September 18, 2009
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. PAT’S PERSPECTIVE
2. BOARD BULLETIN BOARD
3. TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION
4. DISASTER READINESS, RESPONSE & RECOVERY
5. SOUTH COUNTY NEWS
6. COUNTY CONNECTIONS
7. FIFTH DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT
8. CRITTER CHRONICLES
9. HEALTH HERALD
10. ENVIRONMENTAL MEMOS
11. SOUTH COUNTY CALENDAR
12. FIFTH DISTRICT WRAP-UP
Chief of Staff
Executive Director of Public Affairs
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
Executive Policy Advisor
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Extra Help/Retiree Policy
In my continued efforts toward achieving full accountability and transparency when it comes to employee pensions and retiree benefits, this week as a first step I directed the County CEO to provide the Board with a comprehensive report identifying the retired individuals currently employed by the County of Orange as “extra-help”, as well as all retired employees that have been hired back to the County on a contract basis. The request comes as a result of my growing concern over the practice of individuals retiring from a government agency only to be re-hired as a consultant or “extra-help” to perform similar, if not the same, duties they had performed as a regular employee.
The reports will identify whether the positions were awarded under delegated authority or competitively bid under the County’s Contract Policy Manual. Additionally, the reports will include the hourly rate of the employees at separation and the rate at re-hire; the length of separation before returning to the County; the purpose for re-hire; the expiration date of their position and an annual justification for renewing their position if needed. The first report is due back to the Board on October 20, 2009. The next step will entail establishing a countywide retiree rehire policy.
I believe the step to establish a policy for retiree reemployment and to closely monitor such practice is essential to ensure fairness in our hiring practices and avoid potential indiscretions regarding the use of retirees.
|BOARD BULLETIN BOARD
Planning Department Audit
Earlier this year, I directed that a performance audit be conducted of OC Planning which resulted in 35 recommendations for improvement for the department.
On Tuesday, the Interim Director of OC Public Works, Jess Carbajal, presented to the Board a progress update on the implementation of the recommendations. Mr. Carbajal reported that 25 percent of the recommendations in the audit have already been completed. He also reported that he has expanded the original 35 recommendations to include 11 additional items that have been identified by OC Planning staff to be key components in restructuring the department to adequately respond to customer needs and provide greater efficiencies in its current and future operations. I would like to commend the department, under the direction of Mr. Carbajal, for taking the recommendations seriously and working expeditiously to implement improvements that will surely bring about a new era for our County’s Planning department.
To view the report that was presented to the Board of Supervisors, please click here.
Volunteer DNA Collection User Fee
At the request of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, the Board of Supervisors recently established a voluntary DNA collection processing fee of $75. The purpose of the fee is to recover the cost of processing the DNA samples so that the taxpayers are not footing the bill. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to initiate a pilot program which will expand the voluntary collection of DNA as a condition of a plea agreement which would also require offenders to participate in a rehabilitation program.
The collection of DNA samples is a relatively new law enforcement tool being utilized by the District Attorney. In some minor cases, the District Attorney is choosing to informally handle them by allowing an arrestee to volunteer a DNA sample in lieu of being charged with a crime. The intention of this voluntary pilot program is two fold. First, it is expected to reduce the amount of time spent by the District Attorney’s office on minor cases and allow for more time to be spent on serious criminal cases. Second, having a DNA sample on file could act as a deterrent for those who may commit future crimes.
As this program is still in its early stages, its potential cost savings has yet to be determined and its success at deterring crimes is still unclear. My Board colleagues and I are hopeful that this program can be an effective tool in making our criminal justice process more efficient and cost effective for the people of Orange County, but we are also mindful of concerns with expanding a DNA database and we are watching this program very closely.
Moulton Parkway Widening
On Tuesday, the Board approved plans and specifications for the Moulton Parkway widening project and authorized the project to be put out to bid. This project will span the section of Moulton Parkway from Via Campo Verde to El Toro Road within the City of Laguna Woods and will widen and upgrade Moulton Parkway to a 6-lane Smart Street to conform to its designation by OCTA’s Master Plan of Arterial Highways. Key elements of the project include the addition of turn lanes at the EL Toro intersection, continuous bike lanes and sidewalks, ADA compliant driveways and curb ramps bus turnouts pavement rehabilitation drainage improvements, as well as construction of retaining walls, signing and striping improvements, traffic signal modifications and landscape and irrigation improvements. The construction is planned to take place during night hours in order to minimize traffic impacts during the construction. The bids for this project are scheduled to be returned to the County on October 21, 2009 and the contract is expected to be awarded in November, 2009.
