MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — It’s Time to Vote — November 4, 2018

You get to vote now if you vote by absentee ballot or take advantage of an early voting facility provided by the OC Registrar of Voters. Or you can be a traditionalist and vote on Tuesday at your local polling place.

If you live in the OC and need help finding your polling place, go to the Registrar’s website at

For my complete all-inclusive voter guide, go to MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — All-Inclusive Voter Guide — October 24, 2018. It also has links to the focused voter guides that I’ve provided over the past few weeks.

The first piece below is a segment of an interview of the three candidates in one district in the city of Costa Mesa that can be found on the electronic version of the OC Register. It deals with the subject matter of my recent unfunded actuarial accrued liability percentage UPDATE (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Trick or Treat? — October 26, 2018). Also, if you go to my Senate website, you’ll find verification of the support claim of my SCA 10 that was made (see

The second piece is from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, which has a letter to the editor in support of a “Yes” vote on Proposition 6. A “Yes” vote repeals the gas tax foisted on Californians last year by two-thirds of the legislature, excluding yours truly.

California’s Department of Transportation needs serious managerial and fiscal reforms before vehicle owners provide it with more funding. The manipulation by the supporters of this gas and auto tax has been astounding. Starting projects and guilting you to continue them by your making the financial sacrifices that Sacramento is not willing to make itself. Again, it is nice to see that my office’s research on the efficiencies, or lack thereof, of Caltrans is being appreciated and referred to.

The third piece is an editorial submission in the Voice of OC on the OC District Attorney’s race, giving one side of the debate on this race. As I know both candidates, I am neutral and have not made an endorsement.

Election 2018: Costa Mesa City Council District 5 candidates share their priorities and thoughts on local issues


Question 4: Communities across the state are grappling with rising pension and other post-employment benefit costs. What do you think needs to be done to deal with this problem?

Allan Mansoor: We need to have greater restraint of pension benefits. That’s why I officially supported SCA 10 by Senator John Moorlach to require voter approval for any increases in retirement benefits. Locally, I voted to authorize prepayments from Costa Mesa to CalPERS when cash flow and cash balances permit. I made the motion to have city staff research using an Internal Revenue Code Section 115 Irrevocable Trust to pre-fund pensions and other accounts, such as OPEB.

Arlis Reynolds: Costa Mesa is in good financial health with an AA+ credit rating. We must establish a strategic plan that proactively allocates budget to pension obligations while maintaining high-quality public safety and services that benefit residents and attract visitors. Employees already contribute at a rate higher than legal mandates. We should optimize non-PERSable benefits, consider a Section 115 trust, invest in upgrades that reduce costs, support economic growth, and leverage credit ratings to optimize debt obligations. I will work with our Finance and Pension Advisory Committee and our new Finance Director to analyze various strategies and develop a long-term plan to address pension costs and overall financial health.

Rebecca Trahan: As a former Costa Mesa finance and pension committee member I had direct access to the city budget information, which included the money allotted for CalPERS. While on that committee I worked with a team to find solutions to this impending financial disaster and minimize the risk to our city — not just for current residents but also for those whom it most likely will have a devastating effect, our younger and future Costa Mesa residents. If I am elected to the city council representing district 5, I will continue to make addressing and resolving the pension debacle one of my top priorities. One of the ways I will address this is by re-examining every aspect of our budget and find areas where we may set aside more money for reserves to cover the pension payday when it will occur. In doing so, I will not just study it and do nothing as has happened with the council in the past — I will actually take action to draw down our liability and set us on a path for recovery and sustainability.

Vote yes on Prop. 6 to stop pols’ wasteful spending: Letters

Vote yes on Proposition 6 to repeal an unfair, regressive tax.

The cost of living is already too high in California, and the gas and car tax hikes hurts working families that already struggle to pay bills. On Nov. 1, 2017, Californians were hit with a new tax of 12.5 cents more per gallon of gasoline (and 20 cents more for diesel), also increasing auto registration fees as much as $175 per year. It gets worse!

The car and gas tax hikes are slated to increase every year, automatically. If this tax is not repealed, by 2021 Californians will be paying close to $2 more a gallon extra because of taxes and other government mandates. That’s $40 extra each time you fill up your car.

The tax also hits business owners who rely on transporting good, raising the cost of everything from apples to bread and everything in between, which is then passed on to working families.

This latest gas tax hike will not fix our roads because politicians will continue to fraudulently raid and divert gas tax funds.

State Sen. John Moorlach, a CPA, released a stunning report showing that only 20 percent of existing gas tax funds goes to roads, and Caltrans wastes half a billion dollars annually on extra staffing.

This latest gas tax increase contains no guarantee that even a penny will go to roads. For years, the Sacramento politicians have been raiding the existing gas tax funds to pay for their pet projects and general fund spending rather than fixing our terrible roads.

What little money that is spent on roads is largely wasted. We need to stop politicians’ wasteful spending first. Remember, a yes vote on Proposition 6 will repeal this unfair tax.

— Darryl Craft, Redlands


Mitchell: Tony Rackauckas – A Threat to Public Safety


Our Orange County District Attorney Office has become a house of horrors as revelations of misconduct, incompetence, and delayed justice pile up. DA Tony Rackauckas’s failures have not only undermined public confidence in the judicial system – they undermine public safety.

Though the 60 Minutes investigative report highlighted Raukauckas’s disregard for the law, a study by Harvard Law School disclosed that his office’s rate of overturned convictions due to prosecutorial error is among the highest in the state. These overturned criminal convictions are in addition to the botched handling of the homicide case against mass murderer Scott Evan DeKraai, who shot and killed seven in a beauty salon. The DA’s mishandling of the deadliest mass killings in County history meant that DeKraai received a life sentence rather than the death penalty. Also, there have been six recent murder cases that have resulted in dismissed or reduced charges due to errors by the DA’s office.

The Harvard Law School report is just the latest in a litany of findings confirming Rackauckas’s incompetence and misconduct. An Evaluation Committee appointed by Rackauckas found that the DA’s office was a “rudderless ship.” In 2017 a Grand Jury report confirmed the Evaluation Committee’s finding of a lack of leadership by the DA and additionally found the existence of a hostile work place and inadequate sexual harassment policies in the DA’s Office. In the face of the multitude of mishaps, State Senator John Moorlach summed it up best when he said “Tony should not be the D.A. anymore.”

Most recently his delayed response to victim’s reported complaints of rape and sexual assault against Dr. Robicheaux are inexplicable. The unsealed warrants show that the DA dragged its feet in prosecuting the multiple reports of criminal sexual assault.

Given the long and well-documented failures of Rackauckas, one would expect more outrage. The muted response is due to two unrelated factors that silence criticism. In 1995, then District Attorney Michael Capizzi authorized an early morning raid on the home of recently elected Assemblyman Scott Baugh. The outrage over the aggressive prosecutorial tactics on a Republican office holder led to Capizzi being forced from office. When Rackauckas ran for DA, he pledged that he would not criminalize political conduct. Rackauckas has resolutely stuck to his pledge, with the minor exception of the prosecution of Assessor Webster Guillory, which was, unsurprisingly, driven by a personal feud. The most conspicuous example of this pledge at work was Rackauckas’ refusal to investigate the allegations against then Sheriff Michael Carona. Rackauckas’ refusal to investigate Carona for crimes occurring right under his nose forced the Justice Department to take action, leading to Carona’s prosecution and conviction.

Even though Rackauckas bungles prosecutions, his refusal to investigate or prosecute political activity earns him the support, donations and silence of many political elites. To understand this arrangement is to understand both their reluctance to replace Rackauckas, and their reluctance to replace him with anyone who will actually enforce the law. Apparently, for many key Republicans and Democrats, the undermining of the integrity of the criminal justice system is but a small price to pay to avoid the application of the law to them.

In addition to Rackauckas’s unwillingness to investigate politicians, the fear of retaliation by Rackauckas silences would be critics as well. In the last year, four respected employees of the DA’s office have alleged that they were targets of retaliation by Rackauckas because they either reported prosecutorial misconduct or engaged in legitimate political activity. The most troubling claims are those of senior investigators Craig Hunter and Tom Conklin who both independently report that Rackauckas used his office to investigate political rivals and, in one instance, punished the investigator for failing to produce incriminating information on the political rival. Rackauckas’s practice of using his public office to investigate political adversaries is especially repugnant, as is his use of the office to retaliate.

The use of retaliation is a reflection of Rackauckas’s character and his abuse of the office. This lack of character is on full display in his re-election campaign. His chief defense for his failure in office is to use personal invective against his opponent. He avoids running on his record at all cost – his accomplishments are thin and scattered.

Rackauckas’s misconduct and incompetence impact every aspect of the DA’s office. The overturned convictions, the mishandled murder cases, delayed justice and the botched DeKraai case prove that public safety is at risk with Rackauckas in office. His refusal to investigate and prosecute political crimes imperil our community – no one is safe when politicians are above the law. We need a DA that puts public safety first and commits to hold politicians accountable. We need a new DA.

William R. Mitchell – former Chair of Orange County Common Cause, Co-Author and Sponsor of the Orange County Finance and Ethics Commission Ordinance, long standing good government advocate and OC business attorney.

MOORLACH UPDATE — May Revision — May 14, 2018

Governor Brown announced his May Revision last Friday morning.

Low and behold, between Proposition 55 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 32 and Propositions — September 18, 2016) and the gas tax increase last year (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Not Amused — April 17, 2017andMOORLACH UPDATE — Do You Recall? — July 10, 2017), he has more than $8 billion in excess of the previously forecasted revenues. Now, there is a peculiar problem to have.

In one recent e-mail exchange with a friend, I lamented the perspectives on the state’s finances.

“California is like one of those 3-D photos which shows a different scene depending on the angle at which you are viewing the photo.

“Gov. Jerry Brown sees a surplus.

“Sen. Moorlach sees massive deficits.

“Gov. Brown looks at receipts.

“I look at balance sheets.

“And I see future generations grappling with major priority decisions thrust on them by this generation.

