A Tale of Two Toms

Anybody can juggle one orange.

It’s not easy to look like you’re taking responsibility for some screw up or other when in reality you’re trying to spin as fast as you can to avoid accountability. But that’s exactly what seasoned bureaucrats do, and that’s precisely what County CEO Tom Mauk is up to now. It’s same old song: mistakes were made (passive voice, no subject of sentence), but corrective action is being implemented.

I have gotten hold of Mauk’s report to the Board of Supervisors about the massive fiasco in the County’s acquisition of the money pit at 433 West Civic Center – at the behest of the other Tom, County Clerk Tom Daly.

View the full memo

It would seem that the Board was never given crucial information about the true costs of remodel and remodel/expansion of the building. This data is shown in Attachment A to Mauk’s report, and is damning. Mauk doesn’t really even say he’s sorry for not passing critical cost information to the Board. The projected amounts developed by the County RDMD  were significant – in the millions – and congruent with the ultimate figures presented by Kishimoto Architects, hired by Daly after the sale went through.

What information the Board was given was rosy: work on the building would be relatively minor, that the building was “reasonably maintained,” and that renovation would be done by Daly.

Wrong on all counts.

But everything is still okay, see, because the County has been using the lot for parking and has saved a whopping $26,000 a year. Mauk wraps up his report with this whopper:

“In the meantime, it does appear that having the property in our inventory is a positive outcome.”

Well only in government bureaucracies is wasting  $2,100,000 on a near worthless property considered a positive outcome. I can only hope some Supervisor who really wants to supervise something will ask Mauk to quantify that statement. Mr. Moorlach?

Mauk may choose to do the Texas two-step around the truth, but I won’t. Check out the list of people CC’d at the bottom of that RDMD memo. The County Clerk was well aware of the millions needed to make that building functional and yet disclosed none of it to the Board; neither did the RDMD staff who created it. How come this happened? Mauk doesn’t bother to inform his readers. Hopefully the Board will be curious.


Was Daly hoping his $60,000 investment in Townsend and Associates was going to pay off with a big State grant that would cover the true costs to relocate the archives? If so that idea sure bombed big time.

What is inescapable is the conclusion that both the Clerk’s Department and the RDMD deliberately withheld the true financial implications of this acquisition in order to get the Board to go along with it. Is there another explanation? It would also appear that Mr. Mauk would now like the whole thing whitewashed.

So that’s the story. Now, who’s going to do something about it?


While several county departments have to endure furloughs and layoffs, “Manager of the Year” Tom Daly seems to be on a mission to continue to waste public money the taxpayers be damned. We recently learned that a remodeling project for a “marriage ceremony and passport application acceptance room” is near completion. The cost to tax-payers: $73,000 plus change. For a remodel. Of a room. I’m pretty sure we won’t hear a peep from OCEA and it’s head thug, Nick “Bullhorn” Beradino. I’m still hoping Nick misplaced the bullhorn in some nook or cranny and is frantically looking for it..

I would like to invite OCEA members and the general public to come and see for themselves how this wastrel continues to shove his crazy spending down the taxpayers’ collective throat. From the looks of it, no expense was spared. But you be the judge.

The location is: Old Orange County Courthouse, 2nd floor
211 West Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92701

And while you are at it, drive by the $2.1 million money pit Tom bought 2-years ago for his Sports Hall of Shame, at:

433 Civic Center Drive
Santa Ana, CA 92701

After you soil yourselves in anger, call Tom Daly at (714) 834-2248 and let him know how you feel about this wasteful spending.

I am providing the address because I want to make sure that the OCEA and Nick Berardino don’t get lost on their way to protest this wasteful spending just like they did the Board of Supervisor’s remodel last year.

Nick, if you need to borrow a bullhorn let me know. OCEA needs to tell Tom that this has to stop. The voters need to send Tommy boy a strong message this June. Vote career politician and free-spending Tom Daly out of office!!

By the way, it would interesting to know what the Board of Supervisors know about this latest misadventure. Wanna call up and ask?


Last week Nick Berardino and his goons at OCEA sent out mailers alleging that 4th District Supervisor candidate Shawn Nelson voted in his own business interest to and that he did something for the campaign contributor who owned the Fox Theatre in Fullerton. All nonsense, of course.

These were really lame pieces and probably got Nelson a lot more votes than they cost him. But this effort was quite revealing in that it demonstrates the utter hypocrisy and self-interest of “Bullhorn” Bernardino and his crew.

