A behind-the-scenes look at Orange County's political life : Rival Transportation Authorities Document Their Disagreements

The war between two of the county's heavyweight bureaucracies--the Orange County Transportation Authority and the Transportation Corridor Agencies--continues to rage.

The battle erupted over a proposal that the TCA merge with the OCTA, an idea most TCA officials vehemently oppose. Since then, both sides have spent considerable effort making each other miserable.

First, the OCTA sent consultant Dan Miller to the toll-road offices, requesting reams of documents that would help with Miller's study of a potential consolidation. The toll-road folks first resisted the request, but finally relented.

Then the TCAs turned the tables, asking for a mountainous pile of documentation from the OCTA, including a list of compensation packages for all OCTA managers, plus copies of all its recent legislation, contracts, purchase orders, consultant invoices and policies.

"It's a big request," said Bill Hodge, an OCTA administrator. "It's unbelievable."


Greg Smith

North vs. South, the sequel: Irvine City Councilman Greg Smith, who last year raised the specter of a Civil War-style secession of south Orange County cities, said there has been new talk of forming an autonomous South County government.

The chatter centers on the fate of Measure S, a March 26 ballot initiative that would repeal plans for a commercial airport at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

"I've heard a lot of renewed interest in the whole issue of creating a separate South County government," Smith said. "People are saying that if Measure S does not pass on March 26, we should take the whole issue of secession off the back burner and pursue it again.

"If Measure S doesn't pass, I think you'll see that happen."

The prospect of a commercial airport at the Marine base, which is scheduled to close in 1999, is one of a host of issues that have created friction between Irvine and the county, Smith said. The city is also at odds with the county over a series of riding and hiking trails the county is requiring Irvine to create as part of a countywide trail system.

"That's another unfunded government mandate we don't need," Smith said.


Copycat: Political consultant Wayne Johnson said he's never seen anything like it in 22 years in the business. An opposing consultant, Irvine-based Mark Thompson, is using a three-page mailer on illegal immigration Johnson distributed two years ago. Thompson is distributing the flier for his client, Bill Campbell of Villa Park, who is running for Assembly in the 71st District.

Johnson--who has his own candidate, Jim Beam, former mayor of Orange, in the same race--saw his own words, nearly verbatim, used against him. "This is outrageous," said Johnson, who filed a formal complaint with the county GOP. "If you're going to steal a guy's bicycle, don't ride it by his house."

Thompson said the Johnson mailer was a good one, so he thought he'd use it. "Once it's out in everybody's mailbox, it's common property," Thompson said. "Wayne's just getting testy because he's losing."


Curing Baugh's blues: Freshman Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) certainly has had a tough start to his political career, with the district attorney probing possible campaign wrongdoing. But friends in high places made him feel a whole lot better during a recent fund-raiser.

Hosted by Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle and Senate GOP Leader Rob Hurtt, both of Garden Grove, the event drew 80 notables to Antoine, a posh Newport Beach restaurant. Baugh raked in $40,000 for his campaign. But by most accounts, the highlight of the event was a pair of songs crooned by Baugh's political mentor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

After his audience feasted on filet mignon, lobster salad and several desserts, washing down each course with a different wine, Rohrabacher sang a celebration of middle-class America. The congressman's other original, drawn from days as a Reagan Administration speech-writer, was titled "The White House Blues."


Uniform candidate: Katherine H. Smith, who is taking on longtime Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) for the 46th Congressional District seat in the March 26 Republican primary, contends President Clinton made an unfortunate omission a few weeks back when he touted the benefits of school uniforms during a visit to Long Beach.

Smith, a self-styled conservative, contends she got the school uniform movement going in California back in 1992 by traveling statewide to meet with parent groups, educators and others.

But Smith wasn't blasting the president. "No greater endorsement can be had than to see one's ideas adopted, even by the president of the United States," Smith said.

Meanwhile, Smith announced a couple of heady endorsements--Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and Gene McNary, Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner during the Bush administration.

"I am sure you are putting on an extremely energetic and effective campaign," Friedman said in a letter announcing his endorsement, "so I look forward to hearing from you next from Washington."


* Wednesday: Fund-raiser and birthday celebration for Dana Point City Council candidate Mike Eggers, 5 p.m., Cannons Restaurant, Dana Point. Tickets $40. Call 493-2100.

* Saturday: Clinton-Gore campaign reception. South Orange County Democratic Club, 7 p.m., 25231 Paseo de Alicia, Suite 210, Laguna Hills. 489-9336.

* Sunday: South Orange County Congress of Republicans fund-raiser, Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, Yorba Linda, 3 p.m. 839-1350.

* Sunday: Democrats of North Orange County St. Patrick's Day Dinner and Dance. 4 p.m. Carpenters Union Hall, 1916 W. Chapman Ave., Orange. $10 donation. 680-0986.

Compiled by Times staff writer Eric Bailey with contributions from staff writers Mark Platte and Len Hall and correspondent Russ Loar.

Politics '96 appears every Sunday. Items can be mailed to Politics '96, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or faxed to (714) 966-7711.

For the Record Los Angeles Times Tuesday March 12, 1996 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Orange County Focus Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction Councilman Greg Smith--An incorrect photograph was published with a Politics '96 item Sunday quoting Irvine Councilman Greg Smith. This is the photograph of Smith that should have appeared.
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