Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, Feb. 10 Orange County awakens to find the Mighty Ducks six games over .500 for the first time in team history and a widening gap between rich and poor. . . . A report released by the California Budget Project shows that while median income rose 0.7 percent statewide during the '90s, it dropped 2.7 in Orange County. What's more, while 83,000 local families moved into the high-income category of $100,000 or more, 89,000 fell into poverty—defined as an income of $16,700 for a family of four. As if on cue, proletariat warhorse The Daily Pilotprovides immediate relief with today's Best Buy column showing poor families how to stretch their dollars on six diamond “Delice” pendants ($885, Baccarat) and chinchilla hats ($9,000, Loro Piana). Somewhere, Dorothy Dayis smiling—wait, not smiling. What's that thing where you feel your life's work was wasted, and you are caught in an eternal cycle of unfathomable sorrow? Yeah, that. . . . On the bright side, Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler dies.

TUESDAY, Feb. 11Our worst nightmare: Turkey is in imminent danger from Iraq—whaa? President George W. Bush calls for European unity and gets his wish when most of Europe unites to tell him to piss off. . . . That's most of Europe, mind you, not all. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Lichtensteiner! . . . In acts of domestic terror, a Killing Fields-like procession of county department heads goes before the county Board of Supervisors to plead for their financial lives. (County Chief Financial Officer Gary Burtonrecommended $97.9 million in spending cuts the week before.) Most department heads take the fear and guilt tack, none more adroitly than District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who, if he isn't Catholic, really should be. Rackauckas warns that cuts to his department would be “borne by the victims.” Ooooooh. A breath of fresh air is Paula Burrier-Lund, head of the county department that helps build low-income housing such as Midway City's Jackson Aisleapartments for special-needs residents. Burrier-Lund's department is set for a $13 million cut from a $35 million fund set aside for low-income housing. The cut endangers projects such as those to help the disabled in Stanton, seniors in Anaheim and low-income families living, well, judging by Monday's report, just about everywhere The Daily Pilot doesn't circulate. Burrier-Lund shows remarkable team spirit when she says the cuts will “hurt” but adds, “Given the situation the county is facing, it is a reasonable proposal.” Supervisor Chris Norby thanks her by proposing the other $22 million be cut from the fund. There is no “I” in team—and apparently no money, either. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 12 The Mighty Ducks defeat the Calgary Flames, 4-3, to go seven games over .500. The Ducks, a team with no standouts save Paul Kariya and currently rumored to be on the selling block, started slowly, winning only nine of their first 25 games. But tonight's win gives them 63 points and a solid hold on the Western Conference's last playoff spot. Stop if you've heard this before: gutty Anaheim team forsaken by Disney makes unlikely playoff run. God has a great sense of humor—or a really bad one. . . . An Orange County Registerobituary/appreciation of D.R. “Bob” Segal, who died Tuesday, paints the former president/CEO of Freedom Communications Inc., the Reg's parent company, as a man of great humor and intelligence. However, the obit's headline “Bob Segal's Wit and Wisdom Were Rare” seems to suggest just the opposite. Still, the Register did give us “Rapist Given Stiff Sentence,” so we have no complaints. . . . We learn we'll all soon be rubbing elbows with Ron Ziegler courtesy of long-range North Korean nukes. THURSDAY, Feb. 13 OC Weekly staff meeting is stymied by what to call Steve Lowery's new diary-form column. Suggestions include “Steve Lowery's Happy Smile Time Diary,” “J'Accuse!,” “I Hate People,” “Commie Girl,” “I, The Writer,” “Pardon My Boner,” “Larry King Live,” “Larry King Not Look So Good,” “J'Best Buy!” and “Diaryarama!” . . . Joe Connelly, 85, co-creator of Leave It to Beaver, dies in Newport Beach. Though cause of death is listed as stroke, police reportedly want to talk to a Mr. E. Haskell. FRIDAY, Feb. 14 Supervisor Norby calls and explains that his proposal to cut the remaining $22 million from the low-income housing fund was because (a) he was surprised that low-income housing was being handled out of the county's general fund, which is usually reserved for basics like safety, and (b) he believes low-income homes arranged through the county can only make a small dent in a critical need for affordable housing. “It's the worst kind of tokenism without really getting at the problem,” he says. Norby believes the county should be in the midst of a massive building effort led by private developers. “We should be rezoning and building a lot more. I'm not talking about in the foothills or knocking down oak trees. I mean we should be building where there's been overbuilding of commercial properties.” He says cities have been reluctant to build homes because they've become so enamored of the sales-tax potential of such big-box retailers as Costco to which they give big tax breaks while charging homebuilders exorbitant fees. “Big retailers ask, 'How much are you going to give us?' Developers ask, 'How much do we have to pay?' We've ended up with a system that overbuilds commercial property and underbuilds homes because homebuilders are punished with fees while [commercial properties] are subsidized through tax breaks. And the sad thing is that all the big retailers do is draw customers away from smaller, local businesses.”

Feb. 15
Photo by Sean DuFrene
SATURDAY, Feb. 15 A crowd of about 1,200 gathers for something other than the grand opening of a Costco—an anti-war rally in Hart Park in Orange organized by ocpeace.org. Favorite signs: “Rome Fell,” “Stop Mad Cowboy Disease,” “Bush Put the Mock in Democracy,” “Drop Bush, Not Bombs,” “Duct Tape Won't Hold the World Together,” “Hegemony Happens,” “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” and one with a picture of the American flag and the legend, “These Colors Don't Run the World.” . . . On nearby Glassell Street, Denise, an Irvine woman holding a sign that reads, “Pray for Peace,” says her horn-honk poll suggests public opinion is running against Bush. “I've only been given the finger three times!” On such things does a world hang. SUNDAY, Feb. 16 Gary Copeland, CEO of Trabuco Canyon-based NextCure, was the Libertarian Party's gubernatorial candidate last year until his party dropped him when “I hocked the biggest loogie I could” and hit KABC radio talk-show host Brian Whitman “dead square in the face.” Appearing at the party's convention in Ontario—you got some bawls, my friend—Copeland says that while most broadcast journalists think to spit was bad form, “most print journalists say they get it.” . . . Peace.

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