February 8, 2008
Welcome to this edition of the Fifth District Report, an electronic newsletter keeping you updated about the events taking place in Orange County and in the Fifth District. It is my hope that you find this distribution informative and I would encourage you to contact me regarding any thoughts, comments, or concerns you may have.
IN THIS ISSUE...
1. Board Bulletin Board – January 29
2. Board Bulletin Board – February 5
3. Transportation Update
4. Environmental Notes
5. Helpful Health Tips
6. Fifth District Spotlight
7. South County Calendar
8. Fifth District Wrap-Up
Chief of Staff
Executive Director of Public Affairs
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Secretary II
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|BOARD BULLETIN BOARD - JANUARY 29
Constitutional Question on Pensions
As I enter into my second year on the Board of Supervisors, there are a handful of issues that have yet to come to a resolution. One very important example are the unresolved Constitutional questions surrounding the 2001 Board action that provided a retroactive pension benefit to County Sheriff Deputies. Last week, I voted with my Board colleagues to take a necessary step, designed to clarify the law and end the ambiguity as to whether a previous Board of Supervisors exceeded their authority by increasing the Sheriff’s pensions and then applying it retroactively.
There are significant questions as to whether the retroactive pension violates the debt limit and extra compensation provisions of the California Constitution. Additionally, there are questions as to how this Board action will impact recruitment efforts by the Sheriff’s Department. Finally, there are questions related to various legal opinions that have been offered to this Board regarding the merits of the case. The one area that is void of confusion is my oath to uphold both the United States and California Constitutions. To that end, as I have acknowledged above, I have a Constitutional and a moral imperative to the Sheriff’s Department staff and their families, as well as Orange County taxpayers (which include Sheriff’s Deputies) to end any confusion and provide clarity. My vote to move forward with litigation was a vote to end the back and forth debate and to live up to my obligation as a servant to the residents of the Fifth District and all of Orange County.
The County and Sheriff’s Deputies negotiated in good faith when this deal was struck in 2001, but at this point, good intentions are not enough and there are now real questions surrounding the Constitutional basis for that deal. Those questions must be answered and while lawsuits are never the preferable way to solve conflicts, in this matter, clarity is essential and that can only come through a definitive court ruling. To view the presentation provided to the Board on this matter, please click here.
Treasurer’s Investment Policy and Procedures
In December, the Board reviewed a risk analysis of the Orange County Treasurer’s Investment Policies and Procedures. The risk analysis found that the investment holdings were appropriate and investment returns were within range of peer organizations. One specific concern involved a specific type of investment strategy – Strategic Investment Vehicles (SIVs). At Tuesday’s Board meeting, I concurred that these SIVs should be held until maturity, but monitored closely.
The risk analysis also raised concerns about the current level of communication among the Treasurer’s advisory committees. I supported adding financial expertise to the body advising on policy issues. In addition, I look forward to the implementation of Treasurer’s reports which are easier for the public to understand. To view the risk analysis of the Orange County Treasurer’s Investment Policy and Procedures, please click here.
Incentive-Based “Green” Legislation
In December, I requested staff develop a policy statement for the Orange County 2008 Legislative Platform that had a “green” focus on incentive based legislation which would assist individuals and businesses of Orange County. To that end, the Board approved at Tuesday’s meeting the following policy statement: “Support legislation that educates, promotes incentives, and provides information to the residents, builders, and businesses of Orange County regarding the adoption, use, and economic benefits of green technology and eco-friendly products.”
State of the County
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Chairman John Moorlach delivered his State of the County address. To view his presentation, please click here.
|BOARD BULLETIN BOARD - FEBRUARY 5
Office of Independent Review
Since the concept of a Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board was brought forth to the Board of Supervisors, our staff has worked collaboratively with stakeholders over the past year to add process into the development of a working model known as the Office of Independent Review (OIR). With respect to law enforcement, the OIR will provide the confidential investigative tool for reviewing serious complaints on peace officer conduct, incidents in our jails and investigations in a way that protects the privacy of both our peace officers and our citizens as well as the integrity of the process.
