In a study of a dozen randomly selected U.S. communities with populations of more than 200,000, Orange County ranked near the bottom in the number of children without health insurance, the nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change announced on Aug. 4. OC's 16.9 percent of kids lacking health-care coverage was six percentage points higher than the national average and exceeded only by Little Rock, Arkansas (18.5 percent), and Miami (22.4 percent), according to the Washington, D.C.-based research group's survey. Its author and a local social-services provider surmised a large immigrant population may account for OC's high percentage. So we have three choices when it comes to addressing these embarrassing reports documenting the huge divide between our fair county's haves and have nots: stop counting immigrants; deport them before another study is done; or become a national trendsetter by providing health-care coverage to all countians, starting with mothers and children. Jeez, what kinda nut would promote that last solution? (Matt Coker)RETURN TO SENDER Larry Agran, an unabashedly liberal voice who managed to rise above OC's Reagan right-wing din to pull off such mighty feats as getting a nuclear-free zone declared, ozone-depleting chemicals banned, and development giant the Irvine Co. to stop in its tracks while serving as Irvine's mayor from 1978-1990, is campaigning for a return to the City Council, it was reported on Aug. 4. Agran, whose last bid for office was only a 1992 run for president of these United States of freakin' America (in case you missed it, he lost that one), wants back on the planned-to-the-extreme town's council to push for South County's airport-ditching Millennium Plan. The 53-year-old Hahhvahhd-educated lawyer (don't hold that against him; he also went to Berkeley) and founder of the anti-airport group Project 99 joins nine other Irvinites on the November ballot. (MC)JUDGE DREDD GOES ON VACATION The timing couldn't have been better for Marvin Chavez, the medical-cannabis advocate who faces several years in state prison if convicted on 10 counts of felony pot distribution. On Aug. 4, Chavez rejected an offer by Deputy District Attorney Carl Armbrust that would have given him five years of probation-and no jail time-in return for a promise not to distribute pot to members of his organization (read: sick people). It seemed like a good deal, but just 24 hours later, Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald, who the previous week had ruled that Chavez could not use Proposition 215-the state's medicinal-marijuana initiative-as a legal defense in his upcoming trial, removed himself from the case so he could go on vacation. A similar anti-Prop. 215 ruling helped convict Chavez's cohort, David Lee Herrick. That ruling sent the former San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy to the Wasco state prison for four years. Fitzgerald, whose chambers boast a poster of the Sly Stallone sci-fi flick Judge Dredd, was replaced by Judge Franklin Fasel, who told a seemingly disappointed Armbrust that he plans to hold a special pretrial hearing on whether to reverse Fitzgerald's decision. Trial for Chavez starts on Aug. 14. (Nick Schou) IT'S A GAS, GAS, GAS Malathion days are here again/The skies above will rain again/Cover the Jag, contact your next of kin/Malathion days are here! A Mediterranean fruit-fly quarantine zone was declared within OC on Aug. 6. Five little buggers have been found in Lake Forest in recent weeks. People residing within the quarantine zone are asked not to move fruit they grow; commercial growers can only do so if they follow strict guidelines. No one's actually said anything about gassing the citizenry-yet-but compare the amount of money you've given to politicians in Sacramento with what's doled out by big agricultural interests, and the potential line of demarcation becomes pretty dang clear. However, before you reach for your gas mask, you should know that state officials started releasing 5.5 million sterile Medflies into the quarantine area on Aug. 8 to hopefully mate with the others and prevent them from laying their eggs. So, if you want to keep from getting gassed, now would be the time to send in those Medfly pick-up lines. (MC)
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.