What Do YOU Think: Was the Calitics Blogger Right? Were OC Firefighters Shortchanged?

Wow. How often does a newspaper editorial argue vehemently against a blogger? Well, I opened today’s Register to find this big, fat rebuttal to an article that Robert in Monterey wrote for Calitics a few days ago. So what exactly are our friends at The Register Editorial Board furious about? This:

Why was the OCFA shorthanded? Why didn’t they have enough funds to adequately crew their engines? Because conservative Republicans fought efforts by the OCFA to get more funds to hire trained firefighters.

Yep, it seems like the fight over Measure D is continuing some two years after the initiative failed. The Register’s editorialists still argue that this was an unfair attempt to divert Prop 172 funds that are supposed to be used for law enforcement, even though the news desk wrote an article recently that points out surplus “law enforcement funds” weren’t being used while OC firefighters were struggling to obtain the resources they needed to fight the Santiago Fire.

So what do YOU think about Measure D and OC firefighters’ lack of resources in the early stage of the Santiago Fire? Could Measure D have given our firefighters what they needed to contain the wildfire earlier? Or was the measure just a misuse of Prop 172 public safety funds that never would have worked? Oh yes, and what should we do now? Should we give those $80 million surplus public safety funds to firefighters to prepare for future megafires? Or does Measure D truly belong in political graveyard? I want to hear what you have to say about this, so go ahead and speak your mind.

So who’s right here? Was our Calitics friend Robert right to condemn the GOP Machine? Or were they right about Prop 172 funds? Fire away.

  25 comments for “What Do YOU Think: Was the Calitics Blogger Right? Were OC Firefighters Shortchanged?

  1. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 11:40 am

    And Robert responded.

    http://www.calitics.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=2D19B1F96B56AF4FF8FAA3478BC420C6?diaryId=4253

    On John and Ken, Campbell tried to defend his actions because Prop 172 allowed the BoS spend the monies how they saw fit. I was glad to hear J & K skewer him with that logic because people voted for 172 funds based upon fire fighter images.

  2. November 1, 2007 at 11:58 am

    He was right to condemn them, but Nick Berardino and Wayne Quint ought to also be condemned, as they worked with the OC GOP machine to defeat Measure D. I believe Quint is a Reep, but Berardino is a Democrat, as far as I know.

  3. Andrew Davey
    November 1, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    RHackett-

    Oh, so you caught Robert’s reponse, too?

    http://www.calitics.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=4253

    Good stuff that Robert writes. Yes, and it boggles the mind how The Register can continue bashing Measure D when we all now know how much OCFA needed those extra funds. So what happens next time we have a huge megafire? What happens when OCFA again doesn’t have what they need to fight the fire, yet the county STILL sits on surplus Prop 172 funds that’s only being wasted or collecting dust? It’s amazing how these kooky folks can keep their heads in the sand.

  4. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I don’t think Measure D would’ve helped very much. Chief Prather said they needed an additional 25 engines. I don’t think it is a good use of funds for Orange County to buy an additional 25 engines becuase they would only be needed for megafires. This is especially true since these funds would only go to the OCFA. If it would be distributed among other agencies, then maybe it would make sense to give every other city another engine.

    The real issue here was state resources. The state is better suited to have additional resources on standby to provide assistance in these areas. State helicopers would be used across California and in other states when not needed here.

    The problems we faced with this fire is that the state had air resources grounded (under the bogus argument that it wasn’t safe) that weren’t being used anywhere when there were 15 fires going.

  5. November 1, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Orangeless county’s Assemblyman Todd Spitzer and Evangelical County Fire Chief Prather blamed (as did Congressman Duncan Hunter) nature, Shwartznegger, liberals instead of providing the adaquate fire crew and air-support they could have (2 choppers for San Diego and Orangeless County!). It’s impossible to fly in heavy winds and the giant aircraft are dangerous lumbering dinosaurs; but, the king of destruction is San Bernardino county board of supervisor Dennis Hansberger- between 2003 fires and today, over 500 homes lost in indefensible mountain area environmentalists warned about. oh, well,let’s go to Harvest Festival! P.S.,John and Ken are White Aryan trash.

