Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rehab Home Controversy Shows How Irrelevant Harman Is, Even In Sacramento - Gets Only 2 Votes for Bill


GOP tied to rehab homes

O.C.’s Republican party chairman is a consultant for group home being sued by Newport. Mayor blamed him on the radio.
By Brianna Bailey

The head of the Republican Party of Orange County works as a consultant for two of the largest rehabilitation home operators in Newport Beach, including a home the city is suing for violating a city moratorium, officials confirmed Friday.

Scott Baugh, chairman of the county’s Republican Party, often communicates with Newport Beach officials on matters relating to Morningside Recovery, Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff said Friday.

Morningside is one of two companies in Newport Beach the city is suing for violating a moratorium to keep new rehab homes from opening. The rehabilitation center houses its clients in numerous houses on Balboa Peninsula.

“Oftentimes when I have an inquiry, he [Baugh] will be the one to get back to me,” Kiff said. “If I have a question of Morningside, I will call and leave a message and get a call back from Scott. It hasn’t been a negative interaction. He’s just kind of the guy who calls me back.”

Baugh confirmed Friday he also offered consulting services to CRC Health Group, which owns the Newport Beach-based rehabilitation home Sober Living by the Sea, but declined to comment further.

Sober Living by the Sea is the largest rehabilitation home operator in Newport Beach. The program houses about 85 clients in homes it rents on Balboa Peninsula, according to Sober Living by the Sea officials.

Mayor Steve Rosansky, while on a local radio show, recently blamed Baugh’s influence for a failed senate bill last spring to tighten state laws on rehabilitation homes.

The mayor declined, however, to comment on the matter Friday.

Senate Bill 1000, written by Sen. Tom Harman, would have required some rehabilitation facilities to get state licenses, for which they don’t need to apply. Licensed recovery homes would have had to be at least 300 feet apart under the bill. The senate health committee voted the bill down in April.

“Even the Republicans didn’t vote for it. It got zero votes up there when we tried to get this legislation through because Scott Baugh, the Orange County Republican chairman, is lobbying in favor of theses sober living facilities,” Rosansky said Nov. 28 on the John and Ken Show on KFI-AM (640). According to state legislative records, the bill actually received two votes.

“He’s representing the two largest operators in town,” Rosansky said on the program.

Revelations on Baugh have raised the ire of some local activists. Balboa Peninsula residents say their neighborhood is overrun with rehabilitation homes that cause problems with trash, noise and traffic.

“How sad I am, and what an uphill battle it is to try to clean up the peninsula when we even have the chairman of Republican party working against us,” said community activist Dolores Otting. “I have to applaud Steve Rosansky to bring it up.”

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Harman Spurns His Colleagues, Stands (Nearly) Alone in Taking Pay Raise

This in from the Daily Pilot. That Harman thinks this is hardly newsworthy shows just again how out of touch he is.


Harman accepts pay raise, brings salary to $116,208

Dismissing critics, Sen. Tom Harman said he has decided to accept a 2.75% raise offered to state lawmakers.

Along with Assemblymen Van Tran and Chuck DeVore, Harman is the third Newport-Mesa elected official to accept the raise at a time when a $10 billion state budget deficit is projected. While Van Tran has elected to donate the raise to charity, 16 other representatives of the Assembly and Senate have declined to accept the raise, citing the state’s fiscal woes.

“Yes, I have elected to accept [the raise],” Harman said, adding that he had no comment in regard to the criticisms. “I don’t even think this is particularly newsworthy.”

The raise will bring most lawmakers’ salaries to $116,208, in addition to the $34,000 a year they receive to cover living expenses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Another Scorecard, Another Case of Harman Being Out of Touch With His Constituents

Senator Tom Harman represents one of the most conservative districts in the state... This is Orange County we're talking about, after all.

That's why I find it inexcusable that he keeps coming up at the bottom of every scorecard that measures ones conservatism.

The latest example comes from the CRA - where Harman, as sticks true to form, and comes in at the very bottom among his fellow OC GOP Legislators.

79% is a C grade. A "C" is average. Orange County deserves better than an average Senator.

Friday, November 30, 2007

If a Senator Hosts a Meeting & Nobody Comes, Does He Make a Sound?


Harman hosts meeting to one attendee, leaves early

State Sen. Tom Harman held an open meeting with constituents Thursday, but a low turnout prompted him to duck out early...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Harman Flip Flops on the 241

So, Tom Harman wants the 241 extended.

