On the Agenda

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Here’s a rundown of the main issues we’ll be tracking this week throughout Orange County.

To stay updated on the latest civic news across Orange County, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Subpoenas in Great Park Investigation?

Many were stunned — and others not surprised at all — at the level of waste and abuse alleged in Irvine’s forensic audit of the Great Park.

Millions in sole-source contracts were awarded with little to no accountability, the auditor found, and a former city employee in charge of invoicing refused to talk.

Among the alleged abuses: A $12,000 payment for a consultant to change just one word in a groundwater report.

Now, one of the big questions before council members is whether to use their subpoena power to force contractors and others to testify on the record and fork over documents.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway seems to have established himself as the swing vote on that move.

The council will also consider a $400,000 contract with the auditing firm to extend their investigation, including into whether public bidding and public works laws were followed.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. at City Hall. Click here for the staff report.

Anaheim Leaders to Call for Halt to Deportations?

As immigration reform starts to pick up steam in Congress, the leaders of Orange County’s largest city will consider calling on the president to stop deporting undocumented immigrants.

The council “urges President Barack Obama and the federal government to protect our families from destructive and needless immigration deportations by suspending further deportations and expanding the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to those individuals with no serious criminal history,” the resolution states.

They’d be following in the footsteps of Los Angeles, whose City Council issued its own call to end deportations in December.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Downtown Property Battle in Garden Grove

The Garden Grove Neighborhood Association is calling on residents to speak out against what they portray as a secretive effort to sell city property to a developer.

“According to the Sheldon Group, they have been given ‘exclusive’ rights to the property by our city for the development of high-density housing,” the association’s president, Maureen Blackmun, wrote in a Facebook post to followers.

“Councilman [Kris] Beard was under the impression all parties had been notified of various meetings in regards to the ‘disposing’ of the property,” she continued. “However, all parties who should have been notified had NOT been property noted. Many provisions afforded us under due process, seems to have been neglected. This does not seem fair.”

Several Main Street businesses sued to try to stop a similar sale of the land in 2007.

This time, many residents and business owners feel that Main Street should “have a comprehensive plan in place BEFORE the sale of this property to the Sheldon Group,” Blackmun wrote.

The council meeting starts Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Bonfire Bill Heads to Full Assembly

After passing unanimously out of two committees, a bipartisan bill to protect bonfire rings is scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly on Monday.

If it passes, the legislation would head to the state Senate and possibly the governor.

The proposed law comes after the South Coast Air Quality Management District banned many of the bonfire rings in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The pollution agency would be stripped of its power to regulate beach bonfires under the bill, which was introduced by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton.

The bill is the 88th item on the Assembly’s agenda for Monday. The session starts at noon and can be live streamed here.

Another School District Moves Toward District Elections?

As cities and education agencies across the region transform their election systems, Anaheim’s elementary school district could soon be joining in.

Board members at the Anaheim City School District plan to vote this week on taking an early step toward district elections, according to the Orange County Register.

It’s unclear whether they’re still on track. The meeting’s agenda doesn’t show the item, a proposed hiring of demographers to study voting patterns.

If the board does move forward, it would follow in the footsteps of the Anaheim Union High School District, which hired the same consultant, the Dolinka Group, and is on track to have its first district election in November.

The elementary school district’s meeting is Monday at 6 p.m. at its headquarters.

Housing Project in Orange Back for Debate

Last week’s hearing on the controversial Rio Santiago project brought out dozens of residents, many of whom were concerned about flooding and methane gas from the landfill next door.

Others said the 400-home project is the best option to create usable open space and sports facilities, with most of the land set aside for nature and recreation.

With an 11 p.m. cutoff, the rest of the comments were postponed to Monday.

After hearing from the remaining public speakers, the city’s Planning Commission plans to ask follow-up questions of staff and make its formal recommendation to the City Council, which ultimately decides on the project.

The meeting starts Monday at 7 p.m. at Orange City Hall.

