Year in Review

September

FISTING 101 Seeking to thwart a costly federal lawsuit over its ban of El Modena High School's Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees on Sept. 7 reluctantly enacted new regulations that allow gay-support groups to meet, subject to parental approval. Sex talk at any student-club meeting is banned under the agreement, but that didn't cut down on the sex talk at the school board meeting—from adults both on and off the board. Indeed, the rhetoric of the anti-GSA forces was so graphic that the mainstream media ignored it in their reports of the settlement. With high school students sitting in the audience, Donna Sigalas, a vocal opponent of El Modena High's GSA and a member of Orange-based Parents' Rights USA, offered board members a litany of sex acts homosexuals purportedly engage in—acts she believes the trustees encourage by allowing gay-support clubs. Exhibit A in Sigalas' case was her claim that "public school teachers were fired after they were caught red-handed" at a state-sponsored Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network (GLSEN) conference in Boston "instructing GSA club members as young as 12 years old in homosexual practices such as fisting, oral sex, sodomy and even promoting adult-child sex." GSA supporters in the audience looked surprised, with one—David C. Codell, a civil-rights attorney who helped cobble together the settlement—barely suppressing a smirk.

BURNING SENSATION Fire season officially arrived—and us without a thing to wear! Perhaps you heard the news—oh, boy—about a fast-moving brushfire east of San Clemente that on Sept. 11 turned 500 acres of canyon brush extra-crispy before making a beeline for that Duraflame dominion we call Cleveland National Forest. Which, come to think of it, is nowhere near Cleveland (thank God!). The fire scorched acreage the county leases to TRW for the corporate giant's Capistrano Test Site. The site is the birthplace of a $200 million megawatt-class space-based laser, the most powerful "beam weapon" in the U.S. military arsenal. The top-secret site also tests thrusters, rocket engines and propulsion systems. Though we escaped safely this time, the thought of an out-of-control blaze getting hold of nasty stuff like that was enough to make us wet our jammies—which really left us without a thing to wear.

CARE LESS Here in Orange County, we love our kids. DARE and soccer moms and bike helmets and filtering software and Gap for Kids and Mothers for Sterilizing Drunks Who Look at Kids Funny all seem as if they were invented here. Why? Because we love, love, luuuuv our kids. It's all for the kids. All hail the kids. Okay, to be fair, we don't love all kids. Take the 1,000 low-income children served by the county education department's child-care program-please! Hock, phew! We spit at them. Because of a $1 million deficit over five years, officials are nixing the child-care program, it was announced on Sept. 13. Now, before you get all weepy and throw out your bleeding-heartisms about how you'd rather lose a million for a child-care program than bend over and give up billions in public booty to developers and other rich whiteys . . . Uh, where were we going with this? Oh, yeah: Isn't it about time the poorest of the poor kids learn to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and pay for their own bloody child care? Heck, their parents work two or three shitty jobs nobody wants just to get by, leaving them no time to watch their kids and thus leading to government sinkholes like free child care. Let's put these infants-through-12-year-olds served by the program to work as moving targets for TRW.

DID YOU KNOW? Two days before the child-care announcement, the Urban Institute reported that 4 million children ages 6 to 12 with employed mothers are regularly without adult supervision when not in school. Thanks to OC's Department of Education, those kids are about to get more after-school playmates. See, we do care!

LOOK! UP IN THE SKY! Back in high school, we wouldn't really call it a party until a police helicopter showed up blasting orders to disperse. Ferociously pumping the backyard keg to extract the last drops of Michelob with one hand, we'd raise the other to give the whirlybird an internationally recognized signal while shouting something that rhymes with "Fuck you!" Now that we're older and wiser and drinking imports, we implore all Orange Countians to resurrect this act of uncivil disobedience for the county's flying privacy pirates—coming soon to a back yard very near you. The Board of Supervisors on Sept. 19 hired a private firm to shoot aerial three-dimensional photographs of every square inch of the county. The prospect of having a 3-D database of every warehouse, farmhouse, hen house, outhouse and doghouse gets OC cops harder than their billy clubs. And the county expects to recoup its $180,000 cost by selling copies of the photos to prying code enforcers, other government agencies or anyone else who can pony up the cash. Guess we'd better get to chopping down those wild "oregano" plants growing near the tool shed.

BOY SCOUTS LIKE IT BOTH WAYS On Sept. 26, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to grant the Boy Scouts' Orange County Council a 30-year extension on their no-cost lease on prime beachfront property in Newport Beach. The Orange County chapter runs a marine institute there called the Sea Scout Base and has done so—admirably, by all accounts—for more than 60 years. But just two months ago, the national Boy Scouts of America persuaded the Supreme Court they are a private organization, with all the First Amendment rights pertaining to a private organization—chiefly, the right "peaceably to assemble." The Boy Scouts would like peaceably to assemble with just about everyone except gays, lesbians and God-doubters. Now, their representatives argue, they are also miraculously a public organization doing great work saving kids from the terror of the streets and the vapidity of malls. Fifth District Supe Tom Wilson spoke for the board when he commended the group for its work on behalf of "all the youth of Orange County." Pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Boy Scouts vs. Dale, we are sure Wilson means almost all youth. Or pretty sure: on a Board of Supervisors widely acknowledged to be only marginally smarter than plants and animals, it is possible that Wilson and his colleagues don't know about Boy Scouts vs. Dale. It's very likely that Supervisor Jim Silva, a former high school civics teacher, doesn't know there's a Supreme Court. The property in question is county-owned land bequeathed to the public by the late James Irvine. Through similar acts of largess with the public's land, local governments had given much of the rest of Irvine's gift to rich developers. Consider the nearby Balboa Bay Club and ask yourself: When was the last time you hung out there, contemplating Irvine's act of generosity over a plate of canapťs? The Boy Scouts want the best of both worlds: the right to bigotry granted private citizens under the First Amendment as well as access to generous public subsidies granted organizations whose behavior is governed by anti-discrimination statutes. They cannot have it both ways—except, apparently, in Orange County.

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