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.

Trying to Shore Up CalOptima

[Supervisor Janet] Nguyen can say anything she wants to justify what she did, however, the end results are what matters.

It is clear CalOptima is a mess. It is clear many high-level staff left or were pushed out. It is clear clients have been harmed via poor service. It is clear her benefactors have rewarded her with lots of campaign money.

What is not clear is why she continues to get away with this kind of heavy-handed oversight in the name of taxpayers. The only person Nguyen cares about is Nguyen.

— Smith2

Bad Janet — bad, bad. Now here is your punishment for the total destruction of CalOptima from your peers on the Board of Supervisors — nothing.

Nice to know [Supervisor Todd] Spitzer is so uninterested in health care for the disadvantaged. Gosh, hate to ask him to step up and assume badly needed leadership almost against his expressed desires. “It’s not my gig,” [Spitzer said.] Wow, just wow.

Gig? The healthcare of the most vulnerable is not his “gig”? What a loser comment. Just disgusting.

— Insider2

When a governmental unit such as Board of Supervisors, a city council etc. has only one party represented, that group is wide open to graft and corruption.

Nguyen collected $15,000 from health care prior to her appointment to CalOptima and $95,000 after?  [Dan] Brothman [CEO of Western Medical Center in Santa Ana] hosted an RSVP party for Nguyen, and two days later in closed session CalOptima pays Brothman $750,000.

The grand jury will be sitting back saying, “We told you so.”

— Dweezle

The Voice reminds us that the 2012-2013 grand jury issued a report that expressed concerns about CalOptima in several areas. One recommendation to the Supervisors was that it should expand from one supervisor to at least three for the CalOptima board. It also cited a potential conflict of interest when a county executive chaired its board when that executive in essence reported to Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors rejected the report outright and publicly criticized the grand jury.

Well, the Board of Supervisors should now take full responsibility for the current status of CalOptima. Their judgement speaks for itself.

— General

Executive’s Authority Over Elections Quietly Withdrawn

Really? [county CEO Mike] Giancola and [county spokeswoman] Jean Pasco want us to believe [county Chief Operations Officer Mark] Denny’s move had nothing to do with people raising questions? Um, that sounds like a lie to me.

Why not just admit that responding to concerns of the voters and ensuring their confidence in democracy is more important than any one person’s job?

Bur it’s not that either. They moved him because they had no choice. Unbelievable what the County gets away with saying.

— Stunned

If there was pressure that was invalid, why did Giancola fold like a cheap suit? Why did he not stand proud and tall and defend his COO pick? Maybe because he could not defend it?

He had no choice, because his choice was a poor choice. Who cares what the Orange County Employees Association’s motives were?  The facts don’t lie. A conviction is a conviction.

— Insider2

What a joke this all is. Is there not one real leader on the Board of Supervisors or executive team at the Hall of Administration?

No one believes this move is unrelated to OCEA’s complaint. A bigger problem is Giancola’s miserable record of leadership at Waste Management and his inability to figure out even simple things like don’t put a voter fraud person in charge of the registrar of voters.

— Smith2

The Mayor’s Real Estate Deal

One way or the other, someone gave [Santa Ana Mayor Miguel] Pulido a gift of roughly $200,000. Either the NAPA Auto Parts guys gave him a lot with a house on it in exchange for a lot with no house on it (a difference of about $200,000 in value) or the buyer in Westminster gave Pulido nearly $400,000 for a house worth only $200,000.

Not quite sure which end gave him the gift, but it is in there somewhere; pick a side.

Does Pulido want us to believe he traded property without an appraisal on either end to determine comparative value? That makes him a horrid steward of resources and unfit for public office. If he knew the difference in value and failed to report it, that is illegal and again makes him unfit for public office. We can let him choose which scenario preserves his dignity to his liking, but the outcome is always the same.

Time for Pulido to be ousted from office. I wonder if the Internal Revenue Service knows about this $200,000 in additional income?

