Voice of Our Commentators

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Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Keeping the Drakodaidis Letter Secret

Another day, another excuse from the county.

First they blame the DA, then they block transparency by claiming the accusations [in a letter from Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis reportedly alleging wrongdoings by county supervisors and the district attorney] fall under personnel issues.

The more these guys try to cover up what is going on [in the Carlos Bustamante sex crimes scandal] , the more it’s clear how they share responsibility for what has happened. If there’s nothing to hide, then why are they all hiding?

— Stunned / July 18

Having some experience in this area, there is a tool at the county’s disposal called “redaction.” They must comply with the request for information and may redact any personal information in the letter, i.e. her personal address, contact information, Social Security information. The Voice of OC can go to court and get a court order for the release, and the county would be responsible for paying any costs involved, including attorney’s fees.

As reported in previous articles, she [Drakodaidis] is out on medical leave. I have not read anything that states she is a past employee. She may very well be fired at some point, but as of yet, she is out on medical leave.

— Cacityguy / July 18

Medical leave, my foot! She knows she’s next.

She thought Carlos could do no wrong. When anyone even suggested that Carlos was a liability, Alisa went after them. Now she’s throwing mud in an attempt to deflect the attention from her.

If she was Carlos’ boss, she should be fired for letting him continue his path of destruction.

— SoccerMom / July 14

The contents of the letter must be really damning for the county to perform such circus acrobatics to hide its contents. Maybe all the OC media organizations should join together in a lawsuit to compel them to release it. This looks more like a whistleblower complaint than a confidential personnel matter.

— The Real Joe Hill / July 18

Drakodaidis, a whistleblower? Are you kidding? This is a textbook example of C.Y.A. [cover your ass] by the most incompetent executive in county government.

The letter is political gossip, and that’s catnip to reporters like those at the Voice of OC. I get that.

But this site undermines its own credibility by taking her and her letter so seriously and without giving any consideration to the source.

— Clockwatchers Anonymous / July 18

It’s terrible that the big worry at the county management level is who will keep their jobs. Funny how no one in management seems to be worried about the real victims. Bustamante and those who covered for him make me sick!

— Anneliesesmeh / July 17

Orange Countians, follow this case to see your Republican Party at work. This letter contains more bombshells than Romney’s tax returns.

It’s being sequestered because it names names, and the names don’t like it. [Supervisor Pat] Bates doesn’t like it, the rest of the Board of Supervisors don’t like it, the DA doesn’t like it, his wife doesn’t like it, and the party doesn’t like seeing its dirty laundry exposed in public.

The DA doesn’t have any legal basis for seizing the letter, but the law doesn’t matter to these people when it gets in their way. They just ignore it.

Stay tuned. This should be fun.

— Lostinspace / July 17

The DA’s ‘Egregious’ Conduct

[Bustamante’s attorney, James D. Riddet, asserted,] “Can there be any doubt that this conduct has had the expected result of tarnishing Mr. Bustamante as a sexual offender of the worst sort?”

That’s what prosecutors do, Mr. Riddet. The DA did the same with [Fullerton Police Officer Manual] Ramos in the Kelly Thomas murder, and the DA did the same with [Itzcoatl] Ocampo, who slaughtered a group of homeless men with a hunting knife. Why should Bustamante get a pass? Because he was a government executive or a city councilman?

From what I’ve read there are at least seven victim witnesses who were Bustamonte’s underlings. Are they all lying, Mr. Riddet? If so, give us the details. We are willing to listen to the other side.

But don’t cry “foul” without offering some exculpatory evidence. The court of public opinion appears to believe Bustamonte is a bad guy. Change our opinion. Tell us why the prosecutor is wrong. I am always open to new information. And I reserve the right to change my opinion when the facts change.

— Beelzebub / July 19

Forgive my naivete, Norberto [Santana Jr., editor-in-chief of Voice of OC], but why cannot this woman nor her attorney provide Voice of OC a copy of the letter? Seems like if she is pissed off enough, a copy could mysteriously wind up in your mailbox.

— Praetor / July 18

Perhaps there needs to be a truly independent investigation and possible criminal prosecution by the federal government. We are talking about conspiring public officials, corruption and civil rights violations.

— Cassie / July 13

Term Limits for Santa Ana’s Mayor

When the people of the cities of Bell and Vernon realized that they had corrupt governments, one of the first remedies they applied was to institute term limits.

