Of Pork and Ken

Congressman Ken Calvert's district is shaped a bit like a flaccid male apparatus, the testicular package around Corona and Riverside and a longer bit dangling down to San Clemente; rotate it on a map so that north points dead southeast, and the district looks ready for action. This makes perfect sense because Calvert's support for the "extension" of the 241 toll road through San Onofre State Park will really screw South County.

What make less sense are Calvert's efforts to secure federal financial help for the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), an agency that likes to claim its roads are built with virtually no taxpayer dollars. Apparently, "virtually no" can now be measured in the millions: on April 2, 2004, Calvert announced his pleasure at House passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—a Legacy for Users. SAFETEALU? Is that some sort of imbecile-proof British toilet? The LU suffix is an homage to Lu Young, wife of Transportation Committee chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who is kind of a dick, according to Jon Stewart. SAFETEALU included Calvert's requests of $1 million for the San Clemente Coastal Trail and $10 million for extension of the Foothill-South toll road. No one seemed bothered that the private road would receive federal funds. Calvert spokesman Anthony Gostanian told the Weeklyhow Congressman Gary Miller (R-Chino: ew!) spearheaded the effort, which Calvert supported. The bill simmered in conference committees until the end of the 108th congressional session but turned up again in 2005 with modest changes: only $800,000 for San Clemente's trail and a still-respectable $8 million for the toll road. On Aug. 10, President George W. Bush signed SAFETEA into law.

On Sept. 22, 2005, Calvert issued a press release detailing his delight in the passage of the Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act, which, in his words, "places a greater emphasis on recovering endangered species." That's ironic because the bill eliminated the federal critical habitat program, which allowed the TCA to build through the San Mateo and San Onofre basins—classified as critical habitat for the protected arroyo toad before TESRA.

You'd think Calvert would sympathize with those endangered amphibians, being part horny toad himself. On Nov. 28, 1993, just after midnight, Corona police found a car near the southeast corner of Victoria Park. They spotlit the interior, and a woman's head rose from the driver's lap. He began to drive off. Police had to instruct him three times to stop before he complied. One officer noticed the man's unzipped pants and exposed penis. The driver hid his manhood with his untucked shirttails and claimed, "We're just talking. That's all. Nothing else." He went on to tell authorities that he was Ken Calvert and had picked up a woman he'd never met when she asked for a ride. His companion, Lore Lorena Lindberg, told authorities a different story: she claimed to have met Calvert earlier that night at the Office Bar in Corona. She admitted to being a convicted prostitute and heroin user. The only item on which the congressman and the prostitute agreed is that they only "pulled over to talk."

Calvert was just as talky when President Bill Clinton's indiscretions inspired many other Republicans to rhetoric. On Sept. 11, 1998, he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise, "We can forgive the actions, but we cannot forget what has occurred." It's no big leap to connect Calvert's '93 incident with Lewinskygate, but Calvert put forth his own theory of relativity: "I'm not married. I didn't lie to a grand jury." He could have been married had his wife not divorced him in '93. She later sued, alleging Calvert was an alimony deadbeat. Whether Calvert told law-enforcement agents the truth is unclear, and we'd like to spend just 1,000 words wondering what a congressman talks about when he talks with a convicted prostitute after midnight. Smack?

To summarize: it's okay for Calvert to get caught with a prostitute because he's not married; it's okay for him to save animals by simply changing the law that says they're endangered; it's okay for him to secure tax dollars for what's supposed to be a privately funded road. But there's this: Calvert's biography suggests he's a man who acts without forethought, whether it be getting married, publishing press releases or even picking up chicks. In this context, his support of the 241 extension makes perfect sense.


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