We’re live from the Feet to the Fire Forum for the Second Supervisorial District. Yours truly got promoted to the media table.
The candidates are seated in this order from left to right: Board of Equalization Member Michelle Steel, Coast Community College District Trustee Jim Moreno, Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, and Huntington Beach Councilman Joe Carchio. Moreno is a Democrat while the rest are Republicans.
The media panelists are Norberto Santana of the Voice of OC, Alicia Lopez of the Daily Pilot, Jack Wu of the OC Register, John Canalis of the Daily Pilot, and Barbara Venezia of the Daily Pilot/OC Register.
(7:02 PM): Canalis asks if the candidates would forego a Supervisorial pension.
Steel would forego the pension.
Moreno would donate the pension to an account to fund nonprofit organizations. He would do the same with his commission stipends.
Mansoor says he would take the pension because he is not independently wealthy and does not have a home in Rancho Palos Verdes (referencing Steel). He says he would take the lower of two pension formulas offered at the County (Editor’s Note: the voters approved a June 2012 ballot measure mandating Supervisors pick the lower pension formula.)
Carchio says he did not accept a pension in Huntington Beach and would not accept one at the County.
Canalis asks if the candidates would vote to outright ban Supervisorial pensions.
Moreno says he would not.
Wu asks Moreno about pension reform.
Moreno says pension management would need to be examined.
Venezia says all the candidates’ Web sites abstractly speak of pension reform without details.
Mansoor says he would lead by example.
Steel says unfunded liabilities are a problem and notes the County was 100% funded in 2000. She says economic growth and demographic shifts combined with rates of return must be accounted for. She speaks about the recent amortization changes at OCERS.
Mansoor says he left the Sheriff’s Department to go to the Assembly where he has no pension.
Carchio speaks of the need for employees to pay for their entire employee pension contribution.
Lopez asks Steel about her endorsement from Sheriff Hutchens. She asks about offering a raise to deputies in exchange for them paying their entire employee contribution.
Steel points to the example of OCEA. She says she wants to look at the numbers to be sure of what solution she would pursue.
Mansoor opposes the pay raise because it would increase the pension obligation.
Santana asks Mansoor about the risk of deputies being poached by neighboring agencies.
Mansoor says these are difficult times and difficult decisions need to be made to make the County solvent.
Wu asks Mansoor about leading by example by refusing the pension.
Mansoor says it would be irresponsible to ask employees to entirely give up their pensions.
Santana asks how would spending more to pay down the pension liability affect spending on other County programs and services.
Steel points to waste, fraud, and abuse. She gives an example of verifying welfare eligibility, modeling after a San Diego County program that saved $500,000. Steel says the OCERS investment returns should improve to reduce unfunded pension liability.
(Santana interjects several times demanding specifics.)
Moreno speaks about asking college employees to tell his college board about waste, and they found $10 million in waste.
Lopez asks Steel about how to fix CalOptima.
Steel says there needs to be more transparency and points to the appointment of two Supervisors at CalOptima.
Moreno says experts need to be brought in to fix the problems. He says the Board must have experts managing CalOptima.
Carchio says in Huntington Beach that they got employees to retire early, implement a 4/10 schedule, and other creativd ideas related to balance the budget after the loss of Redevelopment Agencies. (Editor’s Note: What does this have to do with CalOptima?) He says that all we heard about was RDA abuses, but RDAs did good things. He says creativity with RDAs shows how to solve these problems.
Venezia speaks about the 2012 election for Assembly. She asks about the criticism that Mansoor is leaving his Assembly seat early since he’s not termed out.
Mansoor said he supported Don Hansen and jumped in when Hansen dropped out. He criticizes Steel for moving to Orange County to run for Supervisor as a platform to run for Congress.
Venezia asks him to answer the original question.
Mansoor again points to Hansen dropping out.
Venezia and Wu ask if he will jump ship if elected Supervisor.
Mansoor starts to say that he wants a resident of Orange County to be Supervisor.
Wu interrupts to ask how long does someone need to be an Orange County resident. He points to Mansoor’s endorsement of Jim Righeimer for Costa Mesa City Council after Righeimer moved from Fountain Valley.
There’s crosstalk between Mansoor and Wu.
Steel jumps in to point out she’s lived in Orange County since 2011. She speaks about immigrating from Korea. She asks if she needs to be born here.
Carchio speaks about living in OC for 35 years and serving on numerous OC boards.
