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A $50,000 Party for Cement

It’s too bad we are not in the 4th District for the Orange County Board of Supervisors. It is beginning to look like Shawn Nelson is the only one of the Gang of Five that has any sense at all. Not that I agree with him on everything, but he did get it right on one agenda item on Tuesday.

It seems the Board of Supervisors wants to throw a party to celeberate the opening of a parking lot. OK, it is a big parking lot. In fact, it services a large number of commuters and is a shining exampleSNA New Parking Structure of progress. I am talking, of course, about the newly completed parking structure at the John Wayne Airport. Anyone who has traveled from John Wayne in the past few years knows this parking lot (along with terminal space) was badly needed. But, spending $50,000 for the grand opening? Ridiculous.

Back to Shawn Nelson, he immediately questioned this saying it’s “a ridiculous illusion that people would be fired up about the terminal.” He said it made no sense to reward contractors for doing what they were supposed to do. He also questioned the airport’s use of half their marketing budget for one event. In his weekly email newsletter, Shawn was the only member of the Gang of Five to discuss the event. “…flight prices and availability are stronger measures to increase ridership than a grand opening event. In addition, any event expenses should be the responsibility of the vendors who stand to benefit by showcasing their products and services.” That sounds right to any good conservative.

Not surprisingly, John Moorlach defended the celebration saying that it was important to commemorate an “architectural creation”. Huh? John, it’s a parking lot, not a Frank Lloyd Wright building. It’s not unique. In fact, it looks a lot like the parking lot on the other side of the terminal buildings which looks a lot like parking structures throughout the county. Clearly, it does not take much “creativity” to get John into a partying mood. But then, he is an accountant. Oh, did we mention that the airport is in his district? “You have to have a little pomp and circumstance.” Yeah, now we get to the truth. John probably dreams of a big brass band behind him on the podium as he pontificates about the virtues of using non-union, outsourced labor to build the gleaming monolith and how this parking lot will symbolize the freedom Orange County’s citizens will feel each and every time they drive into it at $2 an hour. Usually the only thing I’m thinking about by that time is whether I’ll get the gentle hands treatment by the TSA folks.

Airport officials weakly pointed out that it was not just about parking. It was about food, too. Presumably, they meant that reporters and the media (I am thinking CNN here) would be touring the new food court we’ve all heard about in recent months. Gosh, that sounds exciting and a real good reason to spend $50,000 of taxpayer money… not. I don’t know about you but, when I am looking for a place to eat, the last place I would think of is the airport terminal with it’s 8 overpriced fastfood joints and 3 overpriced honky tonks peddling authentic Wolfgang Puck fare. I can get Starbucks in 180 other locations around Orange County (6 right here in Tustin alone). So, again, not for food and certainly not when the County is looking at a $48 million dollar shortfall this year due to the shenanigans played in Sacramento during budget season.

In the end, it was suggested that $25,000 be spent in airport (again, read taxpayer) funds, hoping that matching funds from “parking lot gala event sponsors” be found for the other half. Shawn and the Littlest Princess, Janet Nguyen (surprise again) chiming in with “nayes” were outvoted by the majority which, not surprisingly, included Campbell and Bates who, along with Moorlach, seem to have no problem partying on the taxpayer dime.

Oh, and don’t expect to be invited to this gala event unless you are one of Orange County’s beautiful people… or, at least a Republican in good standing.

If you haven’t read enough about this yet, here is an excellent story from our friends at The Voice of Orange County.

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