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Sizing Up Life in O.C After the Defeat of Measure R

* With or without Measure R, Orange County’s $82-billion economy remains strong and vibrant. The challenge we face, more daunting now that Measure R has not passed, is rebuilding the county’s government financially so as not to default on our financial obligations. Now that the vote is in, all sides must come together to work toward this goal.

Notwithstanding the campaign arguments on either side, a “constant” before the election and now, is the necessity to restructure government--to make it more effective, more efficient and more responsive to the voters. This has been a key goal of the Business Council since the bankruptcy, and we believe it has been the expectation of the voters.

Interestingly, the restructuring argument was used to support both sides of the Measure R campaign. Those who supported Measure R wanted to move ahead with restructuring as we get the bankruptcy behind us. Those opposed to Measure R felt that restructuring would simply not happen unless government was forced to deal with the issue. Whatever the merits on either side, it is clear that restructuring is where we can all come together.

The Business Council plans to continue to play an aggressive, productive and significant role in the resolution of this crisis and the preservation of Orange County’s good standing in the financial community and will continue to be a strong advocate for the restructuring of local government in Orange County.

WAYNE D. WEDIN

Chairman

Orange County Business Council

* I cast my vote for Measure R. It seemed so cut and dried that I was going to vote No until I started reading the pro and con arguments. The main reason I was against it was because the supervisors are still pulling their salaries and perks and I didn’t want to vote to tax myself while they are all sitting fat and asleep at the switch. However, I like Orange County and I don’t want it to sink any farther into the muck. What I would like to see now is for the people who worked so hard to kill the measure to use the same energy to get rid of the supervisors, especially [Roger R.] Stanton and [Gaddi H.] Vasquez. Don’t wait until election time--everyone forgets. We don’t need a Board of Supervisors, obviously.

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MARY E. BANGERT

Santa Ana

* Did the citizens really pull the lever and flush the county down the toilet for a lousy one-half cent? For just $50 in tax for every $10,000 a citizen spends, the county would be up and running. Maybe there would have been one less violent crime, one less gang killing, one more special-needs child educated, but who cares.

The important thing is not to give them, the ones that sold us down the river, any more money to mismanage. Defeating Measure R sealed that pact. Wall Street laughed at bond sales and the only money available is from loan sharks or the sale of assets, like John Wayne Airport. And, oh yes, there’s always plenty of money in cutting services to zero.

Voting to keep the county broke was a bad choice and is no cause to rejoice. It’s a poor substitute for voting in responsible leadership.

SI CHEBITHES

Newport Beach

* Measure R was on the ballot, but it was democracy that suffered a defeat on June 27, when two-thirds of Orange County’s registered voters declined to participate in a major financial decision that affects every one of us. A financial bankruptcy can be solved over time. Where is the cure for a bankrupt democracy?

JEAN ASKHAM

Fullerton

* County Supervisors Roger Stanton and Jim Silva may be disgruntled with CEO William Popejoy’s “failure” to communicate, but it is understandable. How does one communicate with individuals who either refuse or lack the ability to understand basic financial fundamentals and responsibility.

This was clearly demonstrated when the Supervisors took Orange County into bankruptcy when it was unnecessary to do so. Bankruptcy is for those who absolutely have no way to recover and are prepared to accept the stigma of being a scofflaw. The message sent to those who were owed money was that the county was prepared to stiff them. This action has already cost millions of dollars and it is far from over.

In an effort to save their political hides, Stanton and Silva have continued to mislead Orange County citizens. Their lack of leadership and conduct is unconscionable. They should resign immediately and stop criticizing Popejoy for doing the job he was hired to do. They have lost all credibility.

LEWIS ELIA

San Clemente

* Here’s a message to those who “sent a message” by voting down Measure R: Grow up!

Healthy adults do not engage in self-destructive behavior to vent their anger and drive home a point. When faced with an immediate crisis, mature people pitch in to take corrective action and point fingers later. In rejecting Measure R, the petulant voters of Orange County have taken their toys and refused to play fiscal responsibility anymore. Unfortunately, the big boys on Wall Street have already begun to make us pay for our temper tantrum by refusing to continue financing our county government.

The stinking mess created by Mr. [Robert L.] Citron and the “supervisors” will only continue to rot and fester. Those who still believe that the implications of this decision will not be felt by them personally have not long to wait before realizing how wrong they are. The effect on all levels of county services, not to mention the business climate, may well turn the promise and power of Orange County into a ghost of what it once was.

RENE S. RODARTE

Lake Forest

* County CEO [William J.] Popejoy should be congratulated for his heroic attempt to save Orange County. Popejoy had his finger on the pulse of the voters in Orange County when he tried to put the blame for the bankruptcy on the supervisors. They were in charge of Citron. They didn’t do their job. Someone has to take the responsibility. It was on their watch, they should answer to their failure in their elected duty. The taxpayers are not going to put up with business as usual.

Congratulations, Bill Popejoy. You tried! Please, stay on the job and see what you can help salvage from what’s left.

EILEEN MURPHY

Huntington Beach

* How is it that an elected official, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), supposedly representing himself as knowledgeable and expected to exert responsible leadership, could fail so miserably on both counts?

First, to suggest that money can be diverted from the Measure M transportation fund is not only irresponsible but illegal. Fortunately, the rebuttal to suggestions of diverting Measure M funds is well detailed in the article by Charles Smith, chairman of OCTA that appeared on the same page (June 25). It’s too bad that the representative from the 45th Congressional District can’t at least delegate one of his many staffers to do a little research for him. This is probably too much to expect from a man who has so many staffers assigned to a dubious recall effort of [Assembly Speaker] Doris Allen.

This is also the same guy who has conspicuously avoided any criticism of the Republican Board of Supervisors that had the responsibility for oversight of the Orange County financial operation before it went into bankruptcy.

PATRICK BIRKETT

Laguna Niguel

* Seems to me that voters were mad as hell with their elected county supervisors. But their anger was so great they shot themselves in the foot and now expect Roger Stanton and Jim Silva to lead the way for the return of their money.

Unfortunately, the smoke-and-mirrors solution, together with not paying bondholders money they lent to the county in good faith, seems to be done in bad faith. They now have the mantle of leadership on their shoulders and I expect them to subvert sales tax money voted for transportation under Measure M, which is like stealing. They never did approve the passage of this tax by the voters, and this is their way of thumbing their noses at those voters.

Should they put any of these items on a ballot, as they should do, I will try to marshal opposition to them. I am sure these two supervisors are good, churchgoing people, but their actions of approving the borrowing of money and not repaying it speaks louder to me than their rhetoric.

CONRAD V. VAN CLIEF

Fullerton

* If [your] article about Fluor Corp.'s threats to leave Orange County if Measure R did not pass is indicative of what corporate social responsibility is all about, we should ask all corporations to move out of California. And we’ll be the first to hold the door open for them.

Many corporations have become accustomed to special treatment in exchange for providing employment to our residents. Never mind that their profits were made by the toils of their human resources and the special treatment given to them by our elected officials.

As long as everything goes their way, they are willing players in the game. The minute things don’t go as planned, they threaten to leave. Never mind the loyal investment of their human resources. They just become pawns in the game.

The money lost in the county pool didn’t simply “disappear.” In fact, is it possible that another large corporation reaped the benefits of our elected officials’ poor judgment?

If we want to get serious about solving our county’s troubles, we have to take the money out of politics, the politics out of corporate business, and make the elected officials exactly what they should be--public servants, held accountable to the people that elected them to serve.

HOSSAIN and KATHY GHAFFARI

San Clemente


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