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 — CalSaver Imposition — March 26, 2018

The Secure Choice mandatory defined contribution retirement plan recently approved by the state legislature is still being discussed, but now in other states. Requiring employers, who do not currently have qualified plans for their employees, to withhold from their hired help will be an interesting new task the state will assume. Another department is needed in California like a proverbial hole in the head.

I opposed this bill in 2016, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Snubbing — May 10, 2017 and the following, with the included links, at MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1234 — August 26, 2016 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Secure Choice Losses? — October 12, 2016.

I also unsuccessfully ran SCA 1 last year to prevent the taxpayers from being on the hook for any investment losses, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Addressing Pension Mess — June 24, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Legislative Efforts — June 29, 2017),

and, with the included links, at MOORLACH UPDATE — SCA 1 Warranty — March 7, 2017.

The subject continued to surface, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Snubbing — May 10, 2017 and the following, with the included links, at MOORLACH UPDATE — Retire Secure Choice — December 19, 2017 and MOORLACH UPDATE — State-Run Retirement Plan — May 19, 2017.

The Associated Press provides yet another look at the movement and momentum of this ancillary duty that some state governments are imposing on themselves, as if the private sector isn’t already doing it more efficiently and at less cost, in the piece below.

The program has recently changed its name to CalSaver. In fact, the State Treasurer recently opined on Secure Choice in the OC Register (so I may respond). Did he change its name because the concept is neither secure or a choice?







Many states looking to help workers save for retirement


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York is among a growing number of states considering legislation to create government-sponsored payroll-deduction retirement programs for small businesses, which financial planners say could be a relatively painless way to help Americans reverse a dismal record of saving for their golden years.

Personal finance expert Jean Chatzky notes 52 percent of American households age 55 or over have no retirement savings, leaving them with only Social Security. She’s working with AARP in New York and other states to lobby for an individual retirement account plan with state oversight for small businesses that allows workers to have a portion of their paychecks set aside automatically.

“In my book of money rules, my favorite one is: ‘If you can’t see it and can’t touch it, you won’t spend it,’” Chatzky said. “That’s the magic behind the 401(k) and other work-based retirement plans. The problem for 3.5 million New Yorkers is that they don’t have access to one.”

With an estimated 55 million Americans lacking access to retirement plans at work, 40 states have considered legislation since 2012 to establish state-facilitated retirement programs for private-sector workers. Five have enacted state-run programs and two, New Jersey and Washington state, have launched marketplaces connecting employers with low-cost private-sector retirement plans.

New York’s plan, proposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2018 budget and awaiting action in the Legislature, would have a state board oversee investments made through payroll deduction with no employer contribution.

It’s similar to initiatives launched in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Oregon, but with a key difference: Participation by businesses would be voluntary in New York, while the other five states mandate that companies meeting a certain size threshold automatically enroll all employees.

“We think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Corey Meyer, who with his wife Sara owns Little Bird Kitchen, a Long Island confectioner that makes jalapeno-laced chocolates. “It allows small businesses to have access to employee perks that normally we can’t afford.”

The Business Council of New York State, which represents private employers, initially opposed the legislation. But the group is reevaluating its position pending clarification of the voluntary nature of the program, said Lev Ginsburg, the Business Council’s financial services expert.

Mandated state-run retirement savings plans have gotten pushback from businesses and Congressional Republicans who say they stifle private competition, impose onerous regulations and expose employers to lawsuits.

Last year, President Donald Trump signed legislation revoking an Obama-era Labor Department rule designed to provide a legal safe haven for the state programs, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “more government at the expense of the private sector and American workers.”

In California, where a program administered by a state board will automatically enroll nearly 7 million workers starting in 2019, critics say it could expose taxpayers to a costly bailout if the investment fund plummets during the next recession.

California Republican state Sen. John Moorlach, a certified financial planner, said low-income workers don’t save because they can’t afford to. He noted that the federal government closed the Obama-era myRA program last summer for lack of demand.

