Today, Supervisor John Moorlach surprised even me.Ã‚Â 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 CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
As reported in the press, Mr. Street is now facing several governmental investigations. Three of them (the U.S. AttorneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 AttorneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.Ã‚Â
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. StreetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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. StreetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s authority to invest the CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s investment pool, and transferring such authority, and the departmental employees necessary to make and monitor such investments.
Did an acorn fall on Moorlach’s head or something?Ã‚Â 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 CollectorÃ‚Â John Moorlach selected his long-time friend and close advisor Chriss Street to be his “Assistant Treasurer.”Ã‚Â This helped assure Street’s position as a presumptive favorite in the 2006 Treasurer election in June 2006.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.”Ã‚Â These are not new revelations and they are not new problems for Street.Ã‚Â
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 fundÃ‚Â his fools errand and challenge in court the validity of a retroactive pension benefit increase.Ã‚Â Moorlach’s pension challenge isÃ‚Â not based upon principle.Ã‚Â It is aÃ‚Â 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â
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.