Adult Leadership in Irvine for the Nation to Follow

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

I witnessed firsthand on August 30 an amazing display of calm, deliberative and ultimately decisive leadership by Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang.  The only agenda item was a major development project-Great Park Neighborhoods by FivePoint Communities.  At stake, nearly 5,000 homes surrounding the Great Park, transportation improvements, bringing 16,500 jobs to the City and contributing more […]

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Restoring California Competitiveness: Let My People Go!

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

California was a place originally known for its opportunities, beauty,
wilderness, open roads, Gold Rush mentality, freedom, and innovation. Eureka,
the state’s motto, means "I have found it!" 
But this place of dreams is now the land of wishful thinking: a
consummate nanny-state of over-regulation, command and control.  From the profoundly and absurdly huge ideas
(saving the planet from climate change while China and India march to a
different tune) to the silly (mandating fitted sheets in hotel rooms).  And we’re so over-regulated, that I
guarantee, right now, you are breaking some California law this very
minute.  (Did you install your CO2
monitor required in every home July 1? No? $200 fine is on its way.)

Where unemployment at over 12% is one of the highest in the nation–two
million people out of work–the state’s bond ratings flirt with junk status,
and private investors are wary of a constantly changing and uncertain
regulatory environment.  Where governors
from other states proactively seek and invite the relocation of our best
businesses.  And what’s to stop business
from leaving? California has ranked 49th or 50th on numerous national lists as
the worse place to do business for the last several years.  According to Dun & Bradstreet, 2,565
businesses with three or more employees have relocated to other states since
January 2007 and 109,000 jobs left with those employers.

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Can You See Clearly Now?

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

This piece was co-authored by Dr. Wallace Walrod, Vice President of Economic Development & Research, Orange County Business Council.

I serve on a local business advisory committee to the South
Coast Air Quality Management District-folks charged with clearing the air for
better health and visibility. 

They’ve done a good job over the last 40 years.  The air quality of Southern California has
gotten much better even with major population growth and economic
development. 

But there is always one more rule to impose, one more
particulate to regulate, one more greenhouse gas to consider-it’s government’s
job to do that-and one more business fails to grow or simply folds under the
weight and cost of compliance.  Not just air
quality but add the tens of thousands of regulations, fees and taxes coming out
of numerous local, state and federal agencies today.  And millions of folks out of work, a stagnant
economy in California, and a bottom-ranking on any objective list as the
nation’s "worst place to do business."

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Lobbying 101: The First Squirrel Sighting of the Season

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

With the travesty in mismanagement at the City of Bell,
Sacramento budget disasters, government regulations choking business at every
level of our lives, under-funded public pensions, and a sluggish economy
that-shocking-can’t seem to recover, we now hear the words:  "And what we need is more transparency in
government!"  Sheesh.

Frankly, what we need is LESS government, LESS regulation,
LESS red tape, but I digress.

Recently the OC Grand Jury decided that OC needed an
ordinance regulating lobbyists because "everyone else has it; why shouldn’t
we."  Well, sure.  We have about 15 honest-to-goodness
professional OC "lobbyists" in the traditional definition of the word:  those who promote or secure the passage of
legislation by persuading public officials. 
In Los Angeles and San Diego-bastions of transparency and good government–they
have formal lobbying ordinances requiring registration and reporting of all
lobbying activities.

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OCBC Weighs in on Obamacare: Facts vs. Hype

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

On
Nov. 09, the Register’s Opinion pages published opposing views on health care
reform ["Is it time to dismantle health reform law?"],
one of which mentioned Orange County Business Council research by Wallace
Walrod. OCBC’s report, cited in the piece by Daniel Zingale of the California
Endowment, was an initial assessment compiled to understand how health care
reform, its costs and benefits will impact California businesses, which can be
viewed [HERE].?

Like
the vast majority of the California business community, OCBC and its members
are still assessing the true impacts. Our research found that there may be
benefits, but there are still many questions, costs and concerns.??

