Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I expect everyone to look a little Irish at the polls Tuesday. And, if you plan to drink beer, do me a favor and don’t let them put the food coloring in it to make it green. Real Irishmen don’t drink green beer.
It looks like another short session for the Tustin City Council Tuesday evening. I hope everyone takes the time to vote in the election to replace Mimi Walters for the California Senate. With any luck, we wil have a clear winner and forego another runoff election in May. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t have another election this year. If Don Wagner is elected, there will be yet another state office to deal with in his vacant Assembly seat.
The Closed Session Agenda is fairly short with the usual litigation issues up for discussion and only one real property negotiation for what looks like MCAS property.
Likewise, the Consent Calendar is short with only six items. Aside from the usual items, the city will ask for approval on:
Item 4 – Approval of Consultant Agreement with Risk Management Professionals Inc. to update the city’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. This is a pro forma requirement for federal funding. The plan is required to be updated every five years. The $29,000 cost has been budgeted according to the staff report.
Item 5 – Approval of Amendment to Joint Agreement for 800 Megahertz Countywide Coordinate Communications System. As far back as I can remember, even in the old days of the low band police radio system, the Orange County Sheriffs Department has provided communications services for virtually all police and county services. About 12 years ago or so, the county converted to an 800 Mhz system that was designed to provide cellular service similar to cellphones. It took a few years for the bugs to be worked out (there are still some, in my opinion) but, overall, the system seems to be working well. It is expensive though and Tustin is required to pay its fair share for services rendered.
That cost is $2.7 million dollars over a five year period, placing us 16th in highest cost out of 54 agencies that use the system. For our money we get new police consoles and new software for all our radios. The Chief uses cool terms like “P25 compliance” and “System Extension” to sell the city council on a system we have no choice but to support. And, the truth is, we do get our money’s worth. Today’s communications system is light years ahead of the old system used when I was chasing down police calls with my CHP surplus radio in my ’68 Charger. Ah, the good old days.
If there was a reason for attending the city council meeting this Tuesday, it would be to hear the sole item on the Regular Business Agenda.
Item 7 – Tustin Police Department Year in Review is the annual presentation to the community on how our police department is doing. Looking at the Power Point presentation Chief Celano has prepared, I would say they are doing a bangup job for us.
Some highlights inlcude:
- Continuation of Accredited Status with CALEA. Tustin is one of only three county departments and twenty statewide departments to gain accreditation.
- Exceeded crime reduction goals due to CTAP (crime analysis) implementation
- 176 DUI arrests
- 57 Felony gang arrests
Add to that the community efforts made by Chief Celano since taking office. His “Coffee with a Cop” program has been well received and he previously told me plans to continue the program. According to the presentation, Tustin is also looking at body-worn camera for its officers and upgrading the Emergency Operations Center.
We are fortunate to have a great police department that we can be proud of. Yes, there are outside detractors that have attempted to disrupt and discredit. Overall, the record speaks for itself. Celano has a great community philosphy that works well for a man who likes to maintain a low-key status.
As we said, it is a short evening, hardly worth going to city hall for. Of course, if you have cable TV, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Now, if we could just get Councilman Bernstein to learn how to Tweet from the dais.
Don’t forget to vote. If you haven’t sent in your ballot, drop it in the mail today or drop it off at the local polling place to have it registered. I’ll be at the poll bright and early so I can vote on the way to work. That way, I get my cool “I voted” sticker.
OK, so we are down to the wire on another fist-clenching, nail-biting off-year election. This time candiates are vying for Mimi Walter’s 37th State Senate District seat. Walters, as you may remember, has gone on to the United States Congress.
Battling it out for the sole seat are three Republicans and one Democrat. The Republicans, Assemblyman Don Wagner, former OC Supervisor John Moorlach and political aide Naz Namazi, are the only names on the ticket. The sole Democrat is Louise Stewardson of Huntington Beach, Stewardson, who lists her occupation as nurse, is running a write-in campaign claiming she was unaware that there would not be a Democrat in the race. Thanks for stepping up.
Among the three Republicans, Assemblyman Don Wagner is the most experienced, having served as our district representative in the California Assembly. He has been attacked by his nemesis, John Moorlach for taking union money, in violation of the Baugh Manifesto, and for being soft on a variety of issues near and dear to Republcan Hearts. Several websites have been put up claiming Wagner supports amnesty for illegal immigrants, has taken Maui junkets on union tabs, etc.
