Supervisors Gloria Molina and Mike Antonovich on Tuesday set a new standard for public animus in their rocky three-year relationship after she filed a motion that would have required him to pay for frequent flights on county helicopters.
Antonovich's sprawling 5th Supervisorial District spans the northern frontier of the county, stretching from the San Bernardino County line to Ventura County and north to Kern County. It is a land area more than twice as large as Rhode Island and difficult to get around.
The motion, calling for amplification of a county policy adopted in 1991 that requires officials to reimburse the cost of copter rides, broke one of the unwritten customs at the tradition-bound Hall of Administration: One supervisor does not tell another how to run his or her district.
Not surprisingly, Molina's motion died for lack of a second--but not before a testy public hearing.
"Isn't his chauffeur-driven car good enough?" Molina asked. "It has a phone in it."
Antonovich countered that his district is so large he would be on the freeway for hours a day just getting to places. And to pay for rides on copters from the Sheriff's and Fire departments out of his office budget would only take money away from other important social and law enforcement programs, he argued.
"That's a pitiful response," Molina shot back. "The reality is, we have a budget that everyone is expected to live under. That includes you. You are not special. You are not unique."
Molina said she was unable to get a second for her motion because Antonovich "was able to solicit other members to cover up this indiscretion."
A spokesman for Supervisor Ed Edelman said the lack of a second "just showed that this is a matter of concern between the 5th and 1st districts and everyone else decided not to get involved."
Antonovich said his colleagues were "embarrassed by (Molina's) tirade, her emotional outburst. . . . It was pathetic. I was disappointed by her lack of professionalism."
Antonovich said the board needs members "who can attack problems and not individuals."
Afterward, Molina said: "There's too much weight on personalities. It's all about issues."