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Pay to Play – Turns Out To Be A Very Good Return On Investment

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on December 7, 2016

A few weeks ago, just prior to the election, I posted about California Policy Center’s study of some local Orange County school bond tax measures and who is financing the yes campaigns (Pay to Play in School Bond Measures in the OC).   Of the 10 school bond tax measures on the ballot in Orange County, 8 passed.  Only 2 failed.  That means the organizations (architectural, engineering and construction firms that build projects for the Districts) and the attorneys who support those efforts will be awash in bond tax money as they get contracts from these local districts.

But Orange County is not unique in voters giving mismanaged school boards bail outs in the form of bond tax measures. Californian’s have just voted overwhelmingly to place themselves, their children and grandchildren in debt for many years to come.  The amount: approximately $5 Billion additional taxes per year.  All. Voter. Approved.

In California Policy Center’s Union Watch web site’s latest article Californians Approve $5.0 Billion per Year in New Taxes, Ed Ring notes that:

“With only a couple of measures still too close to call (TCTC), as can be seen, 94% of the 193 proposed local bonds passed, and 71% of the proposed local taxes passed. Two years ago, 81% of the local bond proposals passed, and 68% of the local tax proposals passed.”

I am sure on election day in the offices of these yes on bond tax measure supporters (as well as on Wall Street for bond issuers) the champaign bottles were being uncorked to celebrate the passage of billions of dollars in bond tax measures.  They will reap the benefits in the form of millions of dollars of contracts from their small $1,000 and $1o,000 yes campaign investments for many years to come – all at the expense of the citizens who will be paying these bond taxes for 30 or 40 years to come.

Mr. Ring goes on to note that this is a house of cards and financial reality will set in when market corrections eventually occur.

“Despite the increase in consumer confidence since the surprising victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election, the stock and asset bubble that has been engineered through thirty years of expanding credit and lowering rates of interest is going to pop.”

When that happens who will be left holding the bag of debt?  Naturally the taxpayers who must foot the bill for this debt spending spree.  The school board politicians who passed these taxes?  Since they will have moved on by that time, probably not.  The bond issuers / holders?  Only if the school board is not able to pay its debts and files Chapter 9 bankruptcy – that is what happened to most of the bond issuers / holders in the City of Stockton bankruptcy.  They received much less than 100 cents on the dollar owed them. I have no sympathy for them.

But the entities that financed the yes campaigns – the architects, engineers and attorneys who made huge profits from these projects?  Nope – they will be happily counting their profits from their multimillion dollar contracts for these projects.  All from their small yes campaign investments.

Not a bad return on your investment!

I commend this article to you and suggest you subscribe to Union Watch’s e-mail list.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

DISTRICTS SHMISTRICTS!

Posted by James Madison on November 16, 2016

Two big cities in Orange County switched to district elections this year due to lawsuits filed by Hispanic activists to force the creation of Hispanic-leaning districts. How’d that work out?

In Anaheim, two districts were designated as “Hispanic” districts. Jordan Brandman beat Hispanic activist Jose Moreno in one of them, and Lucille Kring slaughtered leftwing Arturo Ferreras in the other. The upshot – Anaheim will now have seven Caucasians on its council, and no Hispanics.

In Garden Grove, two districts were also designated as “Hispanic”. In one, 23-year old Kim Bernice Nguyen beat Rickk Montoya, who had been the plaintiff in the districting lawsuit. In the other, white neighborhood activist Stephanie Klopfenstein beat LULAC-favorite Demian Garcia-Monroy. Bottom line: Garden Grove goes from a council of three Vietnamese and two Caucasians, to a council of four Caucasians and three Vietnamese, and still, no Hispanics.

In the meantime, in the cities of Westminster and La Habra, which have no district elections, Sergio Contreras and Rose Espinoza were easily reelected.

Just goes to show, if you have good candidates you can win anywhere, while if you have lousy candidates, you can’t force-feed them to the voters anywhere.

By the way, lawsuits to force district elections may soon be a thing of the past. They are all based on the California Voting Rights Act, which virtually demands that cities create districts by race. When new Trump justices join the Supreme Court, the Court could well rule the California Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional as an illegal intrusion of race into the line drawing process. Are you paying attention, Fullerton and Costa Mesa????

