Illustration by Bob AulThe rare, Southern California steelhead trout that is teeming in South Orange County's San Mateo Creek should be given greater protection, federal wildlife officials proposed on Dec. 19. Should that happen, the extension of the Foothill South Toll Road—set to run right through the creek—could be an endangered species. But Clockwork has a solution that can save the road, the fish and an ailing tire company: introduce the all-new Firestone Steelhead Belted Radial Tire! That's right: by simply outfitting toll-road warriors with tires sporting strategically placed treads shaped like trout, fish can keep spawning and road-building 'dozers can keep humming. Of course, that solves only half the problem: the county toll-road agency would still have to figure out how to get drivers to actually use the tollways.
THE JOY OF COLA We told you many Clockworks ago that the city of Huntington Beach settled for a lot less money when it named Coca-Cola the official soft drink of Surf City than nearby Garden Grove did when it wheeled and dealed with Pepsi. Being a city's official bubbly beverage means everything from exclusivity in locating vending machines on city property to having one's corporate logo splashed on city trash cans, lifeguard towers and sports scoreboards. Now that Coke is the front-runner in bidding to become the official soft drink of Oceanside, city officials there are using the Orange County deals as anti-models. The multiyear pact being bandied about in the northern San Diego County beach town includes an escape clause allowing it to switch cola allegiances should a better deal come along. It was revealed at a Dec. 14 Oceanside Parks and Recreation Commission meeting that for about the same amount of money ($700,000 over 10 years), Coke stands ready to accept a much more conservative presence in Oceanside than Pepsi enjoys in Garden Grove. "I have seen it in Garden Grove," commissioner Bob Wilson said of Pepsi's status being emblazoned on bus benches. "It looks like a circus."
ALL CHOKED UP Orange County's air, water and land are enough to make you sick, according to a sobering scorecard released on Dec. 15 by the Environmental Defense organization. An analysis of data from various government sources found that the 2,409,216 people living here face a cancer risk more than 100 times the goal set by the U.S. Clean Air Act; that 16 percent of our surface waters have beneficial uses that are being impaired; that one out of five of our watersheds have serious water-quality problems; and that in 1997, we ranked 236 out of 788 counties in the U.S. when it came to the number of harmful chemical releases reported to the feds. Oh, by the way, happy New Year!
BABY YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR A man stole a car in Tustin on Dec. 19 with 4-month-old triplets inside. The kids' parents had gotten out of the car at a gas station but left it running. The thief jumped in and drove off. He dropped off the little ones unharmed at a nearby store a half-hour later before disappearing for good. Too bad. The guy could have made a killing off soccer moms and dads with his kid-taxi service.
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LET THEM EAT KILOWATTS Ralph Nader, last seen giving the American presidency to a fucking idiot, popped up outside a state utility hearing in San Francisco on Dec. 28 to tell consumers to let California's power companies go belly-up. "It's clear that deregulation has failed," said the Green Party leader. "California consumers now face a coerced bailout of the utilities or their bankruptcy." Financial collapse could be the best thing for consumers, Nader said, because it would allow the state to come in and run the utilities with price controls that would "put human need over corporate greed." God, we still love him.