  6. Andrew Davey
    November 1, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Art-

    Yep, yep, yep. Just because I respect their leadership on other labor issues doesn’t mean I’ll give Berardino & Quint a free pass on Measure D. Unfortunately they put internal county politicking above public safety in 2005, and they joined the OC GOP Machine in defeating an initiative that could have given OCFA what it needed to beat back the Santiago Fire.

    Morpheous-

    Agreed, I think. Spitzer is crying about lack of resources now, but what did he do about it in 2005? Remember Arnold’s blue ribbon commission on fighting fires? What reforms suggested by the commission did the Governator implement? Crying foul now is one thing, but what about actually taking action? Just a thought.

  7. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    What I liked about the piece is how the OC Register staff talks out of both sides of its mouth. It calls Californians weak for passing 172 and then talks about the funds sitting there doing nothing.

    Yesterday’s editorial, however, addresses neither of these concers about equipment shortages. Instead they try to claim that the Proposition 172 system of allocating public safety funds worked – despite the fact that, in 2005, Steven Greenhut, the senior editorial writer for the Register, denounced California taxpayers as “weak” for having approved Prop 172 in November 1993, in the aftermath of the 1993 firestorms.

    For instance, the Measure D battle two years ago was over the disbursement of Proposition 172 sales-tax funds that voters had already approved for public safety. Conservatives were on both sides of the issue as the firefighters sought to take a share of tax dollars that mostly had gone to fund the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office. This wasn’t about “stingy” taxpayers unwilling to pay for public safety, as the liberals allege, but about divvying up the taxpayers’ money among agencies.

    Anon. The intent of Measure D was to provide for the equipment needed to fight those fires. The fact is that it was opposed by the OC Register. It failed. Greenhut gloated about its defeat. The consequence is that homes have burned.

  8. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Andrew et al-

    The Democratic Party of Orange County didn’t support Measure D either. Should we condemning the Central Committee too?

    I don’t believe the Party Chairman, or any other Party leadership took a “Yes on D” stand.

    This issue was not a Republican nor Democrat issue. Democrats had a full court press from both sides to take a stand and they did not.

    In regards to Public Employee Unions, they are not in the business of taking away money from their employees. It is a simple business calculation. That is why Cops were against it, and that is why Fire supported it (it put MORE money in their pockets, perhaps to add another wing to the “Taj Mahal” facility they spent millions on. NOT MORE TRUCKS!). Stop reducing this argument to a simple Us vs. Them. It is much more complicated than that. If Measure D passed and a small white girl (think Samantha Runnion) was murdered, we would be talking about how if Cops had those funds they could have prevented a murder.

    Enough with the Monday Morning Quarterbacking…

  9. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    anon.

    Great stuff except the issue was supported by the OCFA Board of Directors. That group is comprised of elected officials. NOT union members. It was the OCFA who paid for the polling and research to determine if the measure was politically feasible. It is the poll the forger John Lewis cites in his laudatory interview by Jon Fleischman.

    From what I have seen, the firefighters are the only one who comported themselves with any semblance of dignity during and subsequent to the campaign. They could easily be out there saying, “I told you so” and they aren’t.

    To say that conservatives didn’t band together to fight this is disingenuous. Had the conservative establishment supported this issue it would have had a greater chance of passage since they are the dominant party in OC. They opposed it, and homes burned down that otherwise might have been saved.

    Actions have consequences.

  10. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    RHackett-

    So the Conservatives were against Measure D and the benevolent OCFA elected board was in support.

    Have you seen that board by chance? Here are some names
    -Trish Kelley (MV City Council Member) CONSERVATIVE
    -Neil Blais (Republican running for the 71st AD)
    -John Larson (REEP)

    These are just a few, as many of the board members are new (and include Pat Bates, Bill Campbell…)

    How can the conservatives be for and against it? Oh I know, only when it works to prove the opinion you already have.

  11. Andrew Davey
    November 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Anon 2:13-

    Puh-leese! Sure, I wish that the DPOC Central Committee had more foresight on Measure D. But do I blame Democrats for Measure D’s defeat? Hell, no! They just didn’t really get involved, whereas the GOP Machine went into OVERDRIVE to kill it. Not even OCEA and AOCDS went as far to kill Measure D as the GOP Machine. Let’s be honest here, this wasn’t really a union vs. union battle. This was a concerted effort by the right-wing power base to defeat OCFA and prevent them from using surplus Prop 172 funds and thereby proving that government can work.

