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August 7, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Orton at (562) 598-9630
Harman slams the door on Bolsa Chica proposal; Aug. 9th rally still on      (ORANGE COUNTY, CA.) -- Amateur budget behavior by a freshman Republican lawmaker has doomed the single greatest opportunity in a generation to save the upper mesa of the Bolsa Chica, says Assembly candidate Bill Orton (D-Seal Beach), who still intends to go forward with a Friday noontime "SAVE THE BOLSA CHICA" rally.
Orton has spent several weeks publicly urging his opponent, Assemblyman Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), to vote in favor of the state budget, as a way to bring down a flood of state funding to pay for a buyout of land that is now slated to be bulldozed to make way for 388 monster homes.
"I've been ready to take a ticket to Palookaville and let my opponent be a hero by saving the Bolsa Chica," said Orton. "Instead, Tom Harman has let the single greatest opportunity in a generation to save the upper mesa slip through his fingers."
In a fire-and-brimstone speech delivered Wednesday on the floor of the State Assembly in Sacramento, Harman declared he could not vote for the long-stalled state budget, closing the door on a possible state rescue of the upper mesa.
In interviews and news releases over the past three weeks, Harman has made increasingly skeptical comments about a Bolsa Chica buyout, refering to the proposal on August 1 as a "pork barrel" project.
In the Huntington Beach Independent, Harman's chief of staff, Bob Biddle, called the Bolsa Chica budget proposal "some little goodie for the district."
Using the press to shut the door on sensitive budget negotiations is amateur politics, said Orton, who adds that Harman should simply have remained quiet to keep his options open.
"A lot of Democrats and independent voters cast their ballot for the gentleman, because they believed he would work with everyone," said Orton. "It seems that he cares more about his paycheck than working with other lawmakers and the Governor to actually save the Bolsa Chica."
The bureaucratic legwork for a state buyout seemingly had begun, said Orton.
At the annual meeting of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust held in July, the group's president announced that he had conducted a tour of the upper mesa for the interim director and the acquisitions chief for the State Department of Parks and Recreation, the agency that would eventually negotiate and have oversight for any property purchased by the state.
Orton, himself, may well have played a role in the process. As an Assembly staff aide, he conveyed to superiors notes about informal conversations he had on May 8th with leaders of the Bolsa Chica movement. Orton indicated that some activists were disgruntled about funding put into the budget, saying it was "only for the lower mesa."
By transmitting his notes, says Orton, he was doing his job, even if it ultimately harmed his chances in the election.
"I did my job in May by indicating that the gentleman might be inclined to support a budget that included the upper mesa," said Orton. "Had the gentleman voted 'yes,' he would become an instant hero and my own chances this November would have evaporated, but the Bolsa Chica is more important than one candidate or one election."
Despite Harman's door-slammer speech in the Assembly, Orton still plans to go forward with an already-scheduled "SAVE THE BOLSA CHICA" rally planned for this Friday at noon, in front of his opponent's office. "We still need to show the gentleman that people care about the Bolsa Chica."
Friday, August 9 at NOON
Beach and Warner, in Huntington Beach
(Exit the 405 at Beach and go ONE mile south)
The building management and HB police know that we will be marching along the sidewalk. This will be a peaceful march to show support for the Bolsa Chica.
BRING YOUR OWN HANDMADE SIGN THAT REFLECTS YOUR DESIRE TO SAVE THE BOLSA CHICA.
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