Diary of a Mad County

Wednesday, Dec. 27
Orange County Sheriff's Lieutenant Bill Hunt, chief of police services in San Clemente, announces his resignation from the department. Hunt quit rather than accept a demotion to patrolman in Stanton. Hunt's demotion came about because he not only had the temerity to run against his boss, Sheriff Mike Carona, in last spring's election, but actually criticized Carona. Imagine. What's next? One man, one vote? Actually, the things Hunt said about Carona weren't anything that hadn't been reported in local newspapers and on local TV stations, blogs and police blotters: the arrests of former best friends turned mortal enemies, the charges of sexual misconduct, the handing out of sheriff's badges to friends and toadies, the nylon short-shorts. Despite all that, Carona was re-elected—yet he still found it unacceptable that someone would actually run a real campaign against him, especially since his office had gone to the trouble of laying out the format for acceptable opposition campaigns. A sampling: “I am here to announce that I am running against Sheriff Mike Carona because he is the best sheriff ever—EVER!—and he saved my children from a barn fire and he is worthy of all praise and all of nature sings of his worthiness and mountain-fresh scent. So, come election day, vote for Sheriff Mike Carona, against whom I am running a vigorous campaign. Also, I voted for Bill Clinton, twice, and attempted to urinate on Ronald Reagan's grave, twice. Did I mention that I'm an illegal alien and probably have a brain tumor so what's the point? Thank you. All praise and honor to Sheriff Mike Carona! I hate white children.” That Carona has been allowed to do this with only a few clucks of the tongue is a real threat to local democracy, since challengers to incumbent sheriffs and district attorneys usually come from within their own departments because of the specialized nature of the work. Will this have a chilling effect? Does Mike Carona have a mountain-fresh scent? Hunt said he will start a private detective agency where he will be assisted by either a sassy Latina with possible romantic entanglements—depending on audience reaction—or a good-hearted, dim-witted sidekick, you know, like Randy Quaid or Jim Silva.

Thursday, Dec. 28
And the Hunt story just keeps getting better. Today, in the LA Times' report on Hunt's resignation, San Clemente councilman G. Wayne Eggleston tells Times staffer Garrett Therolf, “I wouldn't want to stop in Stanton, much less patrol it.” Now that's good provincialism! Not that I'm shocked. OC Weekly has a long history of Stanton-bashing. In the past we've written, “Stanton is the place the rest of us here in Orange County make fun of when we're tired of mocking Fontana,” and, “What can we say about Stanton that hasn't already been said about hell?” And when I say “we've” written that about Stanton, I mean Rebecca Schoenkopf, who I'm assuming used to dateStanton. Messy business, love. Stanton gets a bad rap, probably because its name is vaguely office supply-ish, but there are a lot of great things about Stanton. For one, it's home to that quaint amusement park, Adventure City. For another, it's home to Adventure City, that quaint amusement park.

Friday, Dec. 29
Associate Editor Patty Wirth Marsters gives birth to her second daughter, Phoebe Noelle, this morning. What is amazing is that Patty was at work on Tuesday and when I say “at work,” I don't mean she was collecting shower gifts, I mean she was workingand by “working” I mean kicking my ass in that sweet, efficient way of hers that makes me both love and fear her, you know, like God. Patty is that person every office needs who knows how to do everything and is pretty much the first person we turn to in times of crisis. Our editor, Will Swaim, is a really bright guy but like a lot of brilliant people is prone to distraction, mostly with shiny things. A typical day:

“Oh man, what should we do? Where's Will?”



“Found some crumpled tinfoil on the ground.”

“Damn! How about Rebecca?”

Poisoning Stanton's water supply.”


“She just gave birth.”

“Oh, so she's not going to be back for, what, another 10, 15 minutes?”

“Could be 20.”

“Damn you, relentless human desire to preserve the species!”

If Patty's ability to work right up until the moment of birth sounds a lot like those women who can pull the trick while harvesting starchy foods, you know, very Third World, it's no coincidence: she's from Arizona.

Saturday, Dec. 30
In a sad twist to the Bill Hunt story, San Clemente council member G. Wayne Eggleston now claims that he didn't say that bit about Stanton. On OCBlog, Eggleston said the Times' Garrett Therolf—all together now—misquoted him. Oh, G. Wayne, G. Wayne, G. Wayne. C'mon, what are you worried about? That a little line about Stanton is going to hurt your electoral prospects in San Clemente? Do you think people in Orange County actually pay attention to what their elected officials say or do? Ever heard of Mike Carona?

Sunday, Dec. 31
The Pentagon announces the death of Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, making him the 3,000th American soldier killed in Iraq. A few weeks before, a Pentagon report said that violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle between Sunni and Shiite armed groups “fighting for religious, political and economic influence,” and that any insurgency or foreign terrorist campaigns are just “a backdrop.” In the absolute worst-case scenario, our boys and girls are now caught in the crossfire of a civil war. At a time of such crisis it's natural for Americans to look for leadership. In lieu of leadership—not to mention a strategy and objective—George W. Bush is reportedly getting set to announce a new direction in Iraq. Most believe this will mean sending more troops, the kind of bold, 19th-century thinking that made the American Civil War a boon to battlefield photographers.

Monday, Jan. 1
Happy New Year
! And it's a very happy new year for Anaheim's first Rose Parade float entry in 35 years, which wins the Mayor's Trophy for outstanding city entry. The float features American Idolcontestant Lisa Tucker singing while surrounded by symbols of the city's 150 years: oranges, