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.

The Special Education ‘Brotherhood’

A brotherhood to fight against special ed families? I am speechless. All on the taxpayers dime?

This article is more proof that Orange County government — that is, all agencies — have been co-opted by “interests” opposite of the mission of the public.

Orange County needs outside support to wrestle control from these misaligned interests. The Voice of Orange County is doing an incredible job reporting and connecting the dots, but the shear volume of public law violations is staggering.

— OCservant-leadership / Sept. 27

Drakodaidis on Administrative Leave

[Michael] Giancola [director of Orange County Waste & Recycling] is not going anywhere only because he is being protected by the Human Resources director — his best friend, Steve Danley. Anyone else would be on administrative leave, period.

Now is the time for people to speak up and tell the truth. Failure to do so will leave these people free to continue to do whatever they desire.

— Insider2 / Sept. 26

Wow, this is getting interesting. Is anybody running the county these days? The executives seem to either be having sex with each other or suing each other.

How do you apply for an executive position in the county?

— Truevoice / Sept. 24

Interim County CEO’s Raise

The bottom line is that line government workers are treated like kings and queens compared to grunt private-sector workers. Bigger salaries, much bigger retirement plans, much earlier retirements and ironclad job security. All that is fact.

So while the folks at the Hall of Administration have been raking us over the coals for years, we are getting taken to the cleaners by the rank and file too.

The private sector should be the gold standard when it comes to public employee salaries and benefits. But your unions have hijacked the system and turned public employment into just another scam.

— Beelzebub / Sept. 25

Beelzebub, it is impossible for you to know what the facts are when you are “outside” and you don’t have to experience it yourself first hand, when half of the staff of an office is gone and you have to do two to three persons’ jobs.

The majority of the public do not appreciate the services that we provide because they don’t know how much we do until they need our help. You probably belong to that majority, and I am glad that you don’t need our service [at the Orange County Social Servies Agency].

We have all kind of folks coming to our offices from all walks of life, including the well-off of South County, maybe for the first time.

The fact is those I hired for an entry level job do have a four-year degree, and they serve the public. Unfortunately the pay doesn’t match the requirement of the job, and they’ll be gone as soon as they can find a job in the private sector.

Do you think you would want to work for 30 years for this kind of job as I described it and retire with $48,600 a year?

— Straightmind / Sept. 26

Bull, Beelzebub.

I am expected to do the work of five people on 40 grand a year with a college degree and 20 years experience. I am ignored when I try to fight fraud. I am ignored when I say we can cut waste and costs.

I spend all day with crying people or arrogant jerks, who think I am their personal servant. On really good days, I get to deal with people who are drugged, drunk or psycho, who come over my desk at me with a pen because I tell them “no.” I’ve had lice jump on me. I’ve had people cough all over me and get sick.

Our health insurance is worse than the free stuff we give out. Our union is a joke. And then we get criticized by people who know nothing about our jobs and who act like we don’t work hard for every penny we get.

I pay for my pension, a pension I don’t want, and I pay for my medical. I pay way more than those lazy hohos up in administration who do nada all day and get paid three times as much.

I am so sick of this sanctimoneous nonsense about how great we have it. I know that people who do my job in private sector make 25% more than I do. Further, they have the right to refuse service to someone being threatening and abusive, and I don’t.

Anytime you want to haul your cookies down to my office and do my stinking job for a day, be my guest. You can’t, because no sane person would put up with that level of impossible work with crazy people for that kind of lousy money.

The public doesn’t want good government employees, because they don’t stand up for them. I don’t see any of you fighting or applauding good workers. You just lump them all together. Seems to me that you are hypocrites. You criticize the bad, but you don’t back up the good. She needs to zip it, keep her job and forget it…because they will fire her if she keeps it up.

— Kate / Sept. 26

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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.

Scandal in the OC Treasurer’s Office

Moorlach thinks this is just a spike? There seems to be fraud and sexual assaults and nepotism going on in every department, and management has known it because people reported concerns and nobody did anything.

And now Moorlach is saying we have to figure out if it is trend.

It is not a trend. It is a way of life for those in charge.

