Year in Review

CROWDED CELL Jim Bakker—who should get a free pass to heaven if for no other reason than having bedded both Tammy Faye Bakker and Jessica Hahn in the same lifetime—warns that though times are good in America, you'd best hurry up and accept Christ. "The Lord spoke to my heart that religious people will blow their brains out when this stock market crashes," warned Bakker in a Feb. 7 interview at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Anaheim. It seems odd that the messiah would use such salty language as "blow their brains out"—until you learn of the special bond forged between Bakker and the Big Guy in the Big House. "When I went to prison, I couldn't take a car or house with me, but Jesus Christ went there with me," Bakker explained. Christ, I mean, Jeez, I mean, damn: first nails through your wrists, then five years in a cell with Jim Bakker.

TICKLE ME, ELMO A couple of hours after El Modena High School's Gay-Straight Alliance held its first meeting on Feb. 9, students clashed with fundie protesters across the street from the Orange campus. However, it wasn't much of a melee, eyewitnesses told us and only us because the Jesus freaks "fought like girls." Known as the America Forever Foundation, the gay-baiters' literature refers to gays as "anti-species" and says, "The simple suggestion of homosexuality and lesbianism should be criminal when exposed to children." Guess that puts the kibosh on future Nutcracker performances. For their part, students have had it up to freakin' here with all the attention, anti-gay graffiti and their new school nickname, replacing their beloved "Elmo" with "Homodena." They're also sick of the doctored OC Weekly adult ad that has spread around campus faster than media cockroaches. Under a picture of two men draped in each other's arms—hard, bulging, deliciously sweaty arms that get us all . . . uh, sorry—someone has scribbled: "Come on, Elmo, don't be shy! You're either gay or you're bi!" Sounds like those stuck-up cheerleaders to us. The hate group that started this whole mess—Orange Unified's board of trustees, which banned the Gay-Straight Alliance from campus in December, only to have a federal court later reverse that ruling—continued its take-away-all-our-marbles-and-go-home-if-we-don't-get-our-way fit by banning all nonacademic campus clubs on Feb. 10. Students walked out in protest the next day. Why bother? Just form a Gay-Straight-Science-Geek-Spanish-and-Chess Alliance.

IT'S OFFICIAL! In 1997, the Weekly's R. Scott Moxley revealed that top bureaucrats at Orange County's Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) had secretly tried to prevent their elected-official bosses from ever publicly revealing the ugly truth about toll-road finances. No thanks to Orange County's two daily newspapers, we now know why. At a Feb. 10 hearing, TCA management reluctantly admitted that the 3-year-old San Joaquin Hills toll road will never meet even minimum revenue or ridership projections needed to pay for billions of dollars in high-priced Wall Street bonds. To stave off immediate financial collapse, the agency created a "Stabilization Fund" that will divert $40 million from long-term savings to pay massive upcoming bond debts. The TCA also discussed raising what are already among the highest tolls in the nation. Only after county officials publicly stated what had been obvious for more than three years did the Times Orange County and The Orange County Register bother to write the story.

DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION As you're inching through the Orange Crush, making that 10-mile, two-hour drive home, ever wonder what those crazy cats in the cars next to you are doing? Plenty, according to the Response Insurance National Driving Habits Survey, which discovered that 76 percent of all drivers do something other than pay attention to the road. The survey released on Feb. 15 found that 32 percent of drivers read and write behind the wheel, 29 percent talk on the phone, 17 percent comb their hair, 16 percent fight with another passenger, 10 percent apply makeup, 3 percent put in eye drops or contact lenses, and 1 percent read the Weekly while talking to their mama on the phone and yelling at a passenger to hold the mirror steady so they can part their hair, slap on their lipstick and plop in their contacts. Okay, we made up the last one. But we didn't make this up: 20 percent admit to being so busy inside their cars that they wind up steering with their thighs. Rejoice in your roomy interiors and thunder thighs, America!

JUVENILE JUSTICE Orange County Superior Court Judge James M. Watson, who tries civil cases, has officially demanded that litigants and witnesses who are HIV-positive publicly disclose their illness before they enter his courtroom, the Weekly revealed on Feb. 18. "[N]otify the bailiff if any witness or party has an infectious disease such as hepatitis, AIDS, etc.," Watson wrote in his "Ground Rules" for trials. One local attorney—who practices before Watson and who spoke on condition of anonymity—called the rule "puzzling and bizarre even for Orange County." Watson—a Huntington Beach Republican who spent 20 years as a Los Angeles deputy district attorney and was first appointed to the bench by Governor George Deukmejian in 1990—told the Weekly, "It's really about comfort and safety in my courtroom. As far as if this is a political message I'm sending in my courtroom, nothing could be further from the truth." But the policy troubled Myron Dean Quon, a Los Angeles attorney with Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a gay civil-rights group. "This is a huge problem. The government cannot force disclosure of HIV status; that is a requirement of a California statute. There are also major privacy concerns here. I just don't get what the judge is thinking. How is that information relevant to a judge in civil cases? It's fascinating."

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