Bill Lobdell has another interesting “Perspective” piece in this month’s OC METRO that includes a mention of me.  That’s two months in a row!



Past forward

What would you say if you could travel back 24 years and meet with the younger you? Here’s what I’d say.

By William Lobdell


Just got back from seeing “Hot Tub Time Machine” (two thumbs up!), and it inspired me to travel back in time to 1986 and visit myself in Orange County. Here’s a transcript of the meeting:

Younger Bill: Dad?

Old Bill: Nah, kid. It’s just you in 24 years. I’ve come from the future.

YB: Oh dear God. No hair? Wrinkles? Gray whiskers? The defeated look? What happened to me?

OB (shaking his head slowly): Long story, but I’m here to change all that. I wanted to let you know about Orange County in 2010, and maybe you can take alternative course in your life for both our sakes.

YB (shrugging and pointing to OB): I’ll do anything to keep from looking like –

OB (irritated): – all right, all right. Let’s start with the bad news. You know your dream about being a reporter for the Los Angeles Times?

YB: Yes.

OB: Forget it, kid. Turns out, the future isn’t too bright for daily newspaper journalists.

YB (in disbelief): But OC has the healthiest newspaper war in the country right now with The Times and Orange County Register pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars to compete for readers and advertisers. That just can’t evaporate!

OB: Trust me on this one, but I have an alternative. In two years, a funky little restaurant will open in Costa Mesa at the corner of Placentia Avenue and W. 19th Street called Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. Ask Wing Lim, the co-owner, if you can be an investor and part of the management team. You’ll be a millionaire before too long.

YB: Fish tacos?

OB: It sounds crazy, but yes. And buy some real estate in downtown Huntington Beach. The Main Street/pier area will draw incredible crowds by 2010 and give off some of the best vibes in Orange County.

YB (suspiciously): Downtown Huntington is basically dead right now.

OB: So real estate will be cheap. Go for it. Just don’t invest in the Golden Bear. Also, be on the outlook for an Orange County company called Broadcom, and buy its stock when it goes public. But get out of it before 2000, no matter how promising technology stocks look.

YB: What does Broadcom do?

OB: You wouldn’t understand it yet. I’m not sure I do even now.

YB (rubbing his full head of gorgeous hair): Nothing you say is making sense: fish taco millionaires, a thriving downtown Huntington Beach, the newspaper business dying –

OB: Yeah, 24 years makes a big difference. You’ll also see high-rise condos in Irvine, a Democratic Latina congresswoman elected in Orange County, the Angels winning the World Series, a coffeehouse on every corner, the Newport Coast blanketed with homes, the county bankrupt and $1.3 billion in the hole –

YB: – so tell me how to stop the bankruptcy? I can be a hero!

OB (putting his hand on YB’s shoulder): I can tell you exactly how to stop the bankruptcy, but no one will listen to you. No one listened to a guy named John Moorlach, who knew exactly how to stop it.

YB: Did he at least get rewarded?

OB: No, since then, he’s had to serve as a full-time local politician.

YB: Brutal. Any other warnings?

OB: Don’t loan the Crystal Cathedral money. The church will someday be $65 million in the red and stop its Christmas and Easter shows.

YB: Really?

OB (looking at his watch): God’s honest truth. Listen, I need to get back to the future, but I do have one more piece of advice. With all that money you’ll be making, I’m guessing you’ll buy into a gated community – probably Emerald Bay. Buy lots of toys, travel the world and grab yourself a trophy wife –

YB: – it’s like you’re reading my mind.

OB: It’s my mind, too, you know. Just be sure not to appear on “The Real Housewives of Orange County” television show. You’ll come off looking like an idiot.

YB (rubbing his hands together): Got it. Thanks for everything. I need to get going, too. I have a dream date with Tawny Kitaen, that hot chick from the MTV videos.

OB: Sit down, kid. I need to give you one last warning …

William Lobdell is a longtime Orange County journalist and author of “Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in American—and Found Unexpected Peace.”


May 22


We were in an election cycle fifteen years ago and Michael Utley of The Bond Buyer provided the account in “Popejoy Predicts Angry Voters Will Still Pass Tax Hike.”   Asking the voters to backfill the losses generated by our electeds and their hired bureaucrats with a one percent sales tax increase was a non-starter.  The voters were very angry.  And they were in no mood to fill the role of an enabler.  A sales tax increase was the quick and obvious solution.  It just wasn’t the right one.  After settling in at the county and reviewing this proposal, I would also oppose it.   Here are a few lines from the article.

                In the next six weeks leading up to the June 27 election, supporters and opponents will stage an all-out war over the half-cent tax hike, Popejoy said, but cooler heads will prevail at the ballot box.

                “The people in this county are mad, but they’re not stupid,” Popejoy told members of the California Society of Municipal Analysts, meeting in this Orange County city Thursday to gauge the impact of the county’s financial crisis.

The half-cent sales tax increase, which would raise about $130 million a year, is a crucial part of the county’s bankruptcy recovery plan.  In addition to easing the county’s severe budget crunch, the tax would provide a revenue stream to repay holders of more than $1 billion in short-term notes issued by the county last year.

The tax campaign has split Orange County’s conservative political establishment.  The county’s elected leaders, all Republicans, have come down on both sides of the issue.

County Supervisors Marian Bergeson, William Steiner, and Gaddy Vasquez say they will vote for the tax, called “Measure R” on the ballot.  Supervisor Roger Stanton is undecided.

Supervisor James Silva is opposed to the tax, along with every member of the county’s legislative delegation in Sacramento.

County sheriff Brad Gates has emerged as a strong campaigner for Measure R.  But newly appointed treasurer-tax collector John Moorlach says he is philosophically opposed to a tax hike, although he has yet to take a public stance on the issue.

“Plan B looks very nasty for this community,” [Popejoy] said.  “We will not have enough money to pay back schools and cities, and we won’t have enough money to pay back bondholders.  Simple as that.”

In other Orange County developments . . . anticipating the fund disbursements [made the previous Friday], Standard & Poor’s Corp. said Friday that many of the pool participants will be taken off CreditWatch, and some rating changes may result.

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