Voice of Our Commentators

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Here is another roundup of some of the most thought-provoking reader comments of the week. Comments are selected by our editors and subject to editing for grammar, spelling, clarity and length.

Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.

Tom Daly Sexual Harassment Allegations

The public have a right to know if [former county CEO Tom] Mauk, the Board of Supervisors and department heads deliberately violated the EEO [Equal Employment Opportunity laws] for personal or political reasons. Is there a pattern of examples whereby individuals were transferred or promoted into positions across departments for which they were not and still are not qualified according to the position description? It’s that simple.

The taxpayers will be paying for these unqualified individuals for the rest of their natural lives due to their pensions.

I want to see some action from this Board of Supervisors. If this isn’t an abuse of taxpayer funds, I don’t know what is.

— OCservant-leadership / Aug. 29

Great. Disgruntled employees can get their revenge on bosses or colleagues and destroy or freeze their careers with these anonymous accusations.

If there is competition for a county position, what’s to stop one applicant from trying to knock out a competitor with an anonymous letter alleging sexual harassment?

This is going to make it impossible for the county to function or take innovative initiatives if this tactic catches on.

— Clockwatchers Anonymous / Aug. 24

Its interesting how some people try and deflect the emphasis away from the issues by bringing up the anonymous issue. Clearly, county management and the Board of Supervisors are a vindictive bunch, and people who try and raise issues are ostracized and alienated.

— Deepthroat / Aug. 28

For the last several years I have watched all the scandals and backroom deals as reported about the county of Orange. Based on what I’ve learned, if I were a line employee aware of wrongdoing or fraud within the agency, I would be very hesitant to inform my bosses of my observations. I’m sorry, Mom raised no dummy. I would fear retribution.

I mean, if it were just one scandal or two in the county it would be different. But there have been scores of scandals with the highest ranking officials in up to their necks.

You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to understand that it’s impossible to see so many management scandals in such a relatively short period of time for there not to be systemic dysfunction and corrupted practices in the heart of county operations.

— Beelzebub / Aug. 27

Not sure about the sexual harassment allegations, but there is no question about Daly using the county office for personal and political gains. Nine out of 10 employees hired by the agency since he became the clerk-recorder have been either his friends, friends’ friends, his wife’s friends, his friends’ kids or his kids’ friends.

Above all, most of these people are incompetent. It’s nepotism at its worst. Most of these favorite employees have been promoted to supervisory positions without having the skills to do the job.

Daly has spend a lot of county money promoting his name and image under the disguise of promoting the Orange County Archives and the clerk-recorder’s office. He has spent millions on getting useless software from vendors who have donated to his campaigns.

If some one were to look into the allegations of cronyism, it wouldn’t take much to sort things out.

— OneAndOnly / Aug. 27

Social Services Agency

It isn’t fair to blame the frontline workers who make 40 grand a year for decisions that are beyond their control. They are doing a tough job. I have seen workers thrown against walls by mentally ill clients and assist homeless clients with lice jumping off them with a smell that would knock you back 10 feet.

They have not had raises in six years, but their individual caseloads have risen by 300% or more. Give credit where it is due. Not many people would do that kind of work for that kind of lousy money.

However, the level of corruption and plain stupidity comes from the top down. Every worker who comes forward with hard evidence of embezzlement, fraud and waste is beaten down, destroyed and abused so badly, no one ever wants to come forward. If a worker at SSA expresses concern about the taxpayers, they are openly mocked and laughed at.

And I know for a fact that huge amounts of theft and fraud have been going on with gross negligence or the participation of workers, and the county will do nothing about it. Thieves are rewarded, and the good, honest workers who report it have their lives and careers destroyed.

Here is one example of how crazy SSA is:

Joe and Moe are both 23 years old. They live with roommates but buy their own food. Both were laid off by a business that closed in the recession. Both had their unemployment run out. Both are applying for food stamps.

Joe sits on his couch all day, smoking weed and watching television. He is making no attempt to improve his situation.

