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.

Task Force Probing Orange County Corruption

Did you notice that the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 23 was really short and fast? Everything was “move and second.”

The IT contract was pulled — why? Are they spooked by the investigation?

The parking management contract was put over the week before — why? Are they spooked by the investigation?

[Supervisor] Janet Nguyen all of a sudden abstains from voting on anything Health Care Agency or CalOptima related. Why now? Why all of a sudden? Worried about something?

And the response to the grand jury on harassment gets a terse motion, second. No discussion. What? They have nothing to say about a very important report?

Looks to me like the board is nervous. I think they have reason to be nervous. Sadly, nobody has any pity for them. They have been rude, arrogant and dismissive. They have used and abused the trust of employees and taxpayers.

All five board members have brought years of shame to Orange County — one abuse after another, one scandal after another. Now they might just have the opportunity to feel the sting of the light of day.

People in the know need to tell what they know to the feds. It is now or never if we are going to clean up this cesspool.

— Insider2

Clean up the county, please. Please take out the trash.

— Nearly30inOC

Reading these comments is making me sad because they’re all so true.

The reality is the crony interests here have had free reign so long that if this task force pointed its resources in any direction, it would find something good.

Board of Supervisors? Check. CalOptima? Check. [Lobbyist] Curt Pringle and Anaheim? Check. Water and sanitation district boards? Check. Most of the city councils? Check.

Looks like huge vindication for the grand jury and their report about corruption in Orange County.

I thought it was pretty pathetic for the Board of Supervisors to take away their stipends and dismiss their findings by calling the grand jury members a bunch of reckless, elderly folks who don’t understand complex issues.

Can’t really say that about the district attorney. And the FBI. And the U.S. attorney. And the FPPC. But it’s sure going to be funny to watch them all try to discredit this.

Hope this task force cleans up OC once and for all. God knows we need it.

— Stunned

If the DA had been interested, something would have already been done a long time ago. Don’t forget, the DA’s budget is formulated by the supervisors.

It would just look very strange for the U.S. attorney, the FBI, the IRS, the FPPC and the attorney general to get involved without inviting the DA.

The FBI doesn’t show up unless something stinks pretty darn badly. It’s not like busywork for an overstaffed agency. When agent bodies are allocated, it’s for good reason based on facts. It’s not a courtesy visit. You can count on that.

— Beelzebub

It’s a long time coming. We can only hope that there are actual consequences to those who have done wrong.

Can’t wait to see how this soap opera plays out.

— Figgy1

The task force won’t have to dig deep to realize that the supervisors’ shenanigans are blatant and appalling.

This news just made my day. If anyone witnesses a colossal bonfire in the OC, call the authorities. They’ve got a lot of evidence to purge.

— Straight shooter

Pension Hypocrisy?

Many managers now pay more than 22% of their monthly income to fund their retirement. I worked for many years in the private sector before coming to the county; I don’t know anyone who funded their own 401(k) or retirement accounts at anywhere close to 20%. And believe me, we made a lot more money in the private sector.

I chose to come to the county for a number of reasons, and I do not regret my decision. I understand that public employees must contribute to their own pensions, and while I wish it were at a lower percentage, this is the reality, and we have to deal with it.

There is no reason why any county manager, including executives and the Board of Supervisors, should be exempt. If Supervisor [John] Moorlach or any other supervisor will one day collect a pension, he should be required to fund that pension at the same rate that applies to all other managers.

— Hbluv2surf

I understand why this might seem hypocritical, but should all politicians who advocate against overly generous pension policies that are enacted anyway be expected to refuse to take those benefits themselves?

And by contrast, should those politicians that did vote for the overly generous pension policies be allowed to benefit from them?

Why then shouldn’t people who want bigger government just be expected to pay higher taxes than other people?

— Jskdn2

Moorlach and his wife are making a $16,000 decision? That’s rich.

It’s not about what’s right, it’s not about what’s fair, it’s about how much money it’s going to cost him.

