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July 26, 2013

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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 Camuglia:
Deputy Chief of Staff

Sabrina Ross:
Deputy Chief of Staff

Sergio Prince:
Policy Advisor

Erik Weigand:
Policy Advisor

Emily Osterberg:
Policy Advisor

Veronica Yniguez:
Policy Advisor

Ruth Strachan:
Office Manager

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Volume 7 Issue 29

Response to Grand Jury Report, “The Culture of Harassment: Change is on the Horizon”

On May 8, the Grand Jury released a report titled “The Culture of Harassment: Change is on the Horizon,” and this week, the County of Orange issued its official response.

The report largely focuses on the widely reported sexual harassment case involving a senior County employee, which resulted in criminal charges. It makes a sweeping conclusion that a “culture” of tolerance for sexual harassment exists within Orange County government and implores County leadership to take action to improve its human resources function.

The report has been widely criticized for being imbalanced in its approach because, as a matter of fact, many of the recommendations mirror the recommendations made in the comprehensive performance audit of the Human Resources Department, which was completed by the Office of the Performance Audit Director back in 2011. The implementation by the Board of Supervisors of these recommendations has been underway since then.

When the Board of Supervisors was made aware in 2010 of the growing concern of employees regarding the lack of adherence to the County’s human resources policies, we asked our Performance Audit Director to conduct a comprehensive investigation of our HR Department and its operations and report back to the Board with recommendations for improvement. The Office of the Performance Audit Director was specifically created in 2008 by our Board to assist us in identifying inefficiencies within County government in order to make needed reforms.

The resulting Performance Audit identified a systemic problem within our Human Resources Department and yielded 50 findings and recommendations for reform. The Board took the report very seriously. For months following the release of the report, I, along with Supervisor Nelson, acting as a Board appointed ad-hoc committee, poured through the findings and recommendations and developed a plan of action to address all 50 recommendations. The plan was later adopted by the full Board for implementation in August 2011.

Since that time, the County has achieved far-reaching improvements in the area of human resources, including, but not limited to:
  • Establishment of a Countywide Investigations and Compliance Oversight Committee (August 2012)
  • Approval of additional funding and positions for the District Attorney’s Special Prosecutions/Special Assignments Units to establish a Public Integrity Team (September 2012)
  • Revision of the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy and Procedure document (October 2012)
  • Recentralization of Human Resources (Effective December 2012)
  • Plans for EEO training for all County staff (to be completed by October 2013)
  • Hiring of a new County EEO manager (February 2013)
  • Development of an action plan specific to OC Public Works (November 2012)
  • Provision of training on “Preventing Workplace Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation” to over 250 OC Public Works Managers (April 2013)
Though the Grand Jury does acknowledge that positive change is occurring, the report downplays the County’s progress. In reality, the Board has made significant strides in initiating reforms, improving transparency and holding individuals accountable. That is why, when the Grand Jury released its report in May this year, I was a little confused by its timing. The report urges a call to action, when the issues identified in the report have already been and continue to be heavily responded to by the County.

In the County’s response to the Grand Jury report issued this week, we identified the report’s strengths. For example, it recognized the County’s efforts to expand its EEO and anti-harassment training and recognized the positive change brought about by the County’s return to a centralized Human Resource Department. We also identified the report’s weaknesses, such as its numerous omissions and inaccuracies. The report fails to recognize that those responsible for the investigative deficiencies are no longer employed by the County and important changes in top County leadership have occurred over the past 18 months that address many of the deficiencies noted by the Grand Jury.

The bottom line is when the Board identified the problem within our Human Resources Department in 2010, long before the Grand Jury report was released, we didn’t shy away from it. We demonstrated leadership and addressed it head on. We sent in our audit team to expose the severity of the problem and took immediate steps to correct it, including everything from structural changes to specific corrective actions against several individual employees. Ironically, it was through the Board’s own audit that many of the revelations of the sexual harassment case which is the focus of the Grand Jury report came to light.

Like any large bureaucracy, from time to time, departments will get lazy in implementing established protocols. As in any place of employment, from time to time, there will be employee scandals. The County of Orange is no different and has undoubtedly experienced its share of both. That is precisely why the Board of Supervisors, as elected representatives of the taxpayers, takes its job of providing oversight on behalf of the public so seriously. The Board’s track record speaks for itself. We have consistently demonstrated our commitment to self-examination, transparency, accountability, and reform and our response to the Grand Jury reflects that.

To view the Grand Jury report and the County’s official response the Board approved Tuesday, please click here.


Registrar of Voters Earns High Marks from OC Grand Jury

On Tuesday, the Board also approved the County’s official response to the Orange County Grand Jury report titled “Registrar of Voters Earns High Marks for 2012 Election.”

The report resulted in several complimentary findings and concluded with the Grand Jury commending the Orange County Registrar of Voters for a job well done during the November 2012 election and affirming its confidence in the integrity the County’s voting system and procedures.

To view the Grand Jury report and the County’s official response, please click here.

Dog Training Services for Puppies and Wards Program

I was proud to join my Board colleagues in supporting the Puppies and Wards (PAW) Program for an additional three years. The PAW Program is a collaborative dog training program that allows youth serving commitments in our Juvenile Hall the ability to train and socialize shelter dogs, which will make them more attractive for adoption.

The life skills earned by these youth, such as responsibility, patience and increased self-esteem, contribute to a successful transition of juvenile wards from incarceration to community reentry while reducing the rate of recidivism.

For more information, please click here and here.

Orange County Historical Commission Appointment

The Board approved my nomination of Herbert Schwartz of Laguna Woods to serve as my appointee on the Orange County Historical Commission. The Commission is comprised of 15 members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, with three members for each Supervisorial District.

The Commission advises the Board of Supervisors and County Agencies/Departments regarding matters related to historic preservation and places, archaeo/paleo sites and policies, archives/historical records, historical publications and special events, and historic facilities.

For more information, please click here.


Ortega Highway Nighttime Bridge Demolition

On August 2 & 3, crews will perform nighttime work to demolish the south half of the Ortega Highway bridge. The bridge and portions of the I-5 freeway will be closed during the demolition. The construction will occur during the hours of 11:00 PM to 7:00 PM nightly. While most of the work is expected to be completed during the two nights, demolition activities may carry over into the next weekend if needed.

Please be advised that dates and times are subject to change due to unforeseen operational factors and inclement weather. The bridge must be demolished in order to accommodate improvements on the I-5 / Ortega Highway interchange.

In order to complete the demolition and ensure public safety, the following nighttime closures will take place on Friday, August 2 between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM; and Saturday, August 3 between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM:
  • Ortega Highway bridge over the I-5 freeway
  • Northbound I-5 freeway at Ortega Highway
  • Southbound I-5 freeway at Ortega Highway
Other closures include the northbound and southbound I-5 freeway on-ramps, which will not be accessible to local traffic during the bridge demolition. Only traffic that is being detoured off the freeway will be directed to use the on-ramps. Motorists traveling on Ortega Highway wishing to access the freeway will be directed to use either Camino Capistrano or Junipero Serra Road.

During demolition activities while the Ortega Highway bridge is closed, the pedestrian walkway on the north half of the bridge will also be closed to the public.

Please click here for recommended detours. For more information, please click here.

2014 Long-Range Transportation Plan

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is preparing the 2014 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), which will be the agency’s input into the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) 2016 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and contribute to the anticipated 2015 Orange County Sustainable Communities Strategy. A 2035 baseline scenario is also under development to provide context and aid the discussion of key policy issues.

On Monday, the OCTA Board of Directors engaged in a discussion about these key policy issues. Staff intends to use feedback from the OCTA Board in conjunction with previously identified goals and objectives to develop strategies for guiding future transportation investments within Orange County. It is anticipated that the resulting strategies will be presented to the Board between fall 2013 and winter 2014.

To view the staff report, please click here.

Short-Range Transit Plan Focuses On Enhancing Service

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors reviewed the Short-Range Transit Plan for 2013, which sets the direction on changes that could be made to the fixed-route bus system and how future resources will be allocated through 2017.

The goals for the short-range transit plan include measures to support:
  • Financial sustainability
  • Safe, courteous, reliable and effective service
  • Transit that serves different markets
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Economic development
Top priorities for the plan include addressing increasing passenger loads and on-time performance issues, as well as decreasing overcrowded bus conditions and regulating improvements proposed in the Transit System Study.

The next steps will be to finalize the plan based on input from the OCTA Board, develop maintenance recommendations for the October service change, and regularly update the plan once implemented.

State Route 241 Tesoro Extension Project Update

On July 19, at the direction of the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (F/ETCA) Board of Directors, the F/ETCA filed an appeal with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) for review of the decision made by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB), which denied the water quality permit for the Tesoro Extension Project of State Route 241.

