MOORLACH UPDATE — David Kiff — July 13, 2018

In the first piece below, the Daily Pilot provides an account of Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff and his reminiscing at yesterday’s Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

So, let me do the same. David Kiff helped me on my campaign for Treasurer back in the spring of 1994. That’s when I remember meeting him for the first time. I can still recall him dropping by my campaign headquarters in Costa Mesa and noticing how buff he was. For this accountant that doesn’t work out much, it’s something that I remember teasing Dave about over the years. He is always in great shape.

When his boss, the late Sen. Marian Bergeson, one of my campaign honorary co-chairs, along with then U.S. Representative Chris Cox, decided to withdraw her endorsement, I rushed to her Newport Beach office. I met Dave there and asked what was going on?

Dave is quiet and noncontroversial, so he politely claimed ignorance. I then pleaded with the Senator to change her mind and continue her endorsement. Unbeknownst to me, since she was running for Orange County Supervisor to replace Supervisor Tom Riley at the time, she was receiving an incredible amount of pressure from the Supervisors and the County Administrative Officer, Ernie Schneider, to drop her support of my candidacy. She caved.

I told her in that meeting that when the portfolio blows, she would be behind the leadership curve for dropping her endorsement. But, the nationwide articles covering the campaign in The Wall Street Journal and The Bond Buyer, which are now seen as prescient, were too frustrating to the Orange County bureaucracy I was taking on at the time.

Sen. Bergeson would win her election in June. The bankruptcy filing would occur on December 6th and she was sworn in the first Tuesday of January, thus inheriting the fiscal mess and the responsibility to clean up the mess.

Some would say that her move cost me ten percent of the vote and, thus, the election.

A few months into her term she lamented to me that the first question every reporter that called her on the Orange County bankruptcy would ask, “Why did you drop your endorsement of Moorlach?”

Dave would go on to work with Supervisor Bergeson on the “Fifth Floor” in the Civic Center and we would interact often as the Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint me to the position of Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995. After a number of months, Supervisor Bergeson resigned and accepted an appointment by Governor Pete Wilson to serve as the state’s Secretary of Education. This pulled her out of two storms, the bankruptcy recovery effort and the battle over the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and its future.

That’s when Dave moved over to the city of Newport Beach. In his role there, we worked together closely. I met with him shortly after being elected Orange County Supervisor in 2006 to discuss the harbor, potential annexations, and the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement Extension.

The settlement agreement extension would be a major subject years in the future, but I wanted to start on it immediately. Know that years of preparation went into the process and we have Dave Kiff’s leadership to thank for a successful outcome.

A sampling of the many successes that we enjoyed over the years are captured in my blog and provided below. The joys of public service are two-fold. The first is that taking on major projects is not easy and can be very lengthy and laborious. But, the second is the satisfaction of knowing, as you reflect back, that good things were accomplished.

David Kiff, thanks for serving quietly, diligently, non-confrontationally, and humbly. It was an honor to work with you. I wish you all the best in your future. I hope to bump into you again at the annual California New Car Dealers Association Auto Show at the Anaheim Convention Center or to visit when you move to Sonoma County, as it is a short day trip from Sacramento.

On addressing homelessness:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 718 — July 8, 2015

On addressing defined benefit pension liabilities:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Addressing Pension Mess — June 24, 2017

* MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Announcement Coverage — January 18, 2015

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Kelly Thomas Reverberations — January 15, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — The New Yorker — August 30, 2011

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Daily Pilot — August 14, 2010

On collaborating on the John Wayne Airport Settlement Agreement Extension and curfew continuance:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Newport Beach City Council — October 16, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — 2014 Bucket List — October 3, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA Settlement Agreement — October 1, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Mil-Walkie — July 7, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — JWA & CEO — March 22, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Detroit — March 15, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Barbara Venezia — November 19, 2011

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Take a Hike — March 4, 2011

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy 25th JWA — August 2, 2010

On his history with Sen. Marian Bergeson:

* MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Filing Period Opens — February 16, 2014

On negotiating with the County regarding the cost of Harbor Patrols:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Thankful — November 29, 2013

On the fire ring debate:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Debate — May 14, 2013

On dredging the bay:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Intriguing Dredging — February 25, 2013

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Labor Day Weekend — September 4, 2010

On the Mesa Drive Horse Trail:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Number 57 — December 26, 2012

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Remembrance — June 1, 2012

On Shellmaker Island:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — LA Times — June 2, 2012

On the closure of the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment Agency:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Auditor-Controller — March 29, 2012

On the annual Newport Beach Mayors’ Dinner:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Hob-Knobbing with Homeless — February 14, 2012

On the annual budget process for Newport Beach:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Take a Hike — March 4, 2011

Receiving the Jim deBoom Eagle Award:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Thanksgiving — November 26, 2009

Being recognized in the annual Daily Pilot 103:

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Addressing Pension Mess — June 24, 2017

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Numbers 1050 and 49 — January 2, 2016

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Seeking Shelter 2014 — December 26, 2014

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Number 57 — December 26, 2012

* MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy New Year! — December 31, 2011

Oh, there is also a second piece below. R Street mentions the fun panel I enjoyed yesterday evening at the Huntington Beach City Council Chambers. Unfortunately, CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost was called to serve Jury Duty, but she was ably represented by Dan Bienvenue, Managing Investment Director for Global Equity and Brad Pacheco, Deputy Executive Officer, Communications and Stakeholder Relations. We hope to post the panel discussion, ably hosted by Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey, when it becomes available.

Kiff reflects on 20 years of service to Newport Beach City Hall


Dave Kiff is a few weeks from retirement as the city manager of Newport Beach and ready to reminisce.

At a “fairly silly but a little bit serious” retrospective Thursday morning at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Wake Up Newport breakfast mixer, Kiff looked back on the 20 years he’s spent with the city, nine as the top appointed official.

He said the leaders that stay or come along after his Aug. 31 departure will want to remember to bring a parking lot to Sunset Ridge Park, to protect the environment and budget conservatively.

He said homelessness is “almost solvable” and Newport could offer jobs, like harbor cleanup, to help people get back on their feet.

He advised city observers to remember that infrastructure investments, such as the repairs funded by the most recent gas tax hike, benefit everybody.

Newport has the resources to keep its roads in good shape, but some nearby cities don’t, Kiff said.

He said to stay concerned about pension debt, “but only the city manager needs to lose sleep over that. The city has a good plan in place to pay down our pension debt faster than almost any other city.”

Kiff said he would miss the leadership of state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) and outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown. He’ll miss working to solve the challenges that come with being a neighbor of John Wayne Airport, work that he said will only be successful if the city bands together and doesn’t make it a neighborhood-by-neighborhood issue.

There’s plenty he said he won’t miss, like campaign sign enforcement, bridge-jumpers, the fire rings on the beach, the unofficial and at-times contentious “dog beach” near the mouth of the Santa Ana River, coyotes and banner-towing airplanes.

And he had no love for the criticism posted on the social media platform NextDoor and eroding social graces in general.

“One of the reasons I’m not sad to leave is the civility is really suffering — and it’s nationwide,” Kiff said. “Someone just sent an email the other day blasting the City Council for something they had nothing to do with. And I just thought, there was a time when people would think before that and/or pick up the phone.”

He praised Marina and Sunset Ridge parks, the Civic Center Green and park, Oasis Senior Center, Buck Gully Reserve, the city-run animal shelter, the main library — all built or enhanced during his tenure.

He praised the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards and the local Community Emergency Response Team.

His voice faltered when he thanked colleagues, and it broke when he projected a picture of the name plate outside his office, showing his city manager title.

“The No. 1 thing I’ll miss the most is just being this,” Kiff said, calling the role “the honor of my lifetime.”

After he leaves the city he plans to move to Sonoma County, not far from his family’s farm. In September, he plans to climb Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the lower 48 states. He’ll spend time with family.

Former Mayor Rush Hill was on the City Council when it chose Kiff as city manager in 2009. He recalled giving the announcement to a standing-room-only audience that spilled into the lobby of the council chambers in the old City Hall.

The crowd responded that night with a standing ovation.

“Ed [Selich, former mayor] forgot that his mike was open and he turned to the councilperson next to him and said, ‘Boy, I’m glad we didn’t select the other guy.’”

CALPERS CEO and Sen. John Moorlach to talk socially conscious pension investing

From OC Weekly:

Last summer, when speaking about the Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies Act authored by his Senate colleague Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who is now seeking to unseat U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) in November, Moorlach told’s Steven Greenhut that chief investment officers “invest for value and don’t appreciate being hamstrung by legislators who don’t know how to manage a diversified portfolio. I think I’m the only legislator who managed a $7 billion portfolio. And the studies I’ve seen have shown that social investing has produced lower returns.”

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary Antics — April 28, 2018

Republican on Republican campaigns have not been pretty here in the OC.  The strategy seems to be simple.  Do polling.  If you’re behind, attack your opponent.  If you’re really behind, make negative stuff up.  Why?  To possibly close the gap.  Conclusion?  Mud-slinging is usually done by desperate candidates.  But, it is very embarrassing and unbecoming to the rest of us elected-Republicans in the vicinity.

I had to endure an incredible onslaught of false charges in negative campaign mail three years ago in my 2015 Special Election candidacy.  It was not fun and it backfired for my opponent.  But, three years later and I still hear laments about the nonsense I had to endure.

In the June, 2016 Primary for the 68th Assembly, one candidate also went over the line.  And this apparent leader did not have to do it.  So, I made mention of it in one of my UPDATEs (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary – Part One — May 18, 2016).  I put the following at the bottom of the UPDATE:

NOTE: The Sidhu campaign has issued a mailer that is unconscionable, misleading and inappropriate. This campaign methodology is unacceptable. Innuendo and false implication is unseemly, and this Republican is repulsed by it.”

Why did I do this?  During the barrage that I endured in 2015, I can only recall one elected Republican taking my opponent to task over it.  So, I decided to change this “look the other way attitude” and make my disappointment public.

Candidate and then-Irvine Mayor Steven Choi used the above quote on a number of his final mail pieces.  The result?  We now call him Assemblymember Choi.

This year, candidate Scott Baugh is taking similar false charges against himself in a complaint to the Orange County Republican Party’s Ethics Committee.  And, I’ve signed a letter in support of this approach.

The Daily Pilot provides the details in the first piece below.

With that, let me also use Barbara Venezia’s column to provide my June Primary Voter’s Guide as the second piece below.

My rules are simple (also see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — June Primary – Part One — May 18, 2016).

1.  Endorse Republicans.

2.  When I endorse, show the name in bold.

3.  If there is a good second choice or two good first choices, list them in italics.

4.  If I don’t know who you are or are not endorsed, leave names in normal type.

For the second time in my life, I am an opposition signatory on ballot measure arguments, this time for two Propositions, 68 and 69.  I provided them for Proposition 68 at MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018 (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — 2017 State Per Capita UNPs — April 2, 2018).

For Proposition 69, which is a sad and embarrassing case of redundancy, telling the Legislature to spend transportation funding on transportation projects, my submissions are the third piece below.



Oh, the irony! Politicians are asking for civil campaigning


Former Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh took exception last week to campaign mailers sent out by his chief opponent in the 48th Congressional District race, incumbent Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

“They are just making stuff up and throwing it out to see what sticks,” Baugh said of the accusations made about him in the fliers.

Rohrabacher’s campaign hasn’t responded to my questions about the assertions.

But Baugh isn’t letting this go.

On April 23, he wrote to OC GOP Chairman Ken Whitaker, requesting “an ethics investigation into the false, misleading, defamatory and distorted information used by Dana Rohrabacher’s campaign committee and Congressman Rohrabacher himself.”

The letter explains Baugh’s complaints about Rohrabacher’s mailers, which accuse him of being pro-amnesty and supported by “Never Trumpers.” Neither claim is true.

“If the lies in Rohrabacher’s mail were sent out against a favored Republican, the OCGOP would issue swift rebuke and condemn the liars,” Baugh says. “The OCGOP cannot have a double standard when applying ethics by applying a harsh standard to challengers and ignoring the lies of incumbents. Otherwise the party would lose credibility.

“At a minimum, I expect that Chairman Whitaker make certain the lies are stopped. As far as punishment, the OCGOP has options of admonition, reprimand, censure and even withdrawing an endorsement.”

Also on April 23, Baugh signed another letter to Whitaker along with over a dozen OC Republican Central Committee members, including state Sens. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), school choice advocate Mark Bucher and Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill.

