Posted Aug. 3
While trying to publicly explain away that he didn't realize a vote he made in February to approve a 2,000-home project constituted a conflict-of-interest, a Desert Hot Springs city councilman let it slip that his city manager and attorneys for the Newport Beach developer tried to get him to shut his pie hole once he realized the infraction. According to an Aug. 3 Palm Springs Desert Sun story Councilman Hank Hohenstein did not realize the property he owns adjacent to Newport Beach-based First West/DHS Development LLC's upscale StoneRidge project presents a conflict due to a "typo." Elected officials cannot vote nor even take part in discussions on developments that are within 500 feet of land they own. This whole deal is smelly. Outgoing City Manager Jerry Hanson, who is departing with a controversial, over-generous retirement package, and the one who told Hohenstein to pipe down, also owns nearby land whose value will shoot up as a result of First West's project. All of this has sparked demands for a Riverside County grand jury investigation. But it's probably just coinky-dink what First West is doing now: transferring ownership of StoneRidge to Western Pacific, a San Diego division of Arlington, Texas-based Fortune 500 development company D.R. Horton Co. Can you say "cut and run"?

If you've just bought a new home in Irvine, Newport Beach or anywhere else within the boundaries of Irvine Ranch and placed in its driveway a new Mercedes from Fletcher Jones Motorcars of Newport Beach, rest assured that some of your purchase power wound up going toward Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's multi-million dollar special election to "reform" California. Among the top donors in the latest reporting period are the Irvine Co. and Mr. Fletcher Jones, who gave $250,000 apiece. That's, of course, a pittance to both parties, as $250,000 equals just 2 1/2 S Class Mercedes Benzes or the smallest bathroom in a Newport Coast abode.

Woodleaf Corp. of Newport Beach announced Aug. 3 that the U.S. government has approved its smokeless cigarettes for market. The Aeros Smokeless Cigarette, which is only available on the company website (, supposedly requires no heat for use and delivers no smoke, tar or carbon monoxide. Woodleaf claims an "eight-puff use," which we're going to speculate is the average number of puffs smokers take off one regular cancer stick, can be performed on an Aeros Smokeless Cigarette 40 times before it's depleted. So instead of a pack, just two Aeros will get you through the day. Of course, two "new technology cigarettes" just won't look as cool rolled up in the sleeve of a plain-white T.

Did you notice the local connection in the Aug. 1 story about a gone-to-seed (allegedly) California Guard Officer in Iraq? Some of the 800 men in a California Army National Guard battalion allege that Lt. Col. Patrick Frey is an erratic egomaniac who rules through intimidation. The military suspended the 50-year-old and removed one group under his command, Alpha Company, based in Fullerton, from patrol duties as the Army investigates as many as 17 soldiers for abuse. Defenders claim Frey is taking all the heat to avoid another Abu Ghraib-type scandal, and in a journal entry sent to friends and family after a shooting incident now under investigation, Frey confided that could happen. "Alpha Company," he wrote, "drew first blood in the battalion. ... [T]hey engaged a vehicle, it caught fire and is destroyed. That is all I know. Higher headquarters wants reports. There will be an investigation. Woe betide the kids who engaged if the shooting is found to not be in accordance with the Rules of Engagement. This is not a simple war." Roger that, brudder.

Posted Aug. 2
A New York federal judge ruled Aug. 1 that JetBlue Airways, main U.S. Defense Department contractor SRS Technologies of Newport Beach, and two other firms violated passengers' privacy by turning over lists of customers to the government. So how did U.S. District Court Judge Carol Bagley Amon punish these dirty birds? By further ruling that said passengers, all 5 million of 'em, deserve no damages and dismissing their class-action lawsuit. Yeah, that'll teach 'em to stop invading our privacy.

"Okay. . . . Stephen is way hot, Jason is way hot, Talan is so cute . . . and Kristin . . . what a C U Next Tuesday." From an Aug. 1 posting by thegayboy on Entertainment Weekly's website, in response to Timothy Gunatilaka's story The Beach is Back, which previews the second season of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the MTV reality show's July 25 premiere "surfed its way into the homes of 3.6 million viewers." So screw those critics who called the show inane! Oh yeah, that was us.

All those rich clucks who moved into gaudy Irvine Co. McMansions ringed by fortified walls and manned by roving guards must now be shaking in their Ballys over a recent discovery in one of their shiny new community parks. Newport Beach cops say 13 X-acto blades have been found in the Bonita Canyon park's playground sand since July 30, when a 5-year-old boy pricked his foot on a blade coiled between two rocking horses. Now, surely, many residents who call Inflated Mortgagaritaville home moved behind those oh-so-safe gates assured in the knowledge that they--or, more importantly, their precious snot creators--would never come in contact with the dregs of society like Lori Fischer, the disturbed, 24-year-old Mission Viejo woman who in January was sentenced to five years in prison for hiding razor blades, broken glass and nails in eight OC park playgrounds. That'd be eight OC parks that ARE NOT surrounded by guard-patrolled berms. Newport Beach cops are telling Newport Coasters to keep an extra eye on the kids--or, more likely, it'll be their Latina nanny's extra eye.

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