OCTOBER Huntington Beach city officials and coastal protectors raised glasses on Oct. 2 to announce that televangelist Pat Robertson had dropped his plans to reopen an offshore oil terminal. Praise the Lord, indeed. . . . The Orange County Board of Supervisors abandoned a key opportunity to actually supervise the county on Oct. 6 by voting 3-2 to extend CEO Jan Mittermeier's contract three years. The board did change the “C” in CEO to stand for “County” instead of “Chief,” and the Stupes can now torpedo Mittermeier's department-head appointments with a four-fifths vote. But she intimated before the vote that she'd walk if there was any further reduction of her power. “Who the hell is running the county?” Supervisor Todd Spitzer, Mittermeier's most strident board opponent, asked after the vote. “The Board of Supervisors aren't running this county. They're just rubberstamping the staff's recommendations.” . . . A federal judge on Oct. 8 denied defeated Congressman Jay Kim's plea to have his probation cut short so that he could host a Larry King-style political talk show in his South Korean homeland. We couldn't help but thank U.S. District Judge Richard A. Paez for this mercy ruling. Paez spared the world this picture: Kim in suspenders, hunched over a desk, shoulders up around his earlobes, eighth wife in the wings, barking into the microphone: “Wonju, you're on with Tina Yothers.” Not a pretty sight. . . . To the delight of a mob of protesters-okay, six people with signs-the Anaheim City Council passed an ordinance on Oct. 13 that allowed residents to keep pot-bellied pigs as pets. Approved at the urging of the owner of an oinker named Mu Shu, the ordinance brought “a pig from being an illegal pig to a well-regulated pig,” Councilman Tom Tait snorted. So where do you take your pig when it dies: The pet cemetery or the smoker? . . . The Eastern Transportation Corridor, a $1.5 billion toll road that runs the 24 miles from Riverside to the Irvine Spectrum, opened on Oct. 18. Boosters of the road touted the beautiful canyons, passes and views visible from the road, which snakes through Presida, Peters, Blind and Gypsum canyons. Environmentalists feared the toll road would destroy the habitat of California gnatcatchers and chop the land into unsustainable chunks for deer and cougars, which need wide swaths of undeveloped land to survive in the wild. But the worst is likely yet to come: while the corridor is supposedly aimed at relieving traffic on the perpetually snarled 55 freeway, once the Eastern toll road connects with the Foothill toll road extending from the Spectrum to Oceanside, it will only be a matter of time before those virgin landscapes admired from your roadster will be dotted with residential tracts. . . . About 100 placard-carrying protesters-most of them Latino relatives of claimed police-brutality victims and their supporters-demonstrated outside the Santa Ana Police Department on Oct. 22. After marching, the protesters rallied outside the Santa Ana jail, where they were told of fatal police actions around the country. “There needs to be a bridge between law enforcement and the community,” David Delgadillo of Anaheim-based United Neighborhoods told the crowd. “There needs to be accountability”. . . . Lil' Petey Wilson, who went to great lengths in his final days to ensure he'd be remembered as the meanest governor in California history, told a group of reporters on Oct. 22 that the lawyer who advised Indian tribes to put Proposition 5 on the November ballot “ought to lose his scalp.” The remark offended Native American leaders, particularly those who supported the initiative that expanded Indian casino gambling in the Golden State. We obtained a copy of da gov's next speech, where he warned tribal leaders to keep firewater out of their casinos, quit spending big wampum on Prop. 5, and remove slot machines or face having their tepees burned and squaws raped. . . . In a $10 million claim filed on Oct. 23 against the city of Westminster, its police department, the involved officers, Orange County, the Orange County Fire Authority and the involved paramedics, the family of Tuan Thanh Tang alleged their son's drug overdose 13 days earlier was caused by negligence and racial bias. The claim asserted that after paramedics who arrived at Tang's home to treat the 19-year-old consulted with police officers on the scene, they left with their equipment without physically examing him. The claim further alleged that after telling family members to stand outside the house, Tang screamed for help, was hog-tied by officers and thrown face-down into a police car. Nearly an hour and a half after the teen, who was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance, was taken to the Westminster