OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Archive for December, 2012

Orange County Sanitation District Set to Raise Rates

Posted by Dominus on December 28, 2012

On December 12, 2012, the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) board of directors directed staff to prepare Proposition 218 notifications to prepare for the process of raising sewage fees for the next eight years.  The vote was not unanimous.

Staff is recommending a 4.8% increase for fiscal year 2013-2014 and an increase of 2.4% annually for the next seven years.

The proposed rate increase will come before the board again on February 27 with a public hearing scheduled for March 27.

Unless there is major opposition from the public, the fee/rate increase is expected to sail through.  OCSD provides sewage services to more than 2.5 million residents in the county.

It takes a 2/3 majority of the board to raise rates.


Posted in Orange County Sanitation District | 5 Comments »

Could Vietnamese Groups Use the California Voting Rights Act to Sue Santa Ana?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 20, 2012

There’s been much discussion about the ACLU lawsuit against the City of Anaheim to force Councilmembers to be elected by district rather than at large, as voters in the entire city vote for every Councilmember.  The lawsuit cites the California Voting Rights Act of 2002’s requirements for racial representation on City Councils.  Anaheim is 53% Latino.

As Gustavo Arellano at the OC Weekly noted, Anaheim had an 80% nonwhite Council as recently as 2006, with Latino Councilmembers Richard Chavez and Bob Hernandez (both elected in 2002), Asian Councilmembers Lorri Galloway and Harry Sidhu (both elected in 2004), and white Mayor Curt Pringle (elected in 2002).  I might also note Lou Lopez served on the Council from 1994-1998 when he gave up his Council seat to run unsuccessfully for Supervisor.

With the election of white Councilmembers Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring replacing termed out Asian Councilmembers Lorri Galloway and Harry Sidhu, Anaheim has its first all-white City Council in a decade.  What impact this will have on the lawsuit against Orange County’s largest city is to be seen.  Brandman has asked to agendize a possible lawsuit settlement for the next Council meeting .

Meanwhile in the County’s second-largest city, Santa Ana has had an all-Latino Council since 2006.  With six council wards, each Councilmember (other than the directly-elected Mayor) represents 16% of the city.  However, Santa Ana elects its Councilmembers at-large from these wards.  In other words, voters in the entire city still pick the Councilmember representing each ward.

Santa Ana’s Asian (mostly Vietnamese) population is highly concentrated in the western portion of the City.

In the redistricting plan adopted at the beginning of 2012, Ward 6’s border with Ward 3 moved south, and increased the Ward 3 Asian population by 16%.  The relatively square Ward 4 became much more rectangular by yielding most of its western territory to Ward 6 and picking up the southeastern portion of Ward 6.  This increased the Ward 4 Asian population by a whopping 209%.  However, these changes decreased the Ward 6 Asian population by 27%.

Prior to the 2012 redistricting, 46% of all Santa Ana Asians resided in Ward 6, 24% lived in Ward 3, and just 5% in Ward 4.  With the new districts, just 33% live in Ward 6,  27% live in Ward 3, and 17% live in Ward 4.

Can anyone say cracking?

The California Voting Rights Act of 2002 states that a violation “is established if it is shown that racially polarized voting occurs in elections for members of the governing body of the political subdivision or in elections incorporating other electoral choices by the voters of the political subdivision.”  It goes on to say, “The fact that members of a protected class are not geographically compact or concentrated may not preclude a finding of racially polarized voting…but may be a factor in determining an appropriate remedy.”

In practice, the most common remedy under the California Voting Rights Act of 2002 has been to have ward elections in which voters only vote one Councilmember to represent their ward and do not vote for any other Councilmembers (basically, ward elections make city council elections a lot more like supervisorial elections, legislative elections, and U.S. House elections).

Anaheim is being sued for violating the California Voting Rights Act of 2002 because citywide voters have not elected a Latino to the current City Council.  Could Santa Ana be sued for violating the California Voting Rights Act of 2002 because citywide voters have never not elected an Asian to the City Council in 31 years and the Council’s redistricting plan presents a major “cracking” of the Asian population?