— Cynthia Ward

It’s just really sad that not one person of interest, resident or civic leader from the city of Santa Ana filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission. It’s so bad, the agency initiated it’s own investigation? (How often does that happen?)

Wake up, people! They get away with acts like this because they know no one cares, which is even sadder.

— Cacityguy

Anaheim Steps Up Code Enforcement on Rentals

It’s blatantly illegal for a landlord to raise the rent or evict a tenant because a tenant demands repairs or calls Code Enforcement (California Civil Code 1942.5). That said, it doesn’t mean some landlords don’t try.

Code enforcement should be working with community and tenant advocacy groups to ensure this effort doesn’t result in displacement. Done the right way, this could be a significant human rights advancement for Anaheim. We shouldn’t accept slum housing as the only affordable housing; tenants and their families deserve better.

This is entirely my own opinion, but FYI, I work at the statewide tenants’ rights organization Tenants Together, and we’re currently working with the city of Fresno on similar efforts.

Personally, I’m happy to see city officials recognize the issue, because I was born and raised in West Anaheim.

—Aimee

What they appear to be doing is prioritizing the code enforcement efforts against apartments where the landlord can’t or won’t certify that there is no excessive occupancy.

However, if apartments in this price level generally have code enforcement problems — even if they are bearable ones — most inspections will lead to citations and then either to temporary evictions or to the landlord taking the unit off the market.

Do that enough and it may make sense to knock down the building. Do it in an entire neighborhood and you have the opportunity for gentrification.

Saying that you’ll inspect properties that are overoccupied earlier or more than others is enforcing based on occupancy in much the same way that stopping mostly cars driven by Latinos for an inspection of whether they have any violations of the Vehicle Code — discrimination based on race.

If occupancy levels even motivate the likelihood of inspection and enforcement, it’s a de facto way of going after units with greater occupancy, despite the fig leaf.

I respectfully disagree with Mayor Tait about whether the $16 per unit fee would have been a business killer or unfair to those with well-run units. What they gain from such a fee is more code inspectors, who provide the deterrence and ideally elimination of unfair business competition by less scrupulous landlords.

If the slumlords are driven out of the business, they may be replaced by more scrupulous owners. If rental prices go up $1.33 a month as the price of eliminating apartments that are not up to building safety codes, that’s a pretty small price for even the poor to pay for substantially better housing.

— Gred Diamond

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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.

Tustin Officials Wary of Angels Owner’s Overture

Great question raised by a speaker [at the Tustin City Council meeting]: If [Angels owner] Arte Moreno’s Tustin overtures throw the “good faith” concept out the window, does that free Anaheim to toss the MOU [memo of understanding] and construct a “framework” that benefits both sides?

Still more questions than answers.

— BigBoxOfRedWhine

As well they should meet Moreno with skepticism.

I agree with [Tustin Councilwoman Rebecca] Gomez that no public funds be used. Pro sports are private enterprise. Building a stadium is corporate welfare.

— KenCoop

The funniest part of this is the reaction from Arte’s band of idiots for hire.

We have the [Anaheim] Chamber of Commerce masquerading as a “grass-roots” coalition trying to rally the pitchforks-and-torches crowd to storm City Hall and demand that Mayor Tom Tait stop his single-handed obstruction of the deal they insist the public wants.

If there was an ounce of public support or even a chance that the City Council could make the public forget the approval by election time, you know they would be running over Tait with the same majority bullying tactics used for the Gardenwalk, the streetcar, district elections, his staff budget — need we continue?

Yet suddenly Mayor Tait has become the most powerful man on Earth, able to use his one lonely little vote to stop the other four. Perhaps it is a magic vote like Jack’s beans, able to grow to immense proportions.

Or maybe, just maybe, the people of Anaheim are smarter than the majority gave them credit for, and they are not buying the shuck and jive from [contract consultant] Charles Black and company.

