By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Costa Mesa Police booking photo Don't let her fluffy white hair, compact size and disarming smile fool you. Marie Kolasinski isn't your typical granny. The 84-year-old Costa Mesan could be California's angriest revolutionary.
Leader of a Christian-anarchist-capitalist commune called the Piecemakers, Kolasinski is a cross between Andrew Dice Clay, a Golden Girl and Timothy McVeigh. Or maybe just an angrier Ayn Rand. She mixes anti-government sentiments with biblical passages and, if upset, shamelessly punctuates her remarks with profanities such as "fuck" and "asshole." Columbine, 9/11, hurricanes, fires and the Oklahoma City bombing? These, she says, are examples of "God's wrath toward a godless country. Either repent and come unto God or perish."
Kolasinski isn't an idle, elderly woman knitting sweaters and spewing philosophy in an empty room. Her politics recently got her arrested for blocking a court-ordered health inspection of her Costa Mesa restaurant following complaints of unsanitary conditions.
But her ambitions go beyond Costa Mesa. She's got a plan to destroy not just the federal government but also democracy itself. She calls for massive, "active disobedience" to build what she says is a "theocracy."
We know all this because Kolasinski has published an "If I were president" wish list. Here's a sampling:
*** To become a cop, lawyer or judge, a person would first have to spend "three months or more" in jail "to understand how awesome is his job."
*** No more taxpayer-funded inaugural parties for incoming presidents.
*** The U.S. must apologize to the world for its "arrogance."
*** No more pampering of the handicapped with choice parking spaces -- "walking is one form of therapy."
*** No more welfare programs.
*** Open national borders because "it isn't the Mexicans or the Asians screwing up the country but the offspring of the Caucasians who founded this country -- white-skinned, empty-headed with an evil heart."
*** Only one religion allowed -- "all others would have to leave the country."
*** A ban on aid to Israel.
*** No more "foolish" government AIDS research.
*** All government agencies would be taken over by private businesses or churches -- "to hell with the state."
But Kolasinski fires her angriest shots at government employees, whom she calls "roaches," "pests," "bastards," "monsters," "freeloaders," "rapists," "snoopy henchmen," "arrogant jackasses" and "Martian reptiles" enforcing "Gestapo rules." She is "appalled at the bold audacity of the roaches' encroachment on our right to freedom . . . Trust me, unless we put a stop to this bullshit, they will be in our houses next, telling us when we can eat, what we can eat and when we can go to the bathroom." She darkly warns government workers to fear retaliation "like Oklahoma [City], for instance."
"It is time we rid ourselves of all the government as we know it and start over," she says. Follow her plan, and she promises the nation will return to "our grassroots -- not to a democracy, not to a republic, but to a theocracy." Though her new national order would ban all forms of capital punishment except for lethal injection, Kolasinski is dead-serious about enforcing her vision. Anyone who opposes her plan "would be hanged by the neck unto death."
Given this background, you'll appreciate what Costa Mesa police, district attorney investigators and health-code officers faced when they approached Kolasinski's door on Oct. 26 with a court order to inspect. For 14 years, the Piecemakers have claimed they answer only to God, who "hand picked us as a first fruit in the Resurrection." The group has regularly blocked fire and health inspections following complaints such as a food server blowing her nose over a bowl of chicken soup and then wiping her hands on a dirty rag.
"I suggest that all whiners and complainers be sent to Siberia," said Kolasinski, who believes firemen should be allowed only to extinguish fires -- no more preventive activities, such as inspections -- and notes that God told her not to obey Orange County's health code for public restaurants.
"Piecemakers will be run the way He wants it run and not the way you assholes decided to run it," she told city officials in a 1995 letter. "Assholes is too sweet a word for you usurpers of God's authority."
Piecemakers has an uneasy relationship with government authority; research shows they've got a registered trademark for the Piecemakers name, and received patents on their "country store" products -- foods, quilts and other handicrafts -- since 1987.
DA investigator Greg Horton was the person assigned the monumental task of asking Kolasinski and her followers to step aside for the inspection. Horton's a large, veteran cop who normally commands instantaneous respect, but the Piecemakers -- generally tiny and female -- weren't intimidated. According to a videotape of the raid, here's what happened:
Horton: I'm with the OCDA office. We have a court order. Let us in to inspect.
Kolasinski: If you're a peace officer, you are disrupting my peace. You arrest those assholes [health-code inspectors] for disrupting my peace.
Horton: We're coming in to inspect.
Kolasinski: No. You are not coming in.
Horton: Yes, we are.
Kolasinski: Give me liberty or give me death! You can shoot me if you want to!
Horton: Calm down. We're just going to inspect.