This Week: Both the Haves and Have Nots on County Agenda

Photo credit: Vanguard University and Wikipedia

Both the haves and have nots of Orange County have issues on the county agenda this week as auditors release a report on Dana Point Harbor, and county supervisors supervisors address a proposed homeless shelter in Anaheim.

Here’s what you need to know:

Supervisors to Seek Bids for Operator of New Homeless Shelter

County supervisors made waves in November when they bought an industrial building in Anaheim to serve as a homeless shelter and service center for up to 200 people at a time.

Now, they’re set to start the process of picking an organization to run the facility, known as the Kraemer shelter, for its location at 1000 N. Kraemer Place.

Tuesday’s agenda includes the issuance of a request for proposals for the shelter’s operator, who would oversee a variety of services from food to mental health support and connecting people to longer-term housing options elsewhere.

It will be a major undertaking for whoever takes on the task. The county would be seeking bids for operating both the Kraemer shelter and the county’s current emergency cold-weather shelter program at National Guard armories.

The winning bidder would also be asked to enter into a 20-year lease from the county to use the facility.

Organizations would be allowed to team up for their bids, which could cover either the new shelter, the current armory shelters, or both.

The county’s current armories operator is the nonprofit group Mercy House, which is widely expected to be the frontrunner for the Kraemer contract.

Several key homeless advocates have described Mercy House as difficult to work with on many levels. For his part, Mercy House Executive Director Larry Haynes has said he recognizes the problem and has been trying to do a better job of collaborating with others, while noting that his group is often the only one to step up to the plate.

Also remaining to be seen is whether homeless people will be allowed to bring their belongings to the new shelter. Many homeless people keep all of their worldly possessions with them, and limits on how much they can bring has been cited by advocates as a barrier for people accessing the cold-weather armory shelters.

The current bid document calls for applications to be due in June and approval of the winning bidder by the county Board of Supervisors in late August.

(Click here to read the shelter operator staff report and here for the proposed bid solicitation document.)

Advocates have been concerned that the new shelter’s success will be restrained by the shortage of permanent supportive housing for people to go to after their stay in the shelter.

Stays in the Kraemer shelter will generally be limited to a maximum of 30 days per person, meaning that longer-term housing is key to reducing homelessness, advocates say.

New Audit on Dana Point Harbor to Be Released

The county-owned Dana Point Harbor has long been mired in controversy, with allegations that the harbor’s massive revitalization effort has been mismanaged.

And now, county Auditor Controller Eric Woolery’s office says it’s working on a series of audits related to the harbor, with the first to be released Wednesday morning.

The first focuses on the Marina Inn, a 136-room hotel located at the county harbor. It reportedly has eight critical or significant findings.

Many of the allegations related to Dana Point Harbor in recent years have centered on claims that the county has turned a blind eye to incompetence by the company hired to manage the harbor’s revitalization.

Among other things, leaders in the boater community have said that the contractor, Project Dimensions Inc. (PDI), submitted regulatory documents that weren’t formatted correctly, and then spent the next five months correcting the submission at county expense.

Under a 2003 project management contract that has been extended at least five times, PDI was paid an average of $834,000 each year, with a 2006 change giving the firm an automatic monthly payment regardless of the work they performed.

A five-year extension approved in 2013 bumped the payments to $1 million annually.

The PDI contract also drew scrutiny from David Zenger, a former aide to Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who has said he couldn’t find any evidence that PDI had prior experience managing a large, critical public works construction project.

In 2013, Nelson and former Supervisor John Moorlach expressed concerns about the contract’s structure. At the time, then-Supervisor Pat Bates, whose district included the harbor, said that concerns about PDI had been addressed by a county staff review.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. He can be reached at

  • UnitedWeStand

    5 conservatives have filled all the seats on the OC Board of Supervisors and have had opportunities (for far too long) to run Orange County GOVERNMENT fairly and appropriately and apply and monitor ‘their” political policies AND beliefs. We have a birds eye view of what it’s like to have a conservative for President running the country.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Yup, and that view isn’t pretty.

  • Judy Allen

    How can so many of our OC employees take so many of our tax dollars and not get their jobs done and the dollars just fade away? I’ve been self employed for 25 years.
    If I ran my business this way, it would have lasted maybe 6 months! OY…

    • Jacki Livingston

      Don’t blame the employees, Judy. When I was at SSA, I worked very hard to stop fraud, and then, when I found out that the nursing homes being paid enormous sums of money from the County were also stealing from their patients, then paying off their political shields (oh, HAI there, Janet!), I reported it to every possible person I could, both within chain of command and out of it. I testified before the Grand Jury twice, sent letters and emails to all of the BoS, Loretta Sanchez and the AG. Not ONE person did anything. I even gave evidence and testimony to the FBI, who told me, flat out, that the millions being embezzled from the taxpayers and patients was not worth their time, it wasn’t enough money, and they knew about the politicians on the take. After six long years of assault, abuse, threats, harassment, false allegations and even being stalked, I retired. The state is going to sanction Spitzer for using his wife and a client of his, both judges, to avoid having to testify under oath at my worker’s comp trial, but that is a small comfort (even if they disbar the coward). I am not alone, though it feels that way. I did the right thing, I respected my ultimate employers, fighting waste and fraud. I lost a career I loved, and cannot get hired in any job, anywhere, because the County is so petty, they are sandbagging me on job references, in direct violation of a court order. You can bet that every employee who watched what happened to me learned their lesson, and they keep their mouths shut. I can’t even get too angry at them, for it, after what I have been through. This county is run by thugs and criminals, the lot of them, just like a mafia. Oh, except the mafia has some code of honor…the County of Orange has none…zero.

  • David Zenger

    No, PDI had no business getting that sweet gig by virtue of any previous performance. But the whole thing really jumped the rails in 2007 when the PDI contract was quietly shifted to a monthly fixed fee arrangement – the only one like it at the County – that was separated from the original scope of work in contravention of every good management principle. In essence PDI was paid around $50K each and every month regardless of what they accomplished all the way to spring of 2013.

    What this meant was that the longer the preconstruction phase lasted the more PDI was paid – so long as there was money left in the contract. So the Coastal Commission delays that the boaters claimed were caused by PDI actually made PDI money.

    Meantime Brad Gross, the harbor director who was supposed to be in charge of this mess was actually getting improper pay raises for per the 2011 HR performance audit.

    The Dana Point Harbor Revitalization management contract is now 13 years old and at least $13,000,000 is gone. Audit? Yeah, about time.

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      Such a predictable pattern – any county staffer who opens their mouth to ask questions or yee gads expose the truth about waste and graft …seems to either retire, lose their job or quit. People who refuse to go along to get along with what they know is wrong must go. It’s pretty sick that millions and millions of dollars in waste gets such little attention.

      • Jacki Livingston

        Amen, Kathleen. You nail it right on the head. This is also true at SSA, of any employee who finds clients are committing fraud. We were literally told to just give the freebies to people, no matter what we found was fraud. They don’t care at all. Though, at SSA, it is probably hard for them to point the finger at others, when they are embezzling and stealing so much for themselves. It would be more than a little hypocritical, I suppose.