Where have you gone, Charles Manson; a nation turns its fearful eyes to you, woo, hoo, AWWWWWWW!!!!!! Was that a frigging bird?!?!?!.
Time was when we could feel good about the shit that scared us: nuclear war, serial killers, cancer. This was scary shit a person could understand and shake hands with. Look at what we have now. Scary comes in such benign packages -- doomsday is no longer likely to be delivered by a superpower but by a subway passenger or a chicken. Charlie? You're more likely to get murdered by a crazy mom or an angry teen (fear the day you cross an angry teen mom off her meds).
We here at theWeeklyare nothing if not -- did you feel that shaking. . .cut it out, Griley, it's not funny . . . I am not crying. I just have very expressive eyes . . . Anyway, we've updated our annual scariest list to include this new trend in fear, so along with our usual menagerie of crooked cops and putrid politicians, you'll also get terrifying tow trucks, reckless restaurateurs and the baseball helmet from hell! All this along with Art Linkletter and the Lord Jesus, who, coincidentally, are roughly the same age. Scary.
1 ROBERT "BILL" LEWIS
Lewis is all about the kids and education. So when the opportunity presented itself, Lewis, then an Orange Unified school board member, told his daughter to get behind the wheel of his car and he would teach her to drive. Sure, she was only 13 at the time, but you're never too young to learn. Plus, he was shit-faced. Well, tell that to the troglodytes who arrested Lewis, eventually charging him with felony child endangerment. For good measure, tell it to the 11-year-old boy his daughter hit in the crosswalk. The boy was not seriously injured, but police say Lewis had his daughter drive because he had a blood alcohol level of .13; the legal limit is .08. Lewis is now a former Orange Unified school board member. MITIGATING FACTOR: Wish my kid could do that.
Courtesy American Apparel
2 DOV CHARNEY
The sideburns, the bedhead, the glasses: coulda sworn I saw this guy at the end of my street on a 10-speed, pulling a hand truck with a plastic crate, a VCR and an empty gas can on it. I think it was him. I think the gas can was empty. Seriously, the American Apparel CEO (they opened a Huntington store this summer) is one click away from looking at a loaded chamber of judges. He's facing a brace of sexual harassment suits from women who used to work for him, and a Jane magazine reporter has said he masturbated in front of her during an interview. He's a one-man Minnesota Vikings party boat. MITIGATING FACTOR: Nice polo shirts.
3 JOHN LOFTUS
According to his website, this former Justice Department prosecutor "works without charge to help hundreds of intelligence agents obtain lawful permission to declassify and publish the hidden secrets of our times." But for all his snooping, Loftus apparently hasn€™t heard of the White Pages. On Aug. 7, Loftus appeared on Fox News as part of his weekly Inside Scoop With John Loftus and gave out the address of a La Habra home. Inside, he said, lived Iyad K. Hilal, whom authorities suspect of masterminding the July 7 London terrorist bombings. One problem: Hilal had moved out three years ago. The current residents are lifelong La Habrans Randy and Ronnell Vorick. The Voricks soon became the targets of vicious attacks -- someone, probably the president, definitely a Fox viewer, spray-painted "Terrst" near their front door -- and police soon began an all-hours patrol to protect the family of five. "Mistakes happen," Loftus told the Los Angeles Times, adding, "That was the best information we had at the time." Fox fired Loftus soon after, and Loftus eventually apologized. MITIGATING FACTOR: It was Fox News.
4 HOWARD AND ROBERTA AHMANSON
Name a battle fought by Christian conservatives in the past decade, and Newport Beach billionaire and Home Savings & Loan heir Howard Ahmanson Jr. and his wife, Roberta, probably funded it. The Episcopal Church split over the ordination of a gay bishop? Started by the Anglican Council, to whom the Ahmansons donated over $1 million in 2000 and 2001. Gay marriage? A third of the money ($210,000) behind 2000's Proposition 22, which defined marriage in California as limited to straights, came from the Ahmansons. Intelligent design? Led by the Discovery Institute, on whose board of directors Ahmanson sits and to which he gave $2.8 million last year alone. The Ahmansons -- according to Time magazine, among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America -- are proud parishioners of St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, which earlier this year made worldwide headlines after seceding from the Episcopal Church of America over the gay-ordination issue. It joined the Ugandan church. MITIGATING FACTOR: Most of the old Home Savings & Loan buildings that are now Washington Mutual branches still have those cool murals Ahmanson's dad commissioned so many years ago.
