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.

Nguyen and Union Campaign Contributions

This story is wonderful. It tells me a great deal.

FIrst, it’s not only a slam on Nguyen for taking union money through the back door, it’s a slam on the union for getting into bed with the Republicans.

Second, since it’s a slam on the Orange County Employees Associsation, Voice of OC should be commended since the VOC has been accused of living off OCEA funds and shining [OCEA General Manager] Nick Berardino’s shoes. Yet here VOC appears to bite the very hand that feeds it. That should earn the respect of anyone. Nice job, VOC. At least there’s still some journalistic ethics alive somewhere.

Third, if Nguyen took $1,700 from OCEA, how much of the remaining $430,000 was obtained through backdoor deals? And what political paybacks have transpired as a result? So it’s not the $1,700 amount; it’s the principle of it. If Janet is willing to jump into bed with OCEA, I want to know who the other bedfellows are too?

This is why intelligent people no longer trust the system. We’re constantly lied to. She knows the money was dirty; that’s why she returned it. And afterwards she refuses to take questions from the media.

We want your side to the OCEA money story, Janet. Where are you, dear? You don’t return VOC’s telephone calls for a comment? Why not? I thought you were the transparent girl?

— Beelzebub

I know I’m sick when the only two things that interest me about this story are: (1) The Orange County Register had the story, not VOC, and (2) $1,700 out of a $430,000 campaign fund? This is a not worthy of a story anywhere.

— You’re Correct

Nguyen is a well-known control freak. Her staff do nothing without direct input from her. That her staffers went out and got union money through political groups formed by themselves, and she seriously wants anyone to believe she wasn’t aware of the sources?

The whole point in accepting contributions is so that political favor can be curried. She has to know who is owed favors. Otherwise what’s the point of giving?

How many times can one politician get away with “I wasn’t aware”?

— Smith2

The OC Republican Party is about as hypocritical as they come. The pledge to not take union money was nothing more than a gimmick put forth by a bunch of cronies who tried to fool us into believing they are not part of the influence racketeering game.

I’m a registered Republican, but this disgustingly blatant money laundering by Nguyen (and others) is pushing me away from the party I used to believe in.

Thank you, Shirley [Grindle], for exposing these scheming hacks!

— Don Draper

Mayors Want Power to Cut Employee Pensions

The topic of public pensions and anything to do with them has been thoroughly vetted on this site. I believe it is unlikely that all those writings and pronouncements of various posters have convinced anyone to change their mind.

This proposed initiative, financed with a lot of out-of-state money — with roots leading to Wall Street brokers and traders who would love to get their hands on commission and fee generating public pension fund investments — is a full employment act for attorneys should it qualify for the ballot and be approved by the voters.

As is often the case, the lawyers win.

— News Hound

Question is, will these “cost-cutting mayors” lower their own goodies? Hmmmm, anyone want to put money on that?

— Kate

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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.

Hate Speech and Anaheim Council Politics

Last night’s meeting was very upsetting in many ways.

While the other council members did take the time to thank Tait for his leadership, Murray stopped short of the apology she owes the mayor. Her ugly attack on him during the TV interview with Rick Reiff [of PBS SoCaL] was unprofessional in the extreme, using the ugly words of an angry and ignorant man to divert attention from the fact that the reporter had her backed into a corner on the council’s retaliatory behavior against Tait regarding the Angels deal and his insistence that we discuss the deal in public.

Murray showed she is willing to throw ethics and basic common sense out the window for her own political career. In the long run, I suspect, that lack of moral fiber makes her political career that much shorter.

While I am glad Tait asked for a review of policies, I suspect it will come back telling him what I think he already knows: There is no legal way to enact a policy beyond what we have.

To blame Tait for the words of others that are constitutionally protected is to blame Disney that it is raining during your Anaheim Resort vacation.

— Cynthia Ward

[From the Voice of OC article:] “[William Denis] Fitzgerald, a well-known City Hall gadfly and provocateur, for years has pushed the limits of free speech with offensive language at council meetings.”

All the more reason that Tait should not have been asleep at the switch. First Amendment arguments in this case do not stand up to a requirement for germaneness and decorum and just doing what is right at the moment.

This type of hate speech is nothing new for this d-bag, and Tate should have been prepared to have a reason to find him disruptive and his rant about the Holocaust not within the jurisdiction of the council.

— Junior

This wasn’t the first backpedaling from the council majority in the past two weeks. The Monday morning meeting where [William Denis Fitzgerald] shot off his mouth was also a backpedaling from Jordan’s draconian plan to make the mayor get a second; to Lucille’s milquetoast plan to have any unseconded member be able to agendize, but only during a meeting.

