9 Hot Debates to Watch This Week

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

Is there something happening next week we should know about? Let us know!

1. Crime Prevention Efforts May be Ramped-Up by County

Orange County might soon scale-up its involvement in a statewide effort to lower the chances that convicted criminals will commit more crimes after being released from jail or prison.

County government officials are looking at participating in a state grant program aimed at “community recidivism and crime reduction services” for people released from prison, jail or juvenile hall, under probation or otherwise at risk of committing crimes.

If approved by county supervisors on Tuesday, Orange County officials would let state officials know they’re interested in distributing nearly $500,000 to non-government groups for the program.

It’s unclear what the county’s program would look like.

The effort comes amid huge pressure on California to cut its state prison population, in the wake of federal court rulings that overcrowding has created unconstitutional conditions.

To comply with the court rulings, Gov. Jerry Brown spearheaded a state law that transfers much of the state’s responsibility for new inmates to county jails.

Local officials across California, meanwhile, have complained the state isn’t adequately covering the extra costs for housing the additional prisoners.

Some law enforcement officials also claim the prisoner shift is causing an increase in crime in local communities.

The tension has renewed a focus on restorative justice and diversion programs, aimed at helping lower the chances that people will commit further crimes.

Such programs can include community-based treatment for mental health and drug issues, as well as counseling for female prisoners who have experienced sexual trauma.

Tuesday’s supervisors meeting starts a 9:30 a.m. Click here to read the staff report and attachments.

2. Attorneys Seek to Question Santa Ana Police Chief Under Oath

Amid an ongoing debate over a new gang injunction in a Santa Ana neighborhood, defense attorneys are seeking court approval to question Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas under oath.

A court hearing Wednesday will center on their request. The attorneys, who have asked for crime statistics on the neighborhood in question, want to ask him why he’s seeking the injunction.

Superior Court Judge Franz E. Miller could decide on their request at the hearing, or issue a written ruling later.

A Facebook event created by local activists calls on residents and journalists to attend the hearing in person. So far, 27 people have responded that they’ll be going.

Last month, an Orange County judge approved a preliminary injunction in the Townsend Street neighborhood.

The injunction is essentially a restraining order that would restrict the activities of the gang’s members in a .39-square-mile safety zone bordered by McFadden Avenue, and Raitt, Sullivan and First streets.

Those enjoined would be prohibited, for example, from associating with gang members in public spaces within the safety zone, with the exception of certain spaces such as schools or churches. The order also prohibits gang members from acting as lookouts, trespassing, fighting, blocking free passage or intimidating anyone in public.

It will enjoin only 10 of the 24 people who were served with the complaint. In October, Miller will schedule a trial date for the permanent injunction. The remaining individuals are challenging their inclusion in the complaint.

The hearing starts Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in room C-14 of Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana.

3. New John Wayne Airport Noise Deal Could Be Approved

John Wayne Airport would be able to boost the number of takeoffs by its loudest planes starting in 2021, under a new deal up for approval by county supervisors on Tuesday.

Starting that year, the current limit of 85 average daily departures by the loudest planes would increase to 95.

The airport would also be allowed to handle more passengers, going from the current cap of 10.8 million passengers per year to 11.8 million in 2021.

The passenger cap could increase again starting in 2026 to as many as 12.5 million passengers each year, based on a formula that takes into account previous years.

The current curfew on takeoffs and landings would remain in place. The curfews prohibit “regularly scheduled” commercial flights from taking off between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and landing between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

On Sunday mornings, takeoffs and landings are prohibited for an extra hour, until 8 a.m.

New passenger loading bridges could be built starting in 2020.

But cargo flights would also be kept at the same level – four daily departures on average – until 2030.

The deal would extend the settlement of a 1985 lawsuit by the city of Newport Beach and two activist groups that challenged plans to expand the airport’s operations.

If approved, the new deal would extend the settlement to the end of 2030.

Tuesday’s county supervisors meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Click here to read the staff report and attachments.

4. Angels Up For Discussion by Tustin City Council

The public can offer its opinions Tuesday on reports the Angels baseball team is talking about moving to a new stadium site in Tustin.

The city council will go into a special private meeting to discuss ongoing property negotiations with Pacific Coast Investors, the development company that belongs to Angels’ owner Arte Moreno.

But before the discussion moves behind closed doors, members of the public can offer their views during a public meeting that begins at 4:45 p.m. at Tustin City Hall, 300 Centennial Way.

The Angels broke off talks Friday about a specific new lease agreement with the city of Anaheim, but Mayor Tom Tait said that’s not the end of discussions.

The Angels have been talking to Tustin officials since at least February, signaling potential interest in a move, possibly to the former Marine Corps base.

However, Tustin officials also have questioned whether the Angels merely are using the city as a negotiating tool to put pressure on Anaheim.

The closed door meeting Tuesday will discuss “price and terms of payment” for an unspecified use of property under negotiation with Moreno’s company. The city staff report didn’t make it easily understandable where the property is located.

To view the city council agenda, click here.