Posted in Anaheim, Santa Ana | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Former OC Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl Dead at 61

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 20, 2012

Don HaidlFormer Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl died of unspecified natural causes at Hoag Hospital at the age of 61.  Haidl is best remembered for his roles in two of  Orange County’s most high-profile trials of the last decade: as the father of Gregory Haidl who was convicted of sexual assault and for wearing a wire to record Sheriff Mike Carona in the corruption probe that sent Carona to federal prison.

Haidl had become Assistant Sheriff in 1999 as part of the “Three Amigos:” Carona, Haidl, and Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo.  Independently wealthy, Haidl did not accept a salary as Assistant Sheriff.  Haidl admitted to funneling illegal campaign contributions and numerous personal gifts to Carona and to providing money to Carona’s mistress.

The rape trial of Haidl’s son, Gregory, marked the beginning of the end of the “Three Amigos.”  In 2002, 17-year-olds Gregory Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner, and Keith Spann video taped their sexual assault of an unconscious 16-year-old girl in Don Haidl’s home.  After the first trial in 2004 deadlocked, Don Haidl resigned from the Sheriff’s Department to focus on his son’s defense, convinced that his position as Assistant Sheriff had caused his son to be treated more harshly by the media and criminal justice system.  During this time, he engaged in a tax fraud scheme in order to recoup part of the money he used to pay his son’s legal bills.

During this time, Carona urged Jaramillo to obtain leniency for Haidl’s son by intervening with District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.  Jaramillo initially refused but eventually attempted to intervene in the case.  Rackauckas rebuffed Jaramillo and refused to grant Haidl’s son any favors, and the trial proceeded.  After a series of other issues involving abuse of a Sheriff’s Department helicopter and controversy over his relationship with a company attempting to gain contracts with law enforcement agencies, Carona fired Jaramillo in 2004, just a few months before Haidl resigned.

In 2007, Haidl wore a wire three times to record, among other things, Carona’s efforts to coordinate their testimony regarding money funneled to Carona.  The tapes would prove critical to convicting Carona of witness tampering in 2009, a year after Carona resigned as Sheriff to focus on his own legal defense.  Sandra Hutchens was appointed Sheriff by the Board of Supervisors to replace Carona and still holds the post to this day.

Carona remains in federal prison on the 2009 witness tampering conviction.  Jaramillo pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing a false tax return in 2007 and was released in 2011 after serving time in federal prison and a halfway house.  Haidl pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2010 but was spared any prison time due to his cooperation in the Carona investigation and trial.

Posted in Orange County | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Robert Bork Dead at 85

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 19, 2012

Robert Bork died this morning at the age of 85. A former Yale Law professor, he was one of the leading originalist thinkers of the last half century. However, the public will likely remember him for two controversies. He was US Solicitor General under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and was a key figure in the “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973. President Ronald Reagan appointed Bork to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in 1982. Reagan’s unsuccessful nomination of Bork to the Supreme Court provoked such a battle that “to bork” became a political verb.

On October 20, 1973, in the midst of Watergate, President Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire independent counsel Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned as Attorney General instead. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused and resigned as Deputy Attorney General.

Bork was third ranking official at the Justice Department at the time and became Acting Attorney General. Bork then fired Cox. Within days, Bork named Leon Jaworski the new independent counsel. Jaworski would eventually subpoena Nixon’s White House tapes – including the Smoking Gun tape – an action that would lead to Nixon’s resignation.

Reagan appointed Bork to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals with little controversy and a smooth confirmation by the US Senate in 1982.

On July 1, 1987, Reagan nominated Bork to the Supreme Court. His nomination proved to be one of the most divisive in the modern era. Within 45 minutes of Bork’s nomination, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) declared that Robert Bork’s America would, among other things, be a place where segregation, rogue police, and government censorship would run rampant. The Reagan White House would not respond to Kennedy’s attack for two and a half months.

Bork’s nomination and the battle over his confirmation was so noteworthy that the Bork nomination itself has its own lengthy Wikipedia article, where they describe the entire confirmation battle better than I could in this blog post.