That guaranteed that a politician would not be in there so long as to find ways to manipulate the system and continue to rip off the public.

It also stands as proof that term limits are an important component to keeping elected individuals who choose to manipulate their position for their own purposes instead of the best interests of the public being served from staying in that office forever.

Elections are a commodity to be bought and sold by unions and special interests. A regular member of the public stands very little chance of being elected against an entrenched institution candidate supported by special interests. It’s not a level playing field.

For that reason, term limits are essential. They not only provide a means to potentially control corruption, but they ensure that more people will at least have the opportunity to participate in the election process and their own governance.

— Al Simmons / July 18

The Capistrano Unified School District had two recalls and voted out incumbents the last few years. Fullerton just recalled three council members. Four of the last eight U.S. presidents have failed to serve maximum terms — maybe five.

There you go: The voters can and do make changes without the need of term limits.

Where are your examples of how term limits have eliminated the power of special interests and unions and money? You have none.

People do not corrupt money, money corrupts people. So instead of using term limits to go after the people, use the tax code to go after the money. A gross receipts tax of 75 to 90 percent will stop that corrupting influence in its tracks.

I hope that if the ad hoc committee comes up with something that the required number of council members vote yes on, it will include more than one choice:

  • Leave as is, no changes.
  • New limits on mayor and the council.
  • Repeal all term limits on the council.

The one that gets the most votes prevails.

The voters should be the ones making the final determination, and that determination should be from multiple choices like the ones I have outlined.

— Robincook / July 16-17

Robin, what do you mean by term limits have had no effect? With the exception of the mayor, all other council seats have a had the necessary turnover needed to prevent council members from becoming career city politicians and establishing support that can’t be overcome by new candidates.

My proposal is different. I would prefer council members’ terms be three years instead of four and they could serve four consecutive three-year. The difference is it would require one additional election to give the people another chance to vote someone out.

I also would like to see a limit on the mayor’s seat. Not having a limit just basically says that we will allow someone to make a career out of one seat of office, which doesn’t make sense to me. I want turnover.

I don’t like organized groups or collectivism to outweigh individual rights. If there are no term limits and a council member has the backing of unions, explain to me how that person would ever be voted out of office?

— Chris Lee / July 16

While I agree that term limits for state and federal officials have not served the public, they do a great deal to prevent corruption at the local level. City councils and the county Board of Supervisors should be the “citizen government,” not a place for despots to park and gain power. [Santa Ana Mayor Miguel] Pulido gains half his votes simply from his incumbency, not because he is popular with the people. He knows this, and it allows him to build his power base in a volunteer job.

Term limits give the people a necessary break. If he is that popular, he will be voted back in to office when his “break time” is up. That way, the people truly decide.

What you really need to watch here is that the City Council does not extend or do away with term limits for themselves, which is what I suspect they will try.

— Keepdapeace / July 14

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Voice of Our Commentators

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Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Click on each topic’s headline to see the article.

Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

County Public Works Chief Fired

Somebody make the popcorn, because this is going to be a great show!

The finger pointing begins. [Former Public Works Director Jess] Carbajal will probably file a claim with the county within the week, followed by a nice wrongful-termination lawsuit.

What a sad ending to Supervisor [Bill] Campbell’s career. He needs to do the right thing: Stop protecting [County CEO Tom] Mauk and clean house, starting with Mauk, then No. 2 Rob Richardson, who apparently was busy deleting videos of [former county Public Works executive Carlos] Bustamante groping in elevators and stairways on county property.

This is the scandal that will show Southern California how corrupt this county truly is. The supes talk a great game, but when it comes down to it, they will stall and protect their pals till the end.

Well, the end is finally here.

— Cacityguy / July 10

Bates as Swing Vote on Firing County CEO

[Supervisor Pat] Bates wants [Supervisor Bill] Campbell on her side if she is going to raise money, pay off campaign debts and run for office again. He has much influence with the Republican machine.

Support for firing Mauk would kill his support for her. By diverting attention from Mauk’s role in covering up Bustamante’s action and leaving county staff and others exposed to his actions for a much longer time, Campbell gives Bates a way out.

Unless Bates is bombarded with extremely bad press, Mauk will be allowed to negotiate his own severance package, including when he will leave, how much severance he will get, immunity from consequences of his decision not to act on the report [on Bustamante].

