If the "potholes" theory of government is true--that is, that all politics is local--it is also increasingly true that all politics is regional. This is apparent in Orange County, where one city's problems quickly become another's. For example, Harbor Boulevard winds through seven cities from La Habra to Costa Mesa. What one city does--or doesn't do--to move traffic along quickly affects the others.
With this in mind, Orange County and its 29 cities recently came to an agreement to merge the Orange County Transportation Commission, which is in charge of long-term transportation planning, and the Orange County Transit District, which manages the bulk of the county's bus system. Consolidation has been long sought by cities and some county leaders--among them, Supervisors Roger R. Stanton and Thomas F. Riley, who is Transportation Commission chairman, and state Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach)--as a way to eliminate duplication of administrative and lobbying functions and curb infighting.
The actual cost savings may be modest: some say $350,000 in a $300-million-per-year agency. More important, the merger will clarify lines of responsibility at a time when traffic congestion is the major concern of county residents. As Stanton puts it, there's a lot of "buck-passing" under the current setup.