On October 23, 1987, the US Senate voted 58-42 to reject Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court. California’s US Senators split on the vote, with Alan Cranston (D) voting to reject Bork and Pete Wilson (R) voting to confirm Bork.

The Bork nomination process was so controversial that “to bork” became a verb used in the American political process.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “bork” as: “To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”

President Reagan then nominated DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Douglas Ginsburg, who eventually withdrew after admitting that he had smoked marijuana with his students while a Harvard Law professor.

Reagan finally picked a nominee who went on to be confirmed 97-0: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Anthony Kennedy-the pivotal swing vote on today’s Supreme Court.

Four months after his rejection for the Supreme Court, Bork resigned from the DC Circuit and then worked for a series of think tanks. His seat on the DC Circuit would eventually be filled by Clarence Thomas, who would be nominated by President George H.W. Bush for another seat on the Supreme Court in another contentious confirmation battle just four years later. During the Thomas confirmation battle, NOW leaders declared, “We’re going to bork him.” The US Senate confirmed Thomas 52-48.

Posted in National | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Vacancies Galore: Politicians Leaving Mid-Term Leave Seats to Be Filled

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 17, 2012

Empty chairThere were a lot of vacancies this year.  Three countywide posts and one school board seat remain vacant.  All salaries noted below are base pay.


Four of Orange County’s eight countywide posts went vacant during 2012.

  1. Orange County Clerk-Recorder: Tom Daly (D) vacated the seat this month to become the 69th District’s State Assemblyman.  Numerous candidates have either expressed interest behind the scenes or are rumored to be interested; none have made public statements.  The job pays $139,256.40 (that extra 40 cents won’t even get you enough postage to send a letter).  Apply online here by January 15.
  2. Orange County Auditor-Controller: David Sundstrom (R) vacated the seat in January to become Sonoma County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector (yes, that really is a single office in Sonoma County).  The job pays $173,097.60 per year (that 60 cents is crucial).  Apply online here by January 15.
  3. Orange County Public Administrator: John Williams (R) resigned in January or February depending on how you interpret his resignation, un-resignation, and re-resignation saga.  Former Assemblyman Ken Lopez-Maddox (R), who is also a former Garden Grove Councilman and former Capistrano Unified School District Board Member, is the first to publicly throw his hat in the ring. (12/19 Update:The previous sentence was ambiguously worded, so to clarify, Lopez-Maddox is running for the seat in the regularly scheduled June 2014 election but has not indicated if he will apply for the appointment.)  The job pays $30,000 per year (but the Board of Supervisors frequently consolidates it with the more lucrative appointed post of Public Guardian).  Apply online here by January 15.
  4. Orange County Superintendent of Schools: Bill Habermehl (R) vacated the seat in June, deciding it was time for him to retire.  Seven of the eight countywide posts are filled by the County Board of Supervisors when there’s a vacancy.  This is the eighth post, and the County Board of Education appointed Al Mijares (R) to fill the seat.  The job pays $287,500 per year.

Many people have argued Clerk-Recorder, Auditor-Controller, Public Administrator, and various other County posts should be appointed by the Board of Supervisors instead of elected positions.  Good luck with that.  Just six months ago, 60.5% of Orange County voters rejected making Public Administrator an appointed position.

City Council

They move with great speed to fill Council vacancies in Little Saigon.

  1. Garden Grove City Council: Bruce Broadwater (D) vacated the seat this month to become Mayor of Garden Grove.  Minutes after Broadwater became Mayor, the Council held the vote to fill his newly-vacated Council seat.  New Councilman Chris Phan moved to nominate the November election’s 3rd place finisher, Phat Bui, but he failed to get a second on his nomination. Councilwoman Dina Nguyen (R) moved and Councilman Steve Jones (R) seconded the nomination of defeated Councilman Kris Beard (D), who came in 4th in the election, and the Council voted unanimously to appoint Beard to the seat.  Beard was out of office for mere minutes.  The job pays $8,093 per year.
  2. Westminster City Council: Tri Ta (R) vacated the seat this month to become Mayor of Westminster.  In stunningly rapid fashion, the Westminster City Council left his seat vacant for mere minutes before appointing Margie Rice (R) after Ta replaced Rice as Mayor.  In other words, Ta and Rice simply swapped seats.  The jobs pays $10,206 per year.