Hypocrite is too kind a word for this two-faced Pharisee.

— Lostinspace

“Problems” Postpone County’s Huge IT Contract

Postponing the contract vote because “Xerox has problems” is an understatement. They low-balled their initial proposal and then colluded with IT managers to split responsibility for the cost increases.

This is the same thing that seems to happen with all county outsourcing contracts. The county never gets the services it asks for from winning vendors for the price they proposed.

There is probably a lot of money changing hands to get this bad deal rammed through.

Supervisor [Janet] Nguyen warned Xerox when the initial bids were accepted, “If you’re low-balling us, we’re not going to take too kindly to it.” I wonder if in the end the board will stick to that threat or cave as they have done in the past.

— Chatka

Stupid question here: Why is Supervisor [Shawn] Nelson communicating directly with a bidder (Verizon) while the contract discussions are still on the table? What are the Board of Supervisors paying all their contract staff for if they are going to do it themselves?

Wasn’t there some talk about potential vendors feeling like these direct contacts were a thinly disguised “pay for play” attempt?

He said, “I contacted them,” not contract staff contacted them. If I was a vendor trying to do business with the county and a supervisor called me directly, I would assume they wanted a campaign contribution.

— Smith2

I’ll give the Voice of OC an A+. VOC is the only source of credible information about our local cities and the county of Orange. The light of day is on the political gamers, finally. Thanks, Voice of OC.

— Insider2

Nguyen’s Abstentions

Let me try and distill this down.

The entire Board of Supervisors enables Supervisor Janet Nguyen to restructure the CalOptima board of directors and assume absolute control.

Nguyen then chases away numerous board members and replaces them with her handpicked successors, most of whom are either directly employed by the CalOptima service providers or are doing business with them, thus creating an enormous conflict of interest.

After seeing all of this, the FBI launches an investigation of Nguyen’s fundraising practices.

CalOptima’s board is now so conflicted that many must abstain from voting on CalOptima matters. Isn’t voting on CalOptima matters the only reason they’re on that board?

So Janet Nguyen, the taxpayers’ ex officio member on CalOptima’s board of directors, is unable to fulfill her duties on that board due to her many conflicts of interest.

Supervisors, why was Nguyen’s coup allowed to go forward? This current state of affairs was predicted by government watchdog organizations and later the subject of a scathing grand jury report. Everyone saw it coming, yet you approved going forward with the coup.

This is just another example of the rampant corruption that makes Orange County government a laughingstock around the state and the nation.

— OC Bureaucrat

Dr. Chau’s Lecture Fees

I have met Dr. [Clayton] Chau at many community events and know that he has been instrumental in changing the OC mental health community for the better.

He helped countless people while working at the county Health Care Agency and continues to care about the underserved members of the mental health community.

I am not sure why you are going after him, since many doctors receive speaking fees. Are you researching them all?

— FleurMarie

Dr. Chau is one of the most committed community supporters in Orange County. He is a champion to those marginalized and probably used this money to support the countless organizations and individuals he’s helped over the years. Those in the LGBT, ethnic, mental health, HIV, etc. communities support Dr. Chau.

Shame on you, Voice of OC, for not providing the entire story and dragging a true community activist’s reputation down.

— CommunityWorker

Not saying he is a bad doctor. Not saying he has not made community contributions. Saying this: The doctor did not follow the rules on purpose to his advantage.

— Insider2

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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.

Sexual Harassment Training for the County’s Rank and File

Until the people are held accountable for aiding and enabling Bustamante, then all the training in the world is just a fraud.

[Many county executives and the Board of Supervisors] knew about the accusations, but they withheld information and took no action and allowed the victims to be exposed and exploited. In summary, they broke the law.

Management knew about “the Carlos [Bustamante] problem,” and they ignored it. This is against the law, and they are all under the law personally liable. Why did that not happen? Why were they all allowed to get paid off, promoted, allowed to retire?

