Supervisor Norby
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September 4, 2008 - Volume 6, Issue 5
333 W. Santa Ana Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Tele: 714.834.3440

Eric Norby
Chief of Staff

Phil Tsunoda
Special Assistant

Bruce Whitaker
Executive Assistant

Kara Lozano
Executive Assistant

Doug Cox
Executive Assistant

Mark Lopez
Executive Aide


Paul Bostwick
Frank & Sally Feldhaus
Jackie Filbeck

Jack D. Armstrong
Franki Berry

Marilyn Davenport
Allan & Joanne Olson
Freydel Bushala

Don Marshall
Doug Cox
Chuck Morse

Joanne Sowards
Ed Alvarez

Right to Bear Concealed Arms?

Our constitution’s second amendment protects our right to bear arms. State law, however, prohibits the carrying of concealed firearms without a permit from the County Sheriff.

There are about 1,100 such concealed weapons permits in use in Orange County. Critics of past sheriffs claimed that permit issuances were based on campaign contributions. The current sheriff has pulled 20 permits so far, and promises to yank more from those who cannot prove a compelling need to have one.

I’ve received a flood of recent emails asserting a citizen’s right to a permit without having to prove a special need. They say all permits should be granted unless there is a good reason to deny.

We Supervisors control the Sheriff’s annual budget, but she controls daily operations.

Is a concealed weapons permit an extension of the Second Amendment? Or does a sheriff have wide latitude in regulating them? Look for this as an issue in the 2010 County campaign.

Overused Verbal Junk Food

Three terms I have heard way too much this convention season: “change”, “reform”, “special interests.” They make politicians sound hopeful or tough, without them really saying anything at all.

Take “change.” It’s a completely neutral word with positive inferences to many listeners. But change to what? Change is neither good nor bad; it depends on what the change is. If you’re running against an unpopular incumbent, then change can seem like a relief. But, it can always get worse!

“Reform” has a vaguely positive ring to it. To reform is to improve. But if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Good intentions don’t guarantee positive results. Nothing is perfect, and in improving the good we can make things worse.

Take campaign finance reform. The McCain-Feingold Act criminalized political speech within two months of an election. Any citizen group criticizing an incumbent or even publicizing on officeholder’s record is subject to strict contribution limits and reporting requirements. Unregulated criticism was banned. This may be reform, but it is bad reform. It forces the money further underground and makes it tougher to raise contributions.

Then there are the “special interests.” Unlike change and reform, the special interests are always bad. But who are they? It’s never stated. Farmers are seen sentimentally. We all had a grandfather who was one, or at least a great grandfather. Yet politically powerful farmers and their lobbyists recently secured a whopping $47 billion in yearly subsidies to be paid not to grown food or to grow food that no one wants.

What about teachers? We tell our kids to respect and learn from them. Yet their union and lobbyists control public education in California and block any attempts at basic accountability. Are they a “special interest”? One person’s special interest is another’s public interest.

Fullerton: None Too Soon for Pension Plan Airing

Thank you, City Councilman Shawn Nelson for letting Fullerton taxpayers know about the ongoing closed door city pension proposals.

Recent public employee pensions at the state, county and local levels have added billions in unfunded liabilities. They lure away our most experienced employees into early retirement and burden younger workers with added costs.

Yet, the City Council has apparently been negotiation a new pension boost in closed doors for months. State law permits closed door negotiations, but doesn’t require them. City employees were kept fully informed of all details and have already voted to approve the contract. All 430 employees have voted on a contract that has been kept from public view.

The retroactive part of the proposal is particularly onerous. Employees may retire almost immediately and receive enhanced pension benefits for which they’ve paid virtually nothing. Younger worker must forgo raises and pay more to support the payouts to the newly retired.

Nelson’s disclosure led to several editorials in the Register, which in turn sparked a council firestorm. Nelson’s council colleagues called him both a lawbreaker and a backstabber. He was told to be a “team player.”

Who’s back is he stabbing? The city staff who advises the council? (All of whom will benefit by the new pension).

Team player? The council is not a team with pre-rehearsed plays and a coach telling them all what to do. All must express their individual concerns.

Typically, agendas go public Friday for meetings held on Tuesday. That’s barely two working days, hardly enough for the pubic to respond to a complex pension-laden contract that was months in the making.

The council can negotiate a fair contract while informing the public of the stakes involved. When this does come to a public vote, all of us will be forewarned—thanks to Councilman Nelson.

I can personally relate to Nelson’s frustration. When I first attended closed session labor negotiations as a Supervisor, I was appalled that the Board received no information in advance. I tried to absorb complex presentations, but was prevented by staff and fellow Board members from taking any information out of the room to discuss with my staff.

“It’s confidential—not to be discussed outside the room” I was initially told by three of my colleagues. Yet, the union representatives passed all the information on to their members. The only people kept in the dark were the public. I made it clear I would never support any deals that I could not fully analyze with my own staff.

A new Board majority finally demanded back-up materials in advance and now regularly discusses all proposals with our own staffs. But most OC council members have no staff of their own, so they rely on city staffs, which often are the beneficiaries of the very proposals they bring to a council.

In 2002, Shawn Nelson was elected to fill my vacancy when I joined the Board of Supervisors. We have since shared our desire to make government pension, accessible and accountable.

Recent Trips

SACRAMENTO, August 3-4: I visited the Governor’s Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy to suggest ways of balancing the budget. I represented the California State Association of Counties in the hastily called meeting and was the only elected official among 4 CSAC staffers.

During the visit, Governor Schwarzenegger dropped in for some quality time. I told him local government wants to be a partner during the budget deadlock, but that redevelopment agencies were diverting $5 billion in annual property tax revenues, mainly to subsidize new development. Those funds could be recaptured by the state for education. The Governor is now proposing that 5% of agency money be restored to public schools—a $220 million annual boost.

MONTEREY, August 21-23: I attended the annual California Association of Sanitation Districts (CASA) conference. As a member of the OC Sanitation District’s Board of Directors, sewage, waste disposal and clean water are all issues of concern, and the conference is a great way to learn of new innovations and network.

KERN COUNTY, August 29: I ventured north of the Tehachapis with Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea, Huntington Beach Councilwoman Cathy Green and Former Westminster Mayor Joy Neugebauer, all of whom served with me on the OC Sanitation District.

We visited several rural sludge processing operations, where OC sewage is trucked to be dried and converted to fertilizer. These operations have met with countywide opposition, as the material is high in human fecal material, but can be used safely to fertilize non-food crops such as cotton and alfalfa.

O.C. Commission Openings

Call Kara in my office—714-834-3440—to apply for any of the following positions. OC needs you!

ASSESSMENT APPEALS BOARD: Hears appeals of property assessment. Especially active in declining real estate markets. Meets Monday-Thursday 9:00 a.m., or as-needed. Must be a lawyer, CPA, real estate broker or appraiser with CA license for at least 5 years. Up to $200 per day.

OC PUBLIC FACILITIES CORPORATION: Advises the Board of Supervisors on financing and bonding of public facility construction. One annual meeting in February and other meetings as needed. $75 per meeting.