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.

Santa Ana Retreats on Disputed Housing Funds

Actually, it appears that the city did not enter into these contracts properly by the rules of the closed redevelopment agency. If the contracts were valid, all they would have to do is show them to the state to justify them, and the state would adjust the amount owed, like they did for other redevelopment agencies all across the state.

The city met with the state officials a while back and were asked to provide proof, and whatever the city came up with was insufficient for the state Finance Department to allow it.

It’s revealing to see that this City Council has backed away from its defiant posture and is seeing the writing on the wall and realizing that these redevelopment financial shenanigans could end up costing around $54 million. If there was no issue with these contracts, the council would still be bold and forward, willing to protect these developers, but they aren’t anymore.

— SA Resident

The state is basically saying the money is not Santa Ana’s too spend. This is not an issue of wanting to help people find affordable housing. It’s about misappropriation of funds.

If I hacked your identity and drained your savings and 401(k) to house the poor, uneducated immigrant population, would that be fair? That’s what we are talking about here.

— Victor Mendez

Paul Walters’ Golden Parachute

Residents can blame an ignorant and bumbling City Council for this mess. This current City Council approved the payout for termination before Walters even took the city manager position.

Then when they attempted to force him out of the police chief position that was rightfully his by that same contract, he did them a favor by resigning and not suing the heck out of them and the city.

The whole time, the City Council generated a hostile work environment for him and other staff. Any mediocre labor lawyer could have made mincemeat out of this scenario and litigated, costing the city much more money.

The payout is rightfully his as determined by the agreed terms of his contract, with an additional fairly negotiated sum to relieve the city of the legal liability that this council led the city into.

Was the “Santa Ana Spring’s” misguided quest to attack Mr. Walters worth it? For the residents, it probably wasn’t. This whole debacle lies squarely on the shoulders of a vindictive and arrogant City Council and not the former city manager.

— SA Resident

Government executive pay and severance agreements are out of control. This pattern is repeated in city after city, county after county, government entity after government entity. Senior executives are granted extraordinary pay, benefits and severance agreements that paint an inaccurate picture of public employees as being over-paid and getting sweetheart deals on the taxpayer dime.

But that picture only reflects the reality for the chosen few, the most senior of executives. These high rollers get car allowances sufficient to fund two luxury car leases and other perks which the remainder of our public workforce are not entitled to.

— Leeches

OC’s Government-Business Think Tank Is a Good (or Bad) Idea

It’s hard to take Orange County Employees Association’s criticisms of the Association of California Cities-Orange County seriously, starting with the union being aghast that part of ACC-OC’s $433,000 annual budget goes to “advocacy”: i.e., serving as a forum for municipal policy education and formulation.

This is the same OCEA whose revenue comes from the taxpayer money river in the form of automatic deductions from the checkbook of county and municipal employees.

This is the same OCEA that, in 2012 alone, spent $391,000 in a failed “advocacy” campaign for John Leos for Anaheim City Council. In the same year, OCEA spent far more than that in the Costa Mesa City Council elections. The OCEA’s per-cycle campaign budget it reportedly $2 million.

Membership in ACC-OC is voluntary; cities have to opt in. Membership in OCEA isn’t voluntary; government employees have to go through a process to opt out.

Every year, ACC-OC has to demonstrate value to its members so that they will renew their membership. OCEA just keeps harvesting dues from members’ pay checks.

If ACC-OC is a taxpayer-funded lobby for business, then OCEA is a taxpayer-funded lobby for government.

— Matthew Cunningham

ACC-OS is absolutely regarded as a black sheep in Sacramento. As long as Orange County voters elect no one but Republicans to their city councils and state legislative offices and as long as those officials drop out of the League of California Cities to form their own organization, OC cities will continue to get the dirty end of the stick from Sacramento.

OC is so out of step with the rest of the country that we all might as well jump into a time machine and go back to 1960. Or maybe 1860.

— Sincerely yours

These municipalities spending $430,000 on these meetings are some of the same local government entities claiming they do not have enough money to fund their pension obligations, patch potholes and otherwise run their operations, right?

Priorities anyone?

– News Hound

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Voice of Our Commentators

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Here are 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.

Green Fair Abruptly Cancelled

I don’t get it. How is anyone supposed to know that the vote to close down the Green Fair resulted from the internal audit if the public records didn’t say so?

I don’t think anyone should take solace in knowing if they come forward with a complaint, the county will quietly deal with it so nobody knows what happened and nobody is held accountable.

For every issue the county addresses publicly, how many more are they sweeping under the rug?

— Stunned

“This program is being run with county personnel to the tune of hundreds of thousands [of dollars] …,” [Supervisor Shawn] Nelson said.

Throughout the year, county employees in every agency and department spend thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars — perhaps over a million dollars — planning, organizing and conducting fundraisers for the Orange County United Way.

Chairman Nelson apparently doesn’t have any issues with an enormous gift of public funds to the United Way. Why is staff time and county dollars spent on a Green Fair any different?

— OC Bureaucrat

Anaheim Streetcar Probe

They should certainly apply the same level of scrutiny to the Santa Ana streetcar project.

The mayor has been promoting that Santa Ana’s streetcar is only part of a larger regional system that includes the Anaheim resort streetcar project as well. If Anaheim doesn’t happen, then the whole regional justification doesn’t work, and the entire Western portion of the Santa Ana streetcar from Raitt Street into Garden Grove becomes effectively useless.

The same concerns about whether Anaheim’s streetcar addresses a real need also apply to Santa Ana, as do the questions about whether it will build new markets and new ridership as the Santa Ana mayor and its promoters say.

The Orange County Transportation Authority should seriously review both projects and use reality-based criteria instead of pie-in-the-sky rhetoric to determine if they are necessary and worth the high cost.

— SA Resident

County Cutting Funds for Latino Health Access

The worst part of this type of political maneuvering is that it is designed to please and get the votes of racist people with small minds. Maybe they should learn Spanish and travel.

Ignorance is not a good adviser. It does not help the city prosper. It creates hate. Sorry that the supervisors cater to these bigots.

— Jfalltoo

Comments are closed.

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.

Cutting Funding for Latino Health Access

If there is a problem with Latino Health Access — and I do not know if there is or not — it just might be Ms. [America ] Bracho’s hyper, in-your-face type speech delivery in her public appearances. She often comes across as a bit out of control and overly excited or angry, and that is poor for PR and does not instill confidence in her or her organization.

— News Hound

It was really poor judgment for the LHA administrators to push the “promotora” [Spanish for “promoter”] label. The program was meant for all county citizens, and let’s face it, this is still America where the primary language is English. So if what they say is true — and we don’t know that for certain — their pride cost them $500,000. When in Rome do as the Romans do until you figure out a way to own Rome. Then you can call the shots.

— Beelzebub

Development Money in the Lake Forest Election

Every story I read in Voice of OC solidifies it more: Lobbyists and corporate interests run this county.

It’s why still nobody has been indicted in the attempt to sell the fairground. It’s why all these elected officials line up to outsource work; they see huge dollar signs in their campaign war chests.

Keep up the good work exposing this corruption, Voice of OC.

— Stunned

I find it ironic that [City Councilman] Peter Herzog should say, “This city should not be for sale.”

More than anyone else on the council, Herzog has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from “vested interests” who contribute to his campaign re-election committees and then come before him and the council with requests for projects.

According to my records — a 100-page report available to anyone interested — he almost always votes in their favor, and during the discussions neither he nor they mention the fact that money has changed hands. It looks like the new council members are simply following a well-worn path that Herzog laid out.

The bottom line is that no City Council members should be accepting money directly or indirectly and then voting on projects from the people and/or businesses who gave them that money. Technically it is not illegal, but everyone knows what’s going on.

If they want to take the money, then admit it and recuse themselves from the discussion.

Better still, don’t take the money.

— Jim Gardner

A Tale of Two Anaheims

Diana Lopez, president-elect of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association: “And basically the City Council doesn’t care. Perhaps another riot will get their attention.”

To me, that’s the bombshell in the article. What an irresponsible message to put out in public, and the Hispanic Bar should be extremely worried that this was said. Its a black eye to our entire Hispanic community to suggest that the only solution is a violent one.

