Norberto Santana Jr., is an award-winning investigative reporter with 20 years of experience at major daily newspapers.
Before founding Voice of OC in 2009, Santana was a lead investigative reporter for the Orange County Register and spent a decade covering local governments across Southern California. His work has included exposes on Orange County public safety spending, deportation policies and misuse of funds at the San Diego Red Cross.
In addition to his experience as a journalist, the Southern California native has a master’s in Latin American Studies and has worked as an elections analyst with the National Endowment for Democracy. He also has direct experience on Internet start-ups as one of the founders of CubaNet.org, a website for dissident writers inside Cuba that has operated since 1995.
It’s been more than 14 months since Orange County voters approved an ethics commission. Still, only one county supervisor – Shawn Nelson – has appointed a board member to the important oversight panel, which has yet to publicize any actions or the appointment process.
Rigo Rodríguez, who is a Governing Board Member for the Santa Ana Unified School District, questions implementation of a district plan to shift 25 of 38 District Security Officers (DSOs) from their middle schools and high schools to other sites, urging cooperation, just as labor leaders meet today with school district officials on the shift.
Publisher Norberto Santana Jr. writes that Orange County supervisors should reimburse local taxpayers for the more than $120,000 in legal fees they just had to pay Voice of OC after losing a public records lawsuit. It likely won’t be the last time the courts are needed to pry public records loose and Santana says Voice of OC will stay on the case.
With many insiders scratching their heads about the recent grand jury report on jailhouse snitches, focus is increasingly on the upcoming race for DA in 2018. Amidst lingering questions about current DA Tony Rackauckas’ leadership and the judgment of his challenger, Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a third option has arisen out of Chapman University’s law school, Professor Mario Mainero.
Despite a critical grand jury report on the horizon and two sets of ongoing lawsuits from Sheriff’s Special Officers and Deputy Sheriff’s rank and file arguing her department is politicized and mismanaged, OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens keeps playing it cool.
A state bill AB 1479 – up for vote on Friday – would create a fine for agencies that grossly violate California’s Public Records Act. A recent successful Voice of OC lawsuit against the County of Orange, appealing denied public records about an evangelist handcuffed by a county supervisor while armed, is a prime test case for the fine.
As homeless encampments continue to pop up in places like local libraries, civic centers and the riverbed along the 57 Freeway, a growing chorus is asking if a housing bond, similar to the popular, Measure M transportation tax, for affordable and supportive housing could spur a true continuum of homelessness care in Orange County.
During a Friday press conference at the Great Park, Gov. Jerry Brown spoke to reporters after touring two competing sites for a veterans’ cemetery. While supportive of local decision making, Brown remarked about a site near the I-5 Freeway saying he liked the Strawberry fields. A final decision on the location could be reached by June.