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  • Thursday, December 28, 2006


    2006 TOP STORIES

    METRO Talk

    #1 Story for 2006
    Orange City Council Member Steve Ambriz
    dies in car accident

    Orange City Council Member Steve Ambriz was killed in a head-on car crash on May 25th, 2006. Traveling east on Santiago Canyon Road, Ambriz’s car was hit by a pick-up driven by Walnut resident Sara Lyn Ward who was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. Ambriz’s death shocked and stunned his hometown of Orange, the Greater Orange Communities, and his co-workers in the County of Orange. His death also changed the dynamics of the November 2006 Orange mayoral and city council races.

    Council Member Ambriz’s death did unite the community to honor his contributions and lifelong commitment to Greater Orange. The community contributed to the Kaitlyn Ambriz Scholarship Fund directly and through the Steve Ambriz Memorial Poker Tournament, and began planning the 2007 Steve Ambriz Legacy Golf Tournament to benefit the future Steve Ambriz Storytime Room at the under construction new Orange Main Library.

    Ward pleaded not guilty and goes to trial on January 5th, 2007.

    Steve Ambriz Memorial Website:|

    2007 Steve Ambriz Legacy Golf Tournament:

    Orange Council Member Jon Dumitru’s Blog Report on Poker Tournament:

    Orange Council Member Jon Dumitru’s Blog Report on Sara Lynn Wards court plea:

    #2 Story for 2006
    November 2006 Elections in Greater Orange

    The local November 2006 Elections featured the 21st Century meeting small town politics as the Orange County Blogsphere became a battleground and information broker as it supplemented the mainstream media by supplying behind-the-scenes information. While the Orange County Supervisor Race impacted a broader area, the Orange City Council race was by far the race to follow.

    Reporting on the residency issues of Carol Rudat, the negative campaigns against Denis Bilodeau and Mike Alvarez, and reporting on the origin of campaign websites, the influential OC Blog became a daily must read for campaign insiders and state and local political junkies. In addition, Orange Politicos, the Greater Orange News Service and numerous other established and pop-up single issue blogs created an independent web-based information system that supplied breaking news and connected readers with independent instant links to campaign oriented issues.

    In the Orange Unified School District Trustee Election, the once united Orange Recall winning Citizens Board Trustees easily defeated a comeback attempt of the Education Alliance candidates. Conflicting endorsements that crossed alliances and slates (including OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma endorsing challengers to other trustees) and political party endorsements seemed to have little impact on the election as all four OUSD Trustees easily were re-elected.

    The November surprise came from the little watched Villa Park City Council Election with voters replacing long time council member and Mayor Patricia Bortle and appointed Council Member and Foothills Sentry writer Robert Fauteux. The two incumbents came in at the bottom of the five person race for three city council seats. Winning the three seats were Brad Reese, Jim Rhiens and Deborah Pauly.

    #3 Story for 2006
    OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco’s
    Censorship, Censure, and Lawsuit

    Orange Unified was again in the news as Superintendent Thomas Godley and OUSD Board President Kim Nichols tagged teamed eccentric and outspoken OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco. Rocco used his oppositional defiant behavior coupled with his extensive use of freedom of speech to drive the OUSD Administration and fellow Board members over the edge. OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley censored the public Board cable broadcast of Rocco facing off with OUSD Trustee John Ortega, as well as his comments on relatives of OUSD Administrators working for OUSD and his opinion about keeping employed transferred Villa Park High School Principal Ben Rich to Richland Continuation High School.

    Months later after Board President Kim Nichols’ crusade for approval of what now appears to be a botched Resolution of Censure against Rocco, it is evident that the whole Censure Affair has backfired. Rocco, with the help of Californians Aware has filed suit against OUSD. In addition, Rocco appears more embolden and the Trustees appear less willing to try to muzzle him in light of the Free Speech lawsuit now pending.

    The OUSD Trustees had already rescinded the Recall Reform of rotating Board officers that denied Rocco a leadership role and now has given Kim Nichols another year as Board President. It will be Nichols who will continue to deal with Rocco and his lawsuit as the Board prepares to lay the ground work to introduce a third School Bond Measure to the Greater Orange Communities on the heels of the failure of the Rancho Santiago Bond Measure in the November 2006 election. While this year the Rocco Saga was number three, it appears to be the one “to be continued” story of 2006.