5 ROLAND ARNALL
Founder and CEO of Ameriquest Mortgage, the Orange-based company that pioneered home refinancing for individuals with crappy credit or debt. During the summer, Ameriquest set aside $325 million as settlement cash in light of a 30-state investigation into the company's alleged deceptive lending and appraisal practices; earlier this year, Ameriquest also settled a $50 million class-action suit in California over bait-and-switch tactics. But duping low-income folks never dissuaded George W. Bush from considering someone for an ambassador€™s post (see: George Argyros, Spain), and so Arnall awaits his congressional confirmation hearing to represent the United States in the Netherlands. MITIGATING FACTOR: The Texas Rangers' Ameriquest Field? Very nice.
6 PREDATORY TOW TRUCK DRIVERS
Round and round and round they go, and when they finally stop they snatch up cars with 4-year-old boys sleeping inside or crush the towed vehicle's owner -- to death! That's what happened in Orange County this February, when Hinh Van Nguyen took a car double parked (but with emergency flashers on) outside a Garden Grove apartment complex with a child still inside, and in June, when Paul Sassenberger first taunted and then ran over Santa Ana resident Leoncio Flores after the methed-up Sassenberger took Flores' SUV from an alley. The former case prompted then-Congressman Christopher Cox -- in probably his first and only show of compassion ever -- to help pass a bill that outlaws predatory towing; the Orange County district attorney's office launched criminal investigations against local tow truck companies after Sassenberger's crime. MITIGATING FACTOR: Three a.m., 5 freeway exit off Jeffrey, flat tire . . . .
7 THE GIRLS OF THE REAL OC
What can you say about a group of girls, mostly blond, whose favorite sports are "shopping and laying on the beach," whose entire lives are spent trying to steal each other's lunkish boyfriends? What can you say about the fact that they're doing it in our county's name on national television, in a show so vapid it actually makes you stupider just listening to them -- and that their show is like totally the most popular show ever (alongside My Super Sweet 16)? What can you say about a bunch of girls whose harrowingly impervious consumption habits will probably be directly responsible for the coming People's Revolution (alongside My Super Sweet 16)? Well, you could say that Jessica's favorite artists are Britney, Mariah, Natalie, Christina and Justin, and she plans to go to Saddleback and be a teacher! You could say that the apparently slightly cooler Kristin likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lauryn Hill. And you could say that Taylor, LC and Alex M. also exist. MITIGATING FACTOR: The Girls of The Real OC would make a smokin€™-hot Playboy spread, if they were just 18.
8 VLADIMIR GUERRERO'S HELMET
Guerrero, right fielder for your Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is one of baseball's finest players, that rare mix of power, speed, bravado and humility. He is an Adonis, a Latino Ruth, a hero. But, 'mano, that helmet!? Every time Vlad enters the batter's box, he puts on a helmet capped with a season's worth of accumulated super-sticky pine tar that picks up anything with which it's come into contact. It's like a lint roller you wear on your head, or Courtney Love. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist once said it looks "like it was extracted from a pizza 10 minutes after the timer went off." It's the ugliest thing you'll see in a baseball park outside of the president throwing a first pitch. MITIGATING FACTOR: As long as he keeps launching homers into the Anaheim sky, Vlad can do whatever the hell he wants.
9 EDWARD JOSEPH O'NEILL
In a world of sword-banging do-gooders, one man was willing to take a stand. And that man was Edward Joseph O'Neill, a simple businessman -- owner of Newport Beach's wonderful Ho Sum Bistro -- who asked only to be afforded the quiet one would expect living near the Balboa Pier. But they finally pushed this man of peace, and his cache of guns, too far one September night. According to police, some Disneyland employees gathered at the beach near O'Neill€™s home, brazenly not drinking, not doing drugs, not listening to music, not shooting off fireworks, not talking loudly, not making much noise at all. That's when it got personal. Police say O'Neill walked up to the mob and asked, "Are you the people banging your swords out here?" They said they didn't know what he was talking about, and it was at that point, allegedly, that O'Neill did the only thing a man can do: pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired it once in the direction of two members of the group. As you'd expect, The Man got involved; apparently it's now illegal to shoot at people -- damn activist judges -- but O'Neill stood his ground. And that's where the police found him: standing his ground at the rear window of his home, attempting to sneak out. MITIGATING FACTOR: The bullet from the gun he fired probably landed in the ocean, where, we can only hope, it hit a swordfish.
