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COUNTYWIDE : Supervisors Ask Aid From Congressmen

Orange County supervisors urged members of Congress on Wednesday to help the financially strapped county government grapple with booming health and social service problems, as well as its continuing battles over John Wayne Airport noise regulations.

“The counties in this state are picking up 100% of the costs of caring for children who are undocumented,” county Social Services Director Larry Leaman told three congressmen who represent Orange County. “That comes to about $1 million a year.”

Leaman also asked the congressmen to consider establishing a federal demonstration project in Orange County to help the local government cut down on the number of illegal aliens who are receiving welfare. They agreed to investigate the possibility.

Leaman’s presentation came as part of the first-ever meeting between county supervisors, their department heads and Reps. William E. Dannemeyer, Christopher Cox and Ron Packard. Those three members of Congress pledged their support for the county as it grapples with immigration and other problems and even suggested that Orange County may be ready to become its own federal district with its own federal court.

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That would simplify life for those who have federal business and currently have to go to Los Angeles to take care of it, the congressmen said.

Board Chairman Gaddi H. Vasquez organized the session, one of several between the Board of Supervisors and state and federal representatives. The meetings, he said, are intended to let officials work together to solve problems that involve government agencies at all levels.

“We’re actually discussing mechanics, ways to move ahead on some of these problems,” Vasquez said after the meeting. “Everyone I’ve talked to coming out of it has been very positive.”

Airport Manager Jan Mittermeier complained that Orange County has been shut out of Federal Aviation Administration meetings intended to draft rules dealing with takeoff routines and noise limits.

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“The FAA has consciously and deliberately excluded the county,” Mittermeier said. “The only thing I can surmise is that they want to get this done with before the citizens of our community get wind of it.”

Packard echoed Mittermeier’s frustration, calling the FAA’s move “unconscionable,” and he urged her to draft a letter to the administration and circulate it to members of the congressional delegation.

Cox, who represents the area that includes the airport, agreed. “The fact is these people in Washington are violating the law,” he said. “It is absolutely outrageous.”

While the federal representatives offered their assistance in tackling that question, county supervisors also said they would lend their support to a pending piece of federal legislation.

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Congress will soon consider whether to authorize the U.S. trade representative to “fast track” trade agreements with Mexico and Canada, a move that Packard said would keep Congress from holding up proposals while it debates the fine points of them. Forcing Congress to consider such agreements in a single vote would speed up the process and strengthen Mexico’s economy, Packard said.

In the long run, he and the other congressmen added, that legislation will help curb illegal immigration by promoting jobs in Mexico.

Supervisors agreed, and Roger R. Stanton directed the county administrative office to draft a resolution indicating the county board’s support for the bill.


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