Remembering the 1994-1995 Panel and Mario Lazo

by Viola Sadler; 1994-95, 1998-99, 2002-03

It was June 1994 at the ritual known as Orientation that we met our foreman, Mario Lazo. Most of us came to the panel not knowing exactly how the county was organized, or what big issues there might be. The first six months were spent primarily educating ourselves before we issued any reports.

The Criminal Justice Committee issued the de rigueur report on the jail conditions the first week of December 1994. It was completely overshadowed by the headline that the County declared bankruptcy that same day. Before leaving for the Christmas/New Year break we were all to consider staying on the panel until December 1995. Most of us came back and stayed. Our education continued, but this time we learned about investments, floaters, hedge funds and such. Our foreman had to deal with a very diversified panel, and sometimes a contentious one, too. We did manage to produce some reports even when the DA hearings on the bankruptcy took up major time.


One of the last times I saw Mario was at the retirement party for Mary Hennessey. Here is photo I took of some of the 1994-95 panel on that day: Standing L-R: Mario Lazo, Benny Benoit, Ted Tamura, Ivan McKinney and Bob Linn; Seating L-R: County counsel attorney who proofread our reports, and Gil Cruz.

Mario Lazo, 86, passed away August 23, 2013. Mario was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in Norfolk, Connecticut. He graduated from Andover, Yale and Wharton. In 1953, he and Sarah Duffy married; and Mario always referred to her as “my bride.” They lived in New York, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Wisconsin, until they moved to Newport Beach in 1980. Royal Lord, Mary Hennessey and I attended the memorial Mass held at Our Lady Queen of Angels, Newport Beach on October 5th. Mario, I miss your strong voice, your storytelling, your wit, and your love for romantic musical ballads in Spanish. RIP