The California Supreme Court ruled on July 16 that grand jury testimony about Merrill Lynch & Co.'s involvement in Orange County's 1994 financial shit storm-the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history-will remain sealed for perhaps another year. Justices granted a hearing on the giant Wall Street brokerage's appeal of a lower-court ruling to allow news organizations to peek at the transcripts. It would typically take the state's highest court a year to get around to such a hearing, but a lawyer representing news organizations said efforts will be made to speed the process. Information in the documents could prevent other government agencies from following OC's footsteps into a $1.64 billion investment debacle, the media argue. But Merrill Lynch maintains the transcripts' release would improperly disclose such personal information as witnesses' pay, job reviews and personal opinions about their employers. OC Superior Court Judge David Carter decided last year that the public's right to know outweighed Merrill Lynch's desire to avoid embarrassment, and the 4th District Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in June. Our outgoing district attorney, Mike “Mad Dog” Capizzi, who got Merrill Lynch to cough up $30 million to settle criminal charges he'd brought against the brokerage (which later dished out a cool $400 million to make the county's civil suit disappear), has fought alongside the company to keep the transcripts from seeing the light of day.FIGHT THE POWER U.S. Census Bureau figures show an influx of Asians and Latinos has accounted for nearly all of Orange County's population growth in the 1990s, it was reported on Sept. 17. The number of Asians and Pacific Islanders grew by more than 91,000 during the first seven years of the '90s, and they now make up about 13 percent of OC's population. The Latino community, which grew by about 200,000 during that time, composes 28 percent of OC. We're now home to the third-highest Asian and fifth-largest Latino populations in the nation. While the number of whites in OC remained about the same, their majority status shrank from 65 percent in 1990 to 57 percent in 1997. Experts say the population shifts will ultimately change things around here politically (thank Allah!). But Asian and Latino activists believe their political clout would already be more reflective of their growing communities if census takers counted everyone and more non-Anglos voted. So, to Clockwork's lily-white-challenged brothers and sisters, we offer a simple plea: get off your butts, go to the polls, hang around the homestead at census time, and put OC's right-wing, white-bread reputation in a time capsule where it belongs. Oh, and open more authentic restaurants near our office.NOOKY DIP For the first time this decade, more than half of America's high schoolers say they just say no-to sex. And those who do the nasty are using condoms at the highest rate this decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Sept. 17. A CDC official says the findings prove that teaching teens about safe sex does not result in more promiscuity and that being a virgin should not make one feel like a freak (he actually used the word “outcast”). When high school students were surveyed anonymously last year, 52 percent answered they have never jumped in the sack; that compares with 46 percent in 1991. Not only are white kids losing political clout (see above), but they also ain't getting as much as their Hispanic classmates. The proportion of white high schoolers who had sex in 1997 was 44 percent, compared to 52 percent for Hispanics. And while teen sex for African-Americans dropped 8 percent from 1991 to 1997, their whopping 73 percent Doin' It Rate put other pimple poppers to shame. Which is why God invented R&B albums.HOOTERS BOOTERS? The Newport Beach Hooters features photographs of the restaurant chain's tight-shorted, clingy-tank-topped waitresses surrounding such celebrities as Tim Allen, Charlie Sheen and Eddie Murphy. So opening a first Los Angeles County outlet should be a snap, right? Wrong, nacho breath. The Santa Monica City Council has asked its attorney to find a legal way to keep Hooters from opening its first LA County outlet in December, it was reported last week. Should that fail, the National Organization for Women's LA chapter vows to picket the place. By preventing Hooters from establishing a Santa Monica beachhead, city officials believe they can halt the 15-year-old chain's planned spread into such other LA County towns as Pasadena, West Hollywood and our beloved Long Beach. A proposed Hooters in Westwood was shot down four years ago amid public outcry. The only Hooters in California besides here-so far-are in San Diego.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.