10 DR. MARC MARTINEZ
Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the courthouse, buy me some lawyers and slander suits . . . wait a minute. J.D. Martinez, son of Newport Beach emergency room doctor Marc Martinez, used to pitch for Corona del Mar High. Martinez the Elder thought CdM coach John Emme was damaging J.D.'s career potential by overusing him, so he took the destruction of his son's career into his own hands and pulled J.D. from the team entirely -- and then sued Emme . . . two times! Allegations ranged from Emme's basic coaching ineptitude to actual threats that Emme would "close the door" on J.D.'s college pitching if Martinez went to the school board. Once his legal double play fell apart, Martinez fell victim to a wicked Emme changeup: the coach filed a defamation countersuit, alleging that Martinez's actions had damaged not only his reputation but also his hope of coaching college baseball. In January, a jury awarded Emme $700,000 of the good doctor's funds, nipping future "disappointment" lawsuits in the bud. Just think of all the angry soccer moms, Louis Vuitton purses itching at the prospect of legal action against any athletic figure reluctant to acknowledge their child's excellence. Advice to coaches: be honest and tell all parents their children are outstanding in the field. MITIGATING FACTOR: Didn't kill the coach; hockey remains the dominant blood sport.
11 PATRICK FREY
The LA Times profiled Frey earlier this year, calling him "an admired educator" in northern California who lives on a "remote ranch with his wife, a teenage son and a donkey named Burrito." But although Frey was recently awarded "Teacher of the Year" by the Monterey County School District for his work with differently abled students, the Times noted, that was before he came to Orange County and took command of the U.S. National Guard's Fullerton-based Alpha Company. It was in Fullerton that Frey began lecturing his soldiers about hygiene -- moral and physical -- comparing them unflatteringly to his special-ed students, and using a hatchet in bizarre knighting ceremonies that he may have learned while serving as a mercenary in white supremacist Rhodesia. With that kind of sensitivity training, how could things go wrong when Frey led his troops in Iraq? So far, more than a dozen members of Frey's Alpha Company have been investigated -- and seven have been sentenced to prison -- for abusing handcuffed Iraqi insurgents by applying electric shocks to their genitals. Take that, you Abu Ghraib pussies! MITIGATING FACTOR: Some, citing Mapplethorpe, call it homoerotic performance art.
12 ART LINKLETTER
Art was old when we were kids, and America still made steel when we were kids. To be honest, we assumed Art died years ago, when he was in his early sesquicentennials, but there he was at Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration, having been present at the original opening -- of the earth. We have no idea what kind of deal Linkletter, who looks like a meatier version of his college roommate, Monty Burns, struck with which netherworld figure -- Beelzebub, Hades, Liza -- but clearly the man has connections. Fear him! MITIGATING FACTOR: Would have been scary just for giving Bill Cosby that lame "Kids Are Babbling Morons" idea.
13 AMIT KUMAR SINHA
Actually, we're quite sympathetic to this young man because, let's face it, we've all been in his shoes. I mean, who among us hasn't lied to our parents about attending UC Irvine's School of Medicine -- a school we never applied to -- accepting Mom and Dad's financial assistance (it takes about $50,000 a year for a UCI med student to live and study) for years and years and then, on the day of the medical school graduation, panicking that the folks -- arriving soon to watch you walk the proud walk of a graduating doctor -- will find out the awful truth -- who would blame you for doing what any thinking person would do: calling in a bomb threat. Yes, Amit did all this -- and allegedly started a fire in a trash can! -- in the hopes of scuttling UCI's med school graduation. It didn't work. In fact, the only thing that happened was Amit got himself arrested. He ended up copping to making a bomb threat and received three years of formal probation and was ordered to pay $5,000 to a victims' fund. MITIGATING FACTOR: Bet Mom and Dad paid the fine.
