Norberto Santana Jr., is an award-winning investigative reporter with 20 years of experience at major daily newspapers.
Before founding Voice of OC in 2009, Santana was a lead investigative reporter for the Orange County Register and spent a decade covering local governments across Southern California. His work has included exposes on Orange County public safety spending, deportation policies and misuse of funds at the San Diego Red Cross.
In addition to his experience as a journalist, the Southern California native has a master’s in Latin American Studies and has worked as an elections analyst with the National Endowment for Democracy. He also has direct experience on Internet start-ups as one of the founders of CubaNet.org, a website for dissident writers inside Cuba that has operated since 1995.
Irvine City staff are asking questions about the future of idle portions of a proposed 125-acre veterans’ cemetery – possibly eyeing vacant parcels for commercial development. Veteran leaders are publicly worrying that an expected Tuesday vote to finalize a controversial land swap for the vets cemetery could be in doubt along with key aspects of the deal to bring a state veterans’ cemetery to Irvine.
FivePoint Holdings CEO Emile Haddad tells OC Insider Rick Reiff that he’s ready to be part of the effort kick-started by Donald Bren’s Irvine Company to woo the giant on-line retailer, Amazon, to Irvine. The discussion airs Sunday, Oct. 1, at 5 p.m. on PBS SoCal and is also broadcast on KDOC, Cox and YouTube.
Orange County Supervisors keep wasting precious time with an anemic response to the homelessness explosion along the Santa Ana riverbed and downtown civic center. With Hep A outbreaks prompting action in both LA and San Diego Counties, how much longer will it take county supervisors to step up and protect public safety in Orange County?
Following significant salary hikes granted by Orange County Supervisors to Sheriff Deputies, fueling a 33 percent increase in costs over the past decade, contract cities are now starting to publicly question whether they need to look into alternatives. OC’s biggest contract city, Mission Viejo, takes leadership on a new audit of Sheriff’s patrol services. Big questions also loom over whether city or county taxpayers own the long-term pension obligations for both Deputy Sheriff’s and Firefighters if cities bolt from current regional policing and fire protection models.
Orange County’s Sheriff Sandra Hutchens’ credibility has been destroyed by Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals. Meanwhile, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas stands accused of political corruption by his own senior investigators. Regional fire service also is in full crisis mode after executives at the Orange County Fire Authority apparently ousted Fire Chief Jeff Bowman against the will of rank and file firefighters.
This month, Orange County’s state fairgrounds in Costa Mesa formally opened a memorial to agricultural workers – a far cry from where the agency stood nearly a decade ago when fair board members led the charge to privatize what they termed “an underutilized asset.”
It’s been more than 14 months since Orange County voters approved an ethics commission. Still, only one county supervisor – Shawn Nelson – has appointed a board member to the important oversight panel, which has yet to publicize any actions or the appointment process.
Rigo Rodríguez, who is a Governing Board Member for the Santa Ana Unified School District, questions implementation of a district plan to shift 25 of 38 District Security Officers (DSOs) from their middle schools and high schools to other sites, urging cooperation, just as labor leaders meet today with school district officials on the shift.
Publisher Norberto Santana Jr. writes that Orange County supervisors should reimburse local taxpayers for the more than $120,000 in legal fees they just had to pay Voice of OC after losing a public records lawsuit. It likely won’t be the last time the courts are needed to pry public records loose and Santana says Voice of OC will stay on the case.
With many insiders scratching their heads about the recent grand jury report on jailhouse snitches, focus is increasingly on the upcoming race for DA in 2018. Amidst lingering questions about current DA Tony Rackauckas’ leadership and the judgment of his challenger, Supervisor Todd Spitzer, a third option has arisen out of Chapman University’s law school, Professor Mario Mainero.