Now they are sunk. Some may be wising up and realizing they really don’t want to approve the deal as it stands, and I somehow doubt Arte won’t put any of those public dollars back on the table when the council already agreed in theory they were OK with giving them away.

But if they don’t get around to approving something, Arte sues them for bad faith. What to do, what to do?

— Cynthia Ward

Who cares about agitators and lawyers? I’d settle for a bullpen.

— Russel Serth

Toll Agency’s High-Profile Consultants

Whether it is the county, the Children and Families Commission, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the Transportation Corridor Agency, various water districts or whatever, there is a clear pattern of doling out consulting contracts to Republican operatives or former politicians, often for the intangible service of advice.

These consultants, through multiple contracts with multiple public agencies, are feeding at the public trough, and it seems to go on forever. At some point — perhaps it has to be the grand jury — someone needs to add up the public dollars being handed out this way and audit the contracts to see if multiple agencies are paying the same consultants for the same products.

At present this does not pass the giggle test.

— News Hound

Transportation Corridor Agency is the one of the least transparent agencies in the state.

They do not link to staff reports on agendas, do not show minutes, and do not keep a video or audio record of their meetings. They also do not show employee compensation.

The document that was distributed to the board which showed the contracts is a public document. How can the TCA keep that from interested parties? Even if it’s a “working document,” the public has a right to know what is going on at the TCA.

— Citizen714

No doubt much of those contract funds are kicked back to legislator campaigns.

— Junior

Protest Against Tustin’s Latest Police Shooting

Witnesses have stated Mr. [Robert] Villa did not possess a knife when confronted by “multiple officers.” However, even if Mr. Villa had been holding a knife, why would “multiple officers,” who are wearing vests that protect against knife attacks as well as bullets, need to shoot him at all?

All of the officers could have used their long clubs to subdue any person without a serious threat to the health and well-being of those police. Yes, they may have broken some of Mr. Villa’s bones, but he would still be alive.

I have watched just two officers quickly subdue a large, physically fit person trained in the martial arts, using only their clubs. “Shoot first” should not be the policy of our police force.

— Always Up Citizen

I love cop haters; they are so ignorant, yet so entertaining.

Guys, he had a lengthy record including weapons possession and several domestic violence incidents. The original call to dispatch was from a woman who identified herself as the suspect’s mother. She told dispatch that her son was armed with a knife and threatening family members.

Police quickly respond, and he comes at them with a knife, ignoring officer commands to drop the weapon. They then used deadly force.

Move to Russia, Mexico or China for a year and your opinion of law enforcement here would change drastically. In those countries, those cops are actually corrupt government agents, who will brutalize you and steal the money right out of your wallet.

Too many here are ignorant as to the justification of use of deadly force. People don’t know the facts and rapidly come to conclusions based on their own personal, negative law-enforcement contacts and anti-law enforcement sentiment.

— All American

Tait’s Conflicts of Interest

“As a member of the City Council, Tait sometimes abstains from votes that have to do with the [Orange County] Transportation Authority because of his firm’s contract.”

Sometimes? Not even close. Tait abstains every time there’s an OCTA-related item on the agenda, saying he has a conflict of interest.

How can Tait have one standard on the City Council and a different standard on the OCTA board?

— AnaheimInsider

I don’t see Tait’s routine abstentions on the City Council as being inconsistent with his selective abstentions on the OCTA Board. Why is that?

Because on the OCTA board, with the benefit of a staff report, he knows exactly what is and isn’t a conflict of interest.

On the Anaheim City Council, it may be less clear what is and isn’t a conflict, so he is erring on the side of caution.

— Greg Diamond

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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.

Conflicts of Interest and TINCUP

Very interesting that [Tony] Rackauckas for the first time in his decadeslong tenure as the DA finally has investigated and enforced (somewhat) a violation of the county’s TINCUP ordinance.

Where was he when I filed a complaint with him regarding possible money laundering for [convicted former Sheriff] Mike Carona? He never even responded to that written complaint, but it all came out in Carona’s trial.

