Supe 2021: Foley and Moorlach answer some questions from the OJ Blog!

Jeez.  I know I wouldn’t vote for any of the other three candidates for 2nd District Supervisor, two garden-variety klepto-Republican mediocrities and a Democrat woman whom the Lincoln Club is cleverly supporting to drain Democrat and women votes from Foley.  John and Katrina both have a lot of good qualities, and they’re both friends of mine.  I’ve known Katrina since she first fan for office in 2004, and we fought together against the privatization/sale of the OC Fairgrounds; and I’ve known John since we fought together against toll lanes on the 405 in 2011.

But still, jeez.  Election Day is one week away.  John and Katrina both told me back in January that they’d gladly do an online Orange Juice debate.  So I sent them each a bunch of questions on Feb 12, which was maybe a little too late, they were both already busy campaigning.  Katrina apologetically had her people send me answers to only SOME of the questions I’d posed; ones she’d already written for other questionnaires.  So my BEST questions she didn’t answer!  And then Moorlach came down with the Coronavirus last week, and has only just sent his answers NOW.  (March 2.) But at least he answered all of them.  So here goes, Katrina Foley vs. John Moorlach!

Why are you running for Supervisor?

KF: We need leaders on the Orange County Board of Supervisors focused on residents and businesses first, protecting our neighborhoods and public spaces, addressing homelessness, keeping our tax dollars secure, and our families safe. My experiences as a Mayor, small business owner, former School Board Member and PTA president are unique qualifications that will benefit the residents of Orange County as we navigate these challenging times.

As Supervisor, I will:

  • Protect public health, including more COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and treatment.
  • Support businesses.
  • Partner with cities to tackle the root causes of homelessness, provide transitional and permanent housing, and clean up our neighborhoods.
  • Combat the climate crisis.
  • Sunshine the more than $7.5 billion budget for better transparency, accountability, and effective management of our tax dollars.

JM: I bring proven skill sets to the position, including having served as an officer of the County of Orange for some 20 years.  In one capacity, Treasurer-Tax Collector, I assisted the County’s exit from Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection within 18 months and achieved more than $800 million in litigation settlements.  In another, Supervisor, I helped the County weather the Great Recession, with the County ending up financially stronger on the other side of this major economic cycle.

I fully understand the position of Supervisor and can hit the ground running to address the COVID-19-generated quagmire caused by the Governor’s economic lockdown.

How would you describe the job of a Supervisor, and of the Board of Supervisors?

KF: The primary job of the Board of Supervisors is to support the cities and residents, and I will take that responsibility very seriously. I will work directly with the cities in District 2 – hosting meetings and roundtable discussions with local city managers, superintendents, mayors, city councilmembers, and school board members to collaborate with them on the challenges facing our district.

I plan to hold monthly town hall meetings to hear from constituents about the issues impacting our communities and residents, and provide weekly pop up locations for constituent services. I believe community feedback and input is invaluable, and allows me to better understand the needs of our district. I also realize it can be inconvenient to travel to the Civic Center for resident services, so I will partner with local cities for weekly constituent service locations to increase access for all of our communities.

I will promote community engagement by educating Orange County residents on the services, funds, and resources the Board of Supervisors is responsible for overseeing through my weekly newsletters.

JM: Supervisors have a role similar to that of city councilmembers, but on a larger scale, requiring full time attention.  The position is more executive than legislative, as it provides opportunities to impact the residents of Orange County through its 31 departments, of which 6 are headed by electeds.

Besides regularly scheduled Board meetings, there are a number of other boards and committees Supervisors either must or may serve on, like the Orange County Transportation Authority.

What are your main criticisms (or praise) of the job the BoS has been doing the last few years?

KF: The Orange County Board of Supervisors oversees a massive $7.5 billion budget – and no one seems to know what they do! Orange County deserves better. I strongly believe transparency and accountability are crucial at every level of government, and I would prioritize communication with the cities and host community workshops with constituents to help hone priorities.

