George Orwell pens latest Board of Supervisors press release!




Really, this is historic.  Pretty much unprecedented.  For a great writer, who most of us assumed was long dead, to come back from a Salinger-like retirement and surprise us with a satirical press release for our very own Board of Supervisors!  

I mean, it’s been how long since we last heard from George Orwell? 68 years?  And his wit is as biting and acerbic as ever.  But look at me going on!  Let’s just hear from the master now, the feared and beloved creator of 1984, Animal Farm, and Homage to Catalonia:


Board of Supervisors Votes to Ensure
Accountability and Transparency in Auditor-Controller’s Office

Santa Ana, Calif. (June 26, 2018) – Today the Board of Supervisors voted as part of the approval of the FY 2018-19 budget to re-establish the Internal Audit Department, reporting directly to the Board of Supervisors, removed the Auditor-Controller and Internal Audit augmentations while also cutting $656,570 of funding from the Auditor-Controller’s base budget.

“This action by the Board of Supervisors is to ensure transparency and independence in the Auditor-Controller’s Office by restoring the oversight of the Internal Audit Department that we established in 1995 after the county’s bankruptcy,” said Chairman Andrew Do, Supervisor First District.

The Internal Audit Department was under the direct supervision of the Board of Supervisors until 2015. Today’s vote also transfers 14 Internal Auditor positions as well as $2,294,495 in appropriations under the Board of Supervisors’ oversight.

“It’s not a best practice to have Auditor-Controller ensuring its own transparency. I believe we did a great service to the citizens of Orange County by returning the Internal Audit Department under direct control of the Board of Supervisors,” said Vice Chairman Shawn Nelson, Fourth District.


Woolery diminished. Photo by Judy Leopo.

If any of you are not rolling with laughter over Orwell’s godlike humor here, perhaps you need a little background – by taking away $1 million in funding and 2/3 of the staff of just-reelected-by-74% independent auditor Eric Woolery, and putting all that under their OWN control, “accountability and transparency” are exactly what they’re trying to prevent!  (Or four of the Supervisors anyway – kudos to Todd Spitzer for opposing this.) 

Any child can see that when you take away the independence of the folks exercising oversight over you, and place them under YOUR control, there is no longer meaningful oversight.  This is like if Donald Trump fired Muller and handed the Russia investigation over to Jared Kushner.

David Zenger provided, in 2015, a good history of how we got here, and the Voice‘s Nick Gerda lays out the latest.  From Nick’s story:

Opponents said the moves against Woolery’s office … would strip away independent oversight over the supervisors and law enforcement. “Contained within this item is a significant escalation in a long history of systemically dismantling transparency and accountability mechanisms within Orange County, while consolidating power within the board,” said Sylvia Schwartz, a Costa Mesa resident who spoke during public comments.

“We cannot just have have people who report to the positions that they are trying to hold accountable. That’s not how true transparency and accountability works,” said Cynthia Valencia of the ACLU.

Ah, but the butt-hurt goes DEEP with this Board, butt-hurt inflicted by Woolery.  Not long ago, a bemused and outraged Andrew Do stammered, “We have…very weird dynamics going on, where we have an auditor-controller that feels like he actually oversees this Board of Supervisors. Okay? He feels like he’s the one who gets to review, actually, the legality of everything we do.”  Umm, yes, Andrew, because that’s how it is.  Do’s grievance was Woolery’s cockblocking public funds for electioneering mailers from himself and colleague Lisa Bartlett – a hinky practice that can now proceed unimpeded.

And now comes Shawn Nelson, fresh from his dismal showing in the CA-39 Congressional race, nursing a bitter grudge against Woolery for questioning his retroactive pension payments, and surly and vindictive as ever:  “It’s not a best practice to have Auditor-Controller ensuring its own transparency.”  HEY GUYS, the public is WAY less concerned with the transparency of the Auditor-Controller than we are with YOUR transparency.

But to me, the Board’s brilliant coup of having GEORGE ORWELL write their press release more than makes up for all of this.  How did they pull this off?  We may never know.  Ah well… ACCOUNTABILITY!  TRANSPARENCY!






About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.