Steel asks if it’s so important to have a long-term Mansoor why he doesn’t support Carchio who’s lived in OC for decades.
Mansoor says he supported Hansen.
Lopez asks Mansoor what legislation he’s passed in Sacramento.
He points to various pending pieces of legislation.
Lopez asks if he’s accomplished something as a legislator.
Mansoor points to the challenges of being in the minority when there’s a supermajority.
Wu asks Steel about her accomplishments as a member of the Board of Equalization minority party.
Steel points to several items, including: *returning 1/2 of $267,000,000 to taxpayers
*switching late payment interest from monthly rates to daily rates, so taxpayers who are one day late only pay a day’s interest rather than a month’s interest
Steel lists several other items that this blogger can’t keep up with. She says she is a consensus builder who can get things done.
Moreno interjects that he has worked in the private sector, worked for an LA County Supervisor, served on the College Board, and been a father.
Venezia asks about Diane Harkey’s husband’s investment litigation since Steel has endorsed Harkey for Steel’s own Board of Equalization seat.
Steel says the courts already ruled that Diane Harkey was not part of this issue. She points to Harkey’s accomplishments in the Assembly.
Mansoor points to his track record in the Assembly. He says he was willing to stand up to the Mike Carona machine.
Santana asks who is part of the Carona machine now since Carona is in prison.
Mansoor says Steel is backed by a lot of people who backed Carona.
Santana repeatedly asks Mansoor to name names while Mansoor declines to do so each time.
Santana then asks what each candidate views is the role of a County Supervisor.
Moreno says the County is an arm of the state. He says the County takes care of social welfare, public health, and public safety issues. He says experts need to be running the agencies.
Santana asks for specifics.
Moreno speaks about solving constituent problems (i.e. casework).
Mansoor points to OCTA and the 405 toll lanes.
Wu and Santana ask Mansoor about other agencies.
Mansoor says they need to let him finish his answer. He speaks about public pressure forcing OCTA’s hand on the 405.
Santana asks about OCFA.
Mansoor says he would have a hands on approach.
Santana asks what that means.
Mansoor says he would audit the OCFA and points to his service on the Assembly Audit Committee.
Carchio says the OCFA board is too large and needs to be reduced in size from 25, pointing to his experience on the 35-member Vector Control Board.
Santana asks what size the OCFA Board should be.
Carchio says he doesn’t have enough information to determine an exact number.
Carchio argues he sits on more boards than Supervisors or Assembly members do.
Venezia asks how much each candidate has raised for their campaign to get their message out.
Wu says the candidates should exclude loans from their numbers.
Carchio says $75,000.
Mansoor says $100,000.
Moreno says $40,000.
Steel says $550,000.
Steel says raising money is hard work.
Mansoor speaks about issues mattering more and says he has a history of beating better funded candidates. He points to his endorsements from outgoing Supervisor John Moorlach and several district mayors.
Lopez asks Mansoor about his reputation on immigration and the Latino vote.
Mansoor says he is not anti-immigrant. He says he supports legal immigration and is the son of two immigrants. He says his actions in Costa Mesa only related to illegal immigrants who committed other crimes. He says Steel has said different things to different people, telling some that she opposes the Lincoln Club plan and telling others that she supports aspects of it. He says he supports eVerify, but Steel opposes it.
Steel says she is an immigrant. She supports a guest worker program. She supports the Lincoln Club plan. She opposes eVerify.
Wu asks Mansoor about the legislative letter he signed that got sent to members of Congress.
Mansoor says the published portion was out of context from the letter he signed.
Moreno speaks about the DREAM Act. He says these students are indistinguishable from kids born in the United States. He calls for prevailing wage in any guest worker program. He says LAX is where illegal immigrants come from. He points to the deportation of Australians.
Carchio says he went to a Sacramento press conference with Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and his bill on human trafficking. Carchio speaks about high levels of human trafficking from China and Vietnam. He wants an equitable settlement where everyone is treated like a human being.
Venezia asks why she should vote for each of the candidates.
Steel speaks of her BOE track record and her efforts on behalf of taxpayers.
Moreno points to his experience working for an LA County Supervisor and his service on the Coast Community College Board.
Mansoor says he will stand up to special interests and political machines. He says he has an open door policy and will always listen to constituents.
Carchio points to his lengthy time as an OC resident. He speaks about his business owner experience, his experience on the City Council, and his experience on regional and state boards.
Despite starting slightly late, the forum ends right on time at 8 PM.