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Vasquez Announcement Fails to Halt Recall Drive : Government: Leaders say they can't trust supervisor not to change his mind about quitting if they drop efforts to oust him.

August 10, 1995|RENE LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez says he'll be gone by the end of next month. Gov. Pete Wilson is already pondering his replacement.

But all that doesn't matter to a group of Fullerton anti-tax activists who are still plowing forward with a recall effort to oust Vasquez from office.

Why?

The handful of vocal critics fear Vasquez's resignation might be part of a calculated conspiracy. If they drop their recall petition, their thinking goes, Vasquez might turn around, announce he has changed his mind and remain chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

"We're not willing to let that happen, we're not going to be taken in," said W. Snow Hume, who frequently rails against the supervisors at weekly board meetings.

The group served Vasquez with recall papers in mid-July, shortly after he announced he would not seek reelection at the end of his term in December, 1996. Vasquez on Monday said he will leave office Sept. 22. He cited personal reasons, including a desire to spend more time with his family.

But it's not good enough for Hume, who said the Orange County Recalls Committee does not trust Vasquez to make good on his promise.

"We don't trust him at all," Hume said. "We're going to proceed as if nothing had happened, as if he didn't announce his resignation."

Vasquez declined to comment Wednesday but has labeled the recall effort a waste of taxpayers' funds because of the work the county registrar of voters must perform to certify a recall effort.

Carole Walters, president of the Orange Taxpayers Assn., is a frequent board critic who finds herself agreeing with Vasquez on this issue.

"We've been fighting to save the taxpayers money, and this is going to cost at least $200,000 for a recall election," Walters said. "He's going to step down anyhow! There are more important issues to take on."

But Hume insists that his group, which has had success recalling Fullerton city officials, is just being cautious.

Hume said Vasquez lost credibility when he vowed shortly after the bankruptcy that he would not raise taxes as a way to solve the financial crisis, but later endorsed a half-cent sales tax increase that failed at the polls.

"It just proved he can't be trusted," Hume said. "We have a residual fear that he's not going to step down. He's broken promises in the past."

Hume said his committee is just getting started. He said the group intends to focus its sights on Supervisor William G. Steiner, who also endorsed Measure R, the failed tax hike. Hume said he is trying to find people in Steiner's district who will carry that recall effort.

But Steiner said he has no intention of being forced from office.

"I just took my oath of office in January and intend to be here through my term to work toward a solution to the bankruptcy," Steiner said.

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