The Treasury Department said the myRA program, launched in late 2015 for people without access to a 401(k) or other workplace retirement plan, had about 20,000 funded accounts with an average of $1,500, and would have cost taxpayers $10 million a year to maintain.

Katie Chaisson, 27, a baker at the Psychedelicatessen bagel bistro in Troy, said putting money aside would be easier with an automatic payroll deduction. “Now that I have a son, I think about saving for the future more than I ever did before,” she said.

Laura Kerrone, who owns the tie-dye decorated bagel shop, said she can’t compete with corporations that can offer medical plans and other big-ticket perks, but a state-facilitated retirement savings plan might help her keep valuable employees.

“Anything I could offer my employees, especially if it involves virtually no work or cost for me, I absolutely would do that,” Kerrone said.

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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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — San Francisco County #56/57 — March 20, 2018

In 2006, former city council member Carl DeMaio successfully authored a ballot measure for the city of San Diego that required voter approval for any future negotiated public pension plan improvements that create an immediate liability (debt).

In 2008, I did the same thing in the County of Orange. Measure J passed overwhelmingly (see the LOOK BACKS in MOORLACH UPDATE — Social Host Ordinance — November 6, 2013 and MOORLACH UPDATE — Conditions of Children — October 24, 2013). And, we both stole the idea from the city and county of San Francisco, which had the same requirement in its charter for more than a century.

In the first piece below, CalPensions starts off with this little tidbit of trivia, because this provision helped garner San Francisco a rating upgrade. Who would have thought?

This piece also commends the retiree medical reforms that were implemented by San Francisco. For more fun on this subject, see the reforms I assisted in implementing in Orange County back in 2006, a dozen years ago, at MOORLACH UPDATE — Retiree Medical Reform — March 3, 2014.

While I was a County Supervisor, I also made requiring all employees to contribute toward their pension plans a high priority (and there are plenty of links to this effort–but I’ll spare you). This is another initiative that San Francisco implemented and now garners it some well deserved praise. So, now you know why the OC also enjoys higher credit ratings.

Moody’s Investor Service is the best of the main credit rating agencies. So, after giving San Francisco such praise on its retiree funding management, it had to scramble when asked about the city’s low standing in my city ranking. It’s nice to receive a professional explanation. But, we may hear more of them in the coming months and they may just sound like sad excuses. Many cities in the 400 range are surfacing in articles, like Compton and Santa Cruz. At least you now know why.

As 17 percent of the residents of California live in unincorporated areas, I’m providing the ranking of California’s 58 counties in the second piece below. I did this with the June 30, 2010 CAFRs, when I was Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2012. In that list, San Francisco placed 57th. It’s the third piece below.

But, seven years later, San Francisco is still at the bottom of the list. There were some surprises. Modoc County jumped up 56 places. It’s CAFR was nonexistent seven years ago, and the current one is being criticized by the Controller’s office. Monterrey County moved up 31 places. Seven other counties moved up more than 20 places, and four moved up more than 10. Sixteen counties moved up 1 to 9 places and sixteen others moved down 1 to 9 places. Two counties held their positions. Five dropped more than 10 places, two dropped more than 30, and four dropped more than forty places.

Now that defined benefit pension liabilities must be included in the balance sheets, the rankings have seen some interesting movement. It’s like a game of 52-Card Pickup. Check it out below.

California will be announcing its June 30, 2017 CAFR soon. When the Controller releases it, I’ll provide the updated rankings of all 50 states.

Pensions help San Francisco earn top bond rating

By Ed Mendel

Tight pension management helped San Francisco get an upgrade this month to Moody’s highest general obligation bond rating, something many might not expect in a city known for liberal-leaning politics.

A distinctive feature of the San Francisco system — requiring voter approval of pension increases — was adopted by more conservative voters for the San Diego pension system in 2006 and the Orange County pension system in 2008.

The San Francisco public pension system was regarded as a well-funded model, the recipient of good management awards that had gone eight years with no annual payments from the city.

It was a sharp contrast to the lingering scar of an Orange County bankruptcy in 1994 and a multi-year “Enron by the sea” pension scandal in San Diego, which in 2006 featured indictments of five city officials and an SEC sanction for faulty retirement debt bond bond disclosures.

