For nearly five years, our team of reporters and editors has worked tirelessly to shed light on fraud, waste and abuse across Orange County. And we’ve done it during a time when other local media have continued to retrench and devote fewer resources to accountability journalism, making what we do more valuable to our democracy than ever. Here are just a few examples of the important work we’ve done in 2014:
Our probe into a controversial property swap by Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido triggered local, state and federal investigations this year. A city report – made public only under the threat of a lawsuit by Voice of OC – detailed the potential for felony charges against the 11-term Mayor. In the case of convicted mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, our in-depthreporting on the use of jailhouse informants by the District Attorney’s office shed light on prosecutorial misconduct that violated prisoners’ right to due process. In one instance, lapses by the DA resulted in the release of a man facing two murder charges.
OC Registrar of Voters is on the move again, this time to the County Counsel’s Office. This latest round of executive musical chairs is tied to Mark Denny – who previously pled guilty to electoral fraud – taking over temporarily as county CEO.
Orange County Supervisors Tuesday voted 4-0 to approve the relocation of the county Social Services Agency headquarters from a controversial building in downtown Santa Ana to a new office space in Orange. The vote comes just before the expiration of the county’s current lease on Dec. 31 with developer and downtown property owner Michael F. Harrah, who has leased the building to the county at a fixed rent for 17 years. The vote comes after Voice of OC published a story Monday detailing the deteriorating condition of the building located at 888 N. Main Street, including major mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that have not been replaced since the building was constructed in the 1960s. Although Harrah offered during the negotiations to make any renovations to the building without cost to the county, staff backed the proposal to relocate the agency altogether.