Moorlach kicks Street; to the street.

Street Watch

Today, Supervisor John Moorlach surprised even me.  He called on his hand picked successor Treasurer/Tax Collector Chriss Street to resign, effective immediately.

H/t to Total Buzz, here is Moorlach’s Statement:

Generally at all times, but particularly in light of Orange County’s experience, the Treasurer of this County must be above reproach, candid with the Supervisors, other authorities, and the public, and able to devote his entire time and attention to the management of the County’s finances. I believe that Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street is a highly motivated, talented manager. But his recent career with the Fruehauf-related companies and the related court cases and governmental investigations are too much of a distraction for him and the voters.

 Sky FellAs reported in the press, Mr. Street is now facing several governmental investigations. Three of them (the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) arise from his operation of the Fruehauf Liquidation Trust. The fourth is recent, and is being carried out by the Orange County District Attorney’s office, and reportedly involves an architect-engineering contract. In addition, he faces a civil lawsuit arising out of his conduct of the Trust, based on a 45-page complaint containing twelve counts, ranging from self-dealing to numerous breaches of fiduciary duty to conversion. 

Standing alone, these actions, both the public investigations and the civil suits, give rise to an appearance that would cause most fair-minded persons to question Mr. Street’s judgment. But, while Mr. Street is certainly entitled to his day in court on the allegations, it is unfair to the public and the taxpayers and citizens of the County of Orange to have their elected Treasurer-Tax Collector divide his time between the duties of his office and personal legal battles.

Accordingly, Supervisor Moorlach now calls on Treasurer-Tax Collector Chriss Street to recognize his public duty and obligation to the people of the County of Orange and to resign his elected office immediately. If necessary, Supervisor Moorlach and Chairman Norby will move the Board at the next Board meeting on September 11, 2007 to: (a) pass an urgency Ordinance to revoke Resolution 07-020 (which delegated its investment authority to the Treasurer), thus revoking Mr. Street’s authority to invest the County’s investment pool, and transferring such authority, and the departmental employees necessary to make and monitor such investments.

Supervisor Chicken LittleDid an acorn fall on Moorlach’s head or something?  Is the Sky falling?

Well no, not really, it’s just that the heat on Street is starting to singe Moorlach’s feathers of credibility a bit.

In January of 2006, Treasurer/Tax Collector John Moorlach selected his long-time friend and close advisor Chriss Street to be his “Assistant Treasurer.”  This helped assure Street’s position as a presumptive favorite in the 2006 Treasurer election in June 2006.  Never-mind that the position of Assistant Treasurer was only posted for a day, Moorlach hired him for the job as an interim appointment, and then kept him on far longer than County policy permitted. The ethical questions about Streets business dealings as Fruehauf Trustee were already public, as were Street’s legal problems.  But that didn’t matter to Moorlach, he freely and enthusiastically endorsed Street for Treasurer/Tax Collector and stood by his friend, even when other elected officials abandoned Street when the allegations were raised during the campaign, withdrawing their endorsements.

So while I am pleased that Supervisor “Chicken Little” Moorlach has joined the chorus of people calling for Street to resign or face losing his investment authority; I’ve got to wonder why the sudden change of heart? What has really changed since the spring of 2006?

In his statement, Supervisor Moorlach said, “it is unfair to the public and the taxpayers and citizens of the County of Orange to have their elected Treasurer-Tax Collector divide his time between the duties of his office and personal legal battles.”  These are not new revelations and they are not new problems for Street. 

The only thing that has changed is that Supervisor Moorlach’s credibility is being called into question at a time when he is asking his colleagues to fund his fools errand and challenge in court the validity of a retroactive pension benefit increase.  Moorlach’s pension challenge is not based upon principle. It is a negotiating ploy, and attack on the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s because they opposed him in the June 2006 2nd District Primary.

If Moorlach doesn’t do something to stop his credibility hemorrhage, his hopes of moving forward his attack on public employee pensions may be damaged beyond repair.

Supervisor Moorlach, in his victory speech declared war on the public employee unions who opposed is election.  He has since then acted upon his declaration not only by using his taxpayer funded pulpit to attack the pension benefits of law enforcement personnel, but he is one of the three principle authors of a proposed Statewide Ballot Initiative to eliminate all pension benefits for future public employees.

So please understand, Supervisor Moorlach calling on Chriss Street to resign, and his proposal to remove Street’s investment authority, is not the result of some “moral epiphany,” It is simply an act of a desperate man try to save his (Moorlach’s) rear-end.

Supervisor Moorlach should consider his rationale for Street’s resignation and apply it to himself. 

Supervisor Moorlach, it is unfair to the public and the taxpayers and citizens of the County of Orange, in particular the 2nd District, to have their elected Supervisor divide his time between the duties of his office and his personal vendettas and resulting legal battles.

  15 comments for “Moorlach kicks Street; to the street.

  1. RHackett
    August 24, 2007 at 2:32 am

    If Moorlach was this careless in choosing Street, where else has he been sloppy? He didn’t vett this guy. He rigged the process to ensure Street was the only candidate.

    Just one more act by a self aggrandizing politico who claims to support the little guy but who in reality is looking to promote himself at taxpayer expense.

  2. Moorlach's Detour
    August 24, 2007 at 7:16 am

    Moorlach is just another pompous, self serving politician. He is the one who handed Street the Treassurer’s Office on a silver platter, despite the FACT that there were significant allegations against Street PRIOR to the election. I know a man is innocent until proven guilty, but was it prudent for Mr. Moorlach to vitually force Street on us, knowing that Street was under investigation/ accused of criminal and civil wrongdoing of a financial nature? NO!