We can be proud that statistically the Orange County Sheriff’s Department is one of the best law enforcement agencies in the nation. The recent ranking of Mission Viejo as America’s safest city is a testament to that fact. That said, the OIR will be a professional oversight mechanism providing thoughtful expertise as the county continues to work on serving our citizens better in one of America’s safest counties. Citizens need a place where they may confidentially report a serious complaint and be assured it is dealt with in the most appropriate and ethical manner.
The other essential tool needed is facilitating a grievance process for our citizens. At my recommendation through a Board Directive, the CEO will work with the Human Relations Commission to develop a specific and focused plan that provides mediation for citizens on complaints that do not rise to the level of intervention by OIR.
The Human Relations Commission has both state certified mediators as well as a commission with nearly 30 years of roots in the community. The commission understands the micro-issues within our various communities and would be able to assist citizens with facilitating the complaint process in law enforcement.
Our large and sometimes complex government can be difficult for citizens to navigate. These two ingredients, the Office of Independent Review and citizen mediation tool, provide third party independent oversight and citizen mediation that will give Orange County citizens confidence that our government is not above the law and is here to serve with the highest of integrity.
Selection of the Sheriff-Coroner
Moving forward with the process of selecting a new Sheriff, I supported the hiring of an executive search firm who specializes in filling vacancies for high level law enforcement positions. Their “search process” calls for a broad outreach for potential candidates and calls for input from community stakeholders on the abilities and qualities they most want to see in the candidate pool. I am convinced this is the best method to ensure the successful appointee is ranked not only the best and brightest on the objective scales – experience, education, leadership skills, etc. – but understands the needs and reflects the values of the organization and community he or she will serve.
Campaign Finance Reform
The Board of Supervisors was presented with two proposals for the Primary Election Ballot in June. The first proposal would ask for new reforms to Orange County’s “Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics” (TINCUP) Campaign Reform Ordinance last modified in 1992. The second proposal would ask voters to give the Board of Supervisors the authority to delegate its subpoena powers to a local Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) comprised of county staff who would be charged with the duty of investigating complaints filed against campaigns.
While I support some of the proposed amendments to TINCUP such as removing unconstitutional portions including the aggregation of married couple’s donations and the prohibition of transferring funds from other campaigns, I could not support asking voters for a mandate to delegate our subpoena powers to an FCPC without real in-depth review and consideration of unintended consequences. Rather than rush to place these proposals on the ballot, the people will be better served with a collaborative approach incorporating a broad based stakeholders working group tasked with assessing the need for reforms in campaign finance and carefully studying the various methods by which such reforms may be accomplished. In the coming year, I will work with my colleagues to apply clear and concise process to ensure there is a fair enforcement mechanism to accompany TINCUP.
Board Approves 2nd Quarter Budget
Currently, two of Orange County’s most important funding sources – Public Safety Sales Tax and Realignment Revenue – are below expected levels. The Governor’s recently released proposed budget would decrease funding further, with 10% cuts to state-funded programs across the board. These programs include Proposition 36 programs, Medi-Cal programs, and funding for Foster care.
Sound fiscal budgeting begins and ends with routine checks of the proposed budget to ensure that all items are still planned for within the appropriate fiscal year. Approximately $43 million in projected bond financing was originally placed within the Harbor’s budget anticipating staff would obtain the necessary permits during the current fiscal year. However, the County has not yet obtained the permits necessary before bond financing commences. For accounting purposes, budget staff would prefer to include the anticipated $43 million in bond financing after permits are in hand. The $43 million deleted during the 2nd Quarter Budget for Dana Point Harbor will be reinstated once permits are obtained. I whole-heartedly support the Revitalization Plan and am working very closely with Harbor staff to keep this project moving forward.
