Year in Review

BUH-BYE! The county Board of Supervisors on June 27 fired county executive officer Jan Mittermeier, then cut her a $170,000 severance check on her way out the door —which sources tell us did not hit her on the ass. We suspect the 25-year county employee will land in the private sector, where shadowy, inflexible, autocratic management styles are all the rage these days. In other departures, controversial trustee Steven J. Frogue resigned from the South Orange County Community College District board effective June 30. Frogue sparked still-smoldering bitterness when he tried to hold a John F. Kennedy assassination seminar in 1997 that featured two speakers who wrote for an anti-Semitic newspaper and theorized that Israeli intelligence offed JFK. His stepping down fills us with perverse sadness. We looked forward to hearing "Springtime for Hitler" blaring over South County loudspeakers this coming election season. Auf wieder sehen, Steve.

 

 

 

 

 

July

WEENIE ROAST The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council reported that Americans consumed a record 155 million weenies on the Fourth of July. That beat the old record set on July 4, 1999, by 5 million hot dogs. How the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council figures out exactly how many franks were eaten is a meat mystery to us. We don't recall anyone with a clipboard and a clicker stopping by our barbecue—then again, we were grilling lasagna. And what about all those dogs that fall into the hot coals? Surely there were thousands of those around the U.S. Do they count? The Washington, D.C.-based coalition apparently knows not only how many were scarfed down but also what kind, noting that Americans are moving away from tofu, veggie, turkey, chicken and other low- or no-fat dogs and going for the all-beef variety. "They're high in fat and high in calories, but Americans seem to love them," said a council spokesman. In a related story, the National Rat Hair & Droppings Council reported that Americans consumed a record amount of their products on the Fourth, too.

THE SEARCHERS A life-size cutout of John Wayne in full cowboy costume was swiped from the front of a barbershop on El Toro Road in Lake Forest, the Registerreported on July 6. The fake Duke was close to a trash can, and a woman was seen loading it into a white van. Shop owner Louie Troiano thinks the woman may have mistakenly thought it was being thrown away. We're not so sure it was a lady. It coulda been Wayne himself! Or haven't you seen the supposedly dead Newport Beach resident's reanimated self in those creepy Coors commercials?

SWING CRAZE The city of Costa Mesa filed suit on July 7 against Panther Palace, the fabled house on the town's westside that has hosted bimonthly orgies since 1985. The city contends the swingers club is a business operating without a license in a residential neighborhood. Undercover officers claim they paid $40 to enter a partner-swapping party, which brings a whole new meaning to that well-worn copism, "I've got your back, partner." The disguised dicks had only gone in—wink-wink, nudge-nudge—to see if minors were about the place or if prostitution was present or if people were being forced into sex through drugs and alcohol. Which would be bad. Fortunately, none of that was found. Do you suppose zoot-suiters ever show up thinking it's a different kind of swing club? "You want me to wrap my watch chain around what?"

SURF SHITTY Plenty of surfers who competed in the Bluetorch Pro at Huntington State Beach worried whether the brown water would sicken them, according to comments the sponsor solicited on the beach and then posted on its website on July 19. "It's really dark-brown now," said Ross Williams. "It can't be too good for you 'cause it's all thick and grainy, and I think you could get maybe an eye infection or an ear infection." Rob Machado asked if anyone had tested the water. "It's weird," he said. "The water doesn't look all blue and happy." Pat O'Connell was the most blunt: "I think we should not surf today. Does Kobe Bryant have to play if there are viruses on the court or a piece of crap at the free-throw line? But they don't care about surfers. If they did, we wouldn't be surfing." But Beau Emerton was more miffed over something that reportedly has organizers of several contests considering skipping Surf City in the future. "The surf," he said, "is more of a concern—how shitty it is." By shitty, he means flat, not shit-filled.

 

 

 

August

OCEANS AWAY Admit it: for a moment there, you were panicked when it appeared that a patch of undeveloped land might stand in the way of developers, toll-road operators and their assorted tub-thumpers in government—and that said land might stand in silent rebuke to our mandate to subdue the Earth and let the creatures on it fear our wrath. But on Aug. 8, we let every species—every bug, amphibian, fish, rodent and varmint—in the state know who's boss. On that day, state Senator Tom Hayden's (D-Los Angeles) bill that would have prevented the extension of the Foothill South toll road from being carved into San Onofre State Beach park died in the Assembly. If, as expected, that path is used, it will mark the first time that a private road has been laid over land bought, maintained and owned by state taxpayers. It could also pollute a rare trout stream. On Aug. 10, the Irvine Co.—after agreeing to concessions that will hopefully keep Crystal Cove waters pristine at least some months of the year—won state Coastal Commission approval to grade land and lay sewer lines for 600 homes overlooking the ocean between Newport and Laguna beaches. Runoff from those exclusive pads and 2,000 more in the same hills could wreak havoc on a sensitive ecosystem that includes one of the state's few birthing spots for dolphins. The Registernoted the megadeveloper "still must win Orange County . . . approval for building permits" for the 600 homes, which is kind of like saying the sun still must win the rooster's approval to rise.

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