The County’s smaller cities took a little more time.

  1. Stanton City Council: Councilman Ed Royce, Sr. (R) vacated his seat for health reasons in February.  Rigoberto Ramirez (R) was appointed to fill the seat in March.  Ramirez is up for election to a four-year term in 2014.  The job pays $10,200 per year.
  2. Villa Park City Council: Councilman Bob Fauteux (R) passed away in February.  Rick Barnett (R) was appointed to fill the seat  in March and won election to a four-year term in November with no opponents.  The job pays nothing.

School Board

For the second time this year, the Anaheim Union High School District Board is filling a vacancy.

  1. Anaheim Union High School District Board (February): Earlier this year in February, Jan Harp Domene (D) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 60.  The board appointed Annemarie Randle-Trejo on a 3-1 vote in April.  OC Political covered this process.
  2. Anaheim Union High School District Board (December): Jordan Brandman (D) vacated the seat this month to become an Anaheim City Councilman.  The board will fill his seat early next year.  The job pays $9,731.52.

Brandman originally won his AUHSD seat in a February 2008 special election after a petition overturned the appointment of Harald Martin (R), who was selected by the Board to fill the seat left vacant due to the unexpected passing of Denise Mansfield-Reinking (R) in May 2007.

The AUHSD board is on its third vacancy in six years.

Special District

  1. Municipal Water District of Orange County, Division 3: Director Ed Royce, Sr. (R) vacated his seat for health reasons in February.  Wayne Osborne (R) was appointed to fill the seat in March and won election to a four-year term in a four-way race in November.  The job pays $26,594 per year.

Posted in 69th Assembly District, Anaheim, Anaheim Union High School District, Capistrano Unified School District, Garden Grove, Municipal Water District of Orange County, Orange County, Orange County Board of Education, Orange County Board of Supervisors, Stanton, Villa Park | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Assemblyman Hagman: California Republicans Still Have a Pulse

Posted by Allen Wilson on December 13, 2012

Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills, District 55) offers his thoughts about Republicans place in California politics:

In this world of instant information, news outlets are always looking to be the first to break major stories or provide the most comprehensive analysis of current events. That is why less than 12 hours after the final vote was cast in our state’s recent election; the media was chomping at the bit to write the Republican Party’s political obituary in California as Democrats secured supermajorities in the State Senate and Assembly.  

But to completely write off the GOP after one disappointing election is incredibly shortsighted and fails to take into account the electoral tradition of our state.  In fact, the last party to hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature was the Republican Party in the 1930s and it was only 16 years ago when Republicans held a majority in the Assembly. Republicans will once again return to prominence in state politics.  It will, however, require us to get back to the basics.

A critical mistake that I believe Republicans have made in recent years is allowing the other side to define us as the “party of no.”  That characterization could not be farther from reality. Consider that earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times called Republicans the “party of yes” when we got behind the Governor’s pension reform package. We supported the L.A. Mayor’s effort to eliminate bureaucratic red tape protecting predators in the classroom.  Republicans also put forward our own budget roadmap prioritizing funding for education.

At its core, the Republican Party remains a party of ideas, principles, and opportunity. We believe in the power of individuals to succeed based on their hard work and initiative.  No one, especially the government, should stand in the way of that freedom.  In California, it means bringing private sector jobs back and ensuring families have opportunities to achieve financial security.  It means guaranteeing our children have access to the best education in the world.  It means keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe.

Our state’s status within our country has continued to fall.  Look at some of our sobering numbers:

·    California is 24/7 Wall St.’s “Worst Run State” for the second year in a row.
·    The state’s S&P credit rating is the worst of all states, while its Moody’s credit rating is the second-worst.
·    Home prices plunged by 33.6% between 2006 and 2011, worse than all states except for three.
·    The state’s foreclosure rate and unemployment rate were the third- and second-highest in the country, respectively.
·    California’s personal income tax has the highest top rate and one of the most highly progressive structures in the nation.
·    According to the Tax Foundation, the state has the third-worst business tax climate in the country and the highest corporate tax rate in the West.
·    We have the highest statewide general sales and use tax in the nation.
·    Our combined local, state, and federal gasoline taxes are the second highest in the nation.