    Californians Aware

    Commentary by Californians Aware President Richard McKee: and

    Report on Nichols Mark Foley Comments and Rocco Censure Comments

    Trustee Comments on the Resolution of Censure

    Report on September 28 vote in Favor of the Public Hearing

    Transcripts and Photo of the Ortega vs. Rocco face off

    Monday, December 25, 2006


    MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Greater Orange Communities

    Thursday, December 21, 2006


    TIME Magazine Person of the Year: YOU

    The Orange County Blogsphere came of age in 2006. Led by the OC Blog, joined by mainstream media blogs, and supported by regional, small hometown, personal and political blogs, the 2006 Orange County Blogsphere broke stories, incorporated video, developed and posted independent investigations, and supported and reported the local angle in a void of local coverage. That coverage was independent and bias, confirmed and unconfirmed, rumored and substantiated, laughable and sad.

    Time Magazine has recognized the power of the internet and readers, bloggers and the citizens of the Blogsphere. Nowhere is the Time story more evident than right here in the IBOC...the Independent Blogshpere of Orange County.

    To view the TIME cover story CLICK ON:,9171,1569514,00.html?aid=434&from=o&to=http%3A//

    Sunday, December 10, 2006


    Free Speech Lawsuit against OUSD on December 14th Board Agenda

    Orange Unified Schools Digest
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    Free Speech Lawsuit against OUSD
    on December 14th Board Agenda

    The Free Speech Lawsuit against the Orange Unified School Board over the Rocco Censure Resolution is on the OUSD School Board agenda for the Thursday December 14th Closed Session Agenda as Item 4A. The Closed Session will begin at 5:30 p.m., one hour earlier than the usual closed session starting time.

    The lawsuit from Californians Aware President Richard McKee ( seeks to overturn the Rocco Censure and require guarantees that free speech at OUSD Board Meetings will not be violated in the future. Past legal wins by McKee against OUSD and other public agencies have resulted in the agencies also paying court and attorney fees.

    McKee spoke before the Closed Session at the November 16th OUSD Board Meeting and informed the OUSD Trustees that they were in further violation of open meeting laws by not providing required Facts and Circumstances of Closed Session discussed litigation. McKee informed the OUSD Board he checked OUSD Board Agenda’s for the prior year and did not find the required information available in the OUSD Agendas.
    For more information on the Free Speech Lawsuit CLICK ON:

    The December 14th Closed Session Agenda Item 4B-1 is a discussion of the Open Session Agenda Item 13A which gives a 6% pay hike for all OUSD Administrative Leadership except Superintendent Dr. Thomas Godley. Closed Session Agenda Item 4B-2 will discuss Dr. Godley's pay with OUSD Attorney Spencer Covert.

    With the November election resulting in the re-election of all the OUSD Trustee incumbents, the December 14th meeting will have the re-elected trustees taking the oath of office. Trustee Kathy Moffat with the least amount of endorsements had the highest winning percentage of the vote, 62.7%. Trustee Melissa Smith, who faced two challengers, won with the least winning percentage of 46.8%. Trustees Rick Ledesma won with 58.2% and Kim Nichols won with 57.3%. (CLICK ON:

    For the first time since the Orange Recall Reforms, the election for OUSD officers will not be by the Orange Recall Reform system of rotation of officers.
    After the election of Trustee Steve Rocco, the OUSD Board did away with the rotation system to deny Rocco a leadership position. Only Trustee Rick Ledesma has not served as OUSD Board President from the original Citizen’s Board elected after the Orange Recall. Since then, Ledesma has fallen out of favor from the rest of the Board for his opposition in choosing Dr. French as Superintendent and his questioning of administrative proposals. As an example, Ledesma at the November 16th OUSD Board Meeting pulled the OUSD Administration proposal to reconfigure the OUSD Maintenance Department. While the agenda showed a significant savings to the district, under questioning, Dr. French explained the “savings” was actually the shuffling of funding that resulted in more “unrestricted” funding available which the administration was calling a “savings”. This kind of questioning has often resulted in terse exchanges from administrators and fellow trustees toward Ledesma.

