California DA paints Opponent As ‘Gascón clone,’ Vows Not To Let County Become Like Los Angeles

Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor has come under fire over his directives opponents say fail to hold criminals accountable

A Southern California district attorney running for re-election is aiming to portray his opponent as a clone of George Gascón, the top prosecutor in neighboring Los Angeles County who is facing a recall attempt and backlash from elected officials and crime victims over his prosecutorial directives that critics say has contributed to a rise in crime.

In a campaign video released Thursday, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer paints Los Angeles as a dirty, crime-ridden city besieged by homelessness while criticizing defense attorney Pete Hardin as being soft on criminals. 

“He’s already announced exactly the same lines as George Gascón,” Spitzer is heard saying in the 2-minute video titled “Gotham.” “No bail. No death penalty. No (sentencing) enhancements.”

Amid a nasty campaign in which both sides have engaged in their fair share of mudslinging, Spitzer has vowed to not let coastal Orange County become like Los Angeles County, which has seen an uptick in violent crime since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

LA SHERIFF RIPS PUSH TO FIRE 4,000 UNVACCINATED DEPUTIES AMID CRIME WAVE: ‘IMMORAL POSITION’

To reinforce his point, his campaign prominently features the hashtag #NoLAinOC. The video ad begins with security footage from a smash-and-grab robbery, voiceovers from former and current elected Los Angeles officials criticizing the crime uptick and Gascón and two mothers whose sons were murdered. 

One is heard saying that “George Gascón has abandoned us. It’s important for you to know because another Gascón-type wants Todd’s job.” 

The footage then shows several news clippings accusing Hardin of sexual misconduct during his military service in the Marine Corps and as an Orange County prosecutor while painting him as the “Joker” character from the “Batman” superhero series. Spitzer has repeatedly invoked allegations made against Hardin that he resigned from the military over the crime of adultery, according to the Orange County Register

Denial of alleged wrongdoing

Hardin has denied any wrongdoing related to sexual misconduct.

On how to hold criminals accountable, Hardin, also a former federal prosecutor, has painted himself as a progressive who vows to combat gun violence and address mental health, drug addiction and other underlying issues related to crime. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

How Bad Could Fire Season Get? Emerald Fire Could Be Harbinger For Another Tough Year

The Emerald fire that broke out in the hills west of Laguna Beach on Thursday morning provided a brief scare for residents whose homes were threatened.

Within a few hours, firefighters appeared to be getting the blaze under greater control. But Orange County’s top fire official warned that wildfires burning this quickly near neighborhoods could be a harbinger of a bad fire season for Southern California, and for the entire state.

“If this is a sign of things to come, we’re in for a long year ahead,” said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy.

The 2021 fire season was historically disastrous for the Western United States.

Last August, the Dixie fire burned up nearly one million acres in Northern California, becoming the second largest fire in state history. At around the same time, Oregon saw one of its largest-ever fires too, with the Bootleg fire destroying around 400,000 acres.

In late December, the Marshall fire near Boulder, Colorado destroyed hundreds of homes in a matter of hours.

By then, storms were drenching much of California and burying some parts of the state in snow, adding to the mountain snow pack. That led to hopes for more wet weather and a healthy snow pack in early 2022. That has not been the case.

After a bone dry January, snow pack levels were nearly 10 percent below normal for much of California, according to the California Department of Water Resources. If the dry trend holds, California could be in for more of the same this year.

“This is going to be a critical next month and a half or so,” said Casey Oswant, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego.

“Depending on how much rain we get, that will determine how dry the fuels are going to be in the summer and fall…Especially in the past couple of years, we have not been getting a lot of rain.”

Oswant said the lack of wet weather, high temperatures and strong winds in 2022 so far are already looking similar to the last few years. Since 2015, what’s supposed to be the greater Los Angeles area’s rainy season each year has instead experienced higher than normal temperatures.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Report Card: What Did Congress Members From Orange County Accomplish In 2021?

Register looks at voting records, legislation, constituent response and attendance for seven House members.