Of course we know the Baugh Manifesto is selectively enforced. Janet Nguyen took union money (after she had already been caught once and gave it back). Kris Murray of Anaheim was reported to have taken union money. Wagner, for his part, supposedly said he thought the manifesto was only for local elections….yeah, right…. you go with that, Don.
Moorlach, for his part, lives and breaths the Baugh Manifesto. He can afford to. He will soon (if he isn’t already) collect a sizeable county pension. Yes, this is the same Moorlach who, since taking office as a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, has taken every oportunity to drag down the 17,000 employees and their unions by attacking county pensions. Whenever he was asked about his own pension which, by the way was paid 100 percent with taxpayer dollars (rank-and-file employees pay a sizeable portion into their pension funds), he would state that he earned it and he was only taking what was offered.
And, for a non-professional, non-career politician, Moorlach spent the last half of his last term in office shopping for another elected office he could land in. At various times over the last two years, he “explored” a run for Congress, Governor (or was it Lt. Governor?) and even his old job with the county. Every one of those “explorations” ended abruptly when Moorlach couldn’t find backing within his own ranks.
Wagner has actively worked in the state legislature for the past five years. He sits on several key legislative commitees including Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security, Revenue and Taxation and Judiciary where he serves as Vice-Chair. One of the best things about Wagner, that most Republicans hate, is his willingness to cross the aisle when necessary to get the job done. That’s not to say he isn’t a diehard elephant. It just tells me he will do what is necessary to get the job done (shades of Lou Correa).
If campaign funding is any indicator, Don Wagner is, by far, the best financed of the two candidates. He had a sizeable war chest when he entered the race and is still far ahead in fund-raising. Moorlach, desperate to find fault -any fault- with his nemesis, pointed out the facts the best way he knows how. Using statistics that only a CPA could understand, he demonstrated how his fundraising has outpaced Wagner’s. Still, the bottom line John is that Wagner has more money. Lots more.
As far as campaigns go, this one has been lackluster at best. I’m not sure if that is because Moorlach doesn’t know how to run a campaign or if the two are waiting the inevitable runoff race in May to really start slinging the arrows. Although Democrat, Louise Stewardson could offer an alternative for die-hard Democrats who would vote on principle, it is Naz Namazi who would likely siphon votes from both Wagner and Moorlach. She could deflect enough votes to force a runoff as an outright win requires 50% plus one vote.
As to the campaigns themselves? I don’t get cable TV so I have no idea if either Moorlach or Wagner are running television ads. I have heard nothing on radio either, probably because I listen mostly to my iPod when I drive. We here in Tustin have, thankfully, been plastered with few yard signs. In fact, here in Old Town, I have seen two from each candidate. Most of the political blogs are split between the two. Curiously, two of the blogs tout Moorlach but, when you look closely, it is because they are paid political consultants. One blog is fighting with itself as the owner/editor supports Moorlach but a chief contributor to the same blog supports Wagner – as do we.
It’s a sad but true fact that election cycles never end. If Moorlach wins the seat outright -an unlikely event- Wagner will remain in place for the rest of this term. As an admitted career politician, he will then likely look for a local or statewide seat to land in. If Wagner wins outright, Moorlach, who at one time claimed he would not seek higher office, will have another bite of the pie. He only has to carpetbag into Wagner’s Assembly district (anyone got a guest house in Old Town for rent?) to get a second chance.
Of course, he may have to run up against our own Tustin Councilman John Nielsen who, we hear, is doing his own exploration of sorts.
In all likelihood, neither candidate will win the necessary +1 and they will be forced into a runoff. Then we get to do it all over again. Only, expect a lot more yard signs and a lot more mudslinging from both candidates. That’s when we’ll see whether Moorlach’s financial finagling rings true or whether it really does come down to who has the most money in the bank.
If you need further evidence to get off the fence, consider that John Moorlach has a couple of dozen endorsements, mostly from “former” elected officials. Only one fellow supervisor, Shawn Nelson, was willing to endorse him. Not even Jerry Amante would come out with an endorsement.
On the other hand, Wagner has the endorsement of every Countywide elected official, including Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, OCDA T-Rack and OC Supervisor Michelle Steele. Newbie Senators Pat Bates and Janet Nguyen have endorsed him along with a slew of other legislators. Oh yeah, even Mayor Chuck Puckett has endorsed Wagner.