School Bond Conflict of Interest Concerns

Magnolia School District officials recently got pushback from county supervisors when they tried to kill financial disclosure requirements for members of its bond oversight committee.

The disclosures, known as Form 700, are supposed to keep the public in the loop on any conflicts of interest that public officials may have.

The item has already been delayed twice, with a third chance at approval scheduled for Tuesday. We’ll see if anything’s changed.

Autopsy Firm Up for Re-approval

County supervisors are set to award another extension of the county’s coroner contract to Anaheim-based Juguilon Medical Corp., which drew scrutiny in a national PBS Frontline-ProPublica report on death investigations.

Certification from the American Board of Pathology is considered by many experts to be a critical element to becoming a medical examiner, according to Frontline’s 2011 report.

But one of Juguilon’s doctors “failed the certification exam at least five times,” the program found.

ProPublica also listed the firm as not having accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners.

A county Web page now states that Juguilon’s pathology staff is “comprised of four Board Certified Forensic Pathologists.”

The proposed one-year extension is worth $1.8 million, and it’s up for approval on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the county Hall of Administration.

New Development Deal Next to Great Park

County supervisors are set to approve a development deal for Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group to build on county land at the former El Toro air base.

The deal’s details weren’t available this weekend; the county’s website wouldn’t display any agenda attachments for this week’s meeting. It’s not the first time that’s happened.

The county’s property includes large warehouse-type buildings, smaller buildings and open grassland next to Metrolink railroad tracks.

New Social Services Director

The county is set to get a new leader at its largest department, the Social Services Agency.

Chief Deputy Director Mike Ryan is set to take the reins after the previous director, Michael Riley, retired earlier this month.

The agency oversees numerous programs, including Child Protective Services, foster and group home placements, food stamps, and public health insurance enrollment.

Nearly 4,000 employees work for SSA, which has a direct budget of around $750 million and oversees another $2 billion in services.

The agency has faced major challenges in recent years, including the loss of a civil rights lawsuit alleging serious misconduct in a child custody case.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that decision in 2011, which ultimately cost the county $10.6 million.

More recently, the agency has brought on dozens of extra staffers to handle Obamacare sign-ups.

Ryan’s appointment is on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda.

Major Meetings This Week:

Monday

Tuesday

Friday

See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!

Adam Elmahrek and Thy Vo contributed to this post.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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On the Agenda

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Coming out of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Orange County is gearing up for another week of civic action.

Here’s a rundown of the main issues we’re tracking.

To stay updated on civic action throughout Orange County, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fullerton Cop Wants His Job Back

Many local residents are furious over the acquittal of police officers in the Kelly Thomas beating, with well over 150 people attending a weekend protest in which 14 people were arrested.

Now, one of the involved officers — Jay Cicinelli, who was cleared of manslaughter charges — wants his job back.

A big turnout for public comment is expected at the Fullerton City Council meeting, which starts Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Controversial Housing Project in Brea

Local activists are up in arms over the Madrona project, which calls for building 165 homes on rural hills next to Chino Hills State Park.

They point to the area as a historic fire corridor and are urging council members to reject the project, which is up for approval on Tuesday.

City staff, meanwhile, says that the project is “not in absolute conformity with the General Plan and Carbon Canyon Specific Plan” but can still be approved by the council.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The staff report starts on page 11 of the city’s large agenda document.

No Vote on Santa Ana Mayoral Primaries?

Last year it looked as if the Santa Ana City Council majority was going to put mayoral primaries on the ballot, potentially making it harder for Mayor Miguel Pulido to be re-elected.

But the entire issue is set to be tabled this week, according to the council agenda.

The meeting starts Tuesday at some point after a 5:45 p.m. closed session.

‘Modernizing’ Santa Ana’s Utility Users Tax

Voters would decide in November on updating their utility users tax, if council members move forward on Tuesday.

The 6-percent tax on electricity, phone, water and gas service currently costs an average of $73 per resident each year, or $323 per average household of 4.43 people.

