because of investments in derivatives. The difference: Florida had entrusted $3 billion of its money to professional Wall Street managers in the hopes of doing better than it could on its own.

One money manager hired by the state put half the $400 million he was handling into risky, mortgage-related derivative investments. Through May 31, his portfolio–which had been touted as a low-risk, high-yield investment plan–was down about $90 million.

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Common Sense

People of Faith Under Attack

https://www.lagunabeachindy.com/common-sense-9/

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By Emil Monda

This week, I’m writing about the recent attempt by the California State Senate championed by Sen. Gerald (Jerry) Hill (D-San Mateo) to force a priest, minister, rabbi or imam to report crimes against children, especially sex crimes, when shared with these members of the “clergy” in what is known as the priest penitent privilege. This column is limited in space, so a discussion of the privilege isn’t possible. Suffice it to say that the privilege is not recognized in English common law but is a part of the law in all 50 states. Is this just a Catholic thing? No, it’s not.

On July 9, there was a victory when SB 360 was pulled at the last minute because the bill’s author, Sen. Hill, decided to shelve his bill after learning that it did not have enough votes to pass out of committee.

This happened because there was a massive outpouring against the bill, not only by Catholics, but by members of all faiths all across the country.

“On July 8, a statement signed by Muslim, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican and Baptist faith leaders as well as representatives from Eastern Catholic rites historic and black churches was delivered to committee members declaring that we are all one with American Roman Catholics in condemning the attack on religious freedom that the current version of California Senate Bill 360 represents.”

Here is the deeper question. What was it that made Sen. Hill and those who voted for this bill believe that it was okay to attack a major religion, and in fact, most religions? No doubt, like many things politicians propose, his intention was to protect children. Intentions are not a substitute for reasoned analysis. The old saw about the road to hell is operative here.

There is no evidence that this change in the privilege would have protected one child. For Catholics, confession may take place face-to-face, but more likely is behind the screen so the priest can never be sure who was confessing and thus the penitent can unburden his soul and seek forgiveness. The Catholic priest hearing a confession is required to maintain secrecy. Should he break that vow, he would be excommunicated and of course no longer be a priest. In the past, Catholic priests have gone to jail rather than break this sacred trust.

I am a Catholic and I am acutely aware of the failings of my church when it comes to crimes involving priests and children. There is no evidence that priests, more precisely child molesters, had confessed this heinous crime to a fellow priest, nor is there any known instance where anyone had made a confession to a priest about molesting a child. (I know it’s secret.)

No, what happened was the bureaucracy of the church lost sight of who the victim was and tried to protect the church by failing to notify authorities when information came to their attention so that a proper police investigation could commence. When bureaucracies protect themselves in the hope of sparing the institution embarrassment, they eventually make things much worse both for the victims and the institution.

If you were to ask Assemblywoman Cottie Petri-Norris (D-Laguna Beach) how she would vote on this measure after hearing from dozens of her constituents, what would she say? I asked, and here’s her answer from her chief of staff: “SB 360 is being held in Assembly Public Safety Committee, and it’s not moving forward this year. Right now it’s a theoretical version of a bill, and could still be amended, so the Assemblywoman will consider it if it comes up for a vote on [a] committee she sits on, or if it comes to the Assembly Floor.”

So, we really don’t know what her position is.

What we do know is that 27 Democrat members of the California Senate voted for it, joined by three Republicans. Only one Democrat voted against it. Republican Sen. John Moorlach, representing the 37th Senate District which includes Laguna Beach, abstained, saying he wanted to send the Catholic Church a message. I hope they received it.

Emil Monda has lived in Laguna Beach for 25 years with his wife, Michèle, and three sons. He is president of the Laguna Beach Republicans and a member of the Laguna Art Museum Board of Trustees.

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