Campbell, Nguyen and Bates will vote to approve it. The county will pay out plenty of money for damages for Mauk’s (and Supervisor Campbell’s) coverup by the time this is over.

— Tiredofit / July 10

Wolf In Charge of the Flock

Here’s how the county works:

Each year the chairman of the Board of Supervisors distributes a memo to every county employee restating the county’s policy against any form of workplace hostility, harassment or retaliation. The penalty is discipline up to and including termination.

At the same time the CEO, Human Resources, and county counsel aid and abet a known sexual predator in a senior management position for eight years. Such double standards do not go unnoticed by the county workforce.

Any person who follows the county’s established procedures to report wrongdoing or fraud is immediately labeled a whistle-blower. As such, department heads and the Human Resources Department initiate retaliation measures.

Such retaliation includes shunning, being placed on a do-not-promote list, harassment without fingerprints and veiled or explicit threats from county counsel attorneys. These measures are performed in a public manner so the person serves as an example to other would-be whistle-blowers.

The threat to Bustamante’s victims’ careers was very real. That’s how Bustamante knew he could intimidate his unwilling victims into silence for so many years. (By the way, not all were unwilling.) He saw that county senior management would protect him while attacking the victims.

Counter to all the rosy rhetoric by the Board of Supervisors, the county does not protect victims or do-gooders but rather singles them out for public harassment and retaliation.

— OC Bureaucrat / July 7 and 8

Nepotism in Anaheim

In defense of Connie-Jewel Eastman [Councilwoman Gail Eastman’s daughter-in-law and aide], she was [county Clerk-Recorder] Tom Daly’s aide long before her mother-in-law got elected. She knows the pitfalls, and her experience has kept Gail from being manipulated even more by political sharks like [Councilwoman Kris] Murray and the ghost of [former Mayor] Curt Pringle. Who would you want to be working at City Hall, a college intern?

Now in regards to Galloway’s aide, the free trip to Spain is just the tip of the iceberg. How may of the folks on the payroll of her “nonprofit” are being funded by those seeking political favor? That may be a story.

— Praetor / July 11

There is no story here. The assistant is a part-time employee, and the article clearly states the following:

The city’s current nepotism policy bans hiring relatives of council members. But the ban extends only to full-time employees, according to Human Resources Director Kristine Ridge.

And with respect to the entertainment tickets, the article also states that rewarding employees of the city is totally permissible. In fact, Councilwoman Galloway gives tickets away at each council meeting to the hard-working employees of the city of Anaheim (including her assistant).

With a city that is suffering from gang violence, a rising crime rate and unemployment, the drama this article attempts to create seems quite trivial and silly.

— Karate Kid / July 11

Council Districts for Anaheim

Council districts change nothing. It isn’t race that separates the candidates, it is money. And those who think that the little guy going door to door can out-campaign the special interests who have bought elections for decades are kidding themselves. You think the machine cannot find someone for sale they can run in your district?

What is worse, we have a council that uses its voting blocks to cut deals to punish each other. Do you trust them not to dump all the junk projects in your district because your council member didn’t go along with the program?

Right now if you think the hills people are voting to dump the bad projects in another area, you have the ability to vote them out. You lose that if you go to districts.

Flatlands Anaheim has way more voters than the hills. Get off your duffs and vote, outnumber the hills people and put good people in. But districts are not the way to do it.

— Cynthia Ward / July 12

Child Obesity

Counterintuitive, eh? The poorest ones are the fattest.

Only in America, only in America.

— Beelzebub / July 10

Turmoil at CalOptima

While the critical need for access to health care by OC citizens must remain the mission over the chronic malicious, senseless and childish disruption of CalOptima, why, oh, why doesn’t someone simply sue the pants off the person who is responsible?

It is inconceivable that one person should be allowed to do this much damage for no other reasons than revenge, delusions of grandeur and political ambition.

— Roslyn / July 12

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Voice of Our Commentators

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Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Mauk and Bustamante

I hear [County CEO Tom] Mauk is all but gone. Now comes the exit settlement. It’s all about greed. He should be fired, but he will walk with some serious cash, because that’s how its done when you’re at the top.

Mauk is the keeper of secrets, and they want to keep it that way. Nelson will be the lone dissenter for a big cash payout, because Mauk probably doesn’t have much dirt on him.

