Saturday's Headlines & Surprises
- Saddle Sores: Supervisor John Moorlach hasn't been in office long but he could be the most revolutionary county politician since . . . well . . . we haven't had any revolutionary politicians on the board of supervisors. On Friday, Moorlach announced plans to cut pension benefits retroactively for certain members of the Orange County sheriff's deputies union. He says the payments are an illegal gratuity of as much as $500 million in local taxpayer funds. Peggy Lowe at the Register posted two useful briefing documents on Moorlach's position. As you can imagine, deputies, who now get to retire at 50 with an average of $70,000 per year, are squealing. David Reyes of the Times notes the tense history between the usually tight-fisted supervisor and the perk-seeking deputies: “The union has tried to ban Moorlach from attending law enforcement functions, including funerals of officers killed in the line of duty.” Classy.
- Gore could face prison for OC drugs: Rachanee Srisavasdi over at the Register courthouse bureau reports that Orange County prosecutors have charged Albert Arnold Gore III with two felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, two misdemeanor counts of possessing a controlled substance without a prescription, one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana and a traffic infraction for driving more than 100 miles per hour July 4 on the Santa Ana Freeway in Irvine.
Hey OCDA, didn't Gore have an outstanding library book too?
The 24-year-old son of ex-VP Gore faces a maximum sentence of nearly four years in state prison if convicted. If he pleads guilty, he could be simply ordered to a drug diversion program. Srisavasdi says Gore has hired local defense lawyer Allan Stokke, who earlier this year convinced a jury to pardon an Irvine police officer who pulled a stripper over for an alleged traffic violation and somehow ejaculated on her blouse. Stokke--who also represents gang rapist Gregory Haidl--told the Reg that the Gore family “is treating this as a private matter, so there will be no further comment at this time.”
- Bad news, politicos: Leave it to Ken Khachigian, the 62-year-old Republican strategist from San Clemente, to wreck your dreams. “There's no such thing as political Viagra,” the former adviser to Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon tells Dana Parsons of the Times. Khachigian is hoping to jump on the Fred Thompson for President bandwagon, but doesn't feel the, uh, rush of excitement he enjoyed in the past. “It's not gee-wiz anymore,” he told Parsons. “It was 40 years ago, and maybe even 30 and 20 years ago, but right now it's just something I know how to do and want to do."
- Local politburo speaks: Laguna Beach, which has one the county's nanny governments, is telling La Casa Del Camino to close it's rooftop, oceanview bar to the public. Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman explained to Josh Aden of the Coastline Pilot that he wants only paying hotel guests allowed on the deck. (City officials are addicted to hotel occupancy tax revenues.) Earlier this month, Grossman revised what may have a vague conditional use permit. Chris Keller, owner of the impressive property, told Aden that all he was doing was “developing the deck into what has become a popular night spot for tourists and locals alike.” Back in the bureaucracy, Grossman stewed: “It's hard to write a foolproof iron-clad conditional use permit.” Keller hasn't decided if he'll fight the city yet.
- Pardon the interruption: Last week, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton defended the incarceration of two ex-Border Patrol agents in the sensational case fueling debated over illegal immigration. Our own Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has lead the effort to win a presidential pardon for the two men he calls heroes. But according to Eunice Moscoso of the Austin American Statesman, Sutton--the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Texas and a former W aide--called convicted agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos criminals who deserve a decade in prison. “They are not heroes,” Sutton told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “They deliberately shot an unarmed man [an illegal immigrant the agents suspected of drug smuggling] in the back . . . and lied about it.” He said the officers shot at the unarmed man 15 times, striking him once; left the wounded man; destroyed evidence of the shooting and falsified reports. A jury in West Texas convicted the men after a lengthy trial. Rohrabacher, who once demanded an end to the National Endowment for the Arts, has successfully used the incident to raise his national profile in the illegal immigration debate.
- Potential child molester alert: Newport Beach police say they are looking for a brown-eyed man between 30 and 40 years old in a vehicle who offered candy to an 11-year-old boy walking home in Eastbluff. Jessie Brunner of the Daily Pilot reports that the subject wore a black beanie and a dark blue T-shirt, and drove a 4-door, dark mid-sized sedan. The boy ran home and told his father. Brunner has posted a drawing of the suspect on his paper's website.
- Salvation for Sale: In the last half dozen years, William Lobdell at the OC bureau of the Los Angeles Times has produced an incredible series of investigative stories about religious figures and institutions. Among the jewels were his revelations about TBN, the Costa Mesa-based Christian broadcasting outfit. Writes Lobdell, “I spent several years investigating TBN and pored through stacks of documents — some made available by appalled employees — showing the Crouches eating $180-per-person meals; flying in a $21-million corporate jet; having access to 30 TBN-owned homes across the country, among them a pair of Newport Beach mansions and a ranch in Texas. All paid for with tax-free donor money.” Or his probe into televangelist Benny Hinn: “Hinn tells his audiences that a generous cash gift to his ministry will be seen by God as a sign of true faith. This has worked well for the televangelist, who lives in an oceanfront mansion in Dana Point, drives luxury cars, flies in private jets and stays in the best hotels.” Those, and many more discoveries caused Lobdell to lose his once deep faith.
- Something for tonight near the Pacific: Club M at Mosun has the DJs spinning R&B, Hip Hop, Top 40 and Old Skool tonight from 8:30. For every $20 spent in its excellent dining room you'll receive a complimentary VIP pass to the club. 680 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach. Check it out. For more information, call (949) 497-5646.