Posted in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, La Habra, Westminster | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Results from City Selection Committee

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 10, 2016

The City Selection Committee met tonight. Yes, they are having one just two days after the elections, but waiting much longer would collide with the holiday season.

Thanks to Placentia Councilman Chad Wanke and the staff at the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors for filling in OC Political on the results.

California Identification Remote Access Network Board

This seat remains vacant.

City Engineers Flood Control Advisory Committee 1st District

Marwan Yourself of Westminster reappointed by acclamation.

City Engineers Flood Control Advisory Committee 3rd District

Doug Stack of Tustin appointed by acclamation, succeeding Mark Carroll of Irvine.

City Engineers Flood Control Advisory Committee 4th District

Luis Estevez of Placentia appointed by acclamation, succeeding James Bier of Buena Park.

Commission to End Homelessness

Tita Smith of Orange reappointed by acclamation.

OCTA 1st District Population Weighted Seat

Miguel Pulido reappointed by acclamation. After all, Pulido single-handedly holds the majority of the votes for this seat.

OCTA 2nd District One City One Vote

Gary Miller of Seal Beach is termed out from his City Council seat.

Mike Varipapa of Seal Beach gets 2 votes, which are from Newport Beach and Seal Beach.

Richard Murphy of Los Alamitos wins with 7 votes, which came from Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, and Stanton.

OCTA 2nd District Population Weighted

Jim Katapodis of Huntington Beach did not seek reappointment.
Barbara Delgleize of Huntington Beach is appointed by acclamation.

OCTA 3rd District Population Weighted

Jeff Lalloway of Irvine opted not to seek reappointment.

Craig Young of Yorba Linda gets the votes of 12.17% of the population, which came from Yorba Linda.

Mark Murphy of Orange wins the seat, with the votes of 87.83% of the population, which came from Irvine, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park.

OCTA 4th District

Tim Shaw of La Habra reappointed by acclamation.

OCTA 5th District One City One Vote

Lori Donchak of San Clemente reappointed by acclamation.

OCTA 5th District Population Weighted

Frank Ury of Mission Viejo is termed out from his City Council seat.

Laurie Davies of Laguna Niguel appointed by acclamation.

Senior Citizens Advisory Committee

Both 1st District seats and both 4th District seats remain vacant due to lack of applicants. No 3rd District seats are up.

In the 2nd District, only one seat is up, and Don Gray of Huntington Beach is appointed by acclamation.

In the 5th District, only one seat is up, and incumbent Shari Horne of Laguna Woods is reappointed by acclamation.

Waste Management Commission 1st District

There are no nominations made for this seat, currently held by Michele Martinez of Santa Ana.

Waste Management Commission City Manager Representative

Bret Plumlee of Los Alamitos is appointed by acclamation to succeed Doug Chotkevys of Dana Point.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Hillary – So Pragmatic She Appeared to Have No Bedrock Principles

Posted by James Madison on November 10, 2016

Shortly after Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, a book by the name of Primary Colors was published. Written anonymously (the author was later revealed as reporter Joe Klein), it was a fictional treatment of the Clintons as Bill ran for president in 1992. The novel showed how the Clintons had descended from idealists active in the 1972 McGovern campaign to the pragmatic, tawdry, couple they came to be. In one revealing paragraph, the author captured the essence of the Clintons: “‘Libby, you said it yourself,’ Susan [the Hillary character] said coolly. ‘We were young. We didn’t know how the world worked. Now we know.'”

That was the image that plagued Hillary throughout the 2016 campaign. Everybody knew that she was so pragmatic that she appeared to have no bedrock principles. So when she announced she was switching from supporting the TPP trade treaty to opposing it, nobody believed her.

They certainly didn’t believe her in the Rust Belt. They were convinced that as soon as she was elected, she’d make some superficial changes and sign the TPP. That’s what cost her Wisconsin-Ohio-Michigan-Pennsylvania, and with them the election. When voters don’t believe what you’re saying about things that affect their livelihood, you get WOMPed.

