OC Political

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

Posts Tagged ‘bureaucracy’

Orange Councilman Jon Dumitru Proposes Business License Amnesty Program

Posted by OC Insider on May 2, 2012

On April 24, Orange Councilman Jon Dumitru proposed a business license amnesty program after being approached by a business that was being sued by the City of Orange.

The strangest thing about this business was that it had never actually opened – it only got the license because it was considering opening a branch in Orange but decided to let its license expire when it did not open the Orange branch.  However, the City of Orange is now threatening to sue the business.  Talk about bureaucratic insanity!

Dumitru proposed an awesome idea: a business license amnesty program.  This would allow businesses that have fallen behind on  license payments but not be forced to go to court.  In other words, if the businesses just pay their back fees, they won’t be pursued by the City.

Councilman Fred Whitaker supported the idea of allowing closed businesses to just let their licenses lapse without having to file any other paperwork.  Whitaker also seemed interested in Dumitru’s business license amnesty program.

Mayor Carolyn Cavecche supported Dumitru’s business license amnesty program.

Kudos to the Dumitru and the Orange Council for trying to ease the burden of government on small businesses during these challenging economic times.  It’s actions like theirs that get government out of the way and help start our economic recovery.

Here’s a transcript of the discussion from the April 24 Orange Council meeting…

Councilman Jon Dumitru: And real quickly, and I know you’ve [Mayor Carolyn Cavecche] been approached and I was approached last night. That’s why this is kind of last moment, but we have a business owner actually from the city of Tustin that approached me. It’s a traffic school, and I guess they at some point in time, were considering opening up a branch office here in the City of Orange.

They had pulled a business license but they had never actually opened, and in the process of the last year, their business license, of course, in Orange they let expire since they no longer operated, or ever operated, and now they’re being threatened with some legal action from the City.

I know we need to kind of get this fast-tracked. Their attorney reached out to me yesterday, Mr. English, about the procedure that has been going on.

But it, really overnight, as I’ve been thinking about this more and more, is we have a number of businesses actually that don’t pull or don’t renew their business licenses and then they start falling further and further behind, and the fees start mounting, and then there’s threats of court action. And I really think, it might behoove the City if we offer sort of a business license amnesty.

You know a number of times during our budgets, budget cycles, have asked to eliminate business license fees, but if we offered amnesty and allow these folks and these businesses to really get kind of government off their back. And the ability to come back and become compliant with what the city requires. It will also get their business licenses up to date and will end, also end, some of the City Attorney work from having to go to court and pursue these small businesses that are struggling these days, but I know – and it’s, I wrote it down, I wrote it down – Times Traffic School, but I think there’s another word to it. And I know, I think they’ve reached out to you [Cavecche], as well.

Mayor Carolyn Cavecche: Actually, I met with one of the City Attorneys on this today…

Dumitru: Oh perfect.

Cavecche: …already, so…

Dumitru: I just thought I’d bring that forward and maybe we can get staff to kind of put together a list or at least a kind of a rough number of how many businesses in our city are non-compliant with the business licenses. And maybe kick around the idea here in the near future of an amnesty program to really allow these businesses to succeed.

Cavecche: Any comments at all? Mr. Whitaker.

Councilman Fred Whitaker: Well, I think there’s kind of two elements. The first would be we need to really look at our code and see if somebody simply doesn’t renew because they’re no longer in business, how do we make sure that we just let that go? I mean somebody should have the freedom to not renew and not have to do anything about that.

And then the second would be, you know: how many folks are actually in business and not compliant and then, you know, just like a code enforcement thing, is there an amnesty program that we can have for those people to help them through and get back to the program? To me, it’s two different things we need to look at.

Cavecche: Any comments? Mr. Bilodeau?

Mayor Pro Tem Denis Bilodeau: Not on this one. Something else.

Cavecche: Okay.  You know, I’m fine with that too. So, Mr. Dumitru, why don’t you sit down and work with Rich Jacobs, our finance director, and kind of get a feel for what we have as far as, or with Mr. [City Manager John] Sibley, and if you’ll take care of that and work with him on that and…

Dumitru: Absolutely…

Cavecche: …kind of get a feel for what we’ve got going on that and then staff can bring that back at a future date, or brief us on it to kind of get a feel for how much is out there as well.

