February 13, 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. BOARD BULLETIN BOARD
2. TRANSPORTATION INFORMATION
3. ENVIRONMENTAL MEMOS
4. FIFTH DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT
5. HEALTH HERALD
6. CRITTER CHRONICLES
7. NOTES FROM THE FIELD
8. SOUTH COUNTY CALENDAR
9. 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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|BOARD BULLETIN BOARD
State of the County
I was honored to present the 2009 State of the County at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. The speech highlighted 2008 department accomplishments as well as identified individual department goals for 2009. I also gave my personal goals for the County and Board of Supervisors while I am Chair this year. To watch footage of the speech, please click here. To view the text of the speech in its entirety, please click here.
Orange County Joins Lawsuit Against the State
The Board of Supervisors this week directed the County Counsel to join Sacramento, San Diego and other counties in litigation against the California State Controller after plans were announced to defer payment of State funds owed to counties to carry out mandated Federal programs. The payments due to Orange County will total nearly $200 million between now and September 2009. The Controller’s plan to defer for seven months funds that are intended for assistance programs will create an unsustainable cash situation for Orange County and other counties throughout the state that cannot afford to backfill the State. Those most impacted will be our most vulnerable residents who rely on federally mandated Social Services and Health Care programs. This lawsuit is intended to protect the County’s financial position, and thereby, protect the services to our citizens.
CCW Permit Update
Sheriff Hutchens gave her final report on the Sheriff Department’s Conceal Carry Weapon (CCW) permit policy during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Sheriff Hutchens, once again, shared with the Board and the public her CCW policy, which outlines the criteria for good cause that one must meet in order to obtain a CCW permit. To view this policy, please click here.
The Sheriff also informed the Board that the Department will be sending a letter to CCW permit holders who are at risk of having their permit revoked for failing to meet the Sheriff’s new ‘good cause’ standard. The letter will inform CCW holders that they have the option to have their permit expire early rather than having a revocation on their record. The letter will also explain the process for how to proceed with this option. Additionally, the letter will encourage permit holders to provide further justification for good cause so that a revocation may be avoided all together.
During a previous Board meeting, questions arose as to whether or not the Sheriff has the legal authority to unilaterally advance the expiration date on the existing CCW permit. After I directed County Counsel to look into this matter, the Board was notified that it is an open legal question. However, if a CCW license holder requests the advancement of an expiration date then the Sheriff may expire the permit.
Over forty members of the public spoke during Tuesday’s Board meeting expressing their dissatisfaction with how the Sheriff is interpreting good cause. Additionally, my office received countless e-mails and phone calls from citizens voicing frustration over how the policy is being applied. I share the concerns raised by the public. While the written policy may seem sensible, I have heard from several constituents that appear to meet the good cause criteria outlined in the policy yet have either been denied a CCW permit or received one with restrictions. For example, I have heard from Commercial Airline Pilots who are certified Federal Flight Deck Officers. They carry high-level classified homeland security documents. Many of these officers have been given restrictions on their CCW permits allowing them to carry a CCW only when conducting official business. In my discussions with these officers, I learned that it is necessary for them to retain a CCW without restrictions. My office will be working with groups like the Flight Deck Officers to make their case to the Sheriff and encourage her to allow for an interpretation that recognizes the requirements of their unique classification.
The Sheriff argues that state law gives her little discretion in determining who meets good cause for a CCW permit. However, in review of the policy throughout the state (57 counties), it is clear that sheriffs have total discretion to interpret the good cause standard as they see fit. After much debate, it is my hope the Sheriff will develop a CCW policy that truly recognizes the unique circumstances of each individual and their right to provide for self-defense in light of those unique circumstances.
As the Board does not have jurisdiction over CCW permit policy, there is little more we can do than make our views known and encourage a different interpretation. The Board may no longer be discussing this topic during our official meetings, but I will continue to speak up for those whose circumstances appear to require a CCW.
Board Room Security
In last week’s newsletter, I briefly discussed a concern that has come to light surrounding the use of security cameras during Board of Supervisors meetings. This issue has drawn a great deal of media attention and, unfortunately, has occupied a great deal of County employee time. I want to use this opportunity to give you the factual details of what has transpired and explain how my Board colleagues and I have worked toward resolution of this issue.
First, let me offer some background. A couple weeks ago it was revealed that security surveillance cameras, used in the Board room during the January 13 Board meeting, were found to have filmed confidential images of hand-written notes of two of my Board colleagues. This filming was done during the Board’s discussion of the Sheriff’s Conceal Carry Weapon permit policy. As you can imagine my Board colleagues were not pleased to learn that security personnel were observing images of their personal papers at a time when the cameras should have been focused on the legitimate security threats the Sheriff was concerned with. My Board colleagues felt it was important that, at their request, a copy of the tapes in question be made available to them.