Newport council members Diane Dixon and Kevin Muldoon and Costa Mesa Councilman Jim Righeimer also signed.

“We write to request that you take immediate action to stop the Rohrabacher (for) Congress campaign from distributing false information about Scott Baugh, chairman emeritus the Republican Party of Orange County,” their letter stated.

The group defended Baugh as a Republican leader, saying he served the party “faithfully for decades,” walking precincts on behalf of candidates, volunteering and raising “more money (exceeding $20 million) for Republican candidates throughout Orange County and the entire country” — more than any other volunteer in OCGOP history.

In closing, they acknowledged that the party endorsed Rohrabacher before Baugh entered the race, but that “endorsement cannot be used as an umbrella to allow incumbents to engage in false and negative campaigning,” they wrote.

“These false accusations and negative campaigning tactics reflect poorly on each of us — especially when done by one of our endorsed candidates,” the letter stated.

I asked Dixon why she signed.

“I do not support a race to the bottom (or) campaign mudslinging,” she said.

And though she hasn’t endorsed anyone in this race, she does support “Baugh’s effort to run a campaign based on facts and important issues.”

Seeing signatures from the likes of Muldoon, O’Neill and Dixon seemed a bit hypocritical of them. They’ve all used Newport political consultant Dave Ellis, a guy not known for pulling punches in campaigns. And I should know: When I ran for Newport Beach City Council in 2006 one of my opponents used Ellis, who sent out fact-bending mailers about me. I asked Ellis to comment for this column, but he declined.

I asked Dixon about her Ellis connection; she wasn’t ready to talk about it.

“We are all big boys and know that campaigns can get nasty,” Baugh says. “That has gone on since before the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Candidates often distort and stretch the truth, but there is a bright line that cannot be sanctioned when the candidate is lying about his opponent.”

But isn’t that splitting hairs? Truth isn’t meant to be distorted or stretched.

Now, I agree with Baugh that this practice needs to end. And I’m glad notable elected officials are taking a stand.

But you can’t complain about these tactics one minute and belly up to the bar with those who’ve perpetrated the practice the next.

Baugh recently added former Anaheim blogger Matthew Cunningham to his PR team. Cunningham’s had his own go-around with controversy.

In 2013 he published a photo of a defaced teddy bear next to a Virgin of Guadalupe candle, which he says was misrepresented by the media as mimicking a “memorial shrine Latino families place at the locations where their sons and brothers have been shot by police.” It sparked outrage.

Cunningham says that wasn’t the intent of his blog post and tried to correct the story with reporters, telling them it was a satirical moment gone wrong, one which he regretted, and that he never intended to offend Latinos — his wife is Mexican — and would never do that.

He feels his political enemies helped perpetuate the damaging narrative, which cost him dearly financially and personally and remains a painful chapter.

Whatever side of the mudslinging you’re on, this negative political culture has been allowed to fester for decades, not only within the O.C. Republican Party but the Democratic Party as well.

Can Baugh be the instrument of change within his party, forcing the establishment to re-evaluate its definition of the “truth” and ethical behavior?

If he succeeds, it’s a game-changer.

BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at

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How insulting can a ballot proposition be? Last year, a two-thirds majority of state legislators voted for a gas tax and vehicle fee increase for transportation improvements. And now they are asking you to tell them to only spend the money on that intended purpose? Do you see the lunacy of this request?

Is this measure supposed to make us feel better? Or is it an indictment that Sacramento can’t help itself when it comes to spending your money? It’s wasting billions of dollars for high speed rail, with massive cost overruns. And this proposition is supposed to prevent them from spending drift? Or is this an admission that, like an alcoholic, Sacramento is saying it won’t siphon off some of your gas tax for other boondoggles, this time? And, once again, they really mean it. How sad can California’s legislature get? Did you know that Caltrans wastes some $500 million per year? Because it’s overstaffed by nearly 3,300 architects and engineers and it is hiring more? That it only outsources ten percent of engineering work when most states outsource half? Did Sacramento streamline Caltrans before raising your gas taxes? No!

It embarrasses me, as a fiscal conservative, to have to ask you to tell Sacramento to spend a gas tax on highway repairs. It’s disingenuous and duplicitous. How long will the voters of this state enable free-spending liberals to drive our Golden State into the ground? Accordingly, I’m voting “No” on this tripe called Proposition 69. You should too.


SENATOR JOHN M.W. MOORLACH 37th Senate District 



Prior to the recent gas tax increases, Sacramento had plenty of your money through transportation-related fees and taxes to fix our crumbling roads, upgrade transportation infrastructure, and repair aging bridges. However, time and time again, the state spent YOUR money on everything BUT transportation. Now our roads are in complete decay, they promise that this time, they’ll spend it as intended. While protecting your money is commendable, Californians are already unnecessarily taxed at the pump. If Sacramento were judicious in the handling of your money, California’s transportation system would not be facing such crisis.


While the proponents argue protecting these dollars ensures traffic congestion relief, filling potholes, and safety improvements, it’s not quite the case. A portion of money protected by Proposition 69 is for transit, which is NOT fixing our roads; no new infrastructure, no updates to California’s crumbling roads, and no traffic relief. Other dollars can go to projects like high speed rail, bike lanes, and protecting habitat.


Proposition 69 fails to protect ALL transportation dollars. Sacramento will collect $1 billion annually in vehicle weight fees, which will go unprotected and backfill the State’s General Fund. Proposition 69 fails to fully protect transportation taxes from being diverted to programs that do nothing to fix our roads and highways. VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 69.


SENATOR JOHN MOORLACH 37th Senate District

MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Redux — March 30, 2018

Allow me to wish you a solemn Good Friday.

The first piece below in CalMatters was hinted at in yesterday’s UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018) .

CalMatters has done a lengthy analysis on the condition of the state’s forests. The status is not good. Government does not manage forests well. In fact, when I sat on the County’s retirement board, it owned hundreds of acres of timberland. None of it was next to or near a federal or state forest. And that was intentional.

I was happy to comment for the piece by calling out the utter hypocrisy of our Governor’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. I participated in a recent Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Hearing on the condition of the state’s forests. I called out the Governor’s blind spot there, so I did it again (see

I tried to address this with SB 1463 (2016), which is the only bill that I have ever had vetoed by a Governor over the more than two decades that I’ve been in this industry (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Secretive and Expensive Union Deals — November 3, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns — October 27, 2017.

It’s painful to try and address a matter, have it pooh-poohed, and then watch as 44 people are killed by a fire started by electric lines in Sonoma and Napa counties. I have been here before; trying to prevent major tragedies is what I do.

This year, I’m bringing SB 1463 back (see But, with a twist. Use Cap and Trade Tax revenues to harden utility lines, like those that run directly adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road (133). I mentioned this in the Budget and Fiscal Review Hearing for a reason.

Now that I’m on the subject of my 2018 legislation, next week I present the following bills:

April 2 — SB 1159 – CPA Designation
Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee

April 4 — SB 1368 – Statewide Open Enrollment
Senate Education Committee

April 4 — SB 1344 and SCA 16 – Education Savings Account Act of 2020
Senate Education Committee
NOTE: Please watch the two short videos on this subject at the link.

April 4 — SB 1363 – National Alliance on Mental Illness California Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund
Senate Governance and Finance Committee

It has been a very busy Easter Break here in the District. As you can imagine, I had a rather packed calendar and plenty of preparation to do for next week. The homeless discussion that Judge Carter has forced on many communities and their elected leaders has really shaken up the OC. And the family fighting has not been pretty or pleasant. Consequently, there are two follow up articles on this subject. They are in the Daily Pilot and the Voice of OC in the second and third paraphrased pieces below; since you’ve read enough this week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Communication — March 28, 2018 march 28, 2018 john moorlach).


California fights wildfires aggressively—but prevention takes a back seat

By Julie Cart

Dave Kinateder has a keen eye for trees. But when Kinateder, a fire ecologist in the Plumas National Forest, surveys a hillside lush with pines, he doesn’t see abundance or the glory of nature’s bounty.

He sees a disaster-in-waiting.

“It’s a ticking time bomb,” he said, gazing across the dense, green carpet of trees near Quincy, a small community high in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Last year’s wildfires, the worst in modern California history, have put a microscope on the forests that cover a third of the state–in particular, on managing these wooded lands in ways that would reduce the frequency and intensity of such blazes.

California is grappling with the counterintuitive dilemma of too many trees, packed too closely together, robbed of the space they need to thrive—and with how to clear out more than 100 million dead trees, felled by drought or insects, that provide tinder for the next infernos.

Curing these unhealthy forests is both difficult and expensive, and as with human health, prevention is far less costly than treatment. But these days the state firefighting agency, Cal Fire, spends the bulk of its resources battling fires rather than practicing preventive measures.

At stake is nothing less than life, property, air quality and the lands that hold most of California’s water. A state commission recently prescribed radical changes to address what it terms the “neglect” of California’s largest forests.

A 19th-century California forest would have held fewer than 50 trees an acre. Today the state’s forests have grown to an unnatural 300 to 500 trees an acre, or more. That doesn’t count the 2 million drought-stressed trees a month lost to bark beetles that have killed entire stands.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who in 2014 declared tree mortality a state of emergency, said in his January State of the State address that California needs to manage its forests more intelligently. He vowed to convene a task force “to review thoroughly the way our forests are managed and suggest ways to reduce the threat of devastating fires.”

California has dozens of agencies attacking problem but still cannot keep up with the work. Crews around the state have been busy clearing trees as fast as funding allows. This wielding of chainsaws they call “whacking and stacking” leaves massive wood piles along highways in some areas. But it amounts to no more than triage: Cal Fire removes trees on fewer than 40,000 acres a year, far short of its goal of clearing a half-million acres annually.

Kinateder estimates that removing trees in this way costs as much as $1,400 an acre. By comparison, controlled burns—those set by fire managers to remove vegetation from forests—is a bargain at less than $150 an acre. Fighting a wildfire comes in at just over $800 an acre, according to the report.

Far from the forest floor, California officials are wrestling with the financial and environmental cost of the state’s forest practices. At a hearing in March in Sacramento, legislators listened to lurid descriptions of raging fire and wrenching stories of human misery recounted by a stream of state and local officials: flames rearing up like an enormous beast, residents running for their lives, neighborhoods leveled, fire burning so hot and for so long that soils were rendered sterile.

California’s troubled forests

33 Million
Number of forested acres in California

129 million
Number of dead trees in California

500,000 Acres
Number of acres Cal Fire* aspires to clear each year

40,000 Acres
Number of acres Cal Fire clears each year

Average cost per acre to fight a fire

Average cost per acre to clear a forest by controlled burn

* California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Source: Little Hoover Commission report on forest management in California, February 2018

A portion of the proceedings focused on a recent report about wildfires and forest health from the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency that gave its findings to the governor and Legislature in February. The document pulled no punches, calling the state of the Sierra Nevada’s forests “an unprecedented environmental catastrophe.”

It cited a century of “mismanaging” the 10 million wooded acres in the Sierra, calling out state and federal firefighting agencies for their longstanding policy of aggressively putting out all fires rather than letting those that can safely burn do so, thereby thinning the choked woodlands.

Helge Eng, deputy director of Cal Fire, acknowledged the report was “spot on” in its assessment of the state of the Sierra, adding that the analysis “did an especially good job of recognizing that there are no easy, black-and-white answers to the problems we are facing.”

Cal Fire boasts that it stops 95 percent of fires at 10 acres or less, saving lives, property and entire forests from conflagration. Fire experts argue that a negative could be turned into a positive if fire bosses let them burn while still steering them away from people and structures and toward overgrown wildlands in need of clearing.

That’s an approach sometimes used by the National Park Service, but it’s difficult to defend when forests are ablaze, frightening the public and many elected officials alike.

Still, the report said, “it is not enough for agency leaders, scientists and advocates to recognize the benefits of fire as a tool; the bureaucracy of the state government and public sentiment as a whole must undergo a culture shift to embrace fire as a tool for forest health.”

Eng said Cal Fire is considering adopting the managed-burn approach, when appropriate, but noted that federal firefighters are often working in wild settings, away from development.

“Cal Fire’s mission is different; we protect life and property” in areas that may be densely populated, Eng said in a written response to questions. “There is most often not an opportunity to let a fire burn. The risk to human life is just too great.”

The report also detailed a public safety threat from 129 million dead trees, the crushing cost—up to $1,000 a tree—to private property owners to have trees removed from their land and the enormous burden on rural governments to both recover from fire and prepare their forests to mitigate the intensity of the next one. In no uncertain terms, the commission prescribed dramatically ramping up tree-thinning projects and, as awful as the optics are, creating and controlling some fires to achieve the same result.

