Inside OC: Street vs. Berardino


I spent a half-hour this morning watching Rick Reiff’s Inside OC to see what fireworks might occur in the on camera meeting of Treasurer/Tax Collector Chriss Street and Orange County Employee’s Association General Manager Nick Berardino.

Well, although there weren’t a lot of fireworks it was still an interesting discussion.

Both Street and Berardino stuck to their previous on record talking points.  Moorlach protégé Chriss Street focused on what he termed is performance in his short time in office and that the allegations against him are baseless and that he has never been interviewed by federal investigators?  He even went so far as to point out that he does not even know the people allegedly being interviewed by investigators.

Berardino repeated his call for Street to resign because his continued presence in office could erode confidence in Orange County’s financial stability. Berardino echoed Streets former patron Supervisor John Moorlach’s position that with all the investigations going on that it would be best for the taxpayers of Orange County to have a Treasurer who is not distracted by such problems.

Street pointed out the high rate of return on Orange County investments as an example of his performance.  You know, the last time we heard that line was when former Treasurer/Tax Collector Robert “Bob” Citron was running for re-election in 1994.

Anyway, Chriss Street’s closing remarks in the interview were…

“My message is confidence and performance, and that message rings very loud with the average person who wants government efficiency and lower costs.”


Berardino got the last 15 seconds…

“It’s clear that perception is everything. We’re dealing with billions of dollars, and when you have a multitude of investigations pending we cannot have that in the Treasurer’s office. I think it has bankrupted the confidence of the voters in Orange County.”

Following the interview with Street and Berardino, Reiff interviewed Democrat Michael Ray and Republican Michael Capaldi in his “Consider This” segment.  Michael Ray is the Chair of the Great Park Conservancy and Michael Capaldi is the former President of the Lincoln Club.

Reiff started off by asking Capaldi if he supported the proposed recall of Chris Street.  Capaldi responded that; “A public recall is a terrible idea. You don’t recall the guy who has not been convicted, not been indicted, but just accused. It’s not appropriate.”

I’ve got to take a side bar here for a moment.  Last week Larry Gilbert commented on Orange Juice about Berardino’s call for a recall with this gem:

While I can applaud General Manager Berardino’s “appeal” and calling on all sides that “integrity in government wears no party label ” I must take us back into OC and CA history to pose the following.

Where was Mr. Berardino or OCEA’s outrage and support for the Recall of Nativo Lopez?

The same applies to the allegations by John Moorlach to Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert Citron’s precarious investments in and prior to 1994?

What about Governor Davis who was also recalled?

These are three examples for which I believe the OCEA and Mr. Berardino were silent. I would argue that these abuses, by members of the Democratic Party, were greater than those of Mr. Street.

Now calling for “good government ” is a very refreshing thought indeed and I hope this is day one of a non-partisan effort by the OCEA.

I called Larry’s commentary moronic, to which he responded:

Chris. Your inabilty see the parallel between Nativo Lopez and Chris Street surely surprises me. Part of the Treasurer debate relates to his endeavors outside of his public office and his being investigated by Federal Agencies. The issue that concerns me the most is the questionable contract award. The same applies to Nativo and Hermandad.

The humor in Larry’s argument is that Nativo Lopez was one of five Board Members on the school board.  He did not have the independent authority or power to direct anything.  All decisions required the support of two other members of the Board.  Chriss Street doesn’t need anyone’s approval of his decisions.  When it comes to investments and daily banking activities, Street is the “decider.” But the kicker is the circular logic of Larry Gilbert and Michael Capaldi that the proposed recall of Chriss Street is wrong because it is based upon accusations but the recall of Nativo Lopez was alright.

While the accusations against Chriss Street are at this point only accusations, the position Street holds as Treasurer/Tax Collector under the current cloud of questionable decisions places the confidence in the stability of Orange County’s credit rating in serious jeopardy.

While Michael Ray agreed that people are innocent until proven guilty, he pointed out that the more interesting part of the possible recall of Street is that his patron Supervisor John Moorlach has turned on his former protégé. “There have got to be inside reasons we don’t yet know about,” Ray said. 

The discussion then moved on to the State Department of Education’s determination that Santa Ana Unified School District had broken the rules for class size reduction funds and that  they will lose that funding.

Michael Ray indicated that the State Department of Education bureaucracy is the result of Proposition 13 that pushed forward Proposition 98 which required a minimum percentage of the state budget be directed to education, thus limiting local control over education funds. Ray called the actions of the district “stupid.”

Capaldi took a different take and for some insane reason blamed the teachers.

“…records were falsified. If that’s the case then this is not a case of teachers trying to help kids, it’s and example of teachers hurting kids.  They’re apparently misrepresenting the size of these classes.”

Note to Capaldi: The district administrators directed that the records be falsified, not the teachers.