.....Circa 1998-1999: Back during the days of the Frogue recall—a project fueled by the notion that the trustee was a Holocaust denier—the chair of the state GOP, Mike Schroeder, came in from out of left field (er, right field) to support us. We were glad to get his support, though it made for some weird parties. (See State GOP joins Recall Effort.)
.....Why did he do that? Was it mere politics? Was it an action born of conviction? Despite Schroeder’s wily reputation, I do believe it was the latter. For his action, Schroeder caught a lot of flak within the party. He didn’t remain state chair for long.
.....The recall people gathered a very impressive number of signatures—over 30,000. Still, the number fell short of what was required.
.....Then, in the summer of 2000, Frogue suddenly resigned. To everyone’s amazement, the board selected Tom Fuentes, county GOP kingpin, as Frogue’s replacement.
The Lang people meet with the Fuentes people:
.....I was a part of the core group that, in the election of 2000, promoted the (trustees race) slate of Bob Loeffler, Trustee Dave Lang, Bill Shane, and Bill Hochmuth. As I recall, Loeffler was up against Tom Fuentes, Hochmuth was up against John Williams, Shane was up against Dot Fortune (who later resigned from the board amid a cloud of suspicion that she was no longer a county resident), and Lang was up against a guy named Davis.
.....Despite our efforts—I think we did a good job—that election went to hell in a handbasket; only Lang, the incumbent, prevailed. Voters were (and are) brainless.
.....At some point—just after the election, I think—the Fuentes people asked to meet with reps of the Lang people. Our guy with connections, Don R, was selected for the meeting. But (as I recall) Fuentes’ crew asked that I participate, too. (When Fuentes was selected to replace Frogue, I was quoted in the OC Register as saying that “we’ve replaced a crude Neanderthal with a slick one”—or something like that. Fuentes remembered.) So off we went to somebody’s fancy office somewhere.
.....The idea seemed to be that some sort of give and take was possible. –You know: “What can I do to get us past all this hostility?” –that sort of thing. We didn’t go there just to hang out with the rich and powerful.
.....I’m not sure (memory fails me), but I think removing Raghu Mathur as IVC President was high on our list of desiderata. I can’t imagine what would have been higher. ("World peace" maybe.)
.....A secretary led us into some sort of conference room with a long table. At the far end of the table, sitting comfortably, was Tom Fuentes, who, at that point, had been the chair of the county GOP for maybe 15 years. I remember that he had some kind of pink butterfly button on his lapel.
.....Standing next to him was Mike Schroeder, who either was (or who had just been) the state GOP chair. I don't think he ever sat down.
.....Don and I talked and talked. Schroeder said a few things. (A year earlier, he had sent me a thank-you note for my efforts to bring down Steven Frogue.) Fuentes smiled. He hardly said a thing.
.....Maybe then—but probably later—it occurred to me that we were spilling our guts and Fuentes was giving us exactly nothing.
.....That was my first taste of local realpolitik. Whatever Schroeder had in mind, Fuentes arranged for the meeting entirely for the purpose of scoping us out. He had no intention of working with us in any way. I remember the smile. Always the smile.
.....Deception, exploitation, machination: these are the contents of Tom Fuentes’ political toolbox.
The Fuentesization of the SOCCCD:
.....Nowadays, Fuentes’ most loyal ally on the SOCCCD board is—Dave Lang! As you know, Lang was turned about five years ago when he got the notion to become the county Treasurer/Tax Collector.
.....And there, only a few feet away, sat Tom Fuentes: wheeler and dealer, local kingmaker.
.....It had looked like the days of Raghu Mathur's curious ascendency were numbered; Mathur's support had dwindled to only 3 of the 7 trustees. But then Dave Lang, Mr. Goo's greatest detractor, became the Goo's greatest champion! WTF!
.....And the rest is history.
.....At Monday’s board meeting, when the question of whether to set aside $2 million for continued efforts to defend the board’s promiscuous prayerfulness came up, who was there, sans argument, to vote for the expenditure?
.....Why, that would be Dave Lang! –I say "sans argument" because the only “argument” he offered was an ad hominem: the suggestion that critics of the expenditure are “disingenuous.”
.....But I know Dave. I’ve been watching him since 1996. I worked closely with him on campaigns. Of all the trustees, in his heart, he is the least supportive of the often sectarian prayers that have become the norm in the SOCCCD. He used to be explicit about this.
.....And now? This self-discribed “fiscal conservative” is happy to spend $2 million toward an end which, if achieved, would do absolutely nothing to improve the colleges. And he doesn't even bother with arguments.
.....Why, he's been Fuentesized!
.....Fuentes has been busily Fuentesizing the board since he arrived there in 2000. Despite the lack of any qualifications, in 2002, trustee John Williams secured a minor political office that, somehow, he immediately parlayed into a substantial one, with all the trimmings. Soon, trustee Nancy Padberg was working with Williams down at the County, bossing people around. Meanwhile, trustee Don Wagner made two bids for 70th AD—and he got a big boost from Fuentes this go round, until their Mathurian falling out late last year. Until the bitter end, Sheriff Mike Carona would grace Irvine Valley College with his potent America's Sheriffitude once or twice a year. (You shoulda seen the groupies.) Trustee Lang, of course, is running for Treasurer, and he’s got Fuentes’ full backing, now that Tom’s boy Chriss Street is dog meat (Mr. Family Man turned out to be very Fuentean).
.....Fuentes even tried to finagle an appointment as California’s Secretary of Education for Raghu Mathur, though that got kiboshed. And on it goes.
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“Republicans have been frustrated with the [GOP] central committee establishment because they refused to go against Mike Carona long, long after we knew he was a serious problem,” said [Mission Viejo Tea Partier Mark] Dobrilovic. “That was astounding! And then they refused to give a vote of no-confidence in Sheriff [Sandra] Hutchens when they should have after she did some stupid things like take on gun rights and bring an LA mentality to the department.”—From OC Weekly’s Tea Time! Will the boiling-mad tea-party crowd sweep sheriff's candidate Bill Hunt to victory?
.....The crowd that engineered the Party’s endorsement of Carona in the last election was—you guessed it!—Mike Schroeder’s crew, associated with Tom Fuentes.
.....It is worth mentioning, however, that that endorsement overturned an earlier decision not to endorse the reckless fellow. Schroeder’s crew finagled the endorsement, to the chagrin of many on the Central Committee. That hurt the crew’s standing.
.....Then Carona went down. And then Street went down. And now we’ve got this Tea Party mob, which might just vote in their candidate: Bill Hunt, pal of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio.