Kudos to The Orange County Register's Mark Katches, who in two noteworthy July 18 articles offers solid evidence that when it comes to abusing California's taxpayers, there is no difference between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. According to Katches' articles, "Lawmakers Get Great Bargains on State Cars" and "Dealers Earn Profits and Good Will," current and former Assembly members—including Orange County Republicans Curt Pringle, Mickey "Spanky"Conroy, Doris Allen, Dick Ackerman and Scott Baugh—bought official state-issued luxury cars at huge discounts. In one of Katches' examples, a departing Republican Assembly member paid just $24,500 for a Lincoln Town Car Signature Series that the state had paid $44,077 for a year earlier. But the scam isn't a scam to Conroy, who screwed taxpayers out of several thousand dollars for a Buick Park Avenue. He told Katches, "If you shop around, you can probably get the same deal."
You have to wonder if the Register's advertising slogan "You'll laugh. You'll cry" is better suited to the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot. For example, in the laugh category, the Pilot described a sexual-assault suspect as "disturbingly normal looking" and (in the same May 12 edition) reported that two individuals died "at the hands" of a Cadillac.
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Our chuckles turned to tears when the Los Angeles Times-owned paper packed its June 16 edition with the following weighty news stories: "Balboa Swan Reported Missing"; "Plaza Tower Gets New Tenant"; "Store to Remain Open Despite Electrical Fire"; "New-Look Market Place Ready to Roll"; and "A Doggone Shame," an article about the theft of a miniature Spuds McKenzie statute from a local bar. But we sobbed uncontrollably after Pilot editors published a sickeningly shallow advertising plug ("Giving New Meaning to 'Brand Loyalty'") under the guise of a serious news article. The story of a family that buys only Mercedes-brand vehicles is our nominee for the best example so far in 1999 of Orange County's sometimes disgraceful mainstream media standards.