5. State Senate and Santa Ana City Candidates to Debate Thursday

Candidates for the 34th state Senate district and Santa Ana City Council plan to debate one another at a forum this Thursday.

The debate, hosted by the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, is focused on the candidates’ views on business issues.

The Senate candidates, Supervisor Janet Nguyen and community college trustee Jose Solorio, clashed recently in their first debate of the election season. Both played up their commitment to supporting businesses and jobs.

And at their most recent debate, City Council candidates sparred over questions about a proposed homeless shelter, mobile marijuana vendors and Santa Ana’s image problem, among others.

Santa Ana’s mayoral race took a new twist this past week when a video of Laura Perez, a Santa Anita neighborhood resident, ignited a massive response among local residents.

Perez was shown calling out Mayor Miguel Pulido for apparently looking down at his phone during public comments.

The video has been viewed more than 32,000 times and has about 600 comments, according to Facebook.

After several commenters called on Perez to run for mayor, she announced plans to run as a write-in candidate for the November election.

It’s unclear if she’ll be participating in Thursday’s debate.

The debate runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Rancho Santiago Community College District headquarters 2323 N. Broadway, Santa Ana.

6. Garden Grove Candidates’ Debate set for Saturday

Candidates for the Garden Grove mayor and city council, Orange County Water District 1, 34th State Senate and 72nd State Assembly races will go head-to-head at debates that begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The annual Candidates’ Forum, hosted by the Garden Grove Neighborhood Association and Downtown Business Association, will be at the Main Street Garden Grove Plaza along Garden Grove Blvd. 

All three candidates for Garden Grove Mayor will participate in a debate starting at 11 a.m. The candidates are Albert Ayala, Bao Nguyen and Bruce Broadwater.

Seven of the nine candidates running for two seats on the city council are participating in the forum: Kris Beard, John O’Neill, Joe Dovinh, Phat Bui, Rickk Montoya, Ruhina Khan and Quang “Mike” Tran.

All three candidates in the race for the Orange County Water District 1 seat are participating: Robin Macario, Dina Nguyen, and Zack Barrett.

In the state legislative races, Jose Solorio, who is running for the 34th State Senate seat, will participate. His opponent, Supervisor Janet Nguyen is unable to attend.

Joel Block, running for the 72nd State Assembly seat, will also participate. Travis Allen, the current officeholder who is running for re-election, has yet to confirm whether or not he will attend.

You can submit questions for the candidates by email or phone to Maureen Blackmun, president of the Neighborhood Association, at maureen.ggna@gmail.com and 714-235-5360.

Another candidates’ forum, hosted by the city of Garden Grove and Chamber of Commerce, will be held on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Garden Grove Community Center. All the candidates for mayor, city council and the 34th State Senate race are participating.

7. Costa Mesa Candidates Join for Final Debate

Candidates for city council are slated to participate in the East Side Costa Mesa forum, the last scheduled debate before the November election.

The debate, hosted by the East Side Costa Mesa Neighbors’ Group, will be Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Avenue, Costa Mesa. 

A meet-and-greet with candidates will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by the debate at 7 p.m.

There has been some controversy in recent weeks after the city declined to broadcast the event on television at the recommendation of their legal counsel, Mal Richardson of Best, Best and Krieger.

Richardson advised the city to be politically neutral and avoid using public resources to broadcast political debates hosted by private groups, although he also was concerned about the city agreeing to participate in one debate but not another.

Two previous debates were broadcast by the city, one hosted by Mesa Verde Community Inc. and the other sponsored by the Daily Pilot, OC Register and Voice of OC.

Broadcasting the debate could ultimately be funded by two bitter political rivals — incumbent Mayor Jim Righeimer and the Police Association, according to the Daily Pilot.

8. Newport Beach Candidates to Debate in Final ‘Feet to the Fire’ Forum

Political candidates are in for another round of rapid-fire quizzing this week at the final “Feet to the Fire” debate co-sponsored by the Daily Pilot, The Orange County Register and Voice of OC.

This time around, it’s candidates for the Newport Beach City Council.

As always, the discussion is designed as a no-holds-barred session where reporters can query prospective and current elected officials on any topic.

The discussion kicks off Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the OASIS Senior Center. Click here for a map.

9. Fullerton Council Candidates Go Head-to-Head in Two Debates

Candidates vying for seats on the Fullerton City Council are slated to duke it out in two debates this week.

The first is on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at Fullerton City Hall. It was organized by the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce.

Then, on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the League of Women Voters of North Orange County will hold a forum in the council chambers.

Both events open to the public, and all of the candidates have been invited.

Major Meetings This Week:

Monday

Laguna Woods City Council – Special closed session meeting on property negotiations with the Golden Rain Foundation 

Stanton City Council – Special meeting to discuss “community and resident comments.” 

Tuesday

Orange County Board of Supervisors 

La Palma City Council – Special workshop on updating the zoning code 

Tustin City Council – Special closed session on Angels property negotiations 

Wednesday

Aliso Viejo City Counci

Rancho Santa Margarita Planning Commission 

Thursday

CalOptima Board of Directors 

Friday

South Coast Air Quality Management District Board 

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

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