The organizer of a movement to oust Supervisor Roger R. Stanton admitted Wednesday that he might not be able to gather the 15,000 signatures needed by July to force a recall election.

Felix Rocha, a trustee with the Orange County Department of Education, declined to state the number of signatures he and his supporters have gathered in the month and a half since the effort began.

"I don't want to give any ammunition to Roger Stanton," he said.

But Rocha said it's been difficult recruiting volunteers to canvass neighborhoods in Stanton's District 1, which covers Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster. So far, the recall effort has been carried out by about 20 volunteers who on weekends seek signatures outside grocery stores and shopping centers, he said.

"People are willing to sign (the petition) when they are approached, but we need to reach them," Rocha said. "We need workers who can walk through the neighborhoods."

Stanton is the only supervisor to be targeted for recall. In recall papers, Rocha criticized Stanton for his lack of oversight over county investments.

Despite the slow start, Rocha said he will continue to gather signatures. He said new interest in the movement might be sparked if the Board of Supervisors places a tax increase proposal on the June ballot.

2 Department Heads Retire

Two longtime county employees who rose through the ranks to become directors of their departments have decided to retire, taking advantage of an early retirement plan aimed at helping ease the county's bankruptcy woes.

Bert Scott, 62, director of the county's General Services Agency, and Russ Patton, 54, director of Human Resources, each worked for Orange County for 28 years and both will retire next Thursday. But Scott has agreed to volunteer his services to the county and will continue on as interim GSA director.

The county has encouraged early retirement as a way to minimize layoffs. Incentives include guaranteeing that retirees will receive all their accrued vacation and compensatory time in cash. Those benefits may be jeopardized for other workers because the money is frozen in the county's investment pool.

Both men said they wanted to take advantage of the incentives, but added that they also wanted to help do what they can for county employees.

"I'm torn because I've worked 28 years with the county and I just love my job and coming to work," said Scott, who makes $116,480 a year. "I feel the guilt of abandoning my colleagues and the county in this time of stress, so I'm going to let them put me to work on a volunteer basis."

Patton, who makes $103,064 a year, said he decided to retire because he wants to spend more time with his family, including his newborn grandson in Chicago.

Compiled by Shelby Grad, with Rene Lynch

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