Of the seven U.S. House members who represent portions of Orange County, Rep. Mike Levin had the best attendance record in 2021, as the only local lawmaker not to miss a single vote this year. Reps. Katie Porter and Lou Correa weren’t far behind, missing just one vote each.

Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, also helped recover the most money for constituents from federal agencies, while Rep. Young Kim, R-La Habra, grabbed headlines for breaking with her party in votes on a few high-profile bills. And every local lawmaker communicated with residents through town halls, detailed websites, newsletters and social media.

With this year’s legislative session closed, the Register took a look at what Congress members who represent portions of Orange County got done in 2021.

It’s not a ranking, per se. Simple bills are much easier to get passed, for example, but often don’t create real change in people’s lives. Also, legislation — particularly in the House of Representatives — also often gets wrapped up into other bills, as lawmakers cosponsor or add amendments to colleague’s bills. And there are, at times, legitimate reasons why members miss votes.

But voters should be able to expect attendance, advocacy and communication from the people they pay to represent them in Washington, D.C. So here’s a report card of sorts for how each local House member put your taxpayer dollars to work in 2021.

Keep in mind that most of these lawmakers plan to stand for reelection in 2022. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, already has announced he’s retiring after this term. And for the others, the number and geography of their districts will change at the end of next year, when new political district maps take effect.

Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Whitter, of CA-38

Sánchez, 52, is in her 10th term representing the 38th District, which includes La Palma and a slice of Cypress, plus southern Los Angeles County cities. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She also belongs to the Hispanic, Labor and Working Families, LGBTQ+ Equality and Progressive caucuses.

Legislation: Sánchez sponsored 18 bills and three resolutions this year. So far, none have been signed into law, though figure to be discussed in the second year of the session and others have been incorporated into new legislation. For example, Sanchez was asked by President Joe Biden to author the now-stalled U.S. Citizenship Act, which would reform immigration and create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented residents. That idea is being debated in the budget reconciliation package. Sánchez also is still pushing bills she reintroduced this year to let family caregivers get a tax credit of up to $5,000 for expenses and to let service members dispute negative credit information that appeared while they were in a combat zone or aboard a U.S. vessel.

Reaching and helping constituents: Sánchez held more than 40 town halls, “Coffees with the Congresswoman” and other events to engage directly with constituents in person or virtually. Her office returned over $1 million to constituents in veterans’ benefits, tax returns, Social Security checks and other federal benefits. They also resolved more than 1,000 cases involving passports, small businesses and immigration-related issues.

Vote record: Sanchez missed 1.1% or five out of 449 votes this year, according to GovTrack. (For context, the median is 2.1% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.) Here’s how she voted on seven high-profile bills that passed the House this year:

-Yes on the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s nearly $2 trillion signature social spending bill that would taxes very wealthy individuals and corporations to address climate change, offer universal preschool, expand Medicare and extend the Child Tax Credit. The package is still being debated in the Senate.

-Yes on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will funnel $1 trillion to states and local governments to upgrade outdated roads, bridges, transit systems and more. The bill became law in November.

-Yes on impeaching President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Senate voted Trump not guilty.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register

Orange County Supervisors Narrow Down New District Maps

Orange County supervisors Tuesday narrowed down their choices for new district maps from eight to three.

One map is favored by Republicans, another by Democrats and the third is considered more neutral, some political observers say.

The five supervisorial districts are up to be redrawn based on the census, which is conducted every 10 years.

Nicole Walsh of the County Counsel’s Office told the supervisors all the districts need to have roughly equal population and must be “geographically contiguous.”

“We believe that while all of the proposed maps are likely defensible… maps 2, 4 and 5 are the most defensible overall,” Walsh said.

All the maps the board settled on create a Latino majority district and all contain at least one district with nearly more than 30% Asian residents, or what’s known as an “influence district,” Walsh said.

In three of the proposed maps the Latino community would be divided in a way that could lead to a Voting Rights Act challenge, Walsh said.

