Category Archives: County Government

Wherever You Go, Whatever You Do

avoid DUI

Do me a favor and don’t be a victim to stupidity. Drunk driving is a serious offense that can easily exceed $10,000. And, don’t believe so-called DUI attorneys claiming a high success rate. There is a reason cops are successful in stopping drunks. And, the breath or chemical test is pretty proof positive, with the old days of fooling the test with Listerine a thing of the past.

With that in mind, here is a schedule of DUI activities from the Orange County Sheriff:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Lt. Jeff Hallock, 714.904.7042

JHallock@ocsd.org

 

Winter Holiday Mobilization Schedule of Operations

SANTA ANA, Calif. (December 12, 2014) – The Southern California Avoid DUI Task Force is announcing its upcoming enforcement operations for the Winter Holiday DUI Campaign.  The following schedule of operations, dates, and locations are provided for broadcast.

 

DUI / Driver’s License Checkpoint   

  • Friday December 12, 1900-0300, Cities of Garden Grove, Placentia & Tustin
  • Friday December 19, 1900-0300, Cities of Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Mission
    Viejo, Orange & Garden Grove
  • Saturday December 20, 1900-0300, City of Laguna Beach
  • Saturday December 27, 1900-0300, Cities of Westminster & Santa Ana
  • The City of Anaheim will be conducting additional DUI / Driver’s License Checkpoints with dates TBD.

 

DUI Saturation Patrols

  • Friday, December 12, 2000-0300, Cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine and La Habra
  • Saturday, December 13, 2000-0300, City of Irvine, Laguna Beach, Anaheim, Tustin and Brea
  • Tuesday, December 16, 2000-0300, City of Anaheim
  • Thursday, December 18, 2000-0300, City of Anaheim
  • Friday, December 19, 2000-0300, Cities of Anaheim & Costa Mesa
  • Saturday, December 20, 2000-0300, Cities of Anaheim & Irvine
  • Tuesday, December 23, 2000-0300, City of Anaheim
  • Saturday, December 27, 2000-0300, Cities of Anaheim, La Habra & Orange
  • Tuesday, December 30, 2000-0300, City of Anaheim
  • Wednesday, December 31, 2000-0300, Cities of Anaheim, Irvine, Placentia, Westminster and Brea
  • The City of Fountain Valley and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will be conducting additional Saturation Patrols with dates to be determined.

Coming Home

veterans cemeteryI never thought that is is where I’d settle down,

Thought I’d die an old man back in my hometown,

They gave me this plot of land,

Me and some other men,

For a job well done.

Arlington – Trace Adkins

By now, you have probably heard the news about a push for a veterans cemetery in Orange County. The idea isn’t new. Almost since the Marines left El Toro and Tustin, veterans have been pushing for a place to host their final rest. Unfortunately, most of it was just talk as politicians were too busy deciding which of their cronies would benefit from some of the most valuable land in the county. And, although some may have briefly discussed the idea in conjunction with the Great Park or other developments, the idea kind of fell into the background of discussions.

Recently, though, the idea of a veterans cemetery has been revived and is, in fact, gaining a lot of support both here and in Sacramento. On Saturday, I attended a meeting in Buena Park (lured by the prospect of a free pancake breakfast) hosted by Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva. Earlier this year, Quirk-Silva introduced a bill that would clear the way for the establishment of a state run veterans cemetery in Orange County. AB1453 was wisely written with the idea of powerful developers nixing the use of valuable property near the Great Park and allows for the establishment of a cemetery “somewhere” in the county.

This is important legislation as, without it, a veterans cemetery would likely not ever come to pass. That’s because the Feds have a corner on veterans cemeteries in the area. And, because there are open cemeteries within 65 miles of Orange County, they will not consider constructing one here. That leaves the Golden State to do the job, if they are willing – and they are.Quirk-silva

Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva came to the breakfast meeting with an appetite and good news. AB1453, introduced in January of this year, sailed through the Assembly and is now going through the legislative process in the Senate. In fact, Senator Lou Correa’s Senate Veterans Affairs Committee passed the bill on June 24th and sent it to Senate Appropriations Committee with recommendation to the Consent Calendar. To date, there have been zero “no” votes on this bill.

