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Our partners at PBS SoCal came out Thursday with the third installment of their investigation into an alleged kickback scheme among a now-defunct athletic supply company and high school coaches from throughout Southern California.

Voice of OC’s Tracy Wood caught up with OCTA CEO Will Kempton, who said he has no problem with the Orange County Business Council auditing OCTA operations. He just wishes he had documentation of OCTA finance head Andrew Oftelie recusing himself from the selection process after he learned that his father, Stan Oftelie, would be on the Business Council audit team.

And in case you missed it yesterday, check out Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr.’s visit, along with The Register’s Teri Sforza and the OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano, to Larry Mantle’s AirTalk on KPCC (89.3 FM).

Other news from around the world of OC government and politics …

Register columnist Barbara Venezia teams with reporter Jaime Lynn Fletcher on the revelations that Huy Pham, the Costa Mesa worker who killed himself at City Hall, had cocaine in his system. The Daily Pilot’s Joe Serna has this dispatch.

Trying to patch up its Latino problem, the OC GOP taps the nation’s first female Latina governor (from New Mexico) for its annual Flag Day dinner.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is fighting to make it legal for his constituents to break out their bongs. Meanwhile, the OC Weekly reports that Newport Beach is going after medical pot clubs.

The Register’s Brian Joseph has a fascinating exposé on a glitch in state computers that let dangerous criminals go unmonitored.

Garden Grove’s Crystal Cathedral is apparently up for sale.

Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch holds a community coffee and talks about the workforce.



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The Orange City Council is moving ever closer toward a development deal for one of the last significant tracts of open space in the city, which, as Tracy Wood reports, means that residents opposed to the development are moving toward a referendum.

State Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) thinks more cities should be in the rotation for seats on the Orange County Transportation Authority board. OCTA board members, however, think things should stay just as they are.

And tune in this morning between 11:30 and noon to Larry Mantle’s AirTalk on KPCC (89.3) and hear our own Norberto Santana Jr., along with the Register’s Teri Sforza and the Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano, talk about OC’s top stories.

Now for some other news worth noting in local politics and government …

Republican presidential contender heads to OC.

OC grand jury touts sheriff’s jail rehab programs.

Laguna Hills cuts health benefits for elected officials.

Dozen Capistrano Unified School District workers get pink slips.

La Habra resident does his own tribute to fallen military heroes.

Frank Mickadeit talks to Costa Mesa public employee Billy Folsom about outsourcing in Costa Mesa.

Man pleads guilty in threat against Villa Park Councilwoman Deb Pauly.

Costa Mesa budget relies too much on sales taxes, consultant warns.

Newport Beach studies methods for balancing budget.

LA-based gaming machine company sues Garden Grove for confiscated machines.

UCI Muslim students head to court in DA action over interruption of Israeli ambassador.



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Without further ado, the OC Morning Report …

Prison work programs shrink as population explodes.

Dana Point considers banning sex offenders from local parks.

Capistrano Unified fights district attorney on alleged Brown Act violations.

Local firefighters preparing for blaze season.

Newport Beach studies cost cutting on budget.

Costa Mesa presents preliminary budget at public workshop.

Police helicopter program mired in local politics.

Documenting Mexican-American baseball in OC.



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Voice of OC is full of unanswered questions today.

Norberto Santana is still looking for the 75 county managers and executives who received raises while budgets were being slashed. And Adam Elmahrek is searching for Larry Agran’s backup plans for the Great Park.

One thing we do know is that the Orange County grand jury is impressed with how county social workers have performed during hard times.

Here are some other items of interest today in OC politics and government …

Tony Rackauckas wants OC to be first in line in the Toyota litigation.

Former OC Treasurer Chriss Street loses bid in court to clear his name.

FBI releases crime stats for OC.

OC law enforcement focuses on Vietnamese coffee houses.

Disney imposes a labor contract on hotel workers.

Frank Mickadeit hangs out with atheists.

Santa Ana battle with hotel owner intensifies.



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Should a father be allowed to review the work of his son? That is the central question in Tracy Wood’s story today on how OCTA chose an “independent” auditor for a review of its $12-billion transportation improvement program.

Should the Orange County GOP be returning more of the fire from the unions in the Costa Mesa outsourcing battle? Norberto Santana Jr. talked to a few Republicans who are leaning that way.

Some other local politics and government news from a world that didn’t end after all …

Jim Newton in the LA Times slams Irvine officials over progress of the Great Park.

