John Moorlach and His Long Shots

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Photo by: Violeta Vaqueiro)

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach (Photo by: Violeta Vaqueiro)

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I chuckled with everyone else at last month’s Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting when Supervisor John Moorlach led the invocation and asked the Lord to favor the Netherlands (Moorlach is proud of his Dutch heritage) in its David-and-Goliath quarterfinal matchup against Brazil in the World Cup.

We all know what happened.

“Who’s laughing now,” said Moorlach after I reminded him of the prayer.

Moorlach said he has a similar feeling regarding the county’s lawsuit against the Orange County deputies union. The suit argues that the retroactive pension hike that sheriff’s deputies received in 2001 was unconstitutional.

County supervisors lost badly in a Los Angeles court on the issue, and many observers, including Attorney General Jerry Brown, don’t think it’s a winnable case.

That may be true. But there was another time when people said Moorlach was way off.


Moorlach made his political name that year after waging a long-shot campaign against Orange County Treasurer/Tax Collector Bob Citron criticizing his risky investments. Many publications, supervisors and rating agencies sided with Citron and called Moorlach a nut.

But after the county went bankrupt in 1994, Moorlach went from nutty to very electable. The former CPA was appointed as treasurer/tax collector the following year and stayed in office more than a decade before running for supervisor in 2006 on a platform of criticizing public employee pensions.

“I’ve got a pretty good winning streak on a few key issues,” Moorlach said.

Supervisors have spent more than $1 million on the lawsuit and last year voted to appeal the case — heavily influenced by Moorlach and his former chief of staff, Mario Mainero (now a Chapman University law professor).

Both sides now are awaiting action by the state’s appellate court, and Moorlach insists that he likes his chances at the appellate level.

“I’m looking forward to this one on the retroactive. … Game on!”

Speaking of games, the Dutch are facing the Spaniards in Sunday’s World Cup final. As a Cuban-American with family roots in the Basque region and the Canary Islands of Spain, you can guess where my rooting interests lie.

Lucky for me, there’s no board meeting before the game, so the Dutch won’t have the benefit of another Moorlach invocation.

Update: Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 to take the World Cup. Sorry John.



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