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Archive for June, 2015

Breaking News: Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Throughout U.S.

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 26, 2015

In a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a sweeping Supreme Court opinion legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

Justice Kennedy wrote, “…the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry…No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in this case demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Scalia also wrote a separate concurring opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Thomas also wrote a separate concurring opinion, which Justice Scalia joined. Finally, Justice Samuel Alito wrote a fourth dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “…the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens – through the democratic process – to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

The full text of the decision and the four dissents are available here.

Posted in National | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Rohrabacher Accuses Wu of Embezzling $173,500

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 25, 2015

In one of the most stunning allegations of the 2010s in Orange County politics, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) filed criminal complaints with the District Attorney and the State Department of Justice accusing his campaign treasurer Jack Wu of embezzling at least $173,500.

Rohrabacher fired Wu as his volunteer treasurer in May after it was discovered that Rohrabacher’s campaign account only had $187 when it was supposed to have approximately $185,000 or nearly 1,000 times that amount.

Rohrabacher sought full restitution, which Wu promised but has not provided.

According to the LA Times, Wu filed for personal bankruptcy in 1996.

He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Irvine in 1998 as a Democrat and for Newport Beach City Council in 2006 as a Republican.

The web site for WuBell Services, the tax preparation and accounting firm Wu owns, appeared to be down this morning.

Wu does not appear to have a CPA license and serves on the Newport Beach City Finance Committee but had no direct access to city funds.

Wu served as interim CFO/Controller for Vista Paint in Fullerton from 2008-2013, Controller of Concept Studio in Costa Mesa from 2004-2007, Controller of Tait & Associates in Santa Ana from 2003-2004, a partner in CPA firm Channels, Graham & Roth in Costa Mesa from 2002-2003, and Vice President of Finance for Big Grub Entertainment in Irvine from 1995-1997.  Tait & Associates is the firm owned by the Tait family and led by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait.

Wu graduated from UCI with a Bachelor’s degree in social ecology, with an emphasis in (ironically): criminology, law, and society.

Posted in 48th Congressional District | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Could Governor Brown Veto SB 277 Due to Missing Religious Exemption?

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 18, 2015

So my post on Tuesday about the OC GOP opposing SB 277 has already cracked the top 10 posts of all time on OC Political, and it appears to be on pace to overtake #9 sometime this morning.  (For those of you wondering, #9 is Live from OCGOP Central Committee: Efforts to Remove Deborah Pauly as 1st Vice Chair from June 18, 2012. Note to self: June Central Committee meetings equal high readership.)

In light of this readership spike, I decided to do some more reading on SB 277, the bill by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) to require vaccination of schoolchildren who do not have a medical exemption.  Existing law permits exemptions for medical reasons or personal belief.  In a nutshell, SB 277 would eliminate the personal belief exemption.

One of the most interesting items was AB 2109 of 2012 by then-Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).  AB 2109 required a health care practitioner to sign an attestation that they provided information regarding the benefits and risks of the immunization and the health risks of specified communicable diseases to a parent of the student in question.  AB 2109 also required a parent of the student to sign a statement that they received the information.

 

While Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2109 into law, he issued a signing message.  (Signing messages are an infrequent occurrence with just a handful of bills getting a signing message each year; the vast majority of bills are signed without such messages.)  The full text of the signing message follows:

This bill seeks to boost immunization rates for children in communities where vaccine rates are falling.

Current state law requires children to be vaccinated prior to enrollment in school or a child care facility, but allows a parent or guardian to opt out of this requirement based on a personal belief. This bill doesn’t change that.  Consistent with current law, AB 2109 allows parents with a personal belief to reject vaccination for their child.

This bill is about explaining the value of vaccinations – both the benefits and risks – for an individual child and the community. Whether these are simple “information exchanges” or more detailed discussions, they will be valuable even if a parent chooses not to vaccinate.

I am signing AB 2109 and am directing the Department of Public Health to oversee this policy so parents are not overly burdened by its implementation. Additionally, I will direct the department to allow for a separate religious exemption on the form. In this way, people whose religious beliefs preclude vaccinations will not be required to seek a health care practitioner’s signature.

In signing AB 2109, Brown spent half the second and fourth paragraphs discussing personal belief exemptions.  The fourth paragraph, the Governor, a former seminarian, issued his direction to the Department of Public Health to create a religious exemption on the form where they would not need to get a health care practitioner’s signature.  In other words, a religious exemption went around AB 2109.