Mauk already gets a quarter million a year in retirement from La Habra, plus he will probably get at least that much from county retirement plus his 401(k) plus his severance package.

Does he really need more than $500,000 a year in retirement, all at taxpayer expense? Just remember, Board of Supervisors, whatever you pay him to leave, you will pay the victims of [Carlos] Bustamonte tenfold.

— Cacityguy / July 5

This is where the finger-pointing starts. I predict a huge golden parachute for Mauk “in the best interest of the county.” Hush money.

If Bustamonte goes down, all those who enabled and protected him should go down too. The “good ol’ boy club” needs to get dismantled.

— Beelzebub / July 5

Yes, Mauk knows a lot. He also knows how to squeeze an enormous severance package out of the Board of Supervisors in exchange for taking the fall.

The scary question is who does the Board of Supervisors have in mind for interim CEO? The entire senior management at the county knew about Bustamante’s behavior, so nobody is clean.

— OC Bureaucrat / July 5

I am the senior partner of Wallin and Klarich. Our law firm has been successfully defending persons accused of sex crimes for over 30 years.

I have read the news coverage pertaining to the recent arrest of Carlos Bustamante related to several sexual abuse charges. I am shocked that so many people are willing to convict this man when the case facts indicate that he may not be guilty of any crimes.

From my review of the article in The Orange County Register about this case, it appears that two of the four alleged victims strongly deny that they had sexual contact with Mr. Bustamante. If this turns out to be accurate information, then this will prove extremely helpful to his defense.

It was also reported in the Register article that Supervisor [John] Moorlach has stated: “We will do our best to make sure that management identifies this type of behavior sooner and deals with it. … We have to make sure it never happens again.”

These type of “rush to judgment” comments are exactly the reason that it is difficult for someone to receive a fair trial when he or she is accused of a sex offense. It is clear that Mr. Bustamante has emphatically denied his guilt, and already a fellow supervisor is concluding he is guilty by his statements above.

— Paul J. Wallin / July 3

I for one am shocked — shocked! Who knew [District Attorney] Tony Rauckacaus would prosecute a Republican?

Oh, a pig just flew by.

— Gericault / July 2

Good Deal for the Union, Bad Deal for the Initiative

Man, [Anaheim City Councilwoman] Lorri Galloway blew it. Someone gave her $60,000 to run a winning community initiative, and instead of picking up the ball and running with it (maybe to a future mayoral seat?), she complains that it wasn’t enough.

Give us all a break with your crocodile tears.

Voice of OC usually does a great job of getting to the bottom of things, but this thing reads more like TMZ than New York Times.

— Stunned / July 2

As an Anaheim employee, this story is insulting. We were the ones that stepped up over the years to help balance the budget, our jobs have been outsourced over and over again, and now we lead the city on pension reform, opening our contract to make all of this possible.

Thank you, Anaheim Municipal Employees Association, for negotiating a good deal!

— Anaheim Facts / July 2

There was community support for a recall but not for that marginal initiative.

Galloway did a great job in stopping a recall election by converting it into a doomed initiative.

— Anaheim Home / July 2

Doctor Shortage?

If there is a shortage of doctors, that is very easily solved.

There are plenty of doctors in other countries who are fully qualified to U.S. standards. Just issue a ton of green cards for them and put U.S. doctors in direct competition with their lower-priced, foreign competition.

It’s what the U.S. did to people who work in manufacturing. It’s what the U.S. did to engineers. It’s what the U.S. did to call-center workers. What’s so special about doctors?

One might start thinking that “free trade” isn’t really free trade at all and that some professions are magically protected from its effects while others get clobbered by it.

— Kburgoyne / July 2

ACLU Suit Over Minority Representation

The [Anaheim City] Council monopoly has nothing to do with race, trust me. If the power structure could find someone purple to give in to their demands, they would back them. This is not about skin color. It is about making sure those elected will do as they are told by those who put them in office.

I think council districts or wards would help the average citizen to run, but it does not stop the usual players from continuing to game the system. Instead of blanketing the city for their anointed candidates, they will divide the mailings to blanket the smaller districts.

The only way to get the elite to unclench their fists from around the throat of Anaheim is to get voters to pay attention to the special-interest money being spent instead of blindly electing the candidates backed by the Chamber of Commerce, by Support Our Anaheim Resort Area and by public safety.

Yeah, good luck with that.

— Cynthia Ward / June 29

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