The county Board of Supervisors needs to take enforcement out of the DA’s hands, as he is too worried about offending other county Republican elected officials. Unfortunately for Harry Sidhu and William O’Connell Sr., neither of them are important Republicans or county elected officials, so TR didn’t offend anyone by going after them. Additionally, probably the main reason TR had to look into this matter was the intense exposure by Voice of OC.

— Shirley Grindle

Wow, are they good about finding loopholes to benefit themselves! I’m glad there are people like Shirley Grindle that honestly have voters’ interest in mind and can call BS when they see it.

— Get real

Unbelievable. Shirley Grindle has it right. The board just wants more money and higher limits. Leave it to them to twist a call for an ethics commission into a play to increase their own campaign war chests.

Every day it’s becoming even more clear that the grand jury had it right. This place is corrupt.

— Stunned

It’s pathetic that our DA is forced to take action and only does so after something is highly publicized by the media — mainly the Voice of OC. Even then, it’s a poor excuse for an investigation, claiming they “didn’t know” so the element of intent just wasn’t there.

I’m way past ready for a new DA who will actually perform the duties of the office.

— Cacityguy

So a bunch of corrupt, pay-to-play politicians who hate Sacramento and blame it for all their problems now wants oversight from Sacramento? Sure they do.

This is baloney. They have boatloads of campaign cash, and they want more.

— Lostinspace

I’m still scratching my head on this one. Did the supervisors really think they could slip raising the campaign donation limits into a bill about an ethics commission? Oh, the irony.

— UN EZ N OC

How about this?

We leave the current TINCUP limits as they are. It is certainly enough money to have gotten the incumbents elected. Why can they not run future campaigns on that same budget? Sorry, no — no more money.

We can set up the ethics commission as a subcommittee of the grand jury, and we fund it with a mandatory fee from candidates based on a set percentage of contributions raised, due at each filing period deadline. Candidates have to pay for candidate statements in the sample ballot books, they have to pay for recounts, they have to pay for all kinds of little fees that recoup direct costs for their elections. Why not fund the ethics oversight in the same manner? Being a percentage makes it fair, since those raising more money have more for the commish to examine.

And violations should not be equal to the illegal donation; where is the incentive to own up? [Former Anaheim City Councilman Harry] Sidhu got caught. He rolled the dice and took his chances with the DA, and even when found in violation, he merely had to give the amount to the county.

— Cynthia Ward

It figures. The problem with unethical behavior is that it isn’t always illegal.

— Chatka

County’s IT Chief Suddenly Resigns

Can’t wait to hear that Patel took a job at Xerox.

— Sancgal

I do not know if this is the case with Patel, but with the multiple-year lack of raises and the shift of retirement and health insurance costs to employees, some long-term employees are finding their take-home pay will be more if they retire than if they continue to work.

Given this, no one should be surprised to see managers with 25 years or more of county service choosing to retire and probably look for another job elsewhere. That loud sucking sound you hear is from long term county employees exiting because it is in their best financial interests to do so, especially if they have access to health insurance coverage from a working spouse.

— News Hound

Santa Ana’s Surprising Surplus

Wow, that is odd.

When [City Manager David Cavazos] took over in Phoenix, we had a surplus, so he and his friends could get pay raises.

Now that he left, Phoenix has a 50+ million-dollar deficit, and his new city has a surplus. Odd, if you ask me. Is this similar to cooking the books?

— Phx

The surplus is the result of the last two city managers’ hard work.

— Robincook

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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.

The County COO’s Election Fraud

So one guy who was just reported to have made violent physical threats against another and had to be physically restrained during a government labor meeting files a formal complaint against the county COO, who oversees the OC registrar of voters, for having a voter fraud conviction on his record. So pathetically embarrassing.

This is not a time to take sides. Both parties — the Orange County Employees Association and county government — are responsible for the chaos. Anyone who comes to the defense of either is part of the problem.

