Lightning Rod

California's Republican Party is at “death's door,” new Assembly GOP leader Rod Pacheco told a group of Orange County faithful on Jan. 22. “Our feet are right on the edge of the precipice. We can't afford to lose one more step. We're moving in the direction of irrelevancy in the state.” Pacheco, a Riverside Republican and the state's first Hispanic Assembly GOP leader, called for Republicans to set aside their differences on abortion, immigration and other divisive issues and instead build consensus around things an overwhelming majority of voters favor, such as lower taxes. “When we are [at] death's door, we don't have the luxury of fighting over our philosophical differences,” he said. “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” a party insider didn't say (yet could have, under his breath, if listening devices existed to record such things), “but we still get to bash Mexicans, build more prisons, and further enrich our rich friends who got us here, right?”

GANG OF FOUR While Republicans tried to figure out how to reconstruct their state party, nine Democratic legislators on Jan. 20 urged Governor Gray Davis to reconstruct his Republican predecessor's California Coastal Commission. Davis was reportedly asked to fire four members that the former governor, Lil' Petey Wilson, appointed to the panel charged with protecting our precious coastline. One of the Sacramento Nine, state Senator Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles), warned that should Davis fail to act swiftly in helping the 12-member panel achieve a pro-environmental majority, the “governor of California is still going to be Pete Wilson when it comes to Coastal Commission decisions.”

GIMME SHELTERIn another refreshing sign of compassion possibly oozing out of the governor's office, Davis set aside $1 million in his proposed budget to keep National Guard armories open to the homeless on cold nights, it was reported on Jan. 21. Under a law Ebenezer Wilson pushed for during his final term, the armories-including those in Fullerton and Santa Ana-were to shut their doors to the less fortunate beginning next winter. Judy Kampmann, who runs Orange County's cold-weather shelter program, reportedly told The Orange County Register: “This would be an enormous weight off our shoulders. I think it's a strong, strong hint that the governor wants to see that people out there have a place to go.”

I'VE GOT A SECRET Citing “persistent and defiant misconduct” in violating the state open-meeting law, an Orange County Superior Court judge ordered the South Orange County Community College District to tape-record its closed-door meetings for two years, it was reported on Jan. 21. Judge Tully H. Seymour also reportedly referred the case and prior findings of Brown Act violations by the college district's board of trustees to the district attorney's office for possible criminal prosecution. Each violation of the Brown Act (the law requiring open public meetings) can result in a $1,000 fine and jail time. The college district's lawyer, who denied violations occurred, apparently encouraged the board to appeal. Tully's decision came as a result of a lawsuit filed by Roy Bauer, an Irvine Valley College (IVC) philosophy professor and constant board critic, who claimed the appointment of IVC president Raghu Mather and a 1997 administrative shake-up were accomplished in secret. The Brown Act requires public officials to let the public know when (and on what matters) an elected panel is going to vote in closed session and, afterward, what action was taken.

TRIVIAL PURSUITGet up, go to your bookcase, and grab that dusty copy of the New Testament. We mean now! Don't worry; we'll wait. . . . Got it? Good. Now flip back, way back to the end, to the part about the seven signs of the apocalypse. There yet? Good. You'll notice that sandwiched between frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon and darkness engulfing the Earth is the ditty about people paying for beepers that alert them when a police chase is on television. Well, the end is near, as the Reg reported on Jan. 21 that 200 future Jerry Springer pugilists have signed up for the PursuitWatch pager service since its New Year's Day launch. Excuse us as we go lie down for a while. Our brain hurts.

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