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.

An Unfriendly Farewell for the City Manager

Given that the concern about [Santa Ana City Manager Paul] Walters seems to have been his close relationship to Pulido (to the exclusion of the council), and that the concern about Pulido seems to have been whether his getting wealthy in the mayor’s position involved any improprieties (which Walters may have been in a position to know and do something about, but if so, apparently didn’t), such a hearing might be a lot more interesting than even Walters and Pulido expect.

Is there immunity from suit for defamation, as exists for court hearings and at least some legislative business, for council members if they bring up their real concerns during this sort of hearing? I don’t know that council members would need to say more than this:

We think that Pulido may have profited improperly from his position as mayor.

We are concerned that the lack of transparency in City Hall may have facilitated any such result.

And we are concerned that, given his close relationship to the mayor, Paul Walters is not the person whom we want running the investigation or in a position to hamper it.

So we are relieving him of his position.

What court would step in and prevent that sort of move under those circumstances?

Oh well, bring on the hearing, if that’s what Walters and Pulido really want.

— Greg Diamond

This council has not considered any outside factors like stakeholders. The council has failed to consider what the bond rating agencies will do to their ability to borrow money.

Lack of stability will cause Santa Ana to have its bond rating downgraded, making it impossible to borrow money. Interest rates will rise, and bond holders will want the money now, not later. We are headed for bankruptcy sooner than later.

Way to go “Stupendous Six!” These council members are over their heads, and when the state takes over, they will be ousted.

— Way to go Santa Ana

The real problem is the City Council. Replacing the city manager is simply a bully’s quest to teach the mayor a lesson and doesn’t move the city one inch closer the utopian vision expressed by the editorial’s author.

— SA Resident

This council should be able to decide the fate of Mr. Walters, and I’m personally offended that he declared he’d stick around for five or six years.

Maybe he doesn’t understand, but he serves at the pleasure of the council. Declaring you are above them and will stay as long as you wish is the ultimate in hubris.

Walters needs to go because he can’t help himself. He’s declared himself king, and that cannot continue.

— Sillysarmiento

Why Only Fullerton?

Homelessness is a county problem. And Fullerton should not be the solution!

Do you not think that the [county] supervisors want to rid the eyesore of the homeless from [the Santa Ana] Civic Center and send them to your backyard? Out of sight, out of mind.

The only reason the supervisors are addressing homelessness today is because they’re reminded of it every morning when they come to work. As soon as they are rid of the eyesore, their problem with go away. It will become yours.

So I ask you not to fall for their scam. Fight them. The homeless population should be distributed proportionately around the county — and yes, to South County too.

[Supervisor Pat] Bates knows that she would get major pushback from the South County residents if she promoted homeless shelters in San Clemente, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, etc. But she has no problem doing it to you.

The route you take is your business. I just want you to know what you’re dealing with up front. I can practically guarantee that a 29,000-square-foot homeless shelter in one city is going to cause nothing but problems for you and your fellow citizens. It simply isn’t a fair solution. A fair solution would be to allot the problem throughout the county and not to impose it primarily on one city.

— Beelzebub

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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.

Robert Citron, Treasurer Who Led OC into Bankruptcy, Dies

Some people remember this big shot as a kooky man that invested in “exotic stock instruments” 20 years ago. He supposedly got most of his investing advice from “psychic” helpers. Really? I think the brokers at Merrill Lynch probably found that story quite convenient.

Nowadays those exotic stock instruments dominate the finance industry in the form of derivatives and hedge funds and other crafted securities.

— Got your back

Convicted of six felonies. Sentenced to a year. Allowed to do that time on work furlough. Sounds about right for one of the connecteds.

R.I.P., big Bob. I wish you well at your final destination.

— Beelzebub

Year-Round Homeless Shelter for Fullerton

[Supervisor] Shawn Nelson wants to know where else it could be built.

I really don’t care where it’s built — but not across the street from an elementary school !  Are they nuts?

— Nathalie

This makes me wonder if these new county decisions are not set up for failure and the continuation of more hostile politics. If the county had any courage at all, they would designate a location in every city in the entire county to open a homeless emergency shelter. Open everybody’s eyes at the same time.

