A behind-the-scenes look at Orange County's political life : 'Pork' in Anti-Crime Bill Is Too Much to Swallow for Local Lawmakers

Did inaction speak louder than words?: The conservative Orange County congressional delegation would win the prize on any given day for its anti-crime rhetoric. But the local congressmen--Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach), Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), Rep. Jay C. Kim (R-Diamond Bar), Rep. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), and Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)--voted last week to block a final House vote on a $33-billion anti-crime bill. Royce supported the package last spring when it was first approved by the House.

Republicans contended that there was too much "pork" and not enough money for prisons. (The bill included $10.5 billion for prisons and $7.6 billion for crime-prevention programs. But it also contained a controversial ban on assault-style firearms).

"I think people would be delighted (with the bill) if we just took out the $9 billion in pork," Cox said, says that Republicans really want to vote for a crime bill.

There was an irony in Dornan's vote. He called the legislation a "remarkable travesty," even though it included his proposal for a Police Corps--a program he has sought since 1989--which would provide a four-year college education in return for four years of service on a state or local police force.

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Democratic response: Some of the local Democrats challenging the incumbent Republican congressmen wasted no time in criticizing the vote against the crime bill.

* Royce's challenger in the 39th Congressional District, R.O. Davis of Buena Park, said Royce "flip-flopped," adding: "The American people are tired of being flimflammed. The safety of our citizens is a paramount duty of government."

* In the 41st Congressional District, Kim's challenger, Ed Tessier of Pomona, said: "Rep. Kim has put his personal popularity with Washington bigwigs and his own political future above the safety and protection of his constituents" by following the Republican leadership.

* Mike Farber of Santa Ana, who is trying to unseat Dornan in the 46th Congressional District, called the vote "the latest example of (Dornan's) dismal record on crime and law enforcement."

* Gary Kingsbury of Irvine, who is running in the 47th Congressional District against Cox, said: "While our constituents scream for more controls on criminals and to make our neighborhoods, homes, and schools safe, Chris Cox voted against the crime bill in Congress and with his National Rifle Assn. supporters."

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Empty pockets: Beset by personal financial problems, a costly divorce and legal disputes, Orange County political consultant Harvey A. Englander voluntarily filed for bankruptcy last week. Englander, who faces debts of up to $900,000, sought protection under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which provides for liquidation of his assets to pay back his creditors as much as possible.

Englander's consulting firm, The Englander Group, is still in business after recently merging with The Kamber Group, a large Washington-based public relations firm.

"Like Mark Twain said, the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I'm still here and greatly active," Englander said.

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Surf's not up: When election time rolls around, politicians go to great lengths to find a photogenic prop that hits home with voters.

Now comes Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove), who wants to become the state's next attorney general. For an invitation to his "Beach Bash" at Monarch Bay Club Thursday at 6 p.m., Umberg--who normally isn't caught dead without a necktie--posed in front of the Huntington Beach Pier in a wet suit, neon-colored sunglasses and holding a surfboard.

Before we all start calling Umberg a gnarly, tubular politician, let's face the facts--this dude doesn't surf. George Urch, Umberg's campaign manager, explains that the candidate's staff borrowed the board and wet suit from a Huntington Beach surf shop just for the photo.

"I would not now nor would I ever claim he's a professional surfer," Urch said with a chuckle, adding that a staffer had to urge Umberg to take off his wingtips for the photo. "We're trying to loosen him up a little."

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Rappin' Marian: State Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach) is known for her ability to rap a bill through the Legislature, not for rap music. But the lawmaker and three other Senate colleagues dressed up last week in gangster attire, including backward baseball caps and sunglasses, and belted out a tune in honor of retiring Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys), the former top Democrat in the Senate. The normally demure Bergeson joined Sens. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), Lucy Killea (I-San Diego) and Teresa Hughes (D-Inglewood). Calling themselves "Dames Under the Dome," they performed imitation rap music. A sample: "David talked the right thing. David did the right thing./Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man. Oooooo, Ahaah." MTV isn't calling.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Monday: Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Huffington speaks to the Orange County Republican Central Committee meeting at 7 p.m. at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa.

Wednesday: Friends of Gil Ferguson committee holds a fund-raising dinner with the "Phantom of the Opera" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. The dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. and the show follows at 8:30 p.m.

Compiled by Times political writer Gebe Martinez, with contributions from staff writers Eric Bailey and Dan Weikel.

Politics '94 appears every Sunday.

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