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July 27, 2009

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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.













Chip Monaco:
Chief of Staff

Sergio Prince:
Executive Director of Public Affairs

Don Hughes:
Executive Policy Advisor

Kristen Thornton:
Executive Policy Advisor

Ray Grangoff:
Executive Policy Advisor

Ruth Strachan:
Office Manager

Margaret Chang:
Policy Assistant

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Volume 3 Issue 29

Board Approves Historic Pension Reform

For several months, the County has been engaged in discussions with employee unions over how to rein in pension expenses. I am pleased to report that the Board of Supervisors approved a deal on Tuesday as part of a new contract with the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), the County’s largest union, which represents a significant accomplishment in key areas of pension and overtime reform.

The agreement reflects the Board’s priority to address increasing pension costs and to reform how overtime is paid in the County. With the adoption of the agreement, overtime will be paid on regular hours worked rather than on all hours paid to employees who work overtime. This change could achieve up to a 30 percent reduction in overtime costs.

The agreement also contains provisions for the County to implement a lower pension formula, 1.62% at 65, combined with a Defined Contribution Plan. New employees will be given the option of selecting the current 2.7% at 55 retirement formula or the new, lower formula; and current employees will be provided a one-time opportunity to select the lower formula. The lower formula, combined with the Defined Contribution Plan, will provide a significantly lower cost to the County and to employees.

The implementation of the new pension program requires approval by the State Legislature. The required legislation has been drafted in cooperation with the County and OCEA and is currently progressing through the State legislative process.

Additionally, to assist the County in meeting our current budget challenges as a result of the economy, the union agreed to receive no salary increases for employees for at least a year.

This agreement, which has been ratified by the OCEA, is an important step forward for the County in our efforts to reduce unfunded pension liability and ensure that we do not pass on debt to future generations.

I would like to commend my Board colleagues for standing firm with me on this important issue of fiscal responsibility. Working together with our unions, the County will continue to progress toward making pensions and other post-employment benefits sustainable and less of a burden on taxpayers.

To view a press release by the Orange County Taxpayers Association that was issued Tuesday to congratulate the Board of Supervisors on this achievement, please click here.

Update on State Budget Impacts

As of this writing, the State Legislature has finished voting on a package of budget proposals to close the $26.3 billion budget deficit.

As anticipated, the most controversial aspects of the budget package include local government borrowings/takings and cuts to such programs as In Home Support Services (IHSS) and CalWORKS, all of which have huge impacts to local governments. It is too soon to say with any certainty what those impacts will look like for Orange County but I will continue to keep you apprised of the how the State Budget will impact the County’s budget and delivery of services.

John Wayne Airport Contracts Approved

The John Wayne Airport Improvement Program saw some exciting milestones last week. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved construction contracts for the new terminal and parking structure. Terminal C will be a multi-level building comprising more than 250,000 square feet and will provide six new commercial passenger gates, three new baggage carousels, new ticketing and security screening facilities as well as new retail and dining concessions. Parking Structure C will provide about 2,000 additional parking spaces for airport users. The Parking Structure is scheduled to be complete in the Fall of 2010, but is slated to open concurrently with Terminal C which is scheduled for completion in November 2011.

It is important to note that no tax dollars, or County of Orange general fund revenues, are used to support the Airport Improvement Program. The program is funded through a variety of sources including: Airport revenues, FAA grants, Passenger Facility Charge revenues and bond proceeds. The total cost for the improvements are about $543 million. For more information about the John Wayne Airport Improvement Program, please visit www.ocair.com/improvements.


Metrolink Friends and Family Four Pack

With Metrolink’s new Friends and Family 4-Pack, you can purchase four individual round trip Metrolink tickets for any Saturday or Sunday for only $29. This affordable group rate, which saves you 50% off, allows you to stay within budget while still getting to enjoy exciting summer travels. The Friends and Family 4-Pack is available at any ticket vending machine at all Metrolink stations.

Looking for somewhere to go and something to do to utilize this great offer? You can turn an ordinary weekend into an extraordinary adventure with a little help from Metrolink. For great ideas, check out the Metrolink Weekends Fun Guide by clicking here. For Orange County Metrolink Schedules, click here.


Mission Viejo 2009 Readers’ Festival

The City of Mission Viejo is seeking vendors, exhibitors and independent authors and publishers interested in taking part in the September 12 Mission Viejo Readers’ Festival – an event that is expected to attract thousands from South County and beyond.

More than two dozen popular and award-winning authors including Dean Koontz, Lisa See, John Dean and Henry Winkler will mingle with readers in interactive and pristine settings on the Village Green, Oso Viejo Park and Community Center during the Readers’ Festival. The free City event, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Mission Viejo Library, will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will feature a food court and vendors displaying an array of literature-based products.

Local and self-published authors are welcome to purchase a booth to promote their books. For more information, please call (949) 830-7100 or visit www.mvreadersfestival.org.


Orange County Food Bank Receives 100 Tons of Food

Requests for emergency food assistance have doubled as a result of the economic crisis, causing food shortages at many local food banks. However, help has come for the Orange County Food Bank, which is reporting that it has received 100 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables from the Orange County Great Park community farm and from neighboring farms around the Great Park.

The Great Park is located on the site of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. During the process of transforming the former military base into a large municipal park, agricultural production is one of several approved interim activities. The Orange County Great Park Corporation Board of Directors, in cooperation with Orange County Produce, has committed to donating a portion of each crop harvested to local food banks.