So even with this election’s setbacks, we can find solace in the fact that the Republican Party’s message resonated in other areas of the country.  Not only did we retain the U.S. House of Representatives, but Republicans also control 30 governors’ mansions – the most for any party in over a decade. But it is clear our party failed to effectively communicate that message in California and we now have a chance to correct course.  Voters agree with us on many issues, but evidently they have doubts about our ability to deliver those promises.

Although our clout is admittedly diluted in Sacramento, Republicans in the Legislature were elected by the people in our communities who deserve to have their voices heard in the Capitol.  Their choice to send us to Sacramento reflects their belief that jobs must come first, that realignment is the wrong prescription for public safety, and that our children must be educated for a 21st century economy. It remains our duty to stand up for our constituents when the Legislature or Governor inevitably overreach.  Democrats need to know that they cannot run amok with their newfound supermajority powers.  Their decisions impact all Californians, not just the blue parts of our state.

As both sides of the aisle chart a new path through largely unfamiliar terrain, Republicans have an opportunity to hold Democrats accountable for their decisions and ensure Californians understand every option for solving the state’s problems. Our party may currently be down for the count, but we still have a strong pulse.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Lt. Gov. Newsom Urges UC to Abandon Hideous New Logo

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 13, 2012

Symbols of the University of California: the traditional seal (left) and the new logo (right)

You may have heard about the controversy over the new logo of the University of California.    Conceptually the logo’s supposed to be a yellow “C” inside a blue “U.”  However, the logo has been repeatedly been compared to a loading symbol on a computer or smartphone.  Some people have even compared it to a child’s drawing, a toilet, or the rear end and tail of an animal.

I, for one, am willing to declare it the most hideous logo in the history of higher education. Here.  I even spent 5 minutes creating a superior new logo for the UC system:

Nguyen Proposal for New UC Logo

My proposal for the new UC logo instead of that abomination they produced.

This week, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom wrote a letter to UC President Mark Yudof urging the university system “to return to the use of the old logo and allow the University community a cooling off period to concentrate on the long-term health of the University.”

Some of you may find it a ridiculous waste of the Lieutenant Governor’s time to delve into a controversy involving a logo.  Others may be applauding the Lieutenant Governor for finding something to do other than check on the Governor’s health.

(Now, in fairness, the Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio Regent of the University of California, so this does fall into his purview.)

Newsom notes, “tuition at the University of California has more than doubled in recent years, access is being limited and students are incurring more debt than any other time in history…Instead of being creative with the University of California logo, we should be searching for creative solutions for funding the University of California.”

I don’t agree with Gavin Newsom on much, but a broken clock is right twice a day.  With the UC screaming about budget cuts, tuition increases, and enrollment cuts, is it really the best time to be working on graphic design?

Did the passage of the Prop 30 income tax and sales tax increases leave the UC rolling in so much dough that they can waste staff time and money on graphic design? Or maybe all that money is lying around after the firing of the highest-paid state employee?  (Actually, neither of those is possible since this logo was created before November when Prop 30 passed and that employee got fired.)

How exactly does UC justify this boondoggle?

Here is Newsom's letter regarding the UC logo. (Click to enlarge.)

Here is Newsom’s letter regarding the UC logo. (Click to enlarge.)

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

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi Won 75% of Precincts, Including Every Region in the City Except UCI

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 12, 2012

The New Irvine Council Majority: Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, Councilwoman Christina Shea, and Mayor Steven Choi

The New Irvine Council Majority: Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway, Councilwoman Christina Shea, and Mayor Steven Choi

Last night, Steven Choi was sworn in as the first Republican Mayor of Irvine since 2000.  That last Republican Mayor was Christina Shea, who was sworn in to a new term last night as an Irvine Councilwoman after terming out in 2010.  The man who won Shea’s seat in 2010 was fellow Republican Jeff Lalloway, who became Mayor Pro Tem last night.

