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November 25, 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

Don Hughes:
Policy Advisor

Sergio Prince:
Policy Advisor

Kristen Thornton:
Policy Advisor

Ray Grangoff:
Policy Advisor

Sabrina Ross:
Policy Assistant

Katie Angotti:
Policy Assistant

Ruth Strachan:
Office Manager

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Volume 3 Issue 46

The last week of November is always a special time for all Americans as we gather together with our families and friends to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. For some, the blessings this year may not seem as bountiful as years past. With a difficult economy, loss of jobs, and Americans fighting abroad, many call this a tough time for our country.

I am reminded, however, of our nation’s toughest time—the Civil War. It was during the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation setting aside the last Thursday in November every year as a day of thanksgiving. Even during that period when our nation was tumultuously divided, Lincoln recognized that, like the pilgrims before him, it was fitting and proper to set aside the time to “solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledge as with one heart and voice by the whole American people” that special gift we all share—freedom.

Though these may be troubled times, we all have the fortune to live in a country that has unlimited opportunity and is based on values of human freedom and individual liberty. The celebrants of the first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims, knew all too well the misfortune of living in an oppressed society. They came to the new world for freedom, and generations later the citizens of this country continue their tradition of taking time to give thanks for the bounty of that freedom.

On this Thanksgiving, I continue to be grateful to live in this country and thankful for the opportunity to serve you as your County Supervisor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


Fifth District Holiday Open House

First Quarter Budget Report

The CEO presented the First Quarter Budget Report at the November 24 Board meeting. The Quarterly Budget Report provides the Board of Supervisors, County departments, members of the public and other interested parties with an overview of the current status of revenues, expenditures, Net County Cost (General Fund Costs), total budgeted positions and various departmental issues requiring recommended changes to the County's budget.

Below is a highlight of the current financial state of the County:

  • The County’s General Fund, which is the main operating fund used to account for expenditures and revenues for countywide activities, is $109.7 million (15.5%) below projections.

  • Total County revenues in First Quarter were 61.5% above projections due to increased grant and program funding from the State and Federal governments as well as draws on County reserves.

  • General Purpose revenues, which are revenues derived from property taxes, sales tax, fees and interest, were $16.85 million (39.7%) below projections for First Quarter due to a decline in Vehicle License Fees, sales tax and other fees and a continued decline in unsecured property taxes.

  • County expenditures are 52.9% higher than projected in the FY 09-10 adopted budget due primarily to the timing of expenditures compared to the receipt of funds to offset those costs (reimbursements from the State have been delayed).

  • County cash balances are 7.8% above the level 12 months ago.

  • General Fund cash is down 17.8% ($118.8 million vs. $144.6 million as of 9/30/08) due to declining revenues (Public Safety Sales Tax, Health and Welfare Realignment) and delays in reimbursement payments from the State of California for County administered programs.

  • Since the adoption of the budget, there has been a net $52.8 million decrease to total County reserves (from $1.875 billion to $1.822 billion) due to the need to use reserve funding to offset declining revenues.

  • In the adopted FY 09-10 budget, the County employed 17,895 people. The recommendations contained in the First Quarter Budget Report will decrease that amount by 170 positions for a total of 17,725.

To view the report presented to the Board of Supervisors which contains the specific budget actions and conditions affecting the County of Orange, please click here.

Public Safety Budget Update

As reported in numerous newsletters, due to declines in Proposition 172 sales tax revenues which fund a significant portion of our public safety budgets, our public safety departments are facing considerable budget shortfalls. On Tuesday, the Board agreed to form a working group consisting of CEO Budget staff, the Sheriff, the District Attorney and County Supervisors. This working group will be tasked with developing solutions to preserve satisfactory levels of service despite the decline in revenues.

Additionally, I directed the CEO to develop a list of all non-mandated County programs along with the corresponding dollar amount for how much each program costs. This list will give the Board an opportunity to understand what resources could potentially be shifted from non-essential services in order to preserve our number one priority: keeping our residents safe.

2010 Legislative Platform

On Tuesday, the Board approved the 2010 Legislative Platform for the County of Orange. The Platform includes previews of the state and federal outlooks, lays out legislative priorities and policy statements, proposes County-sponsored state and federal legislation and outlines the County’s federal appropriations list. Throughout the year, the Legislative Platform provides direction to County staff and the County’s legislative advocates regarding the priorities the County will attempt to achieve through the legislative process.

To view a power point presentation given to the Board, please click here. To view the 2010 Legislative Platform, please click here.


OCTA Board Approves Bus Service Reductions

The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to eliminate 150,000 annual hours of bus service in March 2010 through a combination of eliminating routes, reducing bus frequency, restructuring routes and reducing trips. The service reductions are necessary to make up for a major cut in state funding and significant drops in sales tax and fare revenues.

