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.
After an email blast to OC Superior Court judges last week – featuring a You Tube video of Todd Spitzer’s bizarre police interview following his erroneous citizens’ arrest of an evangelist – a Voice of OC open records lawsuit against the County of Orange was delayed until today.
OC Auditor Controller Eric Woolery leads a coalition of 44 auditor controllers from across California, demanding the ability to hire their own lawyers when they detect fraud, waste or abuse from local elected officials. Action comes just as OC Supervisors are poised today to water down 1994 bankruptcy-era reform requiring public review for borrowings.
There are state and federal designations backing a site on the former El Toro Marine Air Base but no clear path to fund the $77 million construction cost. This Tuesday, Irvine City Councilman Jeff Lalloway and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk Silva jumpstart a stalled debate, advocating a plan to have the city fund more than half.
Judge Walter P. Schwarm indicated in a verbal tentative ruling that he was leaning toward granting portions of Voice of OC requests for public records denied by the County, including an Op-ed written by Supervisor Todd Spitzer about the incident at a Wahoos restaurant where he handcuffed an evangelist while armed.
Voice of OC again heads into court this week in a First Amendment case against the County of Orange over secret documents held by county supervisors. Yet a cutback on hours for OC court reporters by the Superior Court of Orange County last week delayed justice. Proceedings resume on Tuesday.
This week, the nation celebrates Sunshine Week, an annual event recognizing the need for more open government and access to public records. Here in Orange County, Voice of OC marks the holiday in court. On Tuesday, a yearlong battle to get public records about a bizarre incident – involving a county supervisor, an evangelist, a gun and handcuffs – goes to trial.
Watching State Sen. Janet Nguyen get dragged out of a California Senate chamber is a stark reminder that too often, after the trade deals are done and history has been rewritten, our ideals take a quiet back seat to profit. Here in OC, groups like the Protocol Foundation deserve constant scrutiny to see what foreign interests are visiting our local government.