With all of that occurring last night, Larry Agran and Beth Krom were placed in the Irvine Council minority for the first time in a dozen years.  That 2000 election that gave the Democrats control of the Irvine Council majority saw Agran elected Mayor unopposed and Krom elected to the Council.  The 2012 election saw Krom re-elected to Council but Agran defeated for Mayor by Choi (though Agran remains on the Council as his term is 2010-2014).

The official results of Choi’s mayoral victory over Agran are as follows:

Steven S. Choi 32,505 45.7%
Larry Agran 28,741 40.4%
Katherine Daigle 9,951 14.0%

When a race is this close, you would expect there would be certain geographic areas in the city where Choi was strong and other areas where Agran was strong.  So let’s take a closer look; of the 127 precincts in the City of Irvine:

  • Choi won 95 (75% of all precincts, or 79% of precincts that cast votes for Mayor).
  • Agran won 24 (19% of all precincts, or 20% of precincts that cast votes for Mayor).
  • They tied in 2 (2% of all precincts and 2% of precincts that cast votes for Mayor).
  • Zero votes were cast for Mayor in 6 precincts (5% of all precincts).

Choi’s victory was quite evenly distributed in the city, with him winning all regions in the city except for the UCI campus precincts.  At UCI, Agran won 56% of the vote.  Choi won everywhere else.

It didn’t matter what districts were used – Choi won everywhere that wasn’t UCI.  He won the Irvine portions of both the 3rd and 5th Supervisorial Districts, both the 68th and 74th Assembly Districts, and both the Rancho Santiago and South Orange County Community College Districts (winning both the RSCCD Trustee Areas that cross Irvine and all three SOCCCD Trustee Areas that cross Irvine).  He won in the Irvine Unified School District and the Irvine portions of Santa Ana Unified and Tustin Unified.  He won in both divisions of the Orange County Water District and both divisions of the Municipal Water District of Orange County that crossed into Irvine.

Unfortunately for Agran, only 49% of registered voters in the UCI precincts turned out while 68% of registered voters in Irvine turned out.

It’s clear that other than UCI, there was no geographic divide in Steven Choi’s mayoral victory over Larry Agran to give Republicans control of the Irvine City Council for the first time in a dozen years.

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

Lake Forest City Council Member Announces New Policy Of Appeasement

Posted by Greg Woodard on December 10, 2012

I went to last Tuesday’s Lake Forest City Council meeting to watch the swearing-in of the two newest council members, Dwight Robinson and Adam Nick.  Before the ceremony, I was treated to a clinic in how not to run a city.  The most contentious agenda item was the staff’s recommendation that the council repeal its ordinance passed last year banning registered sex offenders from public parks.  District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has spearheaded Orange County’s effort to get local cities to adopt an ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from parks.  Since last year, 15 Orange County cities have adopted such ordinances.

Unfortunately, not all of the cities have adopted ordinances verbatim to the county’s ordinance, which contains a mechanism that allows a registered sex offender to request a waiver from enforcement.  Lake Forest, for some reason, passed its ordinance without a waiver and they got sued by an anonymous plaintiff claiming the ordinance violates his constitutional rights (he says he served his sentence more than 15 years ago and is now married with children).  That leads us to Tuesday’s meeting.  During the public comment portion of the discussion, several people affiliated with California Reform Sex Offender Laws (yes, there is an organization out there advocating for the rights of registered sex offenders) testified, using the same “constitutional rights” buzzwords.  I will resist the urge to inform these folks of the numerous ways that our constitutional rights are properly regulated every day and just say that we agree to disagree.  One speaker from the group also compared their effort to repeal sex offender laws to segregation and the civil rights movement.  She then announced that in 30 years we may have a President who is a registered sex offender.  Janice Belluci, the President of the organization, told the council that she has two more plaintiffs ready to sue the city if it does not repeal the ordinance.

The Lake Forest City Attorney also chimed in on the existing lawsuit, as well as lawsuits that are pending against other Orange County cities.  He said that, while he did not like to disclose the city’s war chest for litigation, in this case he would make an exception.  He proceeded to tell the Council that defending the lawsuit could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In an OC Register article, the City Attorney also said that one of Belluci’s two plaintiffs is seeking $36 million in damages.

