Thursday last, OC Supervisor John Moorlach went a little ballistic on his email update re. the recent OC Grand Jury recommendation for the establishment of an Ethics Commission (outside paywall here). Said he:
…I believe that the most recent Grand Jury’s report is irresponsible. Trotting out well documented historical events in hopes that it will strengthen an otherwise weak assessment of the current ethical environment of County government is intellectually lazy. Moreover, this Grand Jury seems hell bent on continuing their own historical trend of using sensationalist titles in order to overcompensate for the lack of in-depth, nuanced research. This report tells the nation something that may be a gross exaggeration when compared to other similar municipalities; alas, no real benchmarking is included to afford such a comparison. This is not a positive public service that attempts to address
documented problems. One would hope that the Grand Jury was the “Ethics Panel.” Talk about standing something on its head. And I would suspect that more reports of this nature are forthcoming before this Grand Jury’s term ends on June 30th. You can see the trend. Yes, my weariness and profound disappointment with the Grand Jury increases with each passing year, and this year’s group continues to lower the bar. I love my County. I love my family. And, every county and family has its blemishes. Wise members of a family are very careful and judicious when airing dirty laundry in order to address the issues and avoid a breakdown in the relationships. Trying to encourage constructive behavioral changes should not be done with a sledge hammer, especially when the “findings” and recommended solutions are so superficially examined and presented. Slinging tenuous accusations in a blanket fashion is, dare I say it, unethical behavior on the part of the Grand Jury. Consequently, I’m defensive on behalf of the members of my County family, especially when I perceive the reports as attacks versus sage guides that promote professional and tested strategies toward achievable improvements.
Yesterday, a day after the Supervisor’s email, the latest ethics insult got aired to weary Orange County citizens and voters by the always reliable R. Scott Moxley at the OC Weekly: Ex-Orange County Sheriff Lt. Bill Hunt Wins Retaliation Lawsuit. Nearly $2 million is now owed to the former Deputy Sheriff and San Clemente Police Chief (SC is an OCSD contract city) per the unprofessionally vicious and illegal treatment he received from now incarcerated formed Sheriff Mike Carona. This follows on the six-figure settlement given to Carona crony George Jaramillo last year (he is appealing for even more).
This week, Alisa Drakodaidis, Deputy CEO under former, now resigned with a huge payout, CEO Tom Mauk was finally fired for her action or inaction in the salacious (one dozen felony sex crimes per this VoOC/KOCE video) sexual harassment case of OC Public Works Executive and former Santa Ana Councilmember Carlos Bustamante. The city of Santa Ana’s Deputy CEO is also recently under investigation. After Bustamante gets jailed, then it will be up to the County to settle with his victims for six- or seven-figures more.
And who of us who follow and care about how our tax money and local reputation is squandered can forget the adventures of finally ousted John Williams, our former County Public Administrator and Public Guardian?
We believe there are two other issues in resolving, or at least lessening political corruption in the OC —
as many have complained for years, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has been less than aggressive in pursuing them for the sake of his fellow electeds, and the OC Register has been less than aggressive in reporting them. If we’d asked the District Attorney about Irvine’s corrupt former Mayor and Great Park Chairman Larry Agran, we believe he’d be puzzled why we were curious about the President of the Garden Club.
We recall, back to the bankruptcy about 20 years ago, that the LA Times was running circles around the Register when it came to simply reporting on Treasurer Bob Citron’s demise and our national reputation. Today the print and online Register has yet to publish their story on Hunt the settlement. It also shouldn’t escape readers that developing the only partial inventory of malfeasance above was done with links from only the union-funded Voice of OC and the OC Weekly. We generally look at the Register’s website for material on local corruption only after using Google to specifically search the other two.
VoOC Editor Norberto Santana discusses the “culture of corruption” again via KOCE here, including brief interviews with Supervisors Bates, Nelson and Spitzer who is predictable and correct in his opinion of the DA he’ll be running to replace in 2014. However, the bottom line per Santana is the BOS will not be acting to develop an ethics ordinance, and establishment of an Ethics Commission is unlikely. Four of the five Supervisors, however, are running for other positions next year or are termed out and it would be a good piece of platform for folks like Michelle Steel to adopt.
The Board of Supervisors, highest on the political org chart for looking after our interests and tax money in Orange County, has been feckless at discovering, dealing with and rooting out corruption. For a change the Grand Jury has the right idea. We need this Ethics Commission. They couldn’t be any less effective than the BOS, the DA and the mainstream press.