Diary of a Mad County

MONDAY, Dec. 2 After being served eviction papers today, Cal State Fullerton frat boyspunch holes in walls, pour paint on bathroom fixtures and generally trash their former animal house before vamoosing. Damage to the former Sigma Pi fourplex is estimated at $50,000. Chapter president Marvin Steele admits that he and other Pi-holes partied hearty in the pad before midnight, but he swears they didn't go all nutso. He blames the destruction on ex-frat boys retaliating against their previous expulsions. Fullerton police and national Sigma Pi leaders in Indiana are sorting out whodunit. Landlords Jorge and Sacramento Restrepo, who suspended their tenants in November for failing to pay rent, had hoped the rental property would fund their retirements. Leaders of Fullerton's Greek System issue a statement vowing to help clean up the place. They hope the incident does not cast a pall over all the positive things fraternities and sororities do, like sending underprivileged kids to camp, raising thousands of dollars for the American Red Cross and sharing with pledges the joys of being dumped out of a car naked on a deserted mountain road at midnight.

TUESDAY, Dec. 3 The Orange County Registrar of Voters—already considered one of the most ineffective ballot-counting agencies in the state because of its molasses-like pace and incorrect sample ballots and mislabeled candidate info and piss-poor Vietnamese translation and shit missing from voter pamphlets and precincts running out of Spanish ballots on election day and voters being turned away on Election Day because no one is manning the voting places, especially in Latino neighborhoods—gets another black eye when 8,000 uncounted absentee ballots from the November election turn up. County officials say the recount of those ballots doesn't change the results of any races—even though the county Board of Supervisors certify the election results before they're all counted. You'll recall that the 2000 presidential-election results were certified despite the thousands of African-American voters in Florida who were denied their right to vote and the thousands more whose ballots went missing. Looking at the same crap going on with local Latinos, Los Amigos of Orange County chairman Amin David calls for the firing of Registrar Rosalyn Lever and her deputy Steve Rodermund. Orange County officials—like their Florida counterparts—say such problems will be minimal next time thanks to touch-screen voting (see Dave Wielenga's “Rage Against the Voting Machine,” page 12). Still, outgoing board chairwoman Cynthia Coad calls for an investigation, saying, “I certainly don't want a Florida here in Orange County.” Wethinks she already has one.

Actor Viggo Mortensen, who plays Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings movies, makes a fashion and political statement when he appears with co-star Elijah Wood and director Peter Jackson on the PBS talk show Charlie Rose. Mortensen wears a white T-shirt on which he has strategically—and quite artistically—scrawled, “No More Blood for Oil.” He's sending a message to all those who compare the good vs. evil plot of Lord of the Rings to the U.S. war on terrorism. He proposes a counteranalogy in which the terror and loss of innocent life caused by 11 years of bombing Iraq make the U.S. more like the movie's villains than its heroes. That leads to something you just don't see enough of—or any of—on TV these days: a five-minute debate on the merits of the war (with Rose taking the establishment side, of course). Mortensen holds his own quite well, coming back often to the point that the media (Rose included, of course) just don't air or print enough opposing viewpoints. But we have a hard time concentrating because of something we spot on Rose's famous round wood desk: Is that a freaking red Coca-Colacup? The slow-talking North Carolinian—one sage says Rose can make 60 minutes seem like 90—is a correspondent for the real-news program 60 Minutes II, and as such, he got some journalistic panties in a bunch when it was revealed he emceed Coca-Cola's most recent annual shareholders meeting (for a handsome sum, of course). At that confab, the newsman reportedly said, “This is the business of Coca-Cola, being part of a family, being worldwide, doing well and doin' good at the same time”—failing to acknowledge alleged human-rights abuses and worker-safety violations worldwide that brought recent Teamsters union and Harvard student protests. Now Coke sponsors Rose's PBS show—complete with a commercial before each public broadcast. However, when we tune back in the next night to confirm we'd spotted a Coca-Coca prop on the table, the white lettering on the side of the red cup facing the camera spells out “The Charlie Rose Show.” We're probably just projecting again.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 4 Three men are arrested for possessing two Chihuahua puppies that had been stolen from an Irvine animal shelter. The men apparently take what they think are a pair of baby pit bulls to a pet store for vaccinations, but an employee spots a flier about the filched rat dogs and calls the cops. No word on whether the Chihuahuas realize how close they came to being forced to breed with pit bulls.

THURSDAY, Dec. 5 A developer's lawsuit against an environmental group dedicated to preserving the Bolsa Chica wetlands has been settled, The Orange County Register reports today. Hearthside Homes had alleged that members of Amigos de Bolsa Chica violated an earlier agreement when they criticized Hearthside's plans to build 1,235 homes on the mesa above the ecologically sensitive wetlands. Years ago, the Amigos had indeed agreed to support Hearthside—then called Koll Co.—as long as the builder stayed the hell out of the fragile wetlands. But some Amigos members squawked when Hearthside later unveiled far more ambitious plans; Hearthside responded with a suit—a suit it abandoned today. Hearthside executive vice president Lucy Dunn tells the Register, “The company is satisfied with the settlement agreement.” And no wonder: the deal leaves Amigos de Bolsa Chica members unmuzzled but their wallets a little lighter: each side agreed to pay its own attorney fees.

FRIDAY, Dec. 6 Like something out of Raising Arizona, a husband and wife are arrested on suspicion of bank robbery after leading police on a high-speed chase—with their seven-month-old daughter along for the ride. After a Wells Fargo branch in Brea is held up, police chase a car through Fullerton, Placentia and Brea, at speeds reaching 95 mph. It all comes to an end at an apartment complex where Robert Lewis Bandy, 34, and Teffany Tanee Crain, 21, surrender. They are held without bail, and their daughter is unhurt—although, more than likely, quite wet.

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