14 & 15 SEPTEMBER
We all remember 9/11 -- the old guy down the street has a sign in his yard that commands me to hold it ever in my mind (grim) -- and some of us remember when Yasir Arafat's Black September killed 11 unarmed Israeli jocks at the 1972 Olympic games -- hockey still more violent -- and then came September 2005. The month opened with news that Orangewood Children's Foundation had fired and then sued Tracy Salcido of Yorba Linda, its top financial officer, alleging that she embezzled more than $900,000 -- almost a million dollars -- from an organization whose only goal (besides producing fabulous party pics of rich people at fund-raisers for Coast, Orange Coast and Riviera magazines) is to help kids who've already been so fucked over they live in foster care. Salcido could not be reached for comment. Not be outdone, just a few days later (still September), the Los Angeles Timesreported that the Orange County Performing Arts Center had fired an employee in its finance office. The center, whose only goal (besides producing fabulous party pics of rich people at fund-raisers for Coast, Orange Coast and Riviera magazines) is to bring a little Broadway to the county, doesn't need to say much because the district attorney's office says Ana Limbaring of Costa Mesa, who handled cash for OCPAC, kept a little something -- $1.6 million -- for herself. Limbaring is in jail. MITIGATING FACTOR: May be the only accused white-collar criminals not helping write policy for the Bush White House.
16 JEREMY VINCENT
On Aug. 9, Vincent and girlfriend Jessica Rowe partied at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood, pretending to be Rammstein, one of the most successful German-language bands in history. At 5 the next morning, Rowe somehow fell out the window of their rented Humvee limousine whilst returning to Irvine; more than a dozen cars spread her across a mile and a half of the 405. Three days later, Vincent organized his own re-enactment of the scene: he and some friends rented limos, returned to the same club in LA, and again pretended to be Rammstein. Notable differences include Rowe's absence -- and Vincent's arrest at the end of the night after a resourceful limo driver discovered his credit cards didn't check out. We all deal with trauma in our own way; Vincent's recovery cocktail seems to be part credit card fraud and part Nixonesque callousness, with just a dash of jail time. Garnish with $150,000 in bail. MITIGATING FACTOR: Most people wouldn't be thinking straight after such a messy breakup.
17 DOUGLAS BATES
Early on the morning of Feb. 5, Douglas Bates, a 43-year-old customs inspector for the federal Homeland Security Department, was trying to get some shuteye. He was awakened when Bassim Chmait, a 20-year-old Arab-American college student and aspiring rap artist, and his friends arrived at the Mission Viejo apartment complex where Bates lives, looking for a party. As they walked down the street, Bates, who was off-duty and wearing a bathrobe, rushed out his front door and, holding a pistol, confronted them. Witnesses say Bates was upset about noise from the party, approached the three young men with his pistol and law-enforcement badge, and shouted, "You want to fuck with a cop?" Instead of backing away, the group walked toward Bates. During the altercation that ensued, Bates allegedly pistol-whipped one of Chmait's friends. What happened then is unclear -- except that all sides agree Bates shot Chmait in the head at point-blank range. Chmait is dead, and Bates now faces trial for second-degree murder. MITIGATING FACTOR: Bates, who is African-American, alleges Chmait and his friends, who were unarmed, taunted him with racial slurs before attacking him, forcing him to shoot in self-defense.
Photo by Amy Thelig
18 PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR ROCCO
If you live in Orange and have kids in elementary school, you'll sleep soundly at night knowing that your children's education is safeguarded by a school board that includes a man whose single-issue agenda is exposing the evil conspiracy against him by Albertsons, the supermarket chain. Rocco won his election last November thanks to conservative parents who opposed his teachers'-union-backed opponent and didn't care that they knew absolutely nothing about Rocco. Well -- not absolutely nothing, exactly. During the race, Rocco distributed fliers denouncing "The Partnership," which is what he calls the conspiracy that began with his 1980 arrest for shoplifting at an Albertsons store in Santa Ana. He had a copy with him at his Dec. 9 swearing-in ceremony. "All the information you need is in here," he said, jabbing his finger at the broadside. "This is an expose, not a manifesto. Expose is a French word, not a Russian. . . . We're living in a time of secret organizations, corruption and, most of all, dictatorship." Rocco finished his acceptance speech by saying something in Italian. Then he shrugged, as if to say he was as confused as everyone else. "I hope Mr. Rocco will be a breath of fresh air in our district," chirped conservative gadfly Katherine Moran during the public-comments portion of the meeting. "I felt you would not be another teachers' union puppet. I did vote for you because it was the lesser of two evils. I mean that as a compliment." MITIGATING FACTOR: Rocco's right: the Partnership is real.
