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.

No More Beach Bonfires?

This is probably the only right call the Board of Supervisors has made in the last five years. And ironically, their vote is meaningless because they have no power over the final decision.

So they make a big deal over something that they have no control over. It was a powerless vote to gain suck points with the general public, since the Big 5 know that the large majority of the public is in opposition.

More feckless political expedience.

— Beelzebub

Santa Ana Deputy CEO Investigated for Misconduct

I think we got the answer to the Voice of OC’s question of “do we need a corruption commission?”

— Paul Lucas

Little thin on facts and heavy on character assassination here.

Did a traffic accident even happen? It looks like Voice of OC has not confirmed that it did.

They quote “anonymous” sources without verifying with a second source? Pretty weak.

Since it’s a personnel issue, it’s not even something the City Council members would be briefed on, yet one member throws out a loosely worded ambiguous quote.

Get it together, VOC. Wait until you have some facts before you post rumors and innuendo. We expect better from this blog.

— Al Simmons

Drakodaidis Fired

If Carlos Bustamante’s behavior was reported to [Deputy County CEO Alisa] Drakodaidis and she did nothing, then she does not deserve the public trust.

Vote Democratic next time. At least the Dems share what they steal.

— IonaTrailer

Every internal county investigation has the same result: “insufficient evidence” or “claim unfounded.”

That was the county’s Human Resources department’s findings when they investigated Carlos Bustamante. After ignoring complaints for over a year, HR determined there was insufficient evidence to discipline Bustamante. But after the Voice of OC reported this travesty, the DA found sufficient evidence to charge Bustamante with 12 felonies and four misdemeanors.

The Drakodaidis “investigation” was no different. County investigators, either internal or hired guns, are provided the findings in advance and then told to go cherry-pick evidence to support the predetermined findings.

I won’t be surprised when these same “impartial” outside investigators find insufficient evidence following their current investigation of OC Waste & Recycling Director Mike Giancola.

— OC Bureaucrat

When does the law firm’s investigation become public so we can all review it?

— Truevoice

Culture of Corruption?

The atmosphere of corruption, from a wink and a nod to worse, is not limited to county government. If one watches over time the stories about white collar crime emanating from or occurring in Orange County, one will find that Orange County seems to be the epicenter of much of it — from charity boiler-room scams to “can’t lose” investment schemes to Medi-Cal and Medicare Fraud.\

There seems to be a culture here that enables such activity. It may be unrealistic to expect anything better of our government than of our community at large.

— News Hound

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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.

Ethics Commission

Orange County would benefit from the creation of its own Ethics Commission. The city of Los Angeles has had its own EC for years, and it is kept busy examining fundraising irregularities, disclosure and other conflicts of interest issues.

Information about the LAEC is online.

Its duties, activities and results show the worthiness for the creation of a similar entity in Orange County. I hope a majority of the county’s Board of Supervisors joins Supervisor Todd Spitzer to bring its own Orange County Ethics Commission to life.

— Jeff Dickman

Why we need this ethics commission:

  • [Former state Sen. Dick] Ackerman made the short list for clerk-recorder and was interviewed.
  • The CalOptima mess involving Supervisor [Janet] Nguyen.
  • The DA not being able to find the documents implicating Ackerman for what he did during the sale of the fairgrounds.

— Reggie

I hope the grand jury knows that they have only touched the dust at the top of the surface. The rot goes deep, very deep.

— Insider2

As much as I hate to admit it, [Board of Supervisors Chairman Shawn] Nelson’s right. These chairs, boards, commissions, oversight bodies, etc. — whatever you want to call them — are only as good as those who appoint them.

If Frankenstein and Dracula appointed an oversight body to monitor the operations of the Transylvania municipal government, would you realisitcally expect a more ethical Transylvania? Of course not. All you would get is more highly paid bureaucrats with big fat pensions who accomplish next to nothing. It would end up being more job creation for connected insiders.

So while this may sound like it has good intentions, I don’t buy it. It would just turn out to be another load of taxpayer dollars getting flushed with no real return.

Now if the oversight body consisted of regular, blue-collar-type volunteer citizens and paid a small stipend, I would be in favor 100%. But they would never allow that. We already saw that with the Office of Independent Review.

They don’t want real oversight. They want feigned oversight.

— Beelzebub

Controversial Dana Point Harbor Contract

I find it incredibly disappointing that they fired a county employee simply because he asked some questions about what appears to be a wasteful contract. Does this mean that Internal Audits’ job is to just protect the supervisors?

— Disenfranchised

Affordable Care Act

In 2014, the penalty [for not having health insurance] is $95. In 2016 it rises to $695. As we all know, the insurance system survives based upon the management of their risk pools. The bet is that most people paying premiums are relatively healthy and require little medical care. Their premiums are able to finance the costs associated with the sick population.

