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
12. ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
On Sept. 13, the board—a majority of them members of the right-wing Education Alliance—canned a daycare program that served nearly a thousand low-income families. Their reason: the program's $2 million deficit during the past five years. Conservative board member Ken Williams said his "governing philosophy" demands that those in poverty look to the private sector for solutions to their problems. He also said a rigorous budget search failed to turn up the $400,000 needed to keep the program alive for another year. (Weekly scrutiny of county expenditures during just the past six months illuminated $12.8 million in dubious spending, including an $82,320 beaver exhibit.) Orange County doesn't rank 54th out of the state's 58 counties in terms of child care for nothing. MITIGATING FACTOR: In the world of education politics, county boards are less powerful than Dracula in the presence of a crucifix and holy water.
13. TOM SHEPARD
A well-heeled political consultant based in San Diego, for the past few years, he's been one of the chief strategists for the anti-airport crew in South County. But late last year, he emerged as lead consultant for the pro-Wal-Mart group in Huntington Beach. The Wal-Mart, of course, comes to that city's residents courtesy of George Argyros (No. 2). So at a time when Shepard was helping Argyros in Huntington Beach, he was also assisting the South County people in their fight against Argyros' pet project, the El Toro International Airport. Anyone remember Dick Morris? MITIGATING FACTOR: Spends most of his time in San Diego.
14. STEVEN SEAGAL
An alarm blares in the night. A hunched-over BAD GUY tiptoes through a darkened store, desperately searching for a way out. Screaming sirens and whirling helicopter blades grow louder as the BAD GUY finally spots the BACK DOOR. Clinging to the shelves as if he's on a sheer cliff, the BAD GUY inches toward the door. Twenty-five feet. Ten feet. Five feet. He reaches for the DOOR HANDLE when suddenly, as if from nowhere, out jumps a MOUNTAIN OF PORK PRODUCTS to block his path. It is a uniformed RESERVE DEPUTY with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. But there is something different—and terrifyingly familiar—about this copper. The snub-nosed PONYTAIL sticking out of the back of his balding head surely violates departmental standards, as does his EQUATORIAL WAISTLINE. But it's not until the RESERVE DEPUTY fumbles his dialogue—monotoning, "It's checkout time"—that his identity is revealed. Hey! It's that lump of an action-movie star. . . . What's his name? STEVEN SEAGAL! This past spring, Seagal was among more than 170 applicants who underwent a background check for an Orange County Sheriff's Department reserve-deputy badge. The Above the Law star turned to OC after a similar Los Angeles County Sheriff's reserve program for executives and celebrities was suspended. A decision on Seagal's OC application is expected in the next few weeks, according to a department spokesman. MITIGATING FACTOR: Seventy-three percent of Orange County residents can outrun him.
15. THIS GUY!
16. LYLE OVERBY
Orange County's überlobbyist and the former aide to two county supervisors—both later convicted of corruption. He's close to former county Supervisor Don Roth—also convicted—and close to onetime county Treasurer Bob Citron—jailed after the 1994 bankruptcy. His name appears repeatedly in just about every county supervisor's campaign-finance statement. He lobbied for Newport Beach City Council (until recently), the Irvine Co. and Lockheed Martin. He's now the boss of American Taxi, for whom he delivered in March an exclusive contract for taxi service at John Wayne Airport—despite the fact that (a) his company was barely six months old and the contract required at least five years' experience; and (b) his company was bleeding money through every fiscal orifice, clocking an operating loss of more than $130,000 when airport officials gave him the contract. MITIGATING FACTOR: American Taxi cabs use natural gas.
17. HENRY SAMUELI AND HENRY T. NICHOLAS III
Samueli and Nicholas run Irvine-based computer company Broadcom, the company that created Bluetorch.com a year ago for surf, snowboard and skate enthusiasts. The move was weird—Broadcom is a successful high-tech hardware company —but was supposed to be the pair's first move toward becoming the top providers of surf/skate/snow info. Things looked good early on: they staffed Bluetorch with writers lured from the region's other big surf and skate publications with dot-com promises of big money. But on Sept. 11, Bluetorch retreated from the Net, cutting 64 employees and leaving the new-tech Bluetorch in the decidedly old-tech television business. The remaindered employees were told to pack their desks and leave by 2 p.m. or expect assistance from company security. A company press release said the firings created "a faster path to profitability." MITIGATING FACTOR: That bit about the "faster path to profitability"? That made us breathe a huge sigh of relief for Samueli and Nicholas, whose personal wealth Forbes magazine recently estimated at about $10 billion. Each.
18. SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE JAMES M. WATSON
In February, we revealed Watson's bizarre practice of requiring witnesses in his courtroom to say if they are HIV-positive. "Please notify the court immediately of any witness problem," Watson wrote in his "Ground Rules" for trials. "All witnesses will be excluded, unless an agreement to the contrary is approved by the court." In an interview with the Weekly, Watson—a Huntington Beach Republican who spent 20 years as a Los Angeles deputy district attorney and was first appointed to the bench by Governor George Deukmejian in 1990 —tried to downplay the controversy. "It's not like I'm ordering anyone to disclose their HIV status. I'm just asking," he said. MITIGATING FACTOR: Played no role in the Holocaust.