In Orange County Board of Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s most recent missive, you would think the whole thing was his idea. Never one to miss an opportunity for self-aggrandizing, Spitzer has a photo of him and Veterans Advisory Council Chair, Bobby McDonald prominently displayed at the top of his weekly newsletter. He talks about how he is looking for a donation of more than a 100 acres and then goes on to suggest a location near Modjeska Grade Road (100.03 acres, to be exact) as a possibility.

The Third District is a natural fit to provide a home to a veterans cemetery because it has the canyons and a significant and substantial amount of the most open space in the vicinity of the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro,” Spitzer said. “It’s time to come together in the Third District to find a viable option. I’m inviting Orange County leaders in the Third District to get the word out that we are in search of a land donation of over 100 acres to build a veterans cemetery.

Notice Spitzer doesn’t mention the old Marine Corps base property as a viable location. Perhaps that’s because, according to the Liberal OC, developers are doing their best to deflect the idea. Five Points Homes, a large developer of the old base property, is not too keen on  the idea. In fact, they made a presentation at the Irvine Ad Hoc Committee for a Veterans Cemetery and Memorial meeting in June to propose other locations around Orange County. Alternatives for them included the Tustin MCAS, Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base and the Seal Beach NWS. The one “ideal” space was curiously located in San Juan Capistrano, just off Interstate 5, about as far away from the Great Park as you can get.

Although there is no script to go along with the PowerPoint slides, one gets the idea: Great Park Bad, other spots (any other), good. Face it, who would want to have their kids grow up around a nasty old cemetery. And, just think of the drop in home prices.

Never mind that, according to reliable sources, Orange County is home to the highest number of veterans (and homeless veterans) in the nation. Never mind that Orange County had and still has a huge military presence and history with all services represented. About the only ones who don’t think placing a veterans cemetery at the Great Park is appropriate are those who desperately want the income that would be lost by establishing one.

We think MCAS El Toro is the most appropriate location to honor our veterans. The city of Tustin has wisely joined a majority of cities In supporting AB1453. It’s unfortunate that neither John Nielsen (who was more concerned his business cronies would have to pay more property tax) or Beckie Gomez thought enough to support it with an official resolution, opting for a letter instead. Now, what would have been great is if Chuck Puckett and Allan Bernstein would put as much effort in locating the cemetery at MCAS Tustin (near the blimp hangars would be good) as they are in getting Arte Moreno to relocate the Angels.

Surely, the time has come to bring this dream to fruition. Every veterans organization from the Orange County Veterans Advisory Council to The American Legion, to the Veterans of Foreign Wars are actively involved with this project. More than 200 veterans and interested persons showed up to hear Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva’s update on AB1453 and efforts to put this plan together.

Importantly, Quirk-Silva said AB1453 is just the beginning. Once the legislative authority has been granted, money still needs to be raised. Hope lies in the Feds who, although they won’t establish a cemetery here, will provide grant money to allow the state to establish and run one. Speaking as a veteran, I don’t really care one way or the other where the money comes from. The important thing is to honor our veterans by giving them a final resting place near their home. By rights, that resting place should be on, what The American Legion 29th District Commander, Bill Cook, called “Sacred Ground”.

Veterans-CemeterySubhead

 

A Flip Of The COIN

transparent governmentAs labor talks with the county’s public safety arm have ground to a halt, the Board of Supervisors are openly debating whether negotiations should be open to the public. Supervisor John Moorlach is leading the effort to open negotiations and openly criticized Todd Spitzer for holding private sessions with the deputies union in an effort to hammer out a deal.

The county recently sought to impose their “last, best and final” offer on the deputies union. That proposal would have imposed pension and other costs on deputies without a pay raise. While sounding good on paper, it would essentially have cost deputies up to 16 percent of their salary in take home pay. The previous contract imposed a tiered and measured implementation of costs designed to soften the blow on families. The stark approach imposed by the county this time around has left members of the deputies union fighting mad. And, they took that fight to court where a superior court judge ruled the county negotiator acted in bad faith.

Now, Moorlach is touting the idea of completely open negotiations – for labor, that is. In a recent missive to his constituents, Moorlach outlined his proposal to bring Costa Mesa’s COIN ordinance to the county. Essentially, the COIN (Civic Openness in Negotiations) ordinance would allow public review and input into the negotiation process, allowing everyone to see the fiscal impact of any proposals. Supervisors have already implemented several of the key points of COIN such as hiring an outside negotiator. Moorlach seeks to implement the entire ordinance.