If you’ve read the news, you’ve noticed that the big California insurance companies have asked for big premium increases, as large as 20%. And Obama’s Health and Human Services czar, Kathleen Sebelius, already blew the warning whistle that Obamacare will not lessen costs as promised. No, Sebelius said that costs will continue to rise higher, higher and higher.

So what happens when the average Joe figures out that it’s much cheaper to pay the $95 or $695 annual penalty than it is to buy a health insurance policy, because when Joe actually gets sick he can opt to buy an insurance plan, since under the new law Joe cannot be denied?

Simple. It crashes the system. ObamaCare was designed to fail.

Same with businesses. Those with less than 50 employees do not have to provide insurance for their employees; it becomes the employee’s problem. Businesses with over 50 employees could opt out of providing insurance and instead pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee. The first 30 employees are exempted, so he’d pay a penalty of $2,000 for, say, the residual 20 employees. That’s an annual penalty of $40,000, much cheaper than financing insurance for 50 employees when the employer’s share of the premiums would probably average at least $10,000 per employee.

Do the math: It’s much cheaper to opt out. So the risk pool will be mostly very sick patients who require constant medical care. And many will probably be so poor that their premiums will be zero or a very insignificant amount.

It’s not hard to see how this story ends. All it takes is some objectivity and honesty.

— Beelzebub

Irvine City Project 45 Percent Over Budget

Who is the project manager on this project? Timelines, milestones, what is going on?

Let me define a project manager: It is the person that is responsible for accomplishing clear objectives, which includes building the project requirements and managing the project. Most important is the cost, time and scope of the project.

What a project manager is not is a city manager or council members trying to figure out finance without a financial or business background.

[City Manager Sean Joyce asked,] “When are we going to run out of money?” When the taxpayers get fed up with government taking their money and throwing it in the garbage.

— Kdaigle362

No More ‘Competitive’ Rates at Mesa Water District

Why did we drop “competitive rates” from our Strategic Plan?

That wording was dropped because you cannot compare water rates across districts and get a true picture of the actual cost to the ratepayer.

Most districts take some of your property tax money to subsidize water rates. Mesa Water does not. It would be impossible to match a lower rate by a district that gets up to 50 percent of water charges through property tax when we don’t get that extra tax money. It would be an apple to oranges comparison to just compare “rates” without including the property tax charges at other districts.

In the future you could do a better job of reporting by actually asking questions instead of portraying this along with the stipend discussion as negatively as you can. You perform a disservice to the readers with your style.

— James Fisler

Fisler is president of the Mesa Water District.

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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.

Layoffs at the Honda Center?

This is just cruel. Honda Center and [Anaheim Ducks owner Henry] Samueli have zero problem with firing workers who have helped build their great brand.

Where is the city of Anaheim on this? Isn’t this city-owned property, and shouldn’t our elected officials demand better for middle class families? I think they should, or we should vote them out.

— Stunned

The Honda Center is a business. It’s not like the government. It actually survives or perishes based on its business decisions and its bottom line. Deficit spending is not an option.

For some absurd reason, union people feel entitled to a job and entitled to comp packages that are over and above what nonunion service jobs pay. It’s time to accept the same compensation provided for private sector service jobs or move on. No more prima donnas. Society can no longer afford it.

— Beelzebub

CalOptima’s Response

The fact that the board approved a grand jury response letter unanimously with no comment says everything that needs to be said about the lack of transparency of the CalOptima board. Can you say, “in Janet Nguyen’s pocket”?

— DocC

Police Payout

OK, then correct it. That means repaying every nickel, because even if the chief allowed the rollover, it only appears to have been requested for the following year, not into perpetuity.

Mistakes happen, but then they are rectified, and if the IRS mistakenly sent me a refund higher than I was entitled to, I would be forced to repay it. Period. When the cashier accidentally gives back too much change, most of us return to the store and give it back (I hope), and I would expect a cop, of all people, to do the same.

— Cynthia Ward

From my point of view, the only issue in question is: Was the inspector’s request to exceed the number of maximum hours of vacation accrual approved by the police chief and city manager?

What many people are forgetting is the vacation hours themselves were legitimate and did not cost the taxpayer any more money than had the employee used them over the years, taken an extended leave just before retirement or, as it so happened, was paid for them in a lump sum.

The payout of leave time does not count as part of the employees single highest year for retirement purposes, so it cannot be considered a retirement spike.

The Santa Ana City Council should do its home work before commenting to the media about such incidents. It makes them appear ignorant of what is happening in their city and of city policies and procedures.

— Ltpar1

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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.

Santa Ana’s Streetcar

The City Council has had presentations and study sessions on the trolley, and there were public city meetings hosted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and city staff. Also there have been neighborhood meetings where this was a topic and staff did a presentation and answered residents’ questions.

The City Council could have come to a number of places to get more information where some of the same questions were being asked, but the fact they didn’t underscores the disconnect of the council members in conversations to the residents and apparently even their own staff.

This City Council has also made several votes on this project, including picking the consultants, who are responsible for keeping them informed, and a number of transit- and trolley-dependent developments projects along the route.

They are just now beginning to ask questions that should have been raised years ago at the beginning of the process. Have they really been ignorant and uninformed this whole time as they made those important decisions?

The Santa Ana streetcar is a boondoggle just like Centerline was and should be stopped now before more precious taxpayer money is wasted.

— SA Resident

The council members stated at the meeting that they have seen numerous presentations but have yet to have their questions answered by city staff.

It is a ridiculous statement that the council needs to be at public meetings in order to have answers to questions by staff.

The argument here is not a disconnection by the council majority from the community as SA Resident states but rather a culture of staff disconnection with the council.

Sarmiento was asking the correct questions on behalf of the residents and is concerned that the council majority is not getting the community questions answered. This is the disconnection.

— Art lomeli

A New County Clerk-Recorder

It looks like [former Clerk-Recorder Tom] Daly and [Anaheim City Councilman Jordan] Brandman took [Interrim Clerk-Recorder] Renee Ramirez down.

Too bad for her, but she should have reported what they were doing earlier.

— Truevoice

Oh, this is scary. Ms. Ramirez, who pulls down $113,000 a year, doesn’t know you are not suppose to split contracts to avoid going to the Board of Supervisors for approval? Her name is all over split contracts.

It is her duty as second in command to know what is going on and stop it if it is illegal or wrong.

And exactly how did Ms. Ramirez get to pull down that kind of money? Her mentor and scapegoat promoted her for being such a good second in command and keeping her mouth shut. People running much, much larger departments make as much or less.

— Workingstiff

Take a hard look at what happens to county staff who report wrongdoing. It’s not pretty.

Employees who report unethical, illegal or fraudulant activities are destroyed. This career destruction is made public to serve as an example to any other employee who gets the idea that reporting illegal activity might be the proper thing to do.

The county has made it clear: Go along to get along, pay to play, speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil. If all else fails, act ignorant and stupid and pretend that you never noticed what was going on in front of your face.

The only time that reporting of illegal, stupid or improper behavior or actions is tolerated is when the CEO or the Board of Supervisors finds that exposure will provide political benefit, and then they make hay of it by acting outraged.

And the question posed by [Supervisor Todd] Spitzer during the clerk-recorder interviews regarding same-sex marriage makes me sick. Is this all we have to be concerned about? Given the garbage going on at the clerk-recorder’s office, this was all he could come up with as an assessment question?

The answer is clear: Just follow the law.

— Insider2

After reading Brandman’s report, I feel that Renee Ramirez deserves a thanks but no thanks from the Board of Supervisors. She should be asked to skip the interview for lacking the judgement to cut off payments to this hack. 

— Mitt Campbell

I am just very grateful it looks like we got someone [Hieu Nguyen, a longtime county employee] in there who knows the job and is not looking for the next political seat.

— Cynthia Ward

What’s Wrong With the Fair Board

This has been along fight. The statute of limitations on this type of money laundering and political corruption has a shelf life of four years. It has taken thousands of hours of dedicated volunteers tirelessly dogging the Fair Board to bring it to light. Once the evidence was heard and reviewed, the conclusion was obvious.

The biggest scandal is that this obstruction of public records requests and sweeping the evidence under the rug reaches to the highest levels of the district attorney’s office. They’ve known about this for years but have refused to do anything about it but write a whitewashed report that ignored all the evidence.

The only way to get the full weight of the DA’s office against you is to steal a $5 campaign sign. Try and steal a $200-million dollar public property and they help you cover your tracks.

— Gericault

One issue the public faces is dealing with [the Fair Board’s] staff, who took jobs at a public agency but don’t want to follow the rules of public agencies or even deal with the public.

There are staff who won’t talk with members of the public or work with them. They give the impression that they just want the public to go away and stop showing up at the fairground. Public records requests look like they could become a problem again, because some staff just don’t like filling the request and have said so.

There are so many people who would love to have those jobs and do a fantastic job with them!

— Reggie

I was very happy to attend this meeting and glad that this is being brought out into the light. We all need to know about what is going on there, and yes, somebody’s got to fix it.

It’s time someone is challenging the Fair Board and showing the public what they are up to over there. I can tell you this is a public place, and the staff clearly showed us that “we,” the public, were not welcome.

— Sillyme

Homelessness Conference

It’s comical that there were no politicians reported at this event. It would seem that they would be the ones who would need to hear the information the most. It was on a Saturday, so they were probably attending fundraisers at some five-star hotel with union or corporate lobbyists.

It’s amazing that in America today they’ll do a sting operation on people who have no place to call home for loitering and toss them in jail for merely existing. (Everybody’s got to be someplace at any given point in time.) Meanwhile American bankers literally knowingly and willfully launder hundreds of billions of narco dollars for international drug cartels and not one of them is prosecuted, let alone see the inside of a jail cell.

Sometimes life feels like a Mel Brooks movie in real time.

— Beelzebub

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