The harassment training that the county of Orange has mandated over the past five years is very clear: If management knows about harassment and ignores it or enables it, then they have violated the law, and they are personally liable.

The Board of Supervisors’ solution? “Let’s roll out some same-old same-old training and trust that the sheep will think that the situation is under control. Throw in some of the “let’s move forward ” and “that is all behind us,” and there you have it: a cover-up.

The real story here is how did executive managers get away with breaking the law? Why were they not subject to a criminal investigation?

The victims will be re-victimized over and over again. The people responsible walk. And everyone watching makes a mental note: Never trust the county of Orange to do the right thing or protect people as required by law.

— Insider2

Want to see interesting numbers? Run the numbers of employees who have worker’s compensation claims for abuse, stress and depression. That is where the County hides the cases, and [Supervisor] Pat Bates knows it.

They pay off employees who are abused and tie it to a nondisclosure agreement. The money comes from taxpayers and the insurance company, and the agreement means it isn’t listed in real numbers.

Notice they did not mention claims of retaliation? They are vicious to anyone who speaks against criminal behavior, theft or dishonesty. Where are those numbers?

How about complaints from educated and qualified workers passed over for unqualified friends and family of bigwigs getting jobs they cannot do? Shocking.

This class is a joke, and so is any pretense of justice in this county. The numbers are good, Pat, because you doctor them.

— Kate

Twenty-one claims of wrongful termination; nine claims of gender, age and Americans with Disability Act discrimination; nine claims of racial harassment or discrimination; and two claims of sexual harassment, and Supervisor [Pat] Bates says, “I think this is not actually bad news.”

Really, Pat. Why don’t you sit down with these victims and let them explain to you how someone at the county — probably a supervisor or manager — was allowed to get away with things without so much as a ding in their personnel file while the victims are left to pick up the pieces of their broken life and try to move forward.

I can see where Supervisor [Todd] Spitzer would be a little sensitive to these issues, having been unlawfully terminated himself from the DA’s office, and thanks Todd for pointing these statistics out.

But Bates’ comments are a slap in the face to all the victims here. Maybe we can find an online sensitivity training program for you, Pat.

— Cacityguy

This is damage control ahead of Carlos Bustamante’s trial, pure and simple. The entire Board of Supervisors; former CEO Tom Mauk; Human Resources Directors Carl Crown and Steve Danley; former Public Works Director Jess Carbajal; and CEO Mike Giancola knew everything about Bustamante’s behavior, yet none of them did anything to stop him.

The county had formal harassment training in place long before Bustamante’s crime spree. What the county lacks is enforcement of the law. Instead of prosecuting the criminal, the county puts the victim on trial or publicly retaliates against whistle-blowers.

Supervisor Pat Bates brags about “minimal” complaints while ignoring the dozens or hundreds of silent victims who say nothing out of fear of retaliation.

— OC Bureaucrat

Online training is a joke. The goal is to click through the slides as fast as possible to “get it over with.” Cheat sheets with the answers to the quizzes are openly circulated. You can actually let the program run sometimes while you leave the room. Retention is minimal, and it costs a lot of money for the contract and paid staff time to sit through the presentation.

The other point is, what good is this type training if enforcement of rules is hit-and-miss? Every department has a handful of creeps that everyone knows about, but they are allowed to continue because they are a chosen one or politically connected.

That’s why the comments by Supervisor Bates ring hollow. There is much more of this going on, even at the Hall of Administration, than anyone will admit for fear of retaliation.

And we all know that retaliation is the go-to default in county politics when anyone is stupid enough to speak up.

— Smith2

A Questionable Parking Lot Contract

Sloppy, sloppy work on the bid. There are so many loose ends.

It is positive that most of the Board of Supervisors questioned this contract. I would like to know why Nelson took the stance he adopted: Hear no evil, see no evil, don’t care to know more.

