Recall Madness!

The nuts and bolts (with extra nuts) of direct democracy gone wild

"Are there always so many recall efforts going on in this county?" a bemused OC Weekly editor Ted Kissell asked us grizzled veteran staffers last week.

Silly newbie! What the jefe didn't realize is that recalls are as Orange County as subprime lenders, a jolt of instant democracy enshrined in the California Constitution. We will grant Ted this: This summer has seen more voter insurrections than any time in recent memory. Here's our helpful guide to the throw-the-bums-out slugfest near you!

HARALD MARTIN, ANAHEIM UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT TRUSTEE

OPPONENTS ACCUSE HIM OF:Racism, sexism and being a benefactor of cronyism.

THE FACTS ARE:In his first tenure as an AUHSD trustee (1994-2002), Martin blamed a student for her molestation at the hands of a teacher and tried to sue Mexico for $50 million for the cost of the district educating the children of illegal immigrants, whom he once claimed are "no different than Osama bin Laden." And out of the three current AUHSD trustees who reappointed Martin last month, two (Brian O'Neal and Thomas Holguin) were appointed by Martin, while the other (Katherine Smith) is a longtime ally.

RECALL CHANCES?Almost certain. Activists ranging from Aztlanista Larry "Nativo" Lopez to Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle handed the Registrar of Voters thousands of signatures on Aug. 20 asking for a special election; they're now awaiting certification.

DIANE HARKEY, DANA POINT MAYOR

OPPONENTS ACCUSE HER OF:Per dianeharkeyrecall.com: "Diane Harkey has cursed at residents during council meetings, ignored a state ruling on her conflicts of interest, told people to 'grease palms' in order to get construction variances, ignored her community to run for higher office only months after being elected and much more."

THE FACTS ARE:An undated, blurry YouTube video posted as evidence of Harkey's cursing kind ofshows her flipping the bird while leaving Dana Point's council chambers. The greased-palm anecdote has been verified only by opponents. A Dana Point city attorney recently opined that Harkey can participate in discussions that seem like conflicts of interest to everyone else. On the other hand, Harkey is currently campaigning to take over Mimi Walter's 73rd Assembly District seat next year.

RECALL CHANCES?Slim. Harkey is independently rich, a darling of the Orange County Right, and her allies in Dana Point City Hall will do their damnedest to keep their gal in office—until she bolts to higher ground, that is.

MICKEY MOUSE, LORD OF ANAHEIM

OPPONENTS ACCUSE HIM OF: Not giving a ratón's ass about affordable housing for Disneyland's many low-income workers.

THE FACTS ARE: Mickey has gathered signatures for two initiatives that would allow him to dictate development around his two theme parks, Disneyland and Disneyland's California Adventure.

RECALL CHANCES?None. Both initiatives are sure to qualify, and as Mickey himself told us earlier this year ("The Ratón that Roared," March 29), "What I want, I get. Just ask Minnie."

SHEILA BENECKE, MIKE DARNOLD, MARLENE DRAPER, DUANE STIFF, TRUSTEES OF THE CAPISTRANO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

OPPONENTS ACCUSE THEM OF: Mishandling millions of dollars in school funds, gerrymandering school boundaries to ensure racial diversity, and being lackeys for former superintendent James Fleming, whom the Orange County Grand Jury indicted for misappropriating funds and creating an enemies list.

THE FACTS: Pretty damning—they approved a lucrative retirement package for Fleming after he stepped down last year in disgrace.

RECALL CHANCES?A lock. With Fleming already indicted and a well-seasoned recall team (a previous effort was thwarted by Fleming's dirty tricks—visit www.cusdrecall.com for more info) ready for war, Benecke, Darnold, Draper and Stiff will be gone sooner than our water supply.

STEVE ROCCO, ORANGE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT TRUSTEE

OPPONENTS ACCUSE HIM OF: Being a weirdo.

THE FACTS ARE: Rocco is the only warrior OUSD parents have against The Partnership, the triple cabal of Albertsons, Kodak and SmokeCraft Sausage, which he claims tried to murder him in the 1990s and is also a menace to Orange Unified ("Albertsons Wants Me Dead," February 24, 2005).

RECALL CHANCES?Weak. OUSD voters were stupid enough to vote him in; what makes you think they're smart enough to boot him out?

DEBORAH PAULEY, VILLA PARK CITY COUNCILMEMBER

OPPONENTS ACCUSE HER OF:Who cares? It's Villa Park.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 
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