Ask Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich what's wrong with county health care and he's likely to tell you that the system provides service for too many illegal immigrants.
Crime? Illegal immigrants. Schools? Ditto. In fact, Antonovich says he can trace a sizable number of county, state and federal government ills directly back to illegal immigration.
A tireless activist on the issue, Antonovich has formed county task forces, written letters to President Clinton, proposed building an obstetrics facility at the Mexican border so that pregnant Mexican women can't deliver babies in the United States and generally has made the illegal-immigration issue a centerpiece of his political career. Because he knows that other board members do not share his zeal on the topic, Antonovich usually submits the proposals on his own letterhead and mails them to various federal and state agencies himself.
On Tuesday, however, Antonovich wanted to put some punch behind it. He introduced a motion calling on the board to ask the FBI to work with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to deport 18th Street gang members who are in the U.S. illegally. The gang was the topic of a recent series in The Times.
Antonovich also wanted the board to ask the FBI to prosecute the gangsters using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO. To put it mildly, Supervisor Gloria Molina did not agree.
"This is insulting," she said, looking at Antonovich. "We do not need to violate the Constitution. . . . I can't believe that every time [there's a problem] you want to deport someone. Believe it or not, these kids are as American as you or me."
A slightly chastened Antonovich responded: "We have lost the war, and to win it is going to take a united effort" with the federal government. Molina disagreed, saying local officials had not exhausted all their options in battling gangs. And, she added, she had tired of her colleague's "constant utilization of deportation whenever it suits your needs."
The board's decision about whether or not to send a letter to the FBI took 20 minutes. Antonovich lost 4-1, but for him, it was only one battle in the war against illegal immigration. Said one county official, sighing as the argument finally ended: "He'll be back."
Tank Talk Every few years, Francine Oschin, a deputy to Councilman Hal Bernson, updates a dictionary of City Hall jargon that she wrote to help newcomers understand the lexicon of bureaucrats.
A new word that she may want to include came up this week during discussion of a proposal to open areas in the Sepulveda Basin and three other L.A. locations for firms to dump waste from septic tanks. The word is "septage." It is an industry term used by sanitation haulers to describe the material pumped out of septic tanks. It appears to be a marriage of "septic" and "sewage." During debate before a City Council panel on the proposal to open the dump sites in the basin and the other locations, sanitation officials repeatedly referred to the projects as "septage receiving stations."
That prompted angry testimony from H. Melvin Swift, a San Fernando Valley resident who opposes opening the basin site. He argued that he could not find the word "septage" in any dictionary and accused sanitation officials of making it up to conceal "what is going on."
The council panel nonetheless approved the proposal and also endorsed a plan to charge new, higher fees to the "septage waste haulers."
Down for the Count Although John Geranios lost the 43rd Assembly District race to Scott Wildman by just 192 votes, the Republican Party is not going to ask for a recount.
"There doesn't seem to be a realistic chance of changing the outcome," said Matt Cunningham, a spokesman for outgoing Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle.
A decision has not, however, been reached on whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant challenging the election on grounds of voter fraud.
"There are certainly instances that raise suspicion," Cunningham said.
For example, one new voter wrongly registered using a Geranios' relative's home as his address, Cunningham said. Typically, an election has to be even closer before a recount is sought. Or more has to be at stake: If the seat were the determining factor in which party would control the Assembly, a recount might be sought.
Grace Chavez, a spokeswoman for the registrar-recorder's office, said a recount costs $1,634 a day. Usually, only certain precincts, as requested by the candidate seeking the recount, are checked, she said.
Barring a last-minute voter fraud lawsuit, which is unlikely, Wildman will be sworn in as the Glendale-Burbank area's first Democratic lawmaker in six decades on Monday in Sacramento.
Another Quest on Hold Sybert I came within a hair of ousting Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Woodland Hills) from office. Sybert II was edged out after an intense campaign against State Board of Equalization member Brad Sherman. What about Sybert III?