Thursday, July 20, 2017

The origins of our college district, Part 7: the Tustin-ness of the district's early years

     IN THIS POST: Just who were the people behind that slate of GOP candidates each of whom was elected to the founding SOCCCD board in 1967? They were the "Citizens Committee for Competent Trustees," a group of mostly Tustin Republicans, many of whom became members of the first "citizens advisory committees" that organized the original Saddleback College. 
     The creation of our district, it seems, was a Tustin thing. —RB

Shirley Lampart, Democrat
     Having read hundreds of cool old Tustin News articles and editorials—plus the Times' coverage, it does seem to me that Tustinites dominated the development and early governing of our district, what became the SOCCCD but was then called the “South Coast Junior College District” (February 1967) and then the “Saddleback Junior College District” (March 1967).
     Back in the Sixties, Tustin was a seriously right-wing town, solidly conservative, without pesky “moderate” Repubs to mess things up. At that time, virtually all elected officials in that town were the same kind of tax- and regulation-hating and “personal responsibility”-loving conservatives (plus, for some, a dash or a dollop of Commie paranoia). Democrats existed, but only in small and insignificant numbers. More about that in a moment.
     The late-60s Tustin GOPers—and county Republicans generally, including county chair Tom Rogers—really got their ducks in a row for the district's first trustee election. They were a machine. Owing to their labors (including last-minute leaflet distribution), all five top vote-getters (it was an “at large” election) were on the slate of the “Citizens Committee for Competent Trustees” (CCCT), the members of which were drawn from the all-GOP Tustin political class: staunch party players, school administrators, elected officials, including school board members, et al.
     And so the creation of a new “junior college” district presented an opportunity for a solidly Republican town to make sure that their kind of people were in positions of authority when the district/college finally got off the ground. And they obviously fully took that opportunity. (Why wouldn't they?)
     This was accomplished, in part, when the founding board created a group of well-populated “general advisory committees” to set the new college on its proper course. The committees’ members were announced about a year after the election in March of 1968. They included, among others, the usual suspects—GOP cronies from Tustin and environs, including a fair number of CCCT members and their wives.
     Pretty cozy.
     It’s worth taking a look at the CCCT. Here’s the group’s membership, according to the Times’ “Last-Minute Push Elects Five in New JC District” (2-16-67). Obviously, they're a gaggle of Republicans, no doubt assembled by some GOP kingpin.
     In the case of each member, I’ve attempted to characterize him/her politically, based on brief Google and searches:
  • William Robert Adams (Owned and operated the Mission Olive Tree nursery company in Tustin. Bought Adams Hardware, in Tustin, 1971; Tom Rogers considered Bill Adams [this guy?] part of the OC GOP "old guard." Founding member of the Lincoln Club.)
  • Art Pilant (Ran for county assessor, backed by the then-important OC Farm Bureau; Tustin area realtor, public figure; supported by Barletta; seemed to keep a low profile after ’66.)
  • Nicholas P. Barletta (A high-profile realtor, VP of Cal Real Estate Association; chairman, committee to elect Art Pilant; took a conservative position [i.e., opposed] anti-discrimination (in home selling) legislation; President, Tustin Chamber of Commerce.)
  • Gordon H. Bishop (Ran as conservative Republican for a county supervisorial seat in 1966; unusually, County GOP establishment backed him to the hilt, fearing big-money Dems; was President of the OC Farm Bureau; after election loss, was appointed by Governor Reagan to state “consumer affairs”; close to Hans Vogel; kept a low profile after his state appointment. Tom Rogers: “The AC [after computers] era was full speed ahead in the campaign for supervisor when [Democrat] Ralph Clark defeated Gordon Bishop [in 1970]. From that time on, there was very little question as to who would win; it was always the candidate with the funds and the money that came from those interests who had something to gain financially from the person they supported.”)