Eng agreed that the state firefighting agency was far from achieving its “aspirational” goal of clearing a half-million acres of land each year, citing such impediments as “the logistics of capacity of staff and equipment and environmental compliance,” among other factors.

In a moment notable for its rarity in Sacramento, there was bipartisan agreement in the hearing room this month about the problem, its scope and the appropriate measures to deal with it. Focus more intensely on the problem, they agreed, and throw money at it. The state spent $900 million fighting fires last year. Just one of those late-season blazes caused more than $9 billion in reported property damage.

“We’ve made mistakes, and we’ve created systems that are unwieldy….

It’s all of our fault,” Jim Branham, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency, told CALmatters. “Money alone won’t solve it, but we won’t solve it without money, either.”

The mosaic of land ownership in California means the state owns only 2 percent of the forests but has legal responsibility over much more: 31 million acres, including land in rural counties.

Cal Fire received more than $200 million for forest health projects last year and has proposed an additional $160 million for the next fiscal year. Those sums are on top of the agency’s current $2.7 billion budget. Cal Fire, in turn, doles out millions of those dollars in grants to local governments and community groups to do some thinning themselves, and it teams with the federal Forest Service to tackle clearing projects.

The work to improve forest health dovetails with other state priorities—protecting water sources and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Sierra Nevada range is the headwaters for 60 percent of California’s developed water supply. Burned, denuded hillsides don’t store water efficiently when it rains. Sediment cascades downhill, filling streams, affecting water quality and loading up reservoirs, reducing their storage capacity

The carbon equation is equally direct: When trees burn or decay, they release greenhouse gases. The 2013 Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park produced emissions equal to those of 2.3 million cars in a year.

Prescribed burns emit less carbon than higher-intensity fires, because managed fire is aimed at smaller trees and shrubs. Cleared forest land may still ignite, but it will burn with less intensity and fewer emissions.

Moreover, when trees die, they stop absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. The state depends on that critical service to help reduce greenhouse gases. Research suggests that severely burned areas regrow with shrubs or grasses, plants that store about 10 percent less carbon than trees do.

John Moorlach, a Republican state senator from Costa Mesa, suggests the Democratic governor, a champion of the fight against climate change, has a “gigantic blind spot” when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. Moorlach said in an interview that Brown’s emphasis on electric cars, for example, ignores the role of fire in California’s greenhouse gas inventory.

“We’re being absolute phonies about climate change if we are not dealing with the real driver of greenhouse gas; that’s these wildfires,” said Moorlach. He has proposed that the state dedicate 25 percent of the revenue from its cap and trade greenhouse-gas-reduction system to help counties’ fire mitigation efforts.

Counties would welcome the help. Randy Hanvelt, a supervisor in Tuolumne County, said that where forest management is concerned, there’s a “leadership problem.”

“Talk is cheap,” he said. “We have got ourselves a giant colossal mess. This is a war of sorts. Time is against us. Every available tool has to be applied.”

One such tool is carefully designed burns. But the meticulous planning necessary can take two to three years, and the burns require favorable weather, a permit from the local air district and, crucially, buy-in from local communities that must first be educated about the benefits. And controlled doesn’t mean risk-free.

“Politically, you have to have the ability to make mistakes and move on,” he said.

Nick Bunch, who plans thinning projects for the Plumas National Forest, pointed to a partly cleared hillside outside of Quincy where one of his extensively planned prescribed burns went awry, undone by a shift in the wind.

“We were about an hour into the burn and the smoke started going into town,” Bunch said, shaking his head at the memory. Even though the burn was going as planned, the smoke was not acceptable to nearby residents, who protested to fire officials. “Phones started ringing. Calls were made, and we shut it down.”

Another method is used in Florida, which trains and certifies private property owners to burn their overgrown land and provides limited liability coverage in some cases. Florida cleared 2.1 million acres this way last year. Scott Stephens, who heads a wildland fire research lab at the University of California, Berkeley, said the widespread adoption of the policy has educated residents on both its benefits and risks.

Back in Plumas County, a hulking building in a parking lot outside a community health complex may offer the final piece of the forest-health puzzle: creating a market for trees removed from California’s forests.

Part of a project managed by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, the unremarkable square structure shows a potential use for California trees. The building is the state’s first to be fully constructed from cross-laminated timber—layers of wood pressed together to make thick sheets and posts—equal to or greater than the strength of steel.

In addition, the $2.3 million facility will house a large boiler to provide heat for the health center by consuming 500 tons of local wood chips a year.

The project is the brainchild of the institute, which envisions it as a way to boost the economies of forest communities. It’s the kind of innovation the governor and Legislature hoped to promote by establishing a Wood Products Working Group to develop commercial uses for the piles of trees beside the state’s roads.

There’s little left in California today of the early 20th century’s timber cutters, sawmills and biomass industry. If the state follows the Little Hoover Commission’s recommendations and accelerates forest thinning, an entire segment of state industry would need to be rejuvenated.

Meanwhile, officials emphasize the need to educate Californians about the role of forests in the ecosystem.

“If you want people to care about something, they have to understand why it matters,” said Pedro Nava, chairman of the Little Hoover Commission. “They need to understand the deep connection between the health of our state and the state of our forests.”

Branham, of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, said that won’t be easy.

“Some of our messages are counterintuitive: We must cut down healthy living trees to save the forest,” he noted. “It’s a challenge.”


Costa Mesa council opposes using Fairview Developmental Center as emergency homeless shelter


In an interview Thursday, Moorlach said he thought “the City Council overreacted to a press release” and that the idea wasn’t “to put all of the homeless at Fairview.”

“I think there’s a stretch here,” he said. “There’s a hysteria and it’s sad to watch because leadership dictates that you have conversations and you start working on solutions and that’s all that occurred.”

There is no imminent or concrete plan, he added, and any legislative action regarding Fairview would likely take months to move forward.

In the background of all this is U.S. District Judge David Carter, who is presiding over a federal lawsuit that homeless advocates filed in response to the county’s move to clear encampments along the Santa Ana River. Moorlach said the judge has mentioned Fairview during those proceedings.

“I would think the residents of Costa Mesa would rather have the homeless in a facility that’s closed up at night … a place that’s safe and has security, than to have them in their backyard or at their businesses or on their porches,” Moorlach said.


Costa Mesa Opposes Homeless Shelter at Fairview Mental Facility


Moorlach, in a Thursday podcast, criticized Spitzer’s actions over the past few weeks.

“We’re dying in Orange County and Sacramento for good leaders. We don’t need reactors. We need cooler heads. We need people that can control the situation and take the bigger picture and start providing solutions,” Moorlach said.

“It was real interesting to watch, say, Supervisor Spitzer, who is not leading. But he’s certainly reacting, he’s polarizing and he’s creating wedges between communities and leaders. It’s not a pretty picture.”

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018

So a County Supervisor calls a State Senator and makes an inquiry. The Senator meets with a couple of colleagues for suggestions before the Spring Break. The Supervisor issues a press release to announce the exchange on his inquiry.

There is no plan. There is no intent. There is only an inquiry about a state facility that is in the process of closing.

This was the justification for a special city council meeting? A press release? I get NIMBYism. I get fear of the unknown. I get change.

But, holding a meeting about nothing?

I’ve provided a podcast on this topic, expressing my hopes that Judge David Carter finds the wisdom to come up with a solution to the stir he has created at

For television reports on last evening’s meeting, go to and

Since I have been having fun this week with CBS 2/KCAL 9, I’ve provided their report in the first piece below. It can be seen at

Again, I did not float a “plan.” If anyone has something in mind, it’s Judge David Carter, who mentioned Fairview during his hearing of March 17. Don’t lose your focus. I responded to a fair and honest inquiry.

The OC Register and the Daily Pilot provide perspectives following the meeting in the next two pieces. And if that is not enough on this subject, My News LA also provides a pre-meeting thorough analysis in the fourth piece below.

BONUS: There are other topics to discuss. Tomorrow’s UPDATE will cover the one that is being tweeted today by CalMatters at the conclusion below.

OC Homeless: Costa Mesa

Gets Their Turn To Say, ‘Not

In My Backyard’

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — A fired up crowd in Costa Mesa let city leaders have it Wednesday, the latest town to sound off on plans that could involve their community taking in dozens of homeless people recently displaced from an Orange County riverbed.

Costa Mesa is the latest city in a growing list of municipalities caught up in an ongoing saga of where to put hundreds of transients who had been living along a stretch of river going from Santa Ana to Anaheim.

Earlier this week, Orange County supervisors rescinded a plan that would have housed some homeless in tents in the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel after complaints from residents.

Another plan that was floated by State Sen. John Moorlach involved turning the soon-to-be shuttered Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa into housing for about 100 homeless people. That did not sit well with residents there.

Wednesday’s meeting came about after O.C. Supervisor Shawn Nelson seemed to go along with Moorlach’s proposed plan. At the meeting, a spokesman for Nelson backpedaled the earlier statement, saying the supervisor was not suggesting Fairview as an option, but that the city council should decide.

At least one woman at the meeting voiced her approval for the plan, but the majority of folks present balked at the idea.

“I am disappointed in what you have done to our city, and my silence stops now,” one woman told the Costa Mesa City Council. “I have trusted you. You have let me down continuously. Vote no on this, get the sober living homes out of my city and turn it back to what it was,” the woman continued to thunderous applause at the emergency meeting inside the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

Some residents tie the seemingly untenable homeless crisis in the area to the explosion of sober living facilities.

“We have to call it what it is. It’s not a homeless problem, it’s an addict problem, and until we treat it as such, it’s not gonna go away,” one man told the council.

“I can tell you in my neighborhood it is commonplace for us to witness all kinds of measures, including the sober living folks among the homeless, exposing themselves to, literally, women and children, used syringes and literally shooting up,” another man echoed.

The city council voted unanimously against the Fairview proposal.

Costa Mesa is opposing proposal for homeless shelter at Fairview Developmental Center


COSTA MESA — About 300 people showed at a special City Council meeting Wednesday, March 28, to discuss a proposal to turn the state-run Fairview Developmental Center into an emergency homeless shelter.

The meeting continued into the evening with more than 50 people speaking on the plan proposed by Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach. The council decided after about three hours to oppose the plan.

“It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected,” Mayor Sandra Genis said.

Most of the speakers opposed the plan, saying they already suffer from homeless problems and an abundance of sober living homes in Costa Mesa and they don’t want to turn their community into a Skid Row.

Some, however, said the city should do more to help the unfortunate, and housing homeless people is a good use of Fairview, which is set to close in 2021.

Nelson’s proposal is in response to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter’s demand for the county to find appropriate shelter for what could be a few hundred homeless people. Carter is overseeing a civil rights lawsuit filed by homeless people against the county.

The county board proposed creating tent cities in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach to house 400 homeless people, but supervisors quickly rescinded the idea Tuesday after public backlash.

“Partnering with state Sen. Moorlach provides an additional boost and momentum to establish another temporary transitional homeless shelter for the county’s homeless population,” Nelson said in a press release announcing the plan.

City officials criticized Nelson for not reaching out to them before issuing the news release on Friday, March 23. Nelson, whose district doesn’t include Costa Mesa, wasn’t present at Wednesday’s meeting.

Supervisor Michele Steele, whose district includes Costa Mesa, didn’t make the meeting either, but her representatives said she opposes Nelson’s plan.

City Manager Tom Hatch said Costa Mesa already does more than its share to help the homeless. The city has hired several employees to work with the homeless and spends more than $1 million a year to support them, Hatch said.

Costa Mesa council opposes using Fairview Developmental Center as emergency homeless shelter


Less than a week after a proposal from an Orange County supervisor and a state senator sent shock waves through the community, Costa Mesa City Council members voiced unanimous disapproval of using the local Fairview Developmental Center as an emergency homeless shelter.

In front of a fuming crowd of more than 300 on Wednesday evening at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, council members said they think the city is already doing more than its fair share to provide services and resources to the homeless and that other cities — as well as the county — need to step up to the plate.

“It’s time for our supervisors, our county, our federal and state officials to demand that the rest of the county cities start participating in taking care of the homeless that live in their communities and not taking them to Santa Ana or to Costa Mesa or to Tustin,” Councilwoman Katrina Foley said. “It is important that we all participate and, if we all participate and we do our fair share, it’s a lot less of a burden and impact on every community.”