I will reserve my rant about City Attorneys trying to influence policy for another day, but suffice to say, all of this got the attention of outgoing Mayor Kathryn McCullough (she will remain on the Council for at least two more years, but her term as Mayor is up).  In a testy exchange with Rackauckas, who had come to encourage the Council to maintain the ordinance, McCullough cried foul on the cost of the litigation and challenged Rackauckas to agree to indemnify the city for all of its legal fees.  Rackauckas held his ground and shot back at McCullough that she knew that the DA does not indemnify cities.  Once the grandstanding ended, McCullough essentially announced to all present that the city could not afford to fight the lawsuit because of the legal costs.

The Council then took a vote with little to no comment from any council member (other than Scott Voigts), which was shocking considering the gravity of the action the council was going to take.  After outgoing council member Mark Tettemer tried, and failed, to pass off responsibility for the vote to the new council (he said he was not trying to avoid voting), the council voted 4-0, with Tettemer abstaining, to repeal the ordinance.  And thus apparently began Lake Forest’s new policy of caving to anyone who threatens or files a lawsuit against the city.  This is a monumentally bad policy for any council member to support, but to announce it during a public council meeting, as Council member McCullough did, strains common sense.

It looks like new Council members Robinson and Nick will have an opportunity to chime in on the planned repeal since there has to be a second reading of the repealing ordinance at the December 18 meeting before it can take effect.

Posted in Lake Forest | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Democrats Capture AD-36 to Take 55 Assembly Seats

Posted by Chris Nguyen on December 2, 2012

Map pf the 36th Assembly District (Courtesy of Meridian Pacific)

Map pf the 36th Assembly District (Courtesy of Meridian Pacific)

In an unexpected turn of events, Democrats have captured their 55th Assembly seat by taking the 36th Assembly District that covers LA County’s Antelope Valley, southeastern Kern County, and the San Bernardino County communities of Phelan, Pinon Hills, and Wrightwood.  Republicans now hold just 25 seats.  2/3 of the seats is 54.

Democrat Attorney/Teacher Steve Fox defeated Republican Lancaster Councilman/Business Owner Ron Smith by 145 votes after LA County finished counting its ballots today.  Smith had led Fox by 1,952 votes after Election Night counting.

Fox (D) Smith (R)
Kern 4631 6691
LA 59282 54826
SB 2092 4343
Total 66005 65860

The Assembly had already assigned an office to Republican Smith and posted his picture on the wall of Assembly Members.  Smith had hired most of his staff, and the office of Legislative Counsel had already prepared two pieces of legislation for Smith to introduce.  Smith has stated that he will seek a recount.

Photo of Ron Smith's name plate next to the door of Capitol Room 3149 (Courtesy of OneVoter.org)

Photo of Ron Smith’s name plate next to the door of Capitol Room 3149 (Courtesy of OneVoter.org)

The Assembly is set to swear in its new members tomorrow at 12 noon.  It is unclear if Fox will be sworn in or if the Assembly will wait for the results of the recount.

The old 36th Assembly District seat was held by Steve Knight, who left after two terms to successfully win election to the new 21st Senate District.

LA County Registrar Dean Logan’s claim to national fame was as Elections Director in King County, Washington in 2004.

  • In the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election, Republican Dino Rossi led Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes at the end of vote counting.
  • After the first recount (triggered by Washington’s automatic machine recount law), Rossi’s lead shrunk to 42.
  • In the second recount (a manual one request by the Washington Democratic Party), Logan announced that 561 rejected absentee ballots would be counted, and workers in Logan’s county found another 162 uncounted ballots on a tray in a warehouse.  This totaled 723 ballots that had not been counted before.  After they were counted, Rossi’s 42-vote lead became a 129-vote deficit.
  • After much legal wrangling, Gregoire was sworn in as Governor on the day Governor Gary Locke’s term expired.  Gregoire defeated Rossi 53%-47% in a 2008 rematch.

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