Sounding Board -- John Moorlach

I've known the honorable Jim Ferryman for a long time and can say with

confidence that he is a "BPOC," a "big person on [the] campus" of Costa

Mesa and Newport Beach. He has sacrificially given of himself in numerous

leadership roles to the betterment of our community.

If his purported 0.19 blood alcohol level, resulting from his traffic

accident and related DUI conviction, is correct, that would be a

significant amount of recreational drinking for a man of his size. It

certainly makes one wonder. It would definitely make someone who cares

for Jim, and his family, stand up and exercise some tough love.

In steps the honorable Wendy Leece. I have also known Wendy for many,

many years. I served as her campaign treasurer in her failed 1989 attempt

at unseating the Newport-Mesa Unified School District incumbent. I was

one of the few who predicted in the fall of 1994 (in between my Orange

County bankruptcy prediction and it actually occurring) that Leece would

be successful in her second attempt that November.

Wendy's husband, John, had his business next door to my accounting

practice. John was a successful architect, supported his devoted wife's

political interests, raised five beautiful children and was involved in

the community. There was one big problem. John was an alcoholic. I can

still remember the night his car was towed into the parking lot, damaged

from an accident. This accident didn't kill John, but a few years later

the alcohol did. Wendy lost a husband. Five young people lost a father. I

lost a friend.

When the story of Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustee Jim

Ferryman's incident hit the papers, Wendy probably said to herself the

following: "I lost my spouse to alcohol, I don't want it to happen to

another family that I care about too!"

No one said anything about not being a great citizen in our community.

But someone, who has endured a tragic personal experience with alcohol,

did say, "shape up." Do it for your spouse. Do it for your children. Do

it for those who you are also responsible for. And, that someone did it

out of genuine concern and Christian love for you. Yes, it may have been

harsh and strong and a little too public. But it was not political, it

was not grandstanding, nor was it vindictive. It was a sincere response.

Life is very complex. We need to be careful when attacking a

messenger, especially if we have not walked a mile in their moccasins.

Wendy Leece's message was honest, pure and properly intentioned. In fact,

it came from a sensitive, patient, forbearing and broken heart.

Putting this incident in a more proper context should get us away from

a personality sideshow and back to properly addressing the consequences

of one's actions. It should make us all aware of our frailties and strive

every day to pursue excellence. As our nation is in a reflective mood,

perhaps we should all be more aware of our actions and reactions.

* JOHN M.W. MOORLACH is a Costa Mesa resident who serves as the

county's treasurer.

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