— Ron / Sept. 21

When an organization can’t be forced out of business via bankruptcy, is financed with other people’s money, affords zero accountability to those who control the purse strings and depends upon the integrity of the employee supervisors to keep the system clean — you are destined to have a failed and corrupted organization. There is no other way around it.

And to pour fuel on the fire, when you have a political system that allows public unions to pay off and/or extort those elected for their votes — it is purely a train wreck before the engineer even has a chance to leave the station.

It is designed, systemic dysfunction. Dysfunction is built into the system. None of it is an accident. It was intended to operate in such a manner from the getgo.

— Beelzebub / Sept. 21

Is Moorlach blind or purposefully misleading the public? How can you look at corruption scandal after corruption scandal amid OC’s executive ranks this year and have any question about whether there’s a systemic problem here?

And where is the accountability for the Board of Supervisors, whom the public is supposed to be able to trust to make sure these things don’t happen?

Oh, that’s right. They’re too busy worried about how to give their interim CEO a huge raise.

— Stunned / Sept. 20

Reorganizing OC Human Resources

This has happened with fraud in other departments as well.

People try to report it and nobody is interested. Police are totally overwhelmed with any government issues, the DA chooses to be out to lunch and the FBI only steps in if they get a case from the police or DA. And the chances of that happening are nil.

That’s why the managers can keep doing what they do so long without any interruptions.

— Ron / Sept. 20

Wrongdoing at County Landfills?

Those brave enough to step forward need support. Not everyone is able to risk it all to do the right thing.

Check out what you lose: (1) your career, (2) your job or promotion, (3) your reputation, (4) many of your “friends” who can’t be seen with you (5) your life, medical and dental insurance, (5) your retirement. Need I go on?

The majority of county staff have kids to raise, feed and educate and bills to pay, so these salt-of-the-earth people are sometimes held financial hostage by manipulative and powerful county managers, executives, CEO and the Board of Supervisors, who use the threat of financial and career destruction as a tool to control. And as we have seen, don’t expect to be protected if you report wrongdoing, as you just became the enemy.

— Insider / Sept. 17

As for Ms. [Kathy] Tahilramani [former county Human Resources manager], she will now have to go through what will be a lengthy court process, with the county appealing at every loss.

The Board of Supervisors, instead of doing what’s right and making this woman whole — after firing [Mike] Giancola [county Waste & Recycling director] — are deeply offended that she has made them all look bad and incompetent. They will instruct the county counsel to deny and stall in hopes of dragging this matter out for a decade so she will either give up or die.

In the end she will receive a payout 20 times greater than what it would have cost to pay her off or make it right. The current Board of Supervisors will be long gone, and the taxpayers are once again stuck with the bill.

Business as usual.

— Cacityguy / Sept. 17

Just how many laws does a department head have to break before he or she is placed on administrative leave during investigation? All it took was one anonymous accusation to get [county Public Works Director] Jess Carbajal placed on administrative leave. But we’re still waiting on Mike Giancola as mountains of accusations and evidence pile up.

I suppose having Steve Danley as director of the human resources department is a big help for Giancola. Also, Giancola’s department is where the Board of Supervisors goes to find jobs for life for their unqualified staff and to borrow money for pet projects they can’t fund with county general funds.

— OC Bureaucrat / Sept. 17

When I was unemployed I watched soap operas on TV. Now employed, I work around the best actors in “As the County Turns in the Days of Our Lives.”

— Forchnkuki / Sept. 17

Santa Ana’s Sunshine Ordinance

Here we go again, a few Santa Ana residents demanding more transparency in city government, putting more workload on city staff and on their own elected neighbors that they voted for and put in office.

Santa Ana has always reached out to neighbors the last 30 or so years since neighbor associations started up. Developers have had to run circles and step up to the plate to make Santa Ana look and feel better.

Our neighbors aren’t developers and have no real vision for Santa Ana other then being Orange County’s dumping ground for social services, low income, overcrowded schools, crime, etc.

Here we are in the 21st century, and a few Santa Ana residents say give me more and more, let’s tie up City Hall with even more red tape and chase development and growth away and let more nonprofits and nontaxpayers keep asking for more.

If the City Council passes the sunshine ordinance, all those sunflowers will die from the dark cloud and red tape as we tell developers you need to spend even more money for meetings and fees to do business in Santa Ana. This will chase new development and slow down building an even stronger tax base for all the services Santa Ana neighbors need. So SACReD should be careful and think what it is really asking for.

Santa Ana, for a city of its size, is doing great and will continue to grow and be Orange County’s true urban center. So will all naysayers please pick up and leave.

— Reason / Sept. 19

Obviously the definition of “lobbyist” can be played with and skirted around. Unofficial meetings and conversations will still exist.

But when those lobbyists and the developer representatives must meet more than once with the communities that are being directly affected, they will not be able to hide. Their words and promises to the community must be fully documented.

Developers that have no interest in communicating honest intentions do not deserve to be invited into a community.

— Got your back / Sept. 19

Mayor Pulido

Re “[Santa Ana Mayor Miguel] Pulido, meanwhile, trumpets accomplishments, like bringing the Discovery Science Center into the city and reducing the crime rate, as evidence that his leadership has been effective.”

These are the highlights of 18 years as mayor. Compare this to accomplishments during the same 18 years accomplished by neighbors, such as Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine etc.

— Art Lomeli / Sept. 21

Miguel is in touch with his pocketbook, not the people. The only way he will reach out to voters is if there is a finder’s fee involved.

— Slater / Sept. 21

Costa Mesa Candidates Debate

What these politicians are not telling you is the way outsourcing saves money is by providing less service. These outsourcing contracts set minimum standards, and then the companies have to be constantly monitored to meet the minimum.

If you are OK with watching the infrastructure deteriorate, then I can save big bucks. Get rid of all government and we can have an entire country in the same situation as the “state” of Palestine — anarchy.

What we really need is to actually give public managers the ability to fire nonperformers similar to private industry. The effort and money it takes to fire one nonperforming public employee is ridiculous.

Instead we are targeting outsourcing, which can easily lead to all kinds of problems with companies getting contracts to do public works through nefarious means. Outsourcing just creates different problems; it does not solve all problems.

— Irritated / Sept. 19

Higher Bus Fares

The primary reason OCTA is looking at raising fares is because the state Transportation Development Act — which provides about half of the $267-million bus operations budget — mandates passengers pay a minimum of 20 cents for every dollar spent on providing bus service.

If OCTA falls below that 20 percent “farebox recovery” — expected to happen next year if fares are not increased — the agency is in jeopardy of losing that funding, which would threaten the entire system.

The last time bus fares were raised was in 2009, and that was because of the same issue. No one — passengers, OCTA staff or the board — wants to see prices get higher in what we know is still a tough economy. Unfortunately given the options, what we heard from passengers was that a fare increase was preferable to cutting service.

Like every other public agency, private business and millions of people, the recession hit OCTA hard. We were forced to cut 20 percent of service over three years because of state funding cuts, plummeting sales tax and lagging ridership due to high unemployment. OCTA can only provide the service for which we have funding. When tax dollars went south — and they did in a big way — the unfortunate reality is that we had to also shrink the bus service.

There is a little bit of good news. About 23,000 bus service hours will be added back into the system this fiscal year. Half of that will be on the streets next month to boost some of our busiest lines, including Route 29 on Beach Boulevard and Route 47 on Anaheim Boulevard, Fairview Street and Fairview Road.

I hope this helps shed a little more light on the issue.

— Joel Zlotnik, OCTA /Sept. 19

 

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Voice of Our Commentators

Print

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.

Nguyen and CalOptima

[Orange County Supervisor] Janet Nguyen gets more outrageous and out of control by the minute.

The one [CalOptima] board member who demands the most of the agency’s staff’s time is — yes, you guessed it — Janet Nguyen. She demands they bend over backwards to give her visibility at every health event in her district and that her district logo is prominently placed on all event publicity and signage — at CalOptima expense.

She doesn’t care a bit about the other, more important work they have to do or for that matter about the illegality of her behavior.

— DocC / Sept. 13

Supervisor Nguyen owns this. Her reputation is on the line. She wanted control. Now she’s got it.

You heard of that old saying “Beware what you wish for”? The other supervisors gave her just enough proverbial rope (power) to hang herself. Now she’s using strong-arm tactics in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding. It’s an act of desperation. It won’t work.

The ones who jumped ship are much smarter than Nguyen and her staff. Much more cagey. Much more experienced in the ways of the world. They are five steps ahead of her. They’ll eat her for lunch. Watch.

— Beelzebub / Sept. 13

A little bit of misinformation is a dangerous thing when spouted as truth by people who have leaped to some inaccurate and accusatory conclusions. There are enough real problems in the county government to be concerned about rather than some of the conspiracy theories the constant commentators on this site seem to feed on.

— Rationally Speaking / Sept. 12

Well, the Board of Supervisors is simply silent on this one. You could hear a pin drop. A top-level executive leaves and … nada? Will this be yet another incident of the Board of Supervisors humming the words to the “Duh, I Knew Nothing About This” song?

I suspect there is more to this story.

— Insider / Sept. 12

It may come as a shock to people who only care about themselves, but CEOs of community agencies being team players in order for one agency to help another in Orange County has been the norm, not at all unusual.

It is a sign of an agency being interested and concerned about the well-being of another agency when both exist to serve the same community. An agency that has the resources to write grants, has access to supports that another does not or serves on a committee or advisory board of another agency [assists] voluntarily in an effort to serve a common goal.

CalOptima has always been a gracious community team player available and willing to assist others. Now, it seems, a price has been put on what has been good, ethical and honest community goodwill.

— Roslyn / Sept. 11

What I find troubling is that The Orange County Register article on the same issue stated: “After its closed session, the board didn’t say why it wants the money from its two former chairman. The compliance report wasn’t released publicly and even board members had to turn in their copies after reviewing them, said board member and county Supervisor Janet Nguyen.”

Once again, information that should be made public is kept secret by Supervisor Nguyen and others on the Board of Supervisors. Why is this? Even the CEO in question in this article says he has not been contacted by CalOptima regarding this issue. How does one conduct a proper investigation and not interview all related parties?

The county’s CEO and the Board of Supervisors waste money all the time, yet they expect everyone else to do the right thing? This is called hypocrisy.

— Cacityguy / Sept. 10

The DA’s Public Integrity Unit

On the surface this has the appearance of positive action. But the reality is this is just another mechanism for the Board of Supervisors to cover up high crimes and misdemeanors.

Any investigations performed by this new Public Integrity Unit will be confidential as potential litigation and its findings forever shielded from public view. Also under this proposal the DA will decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to pursue corrective action.

The citizens of Orange County would have an elected official (the DA) investigating his fellow elected officials or Board of Supervisors-appointed department heads. This proposal is just a smoke screen to provide legal cover for county elected officials and department heads.

The only way there will ever be a genuine, unbiased investigation of alleged wrongdoing by county officials is for the Orange County grand jury to conduct the investigation. Any other county office is tainted.

— OC Bureaucrat / Sept. 10

I agree with all the naysayers questioning District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ performance in terms of public corruption in Orange County. The county is unquestionably more corrupt now than ever.

But I applaud Tony for at least acknowledging the situation in Orange County, and we should give him a chance. Let’s wait and see. It’s time to clean the place up.

— Truevoice / Sept. 10

Valley Fever

Thank you for this article.

The disease truly needs more publicity. Interestingly, the provisional statistics had been quietly updated. The “new” 2011 statistics at the Centers for Disease Control indicate 22,634 valley fever cases nationwide.

Although you cited the 1996 article that estimated reported cases represented only 10 percent of overall infections, I should mention an update. A 2001 article about the cost effectiveness of a prospective valley fever vaccine used a statistical model that placed the diagnosed cases as only about 2 percent of overall infections, leaving 98 percent undiagnosed. No other statistical models have been released before or since.

Plugging 2011’s more recent statistics into the 2001 model brings the estimate to over 1,131,000 cases nationwide. This is the first time the model has estimated over a million nationwide infections in one year.

— David Filip / Sept. 9

Filip is author of “Valley Fever Epidemic” and co-founder of Valley Fever Survivor.

Irvine City Council Election

It’s silly to view this as Democrats versus Republicans. There are anti-[Councilman Larry] Agran Dems, and there are pro-Agran Repubs, several of whom have either served on the Irvine council or run for it in the past.

Let’s not make it partisan. It’s not.

— Sincerely yours / Sept. 12

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