Former Orange Unified School District Trustee Steve Rocco, or the “Beanied One” as dubbed by OC Register Columnist Frank Mickadeit, is back … in court.

California’s moving toward a popular vote for president.

California legislators debate giving localities more ability to tax.

Japanese-American former internees receive honorary degrees from Santa Ana College.

Costa Mesa City Council agrees to help fund after-school programs.

Costa Mesa Task Force tackles homelessness problem.



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So, how many Great Park consultants does it take to do a public-private partnership?

Our Adam Elmahrek went to the Great Park Board of Directors meeting Thursday and found that the board has not one, but two high-priced consultants to help it generate such partnerships. And that just some of the fun it is having with no-bid consulting contracts.

  In other, non no-bid contract, news…

OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxely looks at corruption at Newport Beach PD and lawsuit filed by detectives against department.

OC Watchdog delves into the world of red light cameras.

Orange County’s Homeland Security funding slashed.

Daily Pilot examines firefighter overtime in Newport Beach.

OCEA Chief Nick Berardino comes under fire for comments made at California Democratic convention.



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The scathing report from the Orange County performance auditor (which we alerted you to last week) on the county’s human resources department landed Wednesday.

Judge denies labor request for temporary restraining order in Costa Mesa layoffs but sets hearing in July. The Register, and the Daily Pilot both filed reports. 

State Assembly passes legislation opposing private sector sale of OC Fairgrounds.

City of Brea quietly cuts pensions for new hires.

Court considers sanctioning DA’s office in school district case.

Cities across Orange County considering pension changes.

State Assemblyman Chris Norby and wife have a new son.

And finally, a tribute to the late Register editorial writer Alan Bock.



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Costa Mesa officials Tuesday released a much anticipated preliminary budget Tuesday. But, as our Norberto Santana Jr. reports, they didn’t release much.

Santana also filed this dispatch on the escalating Brown Act battle over the secret deliberations between the Costa Mesa councilmen who formulated the city’s outsourcing plan. The Orange County Register and the Daily Pilot also filed reports on this issue.

In other news from in and around the world of Orange County politics and government…

Judge orders pension systems to disclose payments to pensioners.

Martin Wisckol looks at GOP chieftan Mike Schroeder’s intraparty election loss.

Frank Mickadeit looks at the life of Judge David Sills.

Judge clears Los Alamitos City Council in trash company contract allegations.

Costa Mesa finds bidder for helicopter program canceled in budget. Here  and Here.



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Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido again draws questions about a business relationship. This time it’s with a green energy entrepreneur who has been accused in lawsuits of being a scam artist and who embarked on a failed project with Anaheim. Read part two of our series here.

Costa Mesa employees, tired of waiting for the Costa Mesa City Council to rescind their layoff notices, file suit in hopes that a judge will.

And then there was Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revise…

State revenues higher than expected.

Gov. Brown works on GOP to extend taxes.

Gov. Brown adds $3 billion to schools.

School districts urged to stick with pink slips.

Register columnist urges activism on closing proposal for state parks.

And if the state budget is not enough for you, Orange County unveiled its budget.

And if both the state and county budgets aren’t enough for you, here is some other news…

State workers got huge payouts for unused leave.

Court decision could force local pension systems to reveal names and payouts for public pensioneers.

U.S. Forest Service reopens 98K acres of land in the Angeles National Forest, closed over the last two years since the Station fire.

Laguna Beach city officials target of lawsuit from family of man shot by police.



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What do you get when you cross an entrepreneur with a past full of lawsuits and a city that skimps (at least in one instance) on background checks? Our Adam Elmahrek investigates Anaheim’s green deal gone bad.

So maybe we can get kids to put down the Cheetos and get off the couch. Our Tracy Wood reports on an effort by The California Endowment to combat obesity in Santa Ana schools that is so far paying dividends.

And speaking of Tracy Wood, she was among a group of Vietnam era war correspondents that gathered in Westminster this weekend to share recollections.

The saga of Costa Mesa’s privatization plan has taken yet another turn. Now there is a flap over a meet-and-greet among public safety workers that was cancelled. Voice of OC’s Norberto Santana Jr. has this report, and the Daily Pilot has this report.

Here are some other blips on our OC politics and government radar screen this morning…

Jerry Brown not giving up on tax hikes to help balance the state budget.