The reality is that the best way to help the Latino community is to support economic growth in the area that will create jobs. The “Hi Neighbor” program and other feel-good efforts make for great PR but do little to get to the root of the dissatisfaction in the community.

It’s great the Mayor is having these press conferences and community meetings and is engaged in a listening tour. That’s important. But so is the hard work of encouraging businesses to stay in Anaheim and hire Anaheim residents, which is what the rest of the council is rolling up their sleeves to do.

— Responsible Orange

The Lopez comment came off differently in the room. I’m pretty sure what Ms. Lopez meant was, “What’s it going to take to get their attention? Another riot?” At least, that’s how I heard it.

It’s easy for things to come out wrong when you’re not reading a prepared text. And it looks different in print. And I agree that unless the majority on the City Council stops disrespecting and disregarding the Latino Anaheim, more civil unrest is a real danger. They should be healing the community, not inflicting more wounds. They should be bringing people together, not driving a wedge between the Two Anaheims.

— Danaruns

You are exactly correct, Responsible Orange. Unfortunately Mayor Tait has bought into the myth of a polarized America and even somehow seems to be enjoying the cultural war he has started in Anaheim.

So tell us, Mayor Tait, what is your end vision for Anaheim? Is it balance you seek? Should the residents on Ana Drive magically convert their neighborhood into a guarded, gated community such as yours? Or will you be better satisfied once you see graffiti, gang violence and prostitution in your own neighborhood?

Playing the race card in Anaheim doesn’t promote change, it promotes hate.

— Ground Control

Actually, unorganized little riots will do very little to create positive change unless there is a full-scale revolt or better yet calculated civil disobedience at targeted locations. (Disney’s front door?)

Riots create a media circus and get people entrenched into different sides fearing for their safety and property. The law enforcement agencies will just use the incidence of “violent” civil unrest to apply for more Homeland Security grants and such in order to “secure” the country from domestic terrorism.

More money will go to the security apparatus, and the city and state and nation will still not be able to come up with solutions for education and job opportunities.

— Got your back

County’s Affordable Housing Projects

An outstanding effort by Karen Roper and the Board of Supervisors to help at most five families of eight people or about 40 people. Out of 21,000 homeless!

This is really a way to make sure that about 10% of the total, or about $300,000, goes to developers as fees. Wouldn’t making sure that all Orange County toddlers are housed on an emergency basis be a better use of this money?

And why haven’t we done that yet?

— Dwight Smith OCCW

Did Anaheim Plan to Deceive Feds and Gain a Grant?

How can they possibly deny that this wasn’t a deliberate attempt to deceive?

Typical political move: Deny all wrongdoing until it becomes obvious it’s true, and then resign in disgrace. All of which will probably occur in a month’s time.

The Masters of the Universe think they can get away with anything. Not this time it looks like.

— SaveAnaheim

Raining on the LGBT Parade

I support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, but here’s the deal …

The [Tet] parade [in Westminster] receives a permit from the city for the use of the public property. That actually excludes the LGBT community from having claims to use that public property during the period the permit is valid. If the LGBT community had a permit for a parade, how would they feel about some hate group demanding they get to march in their parade?

Now the “proper” approach for the LGBT community has to do with the permitting process. They might want to question Westminster City Hall as to the grounds and conditions under which the permit was issued.

Certainly pressuring the parade organizers is politically proper, but ultimately they can refuse unless there is something about the permit issued by the city that provides leverage. (Or something in the laws about the permitting process.)

The next step would be to pressure City Hall for the following year about the grounds under which the parade permit is issued and whether it should be issued to an exclusionary group.

— Kburgoyne

Why do you analogize the presence of LGBT Vietnamese celebrating Tet with their brothers and sisters to the presence of a hate group? A hate group? Really?

— Greg Diamond

The Lunar New Year parade was the most wonderful thing the Vietnamese community put together every year for our kids to watch and learn about the traditional celebration on Lunar New Year.

I’m sure the Vietnamese community will pull this off perfectly, because they have contributed a lot to the city and the community overall. They always step up when others needed help in critical times.

I have confidence that this parade will happen beautifully and safely. I’m supporting them all the way. Keep up the great work.

— Lovable person

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