Over the past year, as Orange County has negotiated with the federal government to receive more than $30 million for housing undocumented felons at Theo Lacy jail, there was concern that the city of Orange would derail the arrangement.

Not anymore.

Today, county officials signed off on a plan that essentially paid off the city by giving it a piece of the contract, which amounts to about $340,000.

The deal makes Ccounty Supervisor John Moorlach publicly wonder whether he’s just been shaken down.

“I was asked to hold my nose,” Moorlach said today in open session about the settlement.

“I’m saddened by this transaction,” Moorlach said from the dais at today’s meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “I’m embarrassed by it. I feel like I’ve been shook down. I feel violated. I’m having real trouble with this agreement.”

Orange officials had been crying foul ever since Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced that she was seeking a contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency that would house felons in underutilized county jails.

The position of the Orange city officials is that the ICE contract violates an agreement the county has with the city to not expand the jail. Orange City Manager John Sibley said the shakedown analogy is unfair.

“We would have liked it if things stay the way they are,” Sibley said, referring to the settlement agreement.

But the council agreed to work with the county as long as certain impacts were mitigated, he said.

“Nobody got everything they wanted, but that’s the concept of compromise,” he said.


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