What? I can't hear you, Bullhorn.

While this guy is making up stories about Nelson, he has turned a blind eye to a real government miscreant, County Clerk, Tom Daly whom we have busted giving jobs and no-bid contracts to friends and relatives of contributors, as well as pitching over two million bucks into the worthless property at 433 West Civic Center Drive. Oh yeah, and then there was that $48,000 contract given to another campaign contributor to “study” a sports hall of fame.

The OCEA has watered Tom Daly campaigns with more than $4000 over the years, no doubt hoping the investment would some day flower into something that looked like a county supervisor. Instead it helped create an incompetent little emperor that has no accountability, no oversight, and whose fiefdom is rife with cronyism and kickbackery and wasted millions.

I guess he's talking about me.

I would love to believe that Berardino meant to put Tom Daly’s name on those mailers because I would love to believe that Berardino was venting his righteous anger at the wrong candidate.  Yeah, right! The County’s public employee unions are going after Nelson because they are terrified of a real Board majority that will institute permanent and meaningful pension reform and conduct responsible contract negotiations.

But who knows? Someday maybe the OCEA will stand up to real corruption – even on the part of a Democrat. If they ever do they know where to come to get all the info they need. But I’m not holding my breath.

The Killer Attack of The Black Magic Marker

View the full invoice

A while back I became curious as to what exactly Renee Ramirez did as County Clerk Tom Daly’s #2. I had heard lots of unflattering things about her not really doing any work and I thought would avail myself of the Public Records Request process to take a gander at some of her records, including phone calls made and text messages. We provide a typical sample of her phone records, above.

We were warned ahead of time by the County that personal phone numbers would be redacted. But never did I expect what I got: page after page after page of blacked out phone numbers.

Good God! These people want us to think Ramirez made hardly any business calls during the course of a month? During one period of several days all the numbers are blacked out. And who were these people she was talking to? That must remain speculative for unless Renee tells us we shall never know.

So what gives? Are they trying to hide something?

The Clerk-Recorder brain trust.

P.S. As a point of interest I note that for a brief shining period Ms Ramirez was Tom Daly’s hand-picked successor. Guess who was squiring her around the OC GOP Central Committee, making introductions: our old pal Brett “Hall of Fame” Barbre. Coincidence? I think not.


Hey, everyone is good at something!

It looks like we can add another skill to Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly’s public money squandering resume.  As previously reported here, not only does Daly excel at wasting public money and doling out jobs to his contributor’s relatives, it appears that he also hands out no-bid contracts to campaign contributors as well. It turns out that the contracts are more of what we’re used to: highly questionable and unaudited relationships, and of course, ultimate failure.

Get a load of this one.

Between 2002 and 2007, Christopher Townsend, who is the president of Townsend Public Affairs, contributed a total of $2600 to Tom Daly’s campaigns. During this period, Townsend was awarded two $60,000 no-bid contracts for “consulting services.” Townsend was awarded these contracts without bidding because of their supposed know-how in obtaining grants from the California Cultural Historical Endowment. What for, you ask?

In late 2005/2006 the grant application was for $150,000 to go to “planning” the archives expansion in the old Courthouse building in Santa Ana. Apparently the contract and the grant application were approved solely on the authority of Daly himself – that’s right, no Board of Supervisor’s oversight.

The big problem was that the grant application was for a building over which the “Manager of the Year” Daly had no authority. Apparently it is controlled by the Harbors Parks and Beaches Department that lets the Clerk-Recorder use it for some of his functions. And seemingly they had no clue what Daly was up to.

Even though Daly got the grant he wanted, the County had to turn the money back in April, 2006 because of the inability of Daly to communicate what he was doing with the other County bureaucrats. The official excuse was “unanticipated space and stakeholder concerns.” Translated from Bureaucratese into English: Big Daly F-up.

Well, there’s $60,000 down the toilet.

Undaunted by failure, late in 2006 the indefatigable Daly was before the Board of Supervisors asking for another $60,000 no-bid contract with Townsend. The motive was the same, but by now Daly’s covetous eye likely rested on the wretched building at 433 West Civic Center, a $2.1 million liability that he would talk the Board into acquiring in 2007. We shared that mess with you, here. The second grant application ended up with a big goose egg, however the purchase of the money pit on Civic Center Drive proceeded headlong, full speed ahead.

A river of red ink runs through it...

Another $60,000 chunked into the water hazard.