“Watching train wrecks in slow motion is getting a little old for me.”

So, I’m piping in with some ideas. They are in the FlashReport, which is the first piece below.

With this one-time money, let’s address one-time opportunities. Let’s not build the base, thus requiring ongoing funding in the years ahead.

In recent UPDATE editions you’ve heard me address homelessness, mental health services, electric power lines causing wildfires (that have wiped out greenhouse gas reduction goals by multiples), massive unfunded pension liabilities, upside-down unrestricted net positions at all levels of government, educational system fiscal hemorrhaging at all levels, and water storage mismanagement. So, Governor Brown, thanks for making a token stab at a few of these, but more can be done.

As I sit on the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, including its Subcommittee 1 on Education, and last year on the Budget Conference Committee, which may occur again this year, the next four weeks will keep me very, very busy on what is now a $300 billion annual budget!

As additional funding for the homeless and mentally ill is provided in the May Revision, the second piece provides an opportunity to catch up on this topic in Orange County. I have mentioned that these concerns are on the radar screen with the Governor’s office, in the interview referred to by the Voice of OC below. The piece provides a wonderful biography of Federal Judge David O. Carter, whom I have known for more than two decades and have the utmost of respect for. And, my comments were made with that admiration in mind.

Gov. Brown’s May Revise Shows

No Need for Gas Tax Increase

By John Moorlach

The first takeaway from Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revision of his budget for 2018-19 is that California didn’t need that $5.5 billion yearly gas-tax increase the Legislature passed last year. The proposal shows we have $8 billion in revenues in excess of projections.

In one area I persistently agree with Governor Brown, “Despite strong fiscal health in the short term, the risks to the long-term health of the state budget continue to mount.” Unfortunately, according to the governor’s budget revision, we have $291 billion in long-term costs and the legislature has done little to fix the state’s fundamental problems.

In his budget announcement and press conference, Brown emphasized the volatility of tax revenues, especially capital gains-tax revenues, shown in this chart:

And he emphasized we’re overdue for a recession. Of course, he didn’t mention it has been President Trump’s economic policies – tax cuts and regulation reform – that have lifted the national economy above the sub-par performance of the Obama administration.

“How you ride the tiger is what we now face,” he said. “It’s going up, but when it goes down, a lot of these programs will be cut. Life is very giddy at the peaks.” No doubt, he is right. But he also ignored most of the reasons for this volatility even as he pointed out the Rainy Day fund will be filled at $13 billion, though he estimated that an impending economic storm would require resources closer to $60 billion. That’s a budget hole expected in the next recession, which could be $30 billion a year for two years. In such a scenario, the Rainy Day Fund would provide just 22 percent of that potential revenue shortage.

I see a much bigger danger. Taxes are so high in this state. To survive the next recession, companies will flee to states with much lower taxes. Because of the state’s punishing taxes, including then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $13 billion tax increase in 2009, our state’s economy crashed hard. Unemployment soared to double-digits and was exceeded only by the rates in Michigan and Nevada. It may happen again.

The period of rising revenues we’re now enjoying should be used to reduce our already committed liabilities and the overall tax burden.

Of course, having increased taxes last year – not just the gas tax, but the cap-and-trade tax Brown pushed through, estimated at $2.2 billion a year – Brown wasn’t about to suggest cutting taxes. It will be up to the voters to repeal the gas tax this November.

Given that the rising tax revenues won’t be returned to the taxpayers who worked so hard to earn them, the governor at least is proposing spending the money on some true needs. I have worked up a list of options, below, of 15 one-time spending recommendations that should be prioritized. But first let me recognize three of Brown’s proposals that have some overlap to my suggestions:

· $2 billion for infrastructure: “The proposal will target these funds to the universities, courts, state facilities and flood control. Investments are also proposed for high-priority capital expenditures.”

· $359 million for homelessness. His proposal notes more funding will begin to flow “from a bond and a fee on real estate transactions” passed last year – another tax that I opposed and don’t believe we need. This money would be a “bridge” until these funds are spent.

· $312 million for mental health “for enhanced early detection of mental health problems and the education of mental health professionals.” The budget proposal also would put the $2 billion “No Place Like Home” initiative funding on the ballot “to accelerate the delivery of housing projects to serve the mentally ill.”

My proposals include prefunding the $2 billion for No Place Like Home, which will be paid back with the bond proceeds.

I’d also like to help out cities and counties with their pensions by injecting several billion dollars directed to their unfunded liabilities in lieu of taxpayer rebates. In his press conference, Brown unfortunately answered, when that question was raised, “A lot of cities signed up for pensions they can’t afford. The state can’t step into the shoes of the cities and counties. They’re going to have to handle that.”

Again, he’s largely right. And he’s actually putting his legal resources and political chits behind the overturning of the so-called “California Rule,” which ratchets up pension costs with no ability for governments to correct costs at the front end, leading them to fiscal ruin at the back end.

Because of that, we’ve got cities and counties laying off police and fire simply because their pension costs are so high. And the cities and counties can’t raise their tax base more than 2 cents on the sales tax. Current leaders in our cities and counties weren’t the ones who spiked pensions decades ago, but the California Legislature made it really easy.

Sacramento is renowned for taking funds from cities and counties during recessions. Giving something back to them would be a noble thing to do.

The state also has a backlog of rape kits. Not only is that unfair to the victims, but after catching the Golden State Killer, how many more predators could we catch and prosecute?

We also need to harden power lines across the state. If this state wants to emphasize electric cars, we’re going to be sending a whole lot more electricity around, which means more wildfires unless the power lines are put underground.

Compared to his January proposal, the governor’s May Revise only tinkered with education funding. But we could use more funding for career technical education. A lot of kids don’t want to go to college, but could have successful careers in the trades or other vocations. They should be afforded the training opportunities just as much as those we send to our elite institutions.

Finally, this budget largely is a stopgap getting the governor beyond his tenure in office. He said he wanted to leave it in good shape for his successor. But so much more needs to be done, especially in improving the state’s harsh anti-business fiscal policies, shoring up pensions, fixing long-neglected infrastructure and reducing the housing and homelessness crises.

Below is a list of my 15 policy proposals for spending the $8 billion in excess revenues. It is largely in priority order. And if the state wins the litigation for the No Place Like Home bond dollars, or it is approved by the voters on the ballot in November, then that money could be cycled into any of the remaining priorities.

Priority Description Amount

1 No Place Like Home Prefunding of approved bonding $2,000,000,000

2 Provide funding to 482 cities to be appropriated to

their pension liabilities $482,000,000

3 Provide funding to 58 counties to be appropriated to

their pension liabilities $580,000,000

4 Provide matching funds for city pension liabilities $964,000,000

5 Provide matching funds for county pension liabilities $1,160,000,000

6 Fully fund bringing current the Rape Kit testing backlog $12,500,000

7 Fund Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) gun

holder backlog $12,500,000

8 Hardening of electric power lines around state $1,168,000,000

9 Oroville Dam state water project conveyance levee

repairs $100,000,000

10 Temperance Flat construction $250,000,000

11 Refund the Fire Tax $471,000,000

12 Continue Career Technical Education Funding at prior

level $200,000,000

13 Renters’ Tax Credit increase $300,000,000

14 Opioid treatment and prevention task force $100,000,000

15 Water Tax off-set $200,000,000



Federal Judge in Homeless Case Keeps Everyone Running

By Thy Vo

Just before dawn on a dewy February morning, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter led a march of county workers, elected officials, lawyers and reporters through the county’s largest homeless encampment, a village of tents and makeshift shelters for more than 500 people along the Santa Ana Riverbed.

Unsatisfied with secondhand information about living conditions at the riverbed, the 74-year-old Carter, dressed in jeans and a blue sweater bearing the federal court’s seal, went to see for himself, talking to dozens of homeless people, picking up trash and recruiting volunteers.

If judges are normally weary of media attention, Carter embraced the pack of reporters trailing him along the river trail, saying the exposure would raise public consciousness about homelessness and spur people to “do the good thing.”

“We get it up there, and get it to boil,” the federal court judge said.

It was not Carter’s first visit to a homeless encampment, and it wasn’t his last.

Over the last few months, Carter, a Marine combat veteran who was seriously wounded during the Vietnam War, has demanded public officials run to catch up with “decades of neglect” on homelessness.

Under his pressure, county officials worked around the clock for a week to dismantle the riverbed encampment and relocate more than 700 people to emergency shelters and motels. Before officials could take another breath, he demanded they act on a second major encampment at the Santa Ana Civic Center.

Throughout the process, Carter visited shelters and encampments unannounced in the early morning, to get an unsupervised glimpse of how people were faring. He once visited the riverbed at 4:30 a.m. to check on a homeless couple he had met the previous evening, saying he could not sleep and had come to see of the couple was okay.

Now he wants city officials in south Orange County to find locations for new emergency shelters, or possibly face suspension of the anti-camping and anti-loitering laws that cities have used to police the presence of homeless people in public spaces.

“I was literally begged by one of your (county) supervisors to take a breath and slow down,” Carter said at a court hearing in early April. “No. Absolutely not.”

Some public officials were unwilling to go on the record criticizing Carter, while others who have been at odds with the judge didn’t return calls for comment. But his actions in the homelessness case have garnered plenty of controversy, including private accusations of judicial activism and that he is legislating from the bench.

Earlier this month, State Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) told television journalist Rick Reiff the judge is taking public officials to task on what they are doing to directly help the homeless.

“I just hope that he has an end game that works out well for everybody,” Moorlach said. “but it’s certainly rattling the cages of every single council member in Orange County.”

Combat Veteran

If the judge has surprised county politicians, for those who know Carter, he’s exactly in character.

“He gets down in the trenches. That’s the way he was in Vietnam, and in our platoon,” said former Marine Sgt. Al Anderson, who served as Carter’s platoon sergeant in Vietnam and remains a close friend.

The judge has been a fixture in the Orange County legal community from his time as a senior deputy district attorney in the late 1970s to his later appointments to the state Superior Court and federal bench.

