Moorlach only Republican (so far) to back AB 1185 for Sheriff Oversight




You’d think in Orange County of all places, creating an oversight board for our chronically corrupt and brutal Sheriff’s Department (Carona / Hutchens / Barnes) would be a no-brainer – just see a couple of Moxley’s recent exposes.  Yet so far, the only OC state legislators to vote yes on Kevin McCarty’s vitally important AB 1185, as well as the only Republican lawmaker to support it so far, is our own Senator John Moorlach (R – Costa Mesa.)

This bill, which allows either the Board of Supervisors or a vote of the public to create a powerful oversight board with subpoena power to oversee the Sheriff Department of each California County, BARELY passed the Assembly on May 29 (our Democrats SQS and Tom Daly were absent, while newly elected Dem Cottie Petrie-Norris actually voted NO, along with our craven Republican assemblymen.)

Now it’s proceeded to the Senate where it sailed through the Public Safety Committee 6-1, probably aided by some truly egregious behavior by Sacramento’s demagogue Sheriff Scott Jones, who rails against the worthy bill here:

Given all the energy and expense the California State Sheriff’s Association has been putting into lobbying against AB 1185, it must be worthwhile change, and we hope that Senator Umberg and Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva will support it when it comes [back] to them. 

Moorlach explained to the Sacramento Bee why he broke from his party to back the bill, drawing on his experience as an OC Supervisor having to deal with the corruption of Carona and Hutchens:  “…he said Orange County faced dozens of lawsuits involving its sheriff’s department. He described the county’s civil grand jury as ‘limp.’  ‘Saying the supervisors have the ability to control the sheriff through the budget, that’s bogus. You just cannot cut public safety in the budget,’ Moorlach said.”  

The Senator went on to write about it in his latest Moorlach Update:

…I also found myself and my four Board colleagues dealing with a Sheriff who, among other awkward personal decisions, had more than 30 lawsuits regarding the culture in the jails, the murder of John Derek Chamberlain in the Theo Lacy Jail while Deputy Sheriffs were looking away, and a concern of truthfulness about a foreign trip to visit a contracting DNA lab (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Property Tax Due Date — April 10, 2013).

Consequently, I looked at a number of oversight committee models. A citizens oversight committee was not the preferred method, but the Michael Gennaco Office of Independent Review (OIR) in Los Angeles County seemed the best at the time. But, several years later, even Mike Gennaco, its initiator, could not harness then-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka; and now former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca is facing prison time.

With all of the turmoil, I led the effort to establish an OIR (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Money for Nothing — September 2, 2015MOORLACH UPDATE — Civilian Oversight — June 15, 2015MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 593 — June 10, 2015, and MOORLACH UPDATE — OIR/Retroactive Anniversary — July 20, 2012).

So, while remaining relatively quiet at this week’s Senate Public Safety Committee, on which I serve as Vice Chair, when AB 1185 (McCarty) came before us, I shared my former experiences and supported the bill. This makes me the only Republican legislator to date to do so.

The Orange Juice Blog says Thank you, John … and OC Democrats, step up for oversight and justice!

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.