Don’t be taken in by the fact that Hillary won the popular vote. She won big in states where Donald Trump didn’t campaign. In those states, she was still Secretary Clinton. Where Trump did campaign, she was Corrupt Hillary. If Trump had campaigned, Corrupt Hillary would have gotten far less votes than Secretary Clinton did.

Posted in National, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

OUSD School Bond Measure S Supporters Pulling Down Signs & Spending Taxpayer Dollars

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 3, 2016

Cross-posted to OC Daily.

After three failed attempts to pass a school bond in the last 13 years, supporters of a school bond in the Orange Unified School District have taken some rather creative steps to try to pass Measure S, a property tax increase $288,000,000 bond for four schools.

In their campaign to raise property taxes, Yes on S supporters apparently have no problem abusing tax dollars, disregarding private property rights, and disrespecting the First Amendment right to free speech of the opponents.

As Matt Cunningham reported yesterday on OC Daily, the Anaheim Union High School District appears to have used public resources for political activity, namely the campaign of Jose Moreno for Anaheim City Council.  The Orange Unified School District has more aggressively used public resources to promote Measure S.

Taxpayer-Funded Measure S Mailer

Spending $22,949.45 of taxpayer money under the guise of an informational flyer, OUSD mailed 77,000 copies of a mailer entitled, “Measure S Would Provide The Funding Needed To Repair & Upgrade Our Classrooms” that featured photos of smiling teenagers.  A true informational flyer would simply have been a plain text, black and white sheet of paper, not a colorful mailer reminiscent of campaign mailers.  Here is the mailer:

OUSD Measure S Mailer, September 10 OUSD Measure S Mailer, September 10
Click on the images above for the PDF of the mailer.

Under the “Important Information About Measure S” heading, OUSD notes that Measure S is a $288,000 bond (rather than the actual amount of $288,000,000).  When asked whether this was an attempt to mislead the voters or just incompetence while spending taxpayer dollars, the district went with the latter.

Click here to view the $22,949.45 OUSD purchase order and the invoice from Marketink in Los Angeles County.  Ironically, OUSD couldn’t find a printer in Orange County despite the Measure S campaign touting that the funds would remain local.  The invoice also shows the district paid 9% sales tax.  Had they used an Orange County printer, sales tax would have only been 8%, with 0.5% of the 8% going to Orange County’s Measure M2 transportation projects.

OC Daily’s Matt Cunningham previously reported about this mailer here

Yes on Measure S Display at Nohl Canyon Elementary School

Yes on Measure S Display at Nohl Canyon Elementary School

Yes on Measure S Tables on School Campuses

In a further use of public resources, pro-Measure S tables have been erected on school campuses.

The photo at right was taken in the Learning Center at Nohl Canyon Elementary School in Anaheim Hills during the school’s book fair.

A similar table was reportedly at Villa Park High School during Back-to-School Night, where people were jumping around in “Yes on S” T-Shirts and handing out stickers, signs, and other collateral.  They were also trying to coerce parents to “sign up” for the “Yes on S” campaign.

Apparently, the Measure S proponents are unfamiliar with the separation of taxpayer resources and political campaigns.

Sign Theft & Banner Destruction

If the use of taxpayer resources was not enough, the Yes on S side is disregarding property rights and actively censoring the No on S side.  Apparently, the Yes on S side didn’t pay attention to their American Government classes during the discussion on the First and Fifth Amendments.

Here’s a video of a “No on S” sign being pulled out of a front yard on East Cumberland Road in Orange. The video was taken from the surveillance camera of the homeowner whose sign was taken.  The individual taking the sign appears to be a government employee though the video is too far away to determine which jurisdiction the sign-taker works for.

Here are some photos of someone else stealing “No on S” signs from a business in Orange on Chapman Avenue.  Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger version of the photo.

Here’s a photo of a “No on S” banner that got slashed.  Apparently, civility is no longer taught in schools.  Click on the photo below to see a larger version of it.No on Measure S Banner Slashed

Polling Data Used for Bond Measure Placement

ONN Founders Jim Bearns and Joe MelloThe Greater Orange News Service reported that the OUSD Board used polling data to have one bond taxing the whole district for four schools rather than two bonds, each taxing half the district for two schools.