On February 2, I sent a letter on behalf of the Board to Sheriff Hutchens directing her to provide a copy of the security recordings from the January 13, 2009 meeting, as well as any other previous recordings that might be requested by a Board member. The letter stated that the Board acknowledges, due to security concerns, these tapes would not be released to the public and they would be returned within ten days. This would have allowed for ample unsupervised viewing time and would ensure that safety concerns were met. While I did not have a desire to hold a copy of the tapes, I recognize the right of my Board colleagues to view the tapes unsupervised. You can read a copy my letter here. Initially, the Sheriff resisted the Board’s request for unsupervised viewing of the tapes. The Sheriff expressed concern that if the tapes were made public they would endanger the identity of undercover deputies who were in attendance at the Board meeting. I acknowledged the Sheriff’s concern, but trusted that my Board colleagues would not release any tapes that would endanger the lives of law enforcement officers.
On February 4, the Board received a letter from the Sheriff stating she was aware that the County Chief Executive Office/Information Technology Department had possession of the security recordings. The Sheriff reiterated her concern that the recordings remain confidential and set conditions for viewing the tapes that were in the CEO/IT’s possession. The Sheriff again cautioned the Board not to do anything that would endanger Sheriff Department personnel. The Sheriff asked for written confirmation that the conditions she set would be met, or she would seek relief from the Superior Court. You can view a copy of the Sheriff’s letter here. I think it goes without saying that members of the Board do not need to be cautioned or warned about taking actions that would hurt any county personnel.
As Chair of the Board of Supervisors, I responded to the Sheriff’s letter. You can read my response here. In my response I explained how the County CEO/IT Department came to be in possession of the tapes and reiterated a solution to the problem that I had earlier suggested, a solution I believe addresses the concerns of both the Sheriff and my Board colleagues. I explained in my letter that the County Counsel’s office should maintain possession of the tapes. Additionally, before any tapes are disseminated to Board offices, the portions with images of undercover officers would be blurred out. I also outlined a process that should be followed with regards to future tape recordings. The next day, the County CEO also sent a letter to the Sheriff echoing my response. You can read the CEO’s letter here.
This week, the Board received a letter from the Sheriff complying with our request. The letter from the Sheriff can be read here.
Unfortunately, this issue has been a distraction from focusing on more important Sheriff Department issues, such as meeting budget challenges, reforming our jails, and continuing important initiatives like the Police Community Reconciliation Program. However, it was necessary to address the concerns raised by my Board colleagues regarding this matter of camera surveillance. As Board Chair, I have the responsibility to ensure that our Board meetings are conducted in a manner in which the public and the Board feel free to speak and deliberate. Rectifying this surveillance problem was necessary to keep our county government open, transparent, and accountable.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors received an update Monday on the Congressional proceedings surrounding H.R 1 and S. 1, the House and Senate versions of economic stimulus legislation. The introduced House version contains approximately $825 billion in economic stimulus spending with $275 billion in tax cuts and $550 billion in direct spending. Before floor consideration, the bill only contained $30 billion for highway and $9 billion for transit in stimulus spending. As a result of an amendment in committee, the floor version increases the dates for having funds initially obligated by 60 days, giving OCTA 150 days from the federal apportionment to obligate the first 50 percent of appropriated funding.
On the Senate side, the transportation numbers are similar. The measure includes $27 billion for highways improvements, $8.4 billion for public transportation, and $5.5 billion for a new competitive discretionary grant program for surface transportation projects.
On January 28, OCTA Chairman Peter Buffa testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) and the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. He also served on a panel of rail experts where he gave an oral presentation focusing on grade crossing and rail improvements needed on two major corridors in Orange County as well as answered questions about the benefits of constructing the Anaheim Regional Transportation Center (ARTIC), OCTA’s Go Local program, and the challenges of creating a cultural of passenger rail usage in California.
OCTA Procurement Policy Revisions
On Monday, the OCTA Board of Directors approved revisions to procurement policies and procedures in an effort to increase fairness, transparency, oversight and timeliness. Among the changes, the Board agreed to provide budget information to bidders and to allow early notification of a recommended firm before staff reports become public documents in order to improve transparency. The Board also agreed to improve fairness by requiring a contract award history for short-listed firms be included in the information presented to Board members as part of staff reports. For more information about the OCTA procurement process and doing business with OCTA, please click here.