Could it be that all the public outrage is shaking them up a little?

— Vern Nelson

The best cure for hate speech is speech pointing it out. [Mayor Tom] Tait’s single sentence at the actual council meeting didn’t come close to the standard a leader would use to condemn it.

Why did it take four days (heck, four minutes, four seconds) to use that microphone to call [William Denis] Fitzgerald out? A consultation with the city attorney was necessary to clearly do the right thing?

And the rest of the council members sitting in stunned silence is not an excuse. Do your jobs and speak up. I have yet to see any council member condemn the attacks against Brandman. Tait’s four-day delayed response comes under the category of too little too late.

— DanChmielewski

My quote [in the Voice of OC article] was supposed to be, “As vice chair of [the Democratic Party of Orange County], I can say that [Henry Vandermeir, chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County] was not speaking for the party with anything else he said [beyond the basic condemnation of bigotry], especially when he went after Mayor Tait and asked him to apologize to Brandman.”

I say the above not intending to speak for the party — although that’s what Henry did far beyond what he legitimately could do as chair — but based on my personal experience of the preceding eight days. If there had been a central committee meeting, an executive board meeting or even a canvass of party officers regarding how to respond, I would have to have been notified of it — and I was not.

I conclude from that that no such meeting or consultation happened. Henry was expressing his own opinion while inviting the inference that it was the party’s position.

Had such consultation occurred, there surely would have also been mention of the chronic anti-Latino racism of [speakers], which the council majority ironically seems to tolerate without a peep.

— Greg Diamond

Is Jill Arthur Back at City Hall?

This is a very strange situation. Lots of information gaps. But that’s what happens when you deal with governments that regard concealment as their staunchest ally.

If I read the series of articles correctly, the principal here [Jill Arthur, former deputy city manager in Santa Ana] was accused of acting unethically in a job-related function and was allegedly fired for it.

Now this article alleges that she may be working for the city as an unpaid volunteer?

My question: If someone was let go for an ethics violation, why would you accept him or her back in any capacity, paid or unpaid? If I were an employer, I would much rather deal with an incompetent than an unethical employee.

With enough training I could always teach the incompetent one to at least perform up to the minimal standards. But in my experience, you can’t teach ethics. Either you got them or you don’t. Sort of like spots on a leopard’s hide.

— Beelzebub

Actually, the article doesn’t say she was fired. It says “officially separated” and “left the city’s employ,” two very vague terms surrounding Ms. Arthur’s leaving that also leave a big hole in the reporting.

If it had been determined that Ms. Arthur had actually done something wrong, she would not have been allowed to come back to City Hall at all. They also would not have given her such a huge parting bonus.

This is just another example of an un-story and sloppy reporting. It has more to do with this City Council still feeling impotent and lashing out where they can than it does anything important happening at City Hall.

— SA Resident

The Latino Health Paradox

I regularly shop in stores that cater to the Latino community, and I can tell you that I see every kind of crappy food you can imagine in those carts. Sugar cereal, soda, sports drinks, chips (especially the superspicy ones), cupcakes and Twinkies — the list is endless.

I made a rule a long time ago that if the junk was not in the house, my kids could not get to it. Now does that mean we don’t have chips? No, my kids have a handful of the healthier baked chips with their tuna sandwich and some apple slices or baby carrots. Balance, that is how healthy kids are made.

Lazy parents who stuff their kids with junk all day and let them watch TV or play video games instead of playing outside are always so surprised when their kid winds up with diabetes and heart disease. It is child abuse, flat out.

You know, you have to have a license to drive a car or bathe a poodle, or cut hair. But any moron can have kids. It is mind-boggling.

— Kate

Musick Jail Expansion

Musick has had three publicized escapes — who knows how many unpublicized ones — in the last three years. Two in the last year. And this jail is located right smack-dab in the middle of residential neighborhoods — with single moms and kids.

And now the county approved a grant application to give the Sheriff’s Department more money to build a bigger jail with more violent offenders so that more dangerous convicts can escape into the residential neighborhoods?

Will the next desperate escapee hold a neighborhood family hostage or worse, steal their money or their car to make a run for the international border?

Not one supervisor brought up the fact that there have been three publicized escapes from Musick jail in the last three years before approving this grant. How irresponsible was that? And I didn’t hear the mayor of Irvine say anything about it either when he spoke publicly. Shameful.

So I guess that in their majestic opinions, inmates routinely escaping from jails located in residential neighborhoods is no big deal and not worth discussing when considering. Beyond belief.

— Beelzebub

From what I can tell, the current jail-farm in Irvine is nothing more than chain link fence and a little barbed wire. The thing was built in the ’50s.

