Saturday, June 9, 2012

Did right-wing loons establish the SOCCCD?

     We at DtB have on occasion delved into the district’s formative years, revealing, for instance, its various early designations ("South Coast Junior College District") and the nature of its early controversies (long hair, plans for library windows, rumors of hippie invasions, etc.).
     One name that comes up a lot in the record of our glorious past is "Hans Vogel," who, as far as I know, is still with us (he’d be about 90 years old now).
     Now, before I go on, I want to be clear that, for all that I know, Mr. Vogel is a really great guy. For instance, he may be a terrific father and husband and, oh, pet owner. We know that he's a war hero.
     We're only talking about his politics here. OK?

     The above "groundbreaking" photo can be found at the district website. The caption mentions Vogel among other members of the “charter board":
With the formation of the district, residents voted as their charter board: Alyn M. Brannon and Hans W. Vogel of Tustin; Louis J. Zitnick of Laguna Beach; Patrick J. Backus of Dana Point; and Michael T. Collins of Laguna Niguel. The first president-elect was Dr. Vogel who served four times as president during almost eight years on the board.
     Previously (see), I reported that Vogel had distinguished himself as an interpreter/interrogator during World War II while serving under Patton in Europe. (I recall that, on one occasion, trustee Don Wagner marveled at Vogel's wartime adventures.) After the war, Vogel became a noted college volleyball coach; he also wrote about and published some of his wartime experiences. (He's a German scholar.) In the 50s, he left collegiate life behind in favor of the construction industry. Much later, he returned to education at the K-12 level. (At one point, he was invited to join the CIA!)
     And he's been active in local politics.
     We’ve long suspected that some of the district’s early movers and shakers were, oh, seriously conservative—even Neanderthalic. Given some of Vogel's decisions and positions, we've wondered if he was anything like the stereotypical 60s South County right-wing loon.
     Some readers have come out of the woodwork, seeking to refute any such suggestion.
     Today, I happened upon a brief description of Vogel in Tom Rogers’ book about Orange County politics, Agents’ Orange (2000). Rogers, an early (1962) admirer of notorious right-winger John Schmitz, was the chairman of the OC GOP from about 1969 until 1972, and he remained active in local politics at least until 2000 (he died six years ago). By the 1980s, owing to his fidelity to conservative principles and his determination to conserve the look and feel of rural OC, Rogers had become alienated from the GOP establishment. He felt that the party had utterly sold out to big business interests, especially developers.
     Here’s what Rogers says about Vogel:
     Hans Vogel was one of the first county residents to become involved in conservative politics. As a local businessman and bookstore owner, Hans was able to gather a circle of friends and associates to informal discussion concerning many issues. He was an early supporter of [notorious John Bircher*] John Schmitz, but his most impressive accomplishments was to sponsor a book-signing event at his Tustin bookstore, featuring a rising star in GOP politics, Ronald Reagan who had written a book Where’s the Rest of Me? [1965] The event was a success by all standards, and really introduced the future governor to local conservatives who came away with a signed book and a determination to support Ronald Reagan in his political career.
     Hans was also active in the County Republican Central Committee as publisher and editor of the Observer. [Elsewhere, Rogers explains that Vogel did an excellent job in that role. The Observer faded from the scene many years ago.]
     I suppose that answers our questions about Mr. Vogel, who, as far as I know, did not experience Rogers’ gradual disaffection with the local GOP. He was (and perhaps is) seriously right-wing. Remember: John Schmitz was a member of the John Birch Society, which was very active in OC.
     According to the district website, Governor Reagan participated in the dedication of Saddleback College on October 15, 1968—and Vogel "was instrumental in securing the Governor's participation in the historical event."
     Ronald Reagan, of course, deserves a high position on any shitlist assembled by critics of development in Orange County. With regard to overdevelopment, surely one of the worst events in OC history was Governor Reagan’s appointment, in 1974, of Tom Riley to replace the deceased Ronald Caspers on the OC Board of Supervisors.
     "General" Riley was extremely pro-development.
     And the rest was history.
     By the way, originally, Reagan had announced his intention of naming Tom Fuentes as Caspers’ replacement, but a residency rule nixed that plan. The disappointed Fuentes gave himself a big fund-raiser and then went to seminary instead.
     But it didn’t take.

"Prior to the dedication [10/15/68], Governor Reagan met with Board of Trustees, from left to right:
Allyn Brannon, Hans W. Vogel, Michael Collins, Patrick Backus,
Louis Zitnik and Superintendent Fred Bremer." (From district website.)
*The John Birch Society was much bothered by its reputation as a haven for extremists and, at some point, it purged itself of some noisy members who seemed to be anti-Semitic. John Schmitz was among these. After losing his Congressional seat, Schmitz ran for President for the American Independent Party, receiving about one and a half percent of the votes. Unfortunately, his later years were marked by a sordid scandal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fred Bremer had his hands in some pies and was fired. He was married but was most often seen with another female who owned a local eatery.


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