I will ensure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly by increasing transparency when it comes to the county’s $7.5 billion budget. Over these last few months, we’ve learned of secret contracts for millions of dollars with no public bidding. This can’t continue. An interactive
budget tracking system for “budget to actual expenses” is the modern, transparent approach for local government. We can do better and we must.

JM: The joy of the position is the amount of engagement a Supervisor puts into the role.

Supervisor Bartlett has served the County with distinction by taking a leadership role in the California State Association of Counties, including serving as its Chair.  This is the first time in decades an Orange County Supervisor has served in this capacity.

Being active in the role, showing up every day, engaging department heads, working closely with the County CEO, meeting with constituents and researching the Board agenda items well beyond staff and policy advisor recommendations is something I bring to the position.  It takes a team effort and it’s a big job to run a $7.5 billion enterprise.

What are your main criticisms (or praise) of the job the BoS has been doing in regard to the pandemic?

KF: The failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic here in Orange County has made national news. While our council in Costa Mesa was working to help keep our community healthy and safe, and try to keep our businesses open safely, many on the board were denying the seriousness of COVID-19, mocking masks, and politicizing the pandemic. They wasted too much time, residents lost their jobs and worse, many died—more than 3,700 people. We can do better and we must. The health and safety of Orange County residents will be my primary focus as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together in the coming months. I will lead based on science and best practices, and work directly with the cities across District 2 to enact a plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine efficiently and equitably throughout Orange County to achieve herd immunity within 100 days. This is the only way to truly recover our public health and economic welfare so we can return to living our best lives.

I will collaborate with my Congressional and State Colleagues to increase our vaccine supply in Orange County, and continue to advocate for common sense, scientifically proven precautions that will protect our communities from exposure – including masks and social distancing. Attacking the State and poking the bear is certainly not helpful when we rely on the state to distribute the vaccine to us.

JM:  The Governor of California mishandled the pandemic from day one.  From locking down the economy to determining who is essential and who is not to buying $1 billion worth of face masks from China at the onset, to renting ARCO stadium for $500,000 a month for a handful of patients.

States like South Dakota and Florida have Governors who trusted their residents.  Even as Disneyland remains closed, Disney World is open and advertising in our county, enticing our residents to travel to Florida.

Gov. Newsom and Dr. Ghaly put the Boards of Supervisors in all 58 counties in awkward positions.  Modoc County is not San Diego County.  Each county has different personalities, geographies and business communities.  Beaches are a great place to go for clean and fresh air.  So is working on a ranch in Siskiyou County.

The strategy is simple.  Everyone is essential.  Everyone should be respected.  Therefore, socially distance, wear a mask, wash your hands often and take your vitamins.  But, don’t lockdown the economy and provide unemployment insurance benefits to those who are incarcerated to the tune of $11 billion.

Let each Board of Supervisors implement safety strategies for their County.  Let the state get the vaccinations to distribute.  Gov. Newsom’s strategy was destined to fail.  And now he is looking at a recall.

Katrina, why you would be better than John for this position? 

KM: As a Mayor, City Council and school board member, I’ve spent the last 16 years working directly with residents, small businesses and public employees. I don’t have a buffer or staffer to send out into the community on my behalf. I personally return calls and emails and take meetings with constituents to understand their concerns. As a result, I know what’s needed on the ground and know how to better serve the residents and businesses in District 2.

I can personally attest to the lack of meaningful representation by the District 2 Supervisor during the last 16 years. [Ed. That’d be Steel since 2015, Moorlach before that, and Jim Silva before 2007.]  When we needed help with management of encampments in the county parks, patrols on the river trail, annexation issues, help for cleaner quieter air travel over our neighborhoods, support for an effective county sober living home ordinance, funding for mental health services, or help to end homelessness, our Supervisors failed to deliver.

I believe in a data-driven, science-based approach and will rely on medical experts to solve medical dilemmas and I definitely support vaccinating as our only way to recover from COVID-19 quickly.

John, why would you be better than Katrina for this position?

