March 19, 2004
Prop 172
Firefighters earlier this month filed a notice of intent to circulate petition that could result in an initiative on the November ballot that ultimately would divert millions of dollars of Proposition 172 revenue from the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s budgets.

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The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) and the county firefighters’ union are attempting to get a share of tax money that Supervisors have split between the Sheriff and District Attorney. If passed, the initiative would give them 10 percent of the revenue from a half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1993. Orange County Sheriff and District Attorney officials fear that they will have to pull deputies off the streets and prosecutors out of the courtroom if this proposed initiative is approved.

Proposition 172 was written by former Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates and other public safety officials in response to the State’s shift of property tax dollars from cities and counties to schools. This measure called for a half-cent sales tax increase, proceeds from which would support public safety services. The Fire Authority’s share of property taxes, on the other hand, known as the Structural Fire Fund, was exempt from the State’s shift of funds from local governments to schools. These funds continue to be distributed to the Fire Authority.

The County of Orange splits its share of Prop 172 revenues between the Sheriff and District Attorney, 80 percent and 20 percent respectively. These funds account for nearly 60 percent of the District Attorney’s budget and nearly half of the Sheriff’s operations budget.

Currently, the Fire Authority is funded through property taxes and fees from 22 cities that contract for its services. The proposed initiative would call for the Fire Authority to receive half of any increase in Prop 172 revenue.

Since Prop 172 money makes up about half of the Sheriff’s operations budget, losing even 10 percent of this money would have devastating effects and impede the County’s ability to maintain quality public safety service. The Sheriff’s Department might have to reduce patrols, release inmates early and slow the investigation of crimes. The District Attorney’s office will also be heavily impacted in the way it performs its responsibilities. In addition, this proposal could force substantial budget cuts to County services including health care, the DA, Sheriff’s Department and other public safety services.

“It is very disheartening to see two public safety allies competing with each other,” said CEO Jim Ruth. “I surely hope that OCFA realizes the devastating effects this measure would ultimately have on public safety at large. This initiative could not come at a worse time for the County of Orange and its residents given all of the budgetary uncertainties faced by State and local governments. Both the County and OCFA have obligations to serve our community. We need to work together to do that.”
County Managers Initiate Leadership Academy
t was back to school in January when 31 managers from 20 departments became the first class of the County’s new Leadership Academy. Hosted at Chapman University, the program was proposed
and implemented by the County Executive Officer and Dr. Mark Maier, a well known teacher, speaker and consultant in leadership development. Class time will total nearly 50 hours.

“The reorganization that we recently undertook included attention to immediate changes that should be made and a long view at preparing the County for the future,” said CEO Jim Ruth. “As the baby boomers near retirement age, we’re going to lose a lot of talent and experience. I had to ask whether or not we’re developing the next level of managers to lead us into the future. The Leadership Academy, coupled with succession planning, will help us be better prepared.”

The Academy’s approach differentiates between being a manager and  becoming a leader. The course’s foundations are communication, teamwork, collaboration and leadership sharing. It includes discussion and hands-on exercises that bring the theory into workday reality. “We approach leadership not just as something we do,” said Maier, “but, more fundamentally, as an expression of who we are.”

Colleene Preciado, Chief Deputy Probation Officer, is not new to leadership training. She has taken other management classes and is currently taking online courses through the National Institute of Corrections. “This is a very exciting class that adds to what I’m learning in other settings,” she said. “What the County has developed is very much in line with the private sector and work that’s being done across the nation.”

In one of the Academy exercises, the class was divided into teams and given a problem to solve. Preciado said that it was only when the problem solving opened up and all team members contributed that they found the solution. It was a lesson that she immediately applied to a project in the Probation Department.

“I was working with a committee composed of a cross-section of Probation staff members,” she said. “Our job was to improve a very complicated process within our organization. We were struggling a bit when I stepped back and thought about the exercise in class. What I had taken away from the class was that leadership can change within a team. Different team members could lead various sections of the project where they had particular abilities and enthusiasm. When we capitalize on the leadership strengths of each member, the outcome will be more successful.”

Francisco Alonso, Assistant Director of Building Safety in Resources & Development Management Department (RDMD), has also seen immediate benefit from the Academy. “One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned so far is that sometimes we create our own impediments,” said Alonso. “We did an exercise in which – if we followed the instructions literally – we weren’t going to achieve the goal. When we started thinking out of the box, we found that we could achieve the goal in record time. At first, we had limited ourselves by setting up our own restrictions.”

Facing a stumbling block with a project at work, Alonso started asking himself “why not?” instead of “why?” He encouraged his colleagues to look past the stumbling block for a new way to approach the project. “Because of the class I was energized and ready to seek change rather than accept status quo.”