OCBC
shares the concerns voiced by the author of the companion piece [HERE], Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research
Institute, about how reform will be implemented. For example, a primary concern
of the business community is uncertainty regarding employer insurance costs.
Early estimates of impacts range from moderate to severe.??

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Sacramento Sigalert: Paging Howard Beale!

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

Why is it that we Californians will watch a freeway chase of a car going nowhere fast? Fascinated with the police chase? Waiting for action, even a potential crash? Hoping for the ultimately real-time capture?

Oh for the same attention to Sacramento elected leaders in their "chase" of an illusive, timely, balanced state budget! But electeds’ glacial pace at solving legitimate problems of crisis proportion and budgetary inaction has become the "new normal"- and the equivalent of watching paint dry.

California’s economy is the largest of any state in the US, and is the eighth largest economy in the world. Is it not absolutely outrageous that elected leaders can’t seem to put a budget together in a timely fashion? Frankly, at this point almost any budget-including a "kick-the-can-down-the-street-until-the-next-governor" budget would be better than none. Beyond the partisan snipes and ideological warfare, this state’s millions of residents suffer while our legislators blithely attend to fundraising and upcoming election activity. Where is the constituent outrage?

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Hijab-Gate: Employees Rights and Responsibilities

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

Recently, Orange County’s biggest private employer has been in the spotlight over a suit filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by Imane Boudlal, a restaurant hostess working at Disneyland citing religious discrimination. Boudlal, who has worked at Disneyland for the past two years, recently obtained her U.S. citizenship, and began wearing a hijab last week to work. She was asked to remove the headscarf or work in another job at Disneyland. She refused and went home.

Every business has the right to create guidelines, policies and regulations to better serve its customers, in addition to better protecting themselves. Companies like Disney work hard to ensure their products and services continuously meet certain standards, meet their mission and the brand that generations have grown to love over the last 55 years.

On key issues, Opinion will present a variety of timely opinions in a pro/con format to give readers a quick cross-section of viewpoints.

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That’s the Way – Uh Huh, Uh Huh – I Like It!

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

OCTA Teaches Jobs Creation 101:

You know the facts: nationally, about 370,000 government
jobs were just "created" vs. only 41,000 private sector jobs. With
a real state unemployment rate nearing 20% (counting those underemployed and
those folks who just "gave up looking"), California needs two million jobs right now.

Even Orange County-damning by faint praise with
"only" a 9.5% unemployment rate-has lost almost 175,000 jobs,
with the transportation sector down over 40%.

But
good news for new jobs is here to share. Under the
leadership of City of Orange Mayor Carolyn Cavecche, who also serves on
Orange CountyTransportation Authority’s board of directors, a new OCTA
board policy
was unanimously adopted today: OCTA now has established as its target
that 100%
of all professional services allowed be contracted to the private
sector!

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Roses, Radishes and Squirrels Sighted in the OC

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

In the garden of OC what we need is some serious cabbage, but instead
we discovered last week some roses, radishes, and a few squirrels. Jobs
creation is job one. OC’s near 10% unemployment and the state’s near
13% unemployment, we see signs of economic recovery, but no jobs
creation. How do you create jobs? Reduce fees and taxes, cut
regulations and eliminate opportunities for frivolous lawsuits.

Anything else is a SQUIRREL, or a distraction, to the main event.

So what does our garden grow?

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Dunn and Done: Let Our Children Go! Return Local Control of Education Now

Lucy Dunn
President and CEO of the Orange County Business Council

State and
federal lawmakers and bureaucrats are holding our children hostage.
They are well-intentioned, no doubt, but the road to hell is paved with
their good intentions. And the travel is getting hotter every day.

Sacramento is broke, programs are being cut, legislators’ management
skills are questionable and California’s economic recovery is not
evident. Local educators are doing their best with constrained, delayed
school funding, making the tough decisions every other private sector
company is making to get by.

But complicating this mess further, Orange
County educators have zero flexibility on 73% of the public funding
they do get! They are dictated by Sacramento and, frankly, Washington
as well, on how to spend, when to spend, who to spend on, leaving no
flexibility to meet local community needs for our children in tough
times.

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