Often described in articles and by those who know him as the hardest-working judge in Orange County, Carter is known to open his courtroom as early as 7 a.m. and work late into the evening, on weekends and holidays. Combined with his athleticism, younger attorneys often struggle to keep up with Carter.

A former college track athlete, as a deputy district attorney Carter would run 23 miles from the courthouse in Santa Ana to his home in Laguna Beach once a week, unless he was engaged in a major trial. He later ran the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 36 minutes, and still exercises rigorously.

Carter declined to speak with Voice of OC for this story, citing a desire to stay out of the media until the end of litigation over homelessness.

Former state Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a Democrat living in Santa Ana who is currently a private attorney, said he has worked with Carter for years as part of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, a project of the State Department to provide support to the Afghan legal community.

Umberg recalled an appointment he made with Carter, about 15 years ago, to go running in Newport Beach.

“He just pulled up, got out of the car, and started running. I had to catch up with him,” Umberg said. “That’s emblematic of how he does things. He said ‘hi’ once I caught up to him.”

Carter was born in Providence, Rhode Island and raised by his grandfather after his father abandoned him at age four. His grandfather, a court bailiff, had a fourth grade education and worked in coal mines before joining the Army at sixteen, Carter told Orange County Lawyer magazine last year. He fought in the Philippines and achieved the rank of captain.

Carter also would go on to the join the military, joining the Marines after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a 4.0 grade point average.

He arrived in Central Vietnam as a 24-year-old lieutenant on Christmas Eve 1967, just before the start of the Tet Offensive, and immediately sought out Anderson, who was acting platoon commander. The two went back to Anderson’s bunker and talked for three and a half hours.

Anderson had already been in Vietnam for six months and their battalion, 1st Battalion, 9th Regiment, known as the “One Nine” had seen heavy combat. “You have to read people quick,” said Anderson.

“We were both sizing one another up. Can I trust this person?” Anderson said. “And the end result of that conversation was, ‘yeah, I can trust you with my life and I can trust you with the life of our platoon’.”

Most of Carter’s four months in Vietnam were spent in combat. The One Nine has the grim nickname “The Walking Dead” because of its reputation for high casualties and seeing heavy combat.

Carter’s experience lived up to that expectation. On April 16, 1968, outnumbered by North Vietnamese soldiers at Khe Sanh, 38 men from Carter’s platoon went up a hill, and only 8 came down. Carter was seriously wounded: a grenade blew off his lip, sniper fire shattered his arm in multiple places, and his face and teeth were injured.

He continued to fight for hours despite his injuries, but at the end of the battle, Carter was so seriously hurt he was mistaken for dead and put in a body bag.

Carter later received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his actions at Khe Sanh, and spent nine months recovering at a hospital in Guam. It was while recovering that he decided to become a lawyer, telling Orange County Lawyer magazine last year that he struggled with “survivor’s guilt.”

War changes many people, Anderson said, but many of the qualities he saw in Carter that first night in his bunker, he still sees today.

“He’s down to earth, very intelligent, but not presumptuous,” said Anderson. “I never want to hurt another person in my life. And he’s the same way.”

A Respected Jurist

After Vietnam, Carter went back to UCLA and received his law degree. He joined the Orange County District Attorney’s office in 1972, where he rose to Senior Deputy District Attorney in charge of homicide. Carter prosecuted the serial killer William Bonin, known as the “freeway killer,” who later became the first person executed in California by lethal injection.

In 1982, Carter was appointed a Superior Court judge by Gov. Jerry Brown, where he earned the nickname “King David.” He was known for pushing rehabilitative and educational alternatives to jail time for juvenile offenders, before it became a norm. He also created a tattoo removal program for gang members to encourage people to find jobs and transition back to society.

In 1986, while still a judge, Carter was recruited by the Democratic Party to run for the 38th Congressional District seat against first term Republican incumbent Robert Dornan.

If ambitious, highly motivated and driven, Carter was “raw,” said George Urch, Carter’s campaign manager at the time.

In addition to traditional campaign staples like direct mail, Carter’s strategy included “walking like crazy” across the district and standing on street corners and street medians during rush hour with a “Carter for Congress” sign, talking to voters.

“I kept trying to say, ‘that’s great, but most of those people aren’t registered voters and Democrats’,” Urch said.

If Carter had his way, his campaign would be run “with a Xerox copier and 18 pairs of sneakers,” Mike Houlihan, another campaign staffer, told the Los Angeles Times in 1986.

Carter ended up losing the primary to another Democrat and fellow former Marine, six-term state Assemblyman Richard Robinson, and returned to the state bench.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton nominated Carter to the federal bench, an appointment that was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in 1999.

As a federal court judge, Carter has tackled some of the biggest cases to come to the Central District Court.

He presided over the longest trial in the history of the Central District, which involved the prosecution of more than 40 alleged Mexican Mafia members. The next year, Carter became involved in the indictment of more than 40 members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.

Carter presided over a massive $500 million intellectual property battle between MGA Entertainment and Mattel over the rights to Bratz dolls. And in 2009, he dismissed a lawsuit brought by Laguna Niguel attorney Orly Taitz, which challenged then-President Barack Obama’s election based on claims that Obama is not a natural born citizen.

“He had to control a court room and multiple attorneys in cases fraught with legal challenges and high emotions,” U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller said of the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Mafia cases. “He can do that. And his work ethic is legendary.”

At 74, many remark Carter appears to run as hard as he always has.

“He’s a Marine who has been temporarily reassigned as a judge,” said Umberg.

In addition to dealing with heavy caseloads in his own courtroom, Carter has spent significant time doing humanitarian work overseas. His wife, Mary Ellen Carter, who he met during his congressional campaign, runs a nonprofit supporting schools in Malawi out of their Laguna Beach home.

Kate Corrigan, a criminal defense attorney who frequently appears before Carter, alters her diet to prepare for trials in his courtroom, limiting her caffeine intake and consuming “slow burn” foods.

“If you’re going to practice in his courtroom, you’ve got to have stamina, know what you’re talking about, and you’ve got to be ready, because he will not tolerate laziness, not knowing your case, and not doing the best you can,” Corrigan said. “He causes everyone in the courtroom to really elevate their level of practice.”

Carter’s style has generated some controversy.

In the 1980s, Carter began duct-taping the mouths of unruly defendants in his courtroom for spitting at court staff and shouting profanities, preferring to silence defendants rather than disrupt the proceedings. The American Civil Liberties Union reported Carter to the Commission on Judicial Performance, although he said he would continue the practice.

During the recent litigation on homelessness, Carter met privately with elected officials and power brokers, without attorneys on the case present; threatened cities with a Department of Justice investigation into the practice of dumping homeless people city-to-city; and held long court hearings where mayors and city officials from across the county were invited (his court staff took attendance to take note of who did not show up).

Moorlach said on a local television program earlier this month that he has been assisting Carter with “strategies in Sacramento.”

“(Carter) approached me and said, ‘I cannot call you, but you can call me.’ So I did,” Moorlach told Reiff.

Although at times effusive of the county’s efforts to clean up the riverbed, Carter could also be short-tempered, at one point angrily reprimanding the county’s lead attorney.

Corrigan believes Carter’s critics just aren’t used to a judge who does things differently.

“I’ve been on the podium examining a witness at 1:35 a.m. Was that a long day? Yeah, but it enabled the court to get all the information,” Corrigan said. “So I think people are quick to criticize when people don’t do things the way they see other judges do it.”

She points to early morning probation conferences where Carter descends from the bench and talks face-to-face with her clients.

“He makes them feel part of the community and takes an interest in getting them back into the community. If they’re messing up, he’ll sanction them,” Corrigan said. “When you have someone who comes out of a gang, to have a judge take the time to ask them how they’re doing, how are things – it’s a different type of relationship that develops.”

Carter was the same way with the young men in his platoon, said Anderson.

“That’s a real precarious place you’re putting yourself into as a combat leader, because you’re getting down on a very personal level with men that, tomorrow, you’re going to send into harm’s way, and through not of your own, some of them are not going to come back,” said Anderson. “It’s an emotional risk that you willingly engage in. Not all combat leaders do that, and that is part of who Judge Carter is.”

Corrigan believes Carter’s personal approach has made a difference in the lives of many of her clients.

“He becomes their champion,” she said.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Inside OC, Part 2 — May 7, 2018

On April 13th, I taped a 30-minute interview with Rick Reiff, this year’s recipient of the lifetime achievement award by the Orange County Press Club, for Inside OC (MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018). He found that we had plenty more to discuss, so we kept the cameras rolling and the informal jam session provided enough material for a second show.

To watch the second half, click on the first link below. To skip the show, but get the gist, Rick Reiff’s column in the Voice of OC is the second piece below.

BONUS: My folks, Kent and Rita Moorlach, will be moving to Colorado to be closer to my sister. Their four children will be hosting a farewell reception for them on Sunday, May 20th, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Buena Park. If you know my folks and would like to attend, please contact Aly Henderson, my District Scheduler, for the details at 714-662-6050 or aly.henderson.

The difficult issue of homelessness: State Sen. John Moorlach rips Supervisor Todd Spitzer, reaches out to Gov. Brown, gives qualified support to Judge Carter. And he explains why he’s not running for governor.


Reiff: Moorlach Rips Spitzer, Assesses Judge Carter, Considered Governor Run

By Rick Reiff

State Senator John Moorlach says Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer is playing politics with the homeless issue in order to boost his campaign for district attorney.

“I think some people are really good at seeing the pitch forks and saying, ‘I’ve got to get in front of that parade,’” Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said on the “Inside OC with Rick Reiff” public affairs program. “And I think Supervisor Spitzer did that quite well with the El Toro airport, probably learned a lot from that strategy.

“And he finds himself in a race against an incumbent. Incumbents win 90 percent of the time. And I think he’s maybe manipulating a lot of people for his own personal benefit and I don’t find that amusing.”

Moorlach, who previously served on the board of supervisors with Spitzer, echoed the criticism of other supervisors over Spitzer’s recent appearances at city council meetings in Costa Mesa, Laguna Niguel and Irvine. Spitzer sided with residents opposed to a since-rescinded county plan to put homeless shelters in those communities and labeled homeless people as sex offenders and drug addicts.

Moorlach accused Spitzer of cajoling the other supervisors into backing the homeless-shelter proposal and then opposing it himself: “He feigned that … he was going to be a real leader and he just turned out to be a manipulator, in my opinion.”

Moorlach has long worked on homelessness and mental health issues. He said he’s helping federal Judge David O. Carter in his efforts to address the county’s homeless problem.

“He approached me and said, ‘I cannot call you, but you can call me.’ So I did,” Moorlach said. “And I have been trying to assist him in strategies in Sacramento.”

Moorlach gave qualified support to Carter’s efforts: “He’s being referred to affectionately as Rambo. He’s a Vietnam vet, he’s just an incredible individual and doing a good job as a federal judge … What he’s trying to do is grab the tiger by the tail and really say, ‘We’ve got to start doing things now.’

“He’s been real good about trying that. I just hope that he has an end game that works out well for everybody, but it’s certainly rattling the cages of every single council member in Orange County and he’s taking the mayors and city managers to task to say, ‘Hey, what are you doing, where are you going to put them, what’s your respective share?”

Moorlach said he is working on a legislative proposal to free up state money for construction of housing for the mentally ill and working with state lawmakers and the city of Costa Mesa on the possible use of the Fairview Developmental Center to provide emergency services for the mentally ill homeless.

Moorlach said he has also reached out to Gov. Jerry Brown, telling him, “Jerry, excuse me, Governor, what can we do in your last few months, from a legacy perspective, to make Orange County be a model for the rest of the state?”

He said the governor’s office has been “very focused” on the homeless issue “so I’m looking for some solutions there, too.”

Moorlach said he was unlikely to endorse either of the Republicans running for governor in the June 6 primary – fellow OC lawmaker Travis Allen or San Diego businessman John Cox – because there’s no reason to upset one of them when he thinks Democrats will win both spots in the “top two” primary.

He lamented that, “One of those two should have stepped down and then we would have had a Republican in the top two and in November we would have had a fun time as a party.”

Moorlach said he also considered running for governor: “I had plenty of people asking me to, so yeah, I did think about it.”

He said he decided not to run because, “I don’t think I could have convinced John Cox and Travis Allen to step down, so then it’s a mess. If the path isn’t there, what’s the point?”

The interview is airing this week on PBS SoCal and Cox (show times

. It is the second of a two-part discussion. In the first part, which aired last month, Moorlach discussed his analysis of balance sheets for all 482 California cities and other government entities – he found most are in or headed for the red. That interview is also on YouTube.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Quiet Bills, And Not So Quiet — May 3, 2018

Senate Bill 688 is one of my quiet mental health related bills (see

It’s very simple in that it will require counties to follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for their Mental Health Services Act reports and provide the data on the counties’ websites. The Voice of OC mentions it in the piece below.

Another quiet bill is SB 1363 (see and MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018).

However, there are bills that some of my colleagues write that are not quiet at all. For instance, AB 2943 by Assemblyman Evan Low is causing my phones to ring off the hook. I strongly oppose this bill and I’m not amused that a good segment of my constituency is upset by its introduction. If you’re one of them, and you’re making calls to Legislators, you can skip my office, please.


Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton Team Up to Battle Homelessness

By Spencer Custodio

The mayors, city managers and police chiefs of Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton met with U.S. District Judge David O. Carter Tuesday morning about creating a plan to combat homelessness that would be a “model” for the rest of the county.

“He (Carter) realized we had done more (than other cities) and encouraged us to join together to see if we couldn’t do a special project to create a model,” Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee said during the City Council meeting.

“He (Carter) also acknowledged that south county doesn’t do its share — he said that very strongly,” Chaffee said from the dais.

Carter is overseeing two federal lawsuits against the county. One lawsuit was filed in January on behalf of the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless population after the county moved to evict the people without providing a place for them to go. The cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa also are named in that lawsuit.

The second lawsuit, filed in February on behalf of the disabled homeless, alleges the county excludes disabled people from county services, according to the lawyers.

In an attempt to get all Orange County cities under Carter’s jurisdiction, the Santa Ana City Council unanimously voted April 24 to sue the other 33 cities.

Throughout the court hearings over the past three months, Carter has repeatedly said he wants South County cities to “step up” and contribute their “fair share” to the homeless population.

“I appreciate what Judge Carter’s doing. He’s asked that our three cities … report back about mid-June,” Chaffee said.

Chaffee said, in a quick interview after the council meeting, Fullerton, Buena Park and Anaheim are looking for a site for some type of shelter, but it’s still too early to give specifics.

“We’re looking for a site,” Chafee said. “We need a site, then a plan, then ask for the money (from the county) … Without a site, we can’t have a plan.”

He said it would operate somewhat like the Bridges at Kraemer Place homeless shelter in Anaheim. Fullerton helps fund the site at $500,000 a year. Homeless people have to be screened for outstanding warrants and referred to get into Kraemer’s 24-hour shelter. Sex offenders aren’t allowed.

“I think if we could get him a model project, that’s our goal … It would be somewhat like Bridges,” but without the restrictive background checks, Chaffee said.

Chaffee this year is a candidate for the Orange County Board of Supervisors seat now held by Shawn Nelson, who is a candidate for Congress.

The City Council also authorized staff to review city ordinances about homelessness and bring back suggested changes to the council. According to the agenda staff report, some city codes are outdated and need revision, like one that limits churches to house only 12 people per night in emergency beds.

“Part of the direction to staff is that we work with the plan. Part of that (plan) is collaborating with our other cities, Anaheim and Buena Park,” Chaffee said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald directed staff to come up with a plan to hire more personnel, along with a budget, and show it to the county in an attempt to get the plan funded.

“I would like to see our staff put together a plan for additional police officers and mental health professionals that also includes a budget with it that we take to the county to get funded,” Fitzgerald said during the meeting.

Council members also liked the Orange County housing authority proposal from the Association of California Cities — Orange County (ACCOC) and supported the association’s proposed 2,700 homes with support like mental and health services for homeless people, known as “permanent supportive housing.”

“That is not just a pie in the sky plan,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m the president of that organization this year. We have committed to working with the county — all 34 cities.”

Chaffee voiced support for the trust plan, but was wary of south county’s efforts.

“I would support the suggestion that we consider the countywide housing trust … I don’t know how we get all the cities in there, it may be more regional,” Chaffee said. “I’m concerned about south county not doing their share. Do we include them in the trust? Then it’s just one more thing for them to screw around with — pardon me.”

Carter, during the April 4 court hearing, called on south county mayors to take their “proportional” share of the homeless population and the mayors agreed to find a homeless shelter site at the April 19 meeting of south county mayors.

At the meeting, the mayors proposed a remote site near Silverado Canyon on Santiago Road, next to a library and a preschool. Public pushback followed immediately and the idea was shot down by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors April 24.

Homeless services manager Rebecca Leifkes said homelessness in Fullerton increased 54 percent in the past five years and the city is now home to 496 homeless people. Police calls about homelessness have also increased from 2,125 in 2012 to 6,749 calls last year, she said.

Leifkes also said Fullerton has 1,508 affordable housing units for “low, extremely low and very low” income earners, which are defined as 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income, according to the staff report.

Under the ACCOC plan, Leifkes said Fullerton would need 120 permanent supportive housing units in order to help spread the responsibility around the cities in the county.

Additionally, Fullerton is home to the National Guard armory that holds at least 200 beds and typically operates as an overnight homeless shelter during winter months. But due to the riverbed and civic center clearouts, combined with the lack of shelter beds in the county, Gov. Jerry Brown extended the shelter use April 10 for another three months. The Santa Ana National Guard armory shelter was also extended.

Council members also levied criticism at the county for its unspent Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) money.

A Voice of OC review of county funds in March found at least $230 million of unspent funding that could be used to help alleviate homelessness. Of that amount, $186 million is MHSA funds and another $73 million to $136 million in “unassigned” general fund money

“I just want to be sure that we keep asking and looking for that funding,” Councilman Jesus Silva said. “I want to make sure we get to the bottom of where (the MHSA money is).”

Fitzgerald said the county doesn’t do enough to keep track of the MHSA money.

“The county has 200 programs right now that they fund through that funding … but there’s no comprehensive audit of those funds,” Fitzgerald said.

The council also supported four different state Senate and Assembly bills centered around homelessness and mental health. Three of the bills garnered unanimous support from the council.

Councilman Bruce Whitaker didn’t support Senate Bill 1045, which is a pilot program for San Francisco and Los Angeles Counties that would create a process for appointing a conservator for someone who is chronically homeless and can’t take care of themselves. He said it was too broad and could be abused.

Additionally, Assembly Bill 1971 increases the definition of “gravely disabled” to mean people who can’t provide for themselves and pose a danger because they failed to receive mental or medical health services. Under the proposed bill, introduced in January, people who are “gravely disabled’ could be involuntarily held for up to 6 months if they continue to be prove an immediate danger to themselves or others.

The other two bills relate to funding, including one from Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) which would require all counties report their MHSA funds online, including revenues and expenditures.

“$200 million of that seems to have gone to Orange County and it’s sitting somewhere in a bank account,” Chaffee said during the meeting.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at scustodio.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Housing Trust — May 1, 2018

Things have temporarily quieted down on the homelessness front, so allow me to provide an update on my recent efforts in the Senate.

I am a joint-author for SB 1004 (Weiner) and assisted in presenting the bill two weeks ago before the Senate Health Committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018). This bill will provide Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) funding for early prevention and intervention for children with a mental illness. This is an appropriate focus for this revenue source. For a first-hand opportunity to see how critical this niche is, please ask to visit the pediatric ward for psychiatric services (see You will be amazed.

I am also the joint-author of SB 1206 (De Leon), which I also presented to the Senate Health Committee last week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018). This is the “No Place Like Home” ballot measure that we hope to place on the November ballot. Obtaining funds by borrowing against a reliable revenue source will provide funding for permanent housing with support services for mentally ill homeless individuals.