Of the dozens of residents who spoke at the special council meeting, most opposed the idea, saying they were concerned that developing a shelter at Fairview would jeopardize public safety, reduce property values and unduly burden the city.

Not everyone was against the concept, however. Some said the 114-acre property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. could be an important cog in a regional strategy to tackle homelessness.

On Friday, Supervisor Shawn Nelson issued a news release announcing that he and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) were looking into the potential for using the state-owned Fairview site as an emergency homeless shelter.

The release also raised the possibility of “centralizing temporary housing and basic services for the homeless” at the developmental center, which opened in 1959. It currently provides services and housing to 133 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the California Department of Developmental Services.

But in its resolution of opposition, the City Council called that a “regrettably rushed” idea proposed “without any public input or concern for local impacts.”

“This is land in the middle of the city; it’s governed by our general plan,” Mayor Sandy Genis said. “It’s our police that are going to be responding … it’s our paramedics that are going to be responding. It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected, and we can’t have the county just throwing that out there.”

Neither Nelson nor anyone from his office appeared to be at Wednesday’s meeting — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed among those in attendance.

“I hope that all of you will collectively address this spineless supervisor that essentially threw this grenade into a crowded room and couldn’t even bothered to show up to defend what he’s proposing,” resident Sue Lester said.

However, county Executive Officer Frank Kim told the council that he spoke with Nelson’s office Wednesday and was told “they do not support the use of the site without the cooperation of the council and input from the community.”

Nelson’s office could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday morning.

Kim also conveyed a message to the council from Supervisor Michelle Steel — whose district includes Costa Mesa — that “her office absolutely does not support the use of Fairview for [a] homeless shelter” and “the long-term use of that site should be discussed and worked out in collaboration with the city.”

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said during Wednesday’s meeting that he was “dismayed that somebody would put this into the public arena in such an irresponsible fashion” and is “terribly, terribly sorry that any respectable elected official would put something this derelict and dangerous into the community … without any input whatsoever.”

“To combine that in light of what happened last week in Orange County was beyond the pale to me,” he said, referring to the Board of Supervisors’ vote to develop temporary homeless shelters on county land in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel. Supervisors scuttled that plan Tuesday in the face of opposition from residents and threats of litigation from the cities.

Like similar facilities around California, Fairview is scheduled to close as part of an effort to transition people out of institutional-style centers and into smaller accommodations that are more integrated into communities.

The goal is to move the center’s remaining residents to other living options by 2019, according to the state.

Costa Mesa Objects to Proposal for Homeless Shelter

A proposal to use a state-operated center for the developmentally disabled in Costa Mesa to house the area’s homeless was blasted Wednesday by city leaders.

“The Board of Supervisors are trying to shirk their own responsibility by putting the burden on the cities that are already doing more than their fair share on homelessness in Orange County,” said Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley. “It was irresponsible of Supervisor (Shawn) Nelson to just throw out this idea of putting a tent city at Fairview Developmental Center. He clearly doesn’t understand the clientele that currently lives there.”

Nelson shot back, “That is an ignorant statement,” saying he never proposed erecting large tents to house transients at the site.

The scrum erupted a day after Orange County supervisors withdrew plans to consider “sprung structures,” which are large tent-like facilities that posh hotels often use to handle overflow from ballrooms at weddings and other special events, to house the homeless.

County officials earlier this month asked staff to look into the feasibility of using tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel for emergency shelter for transients moved off the Santa Ana riverbed and at the Plaza of the Flags next to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana. If the sites were viable, then county officials were going to negotiate terms with the cities.

Leaders in the three cities, however, immediately erupted with outrage and vowed to sue, prompting the county to back down.

Nelson said Costa Mesa officials’ worries about the Fairview site were premature, though he conceded that he asked Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, to ask state officials if it was possible to house transients there. State officials have plans to close the facility by 2020.

“We don’t have a plan, tent, balloon, nothing,” he said. “They have dorms there and we thought, hey, is there any scenario, is there any way we can use it.”

The idea originated at a March 17 court hearing presided over by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing a lawsuit that led to a settlement in which transients were recently moved out of encampments along the riverbed into motels. Those motel stays were expected to be completed Wednesday with all of the transients wishing further services housed elsewhere.

Carter has since turned his attention to clearing out the encampments in Santa Ana’s civic center area next to the courthouse.

Nelson complained that any suggestion of operating emergency shelters anywhere in the county is met immediately with opposition from “NIMBYs.”

“Everyone thinks we should do something about the homeless, but no one wants the beds,” Nelson said. “Meanwhile, Santa Ana and Anaheim have been shouldering this for years. It’s unfortunate, but you get this visceral reaction which makes it really difficult to have a conversation because the entire conversation is spent defusing false narratives.”

The Fairview center has dormitory housing and not all of the beds are being used, Nelson said.

Foley accused county officials of hoarding grant money that could have been spent on the homeless for years.

“Maybe they need to use the millions of dollars at their disposal” to address the issue, she said.

Last year, Foley said city officials asked for funding from the county for homeless housing “and they came up with a whole bunch of excuses how we can’t get the funding.”

Carter, Foley noted, showed county officials recently that the county has $70.5 million available to provide housing for mentally ill transients. Supervisor Todd Spitzer recently criticized county staff for assuring the board the money wasn’t available for homeless housing.

“In three years, we’ve placed 53 residents into permanent supportive housing,” Foley said. “We’re now serving more than 150 (transients) so we’re doing our fair share and then some.”

Councilman Jim Righeimer agreed.

“The citizens of Costa Mesa are doing more than their fair share to handle the homeless issue for the county, and for the county to think now they can dump the homeless problem on us is not right,” Righeimer said.

Righeimer and Foley criticized Nelson for issuing a news release on the Fairview proposal before contacting Costa Mesa officials.

“They didn’t come to us,” Righeimer said. “I found out about it in a PR release on a Friday night. (Supervisor) Michelle Steel didn’t even know about it, and it’s in her district.”

Nelson said the county is not hoarding its funding for the homeless. He said the county has devoted $193 million to projects supporting the homeless.

“There was no chipmunking,” Nelson said.

It’s true that county officials did not immediately make use of the funding as it came in.

“Too conservative? Maybe, fair enough,” Nelson said. “But we’re certainly spending that built-up reserve and spending more than we’re taking in now.”

In related news, Spitzer and Irvine Mayor Don Wagner announced Wednesday afternoon that they are pursuing “fast-track opportunities for veterans and women’s permanent housing at the county-owned West Alton parcel” at Irvine Boulevard and Alton Parkway.

County officials have plans to develop the property for residences for seniors and multiple-family housing. Wagner and Spitzer want to tweak the plan to include permanent housing for veterans and abused women.

Wagner and Spitzer intend to tell Carter about the plan at the next court hearing Tuesday, where he will discuss his plans to move transients out of the Santa Ana civic center.

CALmatters‏ @CALmattersFollowFollow @CALmatters


Republican state @SenatorMoorlach suggests @JerryBrownGov has a “gigantic blind spot” when it comes to curbing carbon emissions

11:44 AM – 29 Mar 2018

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Plan? — March 27, 2018

The Orange County Board of Supervisors listened to community members at today’s Board meeting on the hottest new subject: homelessness.

It’s amazing what can happen when a Federal Judge squeezes a balloon.

This is not an easy subject, and there is no perfect solution. Dealing with it generates a various number of emotions.

Let me start with a link from NBC Channel 4 on a balanced way to cover this topic:

Fairview is the subject (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Pace — March 24, 2018).

The Daily Pilot provides another balanced perspective in the first piece below. The next two pieces are from CBS Los Angeles News. Their journalism is an opportunity to address poor and lazy workmanship. So please allow me to set the record straight.

The Daily Pilot details that there is no “plan.” But CBS states that I’ve “laid out a plan.” Their reporter did not contact me. The subsequent reporter repeated the same claim. The first reporter has interviewed me in the past. Now she has even given me two titles. A little better scholarship would have been helpful.

There is no immediate plan. I have been working on Fairview Developmental Center for quite some time. It is an opportunity. One that will take at least two to three years to implement. And the current request would be in the area of housing some 100 people.

So, when a Federal Judge starts demanding solutions within days, it will only stir up the wrong emotions for many constituents.

Trying to be part of the answer has generated numerous exchanges of note. The number of individuals who have courageously told me their personal stories has been amazing. Many constituents have children who were on the streets and homeless due to mental illness or drug addiction. Our community’s young adults need help.

And many of the exchanges were with people who want to help financially to provide facilities for the OC’s homeless and mentally ill community.

In fact, I’m just back from the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), where I attended their Mental Health Inpatient Center Opening Celebration. It’s remarkable what can be done for Orange County’s children when donors and leaders step up to the plate. This is what Orange County does. When there is a need, we try to address it.

Let’s hope that Judge Carter can assemble those who wish to help and create a real plan to work with the numerous assets that are available in Orange County to construct locations that serve as a national model.

Costa Mesa City Council will discuss using Fairview Developmental Center as homeless shelter


The Costa Mesa City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss a proposal from an Orange County supervisor and a state senator for part of the Fairview Developmental Center property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa to be used an as emergency homeless shelter. (File Photo)

Costa Mesa City Council members will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss a concept an Orange County supervisor and a state senator unveiled last week for using part of the Fairview Developmental Center property in Costa Mesa as an emergency homeless shelter.

The meeting will start at 5 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St. An official agenda had not been released as of late Monday afternoon.

Though a concrete plan hasn’t been announced, Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) floated the idea Friday that the 114-acre, state-owned property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. is an intriguing shelter possibility because it’s centrally located and already has infrastructure that could be used to house and provide services to the homeless.

“If we can find a campus to address a significant need in this county that we can rally around, then this is one of those opportunities that we just don’t want to let pass by,” Moorlach said in an interview Friday.

For weeks, county leaders have been grappling with how to house hundreds of homeless people who were recently evicted from encampments along the Santa Ana River. The move to clear those camps prompted homeless advocates to file a federal lawsuit.

County supervisors approved a plan last week to eventually move former riverbed residents — many of whom are currently staying in motels — to temporary shelters in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel.

But leaders in Irvine and Laguna Niguel have voted to sue the county over the shelter plan, and Huntington Beach officials have pushed against the plan for a location there.

Fairview Developmental Center opened in 1959 and currently provides services and housing to 133 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the California Department of Developmental Services.

Like similar facilities around the state, Fairview is scheduled to close as part of an effort to transition people out of institutional-style centers and into smaller accommodations that are more integrated into communities.

The goal is to move Fairview’s remaining residents to other living options by 2019, according to the state.


Costa Mesa Residents

Outraged At Homeless

Shelter Plan

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — A possible solution to Orange County’s homeless problem is sparking an emergency meeting in Costa Mesa.

As CBSLA’s Stacey Butler reports, the mere mention of turning a state-run facility for the developmentally disabled in Costa Mesa into a temporary homeless shelter has neighbors spinning.

“It’s crazy. We have heroin overdoses all over the streets here already right now. If they move those people here it’s gonna be unlivable for people here,” said William Hart.

“It’s upsetting because we already have a problem with the homeless here, breaking into people’s patios and stealing stuff,” said Jamie Infanger. “A lot of drug rehabs, a lot of drugs, a lot of people that are homeless around here looking for their next fix.”

As those living in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach fight the county’s plan to put the homeless in their communities,Orange County Senator and member of the Board of Supervisors John Moorlach laid out a plan last week to house the homeless recently evicted from the riverbed in part of the Fairview Developmental Center that neighbors say is all but empty.

Neighbors say the problem is there is an elementary school, high school and a Boys and Girls Club too close for comfort.

Jack Sykes said he is “absolutely” worried about the plan and that he won’t feel safe.

“We’ve already got issues in the area,” said Sykes. “Adding to it isn’t the answer.”

The emergency meeting called by the Costa Mesa City Council is taking place on Wednesday night at 5 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Senior Center. Hundreds are expected to attend.

OC Supervisors Could

Abandon Controversial

3-City Tent Plan For


SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County supervisors Tuesday could decide to abandon a controversial plan to erect large tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel to temporarily house homeless people recently removed from the Santa Ana riverbed.

Dozens of protesters are expected at the meeting, which kicks off at 9 a.m.

Supervisors on March 19 held a special meeting to approve consideration of “sprung structures,” which are large tents hotels often use to handle overflow from ballrooms. The supervisors voted to direct staff to research the logistics and then work with officials in each of the three cities, but the plan never got far as residents and city leaders erupted with outrage and threatened litigation.

