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
Photo courtesy OTCAIn his race to win Orange County's First Supervisorial District seat, Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater has exactly one promise, which is plastered on countless campaign billboards throughout Garden Grove, Westminster and parts of Santa Ana: "He'll Fix the Flow on the 22 Freeway."
But there's a major problem with that platform: so far, Broadwater has done exactly nothing to improve traffic congestion on the Garden Grove Freeway. Make that two problems: although he doesn't brag about it, Broadwater's opponent, Assemblyman Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), has played a leading role in widening the 22.
In October 2003, Broadwater sued the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), trying to force the agency to widen his city's freeway underpasses and on-ramps. The suit was crucial for Broadwater because, thanks to his leadership, his city spent millions of federal dollars that could have been used on street improvements to build a series of expensive hotels that were envisioned to service a since-abandoned theme-park project.
Broadwater's lawsuit stopped all work to widen the 22. In July, OCTA settled the lawsuit so that work on the freeway could go forward more quickly, and on Sept. 22, the agency held a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the start of actual construction. Both Broadwater and Correa spoke at that event.
"Garden Grove loves the Orange County Transit [sic] Authority," Broadwater joked insincerely to his semi-amused audience of OCTA officials and local politicians. "We really do. I mean, we have been clashing with them, but most of it has been good."
At this point, the mayor employed a vaguely sexual reference to brag that his lawsuit had forced OCTA to spend state money on his city's freeway underpasses. "OCTA bent for us and kept bending and kept bending and kept bending," Broadwater said. "Our lawyers kept saying, 'Bruce, you've got enough; you've got enough.' I said, 'We can go a little further, you know.' . . . But uh . . . it's really gonna make the flow under the freeway great, as well as the flow on top of it."
Broadwater's remarks betrayed his true goal: not to improve the flow on the 22—which would benefit his future constituents—but to take as much money away from that effort to improve traffic in Garden Grove, which is a nightmare because Broadwater squandered the city's street-widening cash on traffic-generating hotels.
A few minutes after Broadwater spoke, Correa took the stage with a massive foam replica of a $44 million check, which represented some of the money Correa helped obtain from the state budget for the 22-freeway project. (He previously helped win $20 million for the freeway.)
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is what teamwork looks like," he said, pausing for a lengthy and energetic round of applause. "I want to thank everybody here—elected officials and, most important, our constituents for making sure this happened."
As a member of the state Legislature, Correa has worked for the past several years to obtain money for the 22. He told his audience how he met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and urged him to help widen the freeway. "I said, 'Look, there are a lot of angry motorists who vote and are stuck on the 22 freeway,'" Correa said. "'Those motorists are stuck on that freeway with their kids screaming at them because they can't get to Disneyland fast enough. Now if you help us expand the 22, you will have a lot of happy voters.'"
Ironically, unlike Broadwater, Correa hasn't made the 22 freeway part of his campaign for supervisor. In an interview with the Weekly, he actually downplayed his role in the project. "Trying to widen the 22 has been going on for five years," he said. "I fought hard for it, but I cannot fully take credit for it. I think it is the taxpayers of Orange County who made it happen, and that's why I haven't made the 22 a major campaign issue."
Correa blasted Broadwater's single-issue campaign as dishonest to say the least. "It's a desperate act by a desperate candidate that has nowhere else to go," he said. "He's grabbing at an issue that doesn't exist. He's fixed the flow on the 22? No, you didn't. How can anybody with an ounce of decency say that?"nschou@OCWEEKLY.COM