My concern for the homeless population continues. The most recent discussion that is developing in Orange County is the effort to organize the 34 cities and the County in establishing a Housing Trust to build 2,700 housing units throughout the County for homeless individuals that will blend in and provide necessary supportive services. Norberto Santana, Jr., Editor of the Voice of OC, provides his perspective in the first piece below.

The second piece is from the Orange County Breeze and provides a perspective on the Sanctuary State topic. The Orange County Breeze serves the Cypress/Los Alamitos area and this issue has become a major subject of concern.

It was well past midnight on the last day of the 2017 Session, when SB 54, the Sanctuary State bill, came up for a vote. I thought this bill encapsulated that entire year. The whining, the showmanship and the caustic rhetoric was pervasive. So SB 54 was probably the perfect capstone for last year. Consequently, I stood up and shared my brief thoughts (see

Could OC Use a Regional Housing Agency?

Jamboree Housing Corp.

A Jamboree Housing Corp. development in Anaheim, known as Diamond Apartment Homes, which has permanent housing and mental health services for formerly homeless people. Representatives of the OC cities’ association and Orange County United Way cited it as an example of the type of housing that would be built under the 2,700 units plan.

By Norberto Santana, Jr.

Orange County business and civic leaders are smart to push for the creation of a new regional housing construction agency that can actually build affordable and permanent-supportive housing across our region.

Continuing to wait on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to come up with effective regional governing policies for critical quality of life challenges like homelessness and housing is proving to be a dangerous gamble.

The explosion of homeless encampments – alongside the Santa Ana riverbed, near Angels’ Stadium and at the county civic center – is a stark testament to county supervisors’ ignoring the issue, year after year.

County supervisors’ hasty eviction effort for riverbed homeless earlier this year landed them in federal court and has since left all Orange County cities under threat of having their anti-camping ordinances invalidated by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter.

In addition, their inability to get affordable or permanent supportive housing projects built across Orange County in recent years also has many questioning whether the County of Orange should be the lead agency on any future housing effort.

Given how poorly county supervisors have performed on homelessness, I think there’s only one way that Orange County ends up supporting an affordable housing bond.

Get the money out of the hands of politicians.

That’s why it seems to me that these smart business and civic leaders are moving now to see if they can craft state legislation to create some sort of regional housing construction agency.

We will have to work hard as a community to ensure that any kind of regional housing agency in Orange County is very, very transparent – in real time – to ensure that funds don’t get squandered. That means ensuring authorizing legislation sets that kind of standard and administrators that create that kind of culture.

Now, there was some hope that supervisors might create a housing commission to manage a regional vision and strategy on housing construction.

That never materialized.

According to several sources I interviewed, an interesting model to look at is the City of San Diego Housing Commission – which provides rental assistance, addresses homelessness and creates affordable housing.

In Orange County, there are two sites – already in public ownership and with appropriate zoning – that would be gems in a regional housing strategy.

There’s the 100-acre county-owned property in Irvine near the Great Park that is already in a SB2 zone, which allows fast development for homeless shelters. Note that early land use plans for the Navy transfer of the former El Toro Marine Air base centered heavily around homelessness.

There’s another 100-acre property in Costa Mesa, the Fairview Developmental Center, which has been zoned institutional for 50 years and has already been used as a setting for mental health treatment. Fairview is currently owned by the state and State Senator John Moorlach – for years, the lone advocate on homelessness on the board of supervisors – has introduced legislation advocating the transfer of Fairview to local public ownership.

Both properties could easily see development plans and projects created that are consistent with community standards and would quickly create a solid regional system to combat homelessness.

An Orange County Affordable Housing Construction Authority could mirror the model utilized at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) where board members are a mix of county supervisors and city officials.

Except, I would issue the challenge to organizers to include more private sector people and non-politicians on the board of directors as opposed to the approach at OCTA or even worse the Orange County Fire Authority, which is such a big board of politicians that the agency doesn’t get good governance or direction.

Notice that earlier this month, when Orange County Supervisors were asked at their public meeting about the potential of supporting state bonds for housing construction, virtually none supported the effort.

In March, The Kennedy Commission called on supervisors to support an affordable housing bond for the Fall 2018 election.

“With local funds the County of Orange will be in a position to leverage significant federal and state resources to help address our current housing and homeless crisis,” wrote Kennedy Commission Executive Director Cesar Covarrubias. “With the 2017 Housing Package, the State of California is making a significant investment to address homelessness and provide affordable housing. But these state funds will only be available to counties that make similar investments to help leverage funding.”

Given everything the board of supervisors has been through on homelessness in court – exposing the utter weakness of the county system of care and permanent supportive housing – supervisors still don’t have a strategy or even an interest in finding resources to build relevant housing.

In fact, the only time during the county public discussion on housing that County Supervisor Michelle Steel even spoke up was to register her opposition to future state housing bonds. Supervisor Todd Spitzer publicly pulled up the bill setting up the statewide bond (SB2) on his phone and was critical.

Politicians politick. They can’t help it. It’s part of their DNA.

But it doesn’t get anything done.

And we should all wake up to that fact.

Recent poll shows majority of Californians support sanctuary for undocumented immigrants

By Shelley Henderson

The results of a recent poll by the Institute of Government Studies at UC Berkeley show a strong division among California voters on the so-called sanctuary law, with 56% of respondents favoring sanctuary and 41% opposing (3% were undecided).

Faced with a poll like this, the first thing to seek out is how the questions were asked. Here is the text of the two questions:

Last year California passed a state law that provides sanctuary to undocumented immigrants living in the country and limits cooperation with federal immigration officials who are attempting to deport these immigrants. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose this law?

Some cities in California have passed local laws that attempt to opt out their communities from the new state law. If local officials in your city were to propose to opt out your community from the state’s new law providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, would you favor or oppose it?

This targets the California Values Act (SB 54) and the ordinance enacted by the City of Los Alamitos that resulted in an ACLU lawsuit — without saying so right out loud.

The questions paint the scene so as to make federal authorities (read: the Trump Administration) as targeting all illegal immigrants. Practically speaking, ICE tried to pick up illegal aliens already in the custody of local authorities in order to deport them because, beyond the local legal trouble, they were in the country illegally and thereby subject to deportation.

To my knowledge, Los Alamitos is the only city to have passed an ordinance “to opt out” of the California Values Act. That ordinance actually states that the City views the federal Constitution as supreme over Sacramento puppeteers.

All other entities — cities plus at least two counties, Orange and San Diego — have voted to support the federal lawsuit, which actually calls out three different State laws:

SB 54 restricts how local law enforcement communicates with federal immigration authorities. AB 103 directs the California attorney general to inspect facilities where the federal government is detaining immigrants in the state. And AB 450 penalizes California employers who give Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents access to employee records or some areas of businesses without a warrant or subpoena.

In any case, I think that the poll would show different results with questions less sympathetic with the California Legislature’s sanctuary mania.

Further, seeing the circus after the City of Los Alamitos swore fealty to the United States Constitution, who would want their own city to open itself to political pumpkin-chucking and an ACLU lawsuit? Little Los Alamitos has maybe two-days of attorney fees accumulated in a GoFundMe appeal. The municipal budget won’t support prolonged litigation. It is inevitable, without outside help, that the tiny city (population 12,000) will have to concede the legal bullying, not on principle but for lack of funds.

Poll internals for the first question

The news release about the poll includs breakdowns for answers to the both question above.

Most interesting is that just about everybody has an opinion. The “I dunno” segment is tiny — a mere 3%.

Democrats wildly support the California Values Act. Republicans even more strongly oppose it. Those with no party preference lightly favor it, with a higher percentage of undecideds/don’t knows.

That big split was loudly displayed at the most recent Los Alamitos City Council meeting. Partisans on both sides deployed tactics to drown out the other side. Drums? Check! Megaphones? Check! Folk songs? Check! Amped band? Well… I think supporters of the sanctuary law outdid the opposition on this particular tactic.

Neither those in favor nor those opposed were addressing moderates in a way that might convince rather than bully or beat down. The poll shows that moderates mildly favor the California Values Act, 52% to 43%.

Poll internals for the second question

As with the first question, everybody has an opinion.

Of further interest is that those with no stated party affiliation break 42% to 50% in opposition to a local ordinance like that in Los Alamitos. That split carries the question into majority opposed territory — something Democrats alone couldn’t reach.

As you might expect, Democrats heavily oppose a local ordinance, 19% to 75%. Republicans even more heavily approve, 85% to 13%.

The mushy middle — political moderates — are evenly split.

And it is again coastal California against inland California: coastal counties heavily oppose (38% to 56%) and inland counties favor (53% to 42%). Orange County continues its historical anomalous identity among coastal counties.

Votes for SB 54

For the record, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-72), and State Senators Janet Nguyen (R-34) and John Moorlach (R-37) voted against SB 54.

State Senator Josh Newman (D-29) and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-65) voted in favor of SB 54.

Senator Newman faces a recall brought about because he (and Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva) voted in favor of increasing the state gas tax.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Solutions — April 9, 2018

I had the privilege of having dinner with Lloyd Pendleton three years ago, shortly after becoming State Senator, and not long after completing my stint as the Chairman of the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness. Lloyd was in town again last week and gave what was characterized as a “barn burner” speech. Several of my District staff were present.

The Voice of OC captured his remarks in the piece below and, although I have a delegated link to the piece, I believe it is critical for you to read it. The timing of the conference, organized by Professor Fred Smoller of Chapman University, is propitious. It came at a critical moment in time for the Orange County community.

The piece is lengthy, but it is an excellent primer on the topic of homelessness and its solutions, and reflects my perspectives on this critical topic.

Also, last week I became a co-author of Senator de Leon’s bill that will put the “No Place Like Home” funding strategy on the November ballot, as the current structure is stalled in a Sacramento Superior Court Room. This initiative will be a big help in achieving immediate housing (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018).

Leader of Successful Utah Homelessness Effort Outlines Steps OC Could Take

By Nick Gerda

The man who led one of the most successful U.S. efforts to address homelessness has outlined a series of specific steps he said Orange County and other communities could take.

Among his recommendations: have a “champion” bring together community and government leaders to break through barriers and urgently move toward solutions; have a “highly collaborative” approach with a clear vision and measurable outcomes; and be compassionate for each homeless “brother and sister.”

“You have a number [of chronically homeless people where] you can do it. Really,” Lloyd Pendleton, the former director of Utah’s homelessness efforts, said during an April 5 conference at Chapman University.

Orange County had about 900 chronically homeless people as of the latest count, compared to about 17,500 in Los Angeles County. Overall, Orange County counted a total of 2,584 unsheltered homeless people in January 2017. But the numbers have grown substantially in certain areas, including Santa Ana, which counted more than double as many unsheltered homeless people on March 31 – or 1,030 people – as the 466 people the county found in the city during its January 2017 count.

Pendleton, a former executive with Ford Motor Co. and the Mormon Church, oversaw a major reduction in long-term homelessness in Utah from 2004 to 2015. His Chapman speech was to more than 100 Orange County community members, including leaders in business, government, and advocacy, who attended the all-day conference on housing and homelessness.

Pendleton said federal Judge David O. Carter has emerged as Orange County’s main “champion” on homelessness. And he called on local mayors and other elected officials to follow Carter’s lead by getting to know homeless people and learning what it would take for them to get off the streets.

Carter is “walking along there, meeting homeless individuals, seeing them eyeball to eyeball. Go out with him! Meet your homeless citizens! They’re human beings. Get over this idea [of] ‘not in my backyard.’ They’re your citizens!” Pendleton said, to loud applause from the audience.

Pendleton’s speech came as Orange County grapples with a growing homeless population and a severe shortage of shelter and affordable housing for them.

Nationally and locally, Utah has been cited by officials, service providers, advocates, and national media outlets as a success in helping long-term, or “chronic,” homeless people with disabilities get off the streets.

The percentage reduction in chronic homelessness Utah experienced is debated. But state officials say they’ve housed at least 900 people who were chronically homeless in recent years, which is equivalent to roughly half of the total chronically homeless population counted statewide before the housing program.

Pendleton said that success came largely through providing affordable housing with wraparound support for health and employment, and relationship-building with community members.

Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country, according to the polling company Gallup, and has roughly the same number of residents as Orange County: 3.1 million.

Before Pendleton spoke, UC Irvine professor David Snow explained the findings of a large-scale study the university released last year on homelessness in Orange County, which involved hundreds of homeless people.

Snow said 32 percent of homeless people reported suffering sexual or physical abuse as children, and 42 percent had a parent or adult household member with a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Eighteen percent were formerly in foster care, which is much higher than the overall population, he said.

“To say that homelessness is just [these] are all druggies” is “wrongheaded” and “certainly not consistent with a drilled-down investigation of the causes of homelessness,” Snow said.

Snow also said there’s evidence “homelessness grows in the gap between the cost and availability of housing and the availability of income, wages to access that housing.”

The growing gap between housing costs and income, as shown in a graphic Snow presented at the conference.

The UCI study found the overall cost to society is significantly less when chronically homeless people move from the streets into housing with support services – dropping from $98,000 a year to $51,000, mostly from fewer emergency room visits.

“We’d save a lot of money by putting people…homeless people in housing,” Snow said. Arrests decline to zero, and people become less depressed, which makes them more employable, he added.

Several mayors attended the conference earlier in the day for the housing panels, including Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones and Tustin Mayor Al Murray, but they didn’t stay for the 2 p.m. panel on homelessness.

Four elected officials were present for the homelessness panel: Anaheim Councilman Jose Moreno, Costa Mesa Councilman John Stephens, Newport Beach Councilman Will O’Neill, and Villa Park Mayor Robert Collacott. Also present was Scott Carpenter, the district director for state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

None of the five county supervisors, who control hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state money for homelessness and mental health, attended the homelessness session or the overall housing conference.

The county government’s point person on homelessness, Susan Price, also did not attend. She didn’t respond to a text message asking why.

Housing With Support Services

One major concern from local elected officials is pushback from residents who fear crime will come with homeless shelters and housing. Stephens, the Costa Mesa councilman, asked how elected officials should respond.

Snow, the UCI professor, pointed to his study of hundreds of homeless people in Orange County. It found arrests declined to zero when people moved from the streets into housing with support services.

“When you house people, the [rate] of their criminality will decline,” Snow said.

The community, Pendleton emphasized, should explain the “why” of their efforts to reduce homelessness. “I see our homeless citizens as truly my brother and sister. Truly my brother and sister, spiritually…This is a calling to me. Not a job.”

He said a “high percentage” of homeless people “have had very traumatic PTSD, traumatic brain injury” as children. “Therefore their brain doesn’t develop, and they can’t function in school…they drop out, get with a crowd that’s kind of maybe less productive.”

“There’s a plethora of reasons, [a] tremendous amount of abuse. So there’s a very valid reason they are where they are. And we’d probably be where they are if we were raised in those circumstances. So we’ve got to get out of this condemning-and-judging bit first, may I suggest,” Pendleton said.

“They are our homeless citizens. They’re not ‘those people.’ They’re our homeless citizens. And there’s a good chance that in 10 years, four or five of you in this room will be homeless.”

“We know why people are homeless. We know the solution,” Pendleton added. “Housing. It ain’t complicated. The solution is housing.”

There are various types of interventions for different types of homeless people, he said: “Permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless,” “rapid re-housing for the families,” and treatment programs. “There’s all kinds of interventions that we know that work,” he said, including faith-based options that work for many people.

As a conservative, Pendleton said he was skeptical of the “housing first” approach when he learned about it at a 2003 conference in New York. But he said he saw it work when Utah implemented a 17-person pilot program.

“We took the most challenging [homeless people] we could find, and we put them into scattered-site housing while we built our first 100 units” of permanent supportive housing, Pendleton said.

“Twenty-two months later all 17 were still housed. We [found] the most challenging ones we could find – [the] most mentally ill and most drug-addicted, and alcohol and [substance] abuse – and we put them into scattered site housing. All 17 were still housed 22 months later. We became believers.”

The approach was similar to one in Orange County by the Illumination Foundation, whose Chronic Care Plus program housed 38 of the most-expensive homeless utilizers of hospitals, with health and other support services.

The program more than paid for itself through reduced hospital visits and nearly everyone remained in the housing, according to the foundation’s president and CEO, Paul Leon. The foundation later received an expanded grant from local hospitals to expand it to 108 people, in a program known as Street2Home.

Key to Utah’s success, Pendleton said, is support services, including case managers who help homeless people address health and addiction issues and help them find job training and employment. Also important, he said, is the involvement of volunteers from local faith groups – including churches, synagogues, and mosques – who spend time getting to know the formerly homeless people and build friendships with them.

The housing isn’t provided for free in Utah, according to Pendleton. The formerly homeless people who live there are charged a rent they’re able to afford, he said, and they can be evicted if they don’t pay – which he said provides accountability.

Pendleton said there were three main reasons Utah was successful: “We had champions, we’re highly collaborative, and we have a high compassion for our homeless citizens.”


In his travels around the country, Pendleton said, “I’m quite stunned at how few champions there are around this issue at a high enough level to make it happen. There are wonderful champions at the lower level, [who] work your hearts out for a small amount of money, and you care. But not a lot gets done that needs to be done.”

“Mayors, are you listening?” Pendleton asked. “You’re a key part.”

Regarding leadership, Pendleton said political leaders come and go from their positions, and that it’s important to have a consistent vision, message and leadership.

That’s why it’s crucial, he said, to have a “champion” – someone who takes the lead in getting the various government and community leaders to act, and lasts through the various turnovers of politicians.

He listed what he considers the characteristics of such a champion: “They have energy, they begin and finish projects, stamina, staying power, enthusiasm, sense of humor…They have a bias to act, focused on solutions…Sense of urgency. Opportunity-driven.”

Other characteristics he cited: “Results-oriented. Outcome, not process, matters most. Networking, capacity-building are the means, not the end….[A] clear and compelling vision. Chart and use milestones. Personal responsibility. Did I screw up [at times]? Sure…We could have done that more effectively. You don’t blame people.”

“And there are no mistakes in my [opinion], because when you make a mistake you learn the most,” Pendleton said. “That’s what life is about, is learning about who you are and what you can do and what’s effective.”

It was key to “create a common vision,” Pendleton said. “We had one vision for the whole state,” including political leaders, homeless service providers, and business leaders.

That single vision for Utah is: “Everyone has access to safe, decent, affordable housing with the needed resources and supports for self-sufficiency and well being.” Utah still has a long way to go, according to news reports, but has made major strides in reducing chronic homelessness, according to official counts.

Pendleton said it’s important to build a vision that establishes housing as a “major step” in the process, but that it’s not the end. Helping people remain housed is key, he said.

“A sense of urgency,” was also important, Pendleton said. Utah put together a committee withintwo weeks, and within about three months had the pilot project up and running to get the first 17 people housed.

Also important to the Utah efforts was creating a committee of “champions” from a diverse cross section of the community to collaborate on solutions, Pendleton said. It’s important such a committee have people with a “diversity” of viewpoints, including those of homeless advocates, he said.

The stakeholders who should be at the table, he said, include philanthropic funders, business leaders, homeless service providers, government leaders, citizens, advocates, police, and faith-based groups. Bringing them together is important for breaking through the “silos” that often prevent action, he said.

Pendleton said California has a problem because of its “weak mayor system,” in which mayors have essentially the same power as other council members and the position typically rotates each year. The same is true for county boards of supervisors and their chairpersons.

“Therefore nobody’s in charge. In my view,” Pendleton said. One of the advantages he said he had in Utah was the lieutenant governor appointed him as the point person on homelessness, which led city and county officials to take him more seriously.

Orange County now has its “champion,” Pendleton said. “You are so lucky…Your Batman showed up: a judge!” he said, referring to Carter.