It’s amazing what a little bit of heat can do to change a politician’s world view.

For years, Harman opposed the common sense traffic reducing measure of laying more pavement to complete the 241.

But oh ya, the tree huggers didn’t like it, and thus Harman opposed it.

But a blog starts up, rumors abound of a Primary challenge, and what do you know, Harman changes his mind.

Now about that Diaper Tax…

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The DeVore Hurts Strickland Chatter Is Just A Myth

There’s been a lot of chatter lately that should some serious challenger, most speculate that to be Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, step up to challenge Tom Harman, the ultimate victim in such a scenario would be former Assemblyman and Senate candidate Tony Strickland.

The argument is this:

The Senate Republican Caucus has a zero-sum number of dollars, and operates on a “Protect Incumbents First” Rule. Then, once all incumbents are protected, the Caucus can put a priority on Open Seats.

Thus, should someone challenge Harman (an incumbent), it would eat up dollars otherwise allocated for Open Seats (like Strickland’s attempt to keep the McClintock seat).

If those were the only two races in question – sure, the argument might have some validity. But the 08 cycle won’t happen in a two-race vacuum.

The fact of the matter is that with some nifty positioning, Abel Maldonado has all but secured a pretty easy ride through his election, thus freeing up a lot of dollars. So, should Harman get a challenger, and should his money not be able to cover the bills, there exists a much larger than anticipated pot of money – which can easily fund Strickland and Harman.

A small price to pay to clean up the Caucus gene pool.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Harman Responds - Well, Sort of

Senator Tom Harman apparently reads the Harman Watch, as he had a response to my Op-Ed in the Daily Pilot a few days back.

I appear to have hit a sore spot though, as he ducks, weaves, and dodges the questions posed in my Op-Ed - namely, why was he the only OC Republican NOT to join the Motion to Intervene in the Prison Cap Judicial Panel?

Anyways, here is what Harman had to say.

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:Bills exemplify my anti-criminal efforts

Much to my disappointment, Josh Barnett, a member of the California Republican Assembly, questions my commitment to keep dangerous criminals behind bars and falsely claims that I support the early release of felons back onto our streets.

Let me be clear on this issue. I never have and never will advocate for or support any scheme that allows or encourages the early release of criminals back onto our streets. As one of the leading proponents of law-and-order legislation in the Senate, allow me to set the record straight by highlighting legislation that I have offered to protect our communities, especially the city where my wife and I have proudly called home for nearly 35 years, Huntington Beach.

This year, I introduced Senate Bill 368, which increases the penalties for would-be child molesters who share or transmit graphic images of child pornography over the Internet. Another bill that I authored, SB 636, attempts to streamline our state’s dysfunctional legal system that allows convicted murderers to stay on death row for years, and in some case decades, while they appeal their death penalty conviction. By eliminating some of the needless and senseless delays in the appeals of death-penalty cases, justice can be carried out more swiftly in California.

Another piece of legislation that I am proud to author with my colleague, Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), is SB 657. This bill is a comprehensive anti-gang proposal that encourages effective, evidence-based gang intervention and prevention programs. SB 657 also provides resources for gang suppression units, witness protection and relocation, and enhances penalties to provide justice for crime victims.

All these measures and many more like them enjoy overwhelming support from law enforcement and district attorney associations, not to mention numerous Orange County law makers. So, to respond to Mr. Barnett’s claims, if I were to have my way, 3,000 convicted bad guys wouldn’t find their way back to Orange County. Law enforcement, educators and victim’s rights organizations would have more tools at their disposal to execute justice and keep the bad guys where they belong — behind bars. I believe, if you do the crime, you must do the time!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

That's About Right: Harman Lowest In HJTA Rankings Among OCGOP Caucus

In what I'm sure comes as a shock to many, Tom Harman scored the lowest in the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association's ratings among the OC Republican delegation.

I think it's very apropos that within a week Harman scores tops with the Log Cabins, and last with HJTA.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Dubious Honor

Lots of groups in Sacramento put out end-of-the-year Scorecards, ranking how all the legislators voted on a set of bills of particular interest to them.

Tom Harman was given top honor by one I just saw - as having the TOP SCORE of ANY OC GOP legislator on the Log Cabin Republican scorecard. Yes, those Log Cabin Republicans.

Congrats Senator. That's just Super.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Has Tom Harman Already Gone Through Half His Primary Money?

Sometimes getting cute has a price.

Example: Tom Harman.

