Stanton Turns His Back on Measure R : Bankruptcy: Supervisor's decision divides the board 3-2 in favor of the tax hike. He promises an alternative plan.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton has become the second board member to oppose Measure R, the proposed half-cent sales tax, and has promised to present a blueprint to help the county out of bankruptcy, his aides said Thursday.

"The supervisor has taken a position in opposition to Measure R," said Barbara Brown, Stanton's executive assistant, who said the supervisor plans to present his Plan B--an alternative to the sales tax--today.

The Board of Supervisors is split 3 to 2 over Measure R, with Stanton following the lead of Supervisor Jim Silva in opposing the sales tax, which goes before voters June 27. Supervisors Gaddi H. Vasquez, Marian Bergeson and William G. Steiner support the tax.

While Stanton's announcement was greeted with praise from Measure R opponents, county officials who support the tax criticized the senior supervisor and challenged him to produce a point-by-point plan to get the county out of bankruptcy.

"I'm not talking about generalities, I'm talking about specific ways to solve the problem," said Sheriff Brad Gates. "I'm very disappointed."

County Chief Executive Officer William J. Popejoy said he respects Stanton's right to oppose the tax but said he has yet to see Stanton develop a recovery plan. Stanton has complained that Popejoy has failed to reach a Plan B.

"In many meetings I've had with Mr. Stanton, I've repeatedly stated that we cannot come up with a viable Plan B," Popejoy said. "And in due respect, I don't recall Mr. Stanton ever contributing elements for any plan, A or B."

Opponents of Measure R said Stanton shouldn't have waited until a few days before the election to take a stand, but say Stanton has followed through on his "no new taxes" pledge.

"I'm very happy that he finally came out, and I think it's taken a lot of courage for him to do what Jim Silva did because Silva took a lot of complaints for it," said Carole Walters of the Orange Taxpayers Assn., an outspoken critic of Measure R. "We'd like to have him on our side earlier, but he finally did it, and that's what matters."

Bill Mello of the Committees of Correspondence, a group opposing the tax, also applauded Stanton.

"He reached the right decision," Mello said. "There are other viable solutions. We don't need this sales tax. There are other ways to solve the problem without throwing money at it."

Buck Johns, a tax opponent and board member of the conservative Lincoln Club, said he believes Stanton's opposition will help lead to Measure R's defeat.

State Sen. Quentin L. Kopp (I-San Francisco), a member of the special legislative committee looking into the county's fiscal crisis, called on Stanton to step aside.

"He ought to resign," Kopp said. "Taking that position is an abdication of responsibility. It's taking the easy way out."

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