They put the ass in association

Anyone living under the rule of an inflexible, power-crazed homeowners'-association boardin Orange County knows the horror stories. Dogs must be leashed, and cats must be kept indoors—or else! That tree you just planted in your front yard? Remove it! That front door you painted an unauthorized color? Repaint it! That property value-increasing remodeling you call "improvements"? We call 'em un-improvements: away with them NOW!!! Fines for infractions like these can be crammed so far up the ying-yang that liens get imposed on your domicile, making it damn near impossible to sell the thing and end your American Dream-Turned-Nightmare. And don't even think of missing one of their precious board meetings if called to appear; where do you think the Mafia learned to hack off pinkies of noncompliers? Yet as evil as OC's homeowner associations can be, at least they aren't Calaveras County's Copper Cove at Lake Tulloch Owners Association, which just sold the house out from under a retired couple, the Sacramento Beereports Jan. 24. The couple's crime? They didn't pay their $120 annual dues. Seems the 64-year-old husband fell sick, his 61-year-old wife got behind in their bills while caring for him, and the unpaid dues went to collections, racking up fees and late charges that pushed the total to $1,952. When the collection agency failed to collect, the home went into foreclosure and sold for $70,000 at auction. The association's attorney unapologetically defended the sale, saying failure to pay the original $120 put an undue burden on the other homeowners—as if rendering a retired couple homeless doesn't put an undue burden on all of us.

JEANS GENIE LIVES ON HIS BACKThe Weekly recently reported on Mexican factory workers who make jeans for Foothill Ranch-based Wet Seal trying to organize amid horrendous working conditions—and getting fired instead. In the story (Nick Schou's "These Jeans Are a Steal," Jan. 23), a factory official blamed the mass firings on lost production orders due to competition from a cheaper Chinese workforce. He also predicted the Tarrant-Ajalpanplant would close. The workers' rights group Sweatshop Watch now confirms that prediction: all remaining workers were let go on Jan. 27 and Tarrant-Ajalpan is effectively no more. But that factory official's global-competition claims remain dubious. Another company, AZT International, a subsidiary of a Mexican concern with a worse record when it comes to exploiting workers and resisting unions, is taking over the Ajalpan plant—and hiring a larger workforce. That shows "Ajalpan did not close because of a lack of production," according to Sweatshop Watch. Meanwhile, instant bad karma may be getting to struggling Wet Seal, which on Jan. 20 dished out $90,000 to settle a claim by four underpaid garment workers at a different plant and $1.3 million to stop a lawsuit by California store managers who claimed they were wrongly denied overtime pay. IT'S A MYSTERE TO HIM Faced with a federal agency's conclusion that it probably discriminated against Matthew Cusickfor testing HIV-positive, Cirque du Soleiloffers the performer his job back on Jan. 29. Protesters have been holding vigil outside Cirque's tents in Costa Mesa (watch for falling trapeze artists!) and elsewhere on the current Varekaitour to draw attention to the case of Cusick, a gymnast who had been cleared by Cirque's own doctors to continue performing with the Las Vegas Mystere production despite his HIV status. Circus Pompous instead deemed Cusick a "known safety hazard" and fired him, prompting Lambda Legal, the national gay-rights organization, to file a federal discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC). Now that the EEOC is bringing the French-Canadians to the negotiating table, Lambda Legal will bring up not only the Cusick case but also Cirque's company-wide policies and practices. Having witnessed the nimbleness of their contortionists lo these many years, we're confident Cirque's bigwigs can untangle themselves in such a way as to remove their heads from their own asses. OVERHEARD "Hey, Kariya! What's up with that!?!" Freshly juiced patron pouring out of JT Schmid's to a fan wearing a Mighty Ducks jersey with former captain Paul Kariya's name on the back as he walks across the street to the Pond on Jan. 30. As everyone knows, it's proper etiquette to place black electrical tape across the Kariya name should you wear his old Ducks jersey into the Pond—especially tonight, when Kariya makes his first return to Anaheim since skipping to Colorado with Teemu Selanne in the off season. Bite the biscuit, traitors: Ducks win, 4-3. QUEER EYE FOR THE LATTER-DAY GUY The movie Latter Days opens Jan. 30 in New York, Los Angeles and Irvine—the Edwards University Town Center 6in Irvine, to be precise. It's unusual for OC to get in on the opening weekend action; small, indie films usually play in LA and NYC first, then come here in subsequent weeks—if ever. And it's really unusual for a Mormon-themed film to open here before Salt Lake City. But when you consider this is a gay Mormon film, it isn't surprising. In fact, Latter Days—which the Weekly's Ernest Hardysays "covers familiar queer-cinema ground," albeit with "powerful subplots," "wonderful acting" and "finely observed truths"—was supposed to open in Salt Lake City as well, but a last-minute campaign got it yanked off screens there. Here, Latter Daysis embraced before the print even arrives. Mitch Goldstone, chairman of Irvine's Community Services Commission, expects to sell out of all weekend screenings because he so heavily promoted the flick, which he believes fits in with his panel's mission to encourage and celebrate diversity in the city. Goldstone, who founded 30 Minute Photos Etc. with his life partner of 21 years, Carl Berman, also throws a premiere party after one Friday evening showing. You could tell the gay Mormons by the drinks they weren't holding.
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