The Board was successful in reducing the amount of hours needed for elimination from an original proposal to cut 300,000 hours. The change was made based on an assumption that State transit funding will be restored as a result of the California Transit Association’s successful lawsuit against the State over the diversion of funds. If the funding is not restored, more cuts may be needed in the future.

Throughout the Board’s extensive process of considering strategies for making the needed cuts, my priority has been to ensure that South Orange County routes are impacted to the least extent possible. I believe the entire County has an obligation to contribute to shared solutions. However, because South Orange County has significantly fewer routes than the rest of the County, I argued that cutting routes in South County would have greater impacts to riders because they do not have the same options for route alternatives. To that end, I am pleased with the approved plan because I believe it represents an agreeable compromise.

The plan will impact service on the following routes:

  • Weekday elimination of routes 62, 74, 75, 131, 147, 164 and 693

  • Saturday elimination of routes 24, 76, 86, 172, 193 and 693

  • Sunday elimination of routes 24, 51, 76, 82, 85, 172, 193 and 693

  • Weekday reduced frequency on routes 25, 30, 35, 37, 50, 55, 64, 66, 72, 76 and 145

  • Saturday and Sunday reduced frequency on routes 50, 55, 66 and 89

  • Eliminates Night Owl service on routes 43, 50, 57 and 60 but maintains service until approximately 1 a.m. and resuming at approximately 4 a.m.

  • Weekday elimination of midday service on route 21

  • Weekday and weekend restructuring of routes 29, 43, 47, 53, 57, 59, 70 and 167

For detailed route information, please visit www.octa.net/marchchange.

Renewed Measure M Progress Report

The Renewed Measure M Progress Report for July 2009 through September 2009 is now available online by clicking here. Despite current economic conditions, implementation of Renewed Measure M continues at a fast pace. The report highlights progress on the Renewed Measure M projects and programs including the I-5, SR-57, SR-91 and I-405 freeway improvement projects, the Metrolink Service Expansion Program, the Go Local bus service programs, and the Environmental Mitigation Program.

Metrolink Onboard Cameras Up and Running

Metrolink made history last month by becoming the first railroad system - passenger or freight - in the county to install inward-facing cameras that will make the rails safer for traveling. A set of three cameras has been installed in each of the 52 trains operated by Metrolink to allow for the monitoring of the interior control panels as well as the operators in an effort to eliminate dangerous behavior, such as text messaging, which may offer distractions that could lead to accidents.

Nonstop Orange County FlyAway Bus Service

The nonstop FlyAway bus service began operating November 16, offering commuters an easy and efficient way to travel to Los Angeles International Airport from the Irvine Metrolink Station. The 50-mile route has 6 daily trips in each direction and costs $25 per adult (each way). Each adult ticket allows for two students to ride free (for students in 8th grade and lower). Children 5 and under always ride free. For more information about the new FlyAway bus service, please click here.


WANTED: OC Fire Watch Volunteers!

As we know all too well, fire season in Orange County is a year-round concern, especially among communities near the urban/wildland interface, which are particularly susceptible to the devastating impacts of wildfires. It was with this in mind that I recently initiated our new OC Fire Watch program developed in collaboration with the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) and OC Parks.

Volunteers who want to help protect our OC Parks, as well as the nearby residential communities, from the threat of wildfire can now sign up for OC Fire Watch training!

The OC Fire Watch program, officially announced at a November 12 press conference, will train volunteers to spot wildfire dangers. Volunteers will patrol our wilderness parks during designated Red Flag conditions when strong winds are accompanied by high heat and low humidity. Additionally, OC Parks and OCFA fire stations will fly red Fire Alert flags during these periods of hire fire risk.

OC Fire Watch training by OCFA will take place in conjunction with Adopt-a-Park volunteer training Saturday, Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. Additional training sessions will be scheduled for 2010. For more information, please click here. To RSVP for the training, please contact OC Parks Volunteer Services Coordinator Angeline Santiago at (714) 480-2827 or angeline.santiago@HCS.ocgov.com.


Mission Viejo Named Safest City in California, 3rd in Nation

Mission Viejo was ranked as the safest city in the state and third safest in the nation, according to CQ Press, which published the reports on Sunday. The City's ranking was listed in the annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America," using FBI statistics.

Mission Viejo is regularly named one of the safest cities in California and in the country and was recognized in 2007 as America's safest city compared to cities of similar size. The City was named second safest in 2008 by CQ Press.

The crime rankings are based on per-capita rates for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI.


Capistrano Valley High School Marching Band Wins State Championship

After a hard fought battle on the field with some of the most accomplished and talented marching bands in the state, Capistrano Valley High School was named state champion in its division at the annual California State Band Championships held November 21 in San Bernardino.

Competing schools are ranked in divisions according to the size of the band. A total of 33 bands competed at the state championships in five divisions, which started at 9 a.m. and ran until nearly 10 p.m.