    I hope Moorlach will now quit his tiresome, breast beating, ” I predicted the bankruptcy” routine. I ask, what has he done for us lately? The answer? Moorlach has given us Chriss Street and a highly questionable legal battle (vendetta?) against the Unions that will cost us millions.

  3. Kat
    August 24, 2007 at 7:47 am

    To Moorlach’s Detour,

    I agree with you. LA times has this article this morning about San Diego.,1,1568324.story?coll=la-headlines-california

  4. RHackett
    August 24, 2007 at 10:41 am

    It certainly didn’t take long for Moorlach to cut his losses on Street. At least we have a better understanding of his sense of loyalty.

    That would be ZERO in case anyone is wondering.

  5. August 24, 2007 at 11:57 am

    To Mr. Hackett.

    Loyalty. Think about your word for a moment. My sense is that John was thinking about loyalty. Loyalty to every taxpayers of Orange County who expect the highest integrity from those who serve, especially those who have their hands on taxpayer funds.

    While you and I will not been present as this story unfolds, John would not have made the statements which we read in the print media today if there was not any smoke to the allegations. If the smoke results in fire, than fire we must, unless Chris steps down voluntarily.

    If this allegation proves to be valid than perhaps you can tell us about Chris Street’s loyalty to John Moorlach who treated him with open arms.

    Your response is truly appreciated.

  6. RHackett
    August 24, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Hey Larry,

    For Moorlach to claim he is loyal to the taxpayers after ensuring that Street was his designated heir apparent to the exclusion of all others is akin to a child killing his parents and then throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he is now an orphan.

    The time to determine Street’s creds was before Moorlach installed him in office. Now that Street is an elected official we (the taxpayers) are stuck with him courtesy the manuverings of one John Moorlach.

  7. d'Anconia
    August 24, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    Am I wrong or wasn’t Street elected?

    I mean, sure you can take Moorlach to task for not pulling his endorsement, but after all the people of Orange County voted Street in.

    I could care less whether or not Moorlach endorsed Street. If we held everyone accountable who ever endorsed a corrupt elected official we would hardly have a sitting legislature.

  8. RHackett
    August 24, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    If we held everyone accountable who ever endorsed a corrupt elected official we would hardly have a sitting legislature.

    I’m trying to see the downside here.

  9. d'Anconia
    August 24, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    No downside, just pointing out the obvious.

    Believe me RHackett, no one would be happier if there were less electeds up in Sacramento than myself.

    The more of them up there, the more useless bills they write, and the more government takes control of our lives.

    On the other hand, I was trying to point out that sometimes people endorse the wrong candidate and that is life.

  10. RHackett
    August 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    I’d also be hard pressed to see a case where an elected ensured someone was their successor before knowing anything about them only to cut them loose at the first sign of adversity.

    To me it says a lot about Moorlach’s character in that he pushed for and supported this guy and turns his back before there is any substantive significance to the allegations.

    Unless you believe Moorlach has acted with integrity in this matter.

  11. d'Anconia
    August 24, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    I can’t guess reasons as to why Moorlach didn’t pull his endorsement of Street, but my point is that an endorsement is hardly something to burn someone at the stake for.

    That’s all.

  12. August 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    The last time I voted they only handed me one ballot. How many ballots did John Moorlach have in the race for Treasurer? Chris Street was elected not annointed as you try to portray.

    We have all been hoodwinked by candidates that we support only to see them change spots after they become elected. I can say that after helping three city council candidates get elected in Mission Viejo in the 2002 election. Without naming names some flip sooner than others.

    As John asked Chris to step down do you truly believe that there isn’t a smoking gun in the room? Do you think that John would have supported Chris if he had any indication that a cloud would roll over the Treasurer’s desk? I can’t speak for John but you do feel violated when someone turns on you after you put your own credibility on the line.

    It appears that your only Agenda is to trash John instead of questioning actions of the current treasurer who is under investigation for actions while serving the County.

  13. Moorlach's Detour
    August 24, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    This is more than an an ‘endorsement’ issue.

    Street and Moorlach have been friends since 1994. Moorlach knew of the Fruehauf Trust allegations two months after he appointed Street to be Assistant Treasurer, and then Moorlach promoted him again to Interim Treasurer.

    Moorlach’s efforts virtually guaranteed Street’s spot on the ballot. His blessing guaranteed Street’s fundraising success with republicans, helped garner republican endorsements and, in essence, sealed the election. I would also imagine Street raised money for Moorlach in return. There is more responsibility here than a mere endorsement.

  14. The Prophet
    August 24, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    I don’t think there is a showdown between these two men. But these two friends, especially Moorlach, would like everyone else to think that there is one. I’m sure Street realizes that, politically, Moorlach has no other choice but to distance himself and call for his resignation. The two have probably been discussing how to time and release all the tidbits to the press so that it makes Moorlach look like the decisive fellow who saves the day. Then the cold shoulder act that was put on at the OC GOP Central Committee meeting Monday night was too funny. This all appears to be staged to me. Political games are so funny sometimes.

  15. RHackett
    August 25, 2007 at 5:20 am


    If that is the case that a facade of of seperation is taking place between John and Chris it will become readily apparent and only reinforce the negatives Moorlach is acquiring.

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