Now San Francisco is the epicenter of a high-tech boom generating high household income, property values, tax revenue and presumably bondholder security. Moody’s also praises its retirement debt management.

“The upgrade to Aaa (from Aa1) reflects the material strengthening of San Francisco’s credit, underscored by its effective management of pension and retiree health liabilities, particularly in contrast to other large cities,” said the new Moody’s bond rating.

Moody’s Investor Service has been a leading critic of public pensions, using its own lower bond-based earnings forecast to calculate debt and its own “tread water” analysis to calculate whether employer-employee contributions are high enough to pay down debt.

The new rating said the upgrade reflecting the long-term strengthening of the city’s economy, tax base and socioeconomic profile could have been “negated” without proper debt management.

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell said in a statement the upgrade to Moody’s highest credit rating “justifiably” recognizes the city for its effort to “become a national model of responsible fiscal governance.”

Moody’s mentions two factors: a retiree health reform that takes longer to earn benefits and aims for full pre-funding, and pensions with higher employee payments and lower police and firefighter formulas than one widely adopted after a CalPERS-sponsored bill, SB 400 in 1999.

The upgrade makes no comparisons. But the San Francisco pension system takes a smaller bite out of the general fund than some other big-city retirement systems, leaving more money for basic services and programs.

“Over the last decade, the City’s General Fund expenditures related to employer (pension) contribution has gone from 2.5% of General Fund spending to over 7% of General Fund spending,” an update of the San Francisco five-year financial plan said in December.

San Jose retirement costs are nearly 23 percent of the general fund this fiscal year, up from 6.5 percent in fiscal 2001-02. Los Angeles spends about 20 percent of its general fund on pension and retiree health care, up from 5 percent in 2002.

San Francisco voters approved a retiree health care reform, Proposition B in 2008, that increased the generous vesting period from five years (some of which could be served at other employers) to a sliding scale beginning at 10 years and increasing coverage until 20 years.

The reform began pre-funding retiree health care, setting aside money to invest like pension funds. New hires contribute 2 percent of their pay and employers 1 percent. Employees hired before the reform began contributing in 2016 and will reach 1 percent of pay next fiscal year.

San Francisco will be decades covering a retiree health care debt or unfunded liability estimated at $4 billion in 2008.

“For fiscal year 2014, the City’s pay-as-you-go expense was $160.7 million and contributions to the Retiree Health Care Trust fund were $5.9 million,” Controller Ben Rosenfield said in a 2015 report.

The San Francisco Employees Retirement System combines police and firefighters with other or “miscellaneous” employees, unlike some large cities, and has a low employer rate reduced by raising employee rates.

A cost-sharing provision approved by voters, Proposition C in 2011, requires employees to pay part of the net employer contribution rate, depending on pay level and employee group. (see chart)

An anticipated decline in employer rates “was reversed significantly starting in 2016 due to the loss of the supplemental COLA lawsuit, employees living longer, and lower than expected investment returns in 2015 and 2016,” said the five-year financial plan update.

An appeals court overturned part of Proposition C that ended higher payments to retirees when investments have “excess earnings.” A retiree group successfully sued to overturn part of a measure backed by all 11 county supervisors, business and labor, and 69 percent of voters.

The San Francisco contribution rates, 11.08 percent of pay for employees and 19.81 percent for employees, are still far below the rates for the two troubled San Jose retirement systems.

The San Jose Federated City Employees Retirement System rates for employees are 15.36% of pay (pension 6.60%, retiree health 8.76%) and for employers 103.45% of pay (pension 94.04%, retiree health 9.41%).

The San Jose Police and Fire Department Retirement Plan rates for employees are 21.12% of pay (pension 11.38%, retiree health 9.74%) and for employers 106.68% of pay (pension 96.06%, retiree health 10.62%).

Last June the San Francisco system had 86 percent of the projected assets needed to pay future obligations, using a 7.5 percent earnings forecast to discount future costs, according to an annual actuarial report.