The exact changes aren’t explained in the staff report.

Online Access to Santa Ana Disclosure Forms

Santa Ana City Council members could join Anaheim, Irvine, Costa Mesa and Los Alamitos in making their campaign and financial disclosures available online.

The city is currently the largest in Orange County that doesn’t post any of the records, known as Forms 460 and 700.

Santa Ana’s program, however, would be voluntary for each council member until they opt in.

The program is up for a vote on Tuesday, with the staff report available here.

Major Meetings This Week:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!

Adam Elmahrek contributed to this post.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Comments are closed.

On the Agenda

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With many city and county officials meeting publicly for the first time since the holiday break, Orange County is gearing up for another week of major civic action.

Here’s a rundown of the main issues we’re tracking this week.

To stay updated on civic action throughout Orange County, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Forensic Audit on the Great Park

When Republicans seized the Irvine City Council majority a year ago, a forensic audit of the Great Park was one of their first orders of business.

This week, the council will debate the audit’s findings and might consider whether to issue subpoenas to force contractors to talk.

Construction at the park stalled for years under a previous Democratic council majority led by longtime council member and power broker Larry Agran. At the same time, newspaper reports exposed millions spent on Great Park consultants who helped bankroll council members’ election campaigns.

The audit shows a series of findings that auditors say merit additional investigation, including questionable contracts and payments to Great Park consultants.

Those consultants and others have refused to speak to the auditors, hamstringing the investigation and resulting in only cursory findings, the audit declares.

Auditors have asked the City Council to use its powers to force targeted officials to speak.

That decision — whether the council should subpoena officials — could be the focus of council debate.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 4 p.m. at City Hall. Click here to read the audit.

Beach Bonfire Bill Heads to Committee

The Assembly’s Committee on Natural Resources is set to hear a bill that would strip the Air Quality Management District of its power to regulate beach bonfires.

It comes after the pollution agency’s controversial decision to ban many of the rings in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton.

The hearing starts Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Room 447 of the state Capitol. You can read details about the bill here and listen live by clicking here.

New Housing in East Orange?

Developers and activists are gearing up for another battle over new housing on the Sully Miller site in East Orange.

About 400 units are proposed for the land, which formerly housed a sand and gravel mining operation.

The new project, known as Rio Santiago, would occupy 50 acres, averaging about eight units per acre.

The project is opposed by activists from the Orange Park Association, who describe it as “high-density units in rural East Orange.”

City staff, meanwhile, wrote that the project “conforms to City development standards.” 

The meeting starts Monday at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.  Click here for the staff report and here for the Orange Park Association’s flyer on the project.

Jury Deliberations in Kelly Thomas Trial

The fate of former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli is in the hands of a Superior Court jury that entered deliberations last week.

Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and excessive use of force in the July 2011 death of Thomas. Cicinelli faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force.

The case marks the first time in Orange County that a police officer in uniform has been charged with murder while on duty.

We’ll keep you posted when the verdict is handed down.

Salary Raise for Garden Grove Police Management

The city’s police managers are set for a 7-percent salary raise, if a new agreement is approved by council members this week.

It’s the latest move to compensate law enforcement for their increased pension payments under a new state law.

The police managers would receive a 4-percent raise this year, and another 3-percent raise in June 2015 when the pension reform law, known as PEPRA, requires the managers to start paying 3 percent more of their salary towards pensions.

The change also caps payouts for unused sick leave at 1,000 hours and raises the payout from 75 percent of accumulated sick leave to 100 percent.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. at the Community Meeting Center. Click here for the staff report.

Funding for Bicycle Projects

Another $6.7 million in bike lane funding could be sought from the state and federal governments if the Orange County Transportation Authority board approves it this week.

The projects include the $2-million ”Tracks at Brea” project and $1.7-million 19th Street Bicycle Trail in Costa Mesa.

