Illustration by Bob Aul Briggs Christian “Corky” Morris-Smith, who blames a massive 1997 sewage spill for causing a skin condition that plagues him to this day—really, we saw it; it's gross—has appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit against the two water districts whose equipment malfunction spurred the runs, it was reported on Nov. 3. The Laguna Beach Surfrider Foundation president, whose story the Weekly previously chronicled (“Beach Blanket Stinko: Corky's fight to keep our ocean clean,” April 30), says he was swimming near Aliso Beach in January 1997 when 440,000 gallons of raw sewage flushed into those waters. A judge threw out the case earlier this year, but that didn't satisfy the water districts: they're appealing the judge's refusal to deem Corky's suit frivolous and force him to pay their more than $300,000 in legal fees. A painter by trade, Corky has said he'll have to declare bankruptcy and sell his home if left on the hook for those fees.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINATION A coalition of social-service agencies, hospitals and business executives announced on Nov. 5 it may sponsor a ballot initiative that would call on Orange County to spend its share of the national tobacco settlement on health care for the needy. The county's chief financial officer advocated using the windfall—$30 million to $38 million annually for the next 25 years—to secure a bond for debt relief and more jail beds. This bit of voodoo economics was rejected by no less than county Treasurer John Moorlach, the man whose pre-bankruptcy warnings about ex-Treasurer Robert Citron's wacky money schemes went unheeded. Moorlach was followed by hordes of health and social-service advocates who loudly decried the hypocrisy of a bond plan that ignores health care when the original case that brought the settlement centered on the unhealthful effects of tobacco. A compromise plan that would spend an extra $7 million a year from the settlement on health was approved by the county Board of Supervisors on Nov. 9. But the coalition, called the Health Alliance to Reinvest the Tobacco Settlement, rejects the compromise on principle. IS 71-YEAR-OLD MICKEY MOUSE NEXT?Five ex- and current Disneyland security officers have sued the Anaheim theme park for undisclosed damages because of alleged harassment and discrimination aimed at forcing out older workers to make way for younger, lower-paid ones, it was reported on Nov. 6. The plaintiffs, who are all over 40, claim supervisors treated them to excessive discipline, false accusations, unwarranted written warnings, harder job requirements and undesirable shifts because of their advanced years. And they couldn't have mustaches. Oh, yeah, no one who works there can. Unless they're women. The suit further alleges the supervisors were simply following the orders of then-director of operations Cynthia Harriss, who in January was promoted to the Magic Kingdom's top executive spot. If the allegations are true, that would make The Orange County Register's glowing Nov. 3 piece on the Laguna Beach resident (which made a point of noting “many employees say relations with management have improved since Harriss took over”) a, well, steaming heap of crap. Disney officials had no comment on the suit, which reportedly claims the Happiest Place on Earth acted “maliciously, fraudulently, oppressively and despicably.” Ironically, those are the adverbial forms of the names of the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th dwarfs. DONALD PEKING DUCK One place you don't have to worry about mistreating employees is China, where workers are used to a lot worse than agism—hey! How about a death camp!—and where the Walt Disney Co. is itching to build theme parks. Plans unveiled on Nov. 2 for the first of what Disney hopes will be many joint ventures between the Mouseketeers and the Red government in Hong Kong reportedly show the new park borrowing heavily from its U.S. attractions with only minimal concessions to local culture. Millions of visitors—expected to hail mostly from mainland China—will be treated to such sites as Main Street USA and a re-created Wild West. That's brought charges of cultural imperialism from Chinese officials who themselves know a little something about imperialism. Legislator Tang Siu-tong fears the theme park could “turn the Pearl of the Orient into a branch of Disneyland.” Clockwork just wonders if the Mickey Mouse shirts and Pocahontas jammies Chinese patrons buy will be made in American sweatshops.
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.