Diary of a mad county

Orange County, California: 2001

JANUARY The realfirst day of the millennium came and went without a hitch. Did anyone really think something bad, evil, deadly, horrific and life-as-we-know-it-altering would ever happen to us? . . . Patti Dalby and ex-boyfriend C. Brooks Brann entered a Newport Beach courtroom to fight for custody of a 125-pound, black-and-tan rottweiler named Guinness. It's times like this we'd like to wipe with the jury-duty notice we get in the mail. . . . Orange County's pro-airport Supervisors Chuck Smith, Jim Silva and Cynthia Coad approved a monster $1.5 million plan to push the Navy and Federal Aviation Administration into handing over El Toro, allowing commercial flights to begin immediately. We're still waiting. . . . Dozens emerged from OC's underground Laseriums and flicked their Bic lighters to honor the 55th birthday of Syd Barrett, the reclusive Pink Floyd founder who quit the band in an LSD haze just before they hit it big at the end of the '60s. . . . Employees peeped through a hole at a Burger King restaurant in Anaheim and watched a Chino Hills woman and her nine-year-old daughter go wee-wee, according to a lawsuit that went to trial in Orange County Superior Court--where the jury would later toss it out like a Whopper wrapper. . . . John G. Schmitz, the ultraconservative firebrand and former Orange County lawmaker, died at age 70. His career highlights included membership in the John Birch Society; loss of the presidency by a mere 44 million votes as the 1972 American Independent Party nominee; his 1982 press release titled "Senator Schmitz and His Committee Survive 'Attack of the Bulldykes'"; that release's description of feminist attorney Gloria Allred as "a slick, butch lawyeress"; his apology to Allred to settle a $10 million defamation suit; his announcement of his 1982 candidacy for the U.S. Senate with Yasser Arafat at his side; revelations that the staunch critic of declining American morals and father of six also had two more kids with a mistress; and revelations that his then-35-year-old daughter Mary Kay LeTourneau, a Seattle schoolteacher, had sex--and later two babies--with a 13-year-old boy. All in all, a wonderful life! . . . George L. Argyros Jr., the son of the billionaire Orange County Republican Party sugar daddy, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for allegedly harassing a former girlfriend. He'd been charged with violating a court order, making a terrorist threat and making harassing telephone calls. And he's still not as terrifying as dear old Dad. . . . Approximately 200 janitors okayed the county's first-ever union contract after an organizing campaign that lasted less than a year. The three-year contract provided a wage increase, vacation time, sick leave and health insurance to roughly 3,000 janitors and was hailed as the strongest initial contract ever won by the union. . . . Chicano icon Bert Corona, 82, died in Los Angeles. More than 2,000 people came together in Los Angeles to pay tribute to the father of the Chicano movement. "Today, in many ways, was a reunion of four generations of political activists that he influenced in forming over seven decades of his political activity," said Nativo Lopez of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional in Santa Ana. . . . Irvine family heiress Joan Irvine Smith made a rare public appearance at Crystal Cove State Park to say she supports an environmental coalition's efforts to stop the Irvine Co.'s private-resort development there. It marked the beginning of the end for the project. . . . Prodded by a group of UC Irvine medical students opposed to such investments, a University of California Board of Regents committee voted unanimously to remove securities in tobacco companies from its investment index portfolio, saying it would be "socially irresponsible" to invest UC money in tobacco companies. . . . Anaheim Union High School District board president Katherine Smith told a standing-room-only audience that what her low-performing high schools need to turn things around is old-fashioned etiquette! But a string of speakers denounced Smith's Stand In Respect program, and it was shelved. . . . After 13 years as a Huntington Beach police officer, Fountain Valley City Councilman Chuck Conlosh resigned from the force and checked into a hospital psychiatric ward. Most relieved were the two-termer's council colleagues, who didn't appreciate Conlosh keeping his police-issue 9mm semi-automatic handgun on the council dais. . . . The feds launched an investigation into the toy rifles on Disneyland's Tom Sawyer Island following a freak accident that cost a 6-year-old North Hollywood girl most of her left index finger. It would be callous of us to say this is another example of Mickey getting the finger, so we won't. . . . White supremacist gangbanger Jeffrey Stuart Martin of Yorba Linda was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison for a 1996 hate-crime stabbing of a black Buena Park teen. . . . The Anaheim City Council shot down a proposal by hatemongers that would have given police the power to arrest immigrants for being in the United States without documentation. . . . "Las Vegas has become Orange County with casinos," says D. Taylor, an official with the union that represents bartenders, busmen, cooks and maids, in a New York Times story about Sin City's growing pains. Hey, maybe they'd take the Mighty Ducks. . . . A Camp Pendleton Marine Corps officer, who allegedly plotted to steal an armored car shipment of $2.7 million, was arrested on his way to John Wayne Airport to catch a flight to Brazil. The FBI said First Lieutenant Matthew Tenney, 24, had told the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles that the cash was for troops about to be deployed overseas (eight months too soon there, jarhead). . . . As he was being sentenced to five years in federal prison for extortion and money laundering, disgraced former Santa Ana City Councilman Ted Moreno told the court that he sought money from an FBI informant to save the city from moral decay brought on by the downtown arts district, a magnet for gays and lesbians. "I just know the gay lifestyle is a sin and offensive to God," barfed Moreno, who obviously doesn't think God has a problem with extortion and money laundering.

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