You, Norberto Santana, Put Lives in Danger

Tom Mauk (pictured--in a foul mood--entering the Hall of Administration parking garage recently) apparently isn't shy about committing an ugly social faux pas.

The unelected head of Orange County's multibillion-dollar government bureaucracy likes to take two parking spaces when he parks his taxpayer-paid SUV at work. We know this thanks to the county's employee union and Orange County Register reporter Norberto Santana Jr.

In a blog post today that won 188 comments, Santana published a photo of Mauk's SUV hoarding two valuable parking spaces. 

The backdrop to this tale is that highly paid county officials are firing employees or ordering large budget cuts while taking advantage of every perk they can. (Taxpayers not only pay Mauk a big salary, but also pay for his vehicle and gas and, well, a seemingly endless stream of perks.)

A sincere apology for parking like a cocky gang member at Main Place Mall after scoring a 100-pound cocaine sale? 


Mauk inhaled deeply, sighed and then responded to the parking slot theft: "I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for my parking advantages, and you curse my bureaucratic management. You have that luxury. You have that luxury of not knowing what I know. That taking that parking slot, while tragic, probably saved money. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves money. I know deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you don't want me in that parking slot; you need me on that parking slot. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent spending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very spending I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a pen and an accounting book, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn where you think I should park."

Can you believe his audacity?

Me neither. Actually, Mauk wasn't playing Jack Nicholson. He was playing himself.

In reality, he told Santana, "I'm not going to comment on [the parking slot theft]. If people are worried about how I park, they can. Meanwhile, I've got to worry about handling an $80 million budget shortfall, son."

It should have ended this way: Santana exhaled from a cigarette and slowly said, "Don't call me son. I am an investigative journalist at The Orange County Register. And you've been outed, you son of a bitch."

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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