F/ETCA was seeking a permit to build a 5.5 mile extension from its current terminus at Oso Parkway to Cow Camp Road near Ortega Highway. The appeal petition requests the SWRCB issue the water quality permit for the Tesoro Extension Project that was proposed and recommended by the staff of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB).

The permit recommended by the SDRWQCB staff required the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) meet more stringent water quality requirements than have been required of any highway in the state. The requirements included a state-of-the-art storm water runoff treatment system and numerous other measures.

The staff testified at the public hearing that the mitigation measures proposed by TCA were above and beyond typical mitigation measures by proposing a mitigation ratio of fifteen to one for the four tenths of an acre of impacts to state waters. The standard requirement is a mitigation ratio of three to one for four tenths of an acre. The permit recommended by staff also included rigorous monitoring and enforcement provisions.

If approved, the 241 Tesoro Extension will provide much needed traffic relief as a stand-alone project to South County. The appeal petition asserts that in denying the permit last month, the SDRWQCB failed to adopt any findings required by law and acted in excess of its jurisdiction at it based its denial on reasons unrelated to water quality.

The appeal will be heard in the next few months, at which time I will update you on the status.


DUI Enforcement Operations in South County

Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s DUI Task Force will deploy this weekend to stop and arrest alcohol and drug-impaired drivers in the Department’s ongoing traffic safety campaign.

DUI Saturation Patrols will deploy Friday, July 26 at 7:00 PM until Saturday, July 27 at 3:00 AM in the cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. These patrols will be targeting areas with high frequencies of DUI collisions and/or arrests.

In addition, the Laguna Police Department will be conducting a DUI/Drivers License Checkpoint on Friday, July 26 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 8:00 PM to 3:00 AM. Officers will be evaluating drivers passing through the checkpoint for signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment as well as proper licensing.

For more information, please click here and here.

Opportunity Crimes: Don't Make It Easy!

A large percentage of crimes fit into the category of "opportunity crimes." A potential “would-be” thief (not necessarily a career criminal) may see something they want and the opportunity to steal it. This, combined with a high probability of getting away with the item, is often too tempting to pass by.

To view important tips from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on how to avoid being a victim of an "opportunity crime," please click here.


Tobacco Fact Sheet: Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs), known officially as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), are devices designed to look similar to cigarettes in shape, size, and general appearance. The tips of these devices often have an indicator light to emulate the burning ash of a traditional cigarette. They operate by vaporizing a solution containing nicotine, creating a mist that is then inhaled. Using an e-cigarette is commonly referred to as “vaping.”

E-cigarette companies advertise their products as a better-smelling, cheaper, and guilt-free alternative to smoking. They are also marketed as a way to circumvent some smoking bans. There is concern that e-cigarettes may appeal to youth because of their high-tech design, easy availability online or via mall kiosks, and the wide array of flavors of cartridges.

Recent studies suggest that e-cigarettes could also be worrisome regarding relapse of former smokers, the “re-normalization” of tobacco, and a gateway for cigarettes. Additionally, it is thought that e-cigarettes can contribute to further tobacco use by allowing smokers to use nicotine despite ever-increasing smoking bans (dual use).

To view an eCigarette Fact Sheet the Orange County Health Care Agency uses in its education and outreach efforts, please click here.


South Orange County Water Education Special Event

Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), and the project partners of the Doheny Ocean Desalination Project invite you to a special South County water education event Friday, August 9.

Stop by the Doheny Ocean Desalination Pilot Plant, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, in Dana Point between 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM for a tour of the Doheny Desal Project, an award winning ocean desalination pilot project and groundbreaking water supply plan for Orange County’s future.

Tours will take approximately 30 minutes and will be conducted by project engineers who will guide participants through the ins and outs of the project. This team of leading experts will be available throughout the day to answer any questions.

For more information, please click here.

Eco Challenge Recycling Event Comes to Angel Stadium

OC Waste & Recycling has partnered with Goodwill of OC to host a special recycling event at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Saturday, August 10 from 8:00 AM to noon.

The first 300 cars to drop off three bags of gently used clothing, working and non-working electronics, or documents to shred will receive two free tickets to an Angels Baseball game this year! In addition, all cars will receive a free child admission coupon to Discovery Science Center to check out the Eco Challenge exhibit.

For more information, please click here.

Back to our Roots: Go Native

Gardens can enhance property values, attract wildlife, save energy, and be a great source of pride, enjoyment and value. Take time to plan your garden well and consider the benefits of a climate-appropriate plant palette.

In contrast to conventional landscaping practices, a climate-appropriate plant palette promotes balance with the environment while providing diverse and beautiful aesthetic qualities, with the added value of cost-effectiveness and a greater emphasis on site stewardship and resource efficiency.

For more information, please click here.



Please join OC Animal Care in celebrating all that is wonderful about cats during their Catopia celebration Saturday, July 27 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at OC Animal Care, 561 The City Drive, in Orange.

FREE adoptions and goodies for all cat adopters! Limit two cats per household. Please note the free adoption does not include the cost of the microchip.

For more information, please click here.

July is Pet Tag Awareness Month at OC Animal Care

Only 6% of the 29,000 animals impounded at OC Animal Care in 2012 had some form of identification, such as a pet license, microchip, or name tag. Also in 2012, 61% of animals with a form of ID were returned to their owners versus only 8% of animals without identification.

OC Animal Care wants to help protect your pet! A license, microchip, or tag could be your pet's ticket home! Please visit their booth near the shelter entrance Saturday, July 27 to receive your free tag!

For more information, please click here.

South County Low-Cost Pet and Vet Clinics

San Juan Capistrano will host a low-cost vaccination clinic for dogs and cats from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM Wednesday, July 31, in the City Hall's back parking lot at 32400 Paseo Adelanto. For more information, please call the City at (949) 234-4565 or click here.

In addition, the City of Aliso Viejo’s Family Resource Center and Mission Viejo Animal Services Center are teaming up to host a low-cost Pet and Vet Clinic on Saturday, August 3 at the Iglesia Park Community Center in Aliso Viejo. The cash-only clinic will offer vaccinations and micro-chipping at discounted rates along with dog licensing from 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM. For more information, please click here.

PMMC Releases Healthy Sea Lions after Crisis Season

Laguna Beach's Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) will be releasing two recovered California sea lion patients, Grace and Evanora, back into the wild this weekend.

The two sea lions were found in San Clemente stranded and starving in February and March. They were part of the hundreds of malnourished and stranded sea lions that washed up on Orange County’s shores earlier this year.

From January through April, PMMC witnessed an increase in sea lion pups coming ashore, suffering from severe malnourishment and starvation. PMMC responded to more than 340 rescue calls, the most ever received by the non-profit. At their peak this year, PMMC was housing and caring for 167 sea lion pups at once.

For more information, please click here and here.


Under the Sycamores: Rattlesnake!

Join OC Parks and the Laguna Canyon Foundation on Saturday, July 27 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM for "Under the Sycamores" at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, as a local snake researcher introduces live Rattlesnakes, Gopher Snakes, Rosy Boas, and California Kingsnakes. Learn to identify rattlesnakes and find out what to do in case you encounter one on the trails.

All Under the Sycamores events are held outside at the sycamore grove in front of the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park ranger station. This event will be fun for the whole family. The event is FREE but parking is $3.00. Space is limited.

For more information and to sign up, please click here.


Positive Response Leads to More Saturday Hours

Responding to customer requests for more weekend hours, the Orange County Clerk-Recorder department will open Saturday, July 27, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at offices in Santa Ana, Fullerton and Laguna Hills.

Department offices at the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana, as well as branch offices in Laguna Hills and Fullerton, will be open to provide greater convenience for customers who are unable to conduct business during regular weekday hours. Parking will be FREE at all locations.

For more information, please click here.


Update from the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector

Last week, the Office of the Assessor completed their mailing of over 850,000 Secured Property Value notices for the 2013-14 fiscal year. These notices are sent to all property owners to indicate the value as of the January 1 lien date, as well as any exemptions listed for the property. The value on the notices will be the basis for calculating secured property taxes due for this fiscal year.

If you disagree with the value listed on the notice, you can file an application for a changed assessment (assessment appeal) with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. All applications must be filed by September 16. For more information, please call the Clerk of the Board at (714) 834-2331, extension 3, or click here to complete the form and print it to mail.

If you have any questions about the value of your property, please contact the Assessor at (714) 834-2727 or click here.

Since the TTC will be mailing secured property tax bills after the above September deadline, you must file your appeal prior to getting your tax bill in order for your appeal to be valid. Even if you file an appeal, you are required to pay the property taxes on time in order to avoid incurring any late penalties. If your appeal is granted, you will then receive a refund of taxes paid.