The bike projects’ money wouldn’t come from the Measure M2 sales tax or OCTA’s main budget but rather from the state’s Active Transportation Program funds or the federal government.

The meeting starts Monday at 9 a.m. at OCTA headquaters. Click here for the staff report.

Defining A Vision for Costa Mesa’s Future

Residents can weight in on Costa Mesa’s general plan vision, which defines what the community should develop physically, socially and environmentally over the next decade or two.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Civic Center’s Emergency Operations Center. Click here for the staff report.

This Week’s Major Meetings Include:

See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!

Adam Elmahrek contributed to this post.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

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On the Agenda

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Coming out of the holiday season, Orange County’s city halls are gearing up for an intense week.

In Anaheim, council members are discussing settlement terms of a civil rights lawsuit that would radically change local elections in a city where activists say the Latino majority does not have proper representation.

Anaheim’s high school district is dealing with similar issues, with a different twist.

Officials at the Anaheim Union High School District will vote on avoiding voter approval of their efforts to adopt voting districts for board members that could avoid similar civil rights litigation.

Anaheim City Council members will also decide on hiring a naming rights broker to help pay operating costs of a massive transit center across the State Route 57 freeway from Angel Stadium.

In Santa Ana, City Hall watchers are wondering whether City Attorney Sonia Carvalho will update the public on her investigation of Mayor Miguel Pulido.

All of these meetings are open to the public, and anyone can speak during public comments.

If you want to be notified as soon as we publish On the Agenda, just let us know.

And to stay updated on events at all these meetings, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s a rundown of all the issues we’re tracking this week:

1. Corporate Name for Mega Train Station

Anaheim council members are set to move forward with plans to hire consultants to find a naming-rights sponsor for their new, massive transit hub, ARTIC, whose skeleton is already visible off State Route 57 near Angel Stadium.

Under a city proposal set to be debated Tuesday night, The Superlative Group would be paid $129,000 for a year’s work to figure out the name’s value, develop a marketing plan and meet with interested companies.

Freedom Communications, the parent company for The Orange County Register, recently drew negative attention in media circles for pursuing a similar deal to be the naming rights broker. The deal eventually fell apart.

Is it a smart way to pay for running the station? Or will it overly corporatize a public space?

The meeting starts Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Anaheim City Hall. You can click here for the staff report.

2. Public Voting on School Board Boundaries

Should school board member boundaries in Anaheim be put to voters?

The answer could be no, if a waiver request is approved by the Anaheim Union High School District board this week.

The public hearing notice doesn’t explain the reasoning behind the possible move, which comes amid a lawsuit claiming that the city’s voting system disenfranchises Latino residents.

The meeting starts Thursday at 6 p.m. at the district’s board room.

3. Housing Help for Homeless Kids

Boys dig through a garbage container in the documentary “Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County.” (Photo credit: HBO)

Up to 30 homeless families in Anaheim could get housing help and other services if a program is approved this week by City Council members.

Because the city didn’t move forward with buying a building, the services will be provided mostly at the Illumination Foundation’s Stanton location.

The meeting starts Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Anaheim City Hall.

Click here for the staff report.

4. Santa Ana’s Downtown Business Tax

Businesses in downtown Santa Ana are set for another round of taxes this year to promote, clean and provide security for the area.

The taxes, which have been calculated under the same formula since 1984, are expected to raise $200,000 this year, on top of $190,000 left over from last year.

The new money would be split 50-50 by Downtown Inc. and the Santa Ana Business Council.

The item comes toward the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which starts at 5:45 p.m. at Santa Ana City Hall.

Click here for the staff report and here for some background on the tax district.

5. Investigation of Mayor Pulido

One of the biggest open questions at Santa Ana City Hall is when will City Attorney Sonia Carvalho update the public on her investigation into the mayor’s property dealings.

The earliest that could happen is at Tuesday’s council meeting.

This Week’s Major Meetings Include:

See something interesting? Let us know.

Adam Elmahrek contributed to this post.

You can reach Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

Comments are closed.