The new facilities will be built to significantly higher standards, so the way I see it, the place will be safer than its current design.

The Musick jail was there before Irvine was even a city. I was stationed at El Toro [Marine Corps Air Station] many years ago in the ’70s. I remember when the area was farmland, and there were no homes. It’s not as if someone plunked a jail down in the middle of a neighborhood full of “single moms and kids.

Some moron decided to build homes next to a jail. Additionally, the county has a master plan that has always projected a larger jail to be built on the existing site. The city of Irvine sued and appealed several times and lost every time, yet they continue to plan homes around the jail. So who’s to blame for the single moms living there?

That said, I agree that the U.S. over-incarcerates its population and it’s time that we find alternate solutions. I think this effort by the sheriff to build a rehabilitation facility in the jail is a step in that direction but far from a large-scale paradigm shift that this country needs to make in order to reverse this trend.

— Don Draper

“Corrections, as we all know, has taken a dramatic turn in the state of California,” said [Supervisor Todd] Spitzer. “The fact of the matter is, with [a] 70-percent recidivism rate, we’re doing something wrong.”

Yeah, something is wrong: Stop criminalizing the mentally ill.

Orange County’s jail is one of the top 10 largest mental institutions in the nation. The average citizen doesn’t realize that’s where they are housed. And duh, they keep coming back.

This county’s continued agenda to re-arrest the mentally ill rather than provide court-ordered treatment, food, clothing and shelter with our Mental Health Services Act money is appalling.

— Opinion 11

Replace the Animal Shelter

I agree that we need a new shelter. But with the outrageous numbers of homeless humans on our streets, including children, teens and veterans, maybe we should focus on them first?

It isn’t mean; it is just a matter of priorities.

—Kate

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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.

Big Payouts at the Top

There was a time in the ’60s and ’70s when the county valued long-term employees and provided incentives for employees to stay versus leaving.

The major incentive was the ability to cash out one’s sick leave, which could be accumulated without limit, after 20 years of service if one reached the age of 50, the minimum retirement age, or when retiring at a later age. So, imagine how many sick leave hours one might accumulate over a 30-or-more-year career if he or she is relative healthy and does not abuse it.

That policy was changed over time, and few county employees remain who are eligible for such payoffs. Internally, the policy was referred to as the “golden handcuffs” (as compared with the “golden parachute”), as it tended to make it painfully expensive for an employee to leave county employment before retiring.

So with [former County Counsel Benjamin] DeMayo and [retired head of finance Tom] Beckett you see a couple of old-timers being paid what they were promised decades ago.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, the county no longer values long-term employees, and that began when the county, starting about 10 years ago, agreed to changes in the retirement system that incentivize employees to retire at a comparatively young age.

There are a lot of problems resulting from that change, including the loss of future leaders who suddenly discovered they can do as well or better in retirement then they could if they kept on working. Those folks are not stupid. A whole crop of future leaders has instead retired.

I predict it is going to get worse too.

— News Hound

Sick time should not be allowed to be banked — ever. Use it or else forfeit it to someone who suffers from a terrible accident or illness.

Vacation time should be used. Use it or lose it. No one should be able to bank more than two weeks of vacation time — ever. It does not matter whether you are an executive or front-line worker, vacations are necessary to the health and well-being of employees.

No one should get to cash out a huge payout like that

— Kate

This is no surprise. Government executives and managers pay less than everyone else and take more than everyone else. In the process, all public employees are vilified when it’s the fat cats who make off with all the dough.

Like the so-called $100,000 club, there are precious few rank-and-file employees who get anything approaching what these greedy barracudas get.

— Lostinspace

[County Human Resources Director Steve] Danley’s quote at the end of this article embodies the backwards nature of county leadership: “I don’t think we would do that to the executives until we did it to everyone else.”

So for the county, “leadership” is waiting for all the people you lead to do something before you? I can’t believe Danley said that. It is tone deaf and shows a complete lack of intestinal fortitude in dealing with the crisis of leadership at the top of county government. Unreal.

— NotSorryForMe

What a scam. [Supervisor John] Moorlach blames the unions, but then the truth comes out that executives and managers are really the ones gaming the system and fleecing taxpayers. And he has the ability to stop that, but he won’t.

When will the residents of Orange County wake up and see what hypocrites are leading them?

And that’s real leadership by [County Human Resources Director] Steve Danley: The executives might think of doing it, but the rank and file have to do it first?

Do we have another [former Bell City Manager] Robert Rizzo in the making here or what? This attitude is what led all those other cities like Bell and Stockton in to the messes they’re in now.

Time to stop the bleeding and get these executives in check.

