What started as a discussion over the rerouting of traffic on a Santa Ana street erupted Wednesday into a bitter personal wrangle between two supervisors.
Ralph B. Clark, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, accused Supervisor Roger R. Stanton of uttering "snide remarks" in contending that Clark was still angry about the board's choice of an Anaheim site four months ago for a new jail.
"I'm disappointed with you because I thought you had a little class," Clark told Stanton. "You're way off base, young man," Clark, 69, said to Stanton, 49.
The ostensible cause of the quarrel was an obscure technical item dealing with Flower Street between 17th Street and the Garden Grove Freeway in Santa Ana.
Clark said he was still angry at the city's action a year ago barring traffic on Flower from continuing north past 17th street. The city changed the traffic pattern after complaints from residents in the affluent north part of Santa Ana about traffic.
The board chairman tried to persuade fellow supervisors to conduct a study of traffic in the area, saying Santa Ana's decision inconvenienced thousands of county, state and federal workers in the nearby Civic Center.
"I use (the road) quite frequently, and it's very frustrating," Clark said. "You have to turn left on 17th and mix with all the heavy traffic there on 17th."
But Stanton said that the technical item before the board was part of a larger agreement with Santa Ana that supervisors had already approved and that forcing Santa Ana to open Flower Street to northbound traffic continuing from south of 17th was unfair.
He noted that the traffic issue already was the object of a court suit and said Santa Ana was going through a "great political metamorphosis" that could lead city officials to change traffic patterns in the future without outside interference from the county.
Stanton also said Clark could bring the request for a traffic study before the supervisors later, after everyone had a chance to study the issue further.
"Why don't you sit down with me . . . and talk about it?" Stanton said.
But after the supervisors voted 4 to 1 against Clark, he tried again to get support for a study of traffic patterns in the area. Stanton charged, "I think it relates to March 18, quite frankly."
On March 18 the board voted 4 to 1 to build a new jail in Anaheim, part of Clark's district. Clark, who is retiring at the end of this year, bitterly opposed the site.
A county study of possible jail sites listed locations in Santa Ana, in Stanton's district and home to the main men's jail, and Anaheim.
Clark's attempt to get a traffic study failed when he was unable to get one of the other four supervisors to second his motion.
Following a long meeting with Clark several hours after the meeting ended, Stanton said he was convinced that he had been mistaken earlier in linking the jail site selection and the traffic issue.
"After a long talk, I am convinced that Supervisor Clark had no intention of in any way linking the jail issue with this issue and that, in fact, the reference to March 18 was a misunderstanding," Stanton said.