Oh, dear me. Another Tom Daly fiasco; another example of incompetence and cronyism his pals in the media won’t touch; yet another mauve feather in the dismal repuglican headdress of Daly’s admirer, John Lewis (& Co.) who keeps insisting that the egregious Daly is some sort of “fiscal conservative.”

And good grief, we’ve only just scratched the surface. Be sure to stay tuned.

A Day Late And A Dollar Short

Methane isn't a greenhouse gas, is it?

Trying to keep up with the FFFF juggernaut isn’t easy, but Repuglican hackling Matthew J. Cunningham seems to want to give it a go.

Maybe he took umbrage at us last week for posting the fact that he tried to do a public records strip-search of Republican County Clerk candidate Hugh Nguyen. After all, Cunningham is still trying to pitch the concept  that he represents some sort of conservative ideals. Working as a flack for Democrat Tom Daly isn’t going to help sell that fable.

Today we learned that our old friend has made a request at the County to see our public document requests! It seems Cunningham has requested a County-wide search for any document requests made by our own fearless Travis Kiger. Well, turn about is fair play, of course, and we always play fair.

And because we’re so helpful, we’ll make it easy on him. We’ve requested Tom Daly’s and Rene Ramirez’ County issued blackberry and credit card records for the past couple of years. Why? After the discovery of the $48,000 sports hall of fame fiasco, the $1700 per month do-nothing retainer, and the $2.1 million building purchase disaster, we’ve been wondering what other fiscal misadventures have been swept under the County Clerk’s rug during Tom’s tenure.

Of course one has to wonder why The Jerb is so interested in finding out what we are looking for, and the curious wouldn’t have to waste a lot of time guessing. He’s obviously working for Tom Daly’s campaign, no doubt through the direction of his boss and political soul mate John Lewis. Still, a County-wide search?

Cunningham will do whatever I tell him. We're very tight.

Those guys seem to be terrified that more crooked skeletons will soon be a tumblin’ out of Tom Daly’s closet, and it looks like maybe it’s Cunningham’s job to run interference and perhaps preemptively wordsmith them away.

And it may also be that Cunningham just wants to see what we’re up to so he can find out if he has any other buddies under our scrutiny. Or maybe he just wants to learn what real, disinterested citizen bloggers do.

In any case we’re flattered to have somebody check out and even publicize what we’re doing. See, unlike Cunningham, we aren’t front men for crooks, influence peddlers, and perjurers. We’re just funny that way.

Why is “Red County” Editor Searching Records on Republican?

I'm trustworthy. Trust me.

That is a good question.

One of the fun things about public records searches is that you can also see who is doing searches. Now that’s good, clean fun!

We found out that Matthew J. Cunningham of the formerly Red County blog did a public records search on County Clerk candidate and Republican  Hugh Nguyen. He asked for Nguyen’s e-mails since the invention of the computer. Well, over two year’s worth, anyway.

Oops! That was going to be pretty expensive since the County would have to hire a contractor to collect the data and then it would have to be reviewed prior to release. The upshot was the County declined to satisfy the request. They did provide Nguyen’s 700 forms (statement of economic interest).

On the other hand a record search of available records turned up a brief and harmless discussion about Daly protegee Renee Ramirez’ very brief County Clerk campaign sent to Nguyen. Wow. Go to work and turn that into an issue, Matthew!

Now first, let’s dispense with the “why” part for the uninitiated. Cunningham claims to be a conservative Republican – he’s been chattering away just like one for years now.  And yet his mentor and string puller from way back is John Lewis, a campaign consultant and lobbyist who has been working for Democrat County Clerk Tom Daly behind the scenes since 2002. Daly recently quit the 4th District Supervisors race after a series of embarrassing revelations of waste and mismanagement in his office and has scuttled back to the County Clerk’s race so he can keep wasting money left and right as he protects our vital records.

Snooping on a fellow Republican, and one backed by a good share of the County Republican establishment in order to help a Democrat with an awful fiscal record? Bad boy. Bad, bad, boy!

When I'm done with my sports hall of fame project we'll get right to work on fixing 433 Civic Center West

Cunningham has already made it a point to parrot “untrustworthy” drivel about Nguyen he picked up at the local liberal blog and comically expanded upon; and hasn’t said a peep about any of Daly’s fiscal squanderings. How’s that for conservatism and accountability?

Matt and I are of like mind...

Now for the “how” of the great e-mail hunt. Presumably Cunningham could actually pony up the dough to do opp research on a Republican. Would he? That’s a lot of cash. If he does, it will look extremely suspicious and a reasonable person would have to question the source of the cash.