    RHackett-

    I couldn’t have said it better. While it was sad to see OCEA and AOCDS side with the anti crowd, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that they were the ones in the driver’s seat to kill Measure D. This was primarily a GOP Machine effort to thwart OCFA from showing how government can actually work, as these CReeps think that the only purpose of government is their personal enrichment. I regret if what I said earlier derailed the conversation here a bit, and I hope we can get back to focusing on the real culprits behind the fall of Measure D.

  12. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    I’m not sure about your point. I didn’t say all conservatives opposed the measure. But the majority of the conservatives in the county and the OC GOP did oppose it. Almost all of the County executives are GOP and they were unified in their opposition. The OC GOP and the OC CRA aggressively opposed the measure including the Op Ed of the OC Register spewing vicious attacks on firefighters and the fire department.

    You name three city council members.

    How do they compare to:

    Dick Ackerman
    Todd Spitzer
    Mike Carona
    Tony Rackauckas
    Chuck Devore
    Dana Rohrbacher
    Bill Campbell
    Chris Norby
    Jim Silva
    Tom Wilson
    Scott Baugh
    Tom McClintock

    It was claimed that Measure D would adversely impact law enforcement despite the assurances of the BoS to the contrary.

    I’m not surprised those who opposed the measure are trying to shift blame from themselves for the consequences. Conservatives like to claim they believe in personal responsibility, but they rarely accept it themselves.

  13. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    I forgot to add John Moorlach. He was the Treasurer at the time.

  14. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    How much money did the OCGOP put into the race? I honestly don’t know, but I doubt it was much. (and in checking ss.ca.gov I saw NO contributions to the NO ON D campaign.)

    I only cited three councilmembers to prove a point. The whole OCFA is a GOP Controlled group. You dont get on if you are a Democrat PERIOD.

    As for the OCFA, how can the machine be responsible while those who are in the machine are on the OCFA? Seems to me it was not so much a partisan issue as it was an issue of “turf”.

    Also, how do you justify the OCFA spending milions on a new facility and not new trucks back in ’04?

    You also claim “It was the OCFA who paid for the polling and research to determine if the measure was politically feasible” They should fire that pollster. The measure went down by a 3 to 1 margin! There are over 400,000 Dems in this county so do the math…

    Again, I pose the hypothetical. If Measure D passed and there was a violent crime (Samantha Runnion) wouldnt we all be saying that those funds could have prevented the murder.

    The fires of this past week were once in a life time tragedies. I live in S. County and was impacted by the fires. I doubt if Measure D passed the OCFA would have had the forsight to prepare for a once in a generation fire. Even if they got the money they still would not have been able to fight a fire that enormous.

  15. November 1, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    The Orange County Democratic Party did not take a position AGAINST Measure D as the Republicans did.
    After long and tedious debate, the decision was made to make no recommendation on the matter.
    As with many county-wide measures, a pro position by the Dems might have actually lost votes. That was the sad reality in OC at the time, but it’s changing.

  16. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    How much money did the OCGOP put into the race? I honestly don’t know, but I doubt it was much. (and in checking ss.ca.gov I saw NO contributions to the NO ON D campaign.)
    What about slate mailers sent to GOP’s in the county. It wouldn’t have shown up on the SoS reporting.

    I only cited three councilmembers to prove a point. The whole OCFA is a GOP Controlled group. You dont get on if you are a Democrat PERIOD.
    Again. I didn’t say all conservatives. But it’s a safe bet the conservatives who did oppose were in positions of higher stature in the OC GOP.

    As for the OCFA, how can the machine be responsible while those who are in the machine are on the OCFA? Seems to me it was not so much a partisan issue as it was an issue of “turf”.
    That’s an opinion. Do you have anything to justify it?

    Also, how do you justify the OCFA spending milions on a new facility and not new trucks back in ‘04?
    Couldn’t tell you. You’ll have to ask them. The reality is the increased revenue would have provided for the equipment they didn’t have last week. Since Measure D was opposed, they didn’t have the equipment and homes burned down. Not a lot of dots to connect.

    You also claim “It was the OCFA who paid for the polling and research to determine if the measure was politically feasible” They should fire that pollster. The measure went down by a 3 to 1 margin! There are over 400,000 Dems in this county so do the math…
    I doubt a poll can forcast an outcome when three competing initiatives specifically designed to confuse the voters are placed on the same ballot. As John and Ken pointed out to Bill Campbell, that is a tactic done by politicos to confuse the voters knowing all of them will get NO votes. This was also stated in the OC Register in their story last Saturday. Campbell didn’t deny that was the reason (all of which could be enacted with three votes by the Board at any time). It succeeded.

    Again, I pose the hypothetical. If Measure D passed and there was a violent crime (Samantha Runnion) wouldnt we all be saying that those funds could have prevented the murder.
    Doubtful. As stated earlier, law enforcement wasn’t going to be impacted despite the claims of the No on D campaign.

    The fires of this past week were once in a life time tragedies. I live in S. County and was impacted by the fires. I doubt if Measure D passed the OCFA would have had the forsight to prepare for a once in a generation fire. Even if they got the money they still would not have been able to fight a fire that enormous.
    ONCE IN A LIFETIME??? We’ve had several this year. We’ve had Laguna Beach in 1993, and several other big fires in OC going back to my time living here which is from the late 60’s. You either have a short memory or a short life span. As far as ability to fight a fire that enormous, I would like to know what your firefighting experience is to make your statement credible.

  17. Andrew Davey
    November 1, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Publius-

    Thanks for reminding us about what the DPOC did on Measure D. Obviously, it was NOTHING. So there you have it, the Democratic Party wasn’t responsible for Measure D’s demise. It was primarily a REPUBLICAN effort to kill a measure that could have given OCFA an opportinity to show how government can work.

    RHackett-

    Good points, all of them. While the Democrats did nothing and OCEA & AOCDS threw a few shekels into the anti-D effort, the GOP Machine was busy trying to kill D. Look at their public statements, and their slate mailings, and how many prominent Machine backed pols threw their support to the effort to kill Measure D.

    Oh yes, and let’s take a look at how fireprone OC has become. How often do we see these fires happening? How often do these infernos fill our teevee screens? And how often do we face extreme heat and severe dryness, the underlying factors that make us vulnerable to wildfires? Whether we like it or not, we’re vulnerable. So now, will we prepare ourselves for the threat, or will we act like there is none?

    It’s our choice.

  18. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    “How much money did the OCGOP put into the race? I honestly don’t know, but I doubt it was much. (and in checking ss.ca.gov I saw NO contributions to the NO ON D campaign.)

    What about slate mailers sent to GOP’s in the county. It wouldn’t have shown up on the SoS reporting.”

    Good point. However, the OCDEM party didn’t send out a single mailer nor take an opinion. Shame on them for turning their back on the men and women in fire!

    “I only cited three councilmembers to prove a point. The whole OCFA is a GOP Controlled group. You dont get on if you are a Democrat PERIOD.

    Again. I didn’t say all conservatives. But it’s a safe bet the conservatives who did oppose were in positions of higher stature in the OC GOP.”

    Thats your opinion, do you have anything to back that up?

    “Also, how do you justify the OCFA spending milions on a new facility and not new trucks back in ‘04?

    Couldn’t tell you. You’ll have to ask them. The reality is the increased revenue would have provided for the equipment they didn’t have last week. Since Measure D was opposed, they didn’t have the equipment and homes burned down. Not a lot of dots to connect.”

    Actually you are right. The OCFA had millions for a new facility, but didn’t spend money on trucks. That is not a lot of dots to connect. They had the money but chose to build a “Taj Mahal” (Joe Kerr’s words, not mine).
    Who says they wouldn’t have squandered the money like they did before? They could have purchased more equipment in 04 but did not. I am not too confident they would have become wise money stewards if Measure D passed after what they did in 04.

    “You also claim “It was the OCFA who paid for the polling and research to determine if the measure was politically feasible” They should fire that pollster. The measure went down by a 3 to 1 margin! There are over 400,000 Dems in this county so do the math…

    I doubt a poll can forcast an outcome when three competing initiatives specifically designed to confuse the voters are placed on the same ballot. As John and Ken pointed out to Bill Campbell, that is a tactic done by politicos to confuse the voters knowing all of them will get NO votes. This was also stated in the OC Register in their story last Saturday. Campbell didn’t deny that was the reason (all of which could be enacted with three votes by the Board at any time). It succeeded.”

    Polls are not a one time thing. If you base a campaign on one poll then you should quit the business. If the dynamics change, then you need to adjust your strategy. Obviously they didn’t run the best campaign (73% to 27% could tell you that).