As an aside: the pro-union, often-innuendo-laden Greater Orange News Service is an anonymous blog covering OUSD that was founded by Yorba Academy of the Arts Middle School Teacher Joe Mello (who sits on the board of the Orange Unified Education Association, the OUSD teacher’s union) and Los Alamitos Unified School District Teacher Jim Bearns.  Mello and Bearns are pro-bond, but as residents of Long Beach, they won’t have to pay for the property tax increase imposed by Measure S.

Pay to Play In School Bond Measures in the OC

For those of you who missed Craig Alexander’s post on OC Political yesterday, Craig reported about a California Policy Center study that found:

  • Law firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo donated $12,000 to Yes on Measure S (the law firm’s web site highlights legal services regarding school facilities construction)
  • Architecture firm LPA donated $10,000 to Yes on Measure S

As of the September 29 campaign finance report, the Yes on S campaign had raised $151,525, with 90% coming from its 15 largest donors, led by:

  • Orange Unified Education Association (Union) $25,885
  • HED (Architects) $20,000
  • Balfour Beatty Construction $20,000
  • Ameresco (Solar Energy) $15,000
  • Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (Attorneys) $12,000
  • LPA (Architects) $10,000
  • Parker & Covert (Attorneys) $10,000

The remaining 10% included no fewer than 45 employees of the school district.

They’ve raised thousands of dollars since that campaign finance report, but OC Political/OC Daily has not yet examined their October campaign finance reports.

A decidedly grassroots effort, the No on S side raised a tiny fraction of that.  However, the grassroots defeated three well-funded bond measure efforts in the last 13 years.

Posted in Orange Unified School District | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Pay to Play In School Bond Measures in the OC

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on November 2, 2016

Ever wonder who finances the campaigns to pass school bond measures in Orange County? A study performed by the California Policy Center of five school districts has shown that many of the same attorneys, construction contractors and design firms have contributed to the campaigns to pass these measures.  In Construction Firms Fund Orange County School Bond Campaigns CPC reviewed the funders of school districts in Anaheim, Orange, Ocean View, Brea and Fountain Valley school districts.  Of course this pay to play campaign contributions is not confined to these five districts.  In Capistrano Unified School District’s Measure M (the Billion Dollar Bond Tax), many of the same players have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the yes on M campaign.  Who is heading up the Yes campaign?  CUSD Trustee Gary Pritchard.

As the report found (partial quote):

“Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Rudd & Romo (AALRR) is a law firm with eight offices across California. AALRR has donated $2000 to Anaheim Elementary School District’s bond measure, $12,000 to Orange Unified School District and $1000 to Fountain Valley School District. AALRR claims to represent nearly half the school districts in California and has previously represented both districts.

Bernards Builders Management Services is a general contractor located in San Fernando. Bernards has donated $2000 to Anaheim Elementary’s bond measure and $5000 to Brea-Olinda Unified School District’s measure. Bernards has worked with Brea-Olinda before on the Brea-Olinda High School and Olinda Elementary School. The subcontracted architecture firm for the Brea projects, LPA, has donated $10,000 this election cycle to Orange’s bond measure.”

These attorneys, contractors and others stand to make millions of taxpayer funded bond tax money if these measures pass.  The same is true of Proposition 51 – the $9 Billion school facilities bond tax before the voters next week.  The report notes:

“The California Building Industry Association has donated over $1,500,000 to Proposition 51, a statewide measure that would allow the state of California to issue $9 million in bonds for the State School Facilities Fund. The builders are the second-largest contributor in support of the proposition.”

 There are ten school bond measures on the November 8th ballot in Orange County alone.  If only a few pass, these firms stand to make millions on contracts to build these projects.  Not a bad return on their campaign contribution investments – at taxpayers’ expense.

Posted in Anaheim City School District, Anaheim Union High School District, Brea Olinda Unified School District, Capistrano Unified School District, Fountain Valley School District, Ocean View School District, Orange Unified School District, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Shady, Deceptive Business Practices Dog Senate Candidate Josh Newman

Posted by Chris Nguyen on November 1, 2016

Josh Newman

Senate Candidate Josh Newman

Cross-Posted to OC Daily

To hear 29th State Senate District Candidate Josh Newman tell it, he’s the most misunderstood guy in the world.