— Beelzebub

Orange County is quickly turning into Chicago!

— Pnator

I know it makes for great OC political drama, but the fact that [county Chief Operations Officer Mark] Denny sits above [Registrar of Voters] Neal Kelly on an organizational flow chart for the county will not “put him in charge of elections.”

Kelly is the registrar, the elections officer for Orange County and one of the best in the state. Denny isn’t going to have anything to do with the election process.

But war has been declared on the county by the Orange County Employees Association, so decisions like this one are pretty stupid.

— OCTaxpayer

The fact is, this is important. We as Americans have to stand up to protect our voting system vigorously regardless of the politics.

And you are wrong. Pnator. This isn’t Chicago; this is the city of Bell right before our eyes, and people think its funny.

I could care less about Democrats, Republicans, unions etc. We are obligated to take every step possible to maintain a completely pristine voting system, period. I am no union loyalist, and as corny as this may sound, I am simply an American.

— Truevoice

CalOptima’s Blemished History

I don’t pretend to know all of the nuances surrounding the management or alleged mismanagement of CalOptima, but I think it’s clear the compartmentalization of information and the manipulation of fellow board members has reached unimaginable levels.

Even worse, it now appears to be at the expense of the elderly and indigent. I can’t think of an issue that deserves investigating more than this!

Fascinating article.

— Don Draper

It is so sad that the citizens of Orange County do not pay enough attention to these five corrupt-to-the-core [county] supervisors. This is all very disheartening and scary.

— Truevoice

Once again, where is the FBI? How long is [Supervisor Janet] Nguyen going to get away with these destructive and unethical actions and behaviors? Why did [Supervisors Pat] Bates and [Bill] Campbell support her? What are the balance of the Board of Supervisors members going to do about this? Or are they afraid of what dirt she has on them?

This is not just bad, it is horrible.

— Insider2

I seem to remember a report by some agency, oh yes, the grand jury. I believe their investigation was called something like “CalOptima Burns While Supervisors Fiddle.” This title pissed off the county supervisors so bad the supes tried to defund the grand jury.

I think the Board of Supervisors should formally apologize to the grand jury and to the public for that matter for being asleep at the helm. Supervisor [Bill] Campbell used to get so upset when someone referenced the county of Orange as to the city of Bell. I think the shoe certainly fits here as to CalOptima. It’s shameful!

— Cacityguy

Tougher Law for Vicious Dogs Fails

[Supervisor Todd] Spitzer has suffered two doses of reality in proposing new county ordinances to try and control behavior he deems a danger to society — first the proposed social host ordinance, then this vicious dog law.

A prosecuting attorney by profession, he has apparently never met a law he does not like, and the more of them the better. But he has run headlong into the tenets of conservative politics: less government intrusion, not more. Less government, not more. Less playing upon emotions, more thought about potential unintended consequences.

Hopefully he will moderate his zeal for new laws in search of a problem to solve, having learned something from this experience. You are never too old to learn a lesson or two.

— Equal Time

“It just reflects old ideas. It reflects old thinking,” said attorney Marla Tausher. “It’s disgraceful, frankly, and it’s totally unfair.”

That is also the reason the supervisors have failed to replace the old county animal shelter, even though thousands of residents have complained about its age and inadequacy.

— Socogirl

More Important Than Property Rights

Considers this, those who consider property rights as a gift from God.

In Thomas Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote the unmemorable phrase “life, liberty and property.” Benjamin Franklin altered that phrase to the unforgettable “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Jefferson agreed.

Why is one word important? Because the declaration is a statement of man’s God-given rights. The Founding Fathers recognized that pursuit of happiness is a God-given right and that property rights are not.

Property rights are given by law. The pursuit of happiness trumps property rights in every case. The citizens of Orange Park Acres are pursuing their happiness, and that is far more important than [developer] Milan Capital’s greedy quest for capital.

— FreedomLover

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