Illustration by Bob AulWhich is richer with irony: Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante accidentally saying "nigger" at a Black History Month event? Or media folk reporting the tongue slip without saying "nigger"? Bustamante's first speech as lieutenant governor was given on Feb. 9 to an Emeryville audience brimming with African-American civic leaders. Black history was the theme of a speech peppered with the names of groups with the word "Negro" in them. For one group, Bustamante mistakenly said "nigger." The Democrat continued speaking for a few more minutes and then apologized profusely, later apologizing individually to everyone who had not already walked out in disgust. Some accepted the apology, while others figured he must use the slur often if it rolled off his tongue with such ease. Clockwork hasn't a clue as to what is truly in the acclaimed civil-rights leader's heart. What puzzles us more is why mainstream media can't trust readers, viewers and listeners with the facts. Look, in everyday life, we're as mortified by the "N-word" as anyone—well, anyone who isn't a racist, a rapper or a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie. But, damn it, sometimes you've got to break out of the political-correctness chokehold and simply tell people the story. End of sermon.
LOVE AND ROCKETS Workers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, learned by memo on Feb. 9 that a janitor allegedly left his love juices in female workers' beverages. "When I sipped my coffee about three times in the last two weeks . . . it tasted salty," stunned employee Linda Gerhmann told a local TV reporter. But it did wonders for your complexion, honey! Unfortunately for the mentally handicapped custodian who confessed to the pocket-rocket launches, NASA officials jettisoned him to the care of a local social service agency. You could say it was one small splewy for man, one giant . . . oh, never mind.
CURRENTS AFFAIR The media is blowing the state utility-crisis story, according to one powerful critic. In its Feb. 11 edition, the San Francisco Chronicle unearthed a memo from Robert Glynn in which Pacific Gas & Electric's chief executive officer bemoans the coverage he's getting. Company flacks are putting out the real story, he claims, but the journos are ignoring it because it won't get front-page play. What's the real story, in Glynn's view? "PG&E Information Checks Out" or "Virtually All PG&E Customers Had Power All Day Yesterday" or "Yesterday's Story Distorted the Facts and Misled Readers. Sorry, PG&E Was Right." Attaboy, Bobby! In fact, we can spread this brand of journalism throughout the paper, giving us such headlines as "Defense Department Didn't Lie Today" or "Mighty Rivers Still Flowing" or, our personal favorite, "PG&E Distorted the Facts, Misled Ratepayers and Will Still Make a Killing Off This Whole Damn Mess, Just You Wait."
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LIVING LARGE Duane Roberts lost his bid this past November for an Anaheim school-board seat, but the Green Party activist is still shaking things up. At the Feb. 13 Anaheim City School District board meeting, Roberts accused trustee Don Garcia of making his $929,000 Corona del Mar house his main residence instead of the $223,362 home he owns within district boundaries. When Orange County Register reporters checked with neighbors at both addresses, they discovered Garcia is always at the Corona del Mar pad and never at the Anaheim abode. Hell, which one would you rather live in? The problem, of course, is that school officials have to live among those they represent. It's called representative government. Just ask Loretta Sanchez. Or Bob Dornan. Or Ross Johnson. Or . . . Anyway, this turn of events is particularly distressing because Garcia is the lone Latino on the board of a school district in which 80 percent of the students are Latino. And therein lies the real representation problem in this story.