Santana: Tired of OIR, OC Supes Refocus on Appointing a Party Planner-in-Chief

After hawkish talk about cutting off funding for Orange County’s Office of Independent Review earlier this month, county supervisors quickly balked last week during budget adoption when publicly confronted by Sheriff Sandra Hutchens about the need for some sort of independent civilian oversight over police actions.

They quickly pivoted to something that really catches their eye.

Events.

Hutchens all but told supervisors that if they cut off funding for OIR without a plan for something else, they’d be setting themselves up for a federal takeover of the jail system at some point.

You could see in open session that the statement shook them, and supervisors immediately backed up.

“We cannot do without a office of OIR,” said Supervisor Andrew Do. “It sends a bad message to the public and state and federal agencies.”

“There will be this assumption that we don’t want to know the truth and we are hiding things,” Do said.

Yet that’s exactly correct. They don’t want the truth. And they are hiding things. And as with most departments they oversee, supervisors just aren’t prepared to talk shop.

While Hutchen’s statements enraged the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s, the move worked brilliantly in that it revealed that supervisors hadn’t really given much thought to what they would replace OIR with.

That’s increasingly par for the course for a board of supervisors seemingly allergic to homework and hooked on politics and ideology.

Consider that despite all the intense debate over OIR during the budget, not one supervisor at last week’s debate came prepared to talk about options.

Civilian review? OIR? Ethics commission?

Note that this is all happening is in the midst of a heated – and private – debate going on between the Sheriff’s Department and the federal government over the use of choke holds in Orange County.

Not one supervisor even asked one public question about why Orange County Deputy Sheriffs are in a confrontation with the Department of Justice over their use of force policy.

They also didn’t ask the deputies union about their opinion that Hutchens is risking officer safety by tinkering with choke hold policy to try to meet DOJ concerns.

That’s the one and only nugget provided by OIR in it’s buried, public reports on it’s website.

Supervisors also didn’t ask one question about all the recent jail and sheriff department struggles in Los Angeles – where Hutchens was a senior leader before taking over in OC – and how all of their so-called independent oversight mechanisms apparently failed.

The reality for residents and voters is there is no independent oversight of any sheriff’s department.

When it comes to oversight, there are only elections every four years for county supervisors and the sheriff along with the annual budget adoption.

Judging from this year’s process, voters should probably fire them all.

Consider that after punting the whole OIR debate last week, county supervisors went back to their favorite topic.

Events.

Faced with an onslaught of county supervisors looking to use county departments like OC Parks as promotional machines, county bureaucrats came up with the idea of setting up an “Events Czar” to help supervisors adeptly use the county bureaucracy to campaign.

It’s something the last board of supervisors – led by former Supervisor, now state Sen. Janet Nguyen – excelled at.

And you could see that the party planning debate really got these current county supervisors excited like nothing else.

Cymantha Atkinson, who directs governmental and community relations at the county CEO’s office, announced to supervisors that the new events chief and calendar would “give us a larger presence in the community.”

Supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer announced that before seeing the unified calendar of events, he had no idea that a $6 billion county government bureaucracy was “engaged in so many activities.”

Supervisors like south county’s Lisa Bartlett immediately scrambled on the dais to ask for more time so supervisors can add plenty of events to the party list.

That should come back by July 21.

Yet don’t hold your breath on the new events chief.

Supervisors won’t be back until July 14 because after all with all the Fourth of July events around the corner, how could anyone leading our government not be expected to take two weeks off?

  • Diego Vega

    The county opened the recruitment for this fluff position this morning. The job description sounds like the same job description as a BOS EA. The salary tops out at over $131,000. Persons with a soul, ethics, or integrity need not apply.

  • Debby Bodkin

    The Voice of OC does a great job informing the public about important government matters. However, it is time for the FBI and the USDOJ to cut all ties to Orange County law enforcement and elected government officials and conduct a thorough and independent RICO investigation, without any type of involvement from anyone remotely associated with Orange County government. Too many leaks and conflicts of interest.

    IMO, Orange County, California has reached the point of no return and at one point, the OC Board of Supervisors, had an opportunity to make a difference, but failed to do the right thing. If federal government agencies fail to take corrective action, after learning the truths that have been revealed publicly to date, then the federal government needs to take full monetary responsibility for any economic, physical and/or intentional infliction of emotion distress damages that take place in the future because of inaction and the enabling of expired statutes of limitations.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Amen.

    • KateD

      Ever seen a County employee go to the feds? They spend three hours in a room with an FBI agent and an investigator from DHHS telling them about a horrific crime they witnessed, only to be told that the dollar amount Ian’t high enough for the Feds to bother with. Of course, if they looked, they would find a lot of money involved, but they want the County worker to do their job for them, so they take credit for the final outcome. And if the employee testifies in front of the Grand Jury? Nothing, because Tony the Tigger is as useless as nipples on a boar hog. If that employee goes to Kamala Harris or Moonbeam Brown, they get nothing. Same with Loretta Sanchez and Bans Boxer. These people are all tied up together and they will never rat each other out.

  • Paul Lucas

    Let the Feds take over.

  • KateD

    These people are sad and ridiculous. They have layers of people, all overpaid, whose job it is to keep any problems from ever coming to their desks. In fact, a pending lawsuit contends that at its core. Horrible, criminal, vicious events go on throughout the County agencies every day, but these buffers and fluffers keep the “Gang of Five” from knowing what is going on. That way, they have total deniability and never have to get their soft hands dirty actually doing the job that we elected them to do. It is a sweet deal…for them. For us, it is another political shaft.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Wow. Party Planner? That’s what the EAs do.

    The OC Board of Supervisors are eerily confident in using tax dollars for self promotion /enrichment.

    How are they so sure the Registrar of Voters can keep handing them a victory?

    This is called fraud. But ok this will help authorities connect the dots to a currently fragmented (across the agencies) promotional machine. Nguyen did take “branding” of public services for self enrichment to new heights.

    Thanks VofOC for shedding light on how they ignore real important public “stuff” that’s messy…(OIR) and focus on their self-promotion.

    • David Zenger

      You are right. This is about using more General Fund money to support their self-promotion in public spaces, and without even dipping into their own staff budgets.

      Pretty deplorable. The arrogance is really quite breathtaking.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        And not so long ago the BOS got their collective undies in a knot over the annual “recycling event” – major waste of time. So I suppose only SOME “events” are ok – aka United Way.
        They are good at wasting tax money for their party planning to try to make themselves look good. They are also good at crushing people who tell the truth and attempt to expose fraud and corruption.They are a bunch of intellectual light weights consumed with selfish self dealing. I admire the VOC for exposing this garbage – but when will it ever end?

        • OCservant_Leader

          Oh yea that recycling event ! Good one! This is such BS.

          Don’t get me started on United Way… I support community non profits but something went off track here.

        • Diego Vega

          It will NEVER end so long as
          OC is ruled by one party. Until there is a true opposition party to hold
          the BOS accountable during a campaign for office the BOS will continue its
          malfeasance and incompetence with no accountability. And don’t even get me started on DA T-Rack’s dereliction of duty by refusing to prosecute any white collar crime or
          political crimes in OC.

          • OCservant_Leader

            The DA -T Rack doesn’t prosecute because he is involved personally in scams.

            Take The OC Parks Scandal – Under EA Steve Franks – recently caught cutting Million Dollar checks to Bradjek.

            Steve Franks – (appointed by BOS) hired the DA -T Rack wife @ $100 K per year (let’s say 5 years)

            DA T-Rack pockets $500,000 (not including pension payments till death )

            DA-TRack refuses to prosecute this crime. Why? This is called Quid Pro Quo. He personally enriched himself (thru wife) in this situation. And every EA & friends who got promoted need to be included.

            This case must be referred to State AG and /or FBI for RICO.

            What does the BOS do? Waste our time discussing a party planner.