“Maps 2 and 5 certainly keep communities of interest together,” Walsh said.

For instance in maps 2 and 5 Little Arabia in Anaheim is kept together, Walsh said.

Click here to read the full article at mynewsla.com

California Republican Seeks Recount in O.C.


Janet Nguyen1A California state senator who narrowly lost her re-election bid is requesting a partial recount of ballots in Orange County, the county’s elections chief, Neal Kelley, announced Thursday.

Former Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen requested the recount on Tuesday, a day after Democrat Tom Umberg was sworn in to replace her.

A voter in Senate District 34, on behalf of Nguyen, originally requested a complete recount of votes in Orange County, which comprises the vast majority of the district. Kelley said the request was later scaled back to 12 precincts in Santa Ana.

Nguyen lost the district by about 3,100 votes out of 267,000 cast. She did not respond to a request for comment. California Republican Party spokesman Matt Fleming said the party wasn’t involved in the request. …

Click here to read the full article from KTLA

How Dems apparently used election law change to rout California Republicans

vote ballotsA minor change in California’s election laws may have had a major effect on last month’s midterm elections that saw Democrats steamroll their Republican rivals and claim all but seven of the Golden State’s 53 House seats.

Despite holding substantial leads on Election Day, many Republican candidates in California saw their advantage shrink, and then disappear, as late-arriving Democratic votes were counted in the weeks following the election. While no hard evidence is available, many observers point to the Democrats use of “ballot harvesting” as a key to their success in the elections.

“Anecdotally there was a lot of evidence that ballot harvesting was going on,” Neal Kelley, the registrar for voters in Southern California’s Orange County, told Fox News.

In Orange County – once seen as a Republican stronghold in the state– every House seat went to a Democrat after an unprecedented “250,000” vote-by-mail drop-offs were counted, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

How to Make California’s Southland Water Independent for $30 Billion


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The megapolis on California’s southern coast stretches from Ventura County on the northern end, through Los Angeles County, Orange County, down to San Diego County on the border with Mexico. It also includes the western portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Altogether these six counties have a population of 20.5 million residents. According to the California Department of Water Resources, urban users consume 3.7 million acre feet of water per year, and the remaining agricultural users in this region consume an additional 700,000 acre feet.

Much of this water is imported. In an average year, 2.6 million acre feet of water is imported by the water districts serving the residents and businesses in these Southland counties. The 701 mile long California Aqueduct, mainly conveying water from the Sacramento River, contributes 1.4 million acre feet. The 242 mile long Colorado River Aqueduct adds another 1.0 million acre feet. Finally, the Owens River on the east side of the Sierras contributes 250,000 acre feet via the 419 mile long Los Angeles Aqueduct.

California’s Plumbing System
The major interbasin systems of water conveyance, commonly known as aqueducts

California’s Overall Water Supplies Must Increase

Californians have already made tremendous strides conserving water, and the potential savings from more stringent conservation mandates may not yield significant additional savings. Population growth is likely to offset whatever remaining savings that may be achievable via additional conservation.

Meanwhile, the state mandated water requirements for California’s ecosystems continue to increase. The California State Water Board is finalizing “frameworks” that will increase the minimum amount of flow required to be maintained in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers order to better protect fish habitat and reduce salinity in the Delta. And, of course, these rivers, along with the Owens and Colorado rivers, are susceptible to droughts which periodically put severe strain on water users in California.

At about the same time, in 2015, California’s legislature began regulating groundwater withdrawals. This measure, while long overdue, puts additional pressure on urban and agricultural users.

California’s water requirements for healthy ecosystems, a robust and growing farm economy, as well as a growing urban population, are set to exceed available supply. Conservation cannot return enough water to the system to fix the problem.

How Can Water Supplies Increase?