With projected state and federal budget cuts, the Board requested in December that the staff present a Budget Reduction Plan along with the 2nd Quarter Budget Report. The Budget Reduction Plan resulted in freezing all increases in Net County Cost as well as the deletion of 94 positions currently listed as vacant. In these difficult financial times, the County of Orange will continue to pursue strategies to live within its financial means. To view the 2nd Quarter Budget Report presentation, please click here.
Clerk-Recorder Assists Orange County Businesses
At our February 5 meeting, the Board approved a proposal by Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly to purchase Electronic Recording System software in collaboration with the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside. Not only will this purchase result in cost savings for the Clerk-Recorder’s office, but collaboration with other counties will allow Orange County businesses to use one system to electronically file titles in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside. The Clerk-Recorder intends to invite other counties to participate in the Orange County system in the future.
Frank R. Bowerman Landfill Landslide
Each day, between 14,000 and 15,000 tons of waste are properly disposed of at one of the County’s three active landfills. To ensure that the County effectively manages its landfill capacity, the Board of Supervisors approved a contract on February 5 to remediate a landslide that occurred at the Frank R. Bowerman landfill located in Irvine.
The remediation includes the excavation and relocation of approximately 5.8 million cubic yards of earth and bedrock materials. These materials will be stockpiled onsite and used as a resource for the required daily cover, increasing the department’s operational efficiency. By remediating the effects of the landslide, the active life of this landfill will be extended from 2014 to 2053.
Tustin Family Campus to Begin Construction
On February 5, the Board approved a construction contract for the County’s new Tustin Family Campus on the site of the former Marine base in Tustin. This facility will partner with nonprofit organizations to provide homes for emancipated youth, transitional housing for mothers, and space for large sibling groups currently in foster care. With this innovative approach to providing social services with an emphasis on life skills, Orange County is once again serving as a statewide leader.
Orangewood Children’s Home Improvements
On February 5, the Board approved improvements such as painting and carpentry to the Orangewood Children’s Home. The Orangewood Children’s Home is an Emergency Shelter Home for abused, abandoned, and neglected children. For more information on how to report child abuse, please call the Child Abuse 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-207-4464, or click here.
Laguna Beach Annexes Parking Lot
The City of Laguna Beach annexed 8.5 acres of unincorporated County of Orange property. This portion is currently owned by Laguna Beach and used as a parking lot. The Laguna Beach City Council approved this proposal at its meeting of January 22, 2008.
Coastal Commission Denies Plan to Complete the 241
No one ever said fixing the transportation problems facing Orange County would be easy. Orange County has built a reputation of dealing with our transportation ills with a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. To address the State’s neglect of our growth and transportation infrastructure, we created the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), successfully passed Measure M and its renewal and created of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), which allowed us to deal with traffic congestion by building roads without raising taxes. We have a proven history of being proactive and responsible in our transportation planning.
Well, I guess the old saying of “no good deed goes unpunished” applies all too perfectly after the California Coastal Commission denied the TCA’s plan to complete the extension to State Route (SR) 241. After over 14 hours and numerous presentations and testimony, including my own, the Commission voted down TCA’s Coastal Consistency Certification on an 8-2 vote, with only Commissioners Burke and Kram voicing support.
As an elected official who has served at various levels of government, there are two non-negotiable items that you can never lose site of. With the first always being the upholding of the Constitution and the second being the protection of the public. Completion of SR 241 accomplishes numerous critical public policy initiatives that provide direct benefit to the residents of Orange County and Southern California as a whole. However, with Orange County’s population making it larger than 21 states, it is tragic that there is only one north/south connection between Orange and San Diego counties. In just this last year, Interstate 5 (I-5) has been closed in both directions, once due to a major accident that for all purposes created a parking lot for hours and the second was the formal closure of the I-5 at the border with Camp Pendleton due to the wildfires.