The funding level would be lower, and contribution rates higher, if the system used a 7 percent discount rate like the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teachers Retirement System.

And also last June, a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury report concluded that most of the debt of the system, which has been underfunded for more than a decade, was approved by the voters who in theory are a safeguard.

“There are several causes for the underfunding of the Retirement System, but the main underlying cause is the retroactive retirement benefit increases implemented by voter-approved propositions between 1996 and 2008,” said the report.

Last week state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, known for issuing a warning before the Orange County bankruptcy, issued a report on the “financial soundness” of the state’s 482 cities, saying some face insolvency mainly due to pension debt.

Dividing their “unrestricted net position” in annual financial reports by their population, he ranked San Francisco at 474 with a negative UNP per capita of $2,929. He said San Francisco, a combined city and county, also ranked near the bottom in his similar study of the 58 counties in 2010.

Asked for a response, Moody’s said San Francisco is a large issuer of general obligation bonds repaid with voter-approved property tax revenue, the UNP may mask revenue programs like building inspection that pay pension costs, and a per-capita metric may miss revenue not paid directly to the city from businesses, commuters, and tourists.

“Long-term projections indicate that expenditure growth will outpace revenue growth,” said the Moody’s upgrade, “but this is mitigated by the city/county’s demonstrated record of conservative budgeting and financial management practices.

“Here in particular, the charter amendments governing pension and health care benefits and funding are critical tools that should enable San Francisco to maintain its currently very strong credit position.”