Avoid the 12 DUI Campaign
The Board this week accepted a California Office of Traffic Safety grant in the amount of $874,852 for the “Avoid the 12” DUI program. This funding will be used by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to fund DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols, and DUI task force operations targeting repeat DUI offenders during holiday periods and designated special events. “Avoid the 12” refers to the twelve cities that contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services. Orange County has received funding for this program since 2002. The program has been extremely helpful in reducing the number of alcohol involved fatal and injury collisions.
Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect
Ever since my early years in public service, working first as a social worker and continuing throughout my career as an elected official, caring for our children and protecting them from abuse and neglect has been a top priority for me. At this week’s Board meeting, my fellow Supervisors and I approved two items that will further work to achieve these important goals in Orange County.
We approved a non-financial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Santa Ana Unified School District to provide Healthy Tomorrows Program services through June 2011. SSA provides family support services through the Healthy Tomorrows Program to residents in Santa Ana with the goal of preventing child abuse and neglect and enabling children to reside with their own families and in their own neighborhoods whenever possible.
Additionally, the Board approved an MOU with the Children and Families Commission of Orange County (CFCOC), which will allow SSA to receive CFCOC funding for the Mother and Child Residential Homes program at the Tustin Family Campus. Mother and Child Residential Homes is a voluntary program that will provide up to 15 mothers who suffer from substance abuse issues and reside with children up to 5 years of age with the resources to develop appropriate parenting skills and self-sufficiency to ensure a safe and stable home for their children.
Welcome Fire Chief Keith Richter
On Tuesday, my Board colleagues and I were pleased to welcome new Orange County Fire Authority Chief Keith Richter. Chief Richter took command of OCFA on August 1st. Before joining the OCFA, Chief Richter served as Fire Chief for the Contra Costa County Fire District—a position he held since 1998. Chief Richter has more than 30 years of experience in the fire service, having started his career as a Firefighter with the Tucson Fire Department in 1977. He spent 21 years with Tucson, attaining the rank of Assistant Fire Chief. In his brief comments to the Board, the Chief reiterated the importance of fire safety, particularly during this fire season.
Construction Alert: Northbound I-5/Oso Pkwy On-Ramp
On Monday, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) closed the northbound I-5 on-ramp at westbound Oso Parkway in Mission Viejo. The closure will be in effect until midnight on October 5. Construction crews have placed signs to advise motorists of detours around the temporary closure.
Motorists are asked to use the northbound I-5 on-ramps at Crown Valley Parkway or La Paz Road. Alternatively, motorists travelling westbound on Oso Parkway can proceed to Cabot Road, make a U-turn, and use the eastbound Oso Parkway northbound I-5 on-ramp.
This closure is part of ongoing construction work on the $14.3 million Oso Parkway / I-5 Interchange Project, which began on September 15, 2008. The project is expected to be finished by March, 2010. For information about the project, please contact the Orange County Transportation Helpline at 1(800) 724-0353 or visit Caltrans’ website at www.dot.ca.gov/dist12.
Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Metrolink Station
Demolition work will take place at the Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo Metrolink station platform near Camino Capistrano starting Monday, September 21. The work, which is expected to take 6 months, is part of a countywide effort by Metrolink and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) to expand rail service and enhance rail safety in Orange County. Temporary fencing will be installed, and the disabled accessible parking slots located near Camino Capistrano will be temporarily relocated on the east end of the station. The work will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The Metrolink Service Expansion Project is an 18-month long effort with an expected completion date of February, 2011. The project will allow for additional train service between the Fullerton and Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo stations, additional locations for trains to turn back and improvements to the signal system on the entire Orange County Line. For more information and to register for updates, please call 1(888) 855-RAIL or visit RailSafety@octa.net.
Airport Roadway Lane Closures
A portion of John Wayne Airport’s Terminal roadways, both upper/departure level and lower/arrival level, will be narrowed to two lanes to allow for construction of Terminal C and Parking Structure C through 2011. Visitors to the Airport should exercise caution when traveling the roadways, especially in areas south of the Terminal B toward Campus. The roadway closures are needed due to construction that is underway as part of the John Wayne Airport Improvement Program. Visitors and those dropping off and picking up passengers should allow for extra travel time during peak periods and follow all posted speed limits. For more information, please call the Construction Information Line at (949) 252-5273 or visit www.ocair.com/improvements.
|DISASTER READINESS, RESPONSE & RECOVERY
Are you ready? When an earthquake strikes Southern California, when the wildfire starts in your neighborhood, when your home fills with mud after a landslide, will you be prepared to face that disaster?
