Saturday, May 21, 2011

Will Merging Water Districts Help or Harm Fullerton?

Earlier this month Terri Sforza wrote about a possible merger between Municipal Water District of OC and the Orange County Water District.  For years the Orange County Register has pointed out the redundant and ridiculous overlaps in these two agencies and how it makes sense for taxpayers, or rate payers depending on your view of payments to government bureaucracies.

How much money would be saved by such a merger seems to be open to debate but Sforza thinks at least $1-million right from the start.  Putting the $1-million in perspective, Sforza notes that it is just a drop in the $300-million revenue bucket for the agencies.

Currently, the Orange County Water District is a "member agency" of the MWDOC.  These multiple layers of bureaucracy removes the people, water users and voters, further from the decision-making table.  Perhaps a merger will bring Fullerton voters and water users closer to the table of managements' fiduciary responsibility to the people they serve.

As it stands, Fullerton voters get one single vote from Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead who represents Fullerton voters on the OCWD Board of Directors.  That is one vote out of ten cast on each issue before the Board. 

No one knows what a merger will mean for Fullerton.  All we can do is wonder if a bigger water agency equates to a better water agency for those who foot the bill.  If history has taught us anything it is that bigger government is not better government.

REMINDER:  The Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee's last meeting is Monday night at 6:30PM at Fullerton City Hall.  Don't be shy, we're in this together.  Speak now or pay later!

If you would like a copy of the briefing provided to the Ad Hoc Committee, please email me at GregSebourn@yahoo.com.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Water District's $571,400 Ethics Office

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is spending $571,400 to fund their internal Ethics Office according to the approved 2011 budget

According to the District's website, the Ethics Office "helps maintain an ethical culture at Metropolitan by enforcement of ethics-related rules and laws; education for directors, officers and employees; and enhancement by promotion of the District's six core values."  Are MWD employees so unethical that they need this office?  Maybe, but they don't seem to be doing a very good job of educating employees and board members.  I vaguely recall an attempt 2 years ago to get a 25% retroactive pension spike.

The six core values mentioned by MWD are integrity, diversity, stewardship, leadership, open communication, and teamwork.  Too bad personal and professional responsibility wasn't included.

$571,400 to "help maintain an ethical culture". 

The funds pay for one Ph.D. and two others identified as an educator and an administrative liaison.  With failed overhead like this, it is no wonder the MWD Operations & Maintenance budget projects an 18.4% increase in salary and benefit costs as well as a 23% increase in construction related costs and a 23% increase in Water System Operations! 

It's also no wonder why Fullerton's water rates are anticipated to nearly double. 

This Monday, May 23rd, the City will be holding a public meeting with an ad-hoc water rate committee in the City Council chambers at City Hall (303 W. Commonwealth) at 6:30PM.  I encourage ALL Fullerton water users to attend.  You will be given an opportunity to voice your concerns and let committee members know where you stand. 

If you would like a copy of the Fullerton Water Rate Study Ad Hoc Committee Briefing, please email me at GregSebourn@yahoo.com and I will email it to you.

Speak now or pay later!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

George Washington's Mount Vernon


Court: OC District Attorney's Office deliberately withheld key evidence

Court considers censuring D.A. in 'enemies' list case
By SCOTT MARTINDALE
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

A state appeals court is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether the Orange County District Attorney's Office should be censured for what the court says appears to be prosecutorial misconduct in a case involving indicted ex-Capistrano Unified administrator Susan McGill and her purported role in the creation of political "enemies" lists of district parents.

The 4th Appellate District Court, which is considering dismissing McGill's lone criminal charge of lying to a grand jury under oath, said in a tentative ruling earlier this month that prosecutors appear to have deliberately withheld key evidence that could exonerate McGill.

Read the entire article HERE.

Monday, May 16, 2011

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Unionized Public Education and Thomas Jefferson's Vision

Education is a double-edged sword.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his 1778 “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge” speaking of education and governance “…that even under the best of forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny;”

Jefferson goes on to write “…and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of the other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes; And whereas it is generally true that laws will be wisely formed, and honestly administered, in proportion as those who form and administer them are wise and honest…”

Jefferson wrote much about educating the public and even created the first institution of higher education, University of Virginia. 

I bring this up, not because I know about education or have studied Jefferson but because it seems to me that common sense should prevail when it comes to funding public education.

Jefferson believed that those “whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth, or other accidental condition or circumstance;”

In other words, if you have the natural talent, then by all means receive the formal education.

In Jefferson’s time, it was common for the eldest male to receive formal education while other siblings learned the trades.  It was all a home could afford.  Jefferson desired to right this problem by offering public education.  He believed it was a wise investment in the future of our nation. 

So, how does Jefferson’s strong desire for public education fit in with the recent budgetary failures of our public education system?  It would seem that, if public education were able to “illuminate” as Jefferson wrote, that we would not need to cut spending nor would we need to raise taxes.  In Jefferson’s Utopia, we would have a balanced budget that met the needs of our people through the consent of the people.  
Earlier this month teachers took to the streets of Fullerton to rally support for tax extensions.  Some believe that these tax extensions could save many schools from laying off teachers. 

Others, me included, believe that an extension of the temporary taxes currently due to expire in June only rewards poor governance and failed leadership.

Based on the financial records released by the Fullerton School District (K-8) and the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (9-12) it appears that most teachers are earning at or above the median income level for Orange County residents.  This tells me that the teachers are paid fairly and equitably for the services rendered assuming of course that each performs equally with other teachers receiving the same pay.  That assumption, however, is false since teachers’ pay is based on seniority, certifications, and college credits received.  Their pay is not tied to student learning outcomes. 

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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