Atheist groups host regional conference in Irvine.

NRC finds flaws in emergency training at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

OC Watchdog looks into special-district director pay, and health benefits.

San Juan Capistrano City Council agenda this week includes a city manager contract, open space, bonds, and a potential Home Depot.

Rancho Santa Margarita City Council approves townhome project.

Additional layoff notices in Costa Mesa. The Register and the Daily Pilot  weigh in.



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PBS SoCal’s David Nazar updates us on his investigation into the alleged kickback scheme involving the former owner of a local sports apparel and equipment company and dozens of high school coaches from throughout Southern California.

And the rest of the notable news in local politics and government…

LA Times Tony Barboza writes about coastal review permits and fireworks in South County.

Teachers’ union president arrested in Sacramento during protest.

City Council health benefits cut in Laguna Hills and Tustin.

Jeff Overley writes about $200K Lifeguards in Newport Beach.

Jon Cassidy at the Register updates the situation on the OC Fairgrounds.

Michael Gardner helps California tackle checkbook accounting.

Barbara Venezia takes on Costa Mesa over cancelation of police and fire event.

Costa Mesa Mayor Gary Monahan takes on State Assemblyman Jose Solorio over Fairgrounds.

More layoff notices in Costa Mesa.

Daily Pilot looks at the Fairgrounds hearing.



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Voice of OC’s open government consultant, Terry Francke, is taking aim at the Costa Mesa City Council’s working groups. He says the working groups, most notably the one that came up with the city’s controversial outsourcing plan, violate the Brown Act.

In other Costa Mesa news, Councilman Stephen Mensinger was cleared by the Orange County District Attorney in his altercation with a local teacher.

Our Tracy Wood writes the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of California’s troubled high-speed rail project. Now, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office says the $43-billion project should be taken over by Caltrans.

And Wayne Quint, longtime head of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, is moving on.

In other news from around the county:

Monte Ward’s OCTA salary and pension in excess of $211,000 draws attention.

The Orange County Register’s Ron Campbell examines Census data showing that OC’s asian communities are growing.

The Register’s Martin Wisckol looks at the sentiment among OC’s congressional delegation on bringing the troops home from abroad.

California Watch looks at immigration checks.

Barbara Venezia looks at the Orange County Fairgrounds saga.

Costa Mesa Mayor takes aim at state assemblyman over fairgrounds.

San Juan Capistrano gets a new city manager.



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Here are the Orange County politics and government stories worth a read this morning:

Gay activists want OC Supervisors to recognize Harvey Milk Day next week.

OCEA event at the Orange County Hall of Administration celebrates the demise of Osama Bin Laden.

Sheriff Department rents out more beds.

Daily Pilot weighs in on spiraling costs of John Wayne Airport generator.

Garden Grove bans nudity at Vietnamese coffeehouses.

OC Watchdog looks at public worker retirement patterns.

San Clemente bans alcohol sales at sports park.



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Our Norberto Santana, Jr. has got the inside skinny on a performance audit of the county’s human resources department that will be landing soon. It doesn’t look pretty.

Santana also reports on a legislative hearing in Sacramento this week on the fate of the OC Fairgrounds that is preceding an appellate court hearing in Santa Ana. As usual with the Fairgrounds, emotions are high.

Tracy Wood previews a hearing by the Orange County Supervisors on how they will allocate federal funds for homeless people. She also previews the hearing at Orange City Council tonight on the proposed Orange Park Acres Development.

In other news:

California teacher union activists and educators head to Sacramento.

Nearly 300 rally in Fullerton for Brown’s tax extension plan.

Santa Ana names Police Chief Paul Walters to take over as city manager.

High Speed Rail gets federal funds.

Water district general manager salary.

OC Register Teri Sforza outlines 75 special districts across OC.

Kim Edds looks at issues regarding sex offenders.

Daily Pilot looks at Newport Beach budget.

The Liberal OC has a report from last week’s redistricting hearing.



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PBS SoCal’s David Nazar and Nick Gerda continue to find more coaches involved in an alleged kickback scheme orchestrated by the former owner of a now defunct sports apparel and equipment company.

We’ve got their latest dispatch.

In other news…

Our Adam Elmahrek previews this week’s Irvine City Council meeting where Councilman Jeff Lalloway will propose a ban on registered sex offenders in parks similar to the one the Orange County Supervisors passed last month.