    “Again, I pose the hypothetical. If Measure D passed and there was a violent crime (Samantha Runnion) wouldnt we all be saying that those funds could have prevented the murder.

    Doubtful. As stated earlier, law enforcement wasn’t going to be impacted despite the claims of the No on D campaign.”

    Your opinion. How would Measure D hurt other county employees? Nurses and Healthcare employees? What if we didn’t have enough money to train the healthcare professionals that would take care of those injured in the fires?

    “The fires of this past week were once in a life time tragedies. I live in S. County and was impacted by the fires. I doubt if Measure D passed the OCFA would have had the forsight to prepare for a once in a generation fire. Even if they got the money they still would not have been able to fight a fire that enormous.

    ONCE IN A LIFETIME??? We’ve had several this year. We’ve had Laguna Beach in 1993, and several other big fires in OC going back to my time living here which is from the late 60’s. You either have a short memory or a short life span. As far as ability to fight a fire that enormous, I would like to know what your firefighting experience is to make your statement credible. ”

    Now I need to prove my fire fighting experience? Geez that is a strawman if I ever saw one. The Laguna Fire was huge, true. However, it was not during a time where there were fires in several places in Orange County and the region. In my 21 years of living in Orange County I do not recall a disaster like the multiple fires we just had. What is your fire experience to know that Measure D funds would have purchased the adequate equipment?

  19. Anonymous
    November 1, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    I need to work on my HTML language to make my last post more readable…

  20. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Again. I didn’t say all conservatives. But it’s a safe bet the conservatives who did oppose were in positions of higher stature in the OC GOP.”
    Thats your opinion, do you have anything to back that up?
    I listed a congressman, several assemblymen, a state senator, county supervisors, and the county treasurer. You listed a couple of couple of councilmembers. I’ll let those reading determine which group is regarded as being higher in stature in the political arena.

    Actually you are right. The OCFA had millions for a new facility, but didn’t spend money on trucks. That is not a lot of dots to connect. They had the money but chose to build a “Taj Mahal” (Joe Kerr’s words, not mine). Who says they wouldn’t have squandered the money like they did before? They could have purchased more equipment in 04 but did not. I am not too confident they would have become wise money stewards if Measure D passed after what they did in 04.
    We will never know what the OCFA would have done since the Measure failed. If I remember the ballot language correctly, the measure mandated that revenues derived from Measure D be spent on the addition of both equipment and manpower above present levels.

    Polls are not a one time thing. If you base a campaign on one poll then you should quit the business. If the dynamics change, then you need to adjust your strategy. Obviously they didn’t run the best campaign (73% to 27% could tell you that).
    And what’s your point? I doubt anyone could have done anything to overcome the confusion added by the three initiatives. What I remember as being incredibly hypocritical was Norby (help us out, is he a conservative or a liberal) voting to add the initiatives and then campaigning against all of them. That should tell you all you need to know about the sincerity of the “giving the people a choice” motive.

    Your opinion. How would Measure D hurt other county employees? Nurses and Healthcare employees? What if we didn’t have enough money to train the healthcare professionals that would take care of those injured in the fires?
    I don’t know about your scenario. I do know the Prop 172 campaign was sold to the voters using firefighter imagery. I don’t remember any of the campaign showing healthcare professionals. When it was a different campaign it was losing. That is a fact believed by both sides.

    Now I need to prove my fire fighting experience? Geez that is a strawman if I ever saw one. The Laguna Fire was huge, true. However, it was not during a time where there were fires in several places in Orange County and the region. In my 21 years of living in Orange County I do not recall a disaster like the multiple fires we just had. What is your fire experience to know that Measure D funds would have purchased the adequate equipment?
    I hate to break the news to you. The day before the Laguna Beach fire, there was a smaller fire in Anaheim Hills that burned several homes. During the Laguna Beach fire another fire broke out on the county line on the Ortega Hwy. Right as the Laguna Beach fire was being extinguished another fire broke out in Malibu. Like I said, short memory. So yes, absolutely you need to prove your firefighter experience. Remember, the folks who are complaining about a lack of resources are the same ones who campaigned the hardest against Measure D. They are being held accountable for those actions. The OCFA chief is on record as saying if the OCFA had the equipment that would have been acquired via Measure D there might have been a different outcome at a critical moment. If your firefighter experience is more extensive than his please let us know so we may understand, and adjust our opinions accordingly. I’m beginning to see a pattern amongst the conservatives. If challenged on their credibility in making a statement they immediately claim it is a “straw man.” I already provided my knowledge on the outcome of Measure D as required by the ballot language. Maybe you can point to copy of the language that says otherwise.

