Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, Feb. 24: Still reeling from the Grammy Awards' "tribute" to Joe StrummerBruce Springsteen singing "London Calling"; hey, next time, just piss on his grave and be done with—it's a comfort to see local garbage man Jesse Santos featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show as someone who really loves his job. Santos, beloved in Lake Forest, where he's quick with a kind word and lets the kids honk the horn of his truck, reminds us that all labor is noble. . . . Another garbage man, Orange Disposal executive Jeffrey Hambarian, is alleged to have bilked that city out of more than $4 million over 13 years. Hambarian is ordered to stand trial on 65 counts of theft, fraud and money laundering and reminds us that if you're looking to do something shady, Orange is the place for you. When county officials first arrested Hambarian in 1998, they chided Orange—where supervision is just another way of saying "do whatever the hell you want"—for not doing enough to keep tabs on him. "Obviously, there was not adequate oversight and review, or it wouldn't have gone on for 13 years," said then-DA Mike Capizzi. Of course, 13 years is positively speedy compared to the 15 years it took Orange—scolded by state officials for failure to reclaim a mining project and by the Weekly for okaying a housing development on a flood plain—to conclude that the gravel-recycling plant residents blamed for numerous health problems was a bad thing. Remember those parents your friends had who'd let kids drink booze and kept their guns out? If they were a city, they'd be Orange.

TUESDAY, Feb. 25: Perhaps Trinity Broadcast Network is considering a move to Orange given the guff it's getting from Costa Mesa regarding its desire to broadcast from outside its garish Graceland-meets-the-Sack-of-Carthage property. Neighbors say broadcasting would make a bad situation unbearable, what with the already never-ending stream of cars, tour buses and round-the-clock truckloads of eye makeup—and that's just for Paul. You know, I'd be happy if TBN just took down those cheesy liquor-store neon signs that say "Open." Doesn't the Bible say, Thou shall not turn the house of the Lord into a Circle K? It's right around that passage where Melchisedech battles Mothra. . . . Huntington Beach residents are still fuming about their City Council canceling the annual fireworks show per the demand of Steve Bone, president of the company that owns the new 517-room Hyatt Regency in town. Bone sent a letter/encyclical to the council saying that a fireworks show could be bad for tourism. Yeah, the last thing tourists want to see on Independence Day is fireworks. If some hicks want that schmaltz, let 'em go where they don't understand tourism, like Disneylandor New York. Looks like Surf City has hitched its wagon to another winner.

Triangle Square
Photo by Keith May

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 26: Call the DA's office to talk to deputy DA Ron Cafferty, who has been on the Hambarian case from the start. Want to ask him if Orange's lax management will come up in his prosecution? I'm told by a young woman whose name I don't catch that she has been told to "refer all calls from OC Weekly to Susan Schroeder." Great, whatever, talk to you soon. . . . Costa Mesa's planning commission okays the demolition of landmark bowling alley Kona Lanes to make way for a giant Kohl's department store, raising the issue: How much crap can you people buy? If there is one city that doesn't need any more retail space, that would be Costa Mesa, already home to—deep breath—South Coast Plaza, Metro Point, Crystal Court, Triangle Square, The Lab, The Camp, not to mention sundry strip malls and big boxes including a soon-to-be-completed IKEA. And that doesn't include the big-box mall just north of South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island just south. People, Christmas comes but once a year. What you need to do is relax. Have you ever considered bowling? . . . I tell staffer Anthony Pignataro that I called the DA's office. "Did they tell you they'd refer the call to Susan Schroeder?" "Yeah, how'd you know?" "You'll never hear from them again." Anthony's weird.

THURSDAY, Feb. 27: Got into the office, signed on to my computer and was soon staring at this e-mail: "PLEASE STOP THE SADISTIC WAR. Thanks." Hey, don't mention it. . . . Called the DA's office next. This time, I got the recorded voice of media coordinator Michelle Emard, who says, "I'll return your call as soon as I can." That's good enough for me. I mean, if we can't trust the word of the DA's office, where are we? . . .The Huntington Beach Union School District announces it'll hold a public forum to discuss a successor for retiring superintendent Susan Roper. The board says it will welcome public comment at a meeting the following Monday, then do whatever Steve Bone says. . . . Talked to a buddy from Huntington Beach who said people there are still really pissed about the fireworks because it wasn't for tourists—that was the parade—it was for the families who actually live there and would sit in the park or in their yards and watch. Letters are written, voices are raised, and a landlord discovers a 16-inch Navy shell in an HB garage. Steve, what's the book on tourists and artillery? . . . DA's office still hasn't called. . . . Shut up, Anthony.

FRIDAY, Feb. 28: I go all day without hearing from Susan Schroeder, who, I've been told, is kind of DA Tony Rackauckas' media overlord. She's also kind of the wife of Rackauckas' biggest political angel, Mike Schroeder, who, until recently, was kind of chairman of the state Republican Party. You don't think any of this has to do with those stories we keep printing about Rackauckas running a slimy department and the grand jury investigating him and his slimy department and wanting to talk to his wife, a former deputy DA, and—hello—Susan Schroeder about the slimy department, and somehow the two of them disappear, so the grand jury can't serve them with subpoenas, and the DA, the guy in charge of bringing bad guys in front of juries, can't find his own wife or his media overlord, and the whole thing stinks like one big sleaze sandwich that Susan Schroeder is snout-deep in. You don't think . . .

SATURDAY-SUNDAY, March 1-2: Kids sick, can't do anything or go anywhere; so bored I watch match-play golf. . . . I do buy the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bullocks . . . for the ninth or 10th time—like changing my oil, you know, regular maintenance due to scratched CD, lost CD or CD used as Ninja throwing star. By the way, if you're wondering why the world is in its present state, simply play "Pretty Vacant," and all will be made clear (note to Grammy people: If a Mr. Lydon, nee "Rotten," kicks it any time soon, resist the urge to pay tribute by having "Submission" performed by Faith Hill). . . . Susan, call me. (Shut up, Anthony.)


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