Category Archives: state government

(Another) Special Election Set For March 17, 2015

thescreamI thought we’d be spared, alas. Before we get to the bad news…..

It seems our Attorney General, Kamala Harris, has set her sights on the upcoming U.S. Senate race to replace Senator Barbara Boxer. The election of Harris who, over the years has been tied to every possible political seat, including the next Governor and a possible replacement for Eric Holder, would be a win-win for conservative Californians. California gun rights groups have whined over her draconian rules over firearms since she first took office. Making Bill Lockyear look like Charlton Heston, she has effectively locked down manufacturers by making admission to the Approved Handgun List nearly impossible.

Of course, this hasn’t been without backlash from the gun folks. I haven’t looked for exact numbers but it seems more lawsuits have been fought and won during

Kamala Harris - "Gaze into my eyes and give me your guns."

Kamala Harris – “Gaze into my eyes and give me your guns.”

her tenure as AG than any other, at least in recent history. That’s good news for gun-toters here, especially when the courts slapped down the CCW laws. Unfortunately, the Democratic backhand is so strong, most counties have not changed their stance and still restrict issue of permits. With Harris’ departure, perhaps that will change.

According to Cal Watchdog, her likely rivals for the Senate seat would be former LA Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa and hedge-fund broker Tom Steyer. We agree with them that Steyer, a billionaire, could outspend Harris but money doesn’t always buy an election. Just ask some of our recent contenders for governor. You still have to have charisma and, as the darling of the California Democratic Party, Harris has plenty of that.

If Harris does win, the real question is, who will Jerry replace her with? Gun-toters, be careful what you wish for.

As long as we are talking about Federal seats, I might as well break the news to you. Remember the other day when I told you we were spared from any more stupid off-year elections? Well, I spoke too soon.

As former Senator Mimi Walters has crossed the rotunda to join the ranks of Congress, the 37th District Senate seat is, once again, open. It should come as no surprise that the only candidates for the seat are both staunch Republicans (are there any other kind nowadays?). Former county supervisor John Moorlach has finally landed on this spot to continue his non-career political…..career. We only say this because, years ago when he was running for OC Supervisor, I recall him saying he did not plan to make a career out of politics. He did, however, manage to make a career in management AND politics in Orange County, thus allowing him to collect a sizeable county pension for the rest of his life.

The other contender is Don Wagner who currently represents Tustin and Irvine in the California State Assembly. Don is also a career politician having first

Don Wagner

Don Wagner

served locally on the South OC Community College District. He is an attorney (we won’t hold it against him) and lives in Irvine. He is also a member of the Federalist Society, a libertarian constitutional group.

Of the two, Wagner is by far the best candidate. For one thing, he is homeboy….well, almost. At least he lives in Irvine which is closer than Huntington Beach. He gets high ratings from business organizations and, surprisingly for a Republican, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights folks. His ratings on fiscal conservativeness lead me to believe he is a responsible Republican who is willing to cross the aisle to get the job done – in other words, a libertarian.

True, Wagner has voted mostly along party lines in the Assembly. One would expect that from either side. He has also supported common sense bills in mental health, openness of charitable organizations and allowing medications to be administered in schools. Nothing fancy but, still.

Moorlach, on the other hand, has done one thing well. He predicted the bankruptcy of Orange County at the fiscal hands of an imbecile. Now, he didn’t really do anything about it (because he couldn’t) but he did predict it. Well, that’s not really true. He did join the ranks of the elected as County Treasurer, thus establishing the foundation for his lucrative pension.

Beyond that, Moorlach has spent most of his time blathering from the dais. More often than not, he has failed to gain the consensus of other conservatives when dealing with the problems of the county and, in fact, has done more to contribute to the corruption and shadow government that we all know really runs Orange County, than he has to clean up the mess. He has effectively blocked any effort to bring transparency to local government during his tenure. And, he has managed to alienate the rank-and-file civil servants that he hates with a passion. Wow. Talk about an oxymoron (emphasis on moron).

