Saturday's Headlines & Surprises: 'Stinky' White House

  • 777: The Gabrielino-Tongva tribe is coming to Garden Grove with a huge bag of Halloween goodies. What's the treat? $78 million-a-year to city coffers, 10,000 permanent new jobs and college scholarships to every graduating high school student in the city. The trick? Let the tribe--and some guys named Guido, Sal and Vito--build two Las Vegas-style casinos, 7,500 slot machines, two luxury hotels and a 10,000-seat stadium near Disneyland. Reporter Dave McKibben write in today's Times that the plan is “off the charts” and “far and away [the] most lavish plan for making Garden Grove a tourist destination.” Jonathan Stein, an executive with the tribe, told McKibben that casinos bring nothing but good news for everyone. But Frank Cardenas, who represents other individuals in the same tribe, said Stein is all talk. His money quote: “History suggests this is a man who is all hat and no cattle.” Very nice. Pro-casino folks shouldn't get too excited. Big hurdle: The tribe isn't even federally recognized yet and has no pact with the Guv of Cally-forn-e-uh.
  • The Munchkin is at it again: Do you want to know what kind of life I have? I'm going to tell you anyway. The other day I was reviewing federal disclosure reports for U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Munchkinville). It's amazing how all the giant finance/insurance companies and their D.C. lobbyists fork over lots-o-$ to the petite Fullerton pol. Thankfully, campaign contributions don't influence congressman. So I wonder why last week Royce sponsored new federal legislation that the giant finance/insurance companies crave: the ability to opt out of state consumer protection laws by registering only with the Feds. Royce, you should know, hails himself as the most tight-fisted conservative congressman on the Hill, but his bill--The National Insurance Act of 2007--calls for the creation of a new federal bureaucracy. Local insurance agents are furious. They note that Congress pulled a similar stunt during the 1980s for the savings and loan industry. Taxpayers ended up eating more than $150 billion in losses to the likes of Charles Keating. Len Brevik, executive VP with the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, asks a simple question: “Why would anyone want us to repeat this in the insurance industry?” Congressman?
  • Sorry Charley: Fishing supposedly calms nerves, but for 31-year-old Hai Nguyen it was a outlet for violence. Just after noon on Friday, Nguyen dropped his fishing line in the water off the M Street Pier at Balboa Peninsula and caught a sea lion. Alicia Robinson of the Daily Pilot reports that an upset Nguyen “allegedly stabbed the sea lion with a steak knife several times,” and then continued fishing. An alarmed witness called the cops. Nguyen was arrest on suspicion of animal cruelty and could face federal charges. Sea lions are federally protected from nut jobs. The stab wounds were so severe that authorities were forced to euthanize the 150-pound creature four hours later.
  • Building collapse: New housing construction has declined across California but the numbers in Orange County are shockingly dismal, according to a story by Annette Haddad. She reports today that construction permits for June sank 85 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Neighboring counties were hit hard too. San Diego and the Meth, er, Inland Empire slumped by 67 percent each. LA county dropped 37 percent. Haddad used an expert to translate the numbers: builders are being cautious. Thanks. And when you're hungry, eat something.
  • Dana says this White House stinks! OC Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Skipped Vietnam Combat Duty) has done just about everything he can to smear U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for getting convictions against two border patrol agents who shot an unarmed drug dealer in the back, left the man to die in a ditch and then orchestrated a plan to cover up the shooting. Sutton, a career Texas Republican prosecutor and longtime W adviser, has fired back that Rohrabacher can't get his facts straight. (Dana botch facts? Eureka!) Now the congressman strongly suggests Sutton is a liar who fears going under oath about the case. While the White House bungles the Iraq War, Rohrabacher claims this closed criminal case represents “bureaucratic arrogance at its worst.” His money quote for the Daily Pilot: “It doesn't pass the smell test, and the stench seems to be coming from the White House.” Could be the diapers, Dana.
  • Ouch: The Associated Press reports that a 44-year-old south Orange County man recently tested positive for West Nile. It's the first local human case of the virus this year. The dude had been trying to donate blood when routine screening discovered the problem. This nasty virus usually infects birds, but is spread by pesky mosquitoes to humans, horses, dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels and domestic rabbits.
  • Something to do: Catch the 2007 Honda U.S. Open of Surfing and Beach Festival in Huntington Beach today and tomorrow. The festival, which is partly sponsored by OC Weekly, includes more than 100 exhibits, athlete autograph signings, dance contests, DJs, live music, guest emcees and prize giveaways. Word of advise: stay far away from the steel-toed skinheads--and no, I'm not necessarily talking about the local cops--who huddle in HB. For a schedule of events and profiles of the participants, checkout: www.usopenofsurfing.com/.
  • Green Thumb Alert! After the beach, race over to Roger's Gardens. This jewel of a shop is sponsoring a “friendly” garden contest tonight at 6. Folks there say you can meet fellow gardeners and compete to win the “honor of the Best Garden in Orange County.” About $4,000 in prizes is up for grabs. Drive to 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar (very close to Fashion Island and PCH). Or for more information, go to www.rogersgardens.com/gardencontest.
  • And finally: Happy Birthday, Jackie O.
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