By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
As long as Caleb's hair is looking good, life is all good—even in Orange County. But when pushed to come up with something he would change, he doesn't tiptoe around the really hot issues: "More public parking at beach-access areas."
If he weren't so powerless, there'd be "more Def Leppard concerts. Just kidding. Less Republicans."
Dr. Ken Williams
Board Member, OC Board of Education
Dr. Ken Williams' powerlessness is like a big hunk of Kryptonite: a formless, radiant, otherwordly source of great weakness. Unlike board president Felix Rocha, or even veep Sheila Meyers, Williams cannot even claim a position of administrative authority, a fact that one would never guess after seeing him in action. You see, Williams wields his flaccid sword against encroaching liberalism by issuing resolutions, which are nothing more than official opinions adopted by the board on matters thought to be of grave importance to OC's public schools. It's a lot like trying to stop a bullet with a sheet of paper. And it's something that Williams seems to do a lot—or at least any time he spots a proposed piece of state or federal legislation that offends his ultraconservative sensibilities. The problem is the resolutions are nothing more than empty opinions, views often already shared by like-minded members Rocha and Eric Woolery; therefore, they exert little, if any, influence. Last spring, Williams urged board members to adopt a resolution to oppose proposed legislation that would have prohibited discrimination against gay students in public schools. The board accepted Williams' resolution, and a few weeks later, the Legislature, thanks to a spineless Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), put the kibosh on the bill. Call it a victory if you want, but his resolution probably met wider acceptance among hate groups than state lawmakers. On Aug. 26, it was resolution time again, as Williams ignored irritated board member Elizabeth Parker, who pleaded with him not to discuss resolutions on matters "that we can do nothing about." He launched into a speech in opposition to an upcoming Assembly bill on health care in public schools. His lecture included every sexy conservative education issue du jour, as well as some of the classics—and was ultimately interrupted by an exasperated Meyers, who banged a book on the desk and shouted, "We can read your editorial in the Register!" When it was finally put to a vote, both Meyers and Parker abstained, and the resolution was narrowly adopted—which landed the OC Department of Education right next to the Church of Scientology among groups opposing this bill and made Williams the darling of applauding supporters in attendance. He defended his view later, saying his resolution was designed to "ensure that such programs are not instituted by [the OC Department of Education]." That's a fact that may only underscore his underwhelming power: if the health-care legislation passes, instituting programs he so rabidly opposes is exactly what Williams will have to do.
Santa Ana city councilman
The halls of power buzz loudly as people in suits gather in the Corporate Yard for a presentation of the Emergency Command Center. Santa Ana City Council members crack bad jokes and chortle at one another (badly) for the bored audience. But one man holds his tongue, remaining silent and stoic, even mysterious. That man is Santa Ana City Councilman Ted Moreno.
Moreno was once the most voluble of councilmen: he was the beloved voice of a dozen—nay, a hundred—gadflies, railing against the Republican council and the ineffectuality of the mayor, fellow Democrat Miguel Pulido, whose job he wished to take. (Moreno is a unique creature: a Democrat and fundamentalist Christian.) He would campaign frequently from the podium, slurring Pulido during council meetings in an endearing volley of uhs and ers. He was and is a man of the people, the people who speak in uhs and ers, which, you know, is a lot of the people, and he is a man of them.
But then something happened, and that something was bad. Moreno was indicted on a dozen counts of bribery, extortion, campaign fraud and a host of lesser allegations. A lesser man might have been tempted to quit his mayoral race and shut the hell up for a while until the storm of alleged iniquities passed. But not Ted Moreno. He categorically denied all charges and heroically attempted to cast doubt on the ethics of fellow council members, just hours after his own indictments had been announced! His voice quavering, he told the Weekly, "[A company with whom the city contracts] told me, 'We've never been squeezed as hard as we've been squeezed by your colleagues this last election.' But will they come forward? No!"
Now Moreno, who used to just talk and talk—I mean, man, he would not shut up—sits silent. Of course, he always refuses to talk in those instances when the cameras aren't rolling; he says it's undemocratic to meet in an untelevised setting. There was this one time that all his fellow council members, who really hate him, like to relate: the cameras were malfunctioning, and so the red ON AIR light went out, and the council members say Moreno threw a fit and refused to vote on anything, but the cameras were actually rolling, har, har, har. To be fair to Moreno's fellow council members, he's kind of low on your basic social skills. He glares a lot; keeps you waiting for your interview while he chats on, staring at you through the glass wall so you know he knows he's keeping you waiting; has a conversation all in English, which you are a part of, and then looks at you and switches to Spanish for a few sentences, quite clearly to keep a secret, which is very fifth-grade; and was once accused of "body-slamming" City Councilman Brett Franklin in the hallowed halls of the Santa Ana City Council—though he categorically denies it.