Posts Tagged Lobbyists
Last week a judge stepped in to slow down the sale of the OC Fairgounds to a private developer as reported by the Voice of OC(EA). Seems hizzoner wants some time to look into all the allegations of hanky-panky that have been swirling around for the past year.
More allegations of monkey business at the fair that creates a pattern of obfuscation, disingenuousness, and misfeasance that goes back well over a year.
But wait, hasn’t Tony Rackaukas already blessed the doings with his benediction? Yep, but despite our do-nothing DA’s whitewash of the entire 2009 Summer of Fair Love, lots of people have lingering questions about the role of some of OCs leading repuglicans in this whole mess.
Those doubts are fueled by a guy named David Padilla, a Fair trustee who apparently didn’t go along with his colleagues who were busted trying to create their own entity to acquire the property. As reported in the Daily Pilot, here, and the Voice, here, Padilla, who was recently removed from the Board by outgoing Governor Schwarzenegger, still has lots of unanswered questions himself. And even a few assertions.
One of the most intriguing parts of the story was this:
Among the things the board does not know are details of the activities of the law firm of Nossaman LLP through former State Sen. Dick Ackerman as well as the activities of the county’s lobbyist, Platinum Advisors, which has close ties to county GOP Chairman Scott Baugh.
Padilla was the only board member to respond to public inquiries and records requests for information on the role of both individuals. Padilla said earlier this year that he was told Ackerman was only paid $19,000 for his work.
“I have recently determined, after months of inquiry, they were paid over $150,000 for services I have not been able to get answers for,” Padilla said. “It was my intention to continue to press for the details on both these issues.”
We know that the DA has found nothing untoward in Ackerman’s behavior, despite Ackerman’s own morphing tale, but $150,000 grand would pay for a helluva lot of schmoozing with the Guv, and it’s about time the public found out exactly what Dickie Boy was up to in Sacramento during those long hot summer days of 2009, including billings, invoices, and diaries.
The Grand Jury issued a report today calling for the registration of County lobbyists.
This report will be immediately attacked by the insiders who don’t want you to know who they’re wheedling, and for what. We’ll hear all about the horrors of bureaucracy (most likely from the Children and Families Commission teat-sucker) and freedom of speech and every other red-herring they can think up.
A registry is a good idea. Who’s it hurt? No big bureaucracy is necessary – just a page on the County’s website and a few minutes time a week updating the data. No fees need to be collected, no vast amount of paperwork needs to be generated.
Of course such a registry needs to include the lobbyists who work for the employee unions; people like Wayne Quint and Nick Berardino should have to account for their visits to the 3rd and 5th Floors, just like any other importuning lobbyist.
During the fall we had a lot of fun attacking the “Repuglicans,” local members of the Republican establishment who have made it their goal to milk a political system over which their party has control, and milk it for all it’s worth. The County of Orange is a Repuglican plantation, and we are all just pickin’ cotton for them.
Naturally we provided helpful definititons and illustrations of the breed, including such luminaries as Dick Ackerman, Scott Baugh, Tom Fuentes, and of course, Anaheims’s own, Kurt Pringle. If there’s a nickel on the table these fellas will go for it, and go for it hard.
The arrogance and hypocrisy of “small gummint” ‘pugs – of all shapes and sizes – making a living off of big government (and the bigger the size o’ government the better the living) is something rarely discussed at GOP Central Committee meetings, out of which the ‘pugs operate their rackets.
One name we haven’t spent a lot of time on (although we did last spring) is former State Senator John Lewis. Mr. Lewis is a campaign consultant. He is also a lobbyist at the County Hall of Administration. Gee, that’s very convenient. Get ’em elected, then lobby ’em for your clients. What an operation!
Lewis is currently in the process of losing one of his bonus boys on the County Board of Supervisors. 4th District Supervisor Chris Norby is moving on after seven fruitful years; and a couple years after that his other boy Bill Campbell will be gone too.
So Lewis needs a new boy, a tool, a yes vote on the Board and a friend behind the 3rd Floor scenes, ASAP. And Democrat Tom Daly is his new object of affection in what can be described as a symbiotic love affair. Just goes to show how shallow and useless are the “conservative” principles spouted by ‘pugs like Lewis and his altar boy Matthew J. Cunningham, who has wasted so much of our time with his many dodges and pirouettes around the basic fact.
(Interestingly Cunningham was making his usual avoid-the-subject-change-the-topic comments here on some issue or other, until one commenter suggested that perhaps his own wife had been offered a job in a future Daly administration. We’re looking into that one!)
For the Repuglicans there is no principle that can’t be bent way out of shape in the pursuit of business or political success – just look at Ackerman’s budget deals, or Ed Royce’s continued support of worthless RINO candidates on the Fullerton City Council. And now Lewis supports Daly “out of loyalty,” we are supposed to believe. Heya, John howzabout some loyalty to the the principles your party is supposed to stand for? Oh. Yeah. That’s right. Sorry.
