Men’s Club: December 2015 Update

This month the Men’s Club learned about the challenges of law enforcement in Orange County, and the Tax Equalization Board.
On October 20 the Club members honored our veterans by taking a group photo and thanking them for their service. Our guest speaker, Sheriff SandraHutchens, rode into Niguel Shores packing a smile
and a remarkably informative presentation about Orange County law enforcement. Sheriff Hutchens gave us an overview of the many responsibilities that are wrapped into her office and some insight into her new initiatives to make our county safe and secure.
This includes law enforcement for unincorporated Orange County plus 13 cities (including Dana Point), the Orange County Transportation Authority support, John Wayne Airport, the OC Harbor Patrol, marine firefighting, search and rescue for the coastline, jails with 6000 inmates, a crime lab, court service and she is also the coroner.
Our Sheriff leads a 3800-person team, the largest agency in OC. She made an interesting point that about half of the employees are “sworn” members of the police force. In later remarks, she pointed out the emergency response needs of the community and how important the sworn officer contingent is to fulfilling those needs.
When discussing the nationwide pressure on police forces to be more accountable and the impact of increased scrutiny on them, she assured us that our police force is doing the job and not backing off. She attributes that to good people and a policy of supporting them when they are right and holding them accountable when they are wrong.
Sheriff Hutchens emphasized several key issues: drugs, internet crime, and the need for more health care for mental illness. (From my view as a newcomer, the Sheriff is a very impressive public servant who appears to be a great combination of steel and compassion).
On November 3 another impressive public servant, Diane Harkey, who is a member of the 4th District of the CA State Board of Equalization, was our speaker. Her resume includes: Republican Assembly woman of the 73rd District, past Dana Point Mayor and City Council member, trustee Capistrano Valley Symphony, board member Ocean Institute, and Dana Point Fifth Marine Regiment Support Group.
Ms. Harkey opened her remarks thanking Niguel Shores and the Men’s Club for its support of Dana Point especially when she was Mayor. She then gave us the background of the California State Equalization of Board. It was created in 1879 by a constitutional amendment to ensure that property tax assessments were uniform and equal across all counties in the state.
Today, it oversees the assessment of property taxes and collection of more than 33 taxes and fees. These state revenues total more than $60 billion dollars (about one third of the state’s total revenue). Please see the Board of Equalization report for more detail
For the purposes of tax administration, the BOE divides the state into four Equalization Districts, each with its own elected board member. Our district includes Orange, Imperial, Riverside, and San Diego, as well as a portion of both Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
It is refreshing to see a positive and upbeat approach when discussing taxes and Diane seems to be taking on the Board’s challenges with that approach. She stressed her intent to be an advocate for business owners who have to navigate the maze of tax rules and auditing. She expressed concern that many in state government have a strong appetite for more revenue, but rarely consider achieving the same goal by spending less. She predicted that the ongoing discussion over changing Prop 13 would continue but without changes to the status quo. When discussing some current issues, she talked about the difficulty of taxing the growing medical marijuana industry. For example, banks could still face prosecution if they provide financial services to marijuana businesses that conduct activities in violation of state or federal law. This makes record keeping difficult and encourages a cash industry that avoids taxing.
She contemplates a set of position papers that address these issues—possibly titled “Getting into the Weeds”.
Upcoming Meetings
Dec. 1: Joe Muller, Dana Point Development Progress
Dec. 15: Dana Hills Chorus—members are encouraged to bring our loved ones to the meeting for this treat (Please note: Help us invite widows of our members to attend this meeting.)
Jan. 5: Luna Ursula Reynoso, History of the Area
Jan. 19: Robert Ming—Development of Orange County
—Jerry Allen

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