Last month, hundreds of homeless people were cleared from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed – from Santa Ana to Anaheim — after months of wrangling between homeless advocates and county and city officials.

During the ordeal, the Orange County Catholic Worker group and several homeless people filed a federal lawsuit against the governments of O.C., and the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, claiming that removing the homeless from the riverbed violated a broad range of constitutional protections. OCCW argued that evicting the transients would disperse them to the surrounding cities, where they will be cited for trespassing, loitering and anti-camping laws.

The lawsuit resulted in a deal between the advocates and municipal officialsin which the homeless would be removed from the riverbed and then be given 30-day motel vouchers while the county looks for more permanent solutions.

Those vouchers are set to run out, however.

County officials are confident they have enough beds to handle the transients from the riverbed, but to satisfy U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing the federal lawsuit, they pledged to pursue the large tents in the three cities in case they lacked enough beds.

The plan was to put 200 beds in Irvine, with 100 each set aside in Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel. If the beds were filled in Irvine then officials would then turn to Huntington Beach and then to Laguna Niguel.

Hundreds of Irvine residents turned out Sunday to voice their opposition to placing the homeless in a temporary shelter across from the O.C. Great Park, which consists of 100 acres of county-owned land.

Officials in Huntington Beach complained the property in their city is plagued with methane gas issues, and Laguna Niguel officials say the plot of land under consideration in their city is next to the now-shuttered O.C. Superior Courthouse, which has issues with asbestos and mold.

Last week, meanwhile, state Sen. John Moorlach and O.C. Supervisor Shawn Nelson laid out a plan to house the homeless in part of the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.

That plan has also been met with a great deal of opposition. Neighbors say there is an elementary school, high school and a Boys and Girls Club nearby.

The urgency to find additional beds came from Carter’s plan to see a similar relocation of transients from the Plaza of the Flags area next to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana. But Carter told supervisors at a court hearing last week he would tap the brakes on that plan to make sure officials have enough beds for the 170 or so transients there.

Nelson will chair Tuesday’s meeting as Chairman Andrew Do is out of town.

Nelson has long championed putting up a temporary shelter at the Great Park, because Irvine officials have zoned it for the homeless. The Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel sites are not yet zoned for the homeless.

At the special meeting March 19, the supervisors also voted to spend $70.5 million of money earmarked for the mentally ill to provide beds for the transients through the construction of a new facility or renovation of existing facilities.

The O.C. homeless crisis came to the forefront last September, when the Anaheim City Council declared a state of emergency for the more than 400 people who have been living in a tent city in the shadow of Angel Stadium.

That same month, the Santa Ana City Council also declared the homeless issue around the Santa Ana Civic Center a public health and safety crisis, while the O.C. Board of Supervisors approved a plan to increase law enforcement along the riverbed from Santa Ana to Anaheim.

In November, Orange County permanently closed the west side of the flood control channel between Santa Ana and Fountain Valley. During the process, authorities reportedly found about 1,000 bikes hidden in a tunnel system under a concrete flood control channel. Deputies also began strictly enforcing public access hours along the Santa Ana River Trail. Access is only allowed between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Deputies began slowly clearing the encampments in January, when they began going tent to tent along the Santa Ana River telling people the area will be closed and they need to move. The area was completely cleared out in February.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Pace — March 24, 2018

The pace still continues. My UPDATE for March 18th was picked up by the Daily Pilot and can be seen at and MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018.
Let’s talk about pace. I have been working for more than two decades on the homeless population concerns in the Santa Ana Civic Center. I will tell you that I believe the City Council of Santa Ana failed in properly addressing this situation. I even addressed my thoughts on its lack of leadership in my podcast, originally slated for release on Monday. However, I moved the release up to yesterday afternoon (CLICK HERE to listen).

The frustration that I addressed in the podcast is that of SB 2 zones, sites that are required by state law to be zoned for a homeless shelter location. Laguna Beach has done a great job. Santa Ana botched it. Irvine is realizing that they approved an SB 2 zone and is now choking on it, as the County is proposing to use it for its intended purpose. But, the process of selecting and implementing an SB 2 zone takes time.

Along comes Judge David Carter, who one community leader referred to as “Rambo” at last Saturday’s Court Hearing (see the link mentioned in the opening paragraph).

Judge Carter wants to change the pace. Instead of a lengthy and methodical approach to establishing viable locations, he’s demanding immediate selections and implementations. A Federal Judge has that kind of clout.

The Board of Supervisors, at an emergency Board meeting this past Monday morning, found three sites. It was awkward and abrupt, but it was in response to an highly expedited pace. The reaction in the County was immediate. Now at the least, it should demonstrate to Judge Carter how difficult the endeavor of addressing the homeless crisis has been for elected leaders.

To assist, I’ve been working in the Capitol to see what can be done with the Fairview Developmental Center during its current transition towards closing its facilities.

One of my first reporter calls after my arrival to the Capitol was from the Daily Pilot about the Fairview Developmental Center (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Day Two — March 26, 2015).

The Daily Pilot covered it again more than a year ago (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fairview Developmental Center — February 11, 2017). And the Daily Pilot has done an admirable job on monitoring this subject (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Crushing Blow — July 21, 2017).

With the County reacting to Judge Carter’s threatened edict, Supervisor Shawn Nelson inquired earlier this week about leasing some space on this 114-acre complex for a temporary housing solution. On Thursday, before flying back to the District, I had a few meetings with key Democratic Senators on this matter and with a lobbyist who could also assist.

Supervisor Nelson issued a press release yesterday afternoon. It is provided by New Santa Ana in the first piece below. The Daily Pilot, staying on theme, called and their perspectives are provided in the second piece below. It is also in the San Diego Union-Tribune, which is pertinent, as this area is also dealing with this crisis.

The views on homelessness go from stating that it “is a self-created situation and these individuals should figure out how to mainstream” to “these are mentally ill sons and daughters of longtime Orange County residents that need an extension of public services to stabilize.” And there are varied opinions in between.

Do we ignore it and hope that it will go away? That hasn’t worked. Visit skid row in Los Angeles sometime for a reality check.

Do we become a magnet for homeless people around the country because we provide top cabin accommodations that encourage individuals to stay on the streets and enjoy our incredible climate? I don’t believe any municipality is there.

But, how we treat the least, the last, and the lost speaks volumes about us as a community. We need to find solutions. Orange County has done a great job, but the volume has exceeded capacity. So, it’s is time to build not only capacity, but to provide a viable road back for these individuals to becoming self-sustaining and productive members of society.

With that said, although I am overloaded with Senate Committee assignments, this past week I requested Sen. Jim Beall, the Chairman of the Select Committee on Mental Health, to add me to this committee. He also Chairs the Mental Health Committee, of which I am a member. Consequently, I’m increasing my pace.

I want to look for solutions. And that will require multiple locations around the county to address the mental health and homeless epidemic facing our community. With clearing the Santa Ana River of the homeless population, the entire nation now knows our plight. And, most of our residents want to address this family secret, so to speak, in some form or fashion.

Therefore, I am willing to: risk recommending locations; work with other elected leaders; listen to advocates; and find appropriate and viable opportunities to improve the County as a whole. It will take multiple locations and a focused community. The city of San Antonio, Texas, was able to build a successful multiple service center (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Becerra Conflict of Interest — January 20, 2018 ). We can, too. We just need to set a proper pace.

O.C. Supervisor Nelson aims to put the homeless at the Fairview Developmental Center

Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson Joins California State Senator John Moorlach In Call to Open Fairview Developmental Center For Emergency Homeless Shelter

SANTA ANA, CA— In response to Federal Judge David O. Carter’s demand to immediately identify a plan for emergency homeless shelters in Orange County, Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson is working with California State Senator John Moorlach to request he ask the State of California to take emergency action to open Fairview Developmental Center as an emergency homeless shelter.

The Fairview Developmental Center (FDC) occupies 114 acres of state-owned land and is centrally located in Costa Mesa. The facility opened in 1959 and was originally designed to serve individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Utilizing infrastructure already in place will help expedite the transition of homeless from area motels to an improved triage center while satisfying the judge’s order to present a swift, realistic plan.

“Partnering with State Senator Moorlach provides an additional boost and momentum to establish another temporary transitional homeless shelter for the County’s homeless population,” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson. “Fairview will provide additional relief from the lack of emergency beds throughout the county.”

Centralizing temporary housing and basic services for the homeless at this venue will also provide law enforcement and cities another alternative rather than risk litigation stemming from the enforcement of anti-loitering or anti-camping ordinances.

Following the unsuccessful proposals at some of the County’s limited sites, Supervisor Nelson has partnered with Senator Moorlach to suggest this location as another viable alternative.





Orange County leaders want to use mental health facility in Costa Mesa to shelter homeless



Faced with the need to find additional space to house Orange County’s homeless population, there is a new push for Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to be used as an emergency shelter.

The proposal comes at a critical moment. Faced with a federal lawsuit, the county Board of Supervisors voted this week to consider putting emergency shelters in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel.

But those cities vowed to sue to block the move. Hundreds of Irvine residents protested this week, and the Board of Supervisors is now considering withdrawing the plan.

Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) said the 114-acre, state-owned property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. is an attractive option given its central location and the fact that existing infrastructure could be used to accommodate and provide services to the homeless.

“If we can find a campus to address a significant need in this county that we can rally around, then this is one of those opportunities that we just don’t want to let pass by,” Moorlach said.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Nelson said the plan “provides an additional boost and momentum to establish another temporary transitional homeless shelter for the county’s homeless population.”

“Fairview will provide additional relief from the lack of emergency beds throughout the county,” he added.

Denis Bilodeau, Nelson’s chief of staff, said Friday that Fairview is “just one of many sites we’re considering.”

The emergence of Fairview as a potential emergency shelter is the latest wrinkle in the county’s strategy to house hundreds of people who recently were evicted from encampments along the Santa Ana River.

The move to clear the camps prompted a federal lawsuit by homeless advocates.

Earlier this week, county supervisors approved a plan to eventually move those formerly living along the riverbed — many of whom are currently housed in motels — to temporary shelters in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel.

However, the plan was met with immediate backlash from city residents and officials. Leaders in Irvine and Laguna Niguel voted to sue the county to block the shelter plan, and Huntington Beach officials pushed to drop the location there, as well.

The Board of Supervisors plans to take up the shelter issue again Tuesday.

Hanging over everything is what U.S. District Judge David Carter might do if the county can’t find sufficient shelter space.

For weeks, Carter has been trying to broker a plan and has warned officials that he doesn’t want the homeless people displaced by the riverbed sweeps to end up at the Santa Ana Civic Center, which already is overwhelmed with homeless camps.

It’s unclear exactly what would need to be done to use a portion of the Fairview Development Center property as a shelter. The center opened in 1959 and currently provides services and housing to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As of Feb. 28, it had 133 residents, according to the California Department of Developmental Services. At its peak population in 1967, it housed 2,700.

Fairview — like other such facilities around the state — is slated to close in coming years as part of an effort to transition people out of institutional-style centers and into smaller accommodations that are more integrated into communities.

The state said last year that Fairview is scheduled to transition its remaining residents to other living options by 2019.

In Moorlach’s mind, that presents a rare opportunity. He has long been looking for ways to ensure that the property “doesn’t slip away” and that local leaders have a say in determining its future after it closes.

A benefit of the site, he said Friday, “is that it could be easily secured and controlled with appropriate security personnel and with appropriate gates or other fencing options so that it would not be a burden on the neighbors.”

“Here’s an alternative that would, maybe, be helpful to our business community and our residents,” he said.

Money writes for Times Community News.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 68 — March 23, 2018

The pace continues. My UPDATE for March 18th was picked up by the Daily Pilot and can be seen at and MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018. For a more detailed explanation of these recent events, listen to my upcoming podcast on Monday, March 26.

The June Primary is on the horizon. For the second time, I’ve been asked to be a signatory for the opposing argument for a statewide ballot measure. The first time was for Proposition 71 in 2004 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — I Told You So! — August 26, 2017).

Because I argued and voted against Senate Bill 5, Senator Kevin de Leon requested that I write the opposition argument to Proposition 68. I gladly accepted this honor, as well as writing a rebuttal to the argument for this bond measure. For a preview of your June Primary Voter Pamphlet, go to

In the Pamphlet, here is how I’m introduced in the opening summary pages:

CON I’m not here to tell you that addressing drought, water, parks, climate, coastal protection, and outdoor access is wrong. Borrowing for them is wrong. California has enough debt. It has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. The last thing the State of California needs is more debt!