    Outgoing OUSD Board President Kim Nichols will leave as her legacy the Rocco Censure and the resulting Free Speech Lawsuit for the next OUSD President to deal with.


    Hiring an outside consulting firm for hundreds of thousands of educational tax dollars appears not to be enough consultant expertise for OUSD Administrators. OUSD Administrator Cheryl Cohen when she was OUSD Assistant Superintendent explained the high cost of the OUSD Focus on Results program would be eventually off-set by OUSD personnel eventually taking over the program. However the community wasn’t informed that the OUSD personnel taking over would be retired administrators, rehired as CONSULTANTS. Recently retired OUSD Executive Director of Secondary Education Fran Roney is back as an OUSD Focus on Results Consultant. Roney is in charge of replacing the age-old American Educational Institution of the Three R’s by infusing the Marxist-inspired educational theory of Differential Instruction into the OUSD school system through the OUSD Focus on Results program.

    Speaking of OUSD’s Focus on Results program, we should add that the OUSD “model” Focus on Results” school, Prospect Elementary is also on the December 14th Agenda. Under Consent Agenda Item 15U, Prospect, along with Handy Elementary will be applying for a grant only available to state designated Underperforming Schools. The Principal of Prospect was also a Senior Consultant for the for-profit Focus on Results when OUSD Administrators recommended and the OUSD Board approved the contract with the first quarter of a million dollar contract firm. Prospect is listed on the firms site as one of six schools “that make a difference”. Only Prospect’s rising earlier rising state test scores are shown, the falling scores since 2003 and the schools status as a newly designated California Underperforming School are not shown.

    For a complete list of community donations see the OUSD Agenda page 24:
    El Modena Education Foundation-$10,000 for the Math Department; Linda Vista PTA- $102 for Art Supplies; Target Corporation-$174 in supplies to Linda Vista School; McPherson Education Foundation-$891 for a sound system.

    OUSD Board Agenda
    Agenda Item 13 B- OUSD Financial Update
    Agenda Item 14 – Approval of Student School Calendars

    "We’re a $220 million dollar business; we’re going to spend the money somewhere.”
    -OUSD Trustee Wes Poutsma 9/22/05

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2006: $ 849,717.00:
    2006 Consultant Fee Tally:
    6/22/06 Douglas DeVore Speech $ 2,000
    6/08/06 Focus on Results $164,400
    3/09/06 Bob Sadler 3 Day Workshop $ 10,000
    Total $176,400

    2006 Attorney Fee Tally:
    7/20/06 Parker & Covert $100,000
    7/20/06 Parker & Covert $ 50,000
    7/20/06 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 30,000
    6/22/06 Miller, Brown & Dannis $ 50,000
    6/22/06 Parker & Covert $175,000
    4/20/06 Parker & Covert: $ 50,000
    1/19/06 Parker & Covert: $200,000
    Total $655,000

    JUNE 8th , 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent power to APPROVE Travel Requests taking this item OUT OF PUBLIC SCRUTINY:

    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel:
    2/9/06 Roney and 5 principals to Florida $ 10,623
    2/23/06 Roney and 2 principals Tx/ Fl $ 4,050
    3/09/06 2 to Florida Conference $ 3,644
    Total $ 18,317

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars spent in 2005: $ 978,300.000:
    Total 2005 Conference Administrator/Board Fees: $ 7,500.00
    2005 Attorney Fee Tally: $730,600.00
    Total Watched 2005 OUSD Consultant spending: $ 270,200.00

    Next OUSD Board Meeting Thursday December 14th. For more information

    OUSD CLOSED SESSION STARTS 5:30 PM on 12/14/06 Regular Session: 7:30 pm

    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions Just call Jon at the Business Services at 714-628-4015
    Orange Unified Schools Digest is an independent news service of
    “Independent, Local, UNCENSORED News and Viewpoints”

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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization