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Orange County's White Knight?



A WALL STREET WHISTLE-blower is going after the thankless job of CEO of Orange County, which has been creamed by the Street. Michael Lissack, 36, a former Smith Barney managing director with several pending lawsuits against the firm, has declared his candidacy for the soon-to-be vacated spot. Smith Barney fired him five months ago, saying he harassed others at the firm and injured its reputation.

Lissack has been talking to prosecutors about allegedly questionable practices at its municipal-bond desk and those of other brokerages. The firm calls his claims baseless and says it is cooperating with regulators. Lissack admits to a history of depression and to playing pranks on co-workers, but says Smith Barney is trying to discredit him to avoid responsibility for its purported misdeeds.

Lissack hopes to show Orange County supervisors he's the best suited for the job because he wants to repudiate much of Orange County's debt. It has "been sold a bill of goods by Wall Street," he says. So far, the response has been lukewarm from the supervisors, who will interview candidates soon. They recently forced out the independent-minded William Popejoy.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Nanette Byrnes

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