SANTA ANA — When the discussion over approval of an ordinance to register professional lobbyists working the fifth floor of the Orange County Hall of Administration came up in November 2010, we thought it would be helpful to find out who the Board of Supervisors were meeting with. After all, Supervisor John Moorlach raised what seemed to be a reasonable point when he said; “I’m still trying to figure out what we’re trying to fix,” adding he could not point to a single instance of abuse by a lobbyist in Orange County. “I don’t see anything to go after,” Moorlach said.
So our Managing Editor, Dan Chmielewski, submitted what he thought was a simple public records request on December 9, 2010.
County of Orange
Public Information Officer
Because this request covers records for multiple Board of Supervisors offices I am submitting it through you. While I would prefer these record electronically, printed copies will be sufficient.
I am requesting the Appointment/Meeting schedules and visitor records for all five members of the Orange County Board of Supervisor’s and their individual Chiefs of Staff for the period from April 1, 2010 through November 8, 2010. If there is no Chief of Staff, please provide the information for all Deputy Chief of Staff or lead staff manager.
The records request is meant to include scheduled and completed appointments with the identified individuals, inclusive of who met with the official, and the purpose of the meeting and/or business entity represented if recorded.
Every month since then Dan has received virtually the same letter from County Public Information Officer Howard Sutter, claiming that the County needs another month to gather, and review the information. Here is the latest letter Dan received on Thursday.
Since during this intervening time we have seen a watered down ordinance develop and evolve to the point where it is planned to be finalized at this week’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, we figure now is about as good a time as any to bring up the difficulty we’re having finding out some rather simple information.
The proposed Ordinance requires that paid lobbyists register with the Clerk of the Board and pay a nominal registration fee. It establishes a progressive system of fines if the lobbyists fail to register. What we have figured out here is that there is no way for the public to have any idea if the registration ordinance is even being followed if it is approved.
We get what Supervisor Moorlach is saying about not being able to point to a single instance of abuse or problem to be fixed. If it takes more than 5 months to find out who he and his colleagues are meeting with, there really isn’t much of a point?
Maybe Supervisor Moorlach could speed up the process on releasing his meeting records. After all, he’s got nothing to hide; right?