Dispatches from the Association of California Cities–Orange County's Blabfest

Infrastructure in Orange County is tough business, what with the 34 different cities and dozens and dozens of other various special districts. I mean, heck, have you driven around the airport? There's three cities there that can barely communicate who borders where and who's in charge of what.

So, what's a totally non-governmental organization's to do when they host an infrastructure summit sponsored by some hopeful government contractors? How do you put on an event that has a takeaway both for Seal Beach and for Yorba Linda? The Orange County chapter of the Association of California Cities–the conservative response to the actually-respectable League of California Cities–decided on an event full of streetcar and water talk. I went, and here's what I learned (hint: I learned a lot more about one local mayor's French speaking ability than I did about anything else).


  • SanTana Monsieur Le Maire for Life Miguel Pulido's French could probably kick my French's ass, and I have a degree in the language (Zot zot, my program doesn't exist anymore.) Listen close during the intros of ACCOC's The City Square podcast, you might hear him introducing himself in la belle langue. Get over your French, Don Papi–doesn't help you run SanTana one bit.
  • You know how the Anaheim Streetcar and the Garden Grove-Santa Ana Streetcar would most likely be technologically incompatible? You can blame that (mostly) on event moderator and former big man in the state capitol Curt Pringle and his government, who wanted their streetcar to run above street level. Santa Ana's, which is farther along in the planning process, started its life running in the road.
  • The Orange County/Costa Mesa Hilton gave us all an awesome parking discount. $10 for 7 hours? What a deal.
  • “Desal is environmentally friendly” — a quote lifted from an ACCOC video of a tour they took of the Poseidon's Carlsbad desalination plant. Poseidon, of course, being a sponsor of this event and an affiliate member of ACC-OC.
  • Pringle spent the entirety of the event in an arm sling, thanks to recent shoulder surgery. Don't worry, he's fine. Heal quick, Curt!
  • ACCOC's desal panel wasn't ENTIRELY one-sided. Poseidon VP Scott Maloni and Tustin City Councilor Allan Bernstein were joined on stage by Surfrider's own Joe Geever. Joe's was pretty obviously the smartest person up there, but he was also the least charismatic :(.
  • Maloni's a sharp one. He took a few jabs at Pringle's love for fanny packs. Pringle replies: “All of a sudden, I signed up for the Surfrider foundation.” Maloni's rebuttal? “You'd be the first one.” Oof.
  • According to Maloni, $400 to $500 of the $1,800 per acre-foot of water San Diego county will be paying for their desalinated water is in delivery costs. I wonder how much OC would pay, seeing how we'd have to build the actual pipeline.
  • Bernstein was trying to be on his best behavior, PC-wise. He switched a “man” to a “man and woman” pretty quick. No one really cared, though.
  • An aside: Why does the Orange County Sanitation District and the Orange County Transportation Authority need to sponsor this kind of thing? Seriously? What kind of half decent politician doesn't know about the work they do already?
  • Santa Margarita Water District Board Member Charley Wilson occasionally lapses into saying “hwat” instead of “what” and it's pretty awesome.
  • Aliso Viejo's Mike Munzig (also a former People Issue subject) is some kind of hard worker. I spotted him designing his own election posters while learning about water.

    For more fun, check out this video of Dana Rohrabacher's birthday bash on Mike's YouTube channel:

  • The Hilton has some of the fanciest paper towels I've ever seen. Tree per towel, I swear.
  • They had some kind of shitty fire alarm, though. It went off for a false alarm while staff was prepping the conference room for lunch, and barely anyone noticed. The hotel made an announcement that it was a false alarm, and even less people heard that.
  • What do you have for lunch at one of these shindigs? Mediocre, but fancy looking, hotel food. On the menu: mixed greens salad with cubed cucumber, some kind of radish, and citrus, generic risotto, over-cooked stuffed chicken breast, and some standard grilled veg. Oh yeah, the ticket price? Around the neighborhood of $170.
  • Speaking of lunch, the Hilton announced it was ready by having one of their staffers stand by the door and just play some wooden chime things.
  • Pringle's official portrait's gotta be getting up there in age. I think it might be in its teens by now.
  • “When I was mayor of Anaheim, I loved speaking in Modesto” — Curt Pringle
  • San Diego politicians are still making bacon jokes, as afternoon speaker San Diego City Councilor Mark Kersey demonstrated.
  • Kersey's talk was the most interesting of the day, aided greatly by the fact that he led with a clip of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight.
  • And finally, speaking of infrastructure, the Hilton's audio system pooped out for a few moments right in the middle of Kersey's speech. What timing.
  • An aside: Do the companies that sponsor these kind of things have to report the expenses as lobbying costs? 'Cause they kind of are, aren't they? I'm looking at you Cadiz, Poseidon, Waste Management. (Seriously though, why is OCSD and OCTA sponsoring this thing? Don't they have other things they can do with that money?)

All in all, I didn't learn anything I didn't already know and I can't say I'm surprised.

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Email: cl**@oc******.com. Twitter: @charlesnam. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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