As reported in the Voice of OC, union officials applaud the idea but say the ordinance should extend to all large contracts, including those with vendors the county does business with:

“Transparency should extend to members of the board of supervisors regarding contracts which they award to their political contributors, friends and lobbyists who bundle contributions from entities and individuals that are seeking public money,” said Nick Berardino, general manager for the Orange County Employees Association.

“They should disclose ex-parte discussions with lobbyists, contributors and other representatives seeking public money and political contributions received from those parties,” he added.

Of course, some Supervisors disagree. Shawn Nelson laughingly said that he is more worried about his own people than the contracts negotiated in the county. In an attempt to deflect the focus from contracts in general, Nelson said the issue was labor contracts because that’s what the people have to pay for and only find out the cost after the fact.

Berardino is correct, however. Nelson may foolishly think the public is only concerned with labor costs. There is a growing advocacy for complete openness in government where all contracts and their associated costs are discussed and debated in open forum. These costs, whether it is for labor or public/private contract, need to be publicized within the context of other issues such as recruitment and retention or cost of in-house versus  contracting in order to get an accurate picture.

While COIN is a good start toward open and transparent government, it is far from ideal. Side discussions and most closed session discussions would not be covered. That leaves a huge information gap and a potential for inefficiency when questions regarding motive and reason remain unanswered. The public, while not wanting to dredge through the day-to-day business of government (I just want my potholes fixed), is growing concerned over costs and would welcome a bit of sunshine on the process. To infer it is none of their business, as some city and county officials have, is disingenuous.

While the county debates the pros and cons of COIN, it is time for the Tustin City Council to do the same. In past years, their efforts toward open and transparent government have left much to be desired. The antics of former councilmembers notwithstanding, the city has been lavish with it’s compensation toward executives and upper management while giving the rank-and-file employees the short end of the fiscal stick. Then there is the so-called Strategic Plan that is supposed to be a guideline for city staffers. The plan originally was supposed to contain an ethics component that never made it into the final draft (or, if it did, it’s buried under the bodies). In formulating the plan, Management Partners, outlined some serious issues mostly centering around poor community relations. Those, too, were never taken seriously.

Tustin city planners like to think of themselves as forward thinkers, ahead of the game. An ordinance focusing on open government that would leave little to interpretation in regard to fiscal and ethical policy, would go along way toward demonstrating that trust. Open negotiations in all labor talks, whether they be for executive managers or rank-and-file employees with public notice of proposals from either side should now be an essential part of any open government mandate. Likewise for public/private contracts where tax dollars are expended. Government, particularly at the local level, should not be run under a lampshade.

 

 

 

DUI Checkpoint Coming to a City Near You

DUI-Colorado-MADDThe city of Tustin will conduct a sobriety checkpoint in an undisclosed location on May 9, 2014 from 8 pm to 3 am. According to the press release, specially trained officers will be looking for signs of alcohol and drug impairment while also checking for proper licensing of motorists. According to a MADD information sheet on the operation of checkpoints, stops are performed in a set pattern designed to eliminate racial profiling and speeding the process.

The primary goal of a DUI checkpoint is not to arrest drunk drivers, but to deter impaired driving. According to MADD, research shows that money invested in conducting checkppoints results in massive savings to communities from alcohol related crashes.

The Tustin PD calls drunk driving a crime and we agree. Last year, Lat year, over 700 people in California died due to impaired driving. Thousands more were injured. Add to that the cost of to a family when a member is arrested for drunk driving. Typical costs for a first time offender can exceed $10,000 when including higher insurance and related “hidden” costs. It can also affect one’s reputation and job.

And, don’t think you can avoid the DUI patrols by leaving town. The Orange County Sheriffs Department will be conducting saturation patrols in South County this weekend as well. Citing a rise in DUI related deaths, OCSD says there were 57 DUI related deaths in their areas of operation in 2012. Saturation patrols will commence at 7 pm Friday, April 25 to 3 am Saturday, April 26.

Funding for these programs are from a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you see a drunk driver, call 9-1-1 (but do it from a handsfree phone if you are driving).

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