The Register’s Kimberly Edds reports on the new addition to the fifth floor of the Orange County Hall of Administration: Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s baby boy, Tommy.

The Register also reports on District Attorney Tony Rackauckas hitting Capistrano Unified School District for its repeated violations of open meetings laws.

The Register’s Martin Wisckol writes about the county’s new audit system for elections that could make recounts even rarer than they already are.

The Daily Pilot looks at John Wayne Airport’s $30 million electricity generator.

Both the Daily Pilot and the Register report on the Orange County Employees Association’s latest in Costa Mesa. As part of a new campaign it dubs “Waste Watchers,” OCEA dings the City Council for buying expensive nameplates.

Newport Beach City Council holds a study session Tuesday to look at $9.2 million in cuts for the next fiscal year budget. The LA Times’ OC Now section has this report.



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We have an active Friday morning, with dispatches on a frayed city council in Costa Mesa, a hot dog party to celebrate the end of Bin Laden, Gov. Jerry Brown’s issue with rising sales taxes and yet another controversy regarding a Muslim leader.

Our Norberto Santana, Jr. takes a look at how the intense scrutiny faced by the Costa Mesa City Council since it embarked on its unprecedented outsourcing plan is starting to show in the interactions among council members.

The Orange County Employees Association is bringing out its hotdog wagon and inviting OC luminaries over for a celebration of the killing of Osama Bin Laden by a team of Navy Seals.

Muslim leader gets county human relations award after sustained protests from some conservative leaders.

Voice of OC board member Dan Weintraub partners with the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gardner to take a look at Gov. Brown’s tax plans amidst rising revenues.

California’s version of the immigration bill known as the Dream Act passes State Assembly.

The 73 toll road gets a 6-year extension.

Public workers in Buena Park under investigation for theft.

Pay cuts on the horizon for teachers at Capistrano Unified.



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Today’s Voice of OC’s shows the power of partnership, with PBS SoCal reporter David Nazar’s expose into a slush fund that allegedly steered money from a local sports apparel company to local high school coaches across Orange County.

In other news:

The local GOP censures central committee member Marilyn Davenport for forwarding a racist email about President Obama to other committee members.

The state redistricting commission takes public testimony in Santa Ana on Friday.

The Daila Llama speaks in Irvine.

Meanwhile, atheists put up a billboard that solicits non-believers in Westminster, the first city in Orange County to display “In God We Trust” across their city council dais.

The Daily Pilot reportes on Costa Mesa City Council approving upwards to $180,000 to modernize its development services department.

Also in the Daily Pilot is a story on the death of Assemblyman Allan Mansoor’s bill aimed at stripping public employee unions of their right to collectively bargain for pension benefits.

Santa Ana orders demolition of the historic but shuddered Saddleback Inn on First Street.

Placentia joins the federal government’s immigration screening program for employees.

State signing up seniors for food stamps.

Lake Forest parents say closing an elementary school primarily used by Latino students is racist.

Laguna Niguel bans pot dispensaries.



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Welcome to the OC Morning Report. We’ve got controversies in Santa Ana over the Yost Theater and the impounding of cars, a hiring local initiative, a financial crisis in San Juan Capistrano and fireworks at Costa Mesa City Council that this time aren’t just metaphorical.

Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek visits the debate raging on Santa Ana’s Fourth Street over whether the new operators of the historic Yost Theater should be able to serve alcohol when they reopen this summer as a concert venue.

And Norberto Santana, Jr., checks in with the Orange County Fair Board and their new program for hiring local kids for summer work at the Fair. The idea comes from Costa Mesa Councilman Stephen Mensinger.

The Orange County Register’s Andrew Galvin reports on immigrant rights activists who came to Santa Ana City Council to speak out about the city’s practice of impounding cars of unlicensed drivers who are caught in DUI checkpoints.

The Register’s Brittany Levine keeps up with the deteriorating financial situation in San Juan Capistrano. City Council voted Tuesday to cut $7.5 million from its budget as a ratings agency downgrades its bonds to “A” from “AA.”

Also in the Register is a Fred Swegles piece on a beautification project in San Clemente that might have become a safety hazard.

OC Watchdog Teri Sforza reports that a recent San Diego legal decision has put retiree health care benefits up for debate.

The OC Watchdog also looks into the politics on consolidation when it comes to water.

