Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Nov. 2 A
John Alfred Thomas, accused of polluting 13.5 acres of the Bolsa Chica wetlands, agrees to settle the case by paying $50,000. Thomas was alleged to have dumped 38,000 cubic yards of wood-chip waste and dirt as well as releasing an unspecified amount of oil. The case is especially shocking given that Huntington Beach is so well-known for its pristine waters and, to a lesser extent, its big-boned crossing guards. The fact that someone would defile this immaculate water—city officials have considered changing the city's slogan from "Surf City, USA" to "Lourdes of Dogtown"—is incomprehensible until you learn that John Alfred Thomas is—say it with me—a former Huntington Beach city councilperson. Saying someone is a former, or current, HB City Council member is like saying someone is a Gambino family associate or the former Horse Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association—you just figure bad stuff is gonna happen. Over the past half-dozen years or so, one former council member/mayor, Dave Garofalo, was forced to resign and criminally charged for doing something he shouldn't have with a visitor's guide. Then another council member/mayor, Pam Houchen, was forced to resign and was criminally charged for doing something illegal with condos. Where does Huntington Beach—Perp City, USA!—find its municipal candidates? Ike Turner's rolodex?

Thursday, Nov. 3
In what is becoming a weekly rite, a new poll shows that George W. Bush's approval rating has hit yet another all-time low. About 39 percent of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing. Given how bad things are in the country—Iraq, the Plame scandal, the Harriet Miers mess, the flat-lining economy, him being a douche bag—it's actually a bit surprising that Bush's approval numbers are so high—that is, until one looks closer and finds that 39 percent of Americans approve of another Rocky sequel. Faced with such turmoil, Bush does what he has always does when things get tough: he runs away, heading to South America for an Americas summit. He is greeted in Argentina by anger, violence, injury and destruction, or what we here in the U.S. have come to call Tuesday. Bush says his main reason for going south is to work out a trade agreement, and on this Americans give him their total support, urging him to work out a trade for a new president as soon as possible.

Friday, Nov. 4
Texas law-enforcement officials are searching for death-row inmate Charles Victor Thompson, who escaped from a Houston jail Thursday. Thompson is described as a narcissistic sociopath, so police are widening their dragnet to the registrar's office and all polling places in Huntington Beach, since Thompson is expected to mount a successful write-in campaign for himself.

Saturday, Nov. 5
News stories tell us that gas prices have fallen precipitously, to "pre-Katrina" prices. So be sure and thank your local retailers for that $2.71 a gallon you're paying. Better yet, write a big note of gratitude to the fine folks at Exxon, which recently made the single biggest quarterly profit ever—something like 56 trillion dollars—and thank them for dropping the price so low that it might mean company executives will have a difficult time keeping their jewel-encrusted, pet magic panthers satiated with enough soft-boiled dodo eggs.

Sunday, Nov. 6
Police capture Charles Victor Thompson. Thompson was drunk and standing at a pay phone outside a liquor store. On the plus side for us, Thompson, a double murderer, is back in jail. On the plus side for Thompson, he's currently leading in the polls for a spot on the HB City Council, a stunning turn of events given that Thompson was captured in Louisiana and that Huntington Beach isn't holding a council election this time around.

Monday, Nov. 7
The election that nobody wanted is almost upon us like a bad cold, which is what the Schwarzenegger forces are hoping everyone gets, seeing as how he and his special election are the only things less popular than George W. Bush in Cal-e-for-neea. The election is significant in Orange County because it's the first full-blown one we've had since former county registrar Steve Rodermund was relieved of his duties because his people couldn't count real good. Of course, if you thought Rodermund's departure made everything okay, you're sadly mistaken. For one, he's now one of the guys in charge of coordinating agencies in case of a full-blown disaster—what he used to call "election night." And the folks who took over for him came up with a sample ballot that offers Spanish translations of the various propositions that differ from Spanish translations in sample ballots distributed in LA and San Diego counties. What's more, they say the OC translations can be misleading. For example, experts point out that while the English explanation for Proposition 79—the "All Drugs, All the Time" initiative—talks about the "costs for administration and outreach in low tens of millions of dollars annually," the Spanish translation actually talks about a reduction in costs. What's more, while the English version says that Prop. 79 "provides for prescription drug discounts to Californians who qualify based on income-related standards," the Spanish translation says it's been carrying around "a lot of tension lately" and could use "a little something, you know, just to take the edge off. Got anything?", additionally stating, "You a cop? 'Cuz, you know, you gotta tell me if you are."

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