To wrap up, it’s pretty obvious that the Daly/Lewis/Cunningham team are worried about Nguyen. Daly has challenged Nguyen’s ballot title and a surrogate has actually challenged Nguyen’s use of his first name. Still it’s a County-wide race and Daly has plenty of name ID over the relatively unknown Nguyen.

But maybe they’re right to be worried. Are there more Daly skeletons that are about to tumble out of the closet?

Heh heh. Just wait and see.

Tom Daly’s $10,000,000 Headache

Take two aspirins and call me in the morning...

Well, no that’s not quite right. Headache would imply that County Clerk Tom Daly cares he blew $2,100,000 of public money on a real estate venture and that it could cost another $7,600,000 to fix the problem; or that he is in any way worried about it. And why should he be? When there’s no accountability you never even have to say you’re sorry.

433 W. Civic Center Drive. The jewel in Tom Daly's crown.

Here’s the background. In 2007 Daly urged the purchase of the small office building at 433 West Civic Center Drive, in Santa Ana. The ostensible purpose of this acquisition was the expansion of the County Archives. Negotiations were approved by the Board of Supervisors in September, 2007. After several months of dickering and alleged property inspections, the County CEO and RDMD staff recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the purchase for $2.1 million. Staff recommended an “as-is purchase” with the caveat that the County Clerk would be paying for “minor repairs” and interior improvements; they noted blithely that the purchase price was below their appraised value for the building. Nothing was mentioned about inadequate space or building deficiencies. In fact the staff report claimed the building had been well-maintained.

An almost comical selling point was an alleged annual savings of $26,000 for parking paid by the County to private parking vendors. No one seemed to calculate the lost opportunity costs or even the interest value of $2,100,000.

The Board voted 3-0 to approve the purchase in January, 2008. Norby, Moorlach and Nguyen put their fingerprints on the deal.

Two years later the building still sits empty across the street from Daly’s office.  And the archives still sit where ever it is they sit, presumably more crowded than ever.

What happened? Could it be that the County Clerk is now wrestling with the embarrassment of how to deal with a massive boondoggle?

It turns out that the building in question was not fit for public occupancy. Apart from ADA issues, the structure is deficient, the basement is going to leak, and all of the building systems are all obsolete. It also turns out that the building is too small to do what it was bought to do.

In other words, the building is practically worthless; and plus demolition and paving costs, the County is now the proud owner of a $2,100,000 parking lot for a few dozen cars.

How and when did this painful realization occur? We’re not real sure about the chronology, but sometime in 2008 Daly hired a firm called Kishimoto Architects to look at the building and produce a feasibility report, after the building was purchased, with cost estimates for various alternatives.  The report, dated January 12,2009, proposed 3 approaches:

1. 2.8 million to remodel the building to make it usable; ADA, structural, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, replacement, etc.
2. 5.7 million to remodel as above, and expand the building to accommodate the proposed use.
3. 7.6 million to demolish the building and start over again.

Say what? $2.8 million to remodel a $2.1 million dollar building?! Option two – that included a remodel and expansion – seems highly unlikely given the price tag, the schedule delays and the embarrassing admission that nobody ever bothered to do a space/needs assessment in the first place. And of course #3 was even worse: starting over would jack the price up to nearly $10,000,000, and add years onto any occupancy schedule.

So there the building sits.

Is any of this really Daly’s fault? His few remaining adherents will argue that poor Tom was just the victim of staff incompetence. Blaming the staff that recommended that this turkey proceed is easy because they were obviously derelict in their appraisal and physical assessment of the property. And the two remaining supervisors who voted for this (Moorlach and Nguyen) have a responsibility to the taxpayers to answer for their employees and the waste of over $2,000,000; after all, they are “Supervisors.”

I was gonna put the sports hall of fame in the basement.

But ultimately Tom Daly is the chief architect of this fiasco, and to those who know how elected politicians apply pressure to the staff to get the recommendations they want, there can be little doubt that the County Clerk was likely pressing and probably pressing hard for his imperial expansion. The money had been budgeted and needed to be spent. So the staff either intentionally looked the other way or didn’t bother looking at all. In the final analysis Daly is an elected official and answerable to the voters.

It’s hard to say what will happen to this real estate jewel. It’s too expensive to knock down and too deficient to use. The site is too small to do much of anything with. In other words it’s a real headache. And it’s all ours.

Register Picks Up On Daly’s $50K Hall of Shame




– Grover Cleveland

Jennifer Muir of the OC Register picked up on the Brett Barbre hall of fame brainstormin’ fiasco that cost the taxpayers $48,000 – courtesy of County Clerk Tom Daly’s reckless largess with our money. Interestingly, Muir cites a County rule that any expenditure more than $50,000 has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Hmm.

I am a fiscal conservative. I am a fiscal conservative. I am... aw the hell with it.

The funniest quote in Muir’s piece was Daly claiming that the whole deal was within his purview and that he paid Barbre for ideas, not “long reports.” Of course he got neither.

Worked my synapes to the bone, I tells ya...

Hilariously, Barbre claims to have worked 40 hours a month on the project. That would be an average of 2 hours a day. Every working day. For 18 months. That’s 720 hours – with nothing to show for it. Is there a single person in OC stupid enough to believe any of that?

He seemed to be soliciting sympathy with the big revelation to Muir that a trip he made to Boston was paid for out of his own pocket! What self sacrifice!

Barbre also seemed indignant that somebody (us) might imply a nexus between his windfall and the $1000 he gave to Daly’s supervisorial campaign. His self-exoneration? He didn’t even give Daly the maximum amount of $1700! What a guy.

Additionally, we have received an e-mail that really sheds light onto just how feeble Barbre’s and Daly’s “research” efforts really were. Here it is:

Subject: Orange County Sports Hall of Fame

I am a founder of the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame.  We began in 1980 with a huge banquet at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Over the years, we inducted more than 70 athletes, coaches and contributors from Walter Johnson and Mickey Flynn to Jack Youngblood and Jim Fregosi.  We eventually had a museum at Anaheim Stadium that has since been replaced by Angel offices (our artifacts are in storage).  Nobody contacted me or other founders (including Cal State Fullerton Sports Information Director Mel Franks and long-time OC business and political leader Buck Johns) regarding research into a Hall of Fame — that existed 30 years ago.  If someone was paid nearly $50,000 to do research they did an amazingly  poor job.  Sincerely, Pete Donovan

Thanks for the e-mail, Mr. Donovan. Just as we expected.

He Went to Boston But Couldn’t Make a Local Phone Call; Original Hall of Fame Founder Calls BS on Daly/Barbre

The Tom Daly Experience. The closer you look, the worse it gets...

It’s looking like County Clerk Tom Daly figures he can peddle any old bullshit to a Register reporter and get away with it. And he probably figures on an easy re-election this spring. That’s the arrogance of a career politician for you.

When questioned by the Reg’s Jennifer Muir about his sports hall of fame fiasco in which he paid “consultant” and campaign contributor Brett Barbre $48,000 to “study” the notion, Daly said he paid Barbre for “ideas, not long reports.” Not quite right, Mr. Daly. See, we read your contract with Barbre even if you didn’t. He was supposed to be doing research on the feasiblity of the scheme – a scheme, by the way, that falls way outside the County Clerk’s job description. That specifically included contacting similar entities.

Hey, those guys weren't in the phone book!

And here’s the kicker: we already had a hall of fame in the County – which apparently was located in Angel’s Stadium in the 80s and subsequently mothballed. And we got an e-mail from a gent who says he was one of the founders: Pete Donovan. Mr. Donovan asserts that nobody ever contacted him or fellow founders about this idea. Here’s Donovan’s e-mail:

Subject: Orange County Sports Hall of Fame

I am a founder of the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame.  We began in 1980 with a huge banquet at the Anaheim Convention Center.  Over the years, we inducted more than 70 athletes, coaches and contributors from Walter Johnson and Mickey Flynn to Jack Youngblood and Jim Fregosi.  We eventually had a museum at Anaheim Stadium that has since been replaced by Angel offices (our artifacts are in storage).  Nobody contacted me or other founders (including Cal State Fullerton Sports Information Director Mel Franks and long-time OC business and political leader Buck Johns) regarding research into a Hall of Fame — that existed 30 years ago.  If someone was paid nearly $50,000 to do research they did an amazingly  poor job.  Sincerely, Pete Donovan

Gee. Barbre had time to go to Boston to “study” the issue at Fenway Park, but not not enough time to make a couple of local calls to people who had already given it a go. Come to think of it, maybe those were exactly the people Barbre and Daly didn’t want to talk to!

Well, that pretty well sums up the incompetence and/or corruption of the whole stinking pile.

Want your $48,000 back?