Friday, April 22, 2011

Does Government Work Require Government Employees?

I have to thank Fullerton's own Travis Kiger and Jack Dean for forwarding a link that answers this question (as if you didn't already know).  During last year's election I proposed a plan to improve police and fire services while cutting costs to taxpayers.  I suggested the City of Fullerton hire more reserve police officers and begin hiring reserve firefighters.  I caught flack from everyone and for various reasons. 

Some said the unions wouldn't allow it, as if the unions ran the City, and therefore shouldn't bother with it.  Others said it would result in poor service and create dangerous conditions.

That idea is has been implemented in Redlands California where it has proved to be a massive savings for tax payers while improving the actual services.

The story at Governing.com features Redlands PD describes what has happened after drastic cuts were made.  The following is a brief excerpt. 
At a time when most city and local governments are preparing to do less with less, officials in Redlands are taking a different approach: They’re attempting to maintain current levels of service through other means. Ramping up the use of volunteers is one of them.

It’s easy to see why. Three years ago, the police department in Redlands, a city of 71,000 people east of Los Angeles, had 98 sworn officers, 208 civilians and about two dozen volunteers. The police budget was $23.8 million, nearly half of the city’s operating budget. Today, the department employs 75 sworn officers and 138 civilians and relies on 291 active volunteers, who last year contributed more than 31,000 hours of their time to the city.

Later the article says, Pleas read the article and discover how Fullerton might incorporate some of the solutions Redlands has implemented.  As the article suggests, "Do-it-yourself government is here for good."
“We have fewer resources,” says City Manager N. Enrique Martinez. “We had to cut staff. My challenge is to maintain the same service level if not better. The public is not interested in whether you have 15 fewer people than before or not.”
Nor should they be. At least that’s the argument Police Chief Jim Bueermann makes. “The fallback position for most local government bureaucrats like me,” he says, “is that it’s so much easier to say, ‘We have $3 million less so you are going to get fewer services.’ But there are multiple ways to get to the outcomes that taxpayers expect their police department is going to deliver.” Prominent among them are a greater reliance on technology and a greater use of volunteers.

Controller Reaches Settlement with Insurer John Hancock

PR11:017
4/22/2011
Contact: Jacob Roper
916-445-2636



SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today announced a landmark settlement with insurer John Hancock, paving the way for reforms of wide-spread industry practices that have victimized the purchasers of life insurance policies and annuity contracts for decades. It is the first settlement resulting from an audit of 21 insurance companies that Controller Chiang began nearly three years ago.
“Too many Californians have been victimized by a company they entrusted with their retirement security and the care of their families,” Chiang said. “While John Hancock is the first to be held accountable, it will not be the last. I am prepared to pursue all actions necessary – including litigation – to bring the rest of the industry into compliance.”
The Controller initiated the audit investigation in July of 2008 to determine the insurance industry’s compliance with state unclaimed property laws. Administered by the Controller, the California unclaimed property program generally provides that businesses must send lost or abandoned financial accounts to the State after three years of inactivity in order to safeguard private property from being lost during mergers or bankruptcies, drawn down by service or storage fees, or simply used by private interests.
The audit revealed an industry-wide practice of companies failing to pay death benefits to the beneficiaries of life insurance policies. Instead, companies would draw-down the policies’ cash reserves in order to continue collecting premium payments from the deceased. Once the cash reserves were depleted, the company would cancel the policy. The audits also found that insurers did not routinely cross-check the owners of dormant accounts with government databases listing the deceased. In other cases, the company had direct knowledge of the death of a policy owner, but still did not notify the beneficiaries.
For example, a policy was issued by John Hancock on February 16, 1963, to an individual who subsequently died on April 20, 1999. For the seven years following his death, the company continued to collect premium payments by depleting the policy’s cash reserves until it was finally canceled on January 1, 2009. The policy’s file does not contain any indication of when the last contact with the insured occurred, or that any efforts were made to locate the insurance owner prior to the policy lapsing. More than 11 years after the insured’s death, John Hancock still has not paid the beneficiaries or sent to the State Controller’s Office for safekeeping any benefits due under the policy. The company has written off all liability under the policy.
The Controller’s investigation also exposed similar abuses with the administration of annuity contracts. For example, John Hancock issued a contract on June 7, 1991, to an individual who subsequently died on May 1, 1995. The company’s own files contain notes revealing that the annuitant owner’s mother called the company in August 2002 reporting that her son had died. Additional notations in the file dated June 15, 2005, and October 13, 2005, state that the annuitant had died. Despite these acknowledgments, the file indicates the company continued to send mail to him in 2005, 2006, and 2007 – all of which was returned as undeliverable. Another notation was made to the file on July 14, 2009, acknowledging the owner was deceased, and that the company, for the first time, had attempted to contact a relative. According to the file, on October 26, 2009 – more than 14 years after the annuitant’s death – John Hancock paid the death benefit to the annuitant’s estate.
Today’s ground-breaking settlement requires John Hancock, a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation, to do the following

• Restore the full value of more than 6,400 impacted accounts dating back to 1992;
• Create and adhere to methods for better identifying deceased policy holders and notifying their beneficiaries;
• Fully comply with California’s unclaimed property laws and cooperate with the Controller’s efforts to reunite more than $20 million of death benefits and matured annuities with their owners or, in many cases, the owners’ heirs;
• Pay the State of California three percent compounded interest on the value of the held amounts from 1995, or from the date of the owner’s death, whichever is later.