My contributions are provided as the second piece below, along with a bonus opposition argument.

The Times of San Diego starts the discussion on this ballot measure in the first piece below.

Now that we’re on the subject that pertains to campaign season, hence the qualifier in my banner above, the Daily Pilot follows up with another column on the 48th Congressional race. My UPDATE was mentioned (see MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — OC Congressional Races — March 17, 2018). It’s the third piece below.

San Diego County Water Board Endorses $4 Billion State Bond Measure


The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors voted Thursday to endorse Proposition 68, a $4 billion state bond measure on the June 5 ballot for parks, natural resources protection, climate adaptation, water quality and supply and flood protection.

Approval of the measure would mean $12 million for the San Diego River Conservancy and $200 million to Salton Sea restoration activities.

“Robust Salton Sea funding in this bond measure is significant for San Diego County because it supports agreements that generate substantial water supplies for our region,” said Mark Muir, chair of the water authority’s board. “The bond would allow our region to compete for other funds to further enhance water supply reliability and local watersheds.”

In November, the state Water Resources Control Board revised a 2002 order that approved a transfer between the water authority and the Imperial Irrigation District providing 100,000 acre-feet of water for San Diego County last year.

The San Diego County Water Authority would not directly receive any bond money, officials said.

The measure is opposed by Sen. John M.W. Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, because it would add to the state’s debt burden which would keep the state from funding other services.

“When will Sacramento’s Legislature realize that we have poor infrastructure because it has not been a good steward of its financial resources?” Moorlach wrote in the rebuttal to the argument in favor of Proposition 68 in the Official Voter Information Guide.

“Debt is an indication of improper spending habits and inappropriate financial decisions.”


Can we share a rather sad fact with you? California has the largest unrestricted net deficit of all the 50 states in the nation!

Here are the rankings of the eleven worst managed states and their unrestricted net deficits for the year ending 2016 (California’s June 30, 2017 audited financial statements were not completed before the preparation of this report in mid-February):

1. California $169 billion
2. Illinois 150 billion
3. New Jersey 137 billion
4. Massachusetts 59 billion
5. Connecticut 51 billion
6. New York 41 billion
7. Kentucky 38 billion
8. Maryland 26 billion
9. Texas 20 billion
10. Pennsylvania 19 billion
11. Louisiana 12 billion

Do you really want to add to the debt burden of this state?
Do you know that the annual payments for principal and interest on this bond will squeeze out other services that Sacramento should be providing? Like helping the homeless and assisting the mentally ill?

When will Sacramento’s legislature realize that we have poor infrastructure because it has not been a good steward of its financial resources. Debt is an indication of improper spending habits and inappropriate financial decisions. Stop this madness and vote “NO” on Proposition 68.

State Senator – 37th District


Don’t be fooled by Proposition 68. The proposition promises to protect and improve California’s parks. The truth is it doesn’t.

First, of the $4 billion dollar bond, only $1.3 billion is actually dedicated to improving parks. A lot of the remaining money is given to politicians to spend on their pet projects.

Second, the money is not distributed fairly and equally across the state. Many of our residents in inland and rural California will not see any Prop. 68 park bond money spent to fix and improve their local state parks. This is wrong.

Every Californian should have their local park improved, not just the few who live near parks of powerful politicians.

Third, estimates are that state parks require $1.2 billion dollars for deferred maintenance. Yet, Prop. 68 allocates only a small amount of money for this essential task.

Finally, the Department of Parks and Recreation can’t be trusted with the money. In 2012, the department threatened to close 70 parks, saying it didn’t have the money to keep them open. This was false. An audit discovered the department did have the money, but was hiding it from the public. Until the department is reformed, we can’t trust it to spend the money wisely and fairly.

We need to protect and improve our state parks, but Prop. 68 is the wrong way to do that. Vote No and make the State Legislature really fix the parks for all Californians.

ANDREA SEASTRAND, President Central Coast Taxpayers Association

JON COUPAL, President Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Isn’t it wonderful how many great projects that California can build? I’m not here to tell you that addressing drought, water, parks, climate, coastal protection, and outdoor access is wrong.

What I want to tell you is that borrowing for them is wrong.

California has enough debt. In fact, it has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Its unrestricted net deficit is a quarter trillion dollars! The last thing the State of California needs is more debt!

Bond measures are deceptive. You think you’re voting for something good. But, it will take approximately $8 billion to pay off the $4 billion of borrowed funds. That means you can expect a tax increase. And your children can expect a tax increase. And your grandchildren can expect a tax increase. Why? The $225 million a year must be paid. With a tight annual budget, where else is this money supposed to come from?

The state’s pension plan contributions are rising. The retiree medical unfunded liability has just gone up $15 billion to $91.5 billion. The state’s borrowed debt for schools ($500 million per year) and, possibly, veterans ($225 million) and affordable housing ($169 million) are squeezing out other programs. Minimum wage increases alone will add $4 billion per year to the state’s budget.

This will have to be paid for. And you will be asked to raise your taxes. California is not reducing its debt. Don’t be a part of this problem. Vote “No” on Proposition 68.

Very truly yours,

37th Senate District

Republicans are tripping over each other in the 48th Congressional District race


Last week I wrote about former Orange County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh jumping into the 48th Congressional District race, challenging his longtime friend and incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

This didn’t sit well with the O.C. Republican Party since Baugh dared to not abide by a party maxim: “Thou shall not run against an incumbent Republican.”

He even received a letter from OC Republican Party Chairman Ken Whitaker and other heavy hitters, chastising him for his actions.

One name on that letter: California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte.

Only problem is no one informed Brulte.

Brulte wrote to me saying, “I did not sign the letter. It was never sent to me, and no one asked me to sign.”

Guess these guys need to get their act together if they plan on sending letters to other protocol breakers — Republican Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s running against incumbent District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, also a Republican, as just one example.

And what about candidates running in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach? Republicans in these races challenge each other all the time.

Considering the Republican Central Committee has a history of endorsing candidates in these nonpartisan council races — pitting Republican against Republican — I’m confused as to why party panties are in a bunch about Baugh running against Rohrabacher.

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) shared his thoughts about all of this in his email blast.

“The congressman has stated he was going to retire in two years so many times in the past that he’s been dishonest and abusive to those that are ready to get some real work done in D.C.,” Moorlach wrote.

Moorlach talked to Baugh.

“I told him that if he decided to run anyway, I would support him,” and went on to explain that though he’s supported Rohrabacher’s past runs, he won’t this time.

Moorlach says that 30 years later he “cannot recognize any major committee chairmanships or legislative accomplishments by our congressman.”

Though this is a rare move for Moorlach, he feels, “A protocol should not be an umbrella that protects mediocrity and stagnation. The Republican Party deserves better. And, in my opinion, Dana has made severe missteps of late, and I am one who really wants to improve the brand.”

So Moorlach’s sticking to his political moral compass — not the party line.

But is Baugh’s entry some kind of twisted political conspiracy to make sure the two top vote-getters in the open primary are Republicans, as one reader wrote after my column posted last week?

“Arrangements don’t involve threats, intimidation tactics and letters dropped off at doorsteps in the dark of night,” Baugh says. “There are very real and legitimate differences of opinion as to whether a party protocol should try to silence an alternative choice for the voters when the incumbent has been in the same office for 30 years.”

“How many years are too long?” he asks. “I don’t know the magic number, but 30 years seems to be considerably past that number.”

Though the Rohrabacher-Baugh match-up is an explosive upset for their county party, and there are a total of five Republicans in the race, Democrats are pretty messy too.

With far too many candidates — eight at last count — for any one to be viable, it seems their county party can’t reign in loose cannons either.

This is political theater at its best and too good to pass up. So for the first time the Feet to the Fire Forum gang will tackle a congressional race at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Orange Coast College Robert B Moore Theater. We’ll speak with the two 48th Congressional race primary winners.

Initially, we were planning for May 30, before the June primary, but with so many Democrats, Republicans and at least one independent candidates, not to mention the media panelists, we’d have almost 16 to 18 people on stage. That isn’t feasible.

So we’ve decided to wait until after the primary for a 60-minute chat with the top-two candidates, which could very well be Rohrabacher and Baugh, or one of them and a Democrat.

Baugh says he welcomes facing any challenger on F2F — if he’s a primary pick.

There are other live forums. On Sept. 19 the F2F conversation will be dedicated to Costa Mesa. The 90-minute debate will be split into two parts — the first devoted to council candidates, the second to the mayoral race.

We’ll turn our attention to the Newport council race Sept. 20.

All forums will be taped for re-broadcast on CMTV, NBTV, YouTube and streamed live. I’ll have more information as production meetings progress.

And we’re also doing Feet to the Fire podcasts. Check out the latest at

BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at bvontv1

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.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — OC Congressional Races — March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was appointed to serve as the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector on March 17, 1995. I was elected to serve in the State Legislature for the 37th Senate District on March 17, 2015. So, let’s start the discussion on those willing to endure the process to serve the public.

Campaign season officially opened at 5 p.m. on March 9th for most of the races on the ballot. March 9th was the last day for a candidate to file to be officially recognized on the Primary ballot, unless the incumbent chooses to not rerun, thus giving a five-day extension. As this deadline was March 14th, what is affectionately known as “silly season,” is now upon us.

With campaigns come endorsements. My grid for making endorsements is rather simple. First, I usually stay out of races where two friends are running against each other, unless I have a long-time and close relationship with one of them. Second, as a member of the California Republican Party, the bylaws require that I only endorse Republicans, which I stick to rare exceptions in nonpartisan contests. And thirdly, in races with two or more Republicans, tradition dictates that I support the incumbent, with even rarer exceptions.

Today’s topic is the Orange County Congressional races. I’ll try to address the five ballot measures in a future UPDATE, as I am a signatory in opposition to two of the propositions, Propositions 68 and 69, something I haven’t participated in since Proposition 71 in 2004.

The Voice of OC provides a broad and in depth overview of all of the races in the first piece below. Note: It was released on March 12th.

The Laguna Beach Indy takes a closer look at the 48th Congressional District in the second piece below. When Scott Baugh contacted me, I reminded him of the protocol to not contest sitting incumbents. But, I was not there to tell him that Congressman Rohrabacher was a better candidate.

And the Daily Pilot provides an editorial perspective in the third piece below. The Congressman has stated he was going to retire in two years so many times in the past that he’s been dishonest and abusive to those that are ready to get some real work done in D.C.

After I reminded Scott Baugh of the Party’s protocol, I told him that if he decided to run anyway, I would support him.

I was there when Dana won in 1988. I oversaw the volunteer efforts of his campaign in 1992, finding volunteers to walk every precinct in Costa Mesa on his behalf. It was an effort that had a big impact on my life. But, 30 years later and that I cannot recognize any major committee chairmanships or legislative accomplishments by our Congressman is a tragedy. Especially from a District overloaded with talent. So, this is a very rare exception for me. A protocol should not be an umbrella that protects mediocrity and stagnation. The Republican Party deserves better. And, in my opinion, Dana has made severe missteps of late and I am one who really wants to improve the brand.

Candidates for OC’s Four Contested Congressional Seats




The crowded field of candidates running for four Orange County Congressional seats narrowed slightly Friday, as several candidates failed to file paperwork by the 5 p.m. deadline for their names to appear on the June 5 primary election ballot.

Democrats nationwide are targeting the four Orange County Republican strongholds, the 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th Congressional districts, in a campaign to secure 24 seats across the country that would give them a majority in the House of Representatives. They consider at least some of the four Orange County GOP-held seats vulnerable because for the first time in 80 years, the four districts voted for a Democrat, Hilary Clinton, in the 2016 presidential election.

Democrats are focused on two districts where longtime incumbents, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) of the 39th district and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) of the 49th district, aren’t running for re-election. Because the incumbents aren’t running, the deadline for filing in those two districts is Wednesday, March 14.

Orange County Democratic leaders have tried in recent weeks to narrow the field of candidates in order to avoid a scenario in June where Democratic voters split their power among several candidates, allowing two Republican candidates to receive the majority of votes and move onto the November general election. California has a “top two” primary where the two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary, regardless of their political party, face off in November.

But few candidates have stepped aside. In the 39th District for example, so far 19 candidates have filed, including 10 Democrats and seven Republicans.

The state Democratic Convention last month resulted in only two endorsements out of the four Congressional Districts because delegates from the 39th and 49th districts couldn’t decide who to recommend.

And there are no endorsements from state Republicans yet because their convention isn’t until the weekend of May 4.