The 65-member Capistrano Valley High School band added to its impressive state championship win by also taking the top three sweepstakes trophies, which go to the school judged to be the best among several separate divisions. Sweepstakes were won in the most prestigious categories of High Music, High Effect and High Visual. Senior Jeremy Burciaga also won a sweepstakes award as the outstanding soloist of the competition with his trumpet performance.

This year the school chose “The Music of Carmen” as its theme, which featured a spirited and visually stunning presentation of Bizet’s operatic masterpiece. The 10 members of the group’s Color Guard all dressed as the central character of Carmen, wearing flowing red dresses and red roses in their hair.

This most current win marks the second time in four years that Instrumental Music Director Andy Waldukat has delivered a state championship to the school. For more information about the CVHS music program, visit www.capomusic.org.

El Toro High School Students Gather 41,384 Cans of Food

Over the last two weeks students, teachers and administrators worked together to collect cans of food for two local charities during El Toro High School’s annual canned food drive. With the current economic state in mind, many students felt a greater desire to help and were even more creative this year compared to years past. Classes held competitions to see who could collect the most; students spent their own money to buy cans; and one student even dressed up as a can of Campbell’s Soup and went door to door to collect donations. In order to drive this message home, students posted fliers around campus with statistics and facts regarding the number of hungry children in Orange County and the number of those who have lost their jobs this year.

The cans were split among two charities: South County Outreach and Adopt-A-Neighbor. With this year’s increased demand, both organizations are especially grateful for the donations. In fact, Adopt-A-Neighbor, which feeds 8,000 to 10,000 low-income seniors each year, relies upon the El Toro drive, regarded as one of the top school food drives countrywide, in order to continue its operations. To donate or assist South County Outreach, please click here; and for Adopt-A-Neighbor call (949) 581-6802.


Seven Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving Dinner

Before the aromas of the holiday fill your kitchen and your family and friends gather around the dinner table, take a moment this holiday to be mindful of a few food safety tips. These tips will help ensure safe preparation and a healthy dinner for you and your family.

  1. Clean hands and surfaces – Wash hands with soap and warm, running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry. Wash utensils, cutting boards, and thermometers between uses. Sanitize all countertops and cutting boards using a solution of 1 tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water between raw and ready to eat foods.

  2. Separate raw poultry from ready to eat food – Keep raw poultry and its juices away from ready to eat foods. If possible, use separate cutting boards and utensils for fresh produce and raw poultry to eliminate the potential for cross-contamination.

  3. Refrigerate leftovers – Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in the refrigerator at 41°F or lower for up to 3 to 4 days for turkey, stuffing and gravy. Recommended safe cooling procedures are to cool first from 135°F to 70°F within 2 hours and then from 70°F to 41°F in an additional 4 hours for a maximum cooling time of six hours.

  4. Cook turkey and stuffing to proper temperatures – A cooked whole turkey is safe at a minimum internal temperature of 165°F throughout the turkey and stuffing. Keep a food thermometer handy to ensure proper temperatures are achieved. The internal temperature should be checked in the innermost part of the thigh, wing, the thickest part of the breast and the stuffing with your thermometer.

  5. Thaw safely – There are three ways to safely thaw your turkey; 1.) in the refrigerator at 41°F or below, 2.) in cold water, or 3.) in the microwave oven. The turkey should be cooked immediately after thawing. For thawing under refrigeration, allow an additional 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds your turkey weighs. Do not thaw on the counter. Thawing at room temperature increases the risk of bacteria growth.

  6. Look for mark of inspection on pre-stuffed turkeys – The USDA recommends only purchasing frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that have a USDA or state inspection mark. DO NOT THAW pre-stuffed turkeys before cooking. They should be cooked from the frozen state with careful consideration to follow the package directions for proper handling and cooking.

  7. Hold the turkey at safety temperatures prior to serving – Insert a cooking or meat thermometer inside the inner thigh area of the breast of the turkey (careful not to touch the bone) and lower oven temperature (read thermometer packaging to ensure that it is safe to withstand oven temperatures). Make sure that the temperature of the turkey does not drop below 140°F during holding time. It is recommended that the turkey remain covered during holding time so it does not dry out.
By following these few easy tips to safely prepare your Thanksgiving turkey, your risk of food-borne illness from your holiday meal is greatly reduced, allowing you and your guests to have a safer, healthier Thanksgiving dinner.


2009 Turkey Trot Road Closure Information

This Thanksgiving Day, the annual Turkey Trot will again take over Dana Point Harbor as thousands of runners enjoy harbor views and benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. As part of having this 5K & 10K race event in the harbor on Thanksgiving morning, road closures must also come with it.