During Harman’s tough 2006 Special Election, he was hard-pressed to keep up with his opponents’ spending. So, he turned to a creative source, his 2008 campaign account.

Being an incumbent, Harman was able to raise money from all sorts of special interests and spend it from an account theoretically set up for his 2008 Campaign.

It was an unorthodox move. But being that he won by only a few hundred votes, one that ultimately proved necessary. With the odds long that anyone would challenge an incumbent Senator, in hindsight it seemed a very savvy move.

But now that the prospects of a serious challenger are becoming real, having spent $288,000+ (see attached Summary of his 460 filing) out of the $790,000 allowable under the Spending Limits he chose to abide by, that move seems like it could be backfiring. If his burn rate continues just at an average rate through the election, he'll have just $450,000 to spend.

Instead of having to raise even just the limit of $790,000 to match Harman’s spending dollar for dollar, an opponent could easily outspend the incumbent, or even spend only $450,000 to match him dollar-for-dollar.

Right now, Harman is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping no serious challenger materializes. But if one did, from the looks of things, he’d be in real trouble, as he’s already gone through half of the money he’s allowed to spend.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What Tom Harman Thinks of Conservatives

Found this loving quote from Tom's entry on the League of Women Voters' 2000 candidate profile:

"As a moderate, independent Republican, I believe it's high time to move away from the extreme ultra-conservative views of some of the leaders of the Republican Party." - Tom Harman

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tom Harman and the 241

The Los Angeles Times featured an article on Monday that devastated the anti-241 toll road/enviro-nut crowd. The piece, “Flaws found in O.C. tollway foes' study” by Dan Weikel shows that the tree huggers paid for a fundamentally flawed, simplistic and propagandistic “study” by a third-rate Vermont consulting outfit to bolster their effort to stop completion of the 241 in South County.

Calling the study “flawed,” actual traffic planners point out that the Vermont firm “neglected to account for the planned carpool lanes, underestimated the cost of condemning homes and buildings, and unilaterally proposed narrowing frontage roads.”

In other words, the study wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, and there remains no good reason to hold up completion of the 241.

What does this have to do with Senator Tom Harman?

Well, Harman is a famous opponent of completing the much-needed 241. He made his opposition to it a centerpiece of his campaign for the special election in the 35th Senate District in April of 2006. His opposition allowed him to appeal to liberal Democrat environmentalists, such as the lefty group Women For: Orange County who openly urged its membership to back Harman in the open primary rules used for the Special Elections (where Democrats could vote for Republicans). So, just as in his first election in 2000, when Harman lost big among Republican voters, but won big by appealing to Democrats, Harman used his opposition to the 241 to gain support from the tree huggers in the race he won by just 230 votes last year.

Now that the centerpiece of the lefties’ opposition to the 241 Toll Road has been shown to be a pack of lies, will Tom Harman flip-flop on the issue to support completing the road? We’ll see. Perhaps because his next election is a closed primary in 2008, he might because tree huggers can’t help him much next June.


I've been blown away the past few days by the level of interest in my little project.

Already, three blogs have taken note of Harman Watch, with ongoing trading of phone calls and emails with other reporters and bloggers.

The OC Blog

The OC Register's Total Buzz

and, Newport Beach Voices.

Thanks to each.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tom Harman's Tangled Web of Campaign Finances

One of the heavy criticisms leveled at Congressman John Doolittle (R-Roseville) was that he paid his wife 15 percent of all the campaign funds he raised, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past six years. The practice is fairly common, especially with political couples who share a common passion for politics. It is also easily traceable, as campaign disclosure laws make it fairly simple to figure out who is paying their spouse for campaign related services and whether or not those costs are reasonable.

State Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) and his wife, Dianne, would, at first, not seem to have too much in common with the Doolittles. Tom Harman has been active in politics for 12 years. Dianne, not so much. A yoga instructor for many years, Dianne had little experience in politics, other than supporting her husband in his races. Yet, in 2006, Dianne filed to run for her husband’s termed-out Assembly seat as he ran for the State Senate. Most political observers believed Dianne’s run was part of an elaborate attempt to get a quid pro quo out of then-Supervisor Jim Silva who was running to replace then-Assemblyman Tom Harman. The deal: if Supervisor Silva would endorse Tom Harman for Senate, Dianne Harman’s campaign would fold up shop, paving the way for an easy Silva victory. To his credit, Silva said “no deal” and Dianne’s campaign lurched forward, raising $183,000 and pumping $100,000 of personal money into the effort as well.