A female apparel executive he hounded for dates while working in the San Francisco Mayor’s office apparently misunderstood him.

Tens of thousands of unwilling customers improperly charged on their phone bills with unwanted services by SendMe Inc., his high-tech cellphone ring-tone venture, apparently all misunderstood him.

He says more customers who found their privacy invaded during his tenure as an executive at RealNetworks also apparently misunderstood him.

And San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan must have misunderstood him when he accused Newman of misappropriating confidential police files and using them in a smear campaign against Jordan.

Is Josh Newman simply misunderstood?

  • A female San Francisco intimate apparel executive didn’t think so, after Newman openly admitted that he forged Mayor Jordan’s signature on the Mayor’s stationery in order to get a date with her while working for Jordan. An associate of the executive circulated the letter without her approval.
     
  • San Francisco Supervisor (and future Senator) Carole Migden didn’t think so, saying “Josh Newman has left a trail of bloodletting. The phones ring off the hook from allegations from him.”
     
  • The courts don’t think so. SendMe, Inc. was the defendant in one county-level and six federal lawsuits filed between 2008 and 2014 for so-called “cramming,” a deceptive billing practice of adding charges to customer’s phone bills without their authorization or knowledge. A $63-million settlement resulted. Newman was Senior Vice President of Business Development.
     
    RealNetworks was the subject of 15 county-level and over 55 federal lawsuits over copyright infringement and interference in customer licensing relationships over DVD movies and songs between 1999 and 2005, resulting in a $20-million settlement. Eventually RealNetworks was forced into involuntary bankruptcy proceedings. Newman was Director of Marketing.
     
  • Former San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan didn’t think so, accusing Newman of unethical behavior and possible theft after his resignation.  Jordan referred the matter to the San Francisco District Attorney for further investigation.

The public record suggests that Newman may not be misunderstood at all. Rather, he may have a self-destructive personality that makes him particularly unsuited to hold public office, especially in the California State Senate.

Posted in 29th Senate District | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fiscal Responsibility and the Republican Brand

Posted by Brenda McCune on November 1, 2016

Recently, during an Orange County Central Committee meeting, the depletion of the Republican brand was emotionally decried by a board member opposing the endorsement of some PYLUSD School Board members.

The School Board challenger candidates,  Khan, Yezbak and Kingsbury, are running for the open seats currently held by Padget, Carmona and Downey.  They were seeking the endorsement of the OCGOP. At that September meeting of the OCGOP Central Committee, they were accused of supporting a recall effort against either some Yorba Linda City Council candidates or the current water board recall.  During the questioning, it was not entirely clear, nor was it established that they undertook some actual support of the recalls, it was simply vociferously and strenuously asserted and accused.  These candidates, all of them registered Republicans, have since withdrawn their request to be endorsed by the OCGOP.

The incumbents (Padget, Carmona and Downy) were elected, seated members of the PYLUSD school board when the bond expenditures were approved that funded multiple school improvements as well as the Performing Arts Center at El Dorado High School, and the Shappell Stadium at Yorba Linda High School.  At the OCGOP meeting in September, no mention was made of these usurious bonds.  None, not once was it raised.

All beautiful and seemingly worthwhile expenditures, new buildings, building improvements and technology, except that they weren’t. The initial cost of these improvements was about $22 million. In their infinite wisdom, these sitting school board members financed the improvements with bonds that had interest rates of about 23%. Once these buildings and the technology upgrades are all paid off, the overall cost to the citizens of Placentia and Yorba Linda will be well over $300 million.

$300 million, for $22 million in improvements. About 40 years to pay it all off. Fiscally responsible?

I wrote about these things in 2015, and apparently none of the GOP in Orange County were paying attention, because they seemed fully and completely unaware of it at their meeting in September.

https://the127activist.wordpress.com/category/propositions-and-ballot-issues/

The Central Committee member who was so offended by these school board challengers seeking an endorsement is also an elected official in Yorba Linda.  She railed against these challengers and accused them of damaging the Republican brand. There has been an ugly groundswell in Yorba Linda of using recall efforts to oust unruly politicians, the merit of them certainly debatable, but it was not established nor even asserted that these candidates had anything to do with the recent council or water board recall efforts. It was simply a question, viscerally and emotionally posited, and as such, suggested they had or might have signed the recall petitions.  They stated, repeatedly, that they did not recall.  It was not an evidentiary hearing, it was an informal question and answer period.  It seemed like an inquisition.

