As might have been predicted even outside a world that created Freddy Krueger, the long reach of the late Thomas Fuentes is extending beyond the grave.
The take-no-prisoners Orange County GOP chairman emeritus has a mortal emissary (Frank Mickadeit) keeping the Tio Tomas spirit alive through the Orange County GOP Central Committee newsletter (the Orange County Register).
And so, The Mick routinely pens fawning columns on how much he loves Fuentes, how much he misses Fuentes, how not weird it is that he secretly sniffs an old Fuentes hankie he slyly acquired.
But the good lovun ends as soon as someone dares cast Fuentes in a non-favorable light. Enter Roy Bauer, the Irvine Valley College philosophy professor, who regularly chides, lampoons and Photoshops his South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) overlords, who included board trustee Fuentes before and after Fuentes was no more.
Like many of us, Bauer shakes his noggin at Mickadeit's love poems to Fuentes, which began in the months before Fuentes departed. The Nixon- and Reagan-enabling Fuentes has been Bauer's personal piñata for years, but taking whacks A.T. (After Tom) puts Mickadeit's lacy underthings in a bunch. With no Tom Fuentes here to kick around anymore, the columnist fired up his computer and got to banging out “Fuentes Family Stung by College Board.”
The board's crime, according to the columnist, was bypassing Fuentes' widow, the delightful Jolene Fuentes, to fill the late trustee's unexpired term. The board in Mission Viejo chose a former dean and faculty member instead.
“Disgraceful,” wrote Mickadeit, who seems in the piece to apply that to the idea of:
- The board voting at its regularly scheduled meeting 72 hours after Fuentes died in May that they should come up with a replacement for him, although no candidate was singled out that night;
- The board voting at its next meeting, last Monday, on Fuentes' actual replacement, James Wright, when the same seat goes before voters in November;
- The board not replacing one Fuentes with another, Jolene Fuentes, who, by the way, says she'll run for the seat anyway.
One predicts a glowing candidate profile in The Mick's future. Someone fulla Fuentes has to maintain the Fuentes vision, after all. As Mickadeit writes–wrongly–the SOCCCD had been overrun by money-grubbing faculty members and their union's administrative puppets before Fuentes joined the board 12 years ago, started cleaning house and got more conservatives like him elected to redistribute funds away from greedy public workers and to more pressing needs, like naming everything after Ronald Reagan.
Your Central Scrutinizer calls bullshit. Having covered that goddamn board before Mickadeit was even writing his birdcage liner, it can be correctly noted that it was dominated by conservatives pre-Fuentes, too. One claimed she was a Democrat, but she voted with the proudly anti-union Republicans. Hell, Fuentes himself replaced a goose-stepping fascist who opposed the college district faculty union at every turn while getting his high school teacher ass buttered by his own union.
Ah, well, facts are funny things. And creating the false sense of Fuentes-ness does allow The Mick to zero in on a faculty bogeyman.
Re-enter Roy Bauer.
hate is so palpable that one of the faculty activists, Roy Bauer, two
weeks ago rehashed for his blog a bunch of 40-year-old innuendo about
Fuentes to smear his memory,” reports Mickadeit, “and never documented a single original
The columnist does not offer a single fact to explain what the hell that innuendo might regard. Not that it matters. Bauer eats spittle like this for breakfast on his Dissent the Blog.
“According to Mickadeit's revisionism, I am an activist in support of the
pro-faculty–high salaries–position,” Bauer recounts in one post. “In fact, I have never advocated
higher salaries, despite fifteen years of writing Dissent (my old
newsletter) and Dissent the Blog. I have, however, been attacked for my
failure to put 'faculty salaries' on my list of issues.”
Before that, The Unabauer had taken a swipe at The Mick's myth-making.
“There are plenty of reasonable people who will tell you that Tom Fuentes was the worst thing that ever happened to this board. The man played hardball, and fairness was not among his concerns. I respect any fear a trustee might have that the presence of another Fuentes on the board would be a return to that kind of ugly and divisive hardball.”
In a follow-up post, Bauer–prodded by Mickadeit and The Liberal OC's Dan Chmielewski–goes to great lengths to amplify the sins of Fuentes with more fact-based ammo than either critic has ever deployed. Like that Fuentes 40 years ago was the right-hand man to Ronald W. Caspers, during a time the Register itself was reporting on the corrupt county supervisor's bribery, unethical election and other assorted political corruption.
To support his theory–that Fuentes learned from this corruption, absorbed it and then foisted it on the masses through his chairmanship of the Orange County Republican Central Committee–Bauer supplies a loooooong list of Register and Times clips, for a little of what the old-timey columnists in Santa Ana used to call “research.” These include pieces that outed Fuentes as a corrupt puppet, a Republican bagman and–to what you would assume to be the horror of OC libs and teabaggers alike–a consultant who helped marry private firms with public funds.
So much for innuendo. Or is Mickadeit channeling something else from Fuentes' past? They were quite close, you know . . .
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.