In Southern California, runoff capture is an option that appears to have great potential. Despite its arid climate and perennial low rainfall, nearly every year a few storm systems bring torrential rains to the South Coast, inundating the landscape. Until the Los Angeles River was turned into a gigantic culvert starting in 1938, it would routinely flood, with the overflow filling huge aquifers beneath the city. Those aquifers remain, although many are contaminated and require mitigation. Runoff harvesting for aquifer storage represents one tremendous opportunity for Southern Californians to increase their supply of water.

The other possibilities are sewage recycling and desalination. In both cases, Southern California already boasts some of the most advanced plants in the world. The potential for these two technologies to deliver massive quantities of potable water, over a million acre feet per year each, is now predicated more on political and financial considerations than technological challenges.

Recycling Waste Water

Orange County leads the United States in recycling waste water. The Orange County Sanitation District treats 145,000 acre feet per year (130 million gallons per day – “MGD”), sending all of it to the Orange County Water District’s “Ground Water Replenishment System” plant for advanced treatment. The GWRS plant is the biggest of its kind in the world. After being treated to potable standards, 124,000 acre feet per year (110 million GPD), or 85 percent of the waste water, is then injected into aquifers to be stored and pumped back up and reused by residents as potable water. The remainder, containing no toxins and with fewer total dissolved solids than seawater, is discharged harmlessly into the ocean.

Currently the combined water districts in California’s Southland discharge about 1.5 million acre feet (1.3 billion GPD) of treated wastewater each year into the Pacific Ocean. Only a small percentage of this discharge is the treated brine from recycled water. But by using the advanced treatment methods as are employed in Orange County, 85% of wastewater can be recycled to potable standards. This means that merely through water reuse, there is the potential to recycle up to another 1.2 million acre feet per year.

Needless to say, implementing a solution at this scale would require major challenges to be overcome. Currently California’s water districts are only permitted to engage in “indirect potable reuse,” which means the recycled water must be stored in an aquifer or a reservoir prior to being processed as drinking water and entering the water supply. By 2023, it is expected the California Water Board will have completed regulations governing “direct potable reuse,” which would allow recycled water to be immediately returned to the water supply without the intermediate step of being stored in an aquifer or reservoir. In the meantime, it is unlikely that there are enough uncontaminated aquifers or available reservoirs to store the amount of recycled water that could be produced.

Desalinating Seawater

The other source of new water for Southern California, desalination, is already realized in an operating plant, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant in San Diego County. This plant produces 56,000 acre feet per year (50 MGD) of fresh water by processing twice that amount of seawater. It is the largest and most technologically advanced desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. It is co-located with the Encina Power Station, a facility that uses far more seawater per year, roughly ten times as much, for its cooling systems. The Carlsbad facility diverts a portion of that water for desalination treatment, then returns the saltier “brine” to the much larger outflow of cooling water at the power plant.

Objections to desalination are many, but none of them are insurmountable. The desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach, for example, will not have the benefit of being co-located with a power plant that consumes far more seawater for its cooling system. Instead, this proposed plant – which will have the same capacity as the Carlsbad plant – will use a large array of “wet filters” situated about 1,500 feet offshore, on the seabed about 40 feet below the surface, to gently intake seawater that can be pumped back to the plant without disrupting marine life. The outgoing brine containing 6 percent salt (compared to 3% in seawater) will be discharged under pressure from an underwater pipe extending about 1,800 feet offshore. By discharging the brine under pressure, it will be instantly disbursed and immediately dissipated in the powerful California current.

While desalination is considered to be energy intensive, a careful comparison of the energy cost to desalinate seawater reveals an interesting fact. It takes a roughly equivalent amount of electricity to power the pumps on the California aqueduct, where six pumping stations lift the water repeatedly as it flows from north to south. To guarantee the water flows south, the California aqueduct is sloped downward by roughly one foot per mile of length, meaning pump stations are essential. The big lift, of course, is over the Tehachapi Mountains, which is the only way to import water into the Los Angeles basin.

Barriers to Implementation – Permitting & Lawsuits

The technological barriers to large scale implementation of water recycling and desalination, while significant, are not the primary impediments. Permitting and financing are far bigger challenges. Moreover, financing costs for these mega projects become more prohibitive because of the difficulties in permitting.