Wagner has also run his campaign without the aid of crackpots like Deborah “I hate Muslims” Pauley and the advice of idiots like Mario “Maynard” Manero. You remember him. He’s the one that talked Moorlach into spending thousands of taxpayer dollars trying to take away the pensions of sheriffs deputies then ran and hid when it didn’t work out the way he thought it would. I wouldn’t want him for my lawyer either. John doesn’t seem to mind.
In any case, if you haven’t sent in your absentee ballot, please do so. And, if you are like me and prefer to cast your vote the old fashioned way, I’ll see you at the polls – provided you can make it by seven in the morning.
Barbara Benson Memorial Scholarship
For our artistically inclined students, TACFA will award the Barbara Benson Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to High School Seniors enrolled in either pubic or private Tustin High Schools. Up to seven $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to seniors graduating in June. Applicants must intend to pursue an education in visual or performing arts at a college, university or professional training program after graduation. Applications and more information are available online at http://www.tacfa.org. Applications are due by March 23th so don’t delay.
Annual Student Art Invitational
Middle and high school art students will have a chance to win cash prizes while displaying their art for Tustinites at the Annual Student Art Invitiational held April 1st through the 29th in the Tustin Senior Center art gallery. According to the press release, student created works include a variety of visual media including ceramics, 3-D, photography and graphics in a variety of media. Art will be judged by professional artists with a reception recognizing the winners to be held on April 15th at 5:3- pm. The gallery will be open 8-5 daily at the Tustin Senior Center in Peppertree Park.
Viewpoints: Orange County 2015
Rounding out the month is the Viewpoints: Orange County 2015 All-media Juried Show. The 8th annual exhibit will feature professional and amateur artists throught Orange County. More than 40 artists will present 80 original artworks in various media including acrylic, pastel, watercolor and photograpy. Judging will be done by winning artist Greg LaRock, a plein air artist from Newport Beach. Greg has won numerous awards around the country for his artwork and is sought after for plein air workshops. The show and display are located at the Chemers Gallery in the Enderle Center. Of coruse this makes for the beginning of a great day that could be followed by dessert at Zov’s Bistro and a Cigar at the Epicure cigar lounge.
TACFA has a pretty full schedule this year although they have not yet announced the Broadway in the Park selection. Broadway in the Park will run August 18-22. As usual, I expect a call for volunteers as well as the usual casting call for local talent to round out the company. You can receive updates on Broadway in the Park and other TACFA activities by signing up on their website here.
Way back in December of 2011, Old Town very nearly lost one of its treasured buildings to fire. The Jabberwocky, located on El Camino Real just south of Main St., Nearly burned to the ground. Only the facade was left largely intact. This building was built around 1885 and was reportedly the town doctor’s office. When it caught fire, it was a quaint dress shop called the Vintage Lady. We first wrote about the Jabberwocky in 2013
The owner was determined to save what they could of this piece of history. More than the allowable amount of the building was destroyed so the city required any new construction to be built to code. Local historic architect, Nathan Menard, was charged with marrying the old facade with the new building. It took awhile for construction to begin but the end result has been worth their effort. The facade has been saved and restored, and the new building is as safe as any in the city.
But, it came at a cost.
The Conservancy, which is largely charged with helping to maintain the old town atmosphere of our historic district, has opened a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations to the cause. Spokesperson Linda Jenning told us:
The Tustin Preservation Conservancy has opened a campaign on the Go Fund Me web site to raise funds to help finish the Jabberwocky building. As you may remember, it was partially destroyed by fire several years ago. The owner chose not to demolish but rebuild the damaged rear of the building and restore the beautiful Victorian facade.
Go to www.gofundme.com/n2riac and look for ” Restoring the Jabberwocky” to visit the campaign site and learn more. Any donation will be appreciated. The Conservancy will pay all fees so your entire donation will go to the fund and be tax deductible.
Yes, you heard it right. a hundred percent of all funds donated to the Jabberwocky through this campaign will go to the restoration. Tustin Preservation Conservancy will pay all fees associated with the campaign.
If you love Old Town as much as we do, we hope you will donate a few dollars to the cause. Any amount is the right amount and will certainly be appreciated.