Norberto Santana, Jr. is an award-winning investigative reporter with nearly two decades reporting experience, most recently engaging Orange County government institutions and decision makers as the founding publisher of the nonprofit digital newsroom, Voice of OC.
As publisher, Santana oversees all newsroom, engagement and fundraising operations and also writes a weekly Opinion column about Orange County government.
In 2017 and 2018, the Orange County Press Club recognized Santana as Orange County’s best columnist.
Before founding Voice of OC in 2009, Santana was a lead investigative reporter for the Orange County Register from 2004-2009, focusing on county government. He’s spent nearly two decades just focusing on local governments across Southern California, previously as a staff writer with outlets such as the San Diego Union Tribune and the San Bernardino County Sun.
Santana began his journalistic career in the early 1990s as an apprentice reporter with Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C. covering daily floor action in the U.S. Congress and followed that up with a stint covering the territorial Senate for the U.S. Virgin Islands Daily News.
In addition to his experience as a journalist, the Southern California native has a master’s in Latin American Studies, has worked as an elections analyst on National Endowment for Democracy programs across Latin America and was one of the founders of CubaNet.org, a website featuring the work of dissident journalists inside Cuba that has operated since 1995.
Languages spoken: English and Spanish
Areas of expertise: Orange County, southern California, investigations, politics, elections, government transparency, Congress, Latin America, local government, civic education and reporting education.
After a ruling against police unions in Contra Costa late last week, Orange County this week could become the second jurisdiction to see a ruling in California over the heated legal battle to implement SB 1421, which opens select police misconduct records for public review.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott ruled Thursday that a media coalition led by Voice of OC, which includes the LA Times and Southern California Public Radio, has the right to intervene in court against a bid by the county deputy sheriff’s union to quash the public release of select police misconduct records.
Nick Berardino – president of Valor, the Veterans Alliance of Orange County and President of Heroes Hall Foundation – talks about the challenges facing what he calls America’s most disrespected minority, veterans, as well as the quest for a veterans cemetery in OC.
Today, Voice of OC leads a media coalition in Orange County appearing before Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott to oppose a deputy sheriff union request to block public access to police misconduct records. While State Attorney General Javier Becerra and local elected officials have largely given way to local police unions fighting against the implementation of SB1421, this week news publishers from across the state attending the California News Publishers Association capital conference in Sacramento reasserted their strong support for the myriad of public records lawsuits being waged across the state as a media coalition.
After County Counsel Leon Page takes a public stand on defending the public’s right to know about police records, county supervisors order a stand down. Media representatives such as the LA Times and So Cal Public Radio, led by Voice of OC, head back into court this Thursday to oppose the action.
José Ocaño from the Best Friends Animal Society talks about the future of animal sheltering in the United States in a “no-kill” era for shelter animals as well as the change in culture over at the County of Orange animal shelter with new OC Animal Care Director Mike Kaviani.
Orange County leaders this week unveiled a $40 million, 60,000 square foot mental health campus in Orange aimed at radically shifting regional homelessness spending away from local police and more toward mental health treatment.
The battle for the 2020 election in Orange County kicked off this month with both Democratic and Republican central committees electing new officers and debating new directions for both parties. Democrats are pondering whether they can sustain the Blue Wave while Republicans debate new get-out-the–vote dynamics such as ballot harvesting as well as public engagement strategies. The first real poll on both parties comes back in March with a heated special election for Third District County Supervisor, with both parties fielding high profile names in the race. Today is the filing deadline for candidates.
As one of the first Asian Pacific Islanders and Muslims elected in Southern California, Farrah Khan talks about what it takes to win a local city council campaign as well as offering her take on Irvine’s future.
The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs won their bid on Thursday to shield deputy misconduct records from public release after a state law, SB 1421, was enacted that would allow members of the public to see records about use of force incidents, sexual assaults and lying while on duty. The next hearing, where full arguments on the deputy union’s request to permanently seal records is Feb. 7. Voice of OC leads a media coalition including the Los Angeles Times and Southern California Public Radio that is opposing the union request to seal records.