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ORANGE COUNTY NEWSWATCH

June 01, 1993|Davan Maharaj and Mark Landsbaum and Bill Billiter

SHYING AWAY: The lingering recession is taking a toll on flossy local restaurants, with sales of business lunches down 10% from last year, managers say. . . . Recent publicity about free lunches for politicians and their staffs has not helped. . . . "We're not getting the political people as much as before," said Thad Foret, banquet manager at Antonello's in Santa Ana, a favorite hangout for the county's top brass. "Even if they're paying their own way, they're scared that the public would get the wrong idea."

COURT SCAN: Orange County Superior Court is buying a $72,000 computer device to electronically scan the affidavits that prospective jurors must complete. Officials say the gadget will save the county up to $93,000 a year--the cost of five temporary typists. . . . Optical scanning systems have been around for years, but this one deciphers handwriting. That's a must, because many prospective jurors can be counted on to disregard some simple instructions: "Please print."

ROB'S CHOICE: State Sen. Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove) is co-chairman of a group pushing the school voucher initiative on November's ballot. Hurtt, who gave $500,000 to GOP candidates last year, says that parents should have more choices in how they educate their children. "It's their tax dollars," he said. The group, Excel Choice-in-Education League, faces an uphill fight but has help--its advisory board includes former U.S. Education Secretary William J. Bennett, economist Milton Friedman and former Democratic U.S. Sen. John V. Tunney.

BEST FOR BIKES: The results of a competition to pick the county's best city for bike riders are in . . . and Irvine leads the pack. The Orange County Bicycle Coalition, which represents 2,500 bicyclists, rated cities on existing bikeways, safety and government support for bicycling. Newport Beach and San Clemente placed second and third. Lowest rating: Garden Grove. . . . But coalition officials say the city is slowly changing. It has plans to add 30 new miles of bikeway.

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