April-June

JUNE Protesters picketed a shareholders' meeting at Unocal's Brea offices on June 1 over the oil company's dealings with a fundamentalist Islamic militia that forbids women from working or attending college. Members of Feminist Majority Foundation and other groups said Unocal was part of a consortium seeking to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan that would generate billions in revenue for the militia, the Taliban. Unocal confirmed talking with the Taliban to keep them informed of plans to build a pipeline someday but denied being in negotiations with the militia and vowed not to do business with any government that is not officially recognized by the U.S. Then why, the protesters wondered, had the oil company contracted with the University of Nebraska to train workers in Afghanistan for pipeline construction? . . . The largest securities firm in the U.S. agreed on June 2 to pay Orange County $400 million to settle a lawsuit stemming from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. The county had sued Merrill Lynch & Co. for $2 billion, accusing it of steering then-county Treasurer Robert Citron into risky investments that resulted in a loss of $1.64 billion and the bankruptcy declaration on Dec. 6, 1994. Merrill Lynch, which dished out $30 million to the county last year to end a criminal investigation, denied any wrongdoing, saying in effect it just wanted to end the mess already. . . . The June 2 primary election was not kind to some longtime OC officeholders trying to stay in office (41st District Congressman Jay Kim, who lost the Republican nomination to Gary Miller) and move up to higher office (District Attorney Mike "Mad Dog" Capizzi, who lost the GOP bid for state attorney general to Dave Stirling). But Robert Dornan hammered Republican Party gal Lisa Hughes to set up a rematch with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove). Meanwhile, OC GOP boss Tom Fuentes had a wet-dream night as two candidates his party backed for nonpartisan office won: Mike Carona for sheriff and Anthony Rackauckas for district attorney. Power-elite hand puppet Supervisor Jim Silva failed to gather enough votes to win his seat outright, so he had to face former Huntington Beach City Councilman Dave Sullivan in a November runoff. But anti-airport Supervisor Tom Wilson handily defeated Newport Beach City Councilman and meanest OC man John Hedges. And while all three county Board of Education incumbents beat back challenges from religious nuts to keep their seats, it was vaya con dios to bilingual education in California. . . . The current and previous owners of the Pacific Amphitheatre settled a lawsuit on June 8 that could result in the previously mothballed Costa Mesa concert bowl cranking out shows again in the summer of '99. Jurors had reached a decision in the case that the Orange County Fair Board, which owns the 18,500-seat venue, brought against the Nederlander Organization, but the litigants settled before the verdict could be announced. A spokesperson for the board, which had sought damages totaling the $12.5 million it paid for the amphitheater in 1993, said the fair would get a lump-sum payment of-cha-ching!-$16 million! The board claimed in its suit that Nederlander inserted such a restrictive sound covenant in the original sale agreement that the facility was useless for concerts. It was further alleged the provision was included so the Pacific Amphitheatre couldn't compete with the Arrowhead Pond, where Nederlander books events. Nederlander, which maintained it did nothing wrong, sold the venue to the fair-whose land the arena was erected on in the early '80s-to end years of litigation brought by nearby residents who continually complained about concert noise. . . . The cities of Garden Grove and Westminster, both cities' police departments and police chiefs, and assorted officers were named in a lawsuit filed on June 9 that charged gang-suppression officers decided to take a Vietnamese immigrant to jail on the toss of a coin. Attorneys claimed 27-year-old Garden Grove resident Hoang Phuong Tranh Tran was falsely arrested and imprisoned after his car was stopped on June 19, 1997. A 17-year-old girl who was in the car at the time said an officer gave her a nickel and asked her to flip it. Depending on whether it landed on heads or tails, Tran-the girl's future brother-in-law-would be freed or taken to jail. "Oh, you lose!" the officer exclaimed, according to the suit. "He's gotta go to jail!" Tran remained behind bars for five days before being released on bail. The case against him was later dismissed because officers had arrested him on a warrant for a different man with a similar name and birthdate. . . . A proposal by controversial Buena Park pastor Wiley Drake to order Prez Bill Clinton's church in Little Rock, Arkansas, to discipline Bubba if he refused to rescind an executive order barring discrimination against gay federal employees was narrowly rejected at the Southern Baptist Convention and Possum Roast on June 11. "I believe that we need to take a strong stand because one of our Southern Baptist churches has the president of the United States going around the country saying he's a Southern Baptist," Drake reportedly said. Imagine: a Southern Baptist president of the United States running around telling people he's a Southern Baptist. What's next? The Pope letting it drop he's Roman Catholic? Drake did manage to get 48 percent of the conventioneers to shut off the Hee-Haw reruns in their dee-luxe Salt Lake City motor inns and go and vote for the proposal. To appease the Drake bloc, which last year ushered in the Southern Baptist boycott against the Walt Disney Co., the convention adopted a watered-down resolution condemning all gaydom and asking Congress to nullify Clinton's order. Perhaps in foul moods because they couldn't bring their moonshine jugs into a dry state like Utah, conventioneers also passed resolutions opposing women in combat and public funding of arts projects they say attack biblical Christianity. And earlier in the convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination amended its official statement of belief to read: "A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." . . . About 100 members of the OC-based Coalition for Immigration Reform rallied in Blythe on June 27 to decry the removal of a billboard they had paid for that announced to those crossing the border from Arizona, "Welcome to California, the Illegal Immigrant State." Martin Media, the firm that leased the sign to the coalition, took it down and refunded the group's money after Mario Obledo, whom Clinton in January awarded the Medal of Freedom-the highest honor given to a civilian-for his lifetime of activism, threatened to remove it. Obledo suffers from diabetes and a bad back, but the 66-year-old told Martin Media he'd burn the sign if it was not removed. But carrying signs that read "What part of 'illegal' don't you understand?" coalition members vowed to see their message fly again. "Not only will this billboard be re-erected in California, but in other states as well," Huntington Beach resident/coalition leader Barbara Coe reportedly said. She urged "patriotic Americans" to protect the U.S.'s borders. "We will no longer be victims of illegal-alien law breakers who take our jobs and millions of our tax dollars for benefits, which are denied to citizens and even war veterans. And in return, many times, their contributions are disease and drugs to our people." Members of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), who said they were there to take a stand against a "racist sign" and thank Latino activists whose pressure spiked the billboard, also staged a demonstration nearby. Then they stole all the coalition members' jobs and benefits, gave them diseases and drugs, and went home.

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