Illustration by Bob Aul
19 VIET DINH
This Bush-appointed former assistant attorney general is better known as the primary author of the PATRIOT Act. A Vietnamese-American who fled communism for Fullerton by way of Portland, Oregon, Dinh now teaches law at Georgetown University. In his spare time, he travels the country cashing in on his counterterrorism expertise by lecturing college students (unwittingly) about the idiocy of the war on terror. His talking points include such pearls of wisdom as "I am a complete intellectual fraud" and "If you are a terrorist, we will stick to you like white on rice." But when faced with tough questions from audience members, Dinh prefers not to answer but instead mercilessly stutter, raise his voice and emit a high-pitched laugh. There are exceptions. In a January speech at UC Irvine, one woman queried Dinh about why the Bush administration wasn't trying harder to understand why so many people throughout the world hate America. "I don't have anything intelligent to add to that," Dinh finally said. MITIGATING FACTOR: He really doesn't.
20 PARK DIETZ
Newport Beach forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz is probably best known for his one-on-one interviews with Ice Man, the Tony Sopranoesque Mafia hit man on HBO. He's provided expert testimony in just about every high-profile psycho murder trial, ranging from would-be Reagan assassin John Hinckley and serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer to Unabomber Ted Kaczinski, Erik and Lyle Menendez, mass murderer O.J. Simpson and D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammed. In March 2002, Dietz took the witness chair in the final phase of the murder trial of Texas housewife Andrea Yates. Dietz, who is also a technical adviser to the TV show Law & Order, told the jury that Yates, who had drowned her five children in a bathtub, wasn't crazy. In fact, Dietz stated, Yates was simply claiming insanity after watching an episode of Law & Order in which a depressed mother drowns her kids in a bathtub but -- in a typically gripping finale -- is found not guilty by reason of insanity. A few days later, brushing aside the insanity plea, the jury convicted Yates of murder. The only problem: that particular Law & Order episode never actually aired. Which is another way of saying Yates couldn't have seen the show, nor could it have motivated her to kill her kids and get away with it by claiming to be nuts. MITIGATING FACTOR: Seen one episode of Law & Order, seen 'em all.
Kelly Gray went away.
21 RICHARD COHEN
Dude became top man at Irvine-based St. John Knits International eight months ago, and first thing he did was boot wholesome, MILF institution/spokesmodel Kelly Gray (haunting eyes, airbrushed neck) for five minutes of leggy Brazilian Gisele Bundchen before switching to tattooed, blood-drinking serial adoptress Angelina Jolie. Why, dude, why? Is too far from the Nancy Reagan crowd far enough for you? Who's your next face -- Kate Moss? MITIGATING FACTOR: Jolie is smokin'.
22 FATHER JOSEPH FENTON
Last year, we asked Pope John Paul II to excommunicate Fenton because the spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Orange was "combative, insulting and as surly as Saul of Tarsus." His Holiness never answered -- what, the pope's on vacation or something? -- and Fenton continues his war on truth. In January, the Toledo Blade asked Fenton to comment on Thomas Hodgman, a former Mater Dei High choir teacher and current Michigan resident who had just been named a predator in the Orange diocese's $100 million civil settlement with 90 victims of clerical sex abuse. "Under no circumstances does the settlement imply any guilt on anyone's part," Fenton told the Blade -- this just a couple of days after newspapers across the country ran a picture of Fenton's boss, Bishop Tod D. Brown, apologizing to Hodgman's victim, Joelle Casteix, for her abuse during the 1980s. MITIGATING FACTOR: Breaking the Silence, Fenton's documentary explaining the Orange diocese sex-abuse scandal to teens, is the most unintentionally hilarious Catholic romp since the Inquisition segment in History of the World, Part 1.
Photo by Tenaya Hills
23 JIM GILCHRIST
The retired Aliso Viejo CPA is founder of the Minuteman Project, which tried to patrol the United States-Mexico border earlier this spring in hopes of keeping away those swarming Mexicans. Can a man who once told the Weekly, "Forty years from now, I see neighborhood armies of 20 to 40 going out and killing and invading one another. The United States is going to have 100 tribes with 100 languages and no common bond. It's future mayhem" also be the same hombre who has a Mexican son-in-law and a Chihuahua named Tia? Such a combination of charm and evil we haven't seen since William F. Buckley. MITIGATING FACTOR: Gilchrist, who also calls himself a "left-wing wacko," is actually one of the most pleasant gentlemen you'll ever meet.
Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the British Museum
24 THE MUMMY
The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana thinks it's hot shit because it got a bunch of mummies from the British Museum. Well, they won't be laughing when the evil mummies return from the dead and go on an evil-mummy murder rampage like the one in Evil Dead but with mummies instead of just evil spirits taking over the bodies of rutting teens! Remember when the rutting teen inhabited by an evil spirit stuck a pencil in that dude's leg? (I think it was Bruce Campbell.) That was gnarly! And then all the friend dismembering? Fucking evil dead, man. What a drag! MITIGATING FACTOR: If Laurel and Hardy can escape a rampaging mummy, you probably can too.
25 JO ELLEN ALLEN
We thought we'd seen the last of Jo Ellen Allen after her now late husband embarrassed all hell out of the woman and the county GOP (which she co-chaired) by getting sued for defrauding little old ladies out of their life's savings. (It's not a cliche; it's a classic!) But it seems the folks at the Orange County High School of the Arts missed her more than we did. Last month, they named her to their board. That's odd for lots of reasons: one, she€™s an Eagle Forum kook, which means she's most likely a fellow traveler in their battles against feminism, sex education, reproductive rights, AIDS education, sexual harassment legislation, federal support for day care and family leave, U.S. involvement with the United Nations, the international Chemical Weapons Treaty, affirmative action, bilingual education, multiculturalism and diversity education, environmental protection efforts, the dangers of pornography, immigration, and, of course, gay and lesbian rights. But wait! There's more! She's also big on creationism and an "even-handed" teaching of the Civil War. So that should be good news for the sweetling students at the Orange County High School of the Arts. MITIGATING FACTOR: The Republican Party is sorely lacking in male ballet students.
26 MIKE CONLEY, AVALON BAR
Continuing the long and proud Orange County traditions of (a) never getting over a punk band that broke up 20 years ago and (b) suffocating a sense of humor under a bunch of upper body mass and some spider-web tattoos is Caveman Mike Conley, owner of Costa Mesa's Avalon bar (proudly serving people waiting in the parking lot of Detroit for like a year and a half -- beer and wine only!) -- and hopeful litigator against international hip-hop superstar M.I.A., who unfortunately happens to share the same three letters of the alphabet as Conley's old (in the oldest sense of the word) punk band. At press time, his lawsuit -- if it was ever filed -- had yet to affect the rich and famous M.I.A., who at press time was richer and more famous than ever, but Conley took justice into his own fists and fired up the cave-puter for an eight-part series of (tipsy?) e-mails responding to a three-month-old Diary of a Mad County item highlighting his oldness ("Yes, I'm 40") and lameness ("M.IA. was a frontrunner in the O.C. punk movement from 1980 to 1988. In that time we played on four national tours, four Canadian tours, appeared on numerous fanzine covers, ink deases, flipside, trouser press. Played shows with a lot of amazing bands, whom I have a lot of mutal [sic] respect for, DK's, TSOL, Cramps, Minor Threat, Goverment [sic] Issue, Dinasour, Jr. [sic], Adolesents [sic] Vandles [sic] and so on, I could go on but it's not my style") and, most tellingly, his caveman-ness ("Why dont you stop over at Tommys gym in Costa Mesa . . . on Wed. we have open sparring. . . . I'll fold your teath [sic] back for you!"). MITIGATING FACTOR: Recently discovered fire -- and we love Tommy's Gym.
Illustration by Bob Aul
27 DR. KALI P. CHAUDHURI
This Bombay-raised physician is known in Orange County medical circles as a genius -- not for his groundbreaking contributions to surgery or curing diseases, but for his ability to elude government regulators. Five years ago, he purchased dozens of Southern California medical clinics. A little more than a year later, he shuttered them, leaving more than 250,000 patients hanging in the wind. Flash-forward to January 2005, when Chaudhuri stood poised to become the majority shareholder in a new company that purchased four struggling Orange County hospitals: Western Medical Center Anaheim, Chapman Medical Center Orange, and Western Medical and Coastal Communities Hospital in Santa Ana. During a series of hearings that month, state Senator Joe Dunn (D-Garden Grove) forced Chaudhuri out of the deal. Or so it would seem. In fact, Chaudhuri has the right to purchase up to a quarter of the company's stock and, more important, already owns nearly half the land under the hospitals. In other words, the worst-case scenario for Orange County -- four closed hospitals -- could mean a fortune to Chaudhuri, whose critics say they wouldn't put it past him to sell the land to real estate developers. MITIGATING FACTOR: He provides an excellent case for de-privatizing health care.