“Now, I don’t agree that it should be done…through the courts. But at least somebody’s stepping up…and making something happen. Political leaders: please, please, rally behind him.”

“It’s doable,” Pendleton said of reducing homelessness. “But without a champion, I see it won’t be accomplished to the level it can be accomplished. Find that champion – and you have one that’s being made,” he said. “I’m excited for you, really. That’s exciting.”

“It can be done,” he added. “Have one vision you all work on – all 34 cities and the county…[and] rally around it.”

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at ngerda.

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MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 1463 Redux — March 30, 2018

Allow me to wish you a solemn Good Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


California fights wildfires aggressively—but prevention takes a back seat

By Julie Cart

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

He sees a disaster-in-waiting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California’s troubled forests

33 Million
Number of forested acres in California

129 million
Number of dead trees in California

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

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

Average cost per acre to fight a fire

Average cost per acre to clear a forest by controlled burn

* California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


Costa Mesa Opposes Homeless Shelter at Fairview Mental Facility


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

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018

Yesterday morning I decided to sit in on Judge David Carter’s homeless hearing for a brief period. I have been working with Judge Carter as a liaison with the state and its efforts to find funding for the homeless.

I have recently met with Elaine Howle, the State Auditor, to review her most recent audit report on the status of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) created by Proposition 63 in 2004 (see

This past week, as a follow up, I also met with Toby Ewing, the Executive Director, of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to corroborate the audit findings (see

The audit report found some $2.5 billion in unspent funds to assist those with mental illness has accumulated since the passage of Proposition 63 in 2004. This is the case for all 58 counties and the state. There has been a paralysis and lack of leadership by the Department of Health Care Services as to what and where these funds can go, frustrating all parties.

Both of these meetings were disconcerting. I am no longer an executive who can provide guidance and direct staff to get something accomplished. I am now a legislator in a state so large that managing it is next to impossible. You thought Caltrans was messed up. Well, serious improvements can also be made to the Department of Health Care Services, which directs MHSA funding (see

I now must provide directives through legislation. Fine, but I am only allowed 20 bills per year. And, my executive brain is screaming in a legislator’s body. So, one of my bills this year is to establish an executive position to help run this state, SB 1297, but more on that at another time.

I dropped by the hearing after it had been proceeding for about an hour, but Judge Carter brought me up front and I listened to his reactions to various components of the State Auditor’s MHSA audit report. He also provided PowerPoint slides showing various pages. His lecture also included available locations, with Fairview Developmental Center being the most prominent one that he was aware of (see
MOORLACH UPDATE — Burning Year End Issues — December 15, 2017). The audience cheered in applause when it was recommended.

Judge Carter had invited Mayors and City Managers to be present and then, around 11 a.m., took them for a tour of the nearby bus depot, a location that I worked to provide as a roof for the homeless while still a County Supervisor. In the meantime, it has been made available and currently has some 400 residents! Due to other commitments, I left midway through the walk. The Voice of OC provides their take in the first piece below.

It was a Federal Judge that may have started this dilemma with the mandate for the State of California to reduce its inmate population. Instead of building more prisons, which is cost prohibitive thanks to the high cost to staff them with the providing of public safety defined benefit pensions and other employee benefits, the Governor backed and signed AB 109, Public Safety Realignment, in 2011, which released supposed nonviolent inmates prematurely to the 58 counties. The ironies continue. But, I digress.

As you know, after reviewing my recent ten volume series, cities are not flush with the cash needed to address this immediate housing requirement for the homeless.

The media is picking up my recent study on the fiscal well being of California’s 482 cities. The Orange County Breeze provides a reaction concerning its marketing sphere of influence in the second piece below. The Bakersfield California provides its local perspective in the third piece. Chino and Chino Hills are noted in the Chino Champion in the fourth piece below. And Fox and Hounds rounds out the topic in the fifth piece.

The MHSA provides a funding opportunity and I worked side-by-side with President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon in 2016 on the passage of AB 1618, “No Place Like Home,” to securitize this tax revenue source (see We announced the initiative at Skid Row in Los Angeles (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Governor’s 2016-17 Proposed Budget — January 8, 2016)

Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon even allowed me to provide input on constructing the bill. It passed and was signed into law, but has not been implemented because it is tied up in Sacramento County Superior Court on validation concerns. (One would wish that Attorney General Becerra would push the courts to help our homeless instead of constantly fighting the Trump Administration, but I digress.)

Senator de Leon is trying to request $2 billion from the Governor, which would be replaced once the bonds are issued. This would start the process of counties submitting grants for immediate housing construction now. I also informed the President pro Tem to tell the Governor that there are $2.5 billion in funds that can be used as collateral for the cash advance.

Federal Judge Expands OC Homeless Housing to Include Longtime Santa Ana Civic Center Camp



Homeless people congregate in the Plaza of the Flags at the Santa Ana Civic Center on March 17, 2018. About 150 people live in tents and make shift structures at the Plaza.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter expanded the scope of his inquiry into homelessness at the Santa Ana riverbed Saturday pushing city and county officials during a day-long federal court hearing to also agree to relocate the roughly 150 homeless people living in the Santa Ana Civic Center.

County Supervisor Andrew Do, before a crowd of activists, homeless people, county officials and city managers from across the county, struck a decidedly different tone than he has in the past.

“We don’t have a defense. I’m going to be the first to own up that we have failed,” Do said at the start of the hearing, to loud applause. “To lead requires we are proactive and not reactive, and we have failed.”

Carter held the hearing at Santa Ana City Hall, where just outside, hundreds of homeless people have camped for more than a decade, although numbers have dwindled after the recent opening of an emergency shelter nearby. The Civic Center is part of Do’s supervisorial district.

Carter has taken an unusually active role in pushing collaboration and negotiations between government officials and attorneys for the homeless. The hearing was called Saturday to resolve complaints, part of a federal lawsuit against the county, that former riverbed homeless people being moved from motel rooms have not been given adequate services and housing options by the county.

Attorneys for homeless people cited examples of people with serious medical problems and disabilities who cannot sleep in a shelter, or who rely on a spouse or partner as a caretaker. The medical and detox beds offered by the county often do not allow people to be housed with their partners.

For example, Shane Allen, a man who is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke who also suffers from stage 4 cancer, has a weakened immune system and cannot live in a shelter, said attorney Brooke Weitzman. As Allen also depends on his wife as a caretaker, sending them to different shelters would be an unnecessary emotional burden, Weitzman said.

Allen waited to testify at the hearing through the late afternoon, when he was taken to a hospital by paramedics for heart issues.

After several hours of negotiation, attorneys for homeless clients and for the county came to an informal agreement.

Over the next week, the county will continue to relocate nearly 600 former riverbed homeless, most now in motel rooms, as their 30-day maximum stays begin to expire.

People who can prove the need for privacy and individualized housing may be, pending approval by the county, allowed to stay in motel rooms for additional time.

“This is not a blanket extension of all motel vouchers,” said Do, who called the extension of motel stays a “big concession.” “If we feel there are cases that warrant closer examination…we are willing to extend the motel vouchers for those individuals, on a case-by-case basis.”

No more than 100 people will be moved out of motels each day, so the attorneys for the homeless – Weitzman and Carol Sobel — won’t be overwhelmed as they monitor the process.

Carter has also required the county to turn over information to Weitzman and Sobel about each person relocated from the riverbed and where they will be placed after their motel stay. The attorneys, with permission from each individual, will have access to clinical evaluations conducted by the county.

People will be given 48-hours notice before they are relocated.

“We will see how this works,” said Sobel. “Frankly, I think they’re going to run out [of shelter space].”

Do said the county has identified $70 million in funding from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) that will be made available to address homelessness, although he declined to give further details about that funding when asked by a reporter.

A recent audit report released Feb. 27 by the State Auditor’s office found local health agencies statewide have “amassed hundreds of millions in unspent MHSA funds.”

More details about that funding will be announced at a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors at 9 a.m. Monday, where supervisors will discuss additional services and housing options for homeless people.

Although Saturday’s hearing was called to address the future of former riverbed homeless people, Carter expanded it to include the Santa Ana Civic Center, where at least 150 people still sleep each night. He pointed to a murder that occurred last week and a woman who was raped the night before.

“I haven’t told you until today that I am adamant of getting rid of this degradation in the Civic Center. I’m going to put more stress on the system, and if you’re not going to do it, I’m going to write an opinion,” Carter said Saturday morning. “Got it? It’s not ramping down, it’s ramping up.”

Carter announced Saturday night the city of Santa Ana and the county agreed to begin a “dignified and humane movement of people” from the Civic Center area. The Santa Ana Police will work with county social workers to clear the area with a similar strategy used at the riverbed.

Beginning Sunday, women living at the Civic Center will be offered immediate shelter at WISEPlace, a women’s shelter with a contract with the county.

County CEO Frank Kim said the county and city have not worked out details of when and how they will begin to move people out of the Civic Center.

Carter was largely complimentary of county officials, praising Do and county Supervisor Todd Spitzer for their leadership. He also thanked the Sheriff’s Department, Health Care Agency workers and Weitzman and Sobel for facilitating a peaceful clear-out of the riverbed encampment.

The county began clearing a massive homeless encampment from the Santa Ana Riverbed on Feb. 20. By the following week, officials said all people on the riverbed had been moved to motels and other shelters, and closed the riverbed to the public on Feb. 26. No one was arrested for refusing to leave the area.

On Saturday, Carter called on cities to step up and contribute to solutions.

“Each of your cities doesn’t want this problem to land in your city,” Carter told the audience, which included city managers and representatives from the most of the county’s 34 cities. “Maybe our constituency would understand that if…it’s one way to solve it is if everybody steps up.”

State Sen. John Moorlach, (R-Costa Mesa) who is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature to determine the use of the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, also was invited to the hearing by Carter.

Homeless advocates are eyeing the large property as a potential site for permanent supportive housing for the homeless or a mental health facility. The 114-acre developmental center, owned by the state, is slated to close in 2021.