Moe enrolled in community college full time for a certificate program that will help him get a job in a field that is hiring.

Guess which one is eligible for food stamps? That’s right! If you are a student over half time in California and not working 20 hours a week, you cannot get food stamps. But since jobs are scarce, they got rid of the 20-hour work week for nonstudents.

That means that those who don’t go to work can sit around and do nothing but get food stamps, while students trying to better themselves can’t — a good example of what is wrong with this crazy system.

— Kate / Aug. 29

To clarify to all, the article was not talking about social workers. That is a whole other job title and pay scale. To be accurate, we are talking about eligibility technicians and employment and eligibility specialists.

They are the front line in Social Services. They meet and assist applicants and clients with food stamps, Cash Aid/CalWORKS, general relief and Medi-Cal. They see people at their lowest, most needy points of their lives. Most do not want to go to Social Services and apply for programs. It can be humiliating.

I have worked as an eligibility technician for seven years now, and I see how we do serve a need to the public — maybe not a service some folks believe in but a necessary one still. I may not be able to change some people’s view on Social Services but maybe just give some insight.

To you who will nit pick and criticize my words, I say too bad, I know the truth. We eligibility technicians may even see you someday, and we will serve you with a smile and a heart of caring and understanding. The majority of us are good, caring, conscientious workers.

— Myia2963 / Aug. 29

Twenty-four years ago I found myself going to Social Services for help. And they did help. I was on Cash Aid for four months and food stamps for six months while I adjusted to being a newly single mother and got a job to support my two children. (I was a stay-at-home mom until then). I never forgot the kindness I received from Social Services and appreciate that they did not seem to judge me.

So here is my belated “thank you” to people like Sandra, who were kind, and for the programs that were in place to help me those long years ago.

— JoyBear / Aug. 29

Anaheim’s ARTIC Terminal

OK, here we go again — another waste of your hard-earned dollars.

Let’s face it, this is California. The majority of the people do not want or use public transportation — never have, never will. I’ve heard about the high-speed train for 25-plus years now. Never going to happen. You want to add more public transportation? Put the old [Pacific Electric] Red Car line back in.

The Amtrak station that they just had to have doesn’t generate enough revenue to pay for itself. How do you think this is going to do?

Wake up, City Council. That money could help a lot in solving some of the decay happening in our city.

— Mikew95 / Aug. 29

Democrats Endorse Benavides for Santa Ana Mayor

All very healthy. [Democratic Party Chairman] Frank [Barbaro] has lost his grip on the party, and [Mayor Miguel] Pulido has lost his on Santa Ana.

Folks are getting excited about new leadership. It will be good for everybody.

— Truevoice / Aug. 29

The problem that Pulido faces — and Barbaro, if he’s signed on — is that with a 6-1 City Council majority against him, which looks likely, he’s lost much of his power as mayor anyway.

Maybe he thinks that he can divide and conquer nonetheless once the new term begins, but as soon as his terms are capped, he becomes a lame duck.

The barons on the council did a clever job of boxing in the king.

— Greg Diamond / Aug. 29

City Manager Endorses a Candidate

City Manager Paul Walters should not involve himself with endorsements of local candidates. He holds a high position of authority as city manager and needs to honor that position with a high degree of integrity.

Being talked into endorsing candidates is not part of his job. Walters should gracefully withdraw his endorsement and refrain from doing this in the future.

— Shirley Grindle / Aug. 27

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

Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.

Republican ‘Litmus Test’

This questionnaire is precisely what [Democratic Party Chairman Frank] Barbaro says it is, a litmus test. The Republicans want to know just how conservative candidates are so that they know who to support and who not to support. These questions are select which candidates will strictly abide by what the people at the top of the Republican Party want them to say and what issues to support.

It’s a shame that the Republican Party puts their candidates through a litmus test like this. If I were a Republican candidate, I would be scared to say the wrong thing in these questionnaires, because if they do, they won’t get any support from their party.

It really is a shame how out of touch the Republican Party is with the world today. The parties need to be able to work together, and a candidate that expresses interest in working together with elected officials from other parties should not be scolded or threatened for doing so. They should be commended for worrying about the overall good of the people which they represent.

— OCpoliticss / Aug. 20

Barbaro needs to get a grip. Ask him what the odds are of a pro-life Democrat getting the OC Democratic Party endorsement, and then ask him to go on about how awful litmus tests are.

Heck, try getting the OC Demo nod if you don’t have a union bug on your candidate business card! Barbaro and his party are lousy with litmus tests.

— Clockwatchers Anonymous / Aug. 22

Fullerton’s Police Culture

Had Kelly’s father, Ron Thomas, not gotten involved [in protesting his son’s beating death], I believe all of it would have been swept under the carpet. If it were just some homeless guy estranged from his family, I believe it would have been totally whitewashed.

The only thing that lit a fire under the investigation was Kelly’s deathbed photo going viral over the Internet. Prior to that the cops were blaming Kelly (lying about officers’ broken bones), and the media was almost totally silent. If not for Ron Thomas, chances are none of us would even know who Kelly Thomas was.

[Michael] Gennaco [head of the Office of Independent Review] let the current police leadership completely off the hook. All the blame was hung on one exec who is now retired. To be expected.

— Beelzebub / Aug. 22

Ruane Heads CalOptima

Did I read this right? “Ruane is a longtime county executive but has no experience running an enormous health plan like the $1.4-billion CalOptima.”

What the heck is going on here? What are his qualifications besides being a recycled Board of Supervisors insider?

— OCservant-leadership / Aug. 17

Afraid so.

The Board of Supervisors has been responsible for the desecration of CalOptima, leaving their constituents at the mercy of a rudderless organization. Should we be surprised that it took all of 45 minutes for them to appoint a part-time chief of operations without any experience?

While some speculate that the state will assign Orange County responsibility to take over CalOptima, others believe that the state could not possibly trust this county to do a right thing, and the state will be taking the operation over. Ever worked with the state?

— Roslyn / Aug. 17

Nguyen: Former Execs Caused CalOptima Brain Drain

What a self-serving crock Nguyen is spinning here! She has single-handedly destroyed CalOptima through her relentless and misguided micromanagement, her utter lack of understanding of health care and her sell-out to a group of providers who put their profit above CalOptima’s health.

It’s no wonder that after her outrageous behavior caused the top executives — who were the target of most of her rudeness and incompetence — to leave, the next tier also left rather than be her next target.

That some of these talented people went to work for [former CEO Richard] Chambers and [former Chief Operating Officer Dr. Greg] Buchert is further testimony that the two are excellent healthcare professionals whose loss is a tragedy for Orange County.

— DocC / Aug. 23

It’s not fair to blame only Nguyen.

The other supervisors willfully enabled Nguyen by providing her with the power. It was like putting a child in charge of a nuclear power plant. Disaster was inevitable.

Many seem to conveniently forget that fact. Nguyen could have never screwed up CalOptima single-handedly — not without the help of the other supervisors. This screw-up took a village — village idiots.

— Beelzebub / Aug. 23

What’s Wrong With a Plastic Bags Study?

Not sure why some hotheaded commenters are deriding local politicians for hearing a request made in an orderly, nonhysterical fashion according to the established civil process.

The agreement [in Irvine] was simply to study and analyze the pros and cons and evaluate. What is the actual objection to considering an environmental protection adapted by so many municipalities, whether from a business, civil or environmental point of view?

Some reasoned voices sought, please.

— Responsible Bus / Aug. 21

Santa Ana’s City Attorney

[Santa Ana City Attorney Sonia] Carvalho is the best person up there on the dais. She should be mayor.

[City Councilwoman Claudia] Alvarez did a fine job challenging her with the questioning or interpretation of the law [affecting a downtown property tax], but she should not have competed with her for personal motives. That was transparent and self-destructive.

We need people who fight for objective progress, not for guilty, selfish preservation.

— Got your back / Aug.18

Voice of OC’s Editor-in-Chief

I read that Norberto [Santana Jr.] suffered quite a serious injury as a result of a boxing match at a local sports club. According to The Orange County Register article, Norberto was admitted to the intensive care unit at a local hospital, although he appears to be in stable condition.

Wishing you a fast and full recovery, Norberto. Come back soon! We want you to do your fighting with your pen, not your fists!

— Beelzebub / Aug. 20

OC’s Health Care Crisis

There are two clinics in South County: Camino Health Center in San Juan Capistrano and Laguna Beach Community Clinic.

The list of clinics and their services is available at the Coalition of Orange County Health Centers website. In addition, AccessOC provides free surgeries and colonoscopies to the uninsured in Orange County.

— AccessOC / Aug. 20

Park-Poor Santa Ana

Does the city of Santa Ana still count flower pots on the balconies of condos and apartments as park space?

— Junior / Aug. 22

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

Click on each topic’s headline to see the article in question.

Questionnaire for Republican Candidates

What on earth do any of these questions have to do with being on a school board or a city council? I think if voters knew their elected leaders were in favor of some of this stuff, they’d be appalled.

A community college board member is supposed to be in favor of making it easier for students to carry concealed weapons? A Dana Point City Council person is supposed to be in favor of drilling right off Dana harbor?

And how can any of them, understanding government budgets, promise to never raise a fee or a tax if the cost of providing the service increases?

— Stunned / Aug. 16

“Do you believe in the 10th Amendment?” “Do you support the repeal of Obamacare?” “Do you support same sex marriage?” I’m beginning to seriously question the mindset of Republicans, and this questionnaire is not helping.

Is Southern California part of the Bible Belt and I wasn’t told? Or is this the new route America wants to take?

We’re one of the most closed-minded nations in the western and developed world and 27th most free country on the planet, according to Freedom House Index. At the rate we’re going, the U.S. is no longer a land of the free or home of the brave. It’s a land of greed and home of the bigots.

I know that this questionnaire is for OC Republicans running for office, but it starts here and expands. You are fooling the populace into allowing the rich to own politicians, and that is just not cool.

Get your head out of the 1920s, and educate yourselves in the ways of today and tomorrow. Remember that thing we had a while back called the Civil Rights Movement? Yeah, that happened. Don’t ignore it.

— DANCErevolution / Aug. 16

“Begin a conversation”? With virtually all “yes-no” questions?

Apparently you can’t be an “Orange County Republican” unless you’re an anti-choice, anti-worker, anti-environmental protection, homophobic, gun-toting, racist, religious zealot. That makes for a pretty small club. No wonder the party is completely marginalized in California. It’s run by a cult.

— Lostinspace / Aug. 16

Republican or Democrat, only one question needs to be asked of potential candidates:

1. Are you willing to sell your soul, lie and stab your constituents in the back for the good of the party?

— Beelzebub / Aug. 16

Another Sex Crime Allegation

Unfortunately when [whistle-blower Kathleen] Tamilramani, gets her money she will have to sign a a release that will demand she keeps her mouth shut. And that is exactly what she will do.

This alleged fighter for justice will just be another litigation opportunist. She will take her money and run. So much for any interests other than her own.

— Truevoice / Aug. 14

Truevoice,  I understand your comment that “This alleged fighter for justice will just be another litigation opportunist.” I think it is worth considering that she initially asked for her job, not a settlement. She wanted to go back to work.

They smashed her career, made her unemployable, destroyed her reputation. Had the county acted in good faith and investigated, I doubt she would have sued. Given their death sentence on her career, I think she had no choice.

I do not know the woman. I know how the county destroys whistle-blowers. If her allegations are true, she has no choice but to sue for $$. The window for her career passed with their retribution.

Shame on all of the corrupt officials.

— Dretutz / Aug. 14

[Board of Supervisors Chairman John] Moorlach’s update was just released, and he terms the OC Waste & Recycling human resources manager’s lawsuit a “copycat” case. Does anyone know what he is talking about?