According to national averages, nearly 70 percent of citizens are not prepared for a major disaster and have no emergency kit or family action plan in place. Despite the fact that Orange County is an especially disaster-prone area of the country, the unfortunate truth is that the majority of our residents are not prepared.
Just last month, my district experienced a 25-acre wildfire near Ortega Highway located in the Cleveland National Forest. Fortunately, through the swift and diligent efforts of our firefighters, the fire was contained quickly and did not damage any structures. Yet as we remember last year’s devastating Freeway Complex Fire and look ahead to fire season this fall, I am reminded again of the dire need for our citizens to be prepared.
This is why I have embarked on a month long initiative to increase awareness of the need to be prepared. At this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, we passed a resolution to declare September as Disaster Preparedness Month for the County of Orange and, additionally, I participated in a press conference to announce the launch of ReadyOC, the largest emergency preparedness initiative in Orange County.
The goal of ReadyOC is to educate and empower residents, businesses and schools to be prepared for natural and manmade disasters such as earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, terrorism and more. ReadyOC is a public service campaign funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and is administered jointly by the Santa Ana and Anaheim police departments in collaboration with county and city emergency preparedness officials.
The new ReadyOC.org website, officially launched this week, is an online portal that provides access to a comprehensive array of emergency preparedness tools and resources from local and national organizations. The website teaches every Orange County citizen how to create an emergency kit, make a plan and be informed. It also offers live breaking news and allows you to connect through social media channels and download videos and resources. You will find information specifically geared toward residents, businesses and even kids.
The month long campaign will culminate with my second annual South County Disaster Preparedness Expo taking place at the Mission Viejo Norman P. Murray Center on Saturday, October 17. Everyone is invited! For more information, please click here.
Remember: what we do now will determine what our lives will be like after a major disaster. We can’t predict when a major emergency will strike, but we can be prepared for one – and there is no excuse not to be. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us. The County of Orange, with the launch of ReadyOC.org, is doing its part to help residents in this effort.
|SOUTH COUNTY NEWS
FBI Ranks Rancho Santa Margarita Among Safest Cities
For the eighth consecutive year, the City of Rancho Santa Margarita has been identified in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2008 Uniform Crime Report as one of the safest communities in Orange County.
Numerous categories in the crime report showed a decrease in frequency, including violent crime, robbery, larceny-theft and aggravated assault. Other categories, such as burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson statistics remained among the lowest numbers for cities of similar size. Rancho Santa Margarita ranks number three overall out of the 34 cities in the County and sixth out of 227 cities in California in the population category of 20,000 to 100,000. More information is available on the FBI’s Web site at www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm and the City’s Web site at www.cityofrsm.org.
2009 United Way Leadership Breakfast
The County of Orange has kicked off its 29th Annual Employees’ United Way Campaign to raise funds for over 100 local human care agencies that provide critical services to those in need in Orange County. Last year, County employees raised over $700,000, and we have set a goal to match or exceed that amount during this year’s campaign, which runs through December 31, 2009. To that end, I had the great pleasure of delivering the welcoming address at the 2009 United Way Leadership Breakfast, which was held on September 17 at the Angel Stadium Home Plate Club.
A recent article in the Orange County Business Journal featured local business leaders and how, through their example of generous giving and by challenging their workforce to support the United Way, many programs are able to keep their doors open. The article noted $16 million in donations from these generous business leaders has provided funding for a number of Orange County programs, including South County Senior Services, which is located in Laguna Woods. I invite you to join me in supporting the United Way. For more information about the Orange County United Way, please visit www.UnitedWayOC.org.
|FIFTH DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT
National Merit Semifinalists
Thirty three students from Fifth District high schools have been named National Merit semifinalists this year, an elite designation awarded to less than 1 percent of seniors nationwide. According to data from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., one in every seven semifinalists in California who achieved semifinalist this year is from Orange County, which boasts an impressive 310 students receiving this designation countywide.
To be named National Merit semifinalists, these students scored a minimum of 218 out of 240 on their PSAT test as juniors. Most of them are expected to advance to finalist standing in February after completing an application process. Finalists will have the opportunity to compete for 8,200 scholarships amounting to more than $36 million that will be offered next spring. Good Luck!
The Fifth District high schools with National Merit semifinalists are:
- Aliso Niguel High School: 4 semifinalists
- Capistrano Valley High School: 2 semifinalists
- Dana Hills High School: 4 semifinalists
- El Toro High School: 3 semifinalists
- J Serra Catholic: 1 semifinalist
- Laguna Beach High School: 2 semifinalists
- Mission Viejo High School: 4 semifinalists
- Saddleback Christian Academy: 1 semifinalist
- San Clemente High School: 2 semifinalists
- Santa Margarita Catholic: 1 semifinalist
- St. Margaret's Episcopal School: 1 semifinalist
- Tesoro High School: 5 semifinalists
- Trabuco Hills High School: 3 semifinalists
Angels for Animals
Orange County Animal Care (OCAC), along with the wives of Angels baseball players, hosted the second annual “Angels for Animals” fundraiser this past Saturday at Angel Stadium. The event, which aims to raise money and awareness to the plight of homeless animals, raised a remarkable $27,085.