Well, we can’t fix the world. We can’t even fix Orange County. But we can, and will spend a lot of time talking about John Lewis and Tom Daly in the next five months, or until Daly pulls the plug on his own campaign.
Certain Fullerton school board members have taken issue with our characterization of the CalSTRS teachers’ pension system as being underfunded and unsustainable. Our resident pension expert suggests that that the board may be reading a few too many rose-colored newsletters emanating from the retirement system itself. Perhaps some illumination is necessary.
Before the market crash, CalSTRS was facing a $22.5 billion dollar shortfall. Since then, the market crash has killed about 30% of its assets. At this point, nobody knows how short the fund will be until it is recalculated in the spring. But the results are guaranteed to be frightening.
It’s true that CalPERS is getting all of the attention lately, but that’s only because CalSTRS doesn’t have the same power to levy rate hikes without legislative approval. Rest assured, the teachers’ union has already begun its lobbying effort to boost taxpayer contributions for teachers who retired long ago.
Some estimate that the fund will need to increase contributions by 75% next year. Pension apologists love to claim that “teachers pay for their own retirement”. The truth: payments to the teachers’ pension fund are primarily made by taxpayers, with only about 40% coming from teachers.
Further efforts by CalSTRS to distance itself from the problems at CalPERS were hindered again this week as Moodys cut debt ratings for both agencies.
After the bomb goes off next year, the smoke will clear and taxpayers will be reaching into their wallets to clean up another mess. Who is to blame? State legislatures past and present, ignorant school boards across the state, the all-powerful teachers unions and their deceptive actuarials.
For regular updates on the pension crisis and its affect around the nation, visit Fullerton’s very own PensionTsunami.com. School board members should subscribe to email updates, lest they remain uninformed as the tidal wave approaches.
We hear that Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle is raising money for Harry Sidhu’s putative bid for the 4th Supervisorial seat next year. Pringle deals with Sidhu on the Anaheim City Council, and Harry’s an okay guy, and at least he, like Pringle, is a Republican. But goddam it Pringle, Sidhu does not live in our district. He lives in the “Elegant Yorba Estate” that, unfortunately for him, is located in the 3rd District!
Let’s not forget that Pringle also endorsed the candidate with the phony residency in the 72nd AD election – Linda Ackerman, whose entire campaign was one fraudulence heaped on top of another. So what gives? Does basic honesty count for anything among our electeds?
Guys like Pringle and John Lewis are obviously into politics for what they can get out of it personally. Like Lewis, Pringle is a lobbyist, making his living off of all the contacts made during his days in the Legislature, and by making calls to people that he has helped. And that makes him just as big a government parasite as any government union worker.
A while back we did a post on the deafening silence in certain quarters about the shenanigans being perpetrated by members of the Orange County Fair Board in their effort to buy their own Fair: you know, sort of embarrassing things like meeting in secret, using public funds for their own gain, employing an illegal lobbyist.
At the situationally ethical Red County blog not only had nobody said a word about it, their #1 undertherugsweeper, Matthew J. Cunningham was doing weird posts on the motivations of sale opponents. Of course he took umbrage at our disrespectful behavior. More high-pitched, hysterical girly shrieks: Fringe! Fringe!
When Mrs. Cunningham goes into spin mode (we all know now what that means – divert attention, change the subject, etc.) there is usually a self-interested reason. In this case we suspected that he was simply running cover for his repuglican buddies on the Board who had previously hosted him for scrumpdiddlyumtious fair chow and drinkies; and of course it wouldn’t do to talk about the activities of the Fair Foundation “consultant”- one Dick Ackerman. At least not without a script prepared.
Then someone sent us this fun factoid: the URL ocfairfoundation.org is owned by someone named Scott Graves, the same name as Matt J. Cunningham’s former blog publishing boss at – Red County. Hmm. Same guy? Is Cunningham’s old boss designing the website for the “Foundation?” That would figure.
Suddenly we have to wonder just how many of Orange County’s Repuglicans have their fingers stuck into the Fair Pie, and when, if ever, the centro-sphere motormouths will ever even mention it.
We’ve been tracking the Sell the Fair (To Us) Movement recently and noted that Dick Ackerman had already admitted to being hired by an insider Board cabal whose intent was to get the State to sell the Fair – to themselves.
A couple days ago word leaked out that the County had gotten into the act, possibly to forestall the sale of the Fair, and to own it themselves.
Attached is a copy of letter sent by the County’s top lawyer, Nick Chrisos, to the local Attorney General representative. You’ll notice that Chrisos spends no time fingering the Board and it’s lobbyist, Dick Ackerman. Chrisos wants the AGs office to open an investigation. Why? Because by the time the Board got around to hiring Ackerman’s law firm on July 29th 2009, to help pull and persuade the RFP, they had already hired them to create their non-profit “Foundation,” with the intent of buying the fair themselves. Apart from the evident open meeting and conflicts of interest, Chrisos wants to know about what public expenditures were made by the Fair Board to hire lawyers to work for the benefit of their own foundation.
