Here's a rundown of the main issues we'll be tracking this week throughout Orange County.
Subpoenas in Great Park Investigation?
Many were stunned — and others not surprised at all — at the level of waste and abuse alleged in Irvine’s forensic audit of the Great Park.
Millions in sole-source contracts were awarded with little to no accountability, the auditor found, and a former city employee in charge of invoicing refused to talk.
Among the alleged abuses: A $12,000 payment for a consultant to change just one word in a groundwater report.
Now, one of the big questions before council members is whether to use their subpoena power to force contractors and others to testify on the record and fork over documents.
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway seems to have established himself as the swing vote on that move.
The council will also consider a $400,000 contract with the auditing firm to extend their investigation, including into whether public bidding and public works laws were followed.
Tuesday’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. at City Hall. Click here for the staff report.
Anaheim Leaders to Call for Halt to Deportations?
As immigration reform starts to pick up steam in Congress, the leaders of Orange County’s largest city will consider calling on the president to stop deporting undocumented immigrants.
The council “urges President Barack Obama and the federal government to protect our families from destructive and needless immigration deportations by suspending further deportations and expanding the successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to those individuals with no serious criminal history,” the resolution states.
They’d be following in the footsteps of Los Angeles, whose City Council issued its own call to end deportations in December.
The meeting starts Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Downtown Property Battle in Garden Grove
The Garden Grove Neighborhood Association is calling on residents to speak out against what they portray as a secretive effort to sell city property to a developer.
“According to the Sheldon Group, they have been given ‘exclusive’ rights to the property by our city for the development of high-density housing,” the association’s president, Maureen Blackmun, wrote in a Facebook post to followers.
“Councilman [Kris] Beard was under the impression all parties had been notified of various meetings in regards to the ‘disposing' of the property," she continued. "However, all parties who should have been notified had NOT been property noted. Many provisions afforded us under due process, seems to have been neglected. This does not seem fair.”
Several Main Street businesses sued to try to stop a similar sale of the land in 2007.
This time, many residents and business owners feel that Main Street should “have a comprehensive plan in place BEFORE the sale of this property to the Sheldon Group,” Blackmun wrote.
The council meeting starts Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Bonfire Bill Heads to Full Assembly
After passing unanimously out of two committees, a bipartisan bill to protect bonfire rings is scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly on Monday.
If it passes, the legislation would head to the state Senate and possibly the governor.
The proposed law comes after the South Coast Air Quality Management District banned many of the bonfire rings in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
The pollution agency would be stripped of its power to regulate beach bonfires under the bill, which was introduced by Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton.
Another School District Moves Toward District Elections?
As cities and education agencies across the region transform their election systems, Anaheim’s elementary school district could soon be joining in.
Board members at the Anaheim City School District plan to vote this week on taking an early step toward district elections, according to the Orange County Register.
It’s unclear whether they’re still on track. The meeting’s agenda doesn’t show the item, a proposed hiring of demographers to study voting patterns.
If the board does move forward, it would follow in the footsteps of the Anaheim Union High School District, which hired the same consultant, the Dolinka Group, and is on track to have its first district election in November.
The elementary school district's meeting is Monday at 6 p.m. at its headquarters.
Housing Project in Orange Back for Debate
Last week’s hearing on the controversial Rio Santiago project brought out dozens of residents, many of whom were concerned about flooding and methane gas from the landfill next door.
Others said the 400-home project is the best option to create usable open space and sports facilities, with most of the land set aside for nature and recreation.
With an 11 p.m. cutoff, the rest of the comments were postponed to Monday.
After hearing from the remaining public speakers, the city’s Planning Commission plans to ask follow-up questions of staff and make its formal recommendation to the City Council, which ultimately decides on the project.
The meeting starts Monday at 7 p.m. at Orange City Hall.
School Bond Conflict of Interest Concerns
Magnolia School District officials recently got pushback from county supervisors when they tried to kill financial disclosure requirements for members of its bond oversight committee.
The disclosures, known as Form 700, are supposed to keep the public in the loop on any conflicts of interest that public officials may have.
The item has already been delayed twice, with a third chance at approval scheduled for Tuesday. We’ll see if anything’s changed.
Autopsy Firm Up for Re-approval
County supervisors are set to award another extension of the county’s coroner contract to Anaheim-based Juguilon Medical Corp., which drew scrutiny in a national PBS Frontline-ProPublica report on death investigations.
Certification from the American Board of Pathology is considered by many experts to be a critical element to becoming a medical examiner, according to Frontline’s 2011 report.
But one of Juguilon’s doctors “failed the certification exam at least five times,” the program found.
ProPublica also listed the firm as not having accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners.
A county Web page now states that Juguilon’s pathology staff is “comprised of four Board Certified Forensic Pathologists.”
The proposed one-year extension is worth $1.8 million, and it’s up for approval on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the county Hall of Administration.
New Development Deal Next to Great Park
County supervisors are set to approve a development deal for Lowe Enterprises Real Estate Group to build on county land at the former El Toro air base.
The deal’s details weren’t available this weekend; the county’s website wouldn’t display any agenda attachments for this week’s meeting. It’s not the first time that’s happened.
The county’s property includes large warehouse-type buildings, smaller buildings and open grassland next to Metrolink railroad tracks.
New Social Services Director
The county is set to get a new leader at its largest department, the Social Services Agency.
Chief Deputy Director Mike Ryan is set to take the reins after the previous director, Michael Riley, retired earlier this month.
The agency oversees numerous programs, including Child Protective Services, foster and group home placements, food stamps, and public health insurance enrollment.
Nearly 4,000 employees work for SSA, which has a direct budget of around $750 million and oversees another $2 billion in services.
The agency has faced major challenges in recent years, including the loss of a civil rights lawsuit alleging serious misconduct in a child custody case.
More recently, the agency has brought on dozens of extra staffers to handle Obamacare sign-ups.
Ryan’s appointment is on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors agenda.
Major Meetings This Week:
- Orange County Transportation Authority Board
- City of Orange Planning Commission
- Anaheim City School District Board
- Cypress City Council
- Los Alamitos City Council
- Tustin Unified School District Board
- Orange County Board of Supervisors
- Anaheim City Council
- Irvine City Council
- Garden Grove City Council
- Costa Mesa City Council (study session on general plan update)
- Newport Beach City Council
- Buena Park City Council
- Stanton City Council
- Laguna Hills City Council
- Seal Beach City Council
- Villa Park City Council
- Santa Ana Unified School District Board
- North Orange County Community College District Board
- Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board
- Fullerton Joint Union High School District Board (special meeting)
See something interesting in the agendas? Let us know!
Adam Elmahrek and Thy Vo contributed to this post.