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JOSEPH N. BELL

Words We Won't Soon Forget (but Might Want to)

December 14, 1990|JOSEPH N. BELL

At the end of each year, we newspaper people try to avoid productive work by going back into our files and notes to produce lists of the best this-and-that for the past year. It's tough to find a niche to crawl into here because most of them are already spoken for.

But I've staked my claim on the best quotes of the year originating in or spoken about Orange County. I have divided these into categories so you can follow them more easily. The fact that they are taken outrageously out of context was not a factor in the judging.

Most Honest (three-way tie)

The late Eddie Martin, at the dedication of the terminal bearing his name: After listening to various politicians and other officials emote, he said: "I don't know what the hell I'm doing up here following these guys."

The "Talking Nixon," at his Yorba Linda museum when asked why a hostile press wanted him out of office: "Because I had a mandate to reorganize the government. I was going to shape up the place. They knew it--and they didn't like it."

Jim Edwards, chairman of Edwards Cinema, being questioned about why he turned down a booking of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" at his Lido theater without having viewed it first: "I don't see any pictures before we open them."

Most Hopeful

Howard Adler, former chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party and recent candidate for the state Assembly: "If the Soviet Union and Nicaragua and Eastern Europe can throw off the yoke of the one-party system, so can Orange County."

Most Enlightening (two-way tie)

Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Carson): "There is some Orange County bashing going on in the Assembly, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. The silk-stocking guys are going to be taking their lumps because, quite frankly, this is just retribution for their activities in voting everything down. They're all Neanderthals."

Norma McCorvey ("Jane Roe" in Roe vs. Wade) after living for six months in Orange County: "I never felt comfortable here because the culture seems so close to Dallas--and I want to get as far away from Dallas as I possibly can."

Most Creative (two-way tie)

Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-La Habra) answering complaints about the building of toll roads in Orange County: "We'll elevate the roadways in Orange County, run a garden hose under them and call them a bridge. That way, all you Northern California hypocrites can be satisfied."

Attorney Robert Bennett of the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee, exasperated at the circular testimony of Joy Jacobsen, Sen. Alan Cranston's chief fund-raiser: "If I'm sitting on a park bench and an 800-pound gorilla comes up and says, 'Excuse me, are there any seats around here?' he's got my seat. There is a repeated pattern here of action being taken on behalf of Mr. Keating right before or right after you and the senator are asking for large sums of money to be donated."

Most Heartwarming (two-way tie)

Charles H. Keating Jr., in a statement made through his attorney after hearing about the man who killed himself after his life savings--dedicated to abused children--were lost in the Lincoln Savings & Loan debacle: "Mr. Keating feels deep sorrow and compassion, but when the evidence is all in, it will be found that Mr. Keating did not bring about the collapse of the American savings and loan industry."

Orange County Republican Chairman Thomas A. Fuentes at the dedication of the Nixon Library at Yorba Linda: "This is an occasion that absolutely brings tears of joy to my eyes because Richard Nixon is finally being given credit and acknowledgement that he deserves."

Most Profound

Worker on a garbage truck in Newport Beach after finding $42,500 in cash that was thrown out with the trash by a local bank: "I wouldn't want to be a trash man anywhere else."

Most Frequent

Sheriff Brad Gates on numerous occasions when his activities made news: "Sheriff Gates could not be reached for comment."

Most Pragmatic

Newport Beach City Councilman John C. Cox Jr., when questioned about a $300,000 award to a man shot in the back a few weeks after a $1.5-million settlement was given to another police victim in Newport Beach: "Settlement doesn't mean you're guilty, but it does save taxpayers a lot of money."

Most Circumspect

Alex Cranstoun, designer of the "Talking Nixon": "It's certainly understandable that as long as President Nixon is still around, he and his family are going to want to be cast in the best light possible."

Most Inaccurate

Ron Kovic, testing the political climate in Orange County for a run against Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove): "It will be a fight to the finish, and I will fight from my very heart and soul. I'm a winner."

Most Frightening

From a Curt Pringle campaign flyer in his unsuccessful race for the state Assembly against Tom Umberg: "An official document recently uncovered at the secretary of state's office proves that Larry Agran is a financial contributor to political candidate Tom Umberg. It's a dirty little secret that Tom Hayden hoped you would never find out."

Most How's-That-Again? (two-way tie)

Garden Grove Police Chief John Robertson, after a record year in which 29 people were shot (12 fatally) by Orange County police officers: "Given the track record in this county, we have been extremely fortunate that the police shootings have been deemed lawful. But if we don't maintain a high level of scrutiny, we could have a bad shooting."

Steve Garvey at a baseball card show at UCI where his signature cost $8 a pop): "I don't sell autographs. I'm paid an appearance fee, and I appear to support this hobby. I just like seeing and meeting people."

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