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OC Couple Placed on Child Abuse Index for Punishing Daughter with Haircut

Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 16, 2012

Potential Child Abuser?I wish the headline I just wrote was out of context, but from reading both this OC Register article and its LA Times counterpart, it is clear that in the case of the McFetridges of Irvine that nanny government ran amok, a social worker lost all common sense, and the law provided inadequate recourse for the parents.

In a nutshell: OC Deputy District Attorney George McFetridge and his wife Bette were in the process of adopting a teenaged girl, Holly.  In 2008, Holly ran away from the McFetridge’s Irvine home to the Huntington Beach Youth Shelter, where she accused Bette of shoving her into a towel rack.  The shelter called the Orange County Social Services Agency.  Social worker Bridget Hannegan investigated the allegations and found Holly’s accusation “unfounded.”  However, Hannegan then investigated Holly’s hair and found “inconclusive” evidence of emotional abuse due to the haircut.

The McFetridges were then placed on the child abuse central index due to the “inconclusive” finding of emotional abuse.  It took them 11 months to get themselves off the child abuse central index.  The McFetridges then sued for $28,011.  The $28,000 was for the costs charged to the McFetridges of housing Holly in a residential program, and the $11 is $1 for each month the McFetridges were on the list.

Putting aside the residential program costs, the law really should have had provisions to allow the McFetridges to win the $11 for this disturbing loss of common sense by social worker Hannegan.  Unfortunately, to win their lawsuit, the McFetridges needed to show that Hannegan had lied or acted maliciously, but what happened here was Hannegan was incapable of using common sense and was blinded by her love of bureaucratic procedure.

The law has since been changed so that only “substantiated” child abuse allegations result in parents ending up on the child abuse central index, so “inconclusive” ones do not.  However, that still doesn’t change the fact that Hannegan’s bizarre worldview that cutting a child’s hair oddly constituted “inconclusive” child abuse.  The haircut should have been deemed an “unfounded” abuse allegation; an allegation we should all recall that was not made by Holly the alleged victim or by the youth shelter, but rather an allegation that social worker Hannegan created all on her own.  In our society, we rely on the policy makers create the laws and regulations, and the front-line employees, like the social workers, are supposed to use their discretion to carry out those laws and regulations, but this is clearly a case where that discretion was horribly abused.

The quotes from Hannegan are disturbing – not disturbing because of horrible abuse, but disturbing because of Hannegan’s thought process.  Here’s an excerpt from the OC Register article that shows social worker Hannegan’s idiocy:

Hannegan, a senior investigative social worker, visited Holly at Woodbridge High School and was shocked at what she saw. “Immediately I noticed her hair,” Hannegan told the jury. “It looked like she got hazed.”

While Holly’s bangs looked normal, her hair was “cut severely uneven to the back” at about one inch in length, Hannegan said. She lifted up the back of Holly’s hair and saw three circular, silver-dollar sized bald spots, Hannegan testified.

Holly said that George McFetridge had restrained her while Bette cut her hair as punishment for lying, Hannegan testified.

Then George McFetridge got something most parents never do: the chance to cross-examine a social worker.

He questioned Hannegan’s investigative techniques, asking if she had spoken to any of Holly’s friends or teachers to try to corroborate her story (answer: no) or had taken a photograph to document Holly’s severe haircut.

Hannegan replied that she is not “trained” to use a camera. “It’s not part of my job description,” she said.

In her report about the family, Hannegan determined that Holly’s allegation of physical abuse by Bette McFetridge was “unfounded,” but she added an “inconclusive” finding of alleged emotional abuse based on the hair-cutting incident. The inconclusive finding landed the McFetridges on the state’s Child Abuse Central Index without them having a chance to see Hannegan’s report or challenge it in a hearing.

Clearly, I should have called the Orange County Social Services Agency and Bridget Hannegan when I was a child for that bowl cut my mom gave me in elementary school and that buzzcut in middle school.  It’s amazing that I survived such stunning abuse.

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