JM: I have held the job of Supervisor for eight years.  As a result of my financial decisions, Orange County has improved dramatically.  Examine each city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.  When taking the Unrestricted Net Position for Governmental Activities and dividing it by the municipality’s population, you arrive at a per capita metric.  Out of 58 counties, Orange County moved up from 46th place as of 2010 to 24th place as of 2019.  In contrast, Costa Mesa has moved from 18th place out of 34 Orange County cities to last place during the same period.

Do lobbyists have too much influence on the BoS?  What examples of this have you seen, and what would you be willing to do about it?

KF: I’m not privy to the influence and whether it’s too much. I will say that no-bid contracts and sweetheart deals for inferior systems must be avoided.

JM:  Compared to Sacramento, lobbyists are not as influential in Orange County.  The powerful forces in both locations are the public employee unions, which seem to have more than enough funding to impact who is elected and who is in their control.  The unions make the lobbyists look insignificant when it comes to influencing elected officials.  That may be why Costa Mesa dropped to last place, even though it is home to South Coast Plaza.

Does the OC Sheriff’s Department have too much influence on the BoS, and do you think they are being overfunded at the expense of other priorities, and under-supervised?

KF:  DIDN’T ANSWER 😟 [And I think this was one of the most important questions; we need some Supervisors – we need a MAJORITY of Supervisors – to say “Enough!” to this insatiable department’s demands.]

JM:  The Orange County Sheriff-Coroner has traditionally been the most powerful countywide elected official.  Donald D. Barnes was the Undersheriff when I concluded my last term as Supervisor.  He made the transition to management, command staff, and now Sheriff, in a very natural manner.  He’s a consummate professional.

There are two stronger forces that impact the Sheriff’s Department’s influence.  The first is its union, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.  The second is fighting crime, which is what the voters demand.  Consequently, there is a perceived favoritism to the Sheriff’s Department that is held by the other county departments.  Striking the proper balance will be the goal should I get elected.

ED. NOTE:

From Voice of OC, 2019

What are your plans to address homelessness in the County?

KF: Ending homelessness, housing residents, and supporting the needs of residents with mental illness will be a top priority. I’ll use my experience as Mayor of Costa Mesa as a launching point. My first priority as Costa Mesa’s directly elected mayor was to change the city’s approach to resolving homelessness. Our initiative resulted in helping the homeless with shelter and services, including job training and placement, mental health assessments, health and dental care, substance-abuse treatment, reconnections with family, and connections to permanent housing.  The secure, reservation-only operation at the temporary and long-term sites prevents loitering.

The model in Costa Mesa, which was recently adopted by Newport Beach, can be replicated in other cities to address this crisis. It’s a win-win situation because people are off the streets and receive help to find permanent housing. I led efforts to partner with Newport Beach to build a permanent shelter near the airport. The main obstacle is funding: Although funds are available, they are not flowing to local city governments to support their efforts. As Supervisor, I will work with our cities and school districts to ensure they have the funding necessary for crucial programs and services.

JM: I had the privilege of serving as the inaugural Chair of the Committee to End Homelessness.  We started by inventorying all of the available resources in the county.  This was contrasted to the number of individuals that were on our streets considered homeless.

In the last few years, this has been fortified by Federal Judge David O. Carter, with whom I assisted in finding solutions.  We also now have Projects Homekey and Roomkey by Gov. Newsom.  And, I co-authored AB 448 (Daly), to establish the Orange County Housing Finance Trust.  [That’s right, and he was ruthlessly attacked by Michelle Steel and her husband for this bipartisan bill – I wrote all about it here! – V]

I look forward to reengaging and assessing all of the components of the potential solutions so they will work in a coordinated and cost-effective manner.

I have also been involved with MindOC and Be Well and look forward to continuing my prior efforts to assist those with severe mental illness in our community (Laura’s Law, additional psychiatric beds, or crisis stabilization units, with SB 1273, etc.)

And I look forward to collaborating with 2-1-1 Orange County as they assist those who call for help.

Should the 241 Toll Road be extended, and where?  Do more Toll Roads have any role in our future?  Should the TCA be disbanded?

KF:  DID NOT ANSWER.  😟

JM:  The toll roads should be connected to the 5 Freeway in the San Clemente area.  This city needs a redundant road to exit in the case of an emergency.  But, this seems like it will never happen.