Personal vendettas have no place in local elections, and should not be part of the Republican brand. The pontification about branding of the party in that OCGOP meeting, never at any time, mentioned the serious fiscal issues of the PYLUSD board, or any real issues for that matter, only emoting about elections past and perceived alignments within the city.

Noteworthy, was the attendance at that meeting, by Eric Padget, Incumbent PYLUSD board member and registered Republican. His colleagues on the board who are also up for re-election, are not Republicans.
The OCGOP, on that evening, voted NOT to endorse the challengers, Khan, Calderon and Kingsbury. Neither Eric Padgett, nor his non-Republican cohorts, sought the timely endorsement of the OCGOP.  It was rumored that Mr. Padgett is not a regular at those Central Committee meetings and was probably there at the behest of the Yorba Linda City Council members who are also members of the Central Committee.

What then, is this “BRAND” that is so worthy of protection? If the Central Committee will sit idly by and do nothing in the face of such obvious and usurious abuse by sitting board members, that in and of itself is an “endorsement”.  40 year financing at 23 %, can not be argued in any context to be fiscally responsible.  That is without even getting to the discussion of the abomination that is Common Core, and the federal usurping of our local education system.

Conservatism, used to mean, fiscal responsibility as well as adhering to a concept of local control. No reasonable minds believe that financing technology and building improvements at 23% interest, while the budget and taxpayers are strapped with this debt for the next few generations, is “fiscal responsibility”.

If by protecting the “brand” the committee members meant that they publicizing their ability to exact vengeance upon people who might have disagreed with them in elections past, then, by all means, that “brand” was communicated and is now understood. It is not who we used to be, or historically have bene as Republicans, that is Clinton-cartel style politics.
Let’s hope it does not proliferate in our party and our county.
Here is the story as it was carried by the OC Register when the financial abuse in the PYLUSD was first widely exposed. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/bonds-496091-school-bank.html

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

During Homeless Crisis, Councilwoman Michele Martinez Charged Taxpayers for European Junket, Trip to Vegas, and $3000 Per Hour Phantom Meetings

Posted by Brenda McCune on October 28, 2016

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

Is Michele Martinez traveling again? Maybe she went golfing?

While the City of Santa Ana was experiencing a “public health and safety homeless crisis,” Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez was charging taxpayers for stays in five-star hotels in London and Milan, a party in Las Vegas, and dubious per diem payments for phantom meetings of the city’s housing authority.

A review of expense reports, travel records, and emails shows a shocking pattern of Michele Martinez living large at the public’s expense, raising questions whether the Councilwoman has violated government travel policies, state disclosure rules or state ethics laws.
This July, as local law enforcement agencies were training judges and courthouse staff how to safely navigate downtown Santa Ana, Councilwoman Michele Martinez was checking in to London’s five-star Mondrian Hotel, rated the third best bar in the world.
$53,340 Trip to London and Milan
Martinez’s three nights in London were followed by three nights in Milan at NH Collection Milano President Hotel. The estimated cost to taxpayers for Martinez’s flights, hotels, and meals was $4,500.
 
It’s just one of the many perks Martinez has received as Santa Ana’s representative on regional boards and commissions. Organized by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a multi-governmental agency tasked with solving regional issues, the summer trip to Europe cost taxpayers $53,340.
 
The European junket appears to have violated SCAG’s own travel policies. According to a May 5, 2016 report from SCAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, “Per SCAG Travel Policy, foreign travel requires Regional Council approval.” However, a review of meeting minutes shows no evidence that the trip was approved by the Regional Council.
 
But London and Milan weren’t Martinez’s only taxpayer-funded trips in 2016. As a member of the Metropolitan Water District Board, Councilwoman Michele Martinez arranged two taxpayer-funded junkets, including one to Las Vegas.
 
$15,551 Trip to Las Vegas
Travel records obtained from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California show Martinez arranged a taxpayer-funded trip for herself and nearly two dozen friends at a $15,551 cost to taxpayers. The previous year, Martinez arranged a trip for 32 people to tour the state water project at a $26,059 cost to taxpayers.
 