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at

No. County Population Unrestricted Net Position (Thousands) UNP Per Capita 2010
1 San Mateo 770,203 $1,032,917 $ 1,341 6
2 Modoc 9,580 $8,040 $ 839 58
3 Alameda 1,645,359 $115,106 $ 70 24
4 San Benito 56,854 -$6,157 $ (108) 8
5 Napa 142,408 -$20,269 $ (142) 5
6 Ventura 857,386 -$198,202 $ (231) 15
7 Imperial 188,334 -$46,205 $ (245) 28
8 Tulare 471,842 -$151,683 $ (321) 33
9 San Diego 3,316,192 -$1,151,817 $ (347) 31
10 Monterey 442,365 -$157,830 $ (357) 41
11 Marin 263,604 -$101,488 $ (385) 19
12 Stanislaus 548,057 -$250,776 $ (458) 36
13 San Bernardino 2,160,256 -$1,004,921 $ (465) 39
14 Lake 64,945 -$34,337 $ (529) 13
15 Kings 149,537 -$79,544 $ (532) 22
16 Placer 382,837 -$212,323 $ (555) 10
17 Solano 436,023 -$287,818 $ (660) 12
18 Amador 38,382 -$25,539 $ (665) 11
19 Lassen 30,918 -$21,243 $ (687) 16
20 Riverside 2,384,783 -$1,689,770 $ (709) 9
21 Tehama 63,995 -$46,632 $ (729) 14
22 San Luis Obispo 280,101 -$226,970 $ (810) 4
23 Santa Clara 1,938,180 -1,586,614 $ (819) 37
24 Calaveras 45,168 -$37,912 $ (839) 44
25 Sonoma 505,120 -$457,536 $ (906) 30
26 Shasta 178,605 -$167,268 $ (937) 18
27 Fresno 995,975 -$939,690 $ (943) 21
28 Orange 3,194,024 -$3,074,958 $ (963) 46
29 Butte 226,404 -$226,249 $ (999) 32
30 San Joaquin 746,868 -$780,575 $ (1,045) 38
31 Sutter 96,956 -$102,750 $ (1,060) 25
32 Nevada 98,828 -$106,804 $ (1,081) 27
33 Contra Costa 1,139,513 -$1,245,474 $ (1,093) 51
34 Merced 274,665 -$305,870 $ (1,114) 26
35 Yolo 218,896 -$250,551 $ (1,145) 48
36 Santa Barbara 450,663 -$532,968 $ (1,183) 43
37 El Dorado 185,062 -$223,360 $ (1,207) 45
38 Santa Cruz 276,603 -$363,118 $ (1,313) 35
39 Plumas 19,819 -$27,628 $ (1,394) 3
40 Madera 156,492 -$221,281 $ (1,414) 34
41 Humboldt 136,953 -$202,284 $ (1,477) 23
42 Sacramento 1,514,770 -$2,351,925 $ (1,553) 42
43 Del Norte 27,124 -$43,006 $ (1,586) 47
44 Alpine 1,151 -$1,887 $ (1,640) 1
45 Colusa 22,043 -$36,256 $ (1,645) 29
46 Inyo 18,619 -$32,530 $ (1,747) 2
47 Los Angeles 10,241,278 -$18,728,499 $ (1,829) 52
48 Tuolumne 54,707 -$100,120 $ (1,830) 50
49 Mendocino 89,134 -$163,487 $ (1,834) 54
50 Kern 895,112 -$1,713,301 $ (1,914) 49
51 Mono 13,713 -$27,331 $ (1,993) 7
52 Yuba 74,577 -$152,148 $ (2,040) 56
53 Mariposa 18,148 -$37,710 $ (2,078) 20
54 Siskiyou 44,688 -$101,642 $ (2,274) 53
55 Glenn 28,731 -$65,897 $ (2,294) 40
56 San Francisco 874,228 -$2,560,735 $ (2,929) 57
57 Trinity 13,628 -$54,192 $ (3,977) 55
58 Sierra 3,207 -$17,191 $ (5,360) 17
No. County 2010 UNP
1 Alpine $ 5,022
2 Inyo $ 1,198
3 Plumas $ 1,065
4 San Luis Obispo $ 757
5 Napa $ 717
6 San Mateo $ 714
7 Mono $ 668
8 San Benito $ 664
9 Riverside $ 652
10 Placer $ 614
11 Amador $ 533
12 Solano $ 487
13 Lake $ 479
14 Tehama $ 479
15 Ventura $ 476
16 Lassen $ 419
17 Sierra $ 415
18 Shasta $ 350
19 Marin $ 303
20 Mariposa $ 282
21 Fresno $ 259
22 Kings $ 234
23 Humboldt $ 213
24 Alameda $ 209
25 Sutter $ 203
26 Merced $ 200
27 Nevada $ 193
28 Imperial $ 188
29 Colusa $ 175
30 Sonoma $ 174
31 San Diego $ 166
32 Butte $ 160
33 Tulare $ 142
34 Madera $ 140
35 Santa Cruz $ 136
36 Stanislaus $ 102
37 Santa Clara $ 96
38 San Joaquin $ 88
39 San Bernardino $ 87
40 Glenn $ 67
41 Monterey $ 63
42 Sacramento $ 53
43 Santa Barbara $ 38
44 Calaveras $ 28
45 El Dorado $ 23
46 Orange $ (3)
47 Del Norte $ (103)
48 Yolo $ (125)
49 Kern $ (146)
50 Tuolumne $ (191)
51 Contra Costa $ (195)
52 Los Angeles $ (204)
53 Siskiyou $ (271)
54 Mendocino $ (557)
55 Trinity $ (573)
56 Yuba $ (963)
57 San Francisco $ (1,241)
58 Modoc (Estimate) $ (1,432)

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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 — Measure It, Improve It — March 14, 2018

To borrow a now famous quote from management guru Peter Drucker (whom I had the pleasure to hear speak a couple of times): “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

So, taking the “Governmental Activities” column from the Basic Financial Statements in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) of our County’s cities and dividing one key number by the city’s population, we provide a metric for success. It has been a goal I focused on while serving as a County Supervisor. The higher the resulting metric, the better the status of the balance sheet. The lower, the more that fiscal improvements need to be pursued.

As the numbers are based on objective data from the audited financial statements and the city’s published population, we have a clean metric. Consequently, I’m not trying to be combative or confrontational, as the metric is a tool and nonemotional.

As my home city is in last place, it shows that this tool picks no favorites. But, it shows that city councils and citizens need to focus on improving their balance sheets. And this task is being faced by cities across the state, especially with defined benefit pension plan contribution rates rising.