That case was filed long prior to anything involving Orange County Public Works. He is again sounding defensive, thin-skinned and very ill-informed. Who is feeding him his information? They need to do a better job, as he is looking quite foolish.

[Supervisor Pat] Bates sure put on a red, white and blue speech about how the board is committed to transparency, motherhood and apple pie. Again, defensive.

The fact remains, all of this corrupt behavior occurred under their noses on their watch, and believe me they know it’s now or never to circle the baloney wagons. No matter what you think of [county Deputy CEO] Alisa Drakodaidis, she got Bates where it hurts.

— Insider / Aug. 14

[County Waste & Recycling Director] Mike Giancola is very well connected at the Board of Supervisors and central Human Resources department. Waste and Recycling is the department the board goes to to get jobs for their staff without having to go through the competitive recruitment process. This is how Chip Monaco, Denis Bilodeau and Matthew Harper got their jobs.

Human Resources Director Steve Danley is Giancola’s best friend. Giancola brags to staff that Danley has his back. With such collaborators in his pocket, Giancola thinks he’s untouchable.

[County CEO Tom] Mauk left, [Public Works Director Jess] Carbajal was put on administrative leave and then fired, and [Public Works executive Carlos] Bustamante was shown the door, all over what started out as anonymous allegations.

Giancola has a lawsuit pending alleging he and Human Resources negotiated their own settlement to make rape charges disappear. Also the alleged rape victim and her husband had information about illegal activities at Giancola’s landfill that they threatened to make public. No wonder Giancola and Human Resources cut a deal without going to law enforcement. When Tahilramani followed county procedure to investigate this matter, Giancola and Human Resources retaliated against her.

Why hasn’t Giancola been put on administrative leave like Carbajal?

— OC Bureaucrat / Aug. 14

 [Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach:] “I see Mr. Bustamante as an isolated case. However, the County is pursuing initiatives that will address the prevention of such incidents in the future.”

I guess Bustamante wasn’t an isolated case, huh John?

— Talkinghead / Aug. 14

Audit Report and the ‘Culture of Fear’

I have read the lawsuit, thanks to the Voice of OC. I wasn’t involved in it at all, but I have read there is an allegation of rape tied into this whole situation. That is about as serious as you can get.

My question is, were the police or the DA’s office notified? Rape is not something that human relations departments should be investigating.

— SoccerMom / Aug. 12

Reading, Writing and Exercise

Thanks for pointing out an important tool for improving our children’s learning that also supports their physical health.

You can use this link to listen to an Orange County Teacher of the Year speak about the importance of movement in engaging his students and optimizing each student’s academic performance.

— Marc Lerner / Aug. 16

Comments are closed.

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.

Audit Report on Public Works’ Culture of Fear

Interesting reading. This report documents what every county employee knows from Day 1 on the job: If you file a formal complaint, it will eventually go to central Human Resources for investigation (i.e., cover-up). HR will then submit a finding of “unsubstantiated.” Following the cover-up, the complainant will become the victim of institutional harassment and retaliation. The fears of retaliation noted in this report are very real and justified.

This report contains a lot of finger-pointing by departments that claim nobody told them anything until they read about it in the newspaper. Internal Audit’s recommendations boil down to the need for more collaborative reporting but do not offer a solution to the very real problem of intimidation through retaliation existent in every department throughout county government. Internal Audit is recommending county executive managers audit themselves.

At this time, the only real, objective solution is an Orange County grand jury investigation into this entire fiasco, including HR’s handling of all Equal Employment Opportunity complaints and its investigations into employee claims of harassment and retaliation.

— OC Bureaucrat / Aug. 9

The beat goes on.

As a man with the county, I went through the same thing, but the female was the harasser. They did nothing until one year later I went to an attorney, and all stopped.

I pray for these ladies who are going through this. Only an outside evaluation can bring this to a close.

— Intheknow / Aug. 9

Delaying Council Districts in Anaheim

It’s a travesty and a reflection of a broken political system when over 50% of Anaheim’s residents are Hispanic with no Hispanic representative on the City Council. Shameful.

