Supervisor John Moorlach takes Janet Nguyen to task for screaming at County employees

John Moorlach

Supervisor John Moorlach has elaborated on why he did not vote to select Supervisor Janet Nguyen as Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2010.  Here is the email he sent to his supporters explaining his vote:

I usually do not provide you with Blog postings. If I did, then I would never have time to do my job.

But, I believe I owe it to you to explain this entry that was posted during the Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday.

Item 62 was moved to the front of the calendar. It had two actions. The first was to waive the requirement that the Board elect its Chair at the first Tuesday of January after the first Monday after January 1, supposedly in order to give the incoming Chair time to be prepared by the Clerk of the Board for his or her new duties. This would be January 12. The second action was to vote for Chair and Vice Chair.

I voted against the waiver. If you need three extra weeks, you probably need three extra months. As far as I can tell, we have never strayed from following Rule 8 of the Board’s Rules of Procedure. Indeed, my experience was that the Clerk of the Board does a stellar job preparing the incoming Chair, and it doesn’t take that much time to do so. Therefore, seeing no pressing need to do it now, I voted in opposition.

After I proposed to my wife, Trina, twenty-nine years ago we decided to take a two-week honeymoon. My then-fiancé notified me that her boss would only give her one week off. Traveling, returning, moving her in, opening wedding presents, preparing thank you cards, and all of the rest and two weeks wouldn’t be enough.

After we took our two honeymoon I returned from my first day back to the office finding my bride’s face puffed up as if she had been weeping. “What’s wrong, honey?” “My boss yelled at me for taking two weeks off.” “He ‘yelled’ at you?” “Yes.”

“Well, you tell the good Doctor the next time he ‘yells’ at you whether he wants one week notice or two weeks.”

The next night I came home and Trina was still distraught. “How did your day go?” “He yelled at me, again.”

Just to clarify, my wife was the office manager of a rather successful practice.

“Did he want one week or two week’s notice?” “Two.”

Over the next fourteen days my wife explained how her boss was sorry, that he apologized profusely and wanted her to stay.

“Would it be alright if we changed our minds?”

“No. My wife will not work for a ‘yeller.’ End of story. I don’t need to come home to the repercussions and stress of that management style.”

All this to say that Supervisor Nguyen’s management style is to bite people’s heads off. The list of recipients is quite long, thank you. The CEO, department heads, heads of related organizations. If she doesn’t get her way, then she’ll excoriate you.

I did not explain this during the Board meeting as this item was pushed through in a rather hasty manner. I didn’t get a chance to speak until I had to cast my vote.

But, Supervisor Nguyen made the point for me. At the conclusion of the meeting she bit my head off. Thank you, Supervisor Nguyen.

Supervisor Nguyen has a history of demanding that executive managers hire people she demands, and then becoming angry when they do not. Supervisor Nguyen has a history of being unprepared at Board meetings, repeatedly claiming that she never received information from our County staff, when every other office received and reviewed the information, and, if needed, discussed it with the CEO at his weekly pre-Board meeting briefing of each Board office. But, since Supervisor Nguyen cancels her weekly pre-Board meeting briefing more often than not, she misses another opportunity to be educated, and then yells at County staff in public, claiming they haven’t responded to her concerns.

The cornerstone of the County’s management philosophy is the concept of “servant leadership.” Indeed, our management and Board consider this concept so central that we send our managers to a ten-week course at Chapman University, called the Orange County Leadership Academy, where they are inculcated in the culture of servant leadership. This concept stresses that good leaders should first strive to be good servants—that we are there to serve others, not to have others serve us. Janet Nguyen’s management style of yelling, being unprepared, and demanding the hiring of her friends, is the antithesis of servant leadership.

The issue now is how vindictive and true to form will she be?

She could have said, “Supervisor Moorlach, I will prove you wrong in 2010 and show you that I am up to the task.” Instead, she chose to characterize my restrained concern as “petty politics,” and to characterize my year as Chair of the Board as one characterized by “a lack of courtesy and decorum.”

I have waited the majority of my three years on this Board for Supervisor Nguyen to mature in this role. It just hasn’t happened.

And no one takes her to task. Not even reporters, with the exception of OC Weekly’s Nick Schou piece in January of 2008 (

The question is not “Why did Supervisor Moorlach vote against Supervisor Nguyen?”

Rotating the chairs through each District is fine. But, if it jeopardizes the management team and we lose key executives, then rotating the chairs is not fine.

I’ll provide one anecdotal story. Dean Gialamas, Director of the Sheriff’s Department’s Forensic Science Services, (his resume can be found at came to our office to brief us on their Unisys mainframe concerns. He stood before the Board to review the matter. Supervisor Nguyen bit his head off. He came back last week with a reasonable alternative. Supervisor Nguyen bit his head off, again. A day or two later, Mr. Gialamas notified his department that he had accepted the position of Director of Forensic Science Services for the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department.

I take the time to elaborate because it will provide you with the color of how I fear that 2010 will go.

Regretfully, with our current economy, the shape of the State of California, a vacant Fourth District office for at least five months and a boatload of other issues, we do not need a yeller as our Chair. We need someone who wants to serve, not someone who demands to be served.

You’ll see what I mean from the Register’s Blog posting below.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the real Supervisor Nguyen.


Click here to read the Register posting Moorlach referred to. 

And here is the excerpt he referenced:

Nguyen responded to what she called “Moorlach’s petty political agenda” during public comments at the end of today’s meeting. Nguyen called Moorlach’s criticism is “ironic in the least,” saying that when he was chairman, Moorlach demonstrated “a lack of courtesy and decorum.”

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.