Many cities are having the necessary tough discussions. The city of Escondido has had transparent meetings on addressing its current fiscal climate (see and These discussions are becoming the norm.

The goal for this exercise: work together, find solutions at the state level, and get appropriate policies and strategies in place sooner than later, as waiting to take action will be the biggest mistake.

My editorial on this topic is provided in the OC Register and is the first piece below. A related press release on the overall analysis that you’ve been seeing in my UPDATEs of late is the second piece below.

Most Orange County city finances bleed red ink

By JOHN MOORLACH | Orange County Register

The Costa Mesa City Council will have to turn its Unrestricted Net Position number around, according to a financial report.


Kudos to the Orange County cities of Cypress, Tustin, Irvine and Laguna Beach for enjoying the most sound balance sheets among Orange County’s 34 cities.

But cautions go out to Costa Mesa, Brea, Newport Beach and Anaheim for scoring the worst, and possibly entering a fiscal danger zone.

My rankings are based on what’s called a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. There is no central repository for these. But you should be able to read these CAFRs, as they’re called, on the finance pages of your city’s website, or call the city for a hard copy.

In each CAFR, specifically look for the “Basic Financial Statements,” starting with the page titled “Statement of Net Position.” Usually it’s somewhere around pages 15 to 30. Look at the top row for “Government Activities.” Then look down the column to where it says, first “Net Position,” then “Unrestricted.” That’s the number you want: the Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP.

It will be a positive number, or, if there are (brackets) around it, a negative number. Also notice if it says at the top “in thousands,” meaning you should add three more zeroes to the number.

The UNP number is the key because it is about purely governmental activities. It doesn’t include, for example, concessions from what are called “business-type activities,” such as operating vending machines at a library.

I divide the UNP by the city’s population to see where it falls within the range. This metric shows how much you, as a resident, are affected by city finances. If it’s a positive number, especially a high one, then all to the good. If it’s negative, then it’s time for you to get more involved with your elected council members.

Let’s look at an example on page 18 of the CAFR for Costa Mesa, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. The UNP is a deficit of $161,805,274. If we divide that by the city’s population of 114,044, the per capita UNP equals ($1,419). This is the share for each resident (not household).

Just 19 of our 34 cities run positive per capita UNPs, while 25 cities run negative ones.

Such is the impact of unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities (UAAL) resulting from defined- benefit pension plans.

Here are the per capita UNPs for the top 10 cities:

1. Cypress: $1,805

2. Tustin: $1,754

3. Irvine: $1,624

4. Laguna Beach: $1,159

5. Laguna Niguel: $1,154

6. Lake Forest: $677

7. Dana Point: $668

8. Laguna Woods: $595

9. La Palma: $566

10. Aliso Viejo: $534

Now, if that per capita UNP is a negative number, then it’s a warning sign. And if it’s a high negative number, then your city is in critical fiscal condition.

Here are the 10 cities at the bottom of the list:

34. Costa Mesa: ($1,419)

33. Brea: ($1,312)

32. Newport Beach: ($1,269)

31. Anaheim: ($1,145)

30. Santa Ana: ($1,134)

29. Huntington Beach: ($1,128)

28. Fullerton: ($868)

27. Orange: ($738)

26. Fountain Valley: ($689)

By the way, the per capita net position for the County of Orange is ($963), which would rank it seventh from the bottom if it were a city. That’s what a $1.7 billion investment portfolio loss in 1994 from the county bankruptcy, caused former County Treasurer Bob Citron, a Democrat, can do to a balance sheet. Contracting out the Sheriff’s Department also adds to the county UAAL.

This is part of my project to track the per capita UNPs of all 482 California cities. You can follow that on my website: district37. (or: JohnMoorlach. I will be updating the data every six months, the next time being in August.

High municipal debts, rising interest rates and a volatile stock market are warning signs. The cities at the bottom of my list need to wake up and get serious, and soon. For when the next downturn arrives, they may not be able to borrow from lending institutions or from the municipal bond market. It will not be pretty.

John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, a former Orange County treasurer-tax collector and supervisor, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.

