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Orange County Focus

YORBA LINDA : Wedaa Says AQMD Post Unconditional

March 18, 1994|DANIELLE A. FOUQUETTE

Councilman Henry W. Wedaa says his recent reelection as Orange County's representative to the South Coast Air Quality Management District has no strings attached, disputing claims by others that he had agreed to step down by year's end.

"There were no conditions, period," he said at Tuesday's council meeting.

Until last month, it appeared that the county would lose its representation on the air quality board because local mayors could not agree on whether to keep or replace Wedaa.

The controversial councilman has angered some cities by pushing through smog-reduction regulations, one of them requiring companies with 100 or more employees to develop ride-sharing programs.

But a plan proposed Feb. 14 by Santa Ana Mayor Daniel H. Young and Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly offered a compromise. If he agreed to resign at the end of his council term and to abide by the decisions of a seven-member steering committee, Wedaa could maintain his spot, Daly and Young suggested.

Wedaa was then reelected by the Orange County League of Cities selection committee, made up of mayors of the county's 31 cities.

Councilman John M. Gullixson, who was not at the selection meeting, raised the issue of Wedaa's alleged promises at Tuesday's meeting. He said Wedaa had agreed to both resign as the county's representative on the regulatory agency's board of directors on Dec. 15 and abide by the decisions of the steering committee, made up of council members from throughout the county.

Gullixson acknowledged that the two conditions were not included in the motion to approve Wedaa's position, but said the controversial representative had verbally agreed to them.

"Either Hank's a person of his word or he's not," Gullixson said. "He told people, to get their vote, he would comply with those conditions."

But in an interview Wednesday, Wedaa claims his reelection was unencumbered by any deal.

"I sent my resignation to the mayors (of each city) two weeks before the (AQMD) election," Wedaa said. "I did it on my own. It was not a condition of reelection."

He also denied that he is obligated to accept as binding any decision made by the newly created steering committee.

"I did not agree to that. It would be illegal," Wedaa said. "I cannot legally be bound by" the steering committee.

There is no consensus about what, if anything, Wedaa did agree to do.

Mayor Barbara Kiley contends that Wedaa accepted the conditions, a position supported by a memo from Bill Hodge, secretary of the selection committee and a League of Cities staff member. Hodge sent the memo to Orange County mayors.

"A motion to attach conditions to (Wedaa's) appointment was subsequently withdrawn after Mr. Wedaa agreed verbally to the conditions and provided a letter of resignation effective Dec. 15, 1994," Hodge wrote.

But others, including Placentia Mayor Norman Z. Eckenrode, disputed that claim. "I assumed there were no conditions when I voted for him," Eckenrode said.

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