While I served as Supervisor, we worked diligently to extend La Pata Road through the Prima Deschecha Landfill to provide a second route out of the city.  This will have to satisfy the need into the foreseeable future.

The refunding (refinancing) of the toll roads, with Caltrans approving the transaction, will have a debt payment structure for decades.  So, the toll roads will be in place for what will seem like in perpetuity.

I’m not sure the toll roads should be disbanded, but merging with the Orange County Transportation Authority should be an option on the table.

What is your opinion on the proposed Poseidon Huntington Beach desalination plant, and why?

KF: DID NOT ANSWER. 😟  [I remember her opposing it in the past, and I would guess she still does for both environmental and fiscal reasons.  But it’s depressing that politicians running for office are afraid to take a stand on this perpetual hot potato, thanks largely to the construction unions that support it.]

JM:  Southern California is dependent on water.  The Delta Tunnels are still under consideration and their status will continue to be protracted.  There may come a day when a redundant or alternate source of water will become necessary.  Consequently, I am not opposed to the proposed Poseidon desalination plant.  [Bad answer.  I can’t believe that such a celebrated bean counter does not see through this awful unnecessary boondoggle.]

Mr. Moorlach – what makes you a better candidate than the other Republicans – Muldoon & Vo?

JM: Experience, background, knowledge, accomplishments, team leadership and purpose.

BONUS: Katrina answers questions we didn’t ask!

(That’s okay, they’re good questions.)

How would you work to combat climate change and protect the environment here in beautiful Orange County?

By creating a Climate Action Plan for a Sustainable Future in Orange County. Here in Orange County, we must take meaningful action to ensure a healthy, sustainable environment that increases middle class jobs for future generations.

My experience as Mayor of Costa Mesa, where we prioritized and implemented sustainable and toxic free community programs, will help us create a Climate Action Plan for Orange County, including investing more in clean, green, and renewable energy, such as wind and solar and updating our county’s infrastructure to expand access to electric vehicle charging stations and expansion of our public transit systems. I’m already partnering with Congress and the airline industry to promote cleaner, quieter air travel which we must continue to prioritize.

I am committed to ensuring that Orange County will continue to be a leader in environmental protection.

How can the county initiate more accountability & transparency of the County’s $7.5 Billion Budget?

I will sunshine the more than $7.5 billion county budget the Board of Supervisors oversees for better transparency, accountability, and effective management of our tax dollars. My team will engage and seek input from people in the community while educating residents on the services, funds, and resources the Board of Supervisors is responsible for overseeing. We will host community budget workshops with constituents to gather input and help hone priorities. I’m not afraid of dissenting ideas. I’m known to bring together unlikely coalitions to solve community problems. That’s how we protected our budget during the pandemic, saved the OC Fairgrounds, built support for a homeless shelter with Newport Beach, and stopped abusive sober living home operators from taking advantage of patients and taking over neighborhoods. I will solicit input from differing perspectives to achieve outcomes that benefit more people.

Over these last few months we’ve learned of secret contracts for millions of dollars with no public bidding. This can’t continue. I strongly believe in transparency and accountability. An interactive budget tracking system for “budget to actual expenses” is the modern, transparent approach for local government. We can do better and we must.

How would you support local businesses and their economic recovery?

As a small business owner myself, I know what it’s like to make a payroll and rent. I understand the struggles our local businesses face and I will support businesses so they can create and retain jobs. As Mayor, I fought for and secured emergency assistance and grants for local small businesses struggling to keep their doors open during the COVID-19 pandemic. We developed creative ways for businesses to operate safely, including South Coast Plaza. As a result, Costa Mesa is one of the few cities with a budget surplus and retention of more than $50 million in reserves during the pandemic.

As Supervisor, I will continue to advocate for an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top, and support small businesses through the initiation of additional grants and temporary licensing or fee waivers.

As moderator, I don’t endorse.

Now get out there and VOTE, Supe District 2!

(And at least be glad you’re rid of Michelle Steel!)


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 vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.