Blow Hard

Big scare in the state Capitol last week. Before the state budget was sent to the governor on June 21, negotiations between Assembly Democrats and Republicans ground to a screeching halt when all the hot air leaked out of Minority Leader Scott “Slime” Baugh (R-Huntington Beach). Fortunately, Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg quickly leaped into action. The Van Nuys Democrat is shown here blowing Baugh Big Boy back up, just in time for the lower house's 61-7 vote in favor of the $100 billion spending plan. Whew! That was close.

COUGH-KA-ESQUE The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) issued a report on June 21 that says the air has been so dirty here the past three years that OC is considered a “Smog Spot”—one of 13 metropolitan areas in California that do not meet the federal standard for healthy air. “For children, the elderly and the more than 96,000 people in Orange County with asthma, this is a severe health threat,” reports CALPIRG's Amber Proaps. There's just one problem: it's bullshit. Clockwork actually went past the press summary and opened up “Smog Watch 2000.” We discovered that Orange County was lumped in with Los Angeles and Riverside counties to create one of those 13 Smog Spots. If you look solely at OC data, not only have there been few days exceeding federal standards during the past three years, but the air has also actually gotten cleaner here each year compared with the previous one. But latching us onto our much smoggier neighbors certainly did get our attention.

BUH-BYE! The county Board of Supervisors on June 27 fired county executive officer Jan Mittermeier, then cut her a $170,000 severance check on her way out the door —which sources tell us did not hit her on the ass. We suspect the 25-year county employee will land in the private sector, where shadowy, inflexible, autocratic management styles are all the rage these days.

In other departures, controversial trustee Steven J. Frogue resigned from the South Orange County Community College District board effective June 30. Frogue sparked still-smoldering bitterness when he tried to hold a John F. Kennedy assassination seminar in 1997 that featured two speakers who wrote for an anti-Semitic newspaper and theorized that Israeli intelligence offed JFK. His stepping down fills us with perverse sadness. We looked forward to hearing “Springtime for Hitler” blaring over South County loudspeakers this coming election season. Auf wieder sehen, Steve.

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