Revolutionary Cry: Out With County Government Heads


Not to alarm the Board of Supervisors, but the French Revolution started when the government ran out of money. The working class, tired of being trampled by the ruling nobility, stormed the Bastille and set off the revolution.

Question: Is the Hall of Administration sufficiently fortified to ward off such an onslaught?

The board may not fully realize how under siege it is, or is about to become. The disintegration of the county’s investment pool is still a work in progress, and the public mood is only likely to darken toward the supervisors as they continue dispensing the bad news.


Whether more heads will be guillotined than just former Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron remains to be seen, but if it could be done quickly, the guess here is that much of the public would line up the entire board at the base of the scaffold.

But don’t take my word for it. Pick from any of a number of ticked-off local residents.

Orange County may well be the home of the angry-taxpayer movement. Whether it’s a group opposing a utility tax in Fullerton or pension-spiking in Huntington Beach, there’s one on every corner, just like fast-food restaurants. Most of them have formed around disenchantment with their city governments, but the county’s bond-market fiasco feeds nicely into their scorn of how some public officials conduct business.

So much so that about 85 representatives from various groups met last Wednesday. Before the meeting ended, one of the leaders, representing a group called the 45th Revolutionist Chapter of United We Stand, wanted to seek out the supervisors and demand their resignations, according to Bill Mello, who represents another group from Huntington Beach called the Citizens Bureau of Investigation.

Half of the 85 were ready to follow through, Mello said, but the group decided to wait until a later date. “These people have passion in their eyes,” Mello said. “You wouldn’t believe how upset they are with government.”

The groups’ common thread is what they believe to be the overpaid status of city employees, but the bond-market situation has temporarily diverted their attention to the supervisors. Mello, for example, favors recalling the entire Board of Supervisors. “We elected them to do a job and to watch our money and make sure it was spent properly. They didn’t do that,” Mello said.

Mello predicted there will be a formal request by at least some of the citizen groups’ representatives that the supervisors resign. At the very least, he said, the groups want to “just make life miserable” for the supervisors.


Alice Clark represents the Orange Taxpayers Assn. and says she’s a little more patient than some of her peers. Yet, she says, the overall level of anger is not to be dismissed.

“People were angry before, and now they’re twice as angry,” she said. “I think frustration builds on frustration, and you don’t know where it’s going to erupt.”

Ironically, Mello advises patience with regard to the county’s bond-market situation. But that won’t give the supervisors much relief, because he agrees with their call for calm while still favoring their ousters.

“The Board of Supervisors were asleep at the switch,” he said. “That’s where the buck stops. You can’t blame it all on Citron.”

Mello chuckled at my reference to the French Revolution. Actually, his favorite revolution was the American. He and like-minded compatriots in the other groups like it so much that they call their networking “Committees of Correspondence” after the name given to the colonists’ method of spreading the word against King George.

History has a habit of repeating itself, so I asked Mello if he wants another revolution.

“No, we don’t want to have a revolution,” he said. “We have a good Constitution, we just have to get elected officials who follow it, who respect and treat citizens fairly, and who don’t lie when they make campaign promises. We just need to recall a few of them.”


Whatever happens, the local investment-pool disaster has fueled groups like Mello’s. Convinced that government has too much of their money in the first place, they’re now in a position to argue that the bureaucrats don’t know what to do with it when they get it.

For the time being, the board may be hard-pressed to rebut that argument. Until they can explain all this, they may want to keep an eye peeled for crowds of angry citizens milling around Civic Center Plaza.

It may be time to man the battlestations. Sometimes these revolutionaries aren’t happy till they have your head.

Dana Parsons’ column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.