The department really allowed this process to proceed in a messy and very questionable manner. The board should be asking: Why did the department, the contract staff and the CEO allow such a slipshod product to land in front of them in pubic, only to embarrass the board? Why did the CEO not review this and stop it and send it back for review?

The CEO really blew it on this one. Not a good example of having the back of the board.

— Insider2

Lyle [Overby] is too well connected to lose this contract. Not gonna happen.

— You’re Correct

New Alcohol and Entertainment Rules for Downtown Santa Ana

What is everyone so afraid of? Success and the rebirth of Santa Ana’s downtown and the reinvestment of dollars and the all great press that all these new restaurants that are serving some of newest and most creative foods?

Why are more restaurants looking for space from large to small? So what if a restaurant needs entertainment and wishes to carry over till 4 a.m.? The State still requires all alcohol off the bar and tables at 2 a.m. I believe that the restaurants with all their hard work like being called a bar.

The downtown is still reinventing itself. Since the late 1980s and early ’90s, the seed that has been planted and the rebirth is still growing and changing.

So let the downtown grow. Just believe, and we all can enjoy the real gem we have — downtown Santa Ana.

— Reason

I believe it is a common sense issue. We need as a commjnity to have a measured approach to bringing so many drinking establishments to such a crowded compact area. As it is there are a lot of bars. Too many already, some believe.

Someone said the last thing we need is a Tijuana Avenida Revolucion scene with young people partying. As for the Alcoholic Beverage Control rules, there are many, many workarounds and ways to easily manipulate.

The question I have is, why would citizens want more drinking establishments in an area which has historically been rife with crime.

We are beyond this. Build an Old Navy.

— Sylvia Beltran

Yep, that’s just was Santa Ana needs: less restrictive rules on selling booze. That should help reduce drunk driving incidents and shootings.

Hilarious. God bless those council people. They are always good for a laugh.

— Beelzebub

Wasn’t the whole idea of Artists Villiage and the “revitalization” of the area 10 years ago to move away from this kind of thing? More bars? Booze until 4 a.m.? (This is what this rule will mean despite claims otherwise.)

The City Council should take a field trip 10 miles north to downtown Fullerton, or if they are too lazy, simply spend a weekend reading the Fullerton Friends blog. That should set them straight on what’s right and wrong.

As for a public safety committee, who is on a committee that would propose extended alcohol hours and more bars? They should have their heads examined — and their bank books.

— Bring Back Henry Gattis

Placentia’s Controversial Billboard Deal

[Lobbyist Ken] Spiker declined to provide a copy of his contracts with Lamar and Regency. “I don’t need my contracts in the press,” said Spiker. “What I get paid from a private company has nothing to do with the public process.”

Holy moly, are you kidding me? Any consultant or contractor in any capacity that provides information used to influence a final outcome needs to file Form 700 [statement of economic interests].

Don’t like revealing your private business to the government? Then do not take contracts with the government.

— Cynthia Ward

One hundred and eighty thousand dollars paid over three years by the city to make a “couple of phone calls,” yet schools and libraries are underfunded. Nice to see money is being spent on the important things. (Sarcasm.)

— Fuqinho

The Treasurer’s Flip-Flop on County Pensions

How can the sitting county treasurer be so transparent in her obvious political calculations? Her revote is a total violation of her duty as a retirement board member.

The board totally ignored the recommendations from the actuaries and arbitrarily set rates. They claim they are being stewards of the public money, but they are really increasing the costs for the taxpayer by artificially endangering the system.

— NotSorryForMe

Wow, if there was ever any doubt about who pulls all the puppet strings in Orange County, this makes it completely clear. The Lincoln Club runs the show and bullies everyone into doing what they want.

How disappointing that Shari Freidenrich is just like the rest of them. I thought she had more integrity than that.

— Stunned

The real-life consequences of these actions and lies are drastic for the retirees who rely on this money, while the people who are supposed to represent their best interests play politics with their money and reduce their retirement security. Shameful.