Avoid the not-in-my-backyard excuses and arguments. Do something besides political maneuvering for once. Do something for humanity instead of selfish, capitalistic politics as usual.

— Got your back

Keep a real close eye on who gets paid the commission for the sale of the building and if the profiteer has any connection to the Board of Supervisors or to any of the long-ball hitters in county government. I wouldn’t put anything past these people based upon their histories.

If the market value of the building was $2.9 million, why did they pay $3.15 million? Why do you think the furntiture people sold it? Because it was a great location? Hah! I bet if the county didn’t make the purchase it would be sitting there vacant for the next three years.

But I wonder if any of those who praised the supervisors would praise them if they lived a couple blocks away from the purchased warehouse. Of course not. Each would condemn it if they were on the receiving end.

This story was only publicized in the newspaper and online last week. Probably only a small minority of the residents in the area are even aware that the county is in the process of purchasing that building that will house hundreds, if not thousands, of Orange County homeless. You can put a lot of bodies in a 29,000-square-foot building.

The fair solution would be to scatter homeless shelters throughout the county, not just to drop the homeless bomb on Fullerton.

And for [Supervisor Shawn] Nelson to do that to his own people is disgusting and curious at the same time. It’s not good for him politically. So how was it good for him? I want to know the rest of the story here. What was in it for Shawn?

This is only Chapter 1. Wait until the other chapters are written. I think there’s a nice scandal brewing here.

— Beelzebub

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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.

Will Santa Ana Council Majority Push City Manager Out the Door?

I’m sure that they came to a nice gentlemen’s agreement. Maybe Paul will push for a salary or benefit increase for the council? Who knows? But they always seem to work their problems out in a civilized manner. It’s really easy when you’ve got tax dollars to play with, especially when no one is really held accountable for the use or misuse of taxdollars.

— Beelzebub

It is evident there were political negotiations that occurred in the original appointment. Seems that the particulars of those negotiations have eroded and a new evaluation is in effect, void of the original political negotiations with Pulido.

From what I see, Walters needs to communicate to the council that he is loyal to the entire council, not only to Pulido, to pacify the council majority.

I believe no one should have a problem or argument against this relationship between the city manager and the council. If this communication does not happen, then the relationship between the manager and Pulido is a problem and, in effect, as the council perceives it.

— Art Lomeli

A New Supervisor and a New Chairman

The new California retirement law went into effect on Jan. 1, I think, so Supervisor [Todd] Spitzer didn’t have a choice. He had to take the lower pension; there was no other benefit plan. It was either that or not accept one at all. When you look at the issue thrrough that lens, he actually took the best retirement plan he could get.

That aside, I think his new initiatives are worth the effort, and I wish him much success, particularly with the homelessness issue in the Civic Center. It’s starting to look like Skid Row in Los Angeles down there.

Several volunteer groups provide food and clothing, which draws a growing population who all camp in the area. Janet Nguyen has paid lip service to the effort for the last few years and accomplished nothing. In fairness, it’s a complicated issue, but they have to find balance with helping these folks and at the same time not turning the area into a cesspool.

— Don Draper

The majority of the county supervisors stampeded to turn El Toro [Marine Corps Air Station] over to the city of Irvine amidst promises by city officials of a regional-type park and assurances from the city manager circa 2001 that neither taxpayer funds would be needed nor would a redevelopment agency be proposed to finance its development.

The supervisors agreed to the property being annexed into the city of Irvine, giving the city full land use jurisdiction, in spite of promises of inclusiveness.

Of course, the promise of no taxpayer or redevelopment agency funds was quickly forgotten. The size of the proposed park shrunk, the number of houses to be approved on the property grew (along with the projected volume of traffic on surrounding roads) and according to news reports, the city has spent over $200 million on planning and related PR. But after 10 years there is little to show for it on the ground.

Given all this, it is hard to imagine how [Supervisor Todd] Spitzer can turn this ship around. If he does, he will earn the confidence of a lot of voters.