John Moorlach - I spent enough money on frivolous lawsuits to fill this hangar

John Moorlach – “I spent enough money on frivolous lawsuits to fill this hangar”

Moorlach’s vehemence against public employees, particularly public safety, has caused him to take bad advice from his mensa friends and promote frivilous lawsuits. Even when county counsel opposed it, Moorlach was insistent the county sue the sheriffs deputies association over pensions. Apparently, Moorlach and his bud Mario Mainero were the only ones who could see the truth. Riggghhhhttttt………

Of course, he refused to to act as a responsible leader and give up his lucrative county pension while he actively campaigned to get rid of what he characterized as unsustainable pensions for rank-and-file workers. And, while inroads have been made in the OC pension wars, they had little to do with him.

In fact, it was the Orange County Employees Association led by Nick Berardino, that led the charge to bring pensions under control. Nick deftly introduced the idea of hybrid pensions, brougt proposed bills to the legislature and assisted with the IRS bureaucracy to get pension reform into the county. He then let the board of supervisors take most of the credit.

Now, I know this is going to come as a shock but, the special election to fill Walter’s vacant seat is the only thing on the ballot. Still, in Orange County’s own special way, the machine will roll. Instead of finding new ways to get voters to vote from the comfort of their own home (like internet or phone voting), they will roll out the precinct gear and voting machines to “empower” citizens to exercise their lawful right. Yard signs, although not nearly as many, will sprout from the most unlikely places. Will we see a debate? I sure hope so. Wagner would clean the floor while Moorlach blusters and fidgets in that condescending “gosh, gee” way of his while not really saying anything of substance before the audience falls asleep from boredom.

The special election is March 17, 2015. We strongly suggest you mark your absentee ballot for Don Wagner before sending it in. Do it when you get it, lest you forget.

A Homeless Governor?

neel and norbyWould you vote for the homeless guy for governor?

I like gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari. He has some good ideas and, during the primaries, did not seem too worried about spending his money to make sure you got the message. Of course, his campaign coffers are nearly depleted now and it’s questionable how much he will be able to spend on his future campaign against Jerry Brown.

A recent stunt, however, has me wondering if he isn’t just another johnny-come-republican.

Allegedly, the multi-millionaire took a Greyhound bus and $40 to Fresno where he spent a week as a homeless guy looking for work. Backpack in hand, he supposedly trudged the streets of Fresno dragging along his toothbrush and videographer. Of course, one has to wonder if prospective employers asked why a homeless guy would need a videographer.

Calling it one of the “hardest weeks” of his life (really?), the investment banker talked about his experience on MSNBC. Going with only one shower for the week, the scruffy mogul also wound up eating at a homeless shelter (I wonder if he paid them for the meal).

Kashkari, who in the past was mistakenly identified by his enemies as a dreaded “Muslim” (He is really Hindu), has been trying all kinds of interesting ways to get free publicity. According to the LA Times he has crashed teachers union conferences, visited churches in South LA and marched in gay pride parades.

The homeless trick takes the cake, though.

Kashkari is going to have to step up his game if he plans to be a serious Jerry Brown contender. Trailing in the double digits, I doubt Brown sees him as any real threat. And, why should he? Stick your head outside the Orange Curtain, and Brown is immensely popular with the voters on both sides of the street. If you can get past his Hi-Speed-Rail-To-Nowhere boondoggle, he has done a remarkable job for a former space-case and shown that he really does have the Pat Brown gene.

In the meantime, Kashkari is demonstrating that he is more interested in publicity stunts than outlining any real plan to fix what doesn’t need fixing – unless you are a super rich investment banker type looking to make more money off the backs of poor Californians. Or, maybe Kashkari, like Meg Whitman before him, thinks money can buy the election.

Oh wait, in that case, throw in the towel now. Governor Brown has twenty-two mil in his campaign account and it doesn’t look like he will have to do any borrowing. Neel, on the other hand, is broke.

What this really shows us is that either Republicans are notorious cheapskates and won’t help fund Kashkari’s all-but-doomed bid or, they just see the writing on the wall. In any case, this may not be the last time you hear about a hair-brained stunt from Kashkari.