Dianne Harman lost the Republican primary for the Assembly in the 67th District on June 6, 2006, getting barely above 20 percent of the vote in a three-way race and leaving her campaign with $98,000 of very difficult to liquidate debt (few like to donate to losers to help them erase campaign debt).

Now, here is where it gets interesting.

According to a Los Angeles Times article dated August 27, 2007 (State Ban On Political Pay To Spouses), Senator Tom Harman listed his wife Dianne as having earned up to $100,000 from Coronado Communications in 2006. Coronado Communications is Senator Tom Harman’s campaign consultant. Coronado Communications told the L.A. Times reporter that “…Dianne Harman's work for the firm was for other political candidates, not her husband.” This statement almost eliminates the appearance of impropriety as in the case of Cong. Doolittle since, just as with any citizen, Mrs. Harman can work for whom she chooses. But, the statement does open up some questions, given Mrs. Harman’s complete lack of campaign experience.

For instance, what candidates’ campaigns did she work on from June, after losing the primary, through November 2006? A review of many of Coronado Communications’ candidate clients reveals none who would say they benefited from Mrs. Harman’s assistance.

The L.A. Times reported that Senator Tom Harman paid Coronado Communications $98,000 from his various committees on top of what was probably a 15 percent fee to place ads and produce mail. Of this, $35,000 was in two large payments from Harman’s 2006 election committee while Coronado has been getting a monthly $2,500 retainer.

Did Senator Tom Harman use campaign money from one committee to pay the debt of another, or did he just use his consultant to launder campaign payments to his wife?

Using Tom Harman’s Form 700 financial interest disclosure as a reference, the L.A. Times reported Dianne Harman’s income was as much as $100,000 from Coronado Communications in 2006. What the Times missed was that the Harmans wrote off $98,000 of Dianne Harman’s campaign debt on August 17, 2006. This was the same time the former yoga instructor was said to be working on various campaigns for Coronado Communications. This opens the question: did Senator Tom Harman shift money from his campaign committees to his consultant so his consultant could pay his wife to make good the $98,000 debt from her unsuccessful campaign? Or, has Tom Harman just figured out a way to personally profit from campaign fundraising without having to directly pay his wife from his campaign committee?

These questions beg for a follow-up by Patrick McGreevy, the Times staff writer who initially broke the story on August 27.

Friday, October 12, 2007

HB Independent Op-Ed: Why Does Harman Want Felons In Surf City?

Orange County Republicans must unite to keep felons imprisoned

By Josh Barnett

We've read in these very pages about the State of California facing serious challenges just about everywhere it turns - with a bloated budget, rampant illegal immigration, aging and insufficient infrastructure, inadequate water and power supply, and on and on.

One issue that hasn't been making headlines, but is even more dangerous, is an effort afoot by a trio of very liberal judges who're debating the particulars of an ill-advised scheme that would open the gates of California's prisons and lets tens of thousands of felons walk right out the door and back into civilized society, without having served the entirety of their sentences.

Thankfully, our Republican legislators in Orange County have done their part to intervene in these deliberations, to bring a sense of sanity to the process and to keep the felons where they belong - behind bars. Well, that is every Republican legislator, except one. Sen. Tom Harman (R -Huntington Beach) stands alone, key in hand, as the only O.C. Republican legislator supporting the Free the Felons policy.

It's no secret that our prisons are overcrowded, and that this creates a serious problem for the safety of law-abiding Californians. However, the solutions emanating from this judicial panel aren't calls for increased prison capacity or sentencing reform. No. Instead, these judges seem set on a much simpler solution: If there are too many felons in prison, just let some go free.

And so, aided by Harman, who refuses to stand up against them, these judges will soon let upward of 50,000 criminals loose, with more than 3,000 of them likely headed back right here to the O.C.

If these were just small-time perps it would be one thing, but they aren't. More than 80% of California's prison population is made of up violent criminals. Not the kind of people we want sitting in the parking lot when we leave the supermarket at night.

It is simply unconscionable that in light of the oncoming threat of prison caps being imposed, and the prisoner release it would trigger, that Harman would stand as the only Orange County Republican legislator not doing everything he can to avert that danger.

Should Harman get his way and 3,000 convicted bad guys find their way back into Orange County, if just one of them falls back into their old ways and commits another crime รข€” everyone will know at whom to aim their outrage. Hopefully Harman will wake up and join his colleagues in fighting this outrage of letting criminals loose, making the O.C. a safer place to live before it's too late.

Josh Barnett is a member of the California Republican Assembly.