“These policies were purchased to give the owners and their families peace of mind,” said Chiang. “I will move to quickly return those benefits to their rightful owners.”


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Water Rates - Is the grass greener in South County?

Tonight the Moulton Niguel Water District which serves Laguna Niguel will take up water rates. 

The OC Register is reporting that much of the outrage and confusion over the new increase is "as result of a previously approved 16.2 percent water rate increase that becomes effective June 1 – just one month before the billing structure would take effect."

Fullerton is facing a similar challenge.  Our water rates create a moving target for infrastructure planners.  As rates increase and usage declines, our ability to maintain the water system declines. With everyone cutting back and being a little wiser about water usage, revenues to support the water distribution system are being underfunded.  As MWD Director and former candidate for the state assembly said, “...the whole world of water is ballet.”

It doesn't have to be that way. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Upcoming Council Meeting

April 19 the Fullerton City Council will vote on a settlement between Pacific Coast Home and the City over last year’s council vote to not approve the West Coyote Hills development.  This item is sure to bring out supporters and opponents of the development.  Go to OpenCoyoteHills.com to see a few of the supporters.

The Council will also vote on the formation of a Citizens’ Committee for review of the 2011 Comprehensive Water Rate Study Report.  With Proposition 218 (1996) on the books, the City Council and staff will need to pull out all of the stops in order to get any support from voters for raising water rates during the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

Also on the agenda is a City-wide clean up effort proposed by the Public Works Department.  The plan is to remove graffiti, replace damaged traffic signs, and improve landscaping throughout Fullerton- also known as urban blight.  The funding will come from several sources.  NONE of the funding will come from the Redevelopment Agency which is responsible for removing urban blight in all of the Redevelopment Areas. 

Based on the maps of the Redevelopment Areas, it would appear that the Redevelopment agency should be contributing substantially to the maintenance costs in their respective areas.  Why aren’t they?

Only a few short weeks ago the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency couldn’t get rid of their cash and assets quick enough.  It’s time for the City Council members to take responsibility for the City they serve and use Redevelopment Agency funds to remove blighted conditions. 

There are other issues on Tuesday's agenda, some important and some not.  I hope you can come out and speak up on the issues, whatever your position may be.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Turmoil Within the Orange County Republican Party


OCGOP "Freedom" does not appear
to extend to all of its members.

Hasn't the OCGOP learned anything?

Tonight is the April Central Committee meeting and it is sure to be a boisterous and contentious evening. 

Deviating from his usual modus operandi, OC Chairman Scott Baugh stepped in front of the camera over the weekend to call for the ousting of Fullerton resident and Committee member Marilyn Davenport for an email which he says "drips of racism." 

Instead of tackling the issue in-house Baugh was seen on several local TV stations with the standard politically correct rhetoric not normally found in the OC Republican Party's higher ranks.

Davenport's email which started the latest OCGOP turmoil shows a picture of President Obama superimposed on a chimpanzee in what some believe to be a racist image.  Keeping it in perspective, Davenport thought the image was amusing given the caption, "Now you know why no birth certificate."  She also believes there is a double standard within the media and certain political circles which supports political cartoons as free speech so long as it doesn't include Obama.  Davenport believes the email sent to a small circle of "friends" has been blown out of proportion by a GOP insider.  After all, not every depiction of a monkey implies racism.  President Bush was the figure superimposed on the face of a monkey just a little more than two years ago.

Davenport may not be alone in her lack of racial cognition. In an online poll on KFIAM640.com, 58% said the image sent by Davenport was not racist while 75% felt a similar image of Bush was not racist. 

Several sources close to the story have told me the email was "leaked" to the OC Weakly through the Schroeder/Fleischman camp as reprisal for the continued spat between Assemblyman Chris Norby and former State Senator Dick Ackerman. 

Historically, certain OCGOP elements have tried in vein to control the 72nd Assembly District.  I have heard that Jon Fleischman was behind the Mike Duvall outing (not that Duvall's actions were acceptable).  Later, Norby and Linda Ackerman duked it out for control of Duvall's 72nd Assembly seat.  Now this.

Anyone that has been forced to sit through "sensitivity training" knows that the image in the email could and likely would be considered racist.  My guess is that Davenport has never had to sit through sensitivity training and simply didn't recognize the racist overtones of depicting an African-American man, although as Davenport notes he's half Caucasian, as an ape. 

Now with Baugh choosing to play this out in the media it is reasonable to assume that the 72nd AD divide with the rank and file OCGOP will continue to grow. For the past few years the 72nd AD has grown to be much more free-thinking than some OCGOP insiders would like.  Further agitating certain factions, the Executive Committee of the OCGOP has two women from the 72nd AD as well as Mrs. Deborah Pauly from the 60th AD.  Odd how those targeted lately were Caucasian women in a position of power within the OCGOP... It's only a matter of time before more North Orange County conservatives come under fire for standing up to the "Repuglicans".

Sometime between Saturday and Sunday Baugh was notified that the Central Committee's by-laws did not authorize him to remove an unruly or politically-incorrect elected member.  As of late Sunday evening Baugh was on TV admitting he had no authority to remove an elected official but he hoped to put pressure on her to resign. 

Davenport has refused to resign.

Tonight, the Central Committee will meet and, assuming the by-laws allow for a last minute change to the agenda, take up the matter for discussion. 

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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