Bottle Rockets

You know, lots of unenlightened folks could have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble by picking up the OC Weekly as long as you have. Like you, they'd remember way back to May 19, 2000, when we published Michael Collins' “Russians, Rockets and the Santa Ana River.” That piece warned that the rocket-fuel component perchlorate—which can make minced thyroid meat out of thyroids—from the closed Aerojet bomb plant in Chino Hills threatens the Santa Ana River, a major source of OC's drinking water. Now the Los Angeles Times, on Aug. 19, reported that perchlorate from Southern California's version of Love Canal—the Stringfellow acid pits in Mira Loma—threatens the same concrete river. So that'll be a double shot of perchlorate in your morning mug, cafe latte boy! Of course, it doesn't take a Russian rocket scientist to figure out that Aerojet, Stringfellow and that stretch of the mighty Santa Ana are all in the same hood. Oh, well, add a little twist of lime and that swill will go down real nice.

Illustration by Bob Aul

LAW AND DISORDER Longtime readers may also remember our stunning Aug. 7, 1998, cover story “Three Strikes Stinks,” in which reporter Steve Lowery revealed that California's popular Three Strikes law—which was sold to voters in 1994 as a way to put violent criminals away for good—was actually locking up for life nonviolent, petty offenders. “Good riddance,” some of you heartless types are no doubt saying (and shame on you!), but incarcerating dime-bag dealers and bread-loaf stealers takes an emotional toll on families and a financial toll on taxpayers, as Lowery so eloquently put it. He's now in good company: The New York Timeson Aug. 23 came out with a lengthy piece that blasts California's Three Strikes law. Citing research by the nonprofit Sentencing Project, the Newspaper of Record reported that seven years after its enactment, the law has increased the number and severity of sentences for nonviolent offenders—contributing to the aging of the state's prison population. Meanwhile, Three Strikes has had no significant effect on the Golden State's declining crime rate. So all the taxpayer funds that will be burned to keep old farts behind bars could be used to deal with mostly younger criminals who commit the most violent acts. Feel safer now?

NURSE RATCHETT MEETS SUPERINTENDENT SMITH The Placentia-Yorba Linda School District has banned Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nestfrom its high school core reading list, The Orange County Registerreported on Aug. 25. District Superintendent Dennis Smith told the Regthe counterculture classic was removed because district policy forbids books that haven't been approved by the state, but an Education Department official countered that is so much bullshit because the state does recommend the novel for high school use. Of course, there's poetic justice in Kesey's anti-authoritarian rant being banned by an authoritarian Orange County public school system. (See Weekly Arts.)

BADGE OF COURAGE Gay and lesbian rights activists say they got 75 protesters to come out—pardon the pun—to the Boy Scouts Sea Base in Newport Beach on Aug. 26 to demonstrate against the Scouts' ban on gay participants. Picketers were also miffed over the Orange County Board of Supervisors' recent decision to give the private group $500,000 in taxpayer money and a 30-year extension on their rent-free oceanfront Sea Scout Base. Clockwork wishes we had been there to witness this: when two lesbians crossed the street to confront the only two anti-gay counterprotesters to show up, the crowd chanted, “Why did the lesbians cross the road? To educate the homophobes!”

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