PD detox cell and placed “in restraints,” he was found to be suffering a seizure. He arrived unconscious at Huntington Beach Medical Center a half-hour later. His family, who claims this would not have happened if Tang had not been Vietnamese, ultimately had to take him off life support. . . . We were spoon-fed the image of U.S. Senate candidate Matt Fong as a middle-of-the-road Republican. He hated hate crimes! He supported a woman's right to choose (in the first trimester). He had gay family members he hadn't disowned! So the Oct. 25 revelation that Fong donated $50,000 to the Traditional Values Coalition, the ultraright Anaheim group that wants all abortions outlawed, gay rights blocked and biblical creationism taught in public schools, was a bit curious. The Fong campaign's response that coalition chairman Lou Sheldon was a friend of the candidate wasn't exactly reassuring. . . . Among the endless accusations heaped on Steven J. Frogue was the notion that the embattled South Orange County Community College District trustee's words and actions had legitimized hatemongers. In the fall of 1997, Frogue tried to book a seminar at Saddleback College that would have featured the author of a controversial tome that alleged the Israeli government offed President John Kennedy. Some of the longtime OC high school teacher's former students then came forward to allege that Frogue made racist or anti-Semitic remarks in class. Past newspaper articles surfaced in which Frogue advocated a public airing of Holocaust-denying views. And a Frogue fan club populated with individuals tied to anti-Semitic organizations started appearing at-and oddly, videotaping-the same events the trustee attended. So it should not have surprised anyone that hate literature littered two South County public schools on Oct. 28-a week after anti-Semitic e-mails were sent to 400 faculty and staff members at Irvine Valley College. About 500 index-card-sized leaflets featuring a disparaging cartoon of a Jewish man were found on El Toro High School's tennis and basketball courts. Nearly 100 miniature posters ridiculing African-Americans were scattered across Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School's athletic field and parking lot. A sticker attached to the fliers directed students to the Fallbrook chapter of White Aryan Resistance, which reportedly recruits young skinhead activists. . . . Wait, there's more! Accreditation teams wrapping up three-day visits to Saddleback and Irvine Valley colleges on Oct. 29 were reportedly “stunned” by the deep divisions they found between employees and elected officials and warned that the disharmony was eroding service to students. Irvine Valley College, where students organized weekly protests since president Raghu Mathur's 1997 appointment, received the harshest criticism, with the team finding that the district-board-directed obliteration of “shared governance”-in which faculty, staff and community members help administrators and the board shape district policy-was a major cause for concern. Saddleback got off easier, but its accreditation team expressed fear that academic programs and student services could suffer unless people just got along. The teams' not-so-subtle message to the board: stabilize a district that lost administrators like Burt Reynolds shed hair, and keep your collective nose out of the colleges' day-to-day operations. If the colleges want to continue receiving federal aid and having their credits transfer to universities, they must be reaccredited in January 1999.
NOVEMBER Perhaps you saw the big cannabis leaf on advertisements plastered across bus benches along major thoroughfares and told yourself, “I don't know what they're selling, but I'll take two!” Too late: Coast United Advertising pulled its 106 bus-bench ads on Nov. 2 because of pressure from Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), the national organization that hammers anti-drug messages into the minds of schoolchildren. The ads promoted Westwood-based Alterna Inc.'s shampoos and conditioners that contain hemp-seed oil. Hair care is just one of millions of uses for industrial hemp that do not involve getting stoned; if you put Alterna Hemp Shampoo in your pipe and smoked it, you'd probably vomit before you were overcome by an uncontrollable urge for Nabisco products, tie-dyed clothing and Iron Butterfly recordings. But that didn't stop Glenn Levant, president of DARE America in Los Angeles, from contacting city officials in an attempt to get the ads yanked. “My big objection is that public property was being used to promote an illegal substance,” Levant reportedly said of the non-illegal substance. “This is not the sort of thing we should see around our schools, parks and children.” . . . A “fog of evil,” as Bob Dornan put it, descended on OC, California and the rest of the country on Nov. 3, when Democrats pulled off impressive victories in local, state and national elections. “Really, Really” Gray Davis kicked serious Dan Lungren ass to become the first Democratic governor of California since Davis' old boss Jerry Brown haunted Sacramento. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) handily defeated “B-1 Ballgagger” Dornan, who immediately claimed voter fraud was afoot in this election. Oh, and someone from his brood almost went toe-to-toe with a Matt Fong supporter, who was already in a foul mood thanks to his guy's loss to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California). In other unexpected Democratic victories (well, we didn't expect them anyway), Joe Dunn took filthy rich Republican Rob Hurtt's state Senate seat, and Lou Correa beat Assemblyman Jim Morrissey (R-Santa Ana). Democrats Tom Daly and Miguel Pulido retained their seats as mayor of Anaheim and Santa Ana respectively, and Larry Agran returned to the Irvine City Council. Incumbent Delaine Eastin defeated Stepford-esque bilingual-ed obliterator Gloria “Whatsa” Matta Tuchman in the state superintendent of public instruction race. But in scary education news, two Christian Right Education Alliance candidates won seats on the board of trustees for the South Orange County Community College District, where any professor with half a brain should have his/her rsum circulating to other colleges by now. And in just plain scary news, Jim “I'm Not Stupid; I'm Just Slow” Silva retained his county supervisorial seat, sending challenger Dave Sullivan back to the Cheers bar or wherever it is he got that Boston accent. . . . Fifty or so Muslims handed out fliers about Islam to moviegoers outside the Edwards 21 Megaplex in Irvine on Nov. 6. They were part of 13 Islamic youth groups who fanned out to 23 OC theaters to criticize the Denzel Washington vehicle The Siege. It was not the specter of overpaid overactor Bruce Willis chewing up scenery that offended the Muslims; it was what they believed to be the flick's negative portrayal of Arabs as Islamic terrorists. “I don't want to stop anybody from watching this film,” 23-year-old Ahmad Alan Abdo of Huntington Beach reportedly said. “But we're here to show that Muslims are your neighbors, friends and co-workers-not the perverted terrorists of Hollywood.” No, those would be the agents. . . . Wendy Leece, a Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustee, on Nov. 10 refused to endorse the science component of the state's new recommended standards for various subjects. Leece's beef: the standards promoted the theory of evolution as “fact” and “dogma,” undermining what “conservative Christian parents” teach their young'uns about this God fella creating everything. “I protest the unilateral enforcement of an atheistic, against-God point of view that instills in children that there is no place for God in science,” Leece reportedly said. . . . Frogue can rest assured his seat on the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees is safe-at least for a few more years. The county registrar of voters reported on Nov. 12 that the committee that sought to oust Frogue came up 5,625 signatures short of collecting the 37,947 John Hancocks required to force a recall election. He reacted to the recall effort by accusing his critics of conducting a “vicious, bitter smear campaign . . . fraught with lies, slander and outright hate.” That so-called bitter smear campaign figures to start anew when Frogue faces re-election in 2000. . . . On Nov. 13, a week after Huntington Beach resident Barbara Coe's California Coalition for Immigration Reform cronies put up a billboard near Blythe that read: “Welcome to California, the Illegal Immigrant State. Don't Let This Happen to Your State,” the message was taken down. The landowner reportedly worried for his family's safety with so many motorists stopping by to gawk at and photograph the dag-gum thing. . . . Pro basketball player/sometime Newport Beach resident/one-man freak show Dennis Rodman tied the knot with [cough, cough] “actress” Carmen Electra in a Las Vegas chapel around 7 a.m. on Nov. 14. The Worm's peeps immediately said the marriage would be instantly annulled because he was not in-get this-“sound mind” when he entered the union, having traipsed down the aisle after a night of hearty partying. Then Wormy gave an interview in which he said he loved Electra, who followed in the mammoth footsteps left by Jenny McCarthy on MTV's Singled Out before bouncing around the syndicated jiggle-show circuit. Nine days after the blessed marriage, Rodman filed annulment papers in Orange County Superior Court. Electra