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November 23, 2011

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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.

















Don Hughes:
Chief of Staff

Kristen Thornton:
Deputy Chief of Staff

Ray Grangoff:
Deputy Chief of Staff

Sergio Prince:
Policy Advisor

Sabrina Ross:
Policy Advisor

Brian Probolsky:
Policy Advisor

Ruth Strachan:
Office Manager

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Volume 5 Issue 46

In Observance of our Thanksgiving Day

We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving, the special feast in 1621, when the Pilgrims and Indians gathered together to give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon them. Many, however, do not know how Thanksgiving came to be recognized as a national holiday.

It is Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a Little Lamb,” who deserves much credit for making Thanksgiving an annual tradition. Prior to Ms. Hale’s efforts, Thanksgiving had been exclusively celebrated in New England. While some states had their own day for Thanksgiving at different times of the year, other portions of the country did not celebrate the holiday at all.

For 17 years, Ms. Hale advocated for a national celebration of Thanksgiving. She wrote letters to five presidents, each time failing to persuade. Finally, during the midst of the Civil War, she was successful in helping convince Abraham Lincoln to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863.

It is interesting that during our nation’s worse time, Lincoln thought it fitting to finally recognize a day for all Americans to join together to give thanks. Even at a time when our nation was torn apart, people recognized how blessed they were to be Americans.

Just as the Pilgrims, the Indians, Sarah Hale, and Abraham Lincoln before us, we too are fortunate to be living in a nation with so many blessings. These may be tough times, but who would trade living in this land of freedom for anywhere else?

I wish you and yours a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!


First Quarter Budget Report

The Board received a formal report on the status of the County’s budget through the First Quarter of the 2011-12 fiscal year. County finances remain in relatively good shape, with current cash and reserve balances above where they were this same time last year.

Property Tax revenue continues to lag with the depressed real estate market. However, we have seen a small increase in sales taxes, which are critical to public safety funding.

The County of Orange continues the glide down in head count, which began in ‘07-‘08 at 18,675; and with deletion of 92 more positions this quarter, we stand at 17,203 authorized positions.

I’m pleased with the results of our belt tightening and am cautiously optimistic; however, we remain at risk while the State continues to struggle with its budgets.

To view a presentation on the budget report, please click here.

Aliso Water Management Agency Bridge

The Board approved a cooperative agreement with the South Orange County Wastewater Authority (SOCWA) as a first step in a long-term project to enhance safety and ensure public use of the Aliso Water Management Agency bridge, which connects the Cities of Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel across Aliso Creek.

Safety improvements have already begun and we hope to have two-way traffic restored early in 2012. This important crossing serves the SOCWA treatment plant, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Wood Canyon Elementary School, as well as Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

The agreement includes a cost sharing arrangement to study options, which will lead to a permanent repair or replacement of the bridge. For more information, please click here.


Image Based Toll Collection Technology Demonstration

Last week, the Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) Board of Directors received a presentation and awarded contracts to bidders for camera and image storage systems as part of the Agency’s Image Based Toll Collection Technology Demonstration Project.

This action was made possible by a $750,000 grant the Agency received to identify and demonstrate technology having the potential to improve the performance of image-based toll collections. The grant covers 100% of the cost of the project.

Federal Transportation Funding Update from OCTA

Last week, the House and Senate passed the conference report on a package of three appropriations bills, including the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) appropriations bill.

The House passed the bill with a vote of 298-121, while the Senate approved it with a vote of 70-30. The bill now heads to the President, who is expected to sign it, thereby completing work on the FY 2012 budget for the Department of Transportation (funding through September 30, 2012).

Included in the conference report is an extension of the current FY 2012 Appropriations Continuing Resolution through December 16. Congress needed to act to pass the extension to avoid a potential government shutdown of those agencies not included in the three-bill “minibus” package.

