By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
13. Wayne Wedin
Real-estate consultant, development booster and former Brea councilman. Wedin retains his No. 11 ranking from last year. He left his Brea City Council post during a 1992 conflict-of-interest scandal that set the tone for Wedin's new career in the private sector: helping out his developer pals by convincing people to hire them. Wedin helped put together a financing scheme for a Los Angeles Unified School District project, and the final cost exceeded the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Wedin's fee? A cool $125 per hour. After an LA Unified official resigned amid scandal, Wedin showed up as a partner in a Panama deal with the same architect-Ernie Vasquez-whom Wedin had recommended for the LA Unified project. Most recently, Wedin popped up in a so-far-unsuccessful bid to bring a new football stadium to Anaheim. MITIGATING FACTOR: So far, nothing has been named after him.
14. Ken Khachigian
Right-wing crackpot, Times Orange County columnist. You know you're getting old when, having slaved for heroes of the Right like Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan, the only gig you have now is writing a few hundred words off the top of your weary head every other week for the Times Orange County. While working for Nixon, Khachigian and Buchanan puzzled out ways to screw with Democrats-mostly slimy stuff designed to attach Democrats to what the pair called "New York Jewish money," "fairies," "black radicals," "Harvard" and "elitist left-wing professors"-in other words: the entire readership of the OC Weekly. Not much has changed for Khachigian, who uses his column not to illuminate Orange County, but to darken the reputations of old, old political foes: the National Endowment for the Arts, Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown. Snore. MITIGATING FACTOR: Out of his first 27 columns, throw out the three Khachigian wrote to resuscitate the reputation of Richard "Still Dead" Nixon, and you're left with the only regular opinion columnist at the Times Orange County writing about Orange County just five times.
15. Tina Schafnitz
Newport Beach socialite. Normally, just having rumors abound that you're a peroxide-blond, surgically enhanced, shamelessly self-promoting, married mother of two and Newport Beach socialite would be enough to warrant consideration for our scary list. And sure enough, Schafnitz was a finalist for last year's inaugural compilation. But there was no denying the millionairess' inclusion this year when she got popped for trying to sell an ounce of cocaine to an undercover cop in Tustin (welcome aboard, Tina!). After pleading guilty in April to two felony counts of possessing and selling a controlled substance and one felony count of possessing a controlled substance with a firearm (she had a handgun in her Mercedes-Benz the night of her arrest in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant), Schafnitz was sentenced to 10 months in jail, a $5,000 fine and three years' probation. Her insurance-mogul husband, Matt Schafnitz, filed for divorce shortly after the plea, and then rescinded it. In other family matters, her half-sister is seeking to get permanent control of Schafnitz's substantial assets, asserting she's unfit to represent her own interests. The blond bombshell's jailhouse interview with Times OC society columnist Ann Conway ('97's Scary Person No. 13) brought nearly as much reader ridicule to the newspaper for running it as it did to Schafnitz for her non-apologetic comments that she snorted coke only twice per month "because it gave me a lift," that her hubby visited her on their 15th anniversary and promised to give her a 15-carat diamond once she's paroled, and that she plans to return to the charity-gala circuit. MITIGATING FACTOR: She turns 40 this spring; cut her some slack.
16. Frank Ury
Education Alliance founder. Two years ago, Ury got his butt whipped in a race for a seat on the Saddleback Valley Unified School Board. He did what any self-respecting upholder of traditional values would do: he found a scapegoat. Couldn't be that Ury lost because he's a truly scary guy whose bizarre public-policy positions might legitimately terrify voters. Must be that unions-teachers unions-had kept him out of office. Working with two other OC conservatives-the equally scary Mark Bucher and Jim Righeimer-Ury helped draft and qualify for the June 1998 ballot the so-called Campaign-Finance Reform Initiative. That sweet-sounding effort became Proposition 226, which, if passed, would have effectively blocked unions from participating in elections. The result: corporate control of the electoral playing field. MITIGATING FACTOR: Hopefully, three's a charm. Ury, who lost his board race in '96 and whose initiative was defeated earlier this year, is on Tuesday's Saddleback Valley Unified ballot.
17. Gordon Dillow
Orange County Register columnist. For weeks, we couldn't decide who is scarier at the Register: Jeff Kramer, the paper's tweaked-out "humor" writer; Holly McClure, the Christian Coalition-minded movie reviewer; or Dillow, who yearns for the 1950s, when-he imagines-there were "no moral ambiguities, no situational ethics, no gray areas. . . . We never had any trouble figuring out who to root for; all we had to do was look at the color of the hats." In the end, however, Dillow edged the other two out, in part because of his Jan. 15 column, "Pig Rescuers Are Nothing to Poke Fun At." Here's a taste of the piece: "A friend of Susie's had gotten the pigs as pets some years ago, perhaps not fully realizing that today's cute little piggies become tomorrow's big fat porkers. . . . Unfortunately, I had to tell Susie that I wasn't the right guy for the pig-saving job. After all, I said, chuckling, I just had bacon for breakfast, a ham sandwich for lunch and pork chops for dinner. Save the pigs? I'd rather eat the pigs! Haw! Haw! Haw!" Earlier this year, Dillow admitted he got off on the "sweet sound of handcuffs snapping" around a suspect's wrists. MITIGATING FACTOR: We'd take Dillow over the mind-numbing partisan propaganda of Times OC columnist and GOP strategist Ken Khachigian any day (see No. 14).