You should receive your secured tax bills in the mail by the end of October, and as soon as the Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector (TTC) starts mailing the secured tax bills, they will also be available online at ocgov.com/octaxbill.

Please consider “Going Green Electronically” and join thousands of other taxpayers by paying your property taxes using eCheck, the fastest growing form of payment and a FREE service offered by the TTC.

Taxpayer payments must be made by midnight on the last payment date to be considered timely at ocgov.com/octaxbill. The receipt, which you can receive by e-mail or print, is as valid as a receipt you receive in the TTC offices, as it is date stamped with the time and date of your payment.

If you have any questions, please e-mail the TTC at ttcinfo@ttc.ocgov.com or call a customer service representative at (714) 834-3411 Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM.


South County Students Thank Drug Education Deputies

Drug Use Is Life Abuse (DUILA) creates, trains and coordinates effective community responses to youth substance abuse and violence. DUILA is a program of the Orange County Sheriff’s Advisory Council.

The DUILA program serves mostly the schools inside of the contract cities of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, but it does not limit itself to those. Some of the education material that DUILA offers is actually put into the criteria for health education classes or supplements a health education course.

Foothill Ranch Elementary School has adapted this drug education program into its sixth grade curriculum. Students have the ability to gain critical information from the deputies regarding gateway drugs, drug abuse, gangs, and safety in the community and using technology. Students learn how to say no and avoid risky situations. Teachers say former students often mention the deputies and DUILA concepts as powerful influences in their lives.

In appreciation to the deputies' honest and caring approach, the children at Foothill Ranch Elementary made quilts as a “thank you” to the deputies that taught them about drug education. The quilts are currently exhibited near the Community Programs at the Orange County Sheriff Department's headquarters.

For more information, please click here.


Laguna Niguel: Summer Concert Series

The City of Laguna Niguel invites you to enjoy its Summer Concerts in the Park, featuring The Answer on Friday, July 26 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Crown Valley Community Park Amphitheater. FREE shuttle service available for every concert. For more information, please click here.

Mission Viejo: Pacific Symphony Summer Concert

Pacific Symphony offers something for everyone Saturday, July 27, beginning at 4:00 p.m. at "The Village Green" at Oso Viejo Community Park in Mission Viejo, as light pop, classical tunes and patriotic music will be featured. For more information, please click here.

Lake Forest: Pacific Symphony Summer Concert

Pacific Symphony returns to South County on Sunday, July 28, with classical tunes and patriotic music at Pittsford Park in Lake Forest, including pre-concert entertainment and a Musical Playground for Children at 5:30 PM. For more information, please click here.

Rancho Santa Margarita: Buster Balloon Show

Enjoyed by kids, parents and even teen siblings, Buster Balloon will perform at a FREE community family evening in Rancho Santa Margarita on Thursday, August 1 from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Bell Tower Regional Community Center. For more information, please click here.

Aliso Viejo: Summer Concert

Join the Aliso Viejo Community Association Sunday, August 4 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM for a summer concert at the Grand Park/Town Center Amphitheater featuring Joshua Tree (U2 Tribute Band). For more information, please click here.

San Clemente: 60th Annual Fiesta Street Festival

The 60th Annual San Clemente Fiesta Street Festival is set for Sunday, August 11. The Fiesta Street Festival starts at 9:00 a.m. and concludes at 7:00 p.m. on Ave. Del Mar in beautiful San Clemente. For more information, please click here.

Laguna Beach: Art Festival Season

Laguna Beach’s world famous summer art festival season runs daily through September 1. For information on the Festival of Arts / Pageant of the Masters, please click here. For information on the Sawdust Art Festival, please click here. For information on Art-A-Fair, please click here.


In addition to my many meetings, briefings, and other supervisorial activities, I also:
  • Participated in the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Board of Directors meeting.
  • Met with Sharon Ellis, CEO Habitat for Humanity of OC to discuss future projects in the 5th District.
  • Received a briefing from the Orange County Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Susan Novak.
  • Chaired the Orange County Coastal Coalition meeting. More on this in next week’s newsletter.
  • Adjourned the Board of Supervisors meeting in memory of Walter Wood of Laguna Woods and Joyce Saltzgiver of Mission Viejo.

My office also:
  • Attended the Mental Health Board meeting.
  • Attended the I-405 Supplemental Draft Environmental Import Report/Environmental Impact Statement Public Hearing.

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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