Dana Point Police Services, along with the City of Dana Point, will be implementing the following road closures for the Turkey Trot:

Dana Point Harbor Drive from Golden Lantern to Casitas Place will be closed from 12:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Golden Lantern from Lantern Bay Drive to Dana Point Harbor Dr. will be closed from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (limited access for vendors and gym members). Dana Point Harbor Drive from Golden Lantern to PCH (eastbound) will be closed 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Dana Point Harbor Drive from Golden Lantern to the Ocean Institute will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Limited access to the island MAY be available after 11:00 a.m.

Anyone needing to access Dana Point Harbor on Thanksgiving Day between 6:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. should plan their trip accordingly and allow extra time to arrive at their destination. Questions about how these road closures will impact you should be directed to Deputy Brett Gardner at (949) 248-3517 or blgardner@ocsd.org. Thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation!


No Scraps for Scruffy

As a dog owner, I know that sometimes the temptation to share a Thanksgiving meal with the family pets is hard to resist. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some sensible tips pet owners should consider before handing over the pumpkin pie to their pooch:

  • If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

  • Herbs and spices may make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste amazing but they also contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

  • Don’t spoil your pets’ holiday by giving them raw bread dough. According to ASPCA, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat can cause the dough to rise in its stomach, often resulting vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating which could become life-threatening.

  • It is always best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays, but if you cave and decide to offer a taste of mashed potatoes or a lick of apple pie, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as you will likely be sorry later.


OC Parks Employees Honored for Collaboration

Many OC Parks employees were recognized at the annual Orange County Community Resources (OCCR) Employee Recognition Ceremony held on November 18. Among the awards offered at the event was the Director’s Collaboration Award, which was awarded to individuals who have assisted in making County programs more collaborative across departments.

A Director’s Collaboration Award was given to Senior Park Ranger Kevin McKeown and Park Rangers Steve Aleshire, Steve Jax, Sean Bengston and Scott Fegley for their partnership with OC Animal Care in the “Bark Ranger” Program. This program has brought together Animal Control Officers and Park Rangers, resulting in better customer service and public safety for park visitors and their pets at popular regional parks.

A Director’s Collaboration Award was also given to Park District Supervisor Linda Mayer, OC Zoo Manager Donald Zeigler and OC Zoo Curator David Merner for their partnership with OC Animal Care in the Zoo Rotation Program. This program allowed OC Animal Care staff to spend time at the OC Zoo, expanding their knowledge about various local animals that live in the wild. Both OC Animal Care and OC Zoo staff experienced positive results from this program. Congratulations to these and all the OC Parks honorees.


Dana Point Turkey Trot

As mentioned, the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce will once again usher in the Dana Point Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving! The run is California’s largest Thanksgiving Day run with more than 10,000 participants. The trot is also one of America’s most scenic runs as it will take you through the Dana Point Marina, Doheny State Park and pass by the historic ship, The Pilgrim, moored in Dana Point Harbor. Registration is available online here and will also be available in person on Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. in the Dana Point Harbor Parking Lot. The races will begin at the Harbor at 7:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. For more information please click here.

Thanksgiving Day Feast

RUFF (Rescuing Unwanted Furry Friends), is hosting a Thanksgiving Day Feast Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Tivoli Terrace in Laguna Beach. Proceeds from the event will go to benefit the organization. The cost is $35 for adults and $15 for children and pets are free! For reservations please call (949)494-9650. Click here for more information.

Hike Off Your Thanksgiving Feast

Want to shed some of those extra pounds you will pick up Thursday? The Donna O’Neill Land Conservatory will be hosting a “Hike Off Your Thanksgiving Feast” event at the conservatory. The hike will be a three to four mile nature hike and will go up the North Ridge Trail, across Middle Ridge and wind down into Gato Road, allowing the participants to enjoy the sights, sounds and warmth of the Grassland and Coastal Sage Scrub communities. The hike will be held on Friday November 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. For more information please click here.

Holiday Toy Express Train

Santa, Mrs. Claus and all their friends will be riding through Orange County aboard Metrolink’s Holiday Toy Express to entertain families and collect toys for those in need. Bring the kids out to enjoy the fun and to see the 450-ton train decorated with beautiful holiday displays and 50,000 twinkling lights. The Holiday Toy Express will be arriving in South Orange County on December 5-6.

Saturday, December 5: Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo 7:30 p.m.; San Juan Capistrano 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 6: San Clemente North 5:45 p.m.; Camp Pendleton USMC 7:15 p.m.; San Clemente Pier 8:45 p.m.

For more information or to get the location of the stop nearest you, call (800) 371-5465 or click here.


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

  • Co-Chaired the Planning Department Performance Audit Recommendation Implementation Subcommittee
  • Adjourned the Board of Supervisors meeting in memory of Margaret Robb Brady of Laguna Woods
My office also:
  • Conducted a planning meeting for the 2010 South County Senior Summit
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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