39th Congressional District

There could be over 19 candidates will be on the June 5 primary ballot for voters in the 39th district, including nine Democrats. After 25-year Republican Congressman Royce announced in January he wouldn’t seek re-election, six Republicans entered the race. There also is one candidate registered as having no party preference and one from the American Independent Party.

More candidates could file by the extended 5 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

The 39th district includes most of north Orange County, including parts of Buena Park, Placentia and Anaheim Hills and contains all of Yorba Linda, Brea, La Habra and Fullerton. It also includes parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Candidate filing data came from the registrars of voters those three counties but the Secretary of State will compile the official list of candidates after March 14.

Democratic candidate Andy Thorburn raised the most money last year at $2.5 million, including $2 million of his own money, but former one-term Republican Assemblywoman Young Kim gathered the most endorsements including Royce, whom Kim worked for before she was elected to the State Assembly in 2014.

Kim also is endorsed by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and 2nd District Supervisor Michelle Steel. Seven Republican Assemblymembers have endorsed her as have numerous city council members from communities in and outside the 39th district.

Republican county Supervisor Shawn Nelson, another 39th district candidate, has been endorsed by five California Republican officeholders including Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Assemblyman Phillip Chen of Diamond Bar, State Senator John Moorlach of Costa Mesa, Orange County 1st District Supervisor Andrew Do and San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman.

The Federal Elections Commission website has no campaign finance data for Nelson, Kim and the other Republicans who entered the race earlier this year. The next quarterly filing date for campaign finance is March 31.

Thorburn has garnered endorsements from some Democrats including Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer of Los Angeles.

Like Thorburn, Democratic challenger Gil Cisneros gave himself a little over $1.3 million, and raised $1.6 million last year. But unlike other high fundraising Democratic candidates, Cisneros is endorsed by several Democratic state and federal elected officials: eight members of Congress, including Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Linda Sanchez of Whittier; and three Assembly members, including Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton.

While the district spans three counties and has 361,000 registered voters, the bulk of voters are in Orange County at 223,000, according to a January voter registration report from the Secretary of State.

Republicans still hold a slight edge in the district with 35.5 percent of voters, with Democrats close behind with 34 percent. Voters with no party preference total 26 percent.

Election analysis website Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists the 39th as a toss up while another handicapper site, The Cook Political Report, lists the district leaning Democratic.

45th Congressional District

There are five challengers looking to unseat Rep. Mimi Walters in the southeast Orange County district, including five Democrats and one no party preference candidate. Walters raised the most money last year with $1.6 million, over half of it from a joint fundraising committee, Mimi Walters Victory Fund, which is used by other political action committees to fundraise and spend on events. Walters has been in office for three years.

So far, the closest anybody’s gotten to Walter’s war chest is Democrat Brian Forde, who raised $873,000. Around $100,000 of that was directed to his campaign through San Francisco-based Coinbase, a digital currency bank, but Forde’s web site doesn’t list any endorsements.

Katie Porter, a Democrat, is just behind Forde with $741,000 raised. She’s been able to score some high-level endorsements, including Democratic U.S. Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Democrat Dave Min raised $678,000 last year. Min won the state Democratic party endorsement in late February, which means he’ll likely be able to increase his campaign fundraising ability. He’s been endorsed by Quirk-Silva and her husband, Fullerton Councilman Jesus Silva.

48th Congressional District

Voters in the 48th district will have 16 names on their primary ballot, including incumbent Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher has been in Congress for nearly 30 years. He’s going up against five other Republicans, including former state Assembly Republican leader Scott Baugh.

Rohrabacher raised nearly $1.1 million last year, with a sizeable chunk coming from various political action committees like the California Victory Fund, a political action committee that doesn’t have any financial information on the FEC website yet.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Harley Rouda Jr. also raised about $1.3 million last year. He self-funded most of his war chest at nearly $750,000. ActBlue, a Democratic fundraising organization, also has been giving to Rouda’s campaign.

Rouda is endorsed by former state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state Senator Henry Stern of Canoga Park.

While Baugh didn’t raise any money last year, he enters the race with $545,000 in campaign finances left over from 2016 when he was setting up a run. He just entered the race last week.

Democrat Hans Keirstead raised $872,000 last year and, like Rouda, Keirstead also is self-funded, but much less at about $210,000. He’s also received numerous contributions from ActBlue. The state Democratic Party endorsed Keirstead at its convention last month. Keirstead also has endorsements from two Congressmen and State Senator Bill Dodd of Napa.

The district spans the coastal cities of Orange County from Seal Beach to Laguna Niguel and stretches east into parts of Westminster and Garden Grove. It also includes Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach.

Rohrabacher, who has been a member of Congress since 1989, won reelection in 2016 with a nearly 17-point margin over his opponent. But this year, the Cook Report and Crystal Ball classified the district as a toss up.

The district is home to 400,000 voters and the Republicans hold over 40 percent of the registered voters. Democrats are at just under 30 percent of voters, while the no preference voters make up just over a quarter of the district.

Like the rest of the districts, about half of voters turned out for the 2016 primaries, a presidential election year, up from about a quarter on average in primaries before that. In 2014, the turnout was just under 25 percent.

49th Congressional District

The 49th could have least 10 candidates heading into the primary election, after the district’s Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of Vista said in January he won’t seek reelection. Most of the district is in San Diego County but it also includes south Orange County.

There are four Republicans running for Issa’s seat, four Democrats, one Peace and Freedom candidate and one candidate from the K-9 party. The candidate filing data was pulled from Orange County and San Diego County registrars of voters. San Diego’s list doesn’t list anyone as qualified for ballot, even the candidates who’ve filed their nomination papers. The registrar’s website calls it the “unofficial list” of candidates.

Like the 39th district, the deadline to file candidacy papers has been extended to March 14 because of Issa’s announcement. The Secretary of State will make an official candidate list after that.

Issa, whose first term was in 2001, won reelection in 2016 by less than a percentage point against Democratic challenger Doug Applegate. Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, is running again this election.

Democratic challenger Sara Jacobs raised the most money last year with $1.3 million. She self-funded over $1 million of that amount. She’s received endorsements from three members of Congress.

On Jacobs’ heels is Democrat Mike Levin, who managed to raise $1.2 million, mostly through individual contributions and money from ActBlue. He’s received endorsements from eight Congress members including Adam Schiff of Burbank, two state Senators and three Assembly members.

Democrat Paul Kerr isn’t far behind with just over $1 million in his war chest. He self-funded the bulk of that at around $700,000.

Meanwhile, Applegate is behind at $680,000. He’s been endorsed by Assemblyman Tom Daly of Anaheim and former Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.

Republican candidates don’t have any campaign finance data available yet from the FEC website.

Applegate isn’t the only former Marine in the 49th District race, which encompasses Marine Corps Camp Pendleton in north San Diego County.

GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside, also a retired Marine colonel, is running. While there’s no campaign finance data available for his campaign yet, he’s started gathering endorsements from various city council members in San Diego county.

Another GOP elected official, Board of Equalization Chairwoman Diane Harkey, entered the race after Issa’s announcement and has garnered an endorsement from 45th District Congresswoman Walters. Additionally, Orange County Supervisors Do, Michelle Steel and Lisa Bartlett are backing Harkey, as is Sheriff Hutchens.

The district touches the most southern cities in the county, including San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente. The 49th also stretches down the west side of San Diego county, ending before La Jolla.

The 49th district is home to 380,000 registered voters in Orange and San Diego counties. Republicans still hold the majority at 37 percent, while Democrats are at 31 percent. Like the other districts, the no preference voters make up just over a quarter of registered voters.

The Cook Report and the Crystal Ball classify the district as leaning Democratic.

GOP Insider Enters Congressional Race

By : Andrea Adelson

Eighteen people qualified as June primary candidates in the congressional race for District 48 along Orange County’s coastal communities, including the last-minute entry of former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh.

Baugh, who served five years in the state Assembly 18 years ago, said his decision to challenge fellow Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher was partly compelled by the urging of co-workers, neighbors and supporters.

“This chorus of people encouraged me to run because Dana has said he wants to retire and I think it shows in where he places his current priorities,” Baugh said in an interview Wednesday, a week after he turned in his candidacy papers to the Orange County Registrar.

Scott Baugh

Scott Baugh

Rohrabacher, of Costa Mesa and currently serving his 15th term, is “preoccupied with Putin, Assange and marijuana,” said Baugh. “The chorus I’m hearing is that 30 years is enough.”

California’s “jungle” primary catapults the top two vote getters onto the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Republicans hold 40 percent of the district’s registration to 30 percent each among Democrats and no party preference voters.

Some party insiders have expressed concern that eight or more Democratic contenders in District 48 will splinter support and jeopardize the chances that any one of them will succeed in the primary. Now the county GOP, whose state party followed protocol by endorsing the incumbent, is in a similar situation with five Republicans on the June primary ballot.

“The fact that Scott Baugh is moving forward regardless of the party endorsement shows there is now division within the Republican party,” said Omar Siddiqui, 50, of Costa Mesa, one of the Democratic rivals in the contest. “Anything is possible; the key thing is to get out the vote. The no-party preference vote can make a world of difference.”

Dan Walters, in a post on the political newsletter Calmatters, suggested that Baugh’s candidacy exploits the lack of discipline among Democrats and the California primary system to block Democrats from reaching the November ballot and thus preserving an embattled seat for Republicans.

“There is a lot of talk here of the two Republicans winning,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican from Costa Mesa, a friend of Baugh who nevertheless expressed surprise at his candidacy.

District 48 Democratic candidate Michael Kotick, 34, of Laguna Beach, disagrees with that scenario. He thinks Baugh lacks both name recognition outside of party insiders and a campaign infrastructure. “I don’t think this changes the game plan. I think it’s going to be won by who goes door to door and who puts in the work to connect with voters in the district.”

In anticipation of Rohrabacher’s retirement in 2016, Baugh, 55, of Huntington Beach, raised a campaign war chest that stands at $576,000, which now ranks third in the fundraising race among candidates, based on Dec. 31 Federal Election Commission filings.

Democratic challenger Harley Rouda, 56, of Laguna Beach, leads with $834,000, while the incumbent has $713,000 on hand, followed by Siddiqui with $540,000 and Hans Keirstead, also of Laguna, with $490,000. The district spans the coast from Seal Beach to Laguna Beach and includes Garden Grove.

“He’s proven he’s a money raiser,” Moorlach said of Baugh. “That’s impressive.”

As a lawmaker, Baugh developed good relationships with state Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg, now a state senator. “He displayed an ability to work across the aisle,” said Moorlach, but noted that Baugh’s candidacy upends the party protocol ceding deference to incumbents. “This is a rebellion,” Moorlach said.

Baugh denied trying to sabotage the chances of success by a Democrat in the primary in his own bid to unseat Rohrabacher. “That is not my intent,” he said. “This is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made,” he said, citing mutual friendships, his own friendship with the lawmaker and party protocol. “All of those make it really difficult.” Even so, Baugh said, “the time is now to start working on things that matter and I think Dana’s lost that focus.”

Baugh said his decision was also partly shaped by a recently forwarded 1993 article where Rohrabacher voiced his support for term limits. In explaining his position, Rohrabacher said, “you’re actually part of the system here rather than representing your people back home.”

“He’s become precisely what he predicted,” Baugh said.

Rohrabacher did not respond to a request for comment about Baugh’s candidacy. Neither did OC GOP chair Fred Whitaker.

In a statement, Keirstead, who has received the endorsement of the state Democratic party, said “Orange County voters have zero confidence that Donald Trump, Dana Rohrabacher, or Scott Baugh are looking out for them.”

The district is one of several in the county where Trump lost in 2016 but Republican incumbents were re-elected.

About the Author

The author is the editor of the Laguna Beach Independent. Prior to taking the job in 2005, she worked previously as a reporter at five daily newspapers, including the Daily Pilot in Costa Mesa, the Daily News of Los Angeles and the New York Times. Reach her by emailing andrea.

Congressional primary makes rivals of two old Republican friends


A political insider goes rogue, challenges powerful friends and a core principle of his party: Thou shall not run against an incumbent.

An intriguing pitch for a TV pilot, sure, but this drama is actually the new reality facing the Orange County Republican Party.

Republicans have a renegade in the 48th Congressional District race with former O.C. Republican Chairman Scott Baugh challenging incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa.

In 2016 Baugh told me Rohrabacher made it clear to him that he was “looking for a departure in 2016 or 2018.” This prompted Baugh to file a statement of candidacy and start fundraising to the tune of about half a million dollars.

