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March 12, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- 600 words
Contact: Bill Orton at (562) 598-9630 or Mark Pulido at (562) 712-2093
ORTON CALLS FOR END TO WAIVER; CHIDES OPPONENT FOR PLAYING 'FOOTSY' WITH SEWAGE PUMPERS      (ORANGE COUNTY) - Chastising his opponent for "playing footsy with sewage pumpers," Assembly candidate William R. "Bill" Orton (D-Seal Beach) called on state lawmakers to link legislation being carried for the Orange County Sanitation district (OCSD) with an end of the controversial federal waiver that allows the district to pour 243 millions of gallons of partially treated sewage into the ocean each day.
"Lawmakers have a tiny little window of opportunity to help end the waiver," said Orton, "but so far what we are seeing is window dressing and a game of footsy going on in Sacramento."
Orton knocked his opponent, Assemblyman Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), who is carrying Assembly Bill 1892, legislation largely written by Scott Baugh, himself a former lawmaker and now a lobbyist who represents, among others, the OCSD.
The legislation would allow the OCSD to tweak its operating charter so that the district could branch off into treatment of urban runoff, but makes no mention of the treatment of sewage or the waiver.
Orton wrote to district officials prior to the introduction of AB 1892, indicating that he supported the concept of OCSD dealing with runoff diversion, calling the original proposal "a logical step towards the regionalization" of the sewage and storm runoff systems. But changes to the OCSD charter should be accompanied by a requirement that the district abandon the controversial practice of dumping sewage into the ocean.
"AB 1892 is little more than our Assemblyman playing a game of footsy with the OCSD," said Orton, who chided Harman for failing to use the bill as leverage to help force sanitation officials to end their reliance on a federal waiver from Clean Water Act rules about pumping sewage into the ocean. "Lawmakers should show backbone and tell the OCSD that they must agree to end the waiver before they get anything from Sacramento."
Orton acknowledges that the world of sewage and sanitation would be more expensive if the federal waiver were ended.
In February, Orton laid out a proposal to put $100 million in state funds into an obscure-but-powerful agency known as the California Development Bank, or CalBank. Established in 1994, the CalBank has the power to issue its own bonds and is used to move ahead with non-controversial projects, like roads, bridges and sewers.
Orton would also tap into existing Department of Water Resources funds and by mining through the state budget for "nickles and dimes."
"As Senator Everett Dirksen used to say, 'A million here, a million there..., pretty soon you're talking real money,' " said Orton.
Under Orton's plan, millions would pour into the CalBank each year. Those funds would be matched by the OCSD and other agencies, creating a regional infrastructure account that would be used to help pay for repairs, upgrades and replacements of sewage lines, storm runoff drains, pipes, catchments, and waste water treatment plants.
To show how such a large amount of money could be gathered, Orton pointed to Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, who recently managed to kick together $100 million to pay for an expansion of his city's affordable housing program. "If Jimmy Hahn can come up with $100 million without touching his city's general fund, then there sure as heck is money to deal with the biggest issue facing our region."
"Local infrastructure issues may not be glamorous, but they are at the heart of cleaning up our water and making for a better quality of life for residents in Orange County," said Seal Beach City Councilman Dr. Paul Yost, who represents Orange County as the region's sole vote on the SAN GABRIEL AND LOWER LOS ANGELES RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY.
TIDBITS: Orton gained the endorsement of Joan Greenwood, a leading regional environmentalist who sits on the board of the FRIENDS OF THE LOS ANGELES RIVER and is active in Long Beach area politics.
Other environmentalists backing Orton include SEAL BEACH CITY COUNCILMAN Dr. Paul Yost, SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS CONSERVANCY executive director Ann Croissant, and ROSSMOOR SEWER BOARD Trustee Jack Rosenthal, who represents eco-friendly independent energy producers.
Also working with Orton on environmental issues is Doug Korthof, who has led the charge to have the OCSD provide both primary and secondary treatment for allsewage.
"I'm pleased to hear that Bill Orton is against extending the sewage waiver which allows us to be the largest discharger still avoiding full secondary treatment of all sewage," said Korthof, who will accompany Orton this Friday for an 11 am press conference at the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Los Angeles.
The Assembly candidate will speak in support of an "Old Growth Forest" initiative being proposed for the November ballot. Also addressing the press conference will be Julia "Butterfly" Hill, who gained notoriety for climbing into a 1000-year old redwood tree and staying in it for nearly two years, as a protest of the clearing of the state's ancient forests.
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BILL ORTON is the Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the 67th District, which covers Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, and portions of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster.
FPPC ID# 1240194