Within the highway title, the conference agreement lowers the obligation limitation on the federal-aid highways program from the 2010 and 2011 level of $41.107 billion per year down to $39.144 billion in 2012 -- still much higher than the original House proposal to reduce funding by one third.

The conference agreement also adds $1.662 billion in direct appropriations for emergency relief highway funding, meaning the total reduction in Federal Highway Administration funding is only $201 million below the FY 2011 level.

For transit, the conference agreement proposes funding levels for the Federal Transit Administration of $8.361 billion on the Formula and Bus Grants account, and a new starts/small starts appropriation of $1.955 billion -- slightly higher than FY 2011.

The conference agreement contains no FY 2012 funding for Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) greenhouse gas and energy reduction grants.

Within the rail program, the conference agreement contains no FY 2012 funding for high speed and intercity passenger rail, making FY 2012 the second consecutive year without such funding.

Multimodal funding for Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants is set at $500 million, down slightly from the FY 2011 amount of $527 million. OCTA will continue to monitor the progress of both the ongoing appropriations process.

2012 State Transportation Improvement Program

The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) provides funding for transportation improvements throughout the state. As the local transportation agency in Orange County, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is responsible for developing the STIP Plan for Orange County and submitting it to the California Transportation Commission for approval.

Last week, the OCTA Board of Directors approved OCTA’s STIP Plan for Fiscal Years 2012-13 through 2016-17. The plan allocates $230.98 million to transportation improvement programs of countywide significance.

To view the map of all of the approved STIP projects, click here.

Food Drive Collects Nearly 2,000 Pounds of Food

The Orange County Transportation Authority partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County to host a series of food drives at four malls throughout the County and a Ralphs supermarket from November 3 to November 10.

The food collected during the food drive helps feed the estimated 615,000 individuals who struggle with hunger in Orange County. The food drive helped collect 1,984 pounds of food, providing 1,653 meals this holiday season.


John Wayne Airport Travel Tips for the Thanksgiving Holiday

In anticipation of the nation’s most heavily traveled holiday period, John Wayne Airport (JWA) offers travel tips to help passengers prepare for a safe and enjoyable holiday air travel experience.

JWA passengers traveling through Monday, November 28, will experience higher-than-normal passenger traffic due to the Thanksgiving holiday, with the busiest travel days expected Wednesday, November 23 and Sunday, November 27.

For more information and to view JWA Travel Tips for the Thanksgiving holiday, please click here.


2011 Turkey Trot Road Closure Advisory

As reported in my newsletter last week, Dana Point Police Services will be implementing various road closures in and around Dana Point Harbor for the annual Turkey Trot 5k & 10k races on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 24.

Anyone planning to visit Dana Point Harbor on Thanksgiving Day between 6:30 AM and 12:00 noon should plan their trip accordingly and allow extra time to arrive at their destination.

For more information, please click here.


Keeping Kids Healthy and Safe

The Capistrano Unified Council of PTSA invites parents to check out Common Sense Media, dedicated to Empowering Parents & Kids To Make Great Media & Technology Choices, Grades K - 12.

Internet safety skills are as vital as the ABCs. Minimize digital drama by fostering safe, responsible, and positive behavior. Check out Common Sense Media’s section on Internet Safety to learn more about this important topic.

Common Sense Media also reviews movies, games and books, guiding parents on making decisions appropriate for their children. The movie review section suggests the ages the movie is suited for with a breakdown of social issues that can be discussed with your child.


Are You Being Safe When Out in the Dark?

Now that autumn has begun, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. Cooler, damper weather is also settling in. Walking is a wonderful way to get daily physical activity, but there are precautions an older adult should consider.

There are many things to think about if you are walking outside after sunset:

Fall hazards – Walking in unfamiliar, dark places can lead to a fall. One in three older adults fall each year and 1/3 of those falls occur out in the community.

Crime – People over 65 are much less likely than the rest of the population to be a victim of a crime, but it can happen. Older adults are most likely to be the victim of a theft (purses, wallets, property) close to their home.

