Fueled by the bond crisis and the debate over a proposed commercial airport at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, a movement among South County cities to secede from Orange County appears to be gaining steam, particularly in Irvine.
Recent action by the county Board of Supervisors to eliminate Irvine from the front lines of talks over the airport has sparked a "lot of bad blood" and "given the budding secessionist movement a truckload of ammunition," said Howard Klein, an Irvine patent attorney and chairman of the city's Transportation Commission.
With Irvine bucking the county over the financial crisis and the airport issue, "the city now feels it has no representation on the Board of Supervisors," Klein said. "Although I think it's a long shot, I think you will be hearing a lot more support for the secessionist effort. . . . Creating this kind of dissent, particularly over the airport, is not good for this county."
He's out: Only last year it was all hugs between Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and U.S. Term Limits, an organization dedicated to passing federal term-limit legislation. The group named Dornan one of 15 national "Term Limit Heroes" and its official congressional spokesman.
But now, Dornan and the group are at odds amid what appears to be a softening stance by some Republicans on term limits. When the group launched an attack last week on Republicans who want to extend term limits from six to 12 years in the House, Dornan promptly resigned as spokesman, said Brian Keeter, a Dornan aide.
It's not that Dornan wants to extend the limits, it's that he does not like the group spending "limited resources" to target Republicans, said Keeter.
"Congressman Dornan still has a very amicable relationship with U.S. Term Limits and agrees with them 100% on policy," Keeter said. "But he has an honest disagreement with them on strategy. For that reason he decided to step down."
Dornan has himself served nine terms in the House.
Lining up: It's early, but insiders say at least a half-dozen candidates from north Orange County are already positioning themselves for a shot at Ross Johnson's Assembly seat, if he winds up in the state Senate. Johnson has moved out of the district to Irvine to seek the Senate seat abandoned by Supervisor Marian Bergeson.
Among the names often heard are Fred Whitaker of Yorba Linda, a longtime Republican Party activist; Fullerton City Councilman Chris Norby; Fullerton Mayor Julie Sa; Richard C. Ackerman, former mayor of Fullerton; and Barbara Kiley, the Yorba Linda city councilwoman who won tons of publicity as a leader of the fight for Proposition 187.
Back home: Last summer, when Larry Thomas left his executive digs at the Irvine Co. to help run the reelection campaign of his former boss, Gov. Pete Wilson, he did not expect to return. But after the lengthy hiatus, which included post-election vacations to the Caribbean, Morocco and Spain, Thomas returned last week to the Irvine Co.
He arrived to the political fallout from the county's bankruptcy. "I was distressed and very saddened by it," said Thomas.
On the lighter side, he said his leave taught him something about himself. "I am hoping that my public service days are over. I'm too old for this (campaign) stuff."
Quote of the week: \o7 "I'm asking around to make sure that Bill Clinton didn't talk to (former Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L.) Citron before he made this decision."\f7 --Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), criticizing the President's decision to bolster the Mexican economy with $20 billion in U.S. loans and loan guarantees.
* Monday: The bipartisan Concord Coalition of Orange County, a group dedicated to a balanced federal budget, will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Irvine Ranch Water District offices, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine. Call (800) 954-5307 for information.
* Thursday: Assemblywoman Marilyn C. Brewer (R-Irvine) will host an open house at her new office at 18952 MacArthur Blvd., Suite 220, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Call (714) 863-7070 for information.
* Thursday: Lobbyist Kathy Nelson Turner will discuss the state Legislature at a luncheon held by the Orange County Federated Republican Women at 10 a.m. at the El Toro Officer's Club at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Tickets are $30. Call (714) 639-8731 for information.
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Report Card on Children's Issues
Orange County's state legislative delegation scores a wide variety of ratings when it comes to children's issues. The 1993-94 Voters' Alliance for Children ratings were based on votes on about two dozen bills--from the School Hate Violence Reduction Act, vetoed by Gov. Pete Wilson, to Swimming Pool Safety, which failed Senate passage. Here's how Orange County's delegation rated, with 100% being tops:
Doris Allen (R-Cypress): 22% Mickey Conroy (R-Orange): 10 Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach): 5 Ross Johnson (R-Placentia): 0 Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside): 4 Curt Pringle (R-Garden Grove): 0 Tom Umberg (D-Garden Grove): 95
Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach): 53 Rob Hurtt (R-Garden Grove): 6 John R. Lewis (R-Orange): 0
Source: Voters' Alliance for Children
Compiled by Times staff writer Len Hall, with contributions from staff writer Gebe Martinez.
\o7 Politics '95 appears every Sunday.\f7