The Year in Bits:July - December

FISH STICKS The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Nov. 14 declared about nine miles of streams in southern Orange and northern San Diego counties to be critical habitat for the goby, an endangered tidal fish. Since San Mateo Creek is part of that habitat, that designation could kill the preferred route of the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) for extension of the Foothill South toll road, which was to cut right across the creek. Suggestion to the TCA and its developer buds: dress gobies up as gnatcatchers.

WASTE WATERWORLD The Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District held the first of four traveling community forums on Nov. 16 to tout the proposed Groundwater Replenishment System, a $600 million project that would turn human sewage into crystal-clear drinking water. The presentation included slick laptop-to-big-screen graphics, raves about the project ("visionary," "grand in scale") and claims this is the lowest-cost solution to a looming water crisis in OC caused by a dwindling supply. It also included skepticism from at least two of the 25 people huddled in an Anaheim Community Center conference room. Anaheim resident Jim Anderson worried that human viruses might survive the treatment process, breed in the groundwater, and spark a massive health disaster. Since officials mentioned they've been working on the project for a few years, Anderson wanted to know how much time, energy and dollars have gone toward health vs. engineering. Water-district sanitation expert Thomas M. Dawes estimated 75 percent has gone toward health. "We know this project is safe; we absolutely know it," Dawes said. But another man in the audience chimed in, "We're lab rats for a system you're developing and trying to shove down our throats."

SHELL GAME Huntington Beach musician/ activist/RV enthusiast Joey Racano may have lost his election bid to the City Council, but he won his fight to preserve the tiny Little Shell wetland. A council majority had backed paving over the city-owned wetland for a developer's project that included much-needed shops and townhouses and the extension of the Waterfront Hilton resort. But the California Coastal Commission halted development permits when staff members discovered problems with project maps. To get everything back on track, the City Council hammered out a Little Shell preservation plan on Nov. 20. Racano, who led daily protests to save the wetland, once confided to us that he made up the name "Little Shell" to give people a cute name for an ignored marsh teeming with wildlife. Now his beloved city wants to restore the wetland and turn it over to a conservancy. They should rename it after Joey while they're at it.

FULL METAL HOUSE How the hell did actor John Stamos scrounge up $30,700 to buy the old Disneyland sign on eBay? Aside from being married to the gorgeous and no doubt fabulously wealthy supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, what has this guy got going for him? To recap, the present-day show-biz importance ranking of former Full House cast members is as follows: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Bob Saget, the chick married to Mossimo, the hockey-player comedian, any other kids from the show, and then Stamos. We're not knocking Johnny; former OC boys who grow up to become Disneyphiles are the coolest! "It was one of those things," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Nov. 21. "I said, 'I have to have this!'" Then again, a huge galvanized-steel sign is actually a smart investment. It'll make great shelter.

BUSH WINS, GOD EXISTS Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) was confident George W. Bush would ultimately win his race against Al Gore to become the next president of the United States and that Bush's certain victory was proof of the existence of God. "I have no doubt—and there's no doubt in my mind as I tell you tonight—that George W. Bush will be the next president of the U.S.," Rohrabacher said in a Nov. 29 speech to a group at the Garden Grove Women's Civic Club. "George W. Bush becoming president is just further proof of the existence of God. There is no other explanation." The Weekly—the first newspaper to report Rohrabacher's claim—could not reach God for comment, and Baruch Spinoza, who labored mightily to prove the existence of God in his Ethics, has been dead for 323 years.

GUNS FOR TOTS Toddlers had trouble pushing open a door at a Los Alamitos preschool on Nov. 30 because of an unusual doorstop: a loaded 9 mm Ruger semiautomatic pistol. Los Alamitos police thought the gun was hidden under a doormat by an auto-theft suspect who was captured near Rossmoor Preschool.


JUDGMENT DAY Did anyone else bristle at the fact that the judge who on Dec. 1 thwarted Orange County's overwhelmingly voter-approved anti-airport initiative Measure F is based in Los Angeles? Hiz Honor's whole frame of reference when it comes to noxious development is therefore based on Los Angeles. Surely you remember Los Angeles: IT'S THE PLACE WE ALL MOVED HERE TO ESCAPE! Hell, in LA, jails and commercial airports and hazardous-waste dumps are not called "noxious developments." They're called "improvements." They even have a name for the future this judge deemed for us: "Inglewood." Thanks, dickwad.

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