A cheerleading controversy at Newport Harbor High School was finally

resolved when principal Michael Vossen decided in favor of an independent

committee's recommendation to have the cheerleaders who did not make it

the first time try out again. These cheerleaders had been invited to be

on the team because of alleged judging inconsistencies. But some parents

complained to the district that the judging decisions were final and the

independent committee found the judging to be fair.

In other news, district officials expressed optimism over the state

budget, which was released Thursday. The budget provides an increase of

$1.2 billion in discretionary funding for kindergarten through 12th-grade

education. It also includes $487 million in cuts for various programs.

On Monday, school district trustee Jim Ferryman pleaded guilty to one

count of drunk driving. The school board member was sentenced to two days

of jail time, which have already been served, and three years of informal

probation. He was also ordered to pay a standard fine of $1,241 and to

attend a three-month alcohol treatment program. His driver's license will

be restricted for 90 days.

* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail ato7 deirdre.newman@latimes.comf7 .

Charging ahead

A Superior Court judge on Friday denied a motion brought by Costa Mesa

Councilman Chris Steel's attorney to throw out one of the felony perjury

charges against the politician.

Prosecutors in May charged the Steel with perjury and accused him of

allowing resident Richard Noack to sign the 2000 election nomination

papers on behalf of his wife and for signing the 1998 papers for a

legally blind woman, Alice Billioux.

In July, Superior Court Judge Thierry Patrick Colaw in July threw out

a civil suit brought by resident Michael Szkaradek because he said there

was not sufficient evidence to prove that Steel deliberately falsified

the nomination papers in the 2000 election.

Defense attorney Ron Cordova argued that the integrity of the judicial

system would be in question if the court allowed criminal prosecution on

a charge that had been dismissed by another Superior Court judge.

But Judge Carla Singer said she was not convinced with the defense's

argument and that the prosecution should be allowed to proceed with the

criminal trial.

* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at

(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 deepa.bharath@latimes.comf7 .

Show them some money

City officials inherited a multimillion-dollar mystery when they

annexed Newport Coast on Jan. 1. Some residents say they want to know

what happened to up to $20 million in assessment district fees the county

handled, and also why they got back only $3.5 million for a stretch of

Newport Coast Drive that they paid about $13 million to build. City staff

are looking into the matter.

Skateboarding could get hot. The city's Parks, Beaches and Recreation

Commission will consider rules to get tougher on skateboarders in hopes

that damage to city property and noise will subside.

Conexant's announcement it will sell two of its buildings near John

Wayne Airport got mixed reactions from locals, some of whom say a new

owner could want a general plan amendment to update the facilities.

* June Casagrande covers Newport Beach. She may be reached at (949)

574-4232 or by e-mail at o7 june.casagrande@latimes.comf7 .

Judging the move

Orange County Superior Court Judge Karen Robinson.

It is a title the Costa Mesa councilwoman said she has always wanted.

Last week, Robinson announced she will join six other Orange County

candidates in the race to unseat incumbent judge Ronald C. Kline.

Robinson, who is an attorney in the Cal State University system, has

little less than eight weeks to generate support for an uphill write-in

candidacy. A tall task, according to political consultants, because Kline

is running unopposed on the March ballot.

Voters must not only pay attention to an often-ignored race for a

judgeship, they must remember to write in Robinson's name on the ballot.

Kline, who faces criminal charges alleging possession of child

pornography and molestation, only needs 50% of the votes to keep his


If Kline is reelected but later convicted, he would be removed from

the bench and Gov. Gray Davis would appoint a successor.

Although Robinson said she is not unhappy on the council, she said the

timing is perfect to pursue her long-term goal of becoming a judge.

* Lolita Harper covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)

574-4275 or by e-mail at o7 lolita.harper@latimes.comf7 .

Flights taking off?

The smooth sailing bid to extend the flight restrictions at John Wayne

Airport hit choppy waters this week, when an influential airline trade

group criticized the effort.

In a letter to county airport officials, Katherine Andrus of the Air

Transport Association said the flight and passenger cap could not be

extended past 2005 without federal approval.

Andrus also called the county's environmental analysis "fundamentally


Newport Beach leaders negotiation with the county were quick to

downplay the letter. Airport Director Alan Murphy also said he was

confident a compromise deal could be reached with the airlines.

The issue is heating up, with a vote on the Great Park less than two

months away. If an airport can't be built at the closed El Toro Marine

Corps Air Station, more flights are expected to be shifted to John Wayne.

* Paul Clinton covers the environment and John Wayne Airport. He may

be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7

paul.clinton@latimes.comf7 .

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