28 SHERIFF MICHAEL CARONA
What's truly scary about Sheriff Carona isn€™t that so much of his high command is under indictment for corruption (George Jaramillo) or that they quit for personal reasons involving a teenage son who helped gang-rape an unconscious teenager (Don Haidl). Nor is it that Carona himself is dogged by allegations of sexual harassment and extramarital affairs -- our favorite rumor involves a hooker in Moscow. No, what makes Carona so scary is that he reminds us of the incredible power of the male libido to screw things up: In a matter of months, Carona fell from his place as America's hero (Samantha Runnion murder case) to Sex Pistol. Scary? This could happen to anybody with sufficient power and access to Russian hookers. MITIGATING FACTOR: So far, it hasn't happened to anyone else.
Courtesy Mike Davis
29 MIKE DAVIS
This UC Irvine professor has a knack for predicting disasters. In the 1991 film City on the Edge, Davis predicted that LA was ripe for Watts-style riots. A week or so after the film was completed, the LA riots erupted. Two years later, Davis was lecturing a UCLA class on earthquakes. The Northridge earthquake followed the next morning, on Jan. 17, 1994. Davis has authored increasingly scary books, like Dead Cities: And Other Tales and the forthcoming Planet of Slums. But none is scarier than his current title, The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu, which predicts that avian flu will soon become a global pandemic killing hundreds of millions of people. MITIGATING FACTOR: Davis also writes lighthearted fantasy novels starring his teenage son that fail miserably to wreak terror.
Photo by Jack Gould
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30 BEN "PUNCHY" NIELSEN
We were wigged out when we read R. Scott Moxley's story about Ben€™s kid, Jeffrey, the thirtysomething Republican Party activist who prosecutors say raped a teenage boy and who has an art collection featuring more than 400 pictures of naked boys. We're not saying it didn€™t make sense -- hardcore Republican activist, nice ties, stuffed animals on bed, friends with (Republican party chieftain) Scott Baugh and (former party boss) Tom Fuentes -- just, you know, we were creeped out, even though Jeffrey says he€™s not guilty (didn't know boy was a boy). Then, in September, we met Jeffrey's dad, Ben, outside the Orange County Central Courthouse where Jeffrey's case had been delayed for the 28th time since his 2003 arrest. We're not saying the fix is in, or we are, but that's not the point. Point is: we thought Jeffrey was too tightly wrapped -- and then Ben came after OC Weekly photographer Jack Gould with fists a-flying, like Robert De Niro as the aging Jake La Motta in Raging Bull but fatter. Gould says Ben hit him; speaking to Santa Ana police, Ben didn't deny it but said he had to hit Gould because Gould actually asked him to -- not figuratively, as in "Jack was asking for it because he aimed a camera at my son, and a dad must protect his son even in the face of charges he sodomized a high school kid in Westminster," but literally, as in "Jack was saying, 'Please hit me because I've always wanted to look like Jared Leto in Fight Club.'" MITIGATING FACTOR: A former Fountain Valley mayor and Republican, Ben is not accused of picking up a boy at his high school and nailing the boy next to his mother's bed while the boy's mother is at work.
The shit that's done in this guy's name? Hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides -- and now this: Last year, 18 parents (out of like 1,200) petitioned to get twin 5-year-olds kicked out of kindergarten at St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa because the boys' dads are gay. Teachers, other parents and the school's principal of 30 years objected, citing the school's non-discrimination policy. The Gang of 18 appealed to the Diocese of Orange and, when that failed, threatened to go to the Vatican. That's when the Norbertine Order of priests running the school Solomonically allowed the kids to stay -- but forbade the parents to enter the campus together. Gay-dad bashers began surveilling the school parking lot from their cars every morning, binoculars in one hand and cell phone in the other, ready to punch the principal's number on speed dial should both men be spotted on the church grounds simultaneously. Frustrated, the dads left St. John and enrolled their twins in a more liberal Orange County Catholic parish. MITIGATING FACTOR: More liberal Orange County Catholic parishes.