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.
We also set ourselves apart with our chronicling of longstanding tensions between Santa Ana residents and local police. We followed the story of Edgar Vargas, who was beat by several Santa Ana police officers and was detained by federal immigration officials on the way to a court hearing. The FBI later declared the beating a felony assault.
Amidst controversy in Garden Grove over the hiring of former Mayor Bruce Broadwater's son as a city firefighter, we exposed a secret agreement signed by the city manager for the fire chief to resign in exchange for a two-year employment deal at full salary.
At the county, we uncovered an audit that revealed nearly $1 million in no-bid consulting contracts going to a friend of an OC Parks executive. We also continued to expose a long tradition of political patronage in county government in which influential aides to county supervisors move back and forth into civilian jobs within the bureaucracy, often circumventing competitive recruitment processes.
This in-depth reporting is borne out of our constant presence in the halls of government agencies and the hundreds of smaller articles we do each year.
And trust that we have no plans to slow down in 2015 -- but we need your help to keep the spotlight burning bright.
Just $5 per month from every reader would set Voice of OC on a path to financial sustainability. Do your part and give us a tax-deductible holiday gift.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday season,
Norberto Santana, Jr., Editor-in-Chief
David Washburn, Managing Editor