“I am certain the pairs I choose will be good roommates,” Martinez wrote in one email to water agency staff. “The good news is that I know almost everyone attending but one person.”
 
Martinez micro-managed every detail of the trip – right down to the snacks, which included “M&Ms, Snickers and Cookies.”
 
Although Martinez found time to pick out snacks on her taxpayer-funded trips, she couldn’t find time to attend the Metropolitan Water District’s meetings.
 
As Santa Ana’s representative on the regional water board, Michele Martinez skipped 35 meetings, including 14 meetings of the district’s important Finance Committee. Martinez showed up on-time for just a single meeting of the Water Planning and Stewardship meeting, which is responsible for drought planning and conservation. After months of absences and tardiness, Martinez’s colleagues voted to remove her from that Committee after serving for less than a year.
 
$3,000 Per Hour at Phantom Meetings
 
Santa Ana City Councilmembers, who are seeking a 700 percent raise next month, earn $125 per council meeting, health benefits, and a $500 monthly car allowance. Yet, Martinez and her colleagues on the city council have also found creative ways to boost their salaries with phantom housing authority meetings.
 
Michele Martinez and her colleagues have collected an additional $50 in per diem payments from the city’s Housing Authority. Most meetings have lasted less than 2 minutes.  Some meetings lasted less than 30 seconds – providing councilmembers with the equivalent of $3,000 per hour for their work.
 
This year, the City of Santa Ana’s Housing Authority has met for 15 minutes – not per meeting, that’s the total time for the first 10 meetings of 2016. In the past six years, Michele Martinez has spent 3 hours and 40 minutes participating in Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings. That’s the cumulative total of meetings that Martinez has attended over the past 6 years. 
 
Less than 4 hours. That’s how much time Martinez has spent on housing in the past 6 years. Since 2011, Martinez has attended 56 Santa Ana Housing Authority meetings that lasted 2 minutes or less. Only 6 meetings lasted more than 5 minutes. Martinez was absent from another 13 meetings. 
 
At these phantom meetings, councilmembers have ignored the Housing Authority’s charter of finding solutions to the city’s affordable housing crisis. “We need to figure out how we permanently house people,” Martinez told the Orange County Register. Maybe she should have taken time to review her city’s annual housing plan.
  • In 2011, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2012, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2013, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved the annual housing plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2014, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its annual report in low income housing at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2015, the Santa Ana Housing Authority approved its 5-Year Housing Plan at a 1-minute-long meeting.
  • In 2016, Martinez was absent at the meeting, where the Santa Ana Housing Authority reviewed its annual housing plan.
European junkets. Parties in Vegas. $3,000 per hour for phantom meetings. All billed to the taxpayer. Perhaps Michele Martinez is right about one thing: “We have a priority problem,” she told the Voice of OC

Posted in 1st Supervisorial District, Santa Ana | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Free Voter Guides Available at Robynnordell.com

Posted by Craig P. Alexander on October 21, 2016

Are you looking for voter recommendations from people that do not get paid from politics (i.e. consultants and slate cards)?

Are you looking for voter recommendations from people that do not accept money to give a proposition, a ballot measure or a candidate the thumbs up (or down)?

Are you looking for advice on national, state wide and local races that include all of the state wide and local ballot propositions / measures?

Then you should go over to Robyn Nordell’s web site for Voter Recommendations from Robyn and some of her friends like myself.

Her general web site is: Robyn Nordell.

Her Orange County page is: Robyn Nordell Orange County.

Finally my favorite page at her site is Craig’s Pics my voter recommendations which Robyn kindly allows to be published there.

She also has information on some other counties in California.

Who is Robyn Nordell?  She is an Orange County homeschool mother and advocate, a pastor’s wife, a tireless advocate for open and transparent government, a social and fiscal conservative and one of the most talented, honest, brightest and kind persons I know.  Robyn does not get paid one penny for her work in researching candidates and ballot propositions / measures, putting together her voter recommendations and publishing them on her web site.  Plus she is gracious to publish others voter recommendation lists (like my own) even when we make recommendations different from her own. She is a Patriot!

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