Moorlach also has worked with state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) to support legislation, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July 2016, that creates $2 billion in bond proceeds to fund housing for the homeless. The bonds would be repaid with funding from the Mental Health Services Act, although use of the money is still pending court approval.

De Leon also spoke by phone with Carter Saturday morning before the hearing, the judge said. Moorlach, in a phone call with a reporter Saturday night, said he is working with De Leon to find other funding sources to address homelessness.

Meanwhile, Carter rebuked cities that have moved homeless people out of their cities and into other cities, especially those “dumping” them off at the Civic Center.

“If hypothetically there is dumping, moving of human beings from one city or another, you’ve created a problem, not only in terms of loading up the riverbed, but you’ve created a problem for cities like Anaheim and Santa Ana,” Carter said.

He said if anyone wants to claim dumping isn’t happening, they would be called on to prove it under oath.

“Be very careful what your accusation is, in terms of not taking some of these folks back into your communities that are pristine and virtuous,” Carter said, pointing to a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office who he had invited to the meeting. “But if anyone wants to play the [body camera] tapes, I’m asking for a Justice Department investigation.”

Carter paused, and the room was silent for a moment.

“That silence means we’ve forgiven and forgotten and it never happens again,” said the judge.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo and Spencer Custodio at scustodio.

Senator John Moorlach ranks California’s 482 cities for financial soundness

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.seileror 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.

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

Editor’s Note: Of the 482 cities in California, Cypress ranks in at 33, and highest among the cities in Orange County. It is the only Orange County city in the top 50. La Palma is ranked 104, Stanton at 150, Seal Beach at 201, Buena Park at 302, Los Alamitos at 328, followed closely by Garden Grove at 330.


Worth Noting: Historical Society holding St. Patrick’s Day Walking Tour

California Senator John Moorlach has ranked California’s cities based on financial soundness and Bakersfield ranks closer to the bottom of the list than the top. Bakersfield was ranked 289th out of 482 cities.

Here & There

In State Senator (37th district) John Moorlach’s ranking of 482 California cities for “financial soundness,” Chino Hills came in at 154 and Chino came in 104. Both cities fit into what he described as the “positive part of the curve.” Mr. Moorlach based his rankings by dividing the city’s unrestricted financial position by the city’s population.

Ranking California’s 482 Cities for Financial Soundness

Senator John Moorlach

By Senator John MoorlachCalifornia State Senate, 37th District

Which California cities are in financial distress and which are sound? I am releasing the first edition of my 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?

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.

I plan to update the study every six months.

An op-ed specifically looking at Orange County’s cities also is online in the Orange County Register, “Most Orange County city finances bleed red ink.”

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

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candidates for OC’s Four Contested Congressional Seats




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

39th Congressional District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

45th Congressional District

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

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

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

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

48th Congressional District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

49th Congressional District

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP Insider Enters Congressional Race

By : Andrea Adelson

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

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

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

Scott Baugh

Scott Baugh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

Congressional primary makes rivals of two old Republican friends


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

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

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

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

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

When that didn’t happen, Baugh backed off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’ll certainly be a force to reckon with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

​Baugh’s reaction to Whitaker’s letter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Critical Federal Tax Reform — November 28, 2017

Nearly a decade ago, when I served on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, we successfully negotiated offering a lower defined benefit pension plan retirement formula for new hires. Governor Brown replicated this strategy a few years later with his Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA).

We also negotiated a provision that would allow current employees to adopt the lower formula. The reason an employee would make this decision was due to the reduction in the employee’s portion of the contribution to the pension. It would reduce their payroll check withholdings, thus increasing their net take home pay.

We had a number of Orange County employees that wanted to do this because paying for child care and housing costs was a higher priority. And a reasonable pension, with a portability component, was preferred over the gold-plated plan that was mandated.

Unfortunately, this creative solution was halted by the discovery of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Revenue Ruling (Rev. Rul.) 2006-43. This faulty ruling denied cities the ability to offer an alternative retirement plan, whether it was a defined contribution or hybrid plan, without realizing the pre-tax benefits that employers and employees have with their defined benefit contributions.

Allow me to provide you with some history on this administrative tax promulgation roadblock, as removing this hurdle can make a major change in the finances of this nation (in reverse date order).

1. When looking back on what I accomplished as a Supervisor (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Supervisor Bartlett — December 3, 2014). :

• 2009 – Negotiated new tier for current hires, only to be stymied by I.R.S. Rev. Rul. 2006-43

2. Included as Goal #3 in my 2014 goallist:

MOORLACH UPDATE — 2014 Bucket List — October 3, 2014

3. A piece by Steve Malanga in The Wall Street Journal, giving this concern national attention:

MOORLACH UPDATE — The Wall Street Journal — December 7, 2013

Two key paragraphs:

For more than three years the IRS has failed to clarify a rule on changes to public pension systems that would allow municipalities to shift workers into new, less-expensive plans without losing any tax advantages they had under the old plan.


The Orange County Employees Association accepted the new plan to let workers choose more take-home pay now, but there was an unexpected glitch. Local government contributions into a defined-benefit pension aren’t counted as part of an employee’s taxable wages. However, officials discovered that thanks to a murky ruling a few years earlier, the IRS might decide that a portion of the employees’ pension contributions are taxable if a worker moves into a plan such as the one offered by Orange County. Such a ruling would remove a key tax-savings for the employee and probably cause most workers to avoid the new plan.

4. A set up discussion:

MOORLACH UPDATE — Nineteenth Anniversary — December 6, 2013

5. My treatise on the subject:

MOORLACH UPDATE — San Diego U-T — October 13, 2013

6. The national politics involved with my focus on repealing this Rev. Rul.:

MOORLACH UPDATE — H.R. 205 — August 28, 2013

7. Why I stressed this tax code modification many years ago:

MOORLACH UPDATE — Fighting/Leading — July 1, 2013

8. A SD Union-Tribune editorial:

MOORLACH UPDATE — IRS — April 10, 2012

Bottom line? I personally informed the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is a very big deal for this Certified Public Accountant. Therefore, the Republicans in D.C. are aware of the situation and need to act. My editorial submission in the Voice of OC, the first piece below, provides the recipe for thorough tax reform.

The Laguna Beach Independent announces my upcoming speaking engagement for this Thursday evening in the second piece below.

BONUS: You are cordially invited to our Annual Christmas Open House on December 6th, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 940 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa, Suite 185. Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy Thanksgiving— November 22, 2017.

To RSVP, contact Deborah Sandoval at Deborah.Sandoval or 714-662-0550. Dress is Christmas casual, which means if you wear a Reyn Spooner Christmas shirt, you’ll be provided with extra refreshments.

Moorlach: A Crucial Pension Reform Congress Must Enact

By John Moorlach

Regardless of what else is done, here’s the missing piece Congress and President Trump must add to the tax reform they’re working on: public-employee pension reform. What good is it if you get $500 in tax cuts from the federal government if your state and local taxes rise $1,000 to pay for burgeoning pensions for government workers?

The key: Revoke IRS Revenue Ruling 2006-43. It prevents allowing public employees the option of reducing defined benefit pension benefits in exchange for better pay. Dumping the rule would help not only taxpayers, but the public employees themselves.

I’m the only CPA in the Legislature of the largest state, so please let me explain the situation for our representatives in Washington. In 2009, the County of Orange negotiated a strategy that allowed county employees, at their choice, to move from a traditional defined benefit retirement plan to a hybrid, comprising a lower defined benefit formula, combined with an employer-matching, 401(k) plan of 2 percent of wages.

This reform also would have meant approximately a 7 percent increase in net pay for county employees electing to do so, with no added cost to taxpayers. That especially would have helped struggling young families. And it would have eased the underfunded pension crises now facing the county.

Unfortunately, the intentions of the county and its bargaining units were halted by this revenue ruling. Consequently, in 2013, a bipartisan reform to amend the Internal Revenue Code, through House Resolution 205, was pursued. It was co-sponsored by two local House members, both since retired, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine.

According to the congressional summary, it would have permitted “the treatment of certain employer contributions made to public retirement plans as picked up by an employing unit regardless of whether” the plan was a traditional one, or had been converted to a new, hybrid plan for county employees electing to do so. Unfortunately, H.R. 205 died in the House Ways and Means Committee.

All the same, in late 2013 I traveled to Washington to unclog this unnecessary and expensive roadblock. On Dec. 4, Sanchez arranged a meeting with the then-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. The meeting included Nick Berardino, the general manager of the Orange County Employees Association, and Jennifer Muir, his assistant who succeeded him in 2015 when he retired.

Camp’s district was just North of Detroit. The previous day that large city, once called the Paris of the West, saw Judge Steven W. Rhodes declare that its public-employee pensions would not be protected in federal bankruptcy proceedings.

I told Camp that if there was ever a time to be walking in with a solution for this nation’s cities, counties and states, this was it. While in D.C., I also met with the county’s outside legal counsel, who told me the reform was opposed by the AFSCME and SEIU unions, making the real complication the impenetrable prose of Revenue Ruling 2006-43.

Fast forward to 2017, with so many cities and counties in the nation on the brink of insolvency, it’s time to provide a reasonable and fair solution. And with the rising cost of housing, young employees need some relief, as well.

That’s why revoking Revenue Ruling 2006-43 is crucial now. If Republicans are going to make all these changes to the tax code, let’s make sure they address the biggest financial impediment facing our country’s municipalities by including this vital and simple pension solution.

If Congress doesn’t act, by including this obvious tax clarification, then all this hyperbole and debate over tax reform may just end up being a waste of time and energy.

John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears

Senator Moorlach Speaks to GOP


John Moorlach

State Senator John Moorlach will discuss issues such as the gas tax hike, the state sanctuary movement and pensions as the guest speaker of the Laguna Beach Republicans on Thursday, Nov. 30.

The group meets at Mozambique restaurant 1740 S Coast Hwy, at 5 p.m. to socialize and the meeting gets underway by 6 p.m.

RSVP to highspeed8 as space is limited.

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