Current development plans for the Great Park include between 100 to 150 acres that could host a variety of agricultural uses and programming, including a community farm and agricultural production. That decision will give local food banks ongoing access to some locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables for the poor.

With the state of the economy, this new source of donated food is coming along at just the right time. So far, produce donated by the Great Park has already been provided to nearly 30,000 people.

For more information about the Orange County Food Bank, please click here and for more information about the Great Park, click here.


San Clemente Receives Award for Coastal Trail Project

In recognition of a decade-long effort to create the San Clemente Coastal Trail, the California American Planning Association announced that the City of San Clemente has won the California APA’s “Hard Won Victories” Award for this project. By winning the State award, the Coastal Trail project will now be eligible for entry in the APA’s National competition in which award winners will be announced in April 2010.

The Coastal Trail has become a wonderful asset that serves as a vital part of the community. Throughout the planning and construction of the 2.3-mile Coastal Trail there were countless obstacles and challenges from agencies at the local, state, and federal levels that made the community question if this vision was ever going to become reality. In fact, when I was a member of the Legislature, I carried a bill that was needed to help the trail overcome a hurdle placed on it by the Public Utilities Commission.

This is a well-deserved honor that recognizes the dedication and perseverance of the City of San Clemente and its residents to see this project through to completion. For more information on the Coastal Trail project, visit www.san-clemente.org.


Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza Update

Orange County Public Health Services officials are continuing to urge the public to take precautionary measures to limit the spread of the novel “Swine Flu,” which the World Health Organization is officially calling the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza virus.

While many of us don’t think about influenza during summer months, this virus is continuing to spread from person to person so it is important to remember to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you are sick.

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza is now widespread in communities throughout California. Under new reporting guidelines, only hospitalized or fatal cases and clusters of cases in healthcare facilities, institutions, and other settings will be reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Previously counties and local health jurisdictions reported every confirmed and probable case.

While most people who catch the virus experience relatively mild illness, Orange County has reported eleven fatalities associated with it so far. All of the individuals who died had pre-existing health conditions, making them more susceptible to complications with influenza.

A specific vaccine to protect against the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza is not expected to be available until late in the year; however, there are actions that people can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause influenza illness:

  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid social gatherings if you are ill or if you have a medical condition that puts you at risk for influenza complications.
The symptoms of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza are the same as symptoms of seasonal influenza and include fever, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. In addition, some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the virus. If you are sick or think you may have pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza, stay home. If you have severe illness or are at risk for complications of influenza, consult your healthcare provider.

For more information and the latest updates about pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza in Orange County, visit the Health Care Agency website at www.ochealthinfo.com.


South Coast Wilderness Education Program

The Laguna Canyon Foundation’s South Coast Wilderness Education (SCWE) Program recently concluded its fifth year with rave reviews from students and teachers across Orange County. Supported by the Elizabeth E. Fleming Fund, the program was originally designed to serve third and fourth graders from Santa Ana. In the past few years, with expanded volunteer support, and a major contribution from the Draper Family Fund, it has grown to reach K-6 graders throughout Orange County and other groups by request. The standards-based science instruction in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove State Park educates students about plant and animal relationships, adaptation, geology and other concepts that help nurture a sense of environmental responsibility. For more information about the SCWE, contact Kimberly Leeds at (949) 497-8324.


Thoroughly Modern Millie

Summer in Laguna Beach is not complete without a summer blockbuster musical! Gallimaufry Performing Arts invites you to “Thoroughly Modern Millie” – a six time Tony Award winning musical filled with dancing numbers, jazzy songs, and lots of spirit. Performances will take place July 30, 31 and August 1 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for the show are available online at www.gallimaufry.org or prior to the show at the Artist’s Theatre in Laguna Beach. For more information, please click here.

Pacific Symphony Returns to Mission Viejo

Symphony enthusiasts and others enamored with classical and timeless tunes are in for a treat on August 1 when Mission Viejo’s must-do summer experience takes place. This fun-filled community event, which kicks off at 4:00 p.m., offers something for all ages. The event begins with the “Prelude in the Park”, with live entertainment and crafts. Then, beginning at 5:30 is the “Musical Playground”, offering hands-on activities before the Symphony begins at 7:00 p.m.

Visitors to the popular outdoor event are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable food items to benefit the South County Outreach Food Bank. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnics or purchase tasty fare on the green. The event will take place at the Village Green at Oso Viejo Community Park, 24932 Veterans Way. For more information, please call (949)470-3061.

San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival

The San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival is approaching quickly. This jam-packed festival taking place August 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. will be held on picturesque Avenue Del Mar, where the two main blocks of downtown San Clemente are dedicated to an entire day of fun! This event features activities for the whole family, including: food, games, live music throughout the day, contests for all ages, a Salsa challenge, arts and crafts shows, kiddie runs, a classic car and motorcycle show, exhibits, clowns, jugglers, face painters, and much, much more! For more information please click here.


In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:

  • Met with Sheriff Hutchens to receive an update on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department
  • Conducted the Installation of the San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Chaired the Coastal Coalition meeting
  • Toured the Pregnancy Resource Center in San Clemente
  • Attended the South Orange County Regional Chambers of Commerce Annual Regional Cities Ball
My office also:
  • Met with the Fair Housing Council of Orange County
  • Met with Eric and David Groos of Great Opportunities, a non-profit organization that provides aquatic recreational activities for at-risk youth
  • Attended the Laguna Beach Homeless Task Force Meeting
  • Attended the South Orange County Association of Mayors meeting
  • Attended the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee meeting
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.

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