  • Lucille Zintgraff (Moved to Palm Springs? Husband in school administration?)
  • George M. Veeh (Citrus rancher; Tustin Union High School board member; resigned from board in ‘66 over business troubles; opposed school district unification [pro local autonomy]; supported Vogel; again on TUHS board; appointed to one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees)
  • James Hinkson (There was an Orange County Flood Control District public works foreman named Hinkson. Him?)
  • William Jeffrey (On San Joaquin school board [El Toro and environs; later absorbed]; associated with “the Volunteer Bureau”; on Irvine “OC Farm Bureau”)
  • Gerald S. Pell (not much on him)
  • Ann Closson (There was once a John Tracy Clinic [for hearing impaired children] in Tustin, and, in 1967, Ann Closson was its president, I believe)
  • Howard W. Fleming (not much on him)
  • George Chade (Leo and George Chade once owned and operated Chades Liquor and Grocery Store in Capistrano Beach. George died, in Capo Beach, in 2014, having lived in that town for 53 years.)
  • Dan Chilton (a Vogel supporter living in San Clemente)
  • Tom Rogers (OC GOP chair—long before Tom Fuentes; Schmitz supporter)
  • Harold T. Burton (In the 60s, a Harold T. Burton was on the board for the Laguna Beach Festival of Arts)
  • Gordon Spivey (psychologist; among Tustin movers and shakers?)
  • John A. Prescott (Schmitz supporter, 1970; Vogel supporter; Tom Rogers identified Prescott as among the GOP "old guard" in OC: motivated by principle and not profit. Prescott was the guy behind the "400 Club," which raised big money for Republicans. A rich guy a patron of the GOP.)
  • William A. Toth (Tustin school district trustee; pharmacist; on one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees)
  • S.K. Warner (not much on him)
  • Sheldon F Craddock (Schmitz supporter, 1970)
  • Guy H Furness (Friend of Prescott)
  • Joe Martin (Wife ends up on one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees; Joe an advertising and PR guy, connected; “tycoon”; supported Vogel)
  • Bruce H Corzine (Microavionics Corp.; supported Vogel; GOP connected; in Californian Republican Assembly)
  • Douglas Moran (Schmitz supporter, 1970)
  • Edward E. Berry (Mission Viejo resident; a production manager at an Anaheim defense plant; Schmitz supporter, 1970; Vogel supporter; appointed to the San Joaquin School district board [El Toro] in '68; works with Vogel, on Lemon Heights Republican Women, Federated; wife on Saddleback scholarship committee, 1968, along with wife of Michael Collins, William Toth; ran for Saddleback Trustee, 1969; his wife is appointed to the Saddleback board in December, 1972 when it expands from 5 to 7 members; she's on the Republican State Central Committee; CRA.)
  • Frank Nutto (San Clemente rancher, earlier lived in El Toro, Irvine; wife[?] eventually on one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees)
  • Gratian Bidart (On San Joaquin school board; like seemingly all Tustin GOPers, opposed school district unification [local control]; board president)
  • Howard Lockway (His wife was active, in the late 60s, in one of the Federated Republican Womens Clubs)
  • Jack Wilkinson (San Clemente resident. He and wife Schmitz supporters, 1970)
  • David Fales (On one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees)
  • Carl Lykke (Wife very active in Republican Party; ends up on one of Saddleback District’s first advisory committees; helps wife with Lemon Heights GOP Women; older couple; supported Cancer Society; part of GOP culture; CRA conference(s); supported Vogel.)
     And here are the committees that their spawn, the founding trustees (and others?), put together between Feb. 1967 and March 1968:

     Did you notice that George Argyros is on the "Building" committee? He's a Republican all right.
     On the other hand, Harriet Walther is on the "Community Services" committee—and she's a liberal Democrat.
     Further, "prominent" (ha ha) Tustin Democrat, Shirley Lampert, is on the "Counseling and Guidance" committee.
     Observe that CCCT members William Toth, Dave Fales, George Veeh, and Gordon Bishop appear here. The CCCT's "Dan" Chilton is, I believe, the same as the "Robert" (Robert Dan) Chilton that appears here.
     The wives of CCCT members Martin, Nutto, and Lykke appear here (I believe).
     I don't want to make too much of these connections. Tustin was a small town and South County was a small place, people-wise. And, in truth, I really don't know who most of these people are. They could be a crew that reflects the trustees' wisdom and magnanimity and nothing more. More likely, they reflect a little bit of that plus some of the usual, less elevated things.

John Birch Society?

     I have often heard it said that the original trustees were members of the John Birch Society. But I can find no evidence of this—or, I should say, the truth is more complicated. In the 60s, the JBS often presented films or lectures in Tustin (see ad above) and these events were popular. I'm sure that at least some of the original five trustees—Vogel, Collins—supported notorious John Bircher (and Tustinite) John Schmitz (who was politically active throughout the sixties and became more prominent when he replaced Jimmy Utt in 1970). Schmitz was for some time closely associated with the secretive Birchers (though, of course, eventually the latter expelled him over his unfortunate rhetoric). Many of the people, especially the Republicans, mentioned here agreed with the policies and values of the JBS, which amount to familiar small-government conservatism, albeit wedded to an obsession with the supposed powerful and cunning and nearly unstoppable international communist conspiracy. Still, in reading many articles and editorials from those days, it's clear to me that smart politicos kept their distance from the JBS because, though its policies were deft, its Commie conspiracy theories were daft, which is the reason cold warrior William F. Buckley finally rejected the group, leaving them flailing on the margins.

     Perhaps a factor giving Tustin a powerful role in the development of the district was simply the distributions of population. Consider the data* below:
Population of San Juan Capistrano:
1960 – 1,120
1970 – 3,781
1980 – 18,959
2010 – 34,593 
Population of Mission Viejo (not yet incorporated by 1967):
1960 – 0
1970 – 11,933
1980 – 50,666
2010 – 93,305 
Population of Laguna Beach:
1960 – 9,288
1970 – 14,550
1980 – 17,858
2010 – 22,723 
Population of San Clemente:
1960 – 8,527
1970 – 17,063
1980 – 27,325
2010 – 63,522

Population of Tustin:
1960 – 2,006
1970 – 22,190
1980 – 32,248
2010 – 75,540
     These South County burgs were dinky towns. (In 1970, Santa Ana was seven times more populous than Tustin.) But, as you can see, Tustin was the undinkiest of these dinksters. Further, Tustin was relatively old—though unincorporated until the late 20s, it already existed as a coherent town well before the turn of the century. Still further, it had grown very near the big towns of North County: Orange, Santa Ana, Anaheim, etc. Presumably, Tustin was forced by such proximity to develop politically in a way the other towns of South County, all isolated, were not. Tustinites saw themselves as different. Special.
     Another factor: two of the five trustees (i.e., 40% of the board)—Brannon and Vogel—essentially were Tustinites with a well-developed community and political culture. Zitnik lived in Laguna Beach, Backus lived in Dana Point, and Collins lived in Laguna Hills. —Hinterlands.
     The trustees' choice for Saddleback's first Superintendent? Tustin's Jack Roper.

     None of what I'm saying here suggests a “conspiracy” among Tustinites to capture the board. When the wily politicos of a GOP-dominated population contrive, through familiar means, to "own" a college board, well, that's just politics. It's what political organizations do, if they can, and we all know it.
     The LA Times (2-16-67) seemed to suggest that the California Republican Assembly had orchestrated matters (i.e., constructed and directed the CCCT), but Brannon and Collins (those two, plus Vogel, were active with the CRA) explicitly denied this.

Here's a nice conspiracy theory:

     There was one interesting voice back in ’67 who did articulate a fun and even somewhat plausible conspiracy theory. Shirley Lampert was running for a board seat in Area 1. In the Tustin News’ “Shirley Lampert Area 1 JC District Candidate” (1-26-67), she said:
I strongly favor a junior college district board, which is able to approach its task in an unbiased manner, free of the pressures from existing high school boards. I have heard numerous rumors that members of the high school board and administration are planning to control the new junior college district. I do not want to see this happen. The new J.C. board will have problems that differ from the limited needs of the individual college district. Therefore, it is both prudent and in the pubic interest to elect individuals who are unencumbered by “prior provincialism.”
     That last part is a bit muddy to me. But I do get the part about "members of the high school board and administration ... planning to control" the new college district. It sounds wacky.
     What makes this notion plausible are two things. First, school boards were politically hot in Tustin. Everybody followed them because, especially in those days, they often made momentous decisions. Tustinites take their town seriously, and they were building a damned good one, they thought. Schools are important!
     I can report that the Tustin News seemed to cover school and college board events much more often than City Council events. These boards, it seems, were where it was at, politically.
     Second, it is important to apprciate the loomitude—the charisma and power and influence—of Mr. Hans Vogel, super-Kraut. He in fact led the Saddleback board for many years. He was, at the time, very connected, politically, and he was an administrator or manager at the local high school district (Director of Administrative Services, Tustin Unified). Having read so much about him, I would say that his actions and comments subtly whisper: "intelligence" and "integrity." He was even pals with Reagan since he had helped the Gipper early in his career, inviting him to speak at his wife's Tustin bookstore.
     The Times described Vogel thus:
Vogel ... is a contractor, bookdealer and publisher-editor of the Orange County Republican Observer. He has taught at USC and Caltech. He is a member of the Orange County Republican Central Committee, 35th Congressional District director of the California Republican Assembly and past vice-chairman of the Orange County Coordinating Republican Assembly. (Times, 2-16-67)
     Vogel was a ("the"?) Republican kingpin in the City of Tustin. He knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He was smart and articulate and well-educated. He had fought the Nazis and, after the war, won college volleyball championships for USC. He was close to county GOP leadership.
     It is easy to imagine that, in the atmosphere of Tustin at the time, a city racing to fulfill its presumed greatness or specialness, it was understood that the new college would be, not Capistrano's or Laguna's, but Tustin's. 
     And old Hans, the war hero and political savant, would lead the way.
     Here's more about Vogel from Tom Rogers, who was the chair of the OC GOP Central Committee c. 1970 and, unsurprisingly, was also on the CCCT. In his book Agents Orange, he describes how the Orange County Republican party went rotten, abandoning principle in favor of profit.
     But he seemed to have a high opinion of Vogel:

     Rogers also had a high opinion of the Tustin News and its owner/editor, Bill Moses: "The Tustin News stood out as an unassailable beacon of conservatism, and its editor/owner Bill Moses often weighed in against the special interests in his sphere of influence."

     SHIRLEY LAMPERT. So, who was this Shirley Lampert?
     Amazingly, in December of 1964, a Democratic club is organized in Tustin. Led by Tex Boswell, it is called the “Greater Tustin Democratic Club,” and its membership chair is “Mrs. Seymour Lampert.” According to Boswell, “Despite the disproportionate registration [of Republicans in the area], and despite the general impression to the contrary, the Tustin area has a sizeable number of Democrats.”
     35 sign up as charter members. (See “First Democratic Club Forms,” Tustin News, 12-17-64.)
     In May of 1966, real estate broker, Shirley Lampert, decides to run for OC Democratic Central Committee from the Fourth District. Says she, “I would like to help develop a strong Democratic organization here in Orange County.” She explains that “I’ve always been interested in a good school system for the children of this area.”
     Her husband, Dr. Seymour Lampert, is a scientist employed at North American Aviation. (See Tustin News, 5-26-66.)
     In June, the Democratic Club officially inducts actor Robert Vaughn (Man from U.N.C.L.E.) into the organization. Lampert is the “hostess.” (Some kind of attention-grabbing stunt, I guess.)
     In January of 1967, Lampert runs as a candidate for the proposed “South Coast Junior College District” Board of Trustees from Area 1. For several years, she’s been working as a volunteer director of the “Head Start” program at OCC. Curiously, she explains that “I have heard numerous rumors that members of the high school board and administration are planning to control the new junior college district.” She says she is opposed to such “prior provincialism.” She hopes to pursue adult, as well as vocational, instruction at the district. She hopes to provide a workforce for “light industry” in the “south coast communities.”
     Her chief opponent is active Republican and bookie Alyn Brannon. (See Tustin News, 1-26-67.)
     In February, in a letter to the editor (Tustin News, 2-9-67), she defends creation of the new college district, explaining, “Anyone who studies the facts can see [that if we create our own district] we will have lower taxes, better education, and our students won’t be second class citizens when they go to a junior college as an out of district student.”
     She loses the election, natch. The Republican bookie gets the nod.
     Starting in 1975, Lampert is a “human sexuality instructor at OCC.” She also becomes “a licensed marriage and family counselor with a practice in Newport Beach.” (See Tustin News, 11-12-81.)
     Lampert dies in July of 2003, age 74. According to the obituaries, she had been a “noted psychotherapist in Orange County for over 25 years.”

Tustin News, May 28, 1964

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for piecing this together. Much appreciated.

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