Public Administrator Follies. UPDATE – PA now folded into DA!!

Rocco, Lopez-Maddox-Lopez, Alpay, Callahan.

What’s next for this Bouncing Ball of an Elected Office? Will whatever the Board of Supervisors decides this morning change the minds of the four candidates (two payasos, two Friends of the Juice) who have filed to run for PA? 

  • Will the low-paying elected post of Public Administrator (which administers the estates of OC residents who die without an heir) and the well-paying appointed post of Public Guardian (which takes care of citizens who can’t care for themselves) once again be combined, in the ill-fated move that led to John S Williams‘ reign of profligate cronyism?
  • Will the pay for PA be “$139,526.40 Annually” as it still says on the County website?  (The Moorlach tells me that’s a mistake, but they still haven’t fixed it two weeks later.)  Or will it be a meager $32,000 now that it’s separated from the PG job?  Or will they today come up with some intermediate amount which could maybe compensate some competent person doing a competent job at it?
  • Will the PA gig be combined with any of the following, all ideas being bruited about at this morning’s supe meeting:  Treasurer-Tax Collector, Sheriff-Coroner, Clerk-Recorder or District Attorney?

All of these questions will be discussed by the Board of Supervisors today, and an ordinance settled on to be voted on at the next meeting Feb 4 – which is the latest this ostensible reform can be made to the office before the deadline for candidates to file.   Will the reform (ostensibly in the service of savings and efficiency) cause any of the four current candidates to change their minds, or more to come forward?  We shall see.

This story will be in progress till later today, and updated with the results of this morning’s meeting. But first the fun part – let’s meet the four candidates who say (or think) they’re interested in being our next Public Administrator!

Steve Rocco – the Matt Cunningham candidate!

It’s hard to write about perennial candidate and one-term Orange School Board director Steve Rocco, without feeling like you’re poking fun of somebody who’s certainly mentally ill, probably a paranoid schizophrenic.  And yet … it’s hard not to giggle about his tirades from the dais about the grand and deadly  conspiracy (or “Partnership”) between Kraft Sausage, Kodak films, and Albertsons supermarkets to frame him years ago for shoplifting;  and his subsequent arrest for swiping a nearly-empty bottle of catsup.  (His wiki page is thorough and darkly entertaining.)

What hasn’t been said enough about Steve is the degree to which we owe his high profile to Matt “Jerbal” Cunningham.  That’s right – when people list Matt’s achievements, from the infamous sex-abuse victim-outing, up to the very recent, celebrated Teddy Bear Mutilation, they usually forget to include the fact that Steve Rocco won his Orange School Board seat back in 2004 largely due to Matt’s endorsement.

You see, at that point, Matt was still a somewhat respected Republican blogger at the helm of the “Red County” blog, and something of a mover and shaker in his native town of Orange, and his opposition to the teachers’ union in his town was such that he automatically endorsed anybody who wasn’t part of that, hence endorsing Rocco despite knowing not a thing about the hapless loon.  I clearly remember hearing Gustavo razzing Matt over that pratfall on NPR, long before I came to know either gentleman.  (I think this was still a couple of years before the sex-abuse victim-outing thing.)

Ken Maddox?  Lopez?  Lopez-Maddox?  Maddox-Lopez?

The Lopez-Maddox-Lopezes, Ken photobombing the wife. Photo courtesy of Pedroza’s OC Politics.

This permanently boyish-faced and consummately silly Career Politician is at this point best known for his frequent and confusing name changes.  A Minuteman-supporting, immigrant-bashing, generic Republican assemblyman as of a decade ago, his later adding Lopez to his surname in various iterations was taken as a way to distance himself from that unlovable past, and also coincided with his second marriage, to a pretty lady name of Monica Lopez, whose own Lopez was reportedly bequeathed to her by HER former hubby.  That’s why, in 2010, I referred to Ken’s new handle as “the sloppy seconds of nomenclature,” a turn of phrase which I deleted under threat of lawsuit – reluctantly, as I thought it was felicitous, but I could see how it could piss someone off.

Then a year or two ago (I’ll try to find the link) Ken penned a chatty column explaining that Lopez came from somewhere in his own family – his mother’s maiden name or something?  And that his adoption of the name showed how proud he was of some non-Mexican heritage of his – maybe it was Basque or Catalonian.  So, it must be admitted, the Lopez is strong with this one, coming at him from more than one direction, and he has every right to use it.  Still, it’s notable that whenever he appears on the radio show of the unrepentant immigrant-bashers John and Ken (generally to trash unions) he forgoes the Lopez and is once again just good old Ken Maddox.

Why is Ken running for PA?  I like to think he’s silly enough to think the pay really IS $139.5 K, and that clarification on that matter will send him packing, but maybe he does know better already.  What’s obvious is that the government teat has slipped away from this career politician and he DEARLY wants it back.  Since being termed out of the Assembly, Ken has made his living as Senior Advisor on Legislation and Tax Policy for now-termed out BOE member Michelle Steel (now angling for Supervisor Moorlach’s old seat) so THAT’S gone.  And during that time he had a brief disastrous stint on the Capistrano Unified School Board, as part of an extremist and quickly-loathed anti-public education “reform slate” – he and his colleague Mike Winsten were recalled after two years, 62% of South County’s conservative voters rejecting Ken in 2010.

But you COULD get TWO Lopez-Maddi this year if that’s what you want:  As Pedroza reports, Ken’s having his pretty wife Monica run, as a “Democrat,” against worthy Clerk-Recorder Hieu Nguyen.  Up for a Lopez Dynasty at the County?  (Realistically, though, he MIGHT just be trying to split the Democratic vote with his mortal enemy Gary Pritchard, who replaced Ken in the CAPO Recall and is also running for Clerk-Recorder – that makes more sense than elevating the inexperienced and utterly unknown wifey.)

One more bit of inside info:  It seems our friend the unobjectionable Republican blogger and consultant Chris Emami has been buying up the Public Administrator line on lots of slate mailers – we assume that is for Mr. Ken, as it’s sure not for Alpay, Rocco, or Callahan.

 John Alpay

This guy would have been my choice for the office, until just now that I find my friend Colleen has unexpectedly filed;  today’s decision however might impact the decision of – well, either or both of them.  Alpay IS aware that the pay may be as low as 35K;  he would intend it to be a part-time job along with his school board work and his day job as Director of Legal Affairs for Oakley, Inc.

I know him to be smart, competent and honest enough to do this job.  A self-described “businessman with a law degree,” he’s a pragmatic conservative who has frequently gone against the grain of OC’s incestuous Republican Party, beginning with his being part of the above-described CAPO recall, a successful crusade we helped him with.  (In a rollicking, controversial interview with us that ALSO led to ridiculous lawsuit threats, these ones defied.)

Is he aware and mindful of the previous controversies dating from John S Williams’ disastrous tenure at Public Administrator?  Why, he can quote from my work on the topic by heart.  (Worst Public Administrator Ever, When Scumbags Collide , and John Williams Agonistes.)  A blogger’s heart melts…

Colleen Callahan

In a just world, this would be Colleen Callahan’s job.  Colleen ran against (her former boss) John S Williams in 2010, and was one of our sources for our devastating work on the man.  She put her name into the race just recently, but is waiting for news from today’s meeting before she coughs up her filing fee.  Her run would again be quixotic, with little money or organized support behind it, but I would do what I could to help.  And she currently has a county job;  if the pay for PA remains $35K and she has to quit her county job to hold that post, that could again be a deal-breaker… but maybe that’s not what will happen.  Let me copy/paste the Colleen section from my last article (add four years to it)…

Colleen is a paralegal who worked in the PA office for almost twelve years, drawn to its mission of “helping the elderly, disabled, sick and mentally ill.”  Eventually she was promoted to oversee a clerical unit that administers estates, but was dismayed to see the ill effects of John Williams’ 2003 takeover.  As she told OCLNN’s Erik Holmes,

“I watched the agency deteriorate.  The way he reorganized the agency and doubled the management, which wasn’t needed … trickled down to where it started affecting the staff. They had higher caseloads so they couldn’t go out into the field and see the mentally ill.”

She left the PA office in February 2009 to be a deputy clerk at the OC Superior Court, because “the stress of watching things fall apart became too much for her.” This past January she decided she could best serve the public by running to replace John Williams so she can fix the department.  If elected, she “plans to decrease the number of management positions and lobby the Board of Supervisors to allow her to hire more case workers.”

Colleen has been taking her message of reform everywhere from Tea Parties to DFA meetings (where I first met her.)  For what it’s worth, she is a registered Republican.

Okay, I’m gonna publish this much.  I’m at the Supervisors meeting which is looking to be a LONG one.  [An hour so far on the big controversy over what our County should do about Fighting Dogs;  and we just heard that there have been zero incidents of Dog Fights in this County in at least twelve years …. ah, solutions in search of problems…]  Later today I’ll  let you know what our Esteemed Leaders decide!

Late Update.

Yawn.  Couldn’t stay for the whole meeting, but got an update from Supervisor Shawn Nelson, my “cousin from another coven.”   The decision was made to make the Public Administrator job part of the District Attorney job.  I think that dashes it for all four of the above candidates, none of whom are about to run for DA against Rackauckas.  More Lopez fun on the horizon though – no sooner did the news break than boyish Ken filed to run for state Senate against Supervisor Bates.  He’s just gotta get in there somewhere!

More on these developments from which broke the story

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.