October-December

DECEMBER Orange County Transportation Authority facilitator Judy Johnson met with 80 people at the Santa Ana Police Department community room on Dec. 2 to listen to gripes about a planned 28-mile trolley system through central OC. Johnson did not answer questions, but she did listen-in a New Agey way-to the crowd's problems with the project's cutting through their neighborhoods, the enormous tax burden the line will create, and sucking away funding that could be spent now on expanding more affordable bus service relied upon by the county's poor. "A lot of people get the warm fuzzies when they imagine a streetcar going down the street," said Bill Ward, who chairs a forum that analyzes transportation projects. "But when we crunch the numbers, we see quite clearly that an Orange County trolley system will be good at only one thing-soaking up money." . . . The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District held a meeting on Dec. 8 to explain their proposed $400 million Groundwater Replenishment System. The project is scheduled to treat about 40 percent of the water that goes into the sewer system until it becomes as pure as bottled water. The pure water would be pumped into the ground-water basin and eventually drawn by water districts throughout north and central OC. The districts held the public meeting because they figured folks might be a tad squeamish about drinking what used to be shit water. Duh! . . . Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Dec. 10 accused Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana of violating federal laws in the November elections. When Calvary placed copies of the Christian Coalition's voter guides in its sanctuary, Orange County's biggest born-again congregation violated Internal Revenue Service rules prohibiting nonprofits from getting involved in candidates' political campaigns, alleged Americans United. The 50-year-old, 50,000-member, Washington, D.C.-based organization informed the IRS of Calvary's apparent transgression. Nonpartisan voter-education literature is permissible for houses of worship to distribute, but the Christian Coalition guides were clearly slanted toward Republican candidates, charged the Reverend Barry Lynn, Americans United's executive director. Calvary officials reportedly said informing churchgoers about issues is part of their ministry but denied endorsing any candidates. But Lynn claimed Calvary's guide used such code phrases as "abortion on demand" and "special rights for homosexuals" to describe the positions of California's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates. We presume those would be the candidates going straight to H-E-DOUBLE MATCHSTICKS. . . . Promote Paul Pressler, a Web site that called for the president of Disneyland to be kicked upstairs so he would stop screwing up the Anaheim theme park, finally got its wish-sort of. On Dec. 11, Pressler was indeed promoted, but in his new post, he'll oversee not only Disneyland, but also all Disney theme parks and resorts around the world. During his four-year reign in the Magic Kingdom's top job, Pressler was criticized for everything from overemphasizing retailing to keeping a dirty park. Now that he'll be in charge of all Disney parks, regular participants of the Preserve Disneyland Forum are spooked. Take this recent poster: "Not only do we have to worry about him messing up Disneyland, but now he's going to be in charge of all of the parks. Are you ready to see things get even worse?" . . . Okay, so maybe it isn't so safe around here: vector-control officials on Dec. 15 presented the Orange County Board of Supervisors with an updated plan for dealing with approaching Africanized "killer" bees. The deadly buzzers join an invading force of red fire ants. Oh, and don't forget last winter's floods, mudslides and collapsing condos, and the dead deer littering our toll roads. Jeez, can a cloud of locusts, four horns of the golden altar, and an army of the horsemen be far off?

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