If only animals could make campaign contributions.
That would really put Orange County’s crumbling, 74-year old animal shelter on the radar of county supervisors.
That’s what our most recent grouping of grand jurors concluded after examining the county animal shelter – dubbing it the weakest among California counties in a report released last week, “The Orange County Animal Shelter: the Facility, the Function, the Future.”
They are right on.
Where there is no fundraising buck, there is zero attention from the post-bankruptcy, post-term limits OC Board of Supervisors that arose out of the ashes of financial ruin they created in 1994.
Indeed, today it seems county supervisors are most often focused on their next job – only using their county seat to help them fundraise among vendors for their next campaign while also securing bureaucratic jobs for their campaign aides and political allies.
Despite the bland title of this most recent grand jury report (the last sexy title, focusing on corruption in county government back in 2013 got supervisors so angry they tried to cut grand jurors pay), it’s a scathing indictment.
Grand jurors call out the board of supervisors for a stunning collective failure to lead, in a sustained fashion, over the course of decades – despite being admonished in three separate grand jury reports since 2000.
Their main finding is a stark but fair assessment. Supervisors don’t care about animal well-being in Orange County.
“The Grand Jury has concluded that the County’s lack of leadership, lack of commitment to animal care, and the prioritization of other Orange County Community Resources Department functions ahead of Orange County Animal Care are the primary reasons for failure to address the need of new Animal Shelter facilities.”
Consider that today’s county supervisors have been coasting on the collective decision of a board back in 1941 that set up an animal shelter to serve about 200,000 – the population at the time.
Today, the shelter serves ten times that population – with a pay-as-you-go, annual budget stitched together by six-month long contracts that perpetually renew and are only aimed at offering 18 cities the lowest priced – and according to grand jurors and whistle blowers, the lowest quality – animal control services around.
The only ones who suffer are the animals.
That apparently hasn’t bothered a board of supervisors since the Axis powers were out in force.
One county supervisor apparently even told this grand jury that county officials are afraid to even inspect the roof on the current animal shelter for fear it would collapse.
That pretty much sums up the last few years in county government and the attitude of accountability that the board of supervisors has instilled.
Don’t uncover any problems, or else you’ll have to spend your time and political capital fixing them.
Instead of campaigning…
In recent years, virtually every major scandal has been kicked over to a series of private attorneys to investigate county department heads and electeds. While officials like to call the probes independent, all of the lawyers are hired and paid by the county government itself.
Of course, none of those investigations have found any wrongdoing, including the most recent look into the District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office in the wake of multiple scandals involving the use of a government snitch program.
And despite massive issues with the animal control department, or a recent OC Parks department scandal with $1 million in no bid contracts (ever a public update or acknowledgment?), or a series of unraveling multi-million dollar IT contracts headed for court, the chairman of the board of supervisors is focusing time on what important county issue?
It’s tough to see the connection between violent video games and county government, unless you can visualize a run for county DA out there in the near future, like maybe supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer can.
Forget about the burgeoning favela of homeless people that has sprung up around the civic center in recent years. That’s the situation that Spitzer himself called shameful (watch this video link) when he was sworn into office several years ago…only to do nothing on the issue since.
Yet there is time to focus the entire board of supervisors last month on the recall of a Superior Court judge.
Up in Sacramento, you’d think that three state senators who are former county supervisors would be busy pressing legislation together that figures out how to bring back more property tax dollars to Orange County.
Instead, recent press conferences focus on legislation to enhance penalties for damaging sea lions.
With an open congressional seat on the horizon, it may become increasingly tough to keep county supervisors or other electeds focused on county government.
Yet doing a good job in your current position would seem to be the best way to earn a promotion from voters.
Consider this, if you browse around on the county supervisors’ individual government websites, and take in all their fancy newsletters and event photos, you know what the most popular item listed on their own website is almost every time?