Prop 1B State-Local Partnership Program Project Approvals
The OCTA Board also approved a list of projects to be submitted to the California Transportation Commission to receive Prop. 1B funding under the State-Local Partnership Program (SLPP). The SLPP program offers dollar-for-dollar match funds to help fund project construction or equipment acquisition for projects funded by local transportation sales tax funds. Projects that are already funded though other Prop. 1B programs that use Measure M funds are not eligible. Among the projects submitted by OCTA, 9 are from the Fifth District including Moulton Parkway and El Toro Road improvements, La Paz Road (Cabot Drive to I-5) improvements and Crown Valley Parkway/Marguerite Parkway intersection improvements.
John Wayne Airport Runway Resurfacing
As part of the Airport’s Capital Improvement Program, a project to resurface portions of the runway and seal and paint the entire runway was recently completed. The runway, which is 5,700-feet long by 150-feet wide, was resurfaced in the center portion which is about 54’ wide and gets the most use from take-offs and landings. Resurfacing the runway required contractors to dig about 3.5” below the surface and remove the existing concrete, and then reconstruct that section with new concrete, or "polymer-modified asphalt-concrete” which is specified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The estimated project cost including design/project management and construction was $3.7 million, of which 80.59% will be funded with an FAA Airport Improvement Program grant. The Airport will fund the remainder from its operating budget.
Community Fire Watch Network
The winter of 2008-09 has been anything but normal across the entire nation. Eastern states have been gripped by bone-chilling temperatures and snow, while Southern California experienced a summer-like heat wave in one of the driest Januarys on record. The New Year brought low humidity, high temperatures and high-winds, which raised brush fire threats throughout the Natural Landmarks and proved that Southern California fire season is truly year-round. The Community Fire Watch Network was deployed on several occasions as temperatures and winds increased and humidity fell. Volunteers in large numbers played an important role in deterring fires as they kept a watchful eye on the wildlands around the region.
“Too-frequent fire is probably the most severe threat to the long-term health of these rare protected lands and ecosystems,” says Michael O’Connell, executive director of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. “It is also an enormous risk to the lives and property of ourselves and our neighbors who live close to nature. Wildfire is not a problem just for the fire department or land managers. We all share in the effects of fire, and we must work together to stop fires from happening. Preventing fire is IRC’s single highest priority for stewardship.”
The energy and enthusiasm that Fire Watch volunteers have put into the program has helped draw together partners ranging from the Orange County Fire Authority to the Orange County Sheriff to other community organizations. The presence of Fire Watch volunteers in neighborhoods close to nature during times of high fire risk has raised awareness and generated positive feedback from the community. As the network grows and unites people and organizations, the risk of catastrophic fire in the region will decline.
To volunteer for Fire Watch or to learn more about the program, please click here.
|FIFTH DISTRICT SPOTLIGHT
Mission Viejo Tennis Coach of the Year
Congratulations to Jason Harnett, the City of Mission Viejo’s tennis teaching pro, who has been named the International Wheelchair Tennis Association (IWTA) Coach of the Year for 2008. Harnett has been teaching wheelchair tennis in Mission Viejo for 13 years and during that time has coached five World No.1 ranked quad players and has been a member of the United States Wheelchair Tennis coaching staff since 1998. Harnett, known for his honor, humility and professionalism, was assistant coach to the USA wheel chair tennis team at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games. In the Beijing games, USA quad players captured two gold medals in doubles and a silver and bronze medal in singles. Last November, Mission Viejo recognized Harnett for his outstanding coaching efforts in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics Games.
Ladera Ranch Engineer of the Year
Congratulations are also in order for Tom Bogard of Ladera Ranch who was recently named Engineer of the Year for 2008 by the Orange County chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was honored for both technical experience and outstanding leadership. Mr. Bogard is an engineer for the Orange County Transportation Authority and currently serves as director of highway development.
Product Recall for Possible Salmonella Contamination
Three Fifth District organizations may have received peanut butter cookies or cookie dough that has been recalled because of possible contamination with a strain of Salmonella, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Consumers are advised not to eat or handle certain products from Dough-To-Go, Inc., of Santa Clara. Dough-To-Go frozen peanut butter cookies and frozen peanut butter cookie dough are distributed under the Dough-To-Go and Jane Dough labels. The affected products were sold as group fundraising items distributed by Diamond Fundraising between August 2008 and January 16, 2009 to the following organizations in South Orange County:
No illnesses associated with Dough-To-Go peanut butter cookie dough have been reported. Consumers with these products are advised to dispose of them. Individuals with questions may contact Dough-To-Go at 1-800-220-2339. For a current list of products containing peanut butter that are included in the nationwide recall, visit the Food and Drug Administration website at www.fda.gov.
- Montevideo Elementary School in Mission Viejo
- Philip J. Reilly Elementary School in Mission Viejo, and
- A Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group in South Orange County
Pet of the Week
This week's featured OC Animal Care Pet of the Week is Honey, a four year old, spayed female, tan and white, Labrador Retriever Mix, ID# A0940914.
Honey is a sweet and gentle girl who is waiting to meet you. She is very affectionate and is looking for someone who likes to go on long walks. Come visit Honey and all the other fabulous pets in person and make one of these sweethearts your Valentine! Last week's Pet of the Week, Patrick, is now enjoying his new home!
For more information about Pet Adoption, please click here.
OC Animal Care Events
OC Animal Care is hosting a Vaccine Clinic in Rancho Santa Margarita Tuesday, February 17 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Bell Tower Regional Community Center Parking Lot. A vet will be onsite to administer vaccinations for dogs and cats and OC Animal Care will be doing pet licensing. And on Saturday, February 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. OC Animal Care is hosting a Spay Day USA at its headquarters in Orange. For more information about these and other upcoming events, please call Elizabeth Alianell at (714) 935-6301.
|NOTES FROM THE FIELD
OC Parks is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the natural and cultural resources of Orange County, while providing safe and enjoyable places to recreate. The department is currently responsible for more than 35,000 acres of open space. To assist with the management of these areas, an ancillary unit of dedicated volunteers, the Park Ranger Reserve Unit, was developed.
The OC Parks Ranger Reserve Program is the only reserve program of its kind in Southern California. For more information about joining the Reserves, please call (714) 973-6866 or email Everardo.Mena@rdmd.ocgov.com.
San Juan Capistrano Interactive Trail Tour
San Juan Capistrano is believed to be the first city in the nation to launch an interactive virtual tour of its entire trail system. The new virtual trail map is part of an effort to help equestrians, hikers, bicyclists and walkers alike to better navigate their way through the City’s trail system.
The new web feature was born from a partnership between the City, San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition and Digital Map Products. The coalition provided funding to videotape, digitize and map the trails for the public’s benefit. The coalition, which was formed in 2003, works to preserve the equestrian lifestyle and the City’s recreational trail system.
Visitors to the City’s website at www.sanjuancapistrano.org can now simply click on a button and virtually traverse the City's trails, identifying their highest and lowest points, length and location. To access the new trail feature, visit www.sanjuancapistrano.org and click on "Community" followed by "Community View/GIS and then “View" to select the layer you wish to view.
|SOUTH COUNTY CALENDAR
Charity Car Wash
Get your dirty car cleaned with a genuine hand car wash by Soka University students raising money for their Spring Break Project to join the Hurricane Ike Relief Efforts in Galveston, Texas on Friday February 20 and Saturday, February 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day. You decide the price - donations cheerfully accepted! The event will take place at the University’s facilities building below the tennis courts at 1 University Drive in Aliso Viejo.
On Friday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m., Laguna Niguel Parks and Recreation presents Swazzle, a lighthearted puppet show that emphasizes a positive message. Drawing on years of experience working with leading entertainment companies such as The Jim Hensen Company and Baby Einstein and Disney, the talented puppeteers will help you discover the importance of collaboration and teamwork and offer a one-of-a-kind, highly interactive, behind-the-scenes look at creating a puppet character and a puppet show. Tickets are $5 per person. The event will be held at Crown Valley Park. For more information, click here or call (949) 425-5100.
Mardi Gras Celebration
Ladera Ranch residents are invited to join in a Mardi Gras Celebration on Saturday, February 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Downtown Ladera/Mercantile West Shopping Center. There will be a parade and carnival with prizes, games, food and fun. Decorate your own float using your golf carts and bikes. For more information, contact Claire at email@example.com.
Relay for Life Tennis Tournament
Help the Mission Possible 2, Relay for Life Team raise money for the American Cancer Society by joining the Relay for Life Tennis Tournament at Marguerite Park on Sunday, February 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Players of all abilities can participate in this great Round Robin style tournament. Join us for food, games and family activities. The cost is $30 for 1 person or $55 for 2 people. Call (949) 859-4FIT (4348) for more information.
Laguna Niguel State of the City
Join Laguna Niguel Mayor Robert Ming for his State of the City address during the annual luncheon Friday, February 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at El Niguel Country Club. Admission is $40.00 per person; $45.00 after February 20 and includes a three course lunch. Don’t miss out. For more information, contact the Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce by clicking here or calling (949) 363-0136.
|FIFTH DISTRICT WRAP-UP
In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
My office also:
- Attended the 2009 Orange County Business Council Annual Dinner in which USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll was the keynote speaker
- Chaired the Emergency Management Council meeting
- Attended the Mission Viejo State of the City Breakfast
My staff and I look forward to continually providing you updated information in our Fifth District Newsletter and website.
- Presented an update during the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee
- Presented a Certificate of Recognition to the Dana Point Times at its One-Year Anniversary celebration
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.