This interesting post from a site called Science Blogs blasts Brown because they felt he “tried to water down the bill” and the he “blows it” for creating a religious exemption.

Putting aside the legality of the Governor’s direction to the Department of Public Health regarding AB 2109, this could be an opening for opponents of SB 277 to persuade Governor Brown to veto SB 277.

When SB 277 was introduced, Brown’s spokesman announced, “The governor believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered.”

Clearly, Brown wants to sign a bill that reduces exemptions, but it is entirely possible that he doesn’t want to eliminate the religious exemption.

According to this article and map by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 48 states allow religious exemptions (only Mississippi and West Virginia do not) but only 20 states allow philosophical exemptions (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

It could be that Governor Brown would want to eliminate the philosophical exemption but not the religious exemption.  The lack of a religious exemption could be the Achilles’ heel for SB 277 supporters and the silver bullet for SB 277 opponents.  Only time will tell.

The bill still needs a vote on the Assembly Floor and then another vote on the Senate Floor concurring to amendments made in the Assembly, but SB 277 is expected to survive both floor votes, at which point it will arrive on the Governor’s desk.

Posted in State Assembly, State Senate | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

OC Board of Education to Consider Charter School Application

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 17, 2015

OCBESealIn what should be a rather lengthy meeting, the Orange County Board of Education will be meeting today to consider a number of lengthy items.

First on their discussion calendar is Item J-1, which is the application of the College and Career Preparatory Academy (CCPA) for a charter school.  The staff report recommends approval of the charter school.  The CCPA charter school application is the second request and the first direct application to the Orange County Board of Education since the election of Trustee Linda Lindholm last year.  Four months ago, the Vista Heritage Charter Middle School won 5-0 approval from the Orange County Board of Education when it appealed a 4-1 denial by the Santa Ana Unified School District Board of education (Trustee Ceci Iglesias was the sole vote at SAUSD in favor of Vista Heritage).

Lindholm’s victory over eight-term incumbent Liz Parker marked a critical shift for the County Board of Education.  Parker who voted for charter school petitions once in a blue moon led a Board majority that rarely approved charter school petitions.  Orange County’s hostility to charter schools was bizarre considering our neighboring counties all had many times more charter schools (even when adjusting for population) and the pro-charter school stance of the majority of Orange County residents.

Trustee Ken Williams, elected in 1996, has a voting record generally supportive of charter schools.  Trustee Robert Hammond, elected in 2012, has a voting record consistently supportive of charter schools.  Between 2012-2014, Williams and Hammond often found themselves on the losing ends of 3-2 votes on charter school applications.  Lindholm’s victory in unseating Liz Parker shifted the Board to a pro-charter school majority.  To their credits, Trustees Jack Bedell and David Boyd, along with the Orange County Department of Education staff, recognized the sea change delivered by the voters.  Staff reports for both Vista Heritage and CCPA have recommended approval of the charter schools.  Bedell and Boyd joined a unanimous vote in favor of Vista Heritage’s application and are expected to join a unanimous vote for CCPA.

As the Orange County Register noted:

While California is a nationwide leader in both the number and growth of charter schools and students attending them, Orange County is lagging. The state, according to a recent National Alliance for Public Charter Schools study, welcomed in nearly 90 new charter schools this academic year, giving a total of 1,184 – an amount nearly double that of the next-closest state in line, Florida, home to only 653.

Statewide, the study puts estimated enrollment at almost 550,000 students.

Orange County has only 16 charters – two of them limited to what is called “nonclassroom based” study, where less than 80 percent of instruction is onsite. Los Angeles County, meanwhile, has 355 charter schools. The Inland Empire has 63.

We are, in other words, remarkably deficient in providing educational choice.

Item J-3 is a “Statement Regarding the Common Core Math Standards” drafted by Trustees Lindholm and Bedell.

At 12:30 PM, Item G-4 will be a public hearing regarding the Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget.  (Oddly, the actual text of the budget was not part of the agenda packet online.)

 

Posted in Orange County Board of Education | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

OC GOP Opposes SB 277 (Pan) – Schoolchildren Vaccination Bill

Posted by Chris Nguyen on June 16, 2015

wpid-ocgop-logo-1_400x400.jpgLast night, the Republican Party of Orange County voted to approve a resolution opposing SB 277, the bill by Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) on vaccination of schoolchildren.

Proposed by OC GOP Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Whitacre, the resolution passed after a short discussion with many SB 277 opponents in the audience.

OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker opened the discussion on the resolution by speaking about individual liberty, the overreach of government, and how many Democrats were re-registering as Republicans in light of SB 277.