Baugh said he wouldn’t run for the seat unless Rohrabacher retired.

When that didn’t happen, Baugh backed off.

That was until last week, when he pulled papers to run against his pal and challenge his party’s principle.

Was his original strategy not to have a two-year fight with Rohrabacher, but rather a three-month primary battle now?

Baugh chuckles at that suggestion, saying that certainly wasn’t his long-term game plan, and tells me he didn’t make the decision to run lightly.

“We have big issues facing the country — from the debt, dysfunctional heath care, open borders — and we need everyone pulling together, working on solutions,” he says.

Baugh points to his work as party chairman, managing opposing viewpoints and coming to consensus.

“I have a record of reaching across the aisle with the Democrats and solving problems,” he says. “If you’re in public office and not doing that then you’re not doing your job.”

Baugh explains it’s not enough to “vote the right way, but more important to create the voting opportunities with coalition building,” to get things accomplished.

Squarely in Baugh’s corner is state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who understands his party won’t be happy with him supporting Baugh, but there are bigger issues at stake.

Both Baugh and Moorlach feel Rohrabacher has been in this seat too long, 34 years, accomplishing nothing monumental, and it’s time for a change.

Considering the current fractured state of the party, disenchanted Republican voters might welcome this shake-up, offering someone other than Rohrabacher to support.

Couple that with the fact Baugh and Rohrabacher have been long-time friends (who knows your strengths and weaknesses better than a close friend?), this is going to be an interesting battle.

As party chairman, Baugh was a maverick of political strategy and fundraising, using these skills to support his candidates, including Rohrabacher’s past reelection bids.

He’ll certainly be a force to reckon with.

I wondered how Rohrabacher felt about all of this, but he wasn’t available for comment, according to his press person.

Rohrabacher’s already facing a crowded field of Democratic opponents. If this herd doesn’t thin, they risk splitting the opposing vote, because of California’s open primary, which means the top-two vote-getters face off in the general election.

In this scenario Rohrabacher could win, unless he faces another strong Republican, which Baugh is.

The county party isn’t happy with the prospect of this Clash of the Republican Titans.

On March 12, OCGOP Chairman Fred Whitaker sent out an email statement saying he’s “fielded dozens, if not a hundred emails and phone calls, asking why the Republican Party would allow Scott Baugh’s challenge to Congressman Rohrabacher in the 48th Congressional District.”

“Let me reiterate, we are a republic, not a dictatorship,” he wrote. “We can persuade, but we cannot prevent, nor should we want anyone to have that type of power. Party leadership actively communicated with Scott Baugh and others that challenging an endorsed Republican incumbent in good standing would not be well held.”

Whitaker acknowledges he holds the chairmanship in part because of Baugh.

“I would not be chairman, but for him asking me to run to succeed him,” he says. “I consider Scott to be my friend. I hope to work with him for our cause in the future. However, this path he’s taken is pitting Republican against Republican, taking dollars, donors and volunteers from our efforts to fight Democrats.”

Attached to Whitaker’s email notice was the letter sent to Baugh urging him not to run.

“Proceeding on your current path is destructive to the Republican Party of Orange County, which you helped build,” the letter warns. “It is divisive and presents an unnecessary distraction.”

As I read the release and the letter, nowhere did Whitaker call out specific accomplishments of Rohrabacher over the past three decades, but rather hung on to the principle that Republicans shouldn’t challenge incumbents.

​Baugh’s reaction to Whitaker’s letter?

“It was very immature,” and dropped at his doorstep at 10:30 at night, Baugh says.

Baugh questions an attached list of names, including Orange County-area elected officials, supposedly endorsing the letter.

“About half the people either never heard of the letter or called to apologize for the letter,” he says. “I also received several calls from people who were being pressured to sign it but declined. The party has some well-meaning people but they are following dogma that protects all incumbents, even those that have been there for 30 years and should retire. It’s time for a change. My campaign is focused on voters, not back rooms where schemes are hatched.”

Feet to the Fire plans to explore this interesting race, giving all parties an opportunity to face each other, with a candidates forum at 6 p.m. May 30 at the Orange Coast College Robert B. Moore Theater.

BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at bvontv1

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Public Pension Forum — March 8, 2018

Collaboration between cities and CalPERS is beginning, so we’re making headway on how best to address the public employee pension crisis. I’ll be participating in a conference on this topic tomorrow and the Daily Pilot provides the news in the piece below.

The history of this massive financial dilemma has been discussed plenty by me in my UPDATEs over the last two decades, the most recent being MOORLACH UPDATE — Public Pension Management Concerns — March 7, 2018.

I’ve also authored legislative fixes the last two years, which received massive opposition from public employee unions. Now it’s time for the cities to help with successful bill passage that can assist in their budget and cash flow management and planning.

You are cordially invited to attend if your calendar permits. I’ll be discussing my legislative efforts over the last two years and providing my bills for this year’s Session.

Forum in Newport Beach to address public pensions

The Assn. of California Cities-Orange County will hold a pension forum Friday in Newport Beach featuring several local leaders.

The discussion of California’s public pension crisis will include state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Newport Beach City Councilwoman Diane Dixon, Huntington Beach City Councilwoman Lyn Semeta, Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer, Huntington Beach Assistant City Manager Lori Ann Farrell and Kerry Worgan, chief actuary of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The forum will run from 8 a.m. to noon at the Newport Coast Community Center, 6401 San Joaquin Hills Road. Tickets are $25 for association members and $45 for nonmembers.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings – Vol. 5 — February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Daily Pilot has picked up SB 1031 in the first piece below (see MOORLACH UPDATE — City CAFR Rankings – Vol. 4 — February 12, 2018).

The Orange County Breeze provides the notification that we released to announce our three pension related bills in the second piece below.

It is followed by the next 50 cities, #300-251, in our series. No OC cities are included in this group. The above link provides the last volume and links to the first three.

Senate Bill 1032, the second of the three bills introduced last week, is an updated version of last year’s SB 681 (see and MOORLACH UPDATE — CalPERS Exit Strategies — November 18, 2017). It is another solution for struggling municipalities that need options in designing a financial work around plan.

Getting bills out of the Senate Public Employee and Retirement Committee, the customary first stop for pension legislation, will be very difficult, as the unions control three of the five votes. But, we need to provide solutions for municipalities that have contracted with CalPERS that need to consider something more fiscally reasonable and realistic than the very expensive TAP (Terminating Agency Pool) exit strategy. This current straight-jacket approach is not an appropriate strategy at all and is actually fiscal extortion. CalPERS has lost its way and has become a mother of plan sponsors and not a fiduciary provider. Let’s hope this second effort motivates CalPERS to resolve their misplaced authority over what should just be servicing financial customers (versus debt bondage).

BONUS: Do you want to learn more about California’s public employee defined benefit pension plans? I will be participating with fellow governing board members and experts at a public forum on Public Pensions hosted by the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACCOC) Friday morning, March 9th at the Newport Beach Community Center. You are invited to attend. For more information visit:

Political Landscape: State Sen. Moorlach proposes cost-of-living limit on state pension systems


Political Landscape: State Sen. Moorlach proposes cost-of-living limit on state pension systems

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a bill that could limit cost-of-living adjustments for state pensions. (File Photo)

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a bill he contends will reduce the future taxpayer burden to fund the state system while also protecting pensioners’ vested funds

Senate Bill 1031, introduced Thursday, would limit the pension system from making any cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments after Jan. 1, 2019, if the unfunded actuarial liability of the system is greater than 20%.

“It would protect the solvency of public-employee pensions by making sure each yearly COLA … isn’t so large it tips the underlying fund into insolvency,” Moorlach said in a statement. “If a pension system is funded at less than 80%, then the COLA would be suspended until the funding status recovers.

“The requirement would prod pension boards and policymakers to ensure pensions are adequately funded and don’t end up being cut sharply in an emergency, as happened recently to Detroit’s pensions. Not just taxpayers, but state employees and retirees should be the biggest supporters of Senate Bill 1031.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018-19 sets aside $9.3 billion for pensions, with $6.2 billion toward the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and nearly $3.1 billion to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS).

The CalPERS funding is $389 million more than last year.

Inline image 3

Senator John Moorlach introduces Senate Bill 1031 to protect pensions funds

Senator John Moorlach introduces Senate Bill 1031 to protect pensions funds

“With California’s pension problem getting worse every year, I am introducing three new bills to both reduce the future burden on taxpayers and protect retired public employees’ vested funds. Gov. Jerry Brown emphasized the problem in his new budget proposal for fiscal year 2018-19, slating a whopping $9.3 billion just to pay for current pension obligations. That cost is only going to increase and divert money from other priorities unless we make it better.”

“Senate Bill 1031 is the first bill. It would protect the solvency of public-employee pensions by making sure each yearly COLA – cost-of-living-adjustment – isn’t so large it tips the underlying fund into insolvency. If a pension system is funded at less than 80 percent, then the COLA would be suspended until the funding status recovers.”

“The requirement would prod pension boards and policymakers to ensure pensions are adequately funded and don’t end up being cut sharply in an emergency, as happened recently to Detroit’s pensions. Not just taxpayers, but state employees and retirees should be the biggest supporters of Senate Bill 1031.”

This article was released by the Office of Senator John Moorlach.

Rank City Population UNP UNP Per Year of
(Thousands) Capita CAFR
300 Whittier 87,708 ($29,250) ($333) 2017
299 Oakdale 22,711 ($7,411) ($326) 2016
298 Burlingame 30,148 ($9,583) ($318) 2017
297 Roseville 135,868 ($42,898) ($316) 2017
296 Santee 57,100 ($17,759) ($311) 2017
295 Colusa 6,340 ($1,966) ($310) 2017
294 Antioch 114,241 ($34,184) ($299) 2017
293 Campbell 42,726 ($12,748) ($298) 2016
292 Selma 25,156 ($7,383) ($293) 2017
291 Crescent City 6,389 ($1,867) ($292) 2017
290 Oceanside 176,461 ($50,292) ($285) 2017
289 Bakersfield 383,512 ($108,784) ($284) 2017
288 Baldwin Park 75,537 ($21,286) ($282) 2016
287 San Anselmo 12,937 ($3,570) ($276) 2017
286 Grand Terrace 12,435 ($3,219) ($259) 2015
285 Dinuba 24,861 ($6,392) ($257) 2017
284 Sanger 26,412 ($6,695) ($253) 2016
283 California City 14,248 ($3,408) ($239) 2016
282 Dixon 19,298 ($4,444) ($230) 2017
281 Larkspur 12,572 ($2,850) ($227) 2017
280 Livermore 89,648 ($20,114) ($224) 2017
279 Martinez 37,658 ($8,402) ($223) 2016
278 Exeter 10,985 ($2,404) ($219) 2016
277 Clearlake 15,531 ($3,388) ($218) 2015
276 Anderson 10,450 ($2,150) ($206) 2016
275 Barstow 24,248 ($4,893) ($202) 2016
274 Pleasanton 75,916 ($15,319) ($202) 2017
273 Fort Bragg 7,772 ($1,518) ($195) 2017
272 Lake Elsinore 62,092 ($12,062) ($194) 2017
271 La Mesa 60,286 ($11,563) ($192) 2016
270 Galt 25,693 ($4,605) ($179) 2016
269 Reedley 26,152 ($4,457) ($170) 2017
268 Madera 66,082 ($11,207) ($170) 2016
267 Lakeport 4,786 ($801) ($167) 2016
266 San Mateo 103,426 ($16,647) ($161) 2017
265 Mount Shasta 3,355 ($523) ($156) 2017
264 Arroyo Grande 17,736 ($2,754) ($155) 2016
263 Glendora 52,608 ($7,938) ($151) 2017
262 Kingsburg 12,338 ($1,834) ($149) 2017
261 San Ramon 80,550 ($11,566) ($144) 2017
260 Corning 7,522 ($1,065) ($142) 2016
259 Yuba City 67,445 ($9,467) ($140) 2016
258 Watsonville 53,015 ($7,184) ($136) 2016
257 Cotati 7,272 ($958) ($132) 2017
256 Greenfield 17,866 ($2,284) ($128) 2015
255 Murrieta 114,914 ($14,654) ($128) 2016
254 Gridley 6,704 ($843) ($126) 2016
253 Belvedere 2,172 ($264) ($122) 2017
252 Santa Maria 106,280 ($10,597) ($100) 2016
251 Burbank 105,033 ($9,364) ($89) 2017

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