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  • Thursday, December 28, 2006


    2006 TOP STORIES

    METRO Talk

    #1 Story for 2006
    Orange City Council Member Steve Ambriz
    dies in car accident

    Orange City Council Member Steve Ambriz was killed in a head-on car crash on May 25th, 2006. Traveling east on Santiago Canyon Road, Ambriz’s car was hit by a pick-up driven by Walnut resident Sara Lyn Ward who was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. Ambriz’s death shocked and stunned his hometown of Orange, the Greater Orange Communities, and his co-workers in the County of Orange. His death also changed the dynamics of the November 2006 Orange mayoral and city council races.

    Council Member Ambriz’s death did unite the community to honor his contributions and lifelong commitment to Greater Orange. The community contributed to the Kaitlyn Ambriz Scholarship Fund directly and through the Steve Ambriz Memorial Poker Tournament, and began planning the 2007 Steve Ambriz Legacy Golf Tournament to benefit the future Steve Ambriz Storytime Room at the under construction new Orange Main Library.

    Ward pleaded not guilty and goes to trial on January 5th, 2007.

    Steve Ambriz Memorial Website:|

    2007 Steve Ambriz Legacy Golf Tournament:

    Orange Council Member Jon Dumitru’s Blog Report on Poker Tournament:

    Orange Council Member Jon Dumitru’s Blog Report on Sara Lynn Wards court plea:

    #2 Story for 2006
    November 2006 Elections in Greater Orange

    The local November 2006 Elections featured the 21st Century meeting small town politics as the Orange County Blogsphere became a battleground and information broker as it supplemented the mainstream media by supplying behind-the-scenes information. While the Orange County Supervisor Race impacted a broader area, the Orange City Council race was by far the race to follow.

    Reporting on the residency issues of Carol Rudat, the negative campaigns against Denis Bilodeau and Mike Alvarez, and reporting on the origin of campaign websites, the influential OC Blog became a daily must read for campaign insiders and state and local political junkies. In addition, Orange Politicos, the Greater Orange News Service and numerous other established and pop-up single issue blogs created an independent web-based information system that supplied breaking news and connected readers with independent instant links to campaign oriented issues.

    In the Orange Unified School District Trustee Election, the once united Orange Recall winning Citizens Board Trustees easily defeated a comeback attempt of the Education Alliance candidates. Conflicting endorsements that crossed alliances and slates (including OUSD Trustee Rick Ledesma endorsing challengers to other trustees) and political party endorsements seemed to have little impact on the election as all four OUSD Trustees easily were re-elected.

    The November surprise came from the little watched Villa Park City Council Election with voters replacing long time council member and Mayor Patricia Bortle and appointed Council Member and Foothills Sentry writer Robert Fauteux. The two incumbents came in at the bottom of the five person race for three city council seats. Winning the three seats were Brad Reese, Jim Rhiens and Deborah Pauly.

    #3 Story for 2006
    OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco’s
    Censorship, Censure, and Lawsuit

    Orange Unified was again in the news as Superintendent Thomas Godley and OUSD Board President Kim Nichols tagged teamed eccentric and outspoken OUSD Trustee Steve Rocco. Rocco used his oppositional defiant behavior coupled with his extensive use of freedom of speech to drive the OUSD Administration and fellow Board members over the edge. OUSD Superintendent Thomas Godley censored the public Board cable broadcast of Rocco facing off with OUSD Trustee John Ortega, as well as his comments on relatives of OUSD Administrators working for OUSD and his opinion about keeping employed transferred Villa Park High School Principal Ben Rich to Richland Continuation High School.

    Months later after Board President Kim Nichols’ crusade for approval of what now appears to be a botched Resolution of Censure against Rocco, it is evident that the whole Censure Affair has backfired. Rocco, with the help of Californians Aware has filed suit against OUSD. In addition, Rocco appears more embolden and the Trustees appear less willing to try to muzzle him in light of the Free Speech lawsuit now pending.

    The OUSD Trustees had already rescinded the Recall Reform of rotating Board officers that denied Rocco a leadership role and now has given Kim Nichols another year as Board President. It will be Nichols who will continue to deal with Rocco and his lawsuit as the Board prepares to lay the ground work to introduce a third School Bond Measure to the Greater Orange Communities on the heels of the failure of the Rancho Santiago Bond Measure in the November 2006 election. While this year the Rocco Saga was number three, it appears to be the one “to be continued” story of 2006.

    Californians Aware

    Commentary by Californians Aware President Richard McKee: and

    Report on Nichols Mark Foley Comments and Rocco Censure Comments

    Trustee Comments on the Resolution of Censure

    Report on September 28 vote in Favor of the Public Hearing

    Transcripts and Photo of the Ortega vs. Rocco face off

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