— Skullcrusher

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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 a la Grindle

Honest, good people like Shirley Grindle are rare, and they give us hope. Thank you, dear lady, for your dedicated advocacy on behalf of those of us who find themselves unable to depend upon their elected county officials to do the honorable thing.

Unfortunately, I believe that it will take finding an Assembly member or Senator who would be willing to carry legislation that will mandate all that you recommend.

Unfortunately, finding a local legislator is doubtful, as all our elected officials appear to operate from the same ethical foundation. Given the history of our Board of Supervisors relative to accountability, conflicts of interest and public access to public information, depending upon them to do what is clearly right and just has been and will continue to be futile.

— Roslyn

I thank Ms. Grindle for her years of valued service to our community — 80 years and still going strong with fire in her belly. God bless you, Shirley.

— Beelzebub

To Beelzebub:

Thank you for your comments. By the way, I will not be 80 for two more years.

My recommended ethics commission deprives the Board of Supervisors from making appointments to the ethics commission. The Voice of OC article did not point that out. It is true that the Board could “remove” a person from the ethics commission, but they would have no part in appointing a replacement.

I couldn’t agree more with the fact that the Board of Supervisors is incapable of appointing a commission that is not beholden to them. Several years ago they appointed a committee to come up with an enforcement system for campaign violations, and guess who they appointed to the committee: their campaign consultants, lobbyists, their campaign attorneys. What a joke that was.

Aand true to form, these individuals did everything they could to gut the TINCUP ordinance. Thankfully, the board backed off, but we still have no enforcement of the TINCUP ordinance other than what I get on a voluntary basis from violators.

As to any conflicts with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, I don’t see much conflict there, if any, and certainly not as much as we have with the current district attorney, who has begged off investigating or enforcing any violations of the TINCUP ordinance ever since he took office.

— Shirley Grindle

All political money spending and receiving should be disclosed immediately to an online database.

The database should have both a human-readable Web page for nontechies and be available for reading via one of several highly standardized computer programming interfaces.

People should be able to harvest the data at will and cross-process it to their heart’s content.

— Kburgoyne

AQMD Withholds Records

Only when news agencies such as the Voice of OC start suing these agencies and prevailing, as well as being awarded legal costs, will these agencies give out this type of information.

Go get them, Terry [Franke, open-records consultant to Voice of OC].

— Cacityguy

Please tell me you are filing suit. A Public Records Act violation is easy to prove, and you get legal fees automatically if you can prove so much as one document was missing.

— Cynthia Ward

The Anaheim Trolley

This really should be a no-brainer.

Tell Disney they can build and operate the trolley line, and in exchange, they can collect revenue from passengers.

Disney would have to pay a fair market lease on the city’s property that they used. If the trolley actually has a good return on investment, then Disney will jump at the opportunity.

We can easily judge by how readily Disney is willing to gamble their own money versus gambling other people’s money on whether the trolley is a good idea.

— Kburgoyne

The streetcar is a great idea, and it will be well used and be a win-win for all.

But the current plan makes no sense at all. They need to go back to the drawing board with a design firm that has some knowledge of what it takes to build a streetcar line.

The current plans miss Honda Center and skirt Anaheim Stadium. The route can be improved and go on Disney property, not on Harbor Boulevard etc Where will the Disneyland station be? Where will the Convention Center and hotel station be etc.?

As for where the overhead trolley wire will be? On the entire line. Disney has used “unsightly overhead wire” on the new California Adventure Red Car line, and it looks just fine. The overhead does not have to look like the heavy-duty industrial wire used on the MTA Blue, Green, Gold, Expo and some U.S. streetcar lines but much less intrusive like the Red Car trolley at California Adventure and the yellow and red cars of Los Angeles 50-plus years ago.

The Anaheim streetcar can and should be built. It can be built much better for a whole lot less if properly designed and not anything like the current plans. Let’s get this line going and built right for less.

— Inrweuebans

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