Sunday News Notes: Todd Spitzer Out! Barney Frank In! Van Tran Confused!

Highlights from the local media today include: 

Susan Kang Schroeder Announces She'll Be DA

Okay, okay. I'm kidding. So the real news isn't that dramatic, but there's nevertheless been a major development in Orange County's criminal justice system. Former state assemblyman, county supervisor, radio talk show host, school board member and reserve cop Todd Spitzer is no longer a high-ranking prosecutor. Hell, he's not even a prosecutor. 
According to a Saturday breaking story in the OC Register, Spitzer says he was fired last week by DA Tony Rackauckas. It's unclear to me from the report what exactly happened–something vague about Spitzer's alleged “unacceptable” inquiry to another government agency. But the ramifications are potentially huge. 
It's been no secret that Spitzer has eyed the top spot in the DA's office for years. He's even solicited and received in recent months an endorsement by Rackauckas for the 2014 race, which would be the conclusion of his fourth term in office. That nod plus a million dollars sitting in his campaign accounts made Spitzer the likely favorite . . . until this latest development.


But it's no secret that there's been on-again-off-again friendship between Spitzer and Rackauckas's chief of staff and press adviser, Susan Kang Schroeder, who is also the wife of the DA's closest buddy: Michael J. Schroeder, the Santa Ana chiropractic insurance king and former chairman of the California Republican Party. Piss off Schroeder (either one) and, well, suffer the consequences. She is not a person to engage in battle unless you're armed for bloody hand-to-hand combat. 
What's interesting here is that Spitzer used to be Rackauckas' most vocal critic. I first reported six years ago that he questioned the DA's ethics and smarts and, at least briefly, contemplated challenging him in the 2006 race. Something happened, not sure what and Spitzer decided against running at the last second. 
Later, while Spitzer served in the state assembly, their families got together at the Schroeder's Corona del Mar hillside abode/USC football (soiled?) shrine for dinner and everyone, at least publicly, emerged lovey dovey. Termed out of office in Sacramento in 2008, Spitzer was welcomed back into the DA's office, where he'd begun his career. Rackauckas did not deny reports that he was grooming his replacement. Indeed, Spitzer was given a high rank, but (importantly, as it turns out) a largely meaningless case load.
So there was Spitzer, roaming the halls of 401 (the address of the DA's Santa Ana HQ) and freely talking on occasion about his eventual takeover of the office. He has his fans in the office but there were also numerous folks who thought he was pushy and cocky at times. . . and, though she won't officially confirm it, Schroeder became disillusioned with the prospect of Spitzer running the office. Indeed, rumors have persisted for a year in 401 as well as the courthouse that she is plotting to replace Rackauckas with herself. Schroeder has laughed about this speculation in the past.
But the prosecutors I've spoken to about the Spitzer firing want to know if he really did something terribly wrong or if his trip to unemployment is the result of Machiavellian machinations by the lady who likes to don red. 
You can read the Reg story by Deepa Bharath and Rachanee Srisavasdi HERE.
Barney Frank Comes Out in Buena Park
Last night the Orange County Democratic Party hosted its annual Harry S. (they include the dot) Truman fundraising dinner to honor members of its flock. Barney Frank, the powerful ​Massachusetts congressman, appeared with his boyfriend and gave the keynote address to the sold out event near Knott's Berry Farm. News flash: Frank thinks the Republicans are traitors and the cause of the nation's woes. (I'll have more on this in my upcoming Thursday edition of the paper.) About 40 American and Arizona flag-waving protesters outside the event 

​slammed Nancy PelosiBarbara BoxerBarack Obama, illegal immigration and Frank. Frank Barbaro, head of the OC Dems, called the protesters “lowbrow” during his speech. RFK-loving Wylie Aitken, one of Orange County's premier plaintiff's lawyer, won an award for his contributions to the party, which includes masterminding Sanchez's upset 1996 victory over Garden Grove's Robert K. Dornan, who had been a prominent national conservative figure.   
Van Tran: Inconsistently Consistent
Martin Wisckol reports on how Orange County's congressional delegations uses taxpayer-funded mass mailings. Since 2008, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Auto Fallacio) spent the most: $481,000. Sanchez, the lone Democrat in the six-member delegation, spent the least: $157,000. 
So by comparison Sanchez doesn't look too bad, right? 
Not to Little Saigon state Assemblyman Van Tran, her November general election challenger. Tran has nothing to say about franking abuses by Calvert or other members of his Republican Party, but had one of his aides blast Sanchez for “reckless” spending and increasing the national debt. 
It's a good thing that Tran has never spent large sums of public money for mass mailings while in Sacramento. Oops. Well, it's only wasteful when a Democrat does it, right Van? 

–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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