POST UPDATE: Click here to download the Chrisos letter.
As they say: hilarity ensued. We’ve been told that the AG tossed the issue into the lap of the OC District Attorney. Why? Because the State AG represents the Fair Board! DA Tony Rackaukas has been signally dilatory in going after criminals who don’t have gang tatoos so we will have to wait to see what, if anything happens.
In the meantime, here are the Fair Board minutes of the meeting in question:
Check out the language of the motion: go hire “consultants” (Ackerman) to carry out the intent of the Governor and Legislation. What noble public servants! Let’s not fight it. Let’s work with the State!
But let’s not forget the troublesome little problem that Dick Ackerman himself has admitted: being involved with developing the enabling language in the budget bill in the first place. Whose idea was that? And who paid him for that? Hmm.
It’s very difficult to conceive of a scenario in which Ackerman is not involved in this little cabal right up to his eyeballs. Did he lobby the legislature first, and then the Governor’s office regarding the specifics of the RFP? If he did he broke the law since he hadn’t been out of the Legislature for a full year as State law requires. Ah, those pesky laws! Enforceable? Again that’s up to the DA to determine. We are not encouraged.
We have thoroughly and comprehensively debunked the campaign blather about Linda Ackerman being some sort of businesswoman. She’s not, of course. That’s just a lie, and almost as bad as her claim to be living in Fullerton. The sum and substance of her business experience seems to be calling up lobbyists to raise moolah for her husband Dick’s campaigns.
She doesn’t mention that in her resume, of course, because that wouldn’t look too good. Intead she shares the fact that she is on the board of a collection agency. And her campaign propaganda never fails to mention that she sits on the board of the Metropolitan Water District, an appointment no doubt orchestrated by her husband.
But let us reflect upon the MWD, a giant government entity that acts like a public utility but that in reality is an association of governments. We have already shared how Loophole Linda voted for a massive water rate hike last spring (oh no, not a tax, heaven forfend!). A recent editorial by the San Diego Union Tribune raises questions about the complete lack of leadership at the MWD – leadership the Ackerwoman is pitching as hard as she can. The SDUT notes that during the run -up to the now abandoned pension spike the MWD authorized a $100,000 contract with an operation called Marathon Communications to push the contract through; and a $300,000 contract with Agreement Dynamics to craft an agreement that would fly.
Think of it: $400,000 spent on consultants to create a deal and PR-ram it through. All at the expense of everybody at the end of the shower nozzle. And all wasted. Who agreed to all this? Good question. If the Board didn’t, then why didn’t they? If they did…
Friends, check out the Linda Ackerwoman campaign expense report at the California Secretary of State’s website.
We noticed this odd line item.
|10/19/2009||ACKERMAN, DICK||OFFICE EXPENSES||$654.40|
Ackerwoman’s campaign forked over $654 bucks to her husband under the crypric description of “office expenses.”
Could Dick actually be charging his wife’s campaign for some sort of services rendered? Well, why not? She made a killing as a “consultant” on his campaigns, and what the Hell, turnabout is fair play, right? Too bad the campaign won’t turn a profit.
We do have to wonder what kind of total Dick will rack up by the time Ackerman, Inc. is done squeezing every drop out of lobbyists.
It was a fun party with an open bar. And then Dave Lopez showed up…
We missed an Ackerwoman press release about a week and a half ago (sorry but we really hate going to that site). It touted Fullerton “educational leaders” who have endorsed Linda Ackerman: Hilda Sugarman, Ellen Ballard, Minard Duncan, and Lynn Thornley – a who’s who of Fullerton RINOs and liberal educrat types. It’s really hard to find any term other than “followers” to describe this little band, but such are the extravagances of campaign rhetoric.
Our old pal Minard was even assigned his own hilarious quotation: “I first got to know Linda when she was a member of the PTA at Rolling Hills School in Fullerton. She has been a vital member of our community for over 30 years…” A member of the PTA? Well whoop-de-doo! Is that Duncan’s threshold for being qualified to serve in the Sate Assembly? Guess so. And of course trust Minard to use the wrong (present) tense. She hasn’t lived in our community for over 30 years. She spent the last ten living in another community!
Well, we know Ackerwoman’s residency is a lie, even if Minard won’t talk about it: she lives in Irvine and rents an address in Fullerton. She also advertises herself in this press release as “an independent businesswoman” and we now know that that’s a falsehood on two counts. We have also discovered her fake charity that diverts lobbyists contributions towards Hawaiian vacations for her and her pals in the legislature, although such flagrant fraudulence seems not to have made much of an impression on Duncan and his pals on the FSD board.
It’s sort of depressing to see these folks turning a blind eye to prevarication and misrepresentation. Makes you wonder a bit about what kind of values are being passed along via the FSD.