— Stunned

Trimming the Mayor’s Agenda Powers

I don’t think much thought was put into the consequences of this at all. The main thing was to shut up Tait about the Angels agreement as soon as possible, plus any other similar items that are in the pipeline and which, of course, we know nothing about.

— David Zenger

Public comments are not limited to those items on the agenda; they are only limited to the business of the council. So we may use our three minutes at that microphone to address the deal points of this blatant giveaway with or without the mayor’s agenda-setting ability.

However, the City Council is not permitted to discuss what we have brought up if the item is not on the agenda. If the mayor cannot put it on the agenda, those miscreants can now hide behind the Brown Act, and rather than account to us for their decisions, they can pretend that they would love to engage us in discussion if only it were on the agenda.

Big difference, and it covers their chicken inability to justify why they are sending even more of our money to their friends or the clients of their friends.

There are two interesting consequences to this action that [Councilman Jordan] Brandman and his fellow conspirators are not going to like, although they are nowhere near smart enough to have seen it.

(A) This is such a blatant attempt to shut up the mayor and is being done while the world watches now that the Angels name has grabbed everyone’s attention. Not even Disney’s money plastering the town with fancy mailers telling voters that the giveaway quadruplets “created jobs and kept the Angels in Anaheim” will be able to save them from the black eye they have given themselves.

(B) Well, I am not about to tip off Brandman and his buds about the other consequence, but it puts [Mayor Tom] Tait firmly in the driver’s seat — actually puts him in a better position than he is currently in against their majority bullying tactics.

So please, Mr. Brandman, go ahead and do this, and let’s see how your friends back you up and screw themselves out of re-election as well. At this point it does our side a huge favor, because the citizens of Anaheim who object to this bad behavior could not but notice the kind of negative publicity that the majority is about to provide for themselves — and a parliamentary quandary to boot.

— Cynthia Ward

Nepotism at Garden Grove City Hall?

People cannot defend the position based on qualifications. As was mentioned with the violations he had committed, if a person is to be a role model for younger children, I would think it would be important to have a clean record. But I could be wrong (ha ha).

There are no reasonable explanations. It is very clear what the city does, and as the other article had mentioned, it is who you know and who you are related to. That is what is clear: How do you allow relatives or even family friends to get high-ranking jobs with no qualifications.

I do not see how they are going to get out of this one, but I doubt people will put pressure to reveal true motives. We can only hope that the Voice of OC continues to do its work and expose it for what it really is.

— Sparrow

Sparrow, did you read this paragraph in the article?

He was charged with public intoxication and resisting a police officer in 2000. The public intoxication charge was dismissed, and he pled guilty to the other. Jeremy Broadwater was “disorderly, contemptuous and insolent” during his criminal proceedings, leading a judge to declare him in contempt of court, public filings show.

Do you consider it at all odd that someone with that criminal history would get hired for a position of public trust as a community service officer by the city of Garden Grove? Doesn’t that make you go “hmmm”?

Lots of people apply for these competitive positions, and I would surmise that a significant majority have no criminal history at all when applying for such a job of public trust.

It just strikes me as a very strange situation. I have an open mind and am always willing to consider alternate opinions on the matter, but so far no one has offered a reasonable explanation.

— Beelzebub

Latino Health Paradox

I think a good follow-up question is who’s to blame, the parents or the fast-food companies?

— Jimmy24

The tragedy is that our Latino roots, our traditional cuisine, tend to be so-o-o very healthy.

What we really need to do is start together, because it is going to take all of us. We need to recondition ourselves to stop eating at fast-food places, stop drinking sweet drinks (including soda, electrolyte drinks, caffeinated drinks and juice), stop bringing sweet cereals home for breakfast and just go back to our roots, our homes, our kitchens, our foods.

Quality, nutritious calories only come from fresh, beautiful and colorful foods that come directly from the earth. Yes, exercise is extremely important, but more important is the fuel you use to energize your body.

The reprogramming and reconditioning of society will not be easy, but I believe it can be done. Health is a choice. Really, there is no health insurance in the world that can do for you what you can do for yourself.

— MyHealthyCocina

Bid Rigging at the Fire Authority?

The Orange County Health Care Agency should be the one to administer the ambulance contracts, not the Orange County Fire Authority. This has always been a problem and needs to be fixed once and for all. The fire authority has used this power of giving contracts to their advantage and are very rude to the various ambulance companies.

— Four bye

Obamacare

OK, let me see if I’ve got this straight. [Supervisor John] Moorlach led the vocal opposition against Orange County accepting outreach grant funds, and now he’s outraged that we have limited outreach funds? You have got to be kidding me.

— OCTaxpayer

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