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Musick Madness and the MOU: Part 1, More Prisoners

Despite what you're being told, the City's agreement with the Sheriff means that the number and severity of inmates at Musick Jaik will rise dramatically.

Last week Mayor Kathryn McCullough was quoted in The OC Register as saying that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the Sheriff achieved the goals of "preventing maximum-security inmates from being housed at Musick and restricting its growth." Nothing could be farther from the truth.

On November 20, 2012, the Lake Forest City Council voted unanimously to sign a MOU with the Orange County Sheriff that allows the population of Musick Jail to expand more than three fold, allows the Sheriff to place the most extreme criminals on site, and allows for further expansion at some future date to be determined by the Sheriff. Before we look at the details, here’s a review of some past articles about Musick –

Musick Madness Part 1 tells some of the background and how a small minimum security farm is being transformed into a large prison compound with thousands of new serious convicts.

Part 2 talks about how the City of Irvine is trying to fight this transformation of Musick, but Lake Forest rolled over and left us in the lurch.

With this under our belt, let’s look at the details of the MOU. We’re going to look at size, future expansion, access to Lake Forest, and (most importantly) the severity and risk profile of the inmates.

1. Size

The MOU proposes to more than triple the number of inmates.

The MOU increases the population from less than 1,000 (rated capacity) to 3,100 and allows this number to be increased to as many as 7,584. How does the Mayor or the City staff see this as a victory?

For the numbers to be increased from 3,100 to 7,584 all the Sheriff has to do is say that she needs to do it and put it in writing. Alternatively, the State and/or the Federal government can “mandate” the Sheriff to do it. Once the Sheriff says she has to do it, the City has 30 days to respond to her report. Note that there are no quantifiable criteria on which to base the Sheriff’s desire to expand, and nothing for the City to do except to respond to the Sheriff’s notice.

The MOU says that “If the study adequately demonstrates project need…” but there is no agency specified who makes this determination, nor any criteria for what constitutes an “adequate” demonstration.

The Sheriff recently increased the size of Musick dramatically because she saw it as an opportunity to trade “beds for feds.” What new money making proposition will she find attractive to use as the excuse to increase the size again?

The only positive addition is that the Sheriff agrees to submit her request for expansion beyond 3,100 to “review under CEQA and preparation of such further environmental documentation as may be required, and an approved project budget by the Board of Supervisors.” However heartening this may appear, the Sheriff and the Board of Supervisors managed to skirt around the CEQA in their latest endeavor to make Musick a major jail compound, so it’s likely that this same type of legal circumvention will apply to any future requirements. Those of you familiar with the trickery of lawyers will recognize the phrase “as may be required” which pretty much lets anyone off the hook, especially when there is no identification of who is requiring what.

2. Future Expansion

As already noted, all the Sheriff has to do to increase the number of inmates from 3,100 to 7,584 is to say she needs to do it, and then show figures which back up her assertion. But there is another part of the MOU, called LF-6, which allows her to “convey (by sale, lease, assignment or otherwise) any portion of the James A. Musick property for the purpose of increasing the number of jail beds to house prisoners/inmates/detainees… by the State of California and/or federal government.” This is a virtual carte blanche not merely to expand, but to allow the jurisdiction of Musick to pass from the County to either the State or the federal government.

3. Access through Lake Forest

The MOU (LF-4) allows entrance and exit to Musick through Bake Parkway.

Public access to Musick will be through Irvine, but access to Musick through Bake (ie., Lake Forest) Parkway will still be available.

These conditions are exactly what exist now, so the MOU gave us nothing new. But what disturbs me is the fact that despite the discussions about access, nothing is said about enhancing the security to prevent escapes. We know from our previous analysis that inmate escapes from Musick Jail are not uncommon. With a tripling of the population, this can only spell disaster for the City unless major steps are taken to modify the Jail to reduce the chances of more prisoners escaping.

Bottom line: The MOU signed by the City does not restrict the growth of Musick. In fact it guarantees that the size will more than triple and memorializes the County’s authority to continue to grow the number of inmates to nearly 8,000 with few, if any impediments.

In Part 2 we will examine the impact of the MOU on the nature of the criminals who will be housed at Musick. Warning – you will be disturbed!

I encourage everyone to examine the MOU for yourself. Click here for the link.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Andromeda November 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Mr. Gardner, of all people you realize that decisions made at City Hall often do not reflect the best interests of our citizens, right? So there is no reason to be shocked here. Follow the money trail, sir. Always and forever, follow the money! However, as you know, not one Lake Forest citizen attended the City Council meeting to voice his or her disapproval of what is now an executed contract. Wouldn't you expect at least one neighbor of Musick to show an interest and speak out in a public forum when it comes to their safety and property values? You should chastise the citizens as much as you chastise those who wrote and executed this contract. A government is only as good as the population it represents. If the people show total apathy about the direction of their future at the hands of government - they deserve whatever comes their way.
Jim Gardner November 27, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Hi, I was out of town when the Council met so I didn't attend. My attendance with the old council probably would not have made much difference anyway. Mark Tettemer and Marcia Rudolph were not fans of mine, and both hurled verbal abuse the last time I talked to either one. The old councils tended to do whatever they pleased, and they were all committed to the Musick deal, even Scoitt Voigts who campaigned against even the "beds for feds" program in 2010 and then seems to have forgotten all about Musick. BTW - I thought it was bad taste to leave such an important decision to the lame duck session. You are right and there's a part of me that says people get the government they deserve so why should I care since the escaped crimninals from Musick are unlikely to find their way to my neighborhood, and the enormous drop in property values when the people who live there reveal the existence of the prison to the potential buyer doesn't impact me. I try to appeal to my better half when I get these thoughts. Sometimes it's hard to do. BTW - Did you know that of all the dozens of prison construction programs undertaken by the State our City has the distinction of having community resources closest to the prison expansion. Most projects are being done where the closest industrial/commercial/residential buildings are 1/2 mile or more away. We have commercial adjacent and residential only 1000 feet away. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I'm glad you're getting the word out, Mr. Gardner. If not for you no one would know the fine details and truth of the Musick contract. The city and the media are experts at keeping the details all hush-hush. What the taxpayers don't know won't hurt us. But what really stuck in my craw was at the last Council meeting when this item was discussed Hutchens told everyone that she was doing everything possible to reduce the jail population. What a crock that was! She is the one who pursued the 'bed for feds' program that added many hundreds of illegal foreigners to the County jail population. No one forced her to do that. She did it voluntarily. heh. And then these leaders act so offended and hurt when citizens call them deceitful or flat-out liars. And what makes you think the new Council will be any different from the old Council? Ever heard that old saying before "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"? Don't expect any difference, Mr. Gardner. Otherwise there's practically a sure bet that you'll end up disappointed. Even you said that Robinson and Nick were Voight's puppet candidates, right? Why would you expect change? The powers that be know that LF citizens roll over, Mr. Gardner. They could probably put a jail on every street corner in LF and get away with it. If there is no resistance from the citizens, why not? I place the largest blame on the citizens here. They gave their silent permission. And as I said before - let them all eat cake.
Jim Gardner November 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Andromeda, I can't argue with your logic. The Sheriff, the Council, and the City Staff have all been less than honest in their discussions about Musick, as I pointed out in this article and as I will show even more dramatically in Part 2 which should post tomorrow. A few months ago I showed how the City's claim to be "one of the safest cities in the US" was similarly a gross distortion of the truth - we have a higher crime rate than almost every city around us! Apparently there are no laws against politicians or civil servants lying, unless they lie in front of a court, so all we can do is expose their lies and hope that when the elections roll around people will vote accordingly. As disappointed as I am in Scott Voigts' performance on the Council, I think the Council has been better with him on it. That's not saying much. The previous council was given a grade of "F" by an independent organization who rated all the councils in OC in 2010. So it's hard to do worse. Going forward, the departure of Marcia Rudolph is surely a cause to celebrate, and Mark Tettemer's rubber stamp of Herzog will not be missed even if we miss Mark's enthusiasm and energy. So I continue to be optimistic that things will get better.
Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Oh, btw, Mr. Gardner, I know you were out of town at the time of the last Council meeting. But did you watch the replay video by chance? Did you listen to the sour grapes from both Tettemer and Mayor McCullough because the puppet candidates Anderson and Zechmeister didn't win??? OMG. Both went on and on about what a nasty election it was and how money decided the victory and how they were ashamed of the process. So what else is new??? This has been the standard mode of operation for elections in Lake Forest as far back as I can remember! heh. Nothing new. The only difference is that their side lost this time around!!! That's the reason we had to listen to their sour grapes! heh. I mean thanks to Rudolph for her years of service but after watching her performance at the Candidate's Forum I wouldn't vote for her to run the annual neighborhood garage sale!!! I have to be honest. Yes, and the big problem with elections is that there is no law against politicians or civil servants lying! They are allowed to take our money and our votes based on a pack of lies and we have no recourse but to wait 2 or 4 or 6 years to vote them out!!! What kind of corrupted system is that??? Lying to constituents to attain elected office should be treated the same as felony perjury in a court of law. It is an act of fraud against the voters after all. If a business owner lied to his customers about his products he would have hell to pay. But a lying politician walks away scot free!!!
Jim Gardner November 27, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Hi. Yes I have to laugh. So now Herzog and Tettemer complain about the "outside" influences impacting Lake Forest elections. Yet both of these guys accepted THOUSANDS of dollars from "outside" influences and that was OK so long as they won using this money. Especially Herzog who is the "King" not merely of "outside" money but "vested interest" outside money - money from people and businesses that need City Council votes for their special interests. Now, the sad fact is that Voigts may be in a close contest with Herzog for the crown of "King of Vested Interest Money" and we'll see who gets this crown in the next election. But one has to give credit where credit is due - Adam Nick has the best record of using his own money to get elected. He puts everyone else to shame in his committment to use his own funds rather than accept other people's money much less "outside money" or "vested interest money".
Jim Gardner November 27, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Here's just a few examples of City Council members accepting money for their campaigns from companies with contracts or seeking contracts/concessions with the City and who are located outside the City - Peter Herzog 11/22/2011 - Griffin Structures (who regularly appear in our top 15 list of biggest paychecks from the City) - $250 (On Nov 20, 2012 the City wrote a check for $30,290.00 to Griffin Structures who are located in Laguna Beach) 5/26/2011 - Waste Management - $1000 10/27/2010 - LSA Associates - $250 (another top 15 recepient and the guys who wrote the report used by the Sheriff to expand Musick Jail, for which Herzog was a major supporter) (On Nov 20, 2012 the City wrote a check for $13,693.75 to LSA Associates who are located in Irvine) Scott Voigts 10/5/2011 - Griffin Structures - $250 (see above) 10/5/2011 - Civil Source - $250 (another top 15 recipient of money from the City) (On Nov 4, 2012 the city wrote a check for $11,830 to Civil Source who are located in Irvine).
Andromeda November 27, 2012 at 07:28 PM
It's the same old routine, Mr. Gardner. If I do it - it's fine. If the other guy does it - he's a scoundrel. This is a big reason no one has any respect for poltical leaders anymore. There's no integrity to be found on either side. Many lie at will with a straight face and then take offense when taxpayers call them exactly what they are. This is one of the biggest problems in America. We don't need smarter politicians with a pile of diplomas. The smart ones are the most dangerous. We need politicians with integrity and who are honest. And those are about as hard to find as a 2-headed toad. Personally, I did not vote for Nick. I did not like his demeanor at the Candidate's Forum, nor did I like seeing his blue and red signs plastered all over the city. I know he spent a boatload of money to get elected. Based on the salary of a councilman he'd probably have to serve 4-5 years just to break even. But does he deserve some kudos for using his own money for his campaign. I guess so. But the big question is where will his campaign money come from if he runs for reelection in 4 years??? That's yet to be seen. There are many unanswered question about the direction of the city. But my main point is don't expect good changes. If they come, take it as a bonus and applaud. Otherwise you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. But thank you for keeping us informed. You provide an invaluable service to the community.
Jim Gardner November 29, 2012 at 03:09 PM
For some reason the link I placed at the end of this article is not working. This link should work. http://agenda2009.city-lakeforest.com/SIREPub/cache/2/j3020qwwqvhovw50putvyhjc/6692211292012070327800.PDF If this link doesn't work, here are the steps to find the MOU 1. Go to City website http://www.lakeforestca.gov/ 2. Click on City Services 3. Click on Agendas 4. Click on Current Agendas 5. Scroll down to City Council Regular Meetings 11/20/12 6. Click on Agenda (you will be redirected to new page) 7. Scroll down the left hand side of the page until you come to item #19. 8. Click on the "Memorandum of Unbderstanding..." 9. 3 files will show up in the right hand column called "Supporting Materials" 10. Click on the third file which is the actual MOU

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