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The Political Landscape

May 24, 2007

Frustrated with the never-ending stream of trash that turns up on Orange County beaches, a group of Newport Harbor High School students is asking for a citywide ban on Styrofoam in stores and restaurants.

Students in teacher Scott Morlan's surf and environment class in 2004 successfully lobbied for a beach smoking ban. On Tuesday they came back for round 2, suggesting the City Council say no to polystyrene products.

"It is a problem that is commonly overlooked and underestimated," student Alexander Gonzalez said. "This is our backyard and our playground, and we have come to preserve its beauty."

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Styrofoam products are made from oil and chemicals, and they don't biodegrade but instead break down into tiny pieces that marine creatures mistake for food, students told the council.

The council will discuss the students' request for a Styrofoam ban at a future study session.

Supervising the sheriffIt's hard out here for a sheriff, at least if you're Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona. He's locked in a struggle with Newport Beach over control of the Harbor Patrol, and now county supervisors want to give him more supervision.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to take preliminary steps toward forming a citizens' oversight board that would keep tabs on the sheriff, the district attorney and the chief probation officer.

Supervisor John Moorlach, who suggested the idea, said when he was county treasurer he considered independent oversight essential after the county's 1994 bankruptcy.

Carona argued at Tuesday's meeting that there's already oversight — by the Grand Jury, the county human relations commission and the Sheriff's Community Coalition he created in 1999, for example.

"It puts in the mind of the public a certain distrust by the board of supervisors, and that there are significant problems that require yet another layer of oversight," he told supervisors.

Supervisors disagreed.

"The board clearly, clearly indicated by its unanimous vote yesterday that the time for civilian oversight of peace officers and civilian officers in Orange County has come," Mario Mainero, Moorlach's chief of staff, said Wednesday.

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