Through the sale of “mystery” bags with signed baseballs and raffle tickets, money was raised for OCAC, which in turn discounted adoption fees for prospective pet owners. Proceeds from the event will also go to the Angels Baseball Foundation.
For anyone who was unable to make the event, you can visit the animal shelter seven days a week. For more information about the pets available for adoption, call (714) 935-6848 or visit the OC Animal Care website by clicking here.
South County Restaurant Town Hall
As reported in previous newsletters, on Thursday I hosted a South County Restaurant Town Hall for restaurant owners and managers about the County’s new inspection notification system. The enhanced notification system, which is effective October 1, will include placards with three distinct notification seals to better communicate to the public the level of sanitation in the food facility following its most recent inspection. The event was a full-house and was well received by attendees. For those unable to attend, please click here to view the presentation that was given. For photos of the event, click here.
Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Update
At our September 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, Dave Riley, Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, and Dr. Eric Handler, Orange County Health Officer, provided an update on the status of pandemic H1N1 influenza in Orange County. To view a summary of their oral report, please click here.
Coastal Cleanup Day
The 2009 Coastal Cleanup Day is taking place this Saturday, September 19 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Orange County Stormwater Program, in association with Trails-4-All, is hosting the County’s largest beach and creek cleanup of the year as part of the 24th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. Join hundreds of your friends and neighbors who will be volunteering a few hours on Saturday morning to pick up litter that ends up in our creeks and on our beaches.
Registration for Cleanup Day starts at 8:00 a.m. and cleanup activities start at 9:00 a.m. For a list of Cleanup Day sites in the Fifth District, please click here. For the 2009 California Coastal Cleanup Day Site Directory which includes all Cleanup Day sites in Orange County, please click here.
Remember, the Ocean Begins at Your Front Door! Picking up after your pet, throwing trash away and limiting your fertilizer and pesticide use will help keep Orange County waterways healthy all year round.
|SOUTH COUNTY CALENDAR
Bodyboarder International Bodyboard Contest
The Bodyboarder International Association is hosting its championship competition at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point this Saturday, September 19 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Known as the toughest competition of the year, thousands of spectators are sure to enjoy a memorable contest. Salt Creek Beach is located at 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point. For more information, click here.
October Free Nights
Arts Orange County is pleased to invite you to try something new during October Arts and Humanities Month. In collaboration with Theater Communications Group, Arts Orange County will be offering free tickets to participating arts events throughout the County during the month of October. A preview of the available offerings will begin Saturday, September 19 with tickets being released on September 29 at 1:00 p.m. You may choose only one event. For more information, please click here.
Family Day 2009
Gather the family around the dinner table and make Monday, September 28 your Family Day. Sharing dinnertime with your family is a great way to bond and learn more about your children’s lives and any challenges they face. This national movement was launched by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in 2001 to remind families that dining together at home can make a difference in your children’s lives. For more information about Family Day 2009, visit http://casafamilyday.org/familyday/.
|FIFTH DISTRICT WRAP-UP
In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
My office also:
- Held a Press Conference Announcing the Launch of ReadyOC.org. Click here to view photos.
- Met with new OC Fire Authority Chief Keith Richter
- Participated in an interviewed on Cox Forum to discuss the launch of ReadyOC.org and the County’s Disaster Preparedness Campaign. Tune in to Cox 3 September 24 through 30 to catch the interview.
- Offered welcoming remarks at the Annual United Way Leadership Breakfast at Angels Stadium
- Hosted a South County Restaurant Town Hall in Dana Point.
- Adjourned the Board of Supervisors meeting in memory of Donald Hogan of San Clemente and Michael Telles from Garden Grove High School
My staff and I look forward to continually providing you updated information in our Fifth District Newsletter and website.
- Attended a planning meeting for the San Juan Capistrano Library Renovation and Expansion Project
- Attended a LAFCO Working Group meeting to discuss governance options for the City of Rancho Santa Margarita
- Met with representatives from OCEA about Welfare Fraud Investigations
- Attended a planning meeting for the La Pata Gap Closure project
- Attended the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce Grand-Reopening and presented a certificate of recognition
- Attended Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza Grand Opening in Dana Point and presented certificate of recognition
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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