later “mutually agreed” with Rodman to end the marriage, according to her posse. But before we could determine who got custody of the wedding dress, Rodman gave another interview in which he said he loved Electra and wanted to rescind the annulment. Uncle! . . . Irvine-based Diedrich Coffee on Nov. 16 inked a deal in which Taco Bell franchisees will build 50 new Diedrich coffeehouses in San Diego, Temecula and Palm Springs over the next five years. Diedrich already had an agreement with North Carolina's Taco Bell franchisee for 44 new shops in that state. The ex-Taco Bell execs who held top posts at Diedrich embarked on an aggressive strategy to use fast-food know-how to build the chain's national name recognition in a market dominated by Seattle-based Starbucks, the McDonald's of lattes.
DECEMBER Orange County Transportation Authority facilitator Judy Johnson met with 80 people at the Santa Ana Police Department community room on Dec. 2 to listen to gripes about a planned 28-mile trolley system through central OC. Johnson did not answer questions, but she did listen-in a New Agey way-to the crowd's problems with the project's cutting through their neighborhoods, the enormous tax burden the line will create, and sucking away funding that could be spent now on expanding more affordable bus service relied upon by the county's poor. “A lot of people get the warm fuzzies when they imagine a streetcar going down the street,” said Bill Ward, who chairs a forum that analyzes transportation projects. “But when we crunch the numbers, we see quite clearly that an Orange County trolley system will be good at only one thing-soaking up money.” . . . The Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District held a meeting on Dec. 8 to explain their proposed $400 million Groundwater Replenishment System. The project is scheduled to treat about 40 percent of the water that goes into the sewer system until it becomes as pure as bottled water. The pure water would be pumped into the ground-water basin and eventually drawn by water districts throughout north and central OC. The districts held the public meeting because they figured folks might be a tad squeamish about drinking what used to be shit water. Duh! . . . Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Dec. 10 accused Calvary Chapel in Santa Ana of violating federal laws in the November elections. When Calvary placed copies of the Christian Coalition's voter guides in its sanctuary, Orange County's biggest born-again congregation violated Internal Revenue Service rules prohibiting nonprofits from getting involved in candidates' political campaigns, alleged Americans United. The 50-year-old, 50,000-member, Washington, D.C.-based organization informed the IRS of Calvary's apparent transgression. Nonpartisan voter-education literature is permissible for houses of worship to distribute, but the Christian Coalition guides were clearly slanted toward Republican candidates, charged the Reverend Barry Lynn, Americans United's executive director. Calvary officials reportedly said informing churchgoers about issues is part of their ministry but denied endorsing any candidates. But Lynn claimed Calvary's guide used such code phrases as “abortion on demand” and “special rights for homosexuals” to describe the positions of California's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates. We presume those would be the candidates going straight to H-E-DOUBLE MATCHSTICKS. . . . Promote Paul Pressler, a Web site that called for the president of Disneyland to be kicked upstairs so he would stop screwing up the Anaheim theme park, finally got its wish-sort of. On Dec. 11, Pressler was indeed promoted, but in his new post, he'll oversee not only Disneyland, but also all Disney theme parks and resorts around the world. During his four-year reign in the Magic Kingdom's top job, Pressler was criticized for everything from overemphasizing retailing to keeping a dirty park. Now that he'll be in charge of all Disney parks, regular participants of the Preserve Disneyland Forum are spooked. Take this recent poster: “Not only do we have to worry about him messing up Disneyland, but now he's going to be in charge of all of the parks. Are you ready to see things get even worse?” . . . Okay, so maybe it isn't so safe around here: vector-control officials on Dec. 15 presented the Orange County Board of Supervisors with an updated plan for dealing with approaching Africanized “killer” bees. The deadly buzzers join an invading force of red fire ants. Oh, and don't forget last winter's floods, mudslides and collapsing condos, and the dead deer littering our toll roads. Jeez, can a cloud of locusts, four horns of the golden altar, and an army of the horsemen be far off?