In this day and age, we have the technology and planning capability to mitigate most all impacts development may have on the environment. TCA has a proven track record with their work on State Route (SR) 73, the San Joaquin Toll Road and the existing stretch of SR 241. The completion of SR 241 is essential to maintaining our quality of life and is critical to public safety. Unfortunately, those issues were not given due consideration at the expense of emotional and unproven objections by the California Coastal Commission.
OCTA Chairman Sets 2008 Transportation Goals
Newly elected Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Chairman Chris Norby unveiled his key goals that will guide the agency during the coming year.
One of the Chairman's immediate priorities is to continue supporting the Foothill-South (SR-241) completion and provide assistance to the Transportation Corridor Agencies. For more information about the Chairman's other major goals for 2008, please click here.
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Metrolink
To celebrate the Lunar New Year, residents can receive free tickets from the Metrolink station in Irvine to Chinatown in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 9. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is extending a special holiday greeting to the community by commemorating the “Year of the Rat” with a one-hour program starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Irvine Transportation Center, 15215 Barranca Parkway in Irvine.
Festivities will feature good wishes from local elected officials, traditional music, food, and a performance by the Truong Son Vietnamese-American Girl Scout troop. The finale will include a traditional lion dance accompanied by drums to welcome a new year of joy and good fortune for Metrolink passengers. Residents may then hop on the 10:37 a.m. train to Los Angeles, where they can enjoy the Chinese New Year Festival and Car Show as well as the 109th annual Golden Dragon Parade. The first 300 guests will receive free round-trip Metrolink tickets to continue the celebration in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. For more information, please click here.
Measure M Taxpayers Oversight Committee Hearing
The Measure M Taxpayers Oversight Committee is conducting its annual public hearing on Measure M, the half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements approved by voters in 1990 and renewed in 2006. At the meeting, committee members will report about their role in the implementation of Measure M and review their activities during the past year. The hearing is set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 12, at OCTA headquarters, 600 S. Main St. in Orange. For more information, please click here.
Orange County Coastal Coalition
At the January 24 Coastal Coalition meeting which I co-chaired, I was pleased to hear a special presentation by 5th Grade Watershed Scholars from the McPherson Magnet School in Orange. They were participants in the Ocean Institute’s Annual Watershed Education Program and studied their local watershed. I was greatly encouraged to hear their findings on stormwater pollution because, as our future leaders, their understanding of how watersheds function can only be good for their careers as well as our watersheds.
Marine Life Protected Areas (MLPA) are geographic marine or estuarine areas designed to protect or conserve marine life and habitat. Orange County has 12 MLPA locations including several in South Orange County. The Orange County Marine Life Protected Area Committee is our local advocate for the MLPAs. Harry Helling from the Ocean Institute and Calla Allison from the City of Laguna Beach gave a brief overview of the Committee’s activities including education, enforcement training and development of effective signage at our tidepools to minimize takings of souvenir species. For more information, please click here.
Existing MLPAs in Southern California will be re-designated in a facilitated process starting this summer. Susan Ashcraft from the California Department of Fish & Game provided us an overview of this stakeholder-based process and what we can expect. To view Ms. Ashcraft’s presentation, please click here. For more information, please click here.
One of the key goals for the new designations is to enhance aquatic ecosystem health by ensuring connectivity between MLPAs. As we learned from Dr. Steve Murray from Cal State Fullerton, fish and other aquatic species travel at various stages of their lifecycle and designating a stationary location as an MLPA may only effectively protect species that travel short distances. To view Dr. Murray’s presentation, please click here.
I look forward to the County’s participation in this upcoming discussion and future updates as the process moves forward. I encourage all coastal stakeholders to participate in this important process. To view photos of our January 24 Coastal Coalition meeting, please click here.