I want to also point out that the developer who bought the property and has a development agreement with the city has a huge property right in the base and would, it seems to me, be entitled to compensation should that development agreement be negatively impacted by an initiative and county take over.

This is not just a simple jurisdictional turf war. It would be a legally complex and expensive matter.

— News Hound

[County supervisors] are all experienced, polished politicians. They know what side of their bread is buttered and who put it there. Nobody wants to be the odd man out and catch the short end of the stick.

I predict they all hang together tight and screw the taxpayers to the wall as much as possible. Cronyism will not end with [Shawn] Nelson as the new chairman or with [Todd] Spitzer on the board. It will be business as usual. Mark my words.

For the first couple meetings Spitzer will act tough just like Nelson did. All of them do that. Then Spitzer will enter right into the fold and just become another player.

— Beelzebub

These are a lot of great ideas from Spitzer. So he has had some kind of Christian spiritual awakening? That usually spells “guilty,” but let’s give him a chance to act on it. A lot of people will be looking forward to working with him on tackling Orange County’s homelessness concerns.

— Got your back

Preserving Open Government

It is a shame after all these years the Brown Act still lacks teeth for enforcement and a lack of will to enforce it to any degree. If those charged with enforcing the act would take more minor allegations seriously and slap local government with real consequences like fines and jail time, the number of violations would be drastically reduced.

When local officials know they will never be held accountable, the law is useless. We are fortunate there are now, more than ever, more blogs and news outlets such as Voice of OC willing to “out” transgressors. Still, if officials are not particularly embarrassed by their actions, what good does it do?

— Keepdapeace

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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.

Voice of OC in 2012

This is a really fascinating web blog, and I have loved reading several of the articles and posts contained upon the site. Sustain the great work and hope to read a lot more exciting articles in the time to come. Thank you so much.

— Huynhhai

Voice of OC, Happy New Year. Excellent coverage of important topics in 2012 and looking forward to 2013. Please keep the hard-hitting follow-up going on what happened to that lawsuit, Alisa Drakodaidis, Carlos Bustamante, the Board of Supervisors, executive aide placements and on and on.

— Insider2

Your coverage of county government and the palace intrigue within it has been outstanding. Keep it up.

As for the culture within county government that has allowed and seems to have actually encouraged misdeeds, favoritism and sheer politics, perhaps in the forthcoming year you can focus on the five elected supervisors on whose watch this dysfunctional environment has been created and allowed to fester.

— News Hound

I for one want to thank the Voice of OC for covering these local government stories. I don’t always agree with what you write, and sometimes I think you’re slanted in some of your coverage, but overall I would give you a B+. That means I think you do a fine job.

I only ask that in 2013 you be a little more honest in presenting both sides of an issue. I do not say that as a slam. I say that as someone who truly believes that our media is our final line of defense against a tyrannical government, and we really need you on our side. So many in the media have deserted us.

Some of your stories have really blown the lid off some of the corruption in the county. Keep digging and purge the dirty laundry.

— Beelzebub

Santa Ana City Manager Under Siege

The problem with calling this a “performance review” and a quest to find out the vision of the city manager on current issues is that the “performance review” dialogue takes place in private, closed session while the other vision conversations should be something that the public is entitled to.

[Councilman Sal] Tinajero said that [City Manager Paul] Walters’ job is not at risk and that “a big portion” of the meeting is to have Walters and [City Attorney Sonia] Carvalho outline to newly elected council members Roman Reyna and Angelica Amezcua some of the city’s major issues, like a dispute over $56 million with the state and a downtown property tax fight. “When you’re able to go into a room and talk freely about these processes, it clarifies things for people,” Tinajero said.

When the city leaders — both council and staff — are discussing items like the impending $56-million redevelopment shortfall facing the city, direction for the artist district, the Station District, economic development, transit, processes, etc., those discussions are not protected by the veil of a closed session. They are topics that should appear on the agenda for the public to comment on and hear what the council and staff have to say.

When you position those topics in the guise of a “performance review” of a particular staff member, you take those conversations private and effectively hide them from the public. This is a complete end run around the transparency goal of the sunshine ordinance and the great work that the community has done to try to bring many of these issues to the light of day.

— SA Resident

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