In my opinion, that is as bad as when blacks were forced to drink from separate water fountains in the Deep South in the early to mid-20th century.

I despise illegal foreigners who break into our country, steal our resources, rob from our underclass citizens and cost the California taxpayers billions in tax expenditures for free education, health care, welfare and incarcerations.

But treating citizen Hispanics like second-class citizens is disgusting and shameful.

Anaheim is the modern day Selma, Ala.

— Beelzebub / Aug. 9

Come on now, the modern day Selma?

Here’s the deal: If Hispanics — not lawyers and Occupy protesters and bloggers but residents — want representation, they will get someone to stand up and run.

Few if any parents in the poorer neighborhoods are involved in their kids’ schools. What makes you believe that they will all of a sudden get involved on a city level?

The difference is the colored couldn’t drink from a fountain, the Hispanics can’t get a candidate to run. Big difference.

— Henrygattis / Aug. 9

There is no way that Disney and [former Mayor Curt] Pringle are going to allow districts to be established without their control. The process will be delayed until they figure out how the districts can be drawn to protect their business interests.

— Truevoice / Aug. 9

Michael Riley, Director of County Social Services

Dr. Riley is a good person. His problem is that of any decent director in the county, and there are some. He’s inherited a world of hurt.

For some reason, directors are not allowed the authority to clean house. They get saddled with Bustamante-sized problems and are prevented from taking action. Incompetence is protected like a commodity at the county, and people who would like to find better ways to do things — or at least do them well — are quickly trained to lay low and keep their heads down.

Every rule the county has ensures that risk-taking and innovation are not methods for getting things done. You never know when someone who’s a Board of Supervisors crony or has political connections in the “right” places will end up being your boss.

The Board of Supervisors needs to stop squawking about labor negotiations and instead get serious about efficiency and the waste they are bent on perpetuating. They can start by hiring a CEO with a spine and ensuring that he or she is running the county, not running around sucking up to the Board of Supervisors full time.

— SnotOtter / Aug. 5

Riley should not get too comfortable. He will have scandals aplenty to answer for.

Riley is smarter than most, but he won’t weather the storms coming. Genuinely good guy, but he inherited a lot of problems that he will take the fall for.

— Kate / Aug. 5

Sexual harassment claims have surfaced in Riley’s Social Services Agency as well. Stay tuned

— Jerry / Aug. 4

I work there, and have the greatest respect for Dr. Riley as a man and as a thinker. I have been to seminars on poverty where I’ve seen him. He truly has his heart in the right place.

What makes me sad is that he is going to have to suffer for the inactions of his predecessors, many of whom allowed a culture of misconduct, nepotism and outright abuse to flourish inside this agency. I don’t know if he is wrapping himself in a cloak of plausible deniability or if he truly has no idea, but there is a lot of systemic harassment and abuse.

Now there are a number of cases about to blow up in the agency — gender discrimination, nepotism to the extreme and some truly bad conduct. These are coming at a time when heads are rolling in other agencies, and when contracts are being negotiated. Dr. Riley will be the one to suffer, and that is a shame, because he did not create the problem. His hubris lies in his isolation from all of it and refusing to deal with it. It will cost him dearly.

There is much more squealing to come. Employees at all of the agencies are coming forward, after years of keeping silent. Once the gate was opened, people who were too scared or too loyal felt that now was the time to hit and hit hard, because the county has ignored this stuff for way too long.

— Passdammo / Aug. 5

 

Making Public Transit Fun

They need to expand a little with additions of buses with more bike-carrying capacity.

And try a first-class cabin for the high rollers willing to pay $20 for a $3 fare.

— Robincook / Aug. 6

If you’re going to spend money on all these superficial solutions to transform riding a bus into a joyful, fun experience, why not hire some out-of-work comedians to do their routines on the buses while in operation?

Life is not a real pleasant experience for most people who must ride a bus for transportation. Let comedians brighten up their lives as they move around town. I think that would be a much more cost-effective solution than remodeling bus stations or painting buses orange.

— Beelzebub / Aug. 6

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