Community Wetland Restoration Grant Program
Formerly known as the Small Grants Program, this Request for Proposals is due by March 28, 2008, to the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP). Eligible projects will involve the restoration or preservation of a coastal wetland or coastal stream corridor and/or have a community involvement or education element. Awards range from $1,000 to $30,000 for the most competitive proposals. Planning projects are eligible but restoration projects will be given a higher priority in the selection process, especially if a local community group is involved in restoration activities. For more information, please contact the WRP Orange County Project Coordinator, Paul Westefer, at email@example.com. To download a full application package, please click here.
|HELPFUL HEALTH TIPS
Precautions Urged for Citizens Traveling Abroad
People traveling to countries where avian influenza A (H5N1) cases have been reported are urged to take precautions before, during and after their travel. Before traveling abroad, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel for current travel health information.
The celebration of the Lunar New Year results in increased travel between the United States and many Asian countries. Human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1), or bird flu, have been reported in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. Additional countries in Asia, Europe and Africa have reported H5N1 infections in birds. While there are not any restrictions on travel to these countries, certain precautions are recommended. For more information, please click here.
|FIFTH DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT
Friends of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library
I would like to thank the Friends of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library for contributing $13,000 to the Rancho Santa Margarita Branch Library for the purchase of a microform reader. This equipment will enable patrons to view microfilm and microfiche copies of older editions of newspapers and magazines, microforms loaned from other library systems, newspaper classified advertisements only available on microforms, images of pictures for text-only electronic articles, and microforms brought in by patrons with military records, health records, and business records. The Friends of the Rancho Santa Margarita Library is a volunteer group that provides fundraising and other support for the Rancho Santa Margarita (RSM) Branch Library. For more information, please click here.
|SOUTH COUNTY CALENDAR
37th Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales
A different type of tourist is traveling along the West Coast this winter and heading to Baja during its annual migration: the majestic California Gray Whale. The whales began their migration in late November, but from March 1 through March 9, thousands of these 35-ton leviathans will splash through the Fifth District seaside community of Dana Point – the West Coast’s premier location to meet and greet these incredible creatures – during the 37th Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales.
The Dana Point Festival of Whales is one of Southern California’s largest seafaring celebrations and reaches out to whale admirers around the world. Dana Point is teeming with festivities every winter during this special time of year, offering something for everyone. Festival highlights include parades, street faires, art exhibits, concerts, environmental activities, educational opportunities, crafts, and of course, whale watching excursions that will allure even the most steadfast landlubber out to sea! For more information, please click here.
|FIFTH DISTRICT WRAP-UP
Among my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
- Attended the Orange County Business Council’s 2008 Installation Dinner where nationally syndicated columnist George F. Will delivered a lively keynote presentation of his views on American government
- Attended the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce 2008 Installation Awards Dinner to swear-in their new Board of Directors and presented each with an award for their service. To view photos of the event, please click here
- Attended the California Coastal Commission hearing on the 241 extension project
- Met with Rancho Santa Margarita officials regarding Chiquita Ridge
- Attended the Ocean Institute’s “Jazz in January” event to benefit their educational programs
- Met with Acting Sheriff Jack Anderson and OCSD staff to discuss state re-entry programs and facilities
- Attended a Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting event to present a Certificate of Recognition in honor of the Grand Opening of Foot Solutions in Laguna Niguel
- Presented a Board resolution to the American Heart Association in recognition of February as American Heart Month
- Adjourned the Board of Supervisors meeting in memory of Christian Barker
My office also:
- Attended a Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting event to present a Certificate of Recognition in honor of the Grand Opening of CitiFinancial in Laguna Niguel
- Attended a Community Task Force meeting in San Clemente regarding human relations
- Attended the monthly meeting of the Orange County Task Force for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project (WRP).
My staff and I look forward to continually providing you updated information in our Fifth District Newsletter and website.
Please feel free to contact my office with your concerns, comments or questions at (714) 834-3550.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Supervisor for Orange County's Fabulous Fifth District.
Thank you so much for your support!