OC GOP Second Vice Chair Mary Young spoke against the resolution, speaking of her experience as a young woman personally witnessing the effects of polio, with people being disabled and people needing to use iron lungs to breath.  She expressed her fear about the return of polio.

OC GOP Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Whitacre, the resolution’s author, echoed Chairman Whitaker’s points about the overreach of government and how many Democrats were re-registering as Republicans in light of SB 277.  Whitacre also spoke of individual liberty and the rights of parents.

OC GOP Secretary Peggy Huang was not present but instructed her alternate to vote against the resolution and to read a statement about the efficacy of vaccines and the declaration by Autism Speaks that vaccines are not linked to autism.  There were murmurs objecting to those statements from the SB 277 opponents who were in attendance at the meeting.

OC GOP Central Committee Member Robert Hammond spoke in favor of the resolution, noting his 14 years of experience as a public school teacher.  Neither he nor any of his colleagues had a single unvaccinated student in any of their classes.  He spoke of how he and other teachers would go into the community to encourage vaccinations and how every parent with an unvaccinated child in the community would choose to vaccinate their children when the teachers educated them on the issue.  Hammond explained that while he strongly supports vaccination, his opposition to SB 277 is on the basis that vaccination should be a personal responsibility, not coerced by the government.

The resolution passed by a voice vote.

Last week, the Assembly Health Committee approved SB 277 on a party-line vote of 12-6-1, with Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) not voting.

On May 14, the Senate passed SB 277 on a near-party-line vote of 25-11-3, with Republicans Anthony Cannella (D-Stanislaus County) and Jeff Stone (R-Riverside) in favor, Democrats Connie Levya (D-Chino) and Richard Roth (D-Riverside) against, and no votes recorded for Senators Tom Berryhill (R-Tuolumne County), Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), and Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove).

On April 28, SB 277 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote of 5-1-1, with Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) not voting.

On April 22, the Senate Education Committee approved SB 277 on a 7-2 vote with Senator Andy Vidak (R-Kings County) joining six Democrats in favor of the bill while Senators Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster) were in opposition.

On April 8, SB 277 was approved by the Senate Health Committee on a 6-2-1 vote, with Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) joining five Democrats in favor, Senators Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama County) and Richard Roth (D-Riverside) in opposition, and no vote recorded for Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina).

The full text of the OC GOP resolution reads:

A RESOLUTION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY OF ORANGE COUNTY
AFFIRMING ITS SUPPORT OF PARENT/INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND URGING ALL MEMBERS
OF THE CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY TO OPPOSE SENATE BILL 277 (PAN)

Whereas, the Republican Party of Orange County affirms its strong support of the Republican Party Platform – that the rights of parents are sacrosanct with regard to their children and believes in restraining government that would encroach upon those rights;

Whereas, the Republican Party of Orange County understands the United States Constitution and the California Constitution were established to protect individual freedoms and the rights of the minority;

Whereas, it is embedded in both Constitutions that citizens have a right to practice their personal beliefs freely without discrimination from the state and be afforded due process;

Whereas, we uphold the rights of parents to be informed first, and then consent to medical treatment for their children free of coercion, manipulation or fear of governmental intrusion;

Whereas, the current voluntary vaccination program is already proven effective at protecting Californians against life threatening complications and death associated with vaccine preventable illnesses;

Whereas, there is no medically defined epidemic in or near California that warrants such legislation from the Democratic controlled California State Senate and State Assembly and Republicans do not believe in adding to laws and regulations when enforcement of current laws and regulations are sufficient;

Whereas, the language of SB 277 gives the government unlimited power to add vaccines to the currently mandated school entry immunization battery without hearing or oversight, and removes the right of parental objection based upon sincerely held religious beliefs, and personal beliefs; now,

Therefore, be it Resolved, that the Republican Party of Orange County:

opposes SB 277 in its entirety;

calls on all Members of the California Assembly – especially Republicans – to strongly oppose SB 277;

affirms its staunch support of California parental rights to make decisions as to what is best for their children – especially consent to medical treatment for those children, without fear of reprisal or backlash; and

invites disaffected registered California Democrats and their families to abandon the Party that has abandoned them and re-register as Republicans just as dozens did at the recent Democratic Party State Convention; since the Republican Party is traditionally and demonstrably committed to defending parental and individual rights.

Posted in Republican Central Committee, State Assembly, State Senate | Tagged: , , , , , , | 103 Comments »