Senator John Moorlach Ranks California’s

482 Cities for Financial Soundness


March 14, 2018


Sacramento, CA – Which California cities are in financial distress and which are sound? Today State Sen. John Moorlach releases the first edition of his new report, “Senator John Moorlach Ranks California’s 482 Cities for Financial Soundness.”

The report examines the audited finances of the state’s 482 cities. Specifically, it looks at each city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and the per-capita share for a city’s Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP.

A negative UNP shows a city has fiscal concerns that city officials should be aware of. If they are not aware of the problem, this is a useful tool for the city residents to hold their elected officials accountable.

“Why the project?” Senator Moorlach asked. “Well, in the California Senate I carried some eight public employee pension reform measures in 2017 alone. And did the cities come to testify in support? No. And, are they now highly concerned about their predicament? Yes.”

Senator Moorlach plans to update the study every six months.

A copy of the study is available on Senator Moorlach’s website by clicking HERE.

If you would like to request an interview with Senator John Moorlach, please contact John Seiler at john.seiler or 714-662-6050.

About Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa):

State Senator John Moorlach represents the 37th district of California, is a trained Certified Financial Planner and is the only trained CPA in the California Senate. He gained national attention 23 years ago when he was appointed Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector and helped the County recover from its bankruptcy filing – at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans’ Hiring Spree — March 12, 2018

I’m opposed to the gas tax, Senate Bill 1 (2017), for many reasons. Here are the top 4:

1. Caltrans mismanagement
2. Regressive taxation
3. Misdirection of funds to high speed rail
4. Lack of priority for transportation previously exhibited by the Democrats in the state’s annual budgets over the last 14 years

Let’s just deal with Caltrans and its mismanagement. Think high speed rail (although it is not responsible for this agency, it can’t brag that it’s doing better). Therefore, think budget overruns. Think a $6 billion-plus Bay Bridge, which was supposed to cost $1 billion. Think 3,500 architects and engineers too many. Think only 20 cents of every dollar actually going to road repairs. Think a Department Head golfing on your dime. Think an engineer who golfed 56 days without management raising a stink. Think spending $250,000 for software at the height of the recession and then not using it, but falsely telling the Legislature that it was being used. Think road repairs running more than four times the national average; and we don’t have long winter snows on our highways.

I could go on. In fact, I already did in previous UPDATEs. If you need the links, I can provide them. But, it would double the size of this e-mail. So let me give you just one. Think public employee union controlled department (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Blame the Unions — November 9, 2015).

The previous Director for Caltrans, one whom I found totally tone deaf, recently left and was replaced by an insider by the Governor. I am doubtful that a career long bureaucrat is going to turn this agency around.

Today, I reintroduce the idea of outsourcing (for a sample, see MOORLACH UPDATE — Transportation Strategies — August 13, 2015). The Sacramento Bee starts the new spree of mismanagement in the piece below, which is front page, top-of-the-fold, allowing me to be one of the dissenting voices.

It is such a shame that Caltrans is such a bureaucratic mess and that it was not reorganized first. What’s worse, is that the state could easily accommodate more contractors and not have to hire a single, permanent union employee who will immediately increase California’s unfunded pension liabilities that are already massive. If California’s Department of Transportation was one of the best in the nation, then I could, in good conscience, support more road funding. Orange County did it with Measure M. Twice!

BONUS: For the first time in ten years, the State Senate recognized Women of the Year on the Floor this afternoon. Here are the details of my selection, whom I affectionately refer to as “Mom,” as she reminds me so much of my mother and she looks like a twin sister from a different mother. Here are the details:

Woman of the Year 2018

Ruth Tang Ding

During her illustrious career, both as a music teacher and a philanthropist, Ruth Ding has inspired students and members of her community with her organizational expertise and unflagging optimism in all her endeavors. She credits the strong work ethic and vision that her family instilled in her throughout her upbringing for her positive outlook on life, which served as a constant reminder to never take for granted the opportunities that she was afforded.