Medical Emergencies – Once the sun goes down, the temperature can drop substantially, especially if you live near the coast. Hypothermia can set in quickly if an older adult is not dressed warmly and is outside for a while.

Safety Tips:
  • Walk in pairs or groups. There is safety in numbers.
  • Watch where you are walking. Pay attention when using stairs or walking in unfamiliar places.
  • Walk in brightly lit areas. Call (800) 510-2020 for a free keychain flashlight.
  • Keep purses zipped and close to the body and wallets in front pockets. Only carry what you really need at the time.
  • Program “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) into your cell phone contact list.
  • Walk with confidence.
  • Make eye contact with people you come in contact with. This will deter any would-be thief.
  • Carry a jacket or sweater in case the temperature drops.
For more information, please click here.


Laguna Coast Wilderness Park: Wobble Walk

Walk off your Thanksgiving dinner on this slow-paced, 2-mile hike (400-ft. elevation gain) over steep and uneven terrain with an OC Parks Resource Specialist on Friday, November 25 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Little Sycamore Canyon Staging Area / Nix Nature Center (west side of Laguna Canyon Road/SR-133, approximately 3.5 miles south of I-405). Reservations required.

For more information, please click here.


Orange County Coastal Coalition

Please join me Thursday, December 1 for the regular bi-monthly meeting of the Orange County Coastal Coalition, which I am pleased to Chair. The meeting will take place 9:00 AM at Newport Beach Public Library.

Presenting will be Patricia Pendleton, Project Manager with California State University Northridge – Center for Geographical Studies; and Pamela Berstler, Co-Founder of G3 (The Green Gardens Group), along with Paul Herzog, Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens National Program Coordinator.

The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session. For more information, please click here.


Photo with Santa!

Bring your pet to OC Animal Care the first four Saturdays in December from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM for a photo with Santa! All participants will receive a festive holiday frame with their pet’s photo along with a digital copy to share with friends and family. All donations will benefit the animals at OC Animal Care.

For more information, please click here.


South County High School Senior Named All-American

Kyle Murphy, an offensive tackle on the San Clemente High School football team, has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, January 7.

Kyle, who has a 3.9 grade point average and is being recruited by several top universities nationwide, is one of 90 high school football players from throughout the U.S. who have been selected to participate in the annual East vs. West match-up.

For more information, please click here.

Water Polo Team Captures Second Straight CIF Title

The Laguna Beach High School Water Polo team has captured its second consecutive CIF-SS Division III title.

Their championship victory was over Damien of La Verne in a repeat of the 2010 Finals game, when the Breakers earned their first Boys Water Polo Section Championship in school history.

For more information, please click here.


Dana Point: 34th Annual Turkey Trot

Don’t miss the 34th annual Dana Point Turkey Trot on Thursday, November 24! Named one of America’s best Thanksgiving Day runs, this year’s Turkey Trot is expected to be the biggest and best yet! For more information, please click here and here.

Laguna Beach: 21st Annual Winter Fantasy

The 2011 Winter Fantasy in Laguna Beach will feature the fine art and craft of over 170 exhibitors on weekends, now through December 11 at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds. For more information, please click here.

San Clemente: Puttin’ on the Glitz

The City of San Clemente invites you to bring the whole family to Puttin’ on the Glitz for an evening of holiday cheer and enchantment on Saturday, November 26 from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. For more information, please click here.

Lake Forest: 30th Annual Victorian Christmas

The public is cordially invited to attend the 30th annual Victorian Christmas at Heritage Hill Historical Park in the City of Lake Forest on Saturday, December 3 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. For more information, please click here.

San Juan Capistrano: Tree Lighting Ceremony

San Juan Capistrano is gearing up for its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, December 3. The time-honored event kicks off at 4:00 p.m. at Historic Town Center Park, featuring a cornucopia of holiday activities, spirit and fun for folks of all ages. For more information, please click here and here.


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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I wish you and yours a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!