Complaints, Kudos in Bankruptcy

Re: The editorial “Style of Government Only Part of Solution,” Dec. 10: Finally, someone realizes that the officials should be held responsible for the success or failure of Orange County’s governmental issues.

Instead of focusing on electing capable people to office, society gets wrapped up in how we can alter the system to make it look like progress is being made. Yet how can we think this is progress if the new system we are converting to also has almost failed? The blame needs to be placed back on the officials who haven’t fulfilled their jobs, but have come up with excuses of how it was not their fault or are too busy running their next political campaign to do their job. If the style of government is not working, something should be done, but the officials in power should be accountable for their errors. We need to elect people like former County Chief Executive Officer William Popejoy who do what they are elected to do, not what will most benefit their own political careers.



There must be something in the water at the county offices in Santa Ana. While former Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron professes dementia, the rest of the county leadership seems to be having a bout of “muzzy” thinking too.


For example, more than a year after crippling Orange County, our county government’s answer to bankruptcy is to devise a plan where others can bring their trash to Orange County and dump it in Irvine for a fee. Right on! Let’s call the program “Trash O.C.” Where are the serious changes in county government? Where is privatizing of services and sale of assets? Why do we insist on the folly of the toll roads and allow the Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies to squander money while lowering our quality of life with more development? Why?

First our local government tried to solve the problem by taxing its citizens. When that failed they tried to blame it all on Merrill Lynch, the brokerage firm that bought securities for Citron.

Our Board of Supervisors, with the exception of Marian Bergeson, seems determined to do anything to hold on to the status quo, to keep from making and implementing the hard choices that the county desperately needs. My guess is that their next excuse will be to blame the whole mess on the “greenhouse effect.” Yes sir, there’s something in the water up there.


San Clemente

I suppose I shouldn’t let it get to me, but The Times Orange County’s article Dec. 17 (“With O.C. Supervisors on Defense, Who Leads?”) was disappointing. The bottom line is that many, many local leaders--from city to county to school officials--have made some tremendous strides to bring us out of the largest municipal bankruptcy ever in record time! Yes, there is much more that can and should be done within all our jurisdictions--but those of us at the county still have to work within the framework of counties’ obligations as “arms of the state.”

We’re still forced to deliver indigent health programs, welfare, court operations, to run the jails, run the probation system, and to do all those other things that nobody wants to do. Shaking off years and years of mandatory programs--with or without a bankruptcy--is no easy task. It requires an energized “home-grown” consensus funneled through a willing Legislature.

I wish folks like Harvey Englander, who calls from the sidelines for someone to “step up to the plate” and lead, would take a brief moment to just step in our shoes. He’d find that the real county plate is far more complex--with far more strings, far more constituencies, and far more obligations--than he could ever imagine.

Maybe our other goal--besides getting out of bankruptcy years ahead of schedule--should be to stress over and over the role that counties play in our lives, and if we don’t like it, let’s truly take the time to find out how it can be changed. A charter (March 1996) will do some. A new California Constitution (November 1996) will do more. An activist public that recognizes the difference (beginning whenever you’re ready) will do the most. I’m convinced that the leadership and the motivation to put forth a sound, new governance structure is in place--it’s time now to get behind it.


Supervisor, 5th District

Santa Ana

There is hope for the financial security of Orange County through our cities. They should be applauded for their efforts to reform the way taxpayers’ money is invested (“Once Burned, Cities Now Redouble Their Investment Controls,” Dec. 10.) The cities are learning from the bankruptcy how to secure the economic future of Orange County. Finally, something good is resulting from the fallout.