Ms. Ding received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Arizona State University. Her graduate work was performed at the University of Southern California. She has been an activist and promoter of the arts and Chinese culture in Orange County for over 50 years. She was honored in an article by Jodi Cadenhead of Newport 17 Magazine that celebrated “Champions of the Arts.” She has produced and chaired many ethnic festivals, music, and cultural programs in Southern California.

In addition to her commitments to the arts, Ms. Ding is extremely active in a number of philanthropic community interests. She is the founding president of the Orange County Chinese Cultural Club and Pan Pacific Performing Arts, Inc. She served on the founding board of the Opera Pacific and Asian American Senior Citizens Service Center in Santa Ana, and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. She was also the 2011 Gala Chair for Founder Plus, a support group consisting of founders of the center. These initiatives support education and community programs. Ms. Ding believes deeply in not only supporting the arts but also in instilling pride in younger members of the Chinese American community.

Ms. Ding was also instrumental in founding several major benefit events including the Opera Pacific Opera Ball, the Asian Headdress Ball, The International Music and Dance Festival, the Winter Blossom Ball and AASCSC’s “Winter Gala” which raised $200,000 for vital programs hosted by the Senior Service Center.

Ms. Ding has been honored with numerous leadership, music and service awards in her illustrious career. She has received the “Special Commendation for Service to Orange County Award,” presented by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and she was also made an “Honorary Goodwill Ambassador” by former Secretary of State of California, March Fong Eu in 1990. She is also listed in the “International Who’s Who of Women”, The Dictionary of International Biography, and now the California State Senate Woman of the Year.

Photo courtesy of Senator Cathleen Galgiani

Caltrans is desperate to fill thousands of new jobs



No kidding: It’s a really good time to send a résumé to Caltrans.

California’s transportation department plans to swell its staff by 10 percent over the next five years, adding 2,000 employees to help it execute projects funded by the new gasoline tax. Those positions run the gamut from maintenance to architects and engineers.

It has so many jobs on such a tight time line that the department is trying to cut through some of the state civil service rules that govern who it can promote.

Last week, it tried to wipe out a promotion list for senior engineers that was made up exclusively of internal candidates so it could more quickly hire from a different promotion list that included candidates from outside the organization.

In its request to the State Personnel Board, the department said that it will have a challenging time making a case to expand its headcount if it’s too slow filling its current vacancies.

“To justify these additional position resources it is essential that all departmental resources are filled,” the state Human Resources Department wrote on behalf of Caltrans.

Caltrans didn’t get everything it wanted.

It struck a deal with the Professional Engineers in California Government – the union that represents transportation engineers – that would let the department promote from both sources without throwing away the roster of eligible internal candidates.

The union, the department and the members of the State Personnel Board all stressed that Caltrans has to move fast to take advantage of Senate Bill 1, the law that hikes gas taxes over a decade to fund transportation projects.

“The governor’s directive to get SB 1 dollars out is imperative. We don’t want to disadvantage the department,” State Personnel Board member Richard Costigan said.

Caltrans began escalating its hiring efforts a year ago, first to replace retiring workers and then to prepare for the gas tax funding. The tax and other fees will deliver about $5.2 billion a year for transportation over the next decade.

“SB 1 is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” said Ted Toppin, a lobbyist who represents PECG.

California Republican leaders and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association are campaigning to repeal the gas tax, although their efforts have not yet qualified to reach voters as an initiative.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, thinks Caltrans is getting ahead of itself with its hiring spree. He wrote a bill three years ago that would have compelled the department to hire more private sector contractors rather than public employees.

“They need to outsource,” Moorlach said. State budget restrictions forbid Caltrans from outsourcing more than 10 percent of engineering work. “You don’t even know if the tax is going to be permanent until November. These (new employees) will be the ones you lay off, theoretically.”

The construction industry and labor unions last week released a study that argued the new gas tax would have wide-ranging benefits over the next decade, supporting about 68,200 jobs each year. The study by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association said about 14,000 jobs would be in transportation and warehousing, 7,500 in services, 4,300 in retail, and 3,900 in real estate and housing.

To get started on a Caltrans application and learn about the state’s hiring process, go to

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