The process necessary to construct the proposed Huntington Beach Desalination Plant is illustrative of just how difficult, if not impossible, it is to get construction permits. The contractor has been involved in the permitting process for 16 years already, and despite significant progress to-date, still expects approval, if it comes, to take another 2-3 years.

One of the problems with permitting most infrastructure in California is that several agencies are involved. These agencies can actually have conflicting requirements. Applicants also end up having to answer the same questions over and over, because the agencies don’t share information. And over the course of decades or more, the regulations change, meaning the applicant has to start the process over again. Compounding the difficulties for applicants are endless rounds of litigation, primarily from well-funded environmentalist organizations. The failure to-date of California’s lawmakers to reform CEQA make these lawsuits potentially endless.

Barriers to Implementation – Financing

Even if permitting were streamlined, and all technical challenges were overcome, it would be a mistake to be glib about financing costs. Based on the actual total cost for the Carlsbad desalination plant, just under $1.0 billion for a capacity of 56,000 acre feet per year, the capital costs to desalinate a million acre feet of seawater would be a daunting $18.0 billion. On the other hand, with permitting reforms, such as creating a one-stop ombudsman agency to adjudicate conflicting regulations and exercise real clout among the dozens of agencies with a stake in the permitting process, billions could be shaved off that total. Similarly, CEQA reforms could shave additional billions off the total. How much could be saved?

The Sorek desalination plant, commissioned in Israel in 2015, cost $500 million to build and desalinates 185,000 acre feet of water per year. Compared to Carlsbad, Sorek came online for an astonishing one-sixth the capital cost per unit of capacity. While there’s undoubtedly more to this story, it is also undeniable that other developed nations are able to deploy large scale desalination plants at far lower costs than here in California.

Financing costs for water recycling, while still staggering, are (at least in California) not comparable to those for desalination. The GWRS water recycling plant in Orange County was built at a capital cost of $905 million – $481 million was the initial cost, the first expansion cost $142 million, and the final expansion cost $282 million. This equates to a capital cost of $7,300 per acre foot of annual yield. If that price were to apply for new facilities to be constructed elsewhere in the southland, one million acre feet of recycling capacity could be built for $7.3 billion. Until there is direct potable reuse, however, it would be necessary to add to that cost the expense of either constructing storage reservoirs, or decontaminating aquifers for underground storage.

It’s anybody’s guess, but with reasonable reforms to contain costs, and taking into account additional investments in aquifer mitigation, a budget to make California’s Southland water independent might look like this:

  • 1.0 million acre feet from water recycling – $7.5 billion
  • 1.0 million acre feet from desalination – $15.0 billion
  • 0.5 million acre feet from runoff capture and aquifer mitigation – $7.5 billion

Total – $30 billion.
How much again is that bullet train? Water abundance in California vs. high speed rail

While runoff capture, water recycling, and desalination have the potential to make Southern California’s coastal megapolis water independent, it will take extraordinary political will and innovative financing to make it happen. The first step is for California’s voters and policymakers alike to recognize that conservation is not enough, that water supplies must be increased. Once the political will is established, it will be necessary to streamline the regulatory process, so cities, water agencies, and private contractors can pursue supply oriented solutions, at realistic prices, with a reasonable certainty that their applications will be approved.

*   *   *

Edward Ring co-founded the California Policy Center and served as its first president. This article originally appeared on the website of the California Policy Center.

Orange County may play key midterm election role

Once coveted as a conservative bastion in liberal California, Orange County has become a last stand for the state’s Republicans.

Chased out of much of California by Democrats who hold every statewide office and a 39-14 advantage in U.S. House seats, the state’s GOP is trying to hold its ground in a historically Republican stronghold.

Republican elected officials in a string of cities and two counties — Orange and neighboring San Diego — have passed ordinances or taken other actions in opposition to the state’s so-called sanctuary law, enacted by the Democratic-run Legislature in response to Trump’s calls for more deportations and a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox News

Resistance to the Resistance and the 2018 Elections


VotingOpposition in Orange County from government bodies to the state’s sanctuary law could serve as a sign of the electorate’s mood and just might influence the hotly contested Orange County congressional races. This resistance to the resistance – the state resisting the federal government, the locals resisting the state – comes against the background of Democratic efforts to take back the House of Representatives. Intense efforts are being made to flip congressional seats in Orange County in which Hillary Clinton outpolled Donald Trump.

The state legislature passed and the governor signed SB 54, the sanctuary state law, which blocks local law officials from working with federal immigration enforcement officers in certain situations. The Trump Administration has challenged the sanctuary state and sanctuary city laws in court. This week, a number of states with Republican governors filed briefs in support of the Administration’s position.

After the city council of Los Alamitos in Orange County voted to oppose the sanctuary state law, other Orange County communities and the county supervisors considered actions to oppose the state law, with the county voting to join a federal lawsuit against the sanctuary laws.

Supervisor Michelle Steel who introduced the resolution against SB 54 argued that safety of citizens is at issue, insisting the county should increase “our cooperation with federal immigration enforcement and stop our county from becoming a sanctuary for criminal illegal immigrants.”

Hints on how this issue might play in the coming congressional elections could be gleaned from polling done by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The Orange County districts targeted by the Democrats are Congressional District (CD) 39 currently held by Ed Royce (who is retiring), CD 45 held by Mimi Walters and CD 48, Dana Rohrabacher – Republicans all.

CD 39, which sits about 60% in Orange County with the remainder in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, has a plurality of Republican registered voters, but barely, 1.5% more than Democrats.

CD 45 and CD 48, both completely within the boundaries of Orange County, have 8% and 11% Republican registration leads over Democrats, respectively.

Last May, PPIC asked likely voters if they supported or opposed the then-proposed sanctuary state law. 43% favored the law; 48% opposed the idea. While Democrats were in favor of the proposal by a 2 to 1 margin, Republicans were opposed by nearly 4 to 1.

In the PPIC survey last month, likely voters were asked if they thought if the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants is a good thing or a bad thing. In the Republican leaning districts, 61% said it was a good thing, 34% thought it was a bad thing.

With local elected officials standing up on the side that the polling seems to indicate likely voters in the district support, this could be a positive sign for those hoping the contested districts will remain in Republican hands.

However, the California Target Book publisher, Darry Sragow, thinks the Republicans will have a hard time turning this issue into a winning formula. “If the Republicans in the three threatened Orange County Congressional seats seize on this issue, the poll numbers confirm that they will be preaching to the choir.  Whether it will produce a boost in GOP turn out is one question.  A second question is whether it will be counterproductive, driving Democrats, particularly Latinos, to the polls.”

Sragow continued, “Beyond 2018, the data tells an interesting story.  Back in 1980, Latinos were a little less than 15 percent of the population in Orange County.  In 2010 that number was almost 34 percent.  In 1994, the year Proposition 187 was on the ballot, Republican registration in Orange County was more than 52 percent.  Today, it’s less than 38 percent. Which raises the question of whether the California Republican Party is destined to repeat history, once again trading short term incumbent protection for long term alienation of many Latinos, who now outnumber every other ethnic group in the state.”

How California goes in the coming mid-term elections in the challenged races very well could determine who controls Congress in January.

ditor and co-publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Trump applauds Orange County on fight against sanctuary laws


President Trump on Wednesday cheered a decision by officials in Orange County, Calif., to join a federal lawsuit seeking to block California’s so-called sanctuary laws.

“My Administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California’s illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies,” Trump tweeted.

“California’s Sanctuary laws release known dangerous criminals into communities across the State. All citizens have the right to be protected by Federal law and strong borders,” he added.

The president’s tweets came a day after the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to join a Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to block California state laws that Trump administration officials say prevents local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents. …

Click here to read the full article from The Hill