Both Academy students agree that developing new working relationships with County colleagues is another benefit of the course. “It’s really helpful to have in-depth conversations with other County managers,” said Preciado. “We’re all building the airplane. We’re just each making different parts.”

Leadership Academy, January 2004

Shaun Skelly,
Assistant Auditor-Controller, Agency Accounting

Child Support Services
Barbara Mizerek,
Training Manager

Nancy Kolodisner, Program Manager

Clerk Recorder
Renee Ramirez,
Assistant Clerk Recorder

County Executive Office
Bill Mahoney,
Deputy CEO, Government & Public Services

Vicki Wilson,
Deputy CEO, Infrastructure & Environment

Vicki Mathews,
Public Affairs Director

John Wheeler,
Assistant Chief Information Officer

Reza Khayyami,
Chief Technology Officer

Patricia Cahill,
H.R. Standards & Quality Assurance Manager

Steve Dunivent,
Budget Manager

District Attorney

William Feccia,
Executive Manager

Health Care Agency
David Thiessen,
Financial & Program Manager

Housing & Community Services
Jess Carbajal,
Senior Administrative Manager

Andrew Munoz,
Senior Administrative Manager

Integrated Waste Management
Ronald Pierre,
Business Services Manager

Internal Audit

Eli Littner,
Deputy Director

John Wayne Airport
Scott Hagen,
Manager of Landslide

OC Public Library
Helen Fried,
Bibliographic Services Manager

Larry McKenney,
Watershed & Coastal Resources Director

Francisco Alonso,
Building Safety Assistant Director

Colleene Preciado,
Chief Deputy Probation Officer

Public Defender
Deborah Kwast,
Public Defender

Registrar of Voters

Steve Rodermund,

Dennis DeMaio,

Deana Bergquist,

Jo Ann Galisky,
Assistant Sheriff

Social Services Agency
Roy Lipshin,
Training & Career Development Manager

Treasurer/Tax Collector
John Moorlach,

Gary Cowan,
Assistant Treasurer/Tax Collector

Jim Buck,
Chief Operating Officer
Q. What is the County position as far as meeting the AQMD requirements of
pollution control? Judged from the traffic congestion everywhere and
everyday, it appears that there are more cars and big cars nowadays on the
road than before. More and larger cars produce more pollution, gridlock and
accidents. As the CEO of the County and the largest employer, do you have
any thoughts on how we might provide more incentives to County employees to use the ridesharing program?

A. The County strongly supports carpooling and using alternate means of transportation as ways to reduce traffic congestion and diminish air pollution. As a demonstration of this belief, the County initiated the Commuter Assistance Program (CAP) in 1998. The program offers various methods of assisting County employees with their commute to work. Employees may access a voicemail system, a web site, display rack, and a newsletter to obtain more information on ridesharing. Here’s a list of the programs and services the Commuter Assistance Program currently offers:

Message Center
An automated voicemail system provides employees with information about the program.
Contact the Message Center at 714.834.4068
Commuter Assistance Program Web Site
Commuter Information Display Racks
The display racks are located throughout 30 County facilities. These self-service racks are filled with program brochures and applications, bus schedules, Metrolink timetables, Guaranteed Return Trip vouchers and much more.
County Commuter Newsletter
The quarterly online newsletter contains information about incentives and contests as well as general information to help commuters. Current and past issues can be found at
Guaranteed Return Trip Program
This component enables any participating employees to get a ride home via a County vehicle or pre-selected taxi service in case of an emergency on a rideshare day.
Commuter Club Discount Program
Employees who commit to rideshare at least five times per month can become members of the Commuter Club which provides discounts from participating merchants, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Carpool Classifieds
Visit the CAP web site to register your commute information or find a carpool partner.
Commuter Rail Startup Subsidy
The new rider subsidy is for employees who want to “Get Into Training” and try the train or commuter rail for the first time. A current rider program is also available to those who have taken the train for at least six months.
Vanpool Rebate Program
The program offers a three-month rebate for new vanpool riders.
For more information, contact the message center at 714.834.4068 or visit

Q. Thank you for County Connection and for the invitation to respond. In these difficult socio-economic times, hearing directly from the CEO brings us a sense of stability. It will help us "weather the storm" in a united spirit.

A. We appreciate the positive feedback. We hope that the newsletter and this column will encourage employee comment and questions.

If you have questions about the future of the County, a suggestion about providing service more efficiently or an idea that improves customer service, send it along to this regular feature in your new, online County employee newsletter.

All questions and suggestions will be reviewed by CEO staff and shared with the appropriate department. CEO Jim Ruth will respond in this newsletter to the most representative ones.

All questions must be signed, but names will not be printed in the newsletter. You may submit items by email to You may also fax to 714.796.8426 or pony to County Connection, third floor, Hall of Administration. Read the next issue of County Connection for the first Ask the CEO.