Thursday's Headlines & Surprises

  • Speed Eating: Would you eat 42 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches in 10 minutes for $1,500? Patrick “P-Rock” Beroletti, a twentysomething-year-old Chicago cook, won the Drum Corps International World Peanut Butter and Jelly Eating Championship this week at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. (Earlier this year, Beroletti devoured 47 donuts in five minutes.) Tim “Eater X” Janus dunked his treats in a milk-water mixture and nabbed second place with 37.5 sandwiches. Rich “The Locust” LeFevre finished third with a crappy 34. But what's a staged story without controversy? The contest baffled Robert Girandola, an associate professor of kinesiology at USC. He told the Reg, “We have a problem with people eating way too much food and the wrong kinds of food. I don't understand why people try to promote the concept that this is popular.” Relax, Bob, the International Federation of Competitive Eating skillfully monitored the contest. When the IFOCE folks are around, it's not food marketing, but “safety that's the first consideration.” That's why they discourage anyone from speed eating at home or in environments where “an emergency medical technician” isn't present.
  • Nightmare on Chriss Street Street: Story of the day goes to Peggy Lowe and Norberto Santana Jr. for their latest report on the colorful Chriss Street, OC Treasurer-Tax Collector. It's never good for your career when this happens: “The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe” into Street's prior management of a bankrupt trucking company. As court-appointed trustee of the company, "Street paid himself $250,000 a year, gave himself bonuses worth $175,000 over seven years and billed $477,000 in expenses,” the Reg culled from a lawsuit filed by Daniel Harrow, Street's horrified successor as trustee. The lawsuit claims Street spent the bankrupt company's money on a family vacation to Spain, cosmetic surgery (!!!) and gym memberships--but obviously not ethics courses. District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder told the paper the “feds wanted that case, so we gave it to them” for potential criminal prosecution. The Reg duo also notes that Street has spent nearly $1 million to elaborately remodel his Santa Ana office and gave a pal a $23,000 no-bid contract. I don't know about you, but in my pie-in-sky view, no-bid government deals between friends should be a felony. Here's the odd part: Supervisor John Moorlach, one of the least pretentious Republican politicians in the county, continues to back his bizarre successor. Odd. Oh, almost forgot: Street called the allegations of wrongdoing “preposterous”--probably as he flipped through the latest South Coast Plaza catalog.
  • No, really, we're here to help you: Affluent citizens should be able to pay their way out of traffic congestion, right? That's the premise Robert W. Poole, director of transportation studies at the libertarian Reason Foundation, has brought to traffic debates for decades. In 1993, Poole stood with then-California Governor Pete Wilson for the opening of the 91 tollway through Orange and Riverside counties. He promised the road would make gobs of dough and reduce traffic drastically. We'd laugh, but the truth is too painful. Well, Poole is at it again. In an Aug. 8 editorial, he makes the correct observation (government has neglected freeway construction in California) but continues to pour the Kool Aid: Toll roads are the solution. Okay, let's take the San Joaquin Hills toll road near coastal OC: Caltrans, the public agency said, could build the thoroughfare as a public road for less than $500 million. Today--because it was privately built by politically connected Wall Street bankers--the cost could soon be near $16 billion. It also requires massive public subsidies, an additional bloated bureaucracy (the Transportation Corridor Agencies) and ever-increasing tolls. Why allow Sacramento politicians to take billions of dollars annually in transportation taxes and spend it on non-transportation projects? Wall Street would cry at the loss of the gravy train, but the public would win.
  • Sad: According to police, Christopher Palmer of Long Beach and Ryan Reid of Huntington Beach--two young locals who should have known better--drank alcohol before jumping in the Pacific Ocean after midnight at the very spot where lethal rip currents routinely kill. The beach near the Huntington Beach pier closed at 10 p.m., and no lifeguards were on duty. Thankfully, three others in the group survived. The bodies were found up to a mile north of the pier about six hours later during a large rescue attempt. Though drowning has been tentatively cited, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino told Tami Abdollah and Garrett Therolf at the Times that the bodies are undergoing autopsies.
  • Uhura, contact Star Fleet: Pat Brennan reports that “when the space shuttle soared into space Wednesday, it took a bit of Orange County with it”: Tracy Caldwell, a 37-year-old Cal State Fullerton graduate turned NASA astronaut. Caldwell is aboard The Endeavor, which will dock with the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth, or in a Hollywood movie studio, depending on your view. According to Brennan, it's Caldwell's job to “videotape the ship's external fuel tank as it is jettisoned after launch, monitor sensors during docking maneuvers with the space station, and use the shuttle's robotic arm to inspect the craft for damage” during the two-week voyage. Otherwise, she's just going to hang around. Is Caldwell, who has also worked as a UC Irvine atmospheric researcher, afraid? Nope. She told Brennan that space travel is less dangerous than driving a car.
  • And finally, a goodbye: Joey Santos hasn't worked as art director at OC Weekly for long, but he's impressed all of us with his creativity and tireless dedication. Yesterday was his last at our world headquarters. Was it the shitty, three-week unsolved water leak from the roof between our offices? No. The Los Angeles Times folks saw his genius and tossed a sweet contract his way to break our Borg hold on him. Bastards. In his farewell message, Santos wrote, “Cheers to my compatriots, comrades and cool cats! So in the words of my favorite rebel, though it's been sung a million times in a million ways, they're still some of my favorite words: 'We all shine on, like the moon, the stars, and the sun, we all shine on, on and on and on . . . ' Shine on, my friends.”

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