Joseph Serna at the Daily Pilot reports on fireworks at Costa Mesa City Council over whether Fourth of July fireworks should be sold in the city a day earlier than normal.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that California officials have backed off a drive to resume executions this year, asking a federal judge to delay until at least January his review of revised lethal injection procedures.

The delay means the state will have gone at least six years without executing any condemned prisoners, who now number 713.



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Although the media in Orange County and everywhere else continued to be dominated Monday by reactions to Osama bin Laden’s death, other local news did get reported, in fact, quite a bit.

Voice of OC’s Tracy Wood comes with the latest from the county’s Ending Homelessness 2020 Board. Things are “complicated” on the board, which still hasn’t found an executive director to lead the initiative.

Wood also checks on the $75 million bond deal struck by the city of Anaheim and billionaire Henry Samueli when they thought the NBA’s Sacramento Kings were coming to town. That deal died when the Kings decided to stay put, at least for a year.

The Liberal OC has a fascinating take on the calendars for Orange County supervisors. Funny how something so simple as a request for a calendar seems to have triggered numerous legal reviews.

Geoff West over at the Bubbling Cauldron blog in Costa Mesa has some fun combing through the new “warrants” feature the City of Costa Mesa just launched, a bit like looking at someone’s check registry.

West does an excellent job of connecting potential dots figuring that the city may have spent $137K to settle a lawsuit for $40K. He’s also got an interesting take on City Councilman Jim Righeimer’s bid to expand fireworks sales in Costa Mesa at Tuesday’s council meeting as well as a probing look at the transition at City Hall.

The Daily Pilot spilled quite a bit of ink this morning on profiles of Costa Mesa Councilman Steven Mensinger and local teacher Joel Flores, whom, as you might recall, went at each other over the city’s outsourcing plan a couple weeks ago after a fun run held in the city.

Lauren Williams’ piece on Mensinger alternately quotes people who describe him as a dedicated volunteer in the community and others who say he can be a bully.

Joseph Serna, meanwhile, filed a largely glowing portrait of Flores, who teaches at Estancia High School and has become aligned with the group that is fighting the outsourcing plan.

In other Costa Mesa news, Williams writes that the city announced plans to hold weekly public meetings on the budget.

The LA Times is all over the fact that the Cal State Senate can’t agree that felons shouldn’t get a pension.

The Times also reports that the state Democratic Party is pondering whether to try to focus on places like Orange County?

The Orange County Register’s Randy Youngman says Kings fans shouldn’t go overboard in celebrating the decision by the NBA team’s owners to stay another year in Sacramento. He says its unlikely that the cash-strapped city will produce a new arena or anything else that will keep the team for the long term.

Resident Register Watchdog Teri Sforza writes about the redundant water districts of Orange County — the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County — perhaps trying to shed some of their redundancies.

The Register’s Claudia Koerner has an interesting look at Laguna Beach’s attempt to control outdoor lighting with an ordinance.

Richard Chang reports that the director of the Laguna Beach Art Museum has resigned.

And if all that isn’t enough, the Dalai Llama will visit UC Irvine on Wednesday.



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The news this morning is, of course, dominated by the death of Osama bin Laden.

The Orange County Register reports on the reactions of local residents — some who celebrated by shooting their guns — and reactions from the Orange County congressional delegation.

Voice of OC’s Tracy Wood files a dispatch on a local homeless advocate’s anger over Santa Ana’s policy of denying library cards to people who do not have a permanent address in the city. The policy is especially hard on homeless men.

Norberto Santana, Jr. gives an update on the lobbying effort by Orange County Superior Court judges to keep their Cadillac health plans that come courtesy of the county.

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that the NBA Kings will stay in Sacramento for at least one more year.

The Register’s Kimberly Edds and Jeff Overley report on Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ efforts to enforce a law passed earlier this year that bans registered sex offenders from parks.

The Daily Pilot’s Joseph Serna keeps us up to date on the latest news coming out of Costa Mesa. First, he provides documentary proof that the Repair Costa Mesa campaign, which is fighting the city’s massive outsourcing plan, is being run by the Orange County Employees Association.

Serna also reports on claims by the Costa Mesa police union that as many as 20 officers are in the process of leaving the department, with a principle reason being that they fear layoffs.

The Register’s Tony Saavedra reports on a decision by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to keep allowing state firefighters to count “extended duty” toward their pensions.

Finally, Teri Sforza gives us more examples of the fat pay and benefit packages that taxpayers pay to public executives.



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