One thing I wonder about though. Why did Kashkari feel it necessary to travel to Fresno to demonstrate his homeless prowess. We have a huge homeless encampment right here in Santa Ana.

Maybe he was afraid he’d run into Chris Norby.

 

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

 

Don’t Bury Me on the Lone Prairie

Veterans-CemeteryAlthough only remnants of the bases remain, Orange County was home to tens of thousands of U.S. Marines and their families over the years. We still have on our soil hundreds of Marine, Navy and Army personnel on several bases and reserve installations. And like the Marines in Camp Pendleton, the U.S. Air Force has a presence at a large (but little known) base in Los Angeles as well. On top of that, we are home to, by most estimates, over a hundred thousand veterans. So, it would be safe to say we are still a military county.

So, why is it, with all the rich history of two major bases and the multitude of support activities that have occurred since World War II, there is no place for a family to send their veteran to their final resting place?

Several of the cemeteries in Orange County have either reserved areas for veterans or a substantial memorial for vets. Santa Ana Cemetery is host to a major Civil War memorial and hosts a Memorial Day Ceremony each year. Westminster Memorial Park is also host to a memorial as well. The memorial at Pacific View Memorial Park overlooking the ocean in Corona del Mar is especially beautiful

None of these, however, are specifically for veterans or their families. In fact, the nearest Veterans Administration Cemetery is located in Riverside (Los Angeles is closer but they no longer have room). Riverside National Cemetery, is within 75 miles of Orange County so the prospect of a national cemetery is dim.

Fortunately, the state can and does build veterans cemeteries without the same requirement. And, I recently received an email inviting me to take a survey with one simple question: Should the city of Irvine identify and dedicate at least 100 acres at the Great Park to create a State Veterans Memorial and Cemetery?. The poll is straightforward and, at this writing, has a 2-1 majority in favor of the cemetery.

This is not the only effort by the group to get Irvine to take the lead in this issue. The Liberal OC recently ran an article on a press release they received from the group. The press release urges the Irvine City Council to take the necessary steps to set aside an appropriate amount of land at the Great Park for this project. Local politician, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, has also thrown in her support by introducing Assembly Bill 1453 which would open the doors to a state-run veterans cemetery. Quirk-Silva wisely wrote the bill to allow the establishment of a veterans cemetery anywhere in the county.

But the logical choice is Great Park land. Originally, a veterans cemetery was part of the deal for development to begin at the old Marine base. Unfortunately, through the years of political maneuvering by developers and some city council members, the project fell by the wayside for most. A tenacious group of veterans, mostly from South County, has held on to the dream. And, now, the time is right to push the idea.

Cities in Orange County have thrown support toward the idea. Los Alamitos, home to the Joint Forces Training Base, has been joined by Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton and several others in the form of resolutions in support of AB1453. Likewise, every Orange County  legislator has thrown their support to Quirk-Silva’s bill.

So, where is Tustin and, why haven’t our leaders chimed in? Are they afraid eyes may look toward the Legacy property? Even so, would that be a bad thing? Perhaps an alternative to the Great Park would be a veterans cemetery in the shadow of the blimp hangars.

In any case, the next logical step is the Irvine City Council meeting on Aprill 22, 2014. At that time, the city will discuss the formation of a site selection committee that would review potential sites both on the park and the surrounding area. Veterans are encouraged to attend and wear their patches, ribbons and other appropriate ceremonial attire (American Legion or VFW cap, etc.) in support of the cemetery effort.

The issue is far from a done deal. There are a number of entities, including one Irvine Councilperson, who appear to be against the idea of a veterans cemetery, at least at the Great Park. Five Points Homes, another detractor of the idea, is also attempting to muscle its way onto the committee presumably to keep the icky bodies away from their precious townhomes. Even a Feng Shiu consultant to the city (only in Irvine) has some misgivings.

As for me, I welcome a long overdue honor to our military. Their ghosts speak to me every day as I remember friends and comrades who will finally be able to come home. Let’s give them that peaceful place they deserve.

 

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