Stories That Made a Difference

And some we regret

"Haidl Your Daughters" by R. Scott Moxley, May 7, 2004

Photo courtesy pool photographer
Michael Goulding/The Orange County Register

This is where it all began, with a Weekly exclusive describing the disturbing videotape contents from the gang rape of an unconscious minor in Newport Beach. Haidl's numerous lawyers claimed the girl, 16 years old at the time of the 2002 incident, raped the defendants. After a hung jury in the first trial, a second panel convicted Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann of multiple felonies. They await sentencing.

"Anyone But Bob! But Why Loretta?" by R. Scott Moxley, April 12, 1996
Sanchez tried to hide the fact that her campaign was being run in part by Howard Kieffer—who had served prison time for stealing the assets of an elderly woman. But she sent her faxed denial to the Weekly from a machine inside Kieffer's office. Kieffer hinted that he'd sue if we published the story. We did. He didn't—and he still lurks in liberal OC politics.

"Rogue Statesman" by R. Scott Moxley, Sept. 6, 2002
Rohrabacher claimed he was the "authority" in Congress on the evils of the Taliban, but the Weekly discovered that the Huntington Beach Republican had, in fact, once lobbied on behalf of the Afghan government and blamed "the liberal media" for misrepresenting them as uncivilized. Rohrabacher initially refused to respond, but one of his numerous teenage volunteers wrote just to say, "You guys suck."

"My Conscience Is Killing Me" by R. Scott Moxley, July 27, 2001
Our investigation discovered that the OC doctor allegedly gave AIDS patients fake injections with saline or vitamins but charged their insurers as much as $9,000 per shot. The doctor said the stories "slaughtered" his good reputation and demanded a retraction. Prompted by the Weekly's article, the FBI opened an investigation that culminated in July 2005 with Kooshian's indictment and arrest.

"Size Matters" by R. Scott Moxley and Anthony Pignataro, March 29, 2002

Agran promised voters he'd convert the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station into a "Great Park," personally guaranteeing an open parkland of "2,800 acres." Angrily called the Weekly "naysayers and pessimists" for doubting his claim. Noted presence in paper of penis-enlargement ads. Strip away the Orwellian land-use language, and the park is now planned to be just 367 acres—a fiction-to-truth ratio of nearly 8 to 1.

"Road to Ruin" by R. Scott Moxley, May 16, 1997
In 1996, Orange County's first toll road was proclaimed an "international model" for future privatized highway projects—a spin advanced by the LA Times and OC Register. However, the Weekly revealed that the road was, in fact, a looming financial disaster that would require massive public subsidies. The chief financial officer of the TCA, the agency that runs the road, said our stories were nonsense. But by 2000, the local dailies finally reported what we'd known for three years: the road would need regular billion-dollar infusions over coming decades—and still might go bankrupt.

"That's a Lotta Clams!" by Nick Schou, Nov. 14, 2003
Schou played a crucial role in exposing the faulty science and poor planning behind a private company's efforts to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Poseidon Resources Inc. had hoped to win City Council approval to convert 100 million gallons of seawater each day into 50 million gallons of drinking water. What about the remaining 50 million gallons? That would be released as highly concentrated brine back into the ocean.

Making matters worse, Poseidon wanted to attach its plant to the aging AES power plant—which is located on a Surf City beach already subject to routine closures because of high fecal bacteria counts (that's "poop" to you and me). After the Weekly reported that the company's "model" project in Tampa Bay had filed for bankruptcy because "clams and mollusks attaching themselves to the plant's intake pipes produced more urine than the plant's filters could absorb," company officials showed up at our offices to complain in person.

The result of that meeting: "The Poseidon Misadventure: 10 arguments against turning Surf City's water into brine," published on Dec. 12, 2003. Less than a week later, the Huntington Beach City Council rejected the project—but is reconsidering Poseidon's latest offer with "study sessions" that have already generated controversy among local environmental activists. Stay tuned.

"The King of Garden Grove" By Nick Schou, May 17, 2002
Three years ago, Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater had a vision: his town would become a town of the developers, by the developers and for the developers. In 1998, he declared 20 percent of his town blighted. Then he bulldozed a mobile home park, evicting hundreds of senior citizens, and repaved the area to make room for a series of hotels that were supposed to fill up with tourists flocking to Disneyland. But the tourists didn't come in numbers sufficient to pay for the scheme.

So Broadwater came up with another plan: find a working-class neighborhood adjacent to the empty hotels, declare it blighted, and kick out the residents to make room for a theme park to rival Disneyland! In a series of stories over the next year, the Weekly revealed that Broadwater's house and insurance business were located less than 200 feet from the city's redevelopment area. By then, city manager George Tindall had told residents that the neighborhood slated for the 'dozers wasn't really "blighted."

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