  21. RHackett
    November 1, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    I need to redo this part.

    Polls are not a one time thing. If you base a campaign on one poll then you should quit the business. If the dynamics change, then you need to adjust your strategy. Obviously they didn’t run the best campaign (73% to 27% could tell you that).
    And what’s your point? I doubt anyone could have done anything to overcome the confusion added by the three initiatives. What I remember as being incredibly hypocritical was Norby (help us out, is he a conservative or a liberal) voting to add the initiatives and then campaigning against all of them. That should tell you all you need to know about the sincerity of the “giving the people a choice” motive.

    Also. The anti campaign was a total smear job based upon lies and deceptions of rampant crime if the Measure passed despite the assurances of the Supervisors that law enforcement funding wouldn’t be cut.

  22. demmother
    November 3, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    I am with Publius on this. The tragedy of 172 & measure D (and all of the other letters that the BOS put out to confuse the voter) was that it pitted our first responders against each other for what limited funds were available making any decision/endorsement for or against a losing proposition.

    The bloggers at Calitics do not live here (Andrew – excepted) and do not know the territory. There is more blame and political posturing going on rather than assessing what went right, and what can be improved.

  23. HotShot
    November 29, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    I work for the USDA Forest Service, and a friend of mine with OCFA was telling me about their wildland division. I was stunned at the fact Orange County has only 1 part-time , 12 person wildland hand crew on a day! Angeles/Ventura Counties have numerous (10+), paid, full time wildland specific crews.

    New helicopters/engines are nice.. but they can only slow the fire… its the hand crews/dozers that do the work. Hand crews/dozers are probably the most cost-effective thing in a department in terms of wildland fire. But since the majority of the public has no/very little idea of how to fight wildland fires, they only go by what they see. (ie: helicopters overhead, and engines with lights and sirens), the department goes with what the public will see… and they pay in the end.

  24. RHackett
    November 29, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    I have to agree. Firefighters across the state got oodscrayed. Big time. Our local conservative whack jobs led the charge and licked each other’s privates. Two years later, homes burn and they are distancing themselves from those actions as fast as they are able.

  25. January 24, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Sorry I’m responding to this so late – nearly 3 months after it was posted. As the author of the piece Andrew linked to, I wanted to respond to demmother’s comments:

    The bloggers at Calitics do not live here (Andrew – excepted) and do not know the territory. There is more blame and political posturing going on rather than assessing what went right, and what can be improved.

    I was born and raised in Tustin (THS Class of ’97, baby!). My immediate family still lives and works in Orange County, as does most of my extended family. The fires in October came within two blocks of burning down the school where my mother and sister work, and reached the base of the hill my elderly grandparents live on. I may no longer be a daily resident of Orange County, but I remain very familiar with it, and with its politics.

    I never denied there was a fight between first responders over Measure D. That fight was regrettable. But in Orange County, it’s not the fight between first responders that usually sways voters. Instead it was the decision of virtually the entire OC GOP establishment to fight the OCFA on this and fight them hard. If you look back at Register editorials and Matt Cunningham’s blog posts from October 2005, a great deal of time and words were used to oppose Measure D, and in some of the nastiest terms possible. With such a coordinated political and media onslaught, no wonder Measure D failed.

    As I saw my family nearly lose their homes and workplaces in the fires, I asked myself “why did this happen?” And when I learned that the OCFA had indeed been shorthanded I asked “who was responsible?” I don’t want my family or anyone else’s family in OC to face this immediate fear again.

    I agree that we need to focus on what can be improved. The OCFA needs more money. And the OC GOP establishment stands in their way. As we have learned the hard way this decade, disasters are inherently political events. When conservatives successfully undermine the government’s ability to do its job and protect the public, people suffer. If we are to prevent this from happening again, OC residents and Californians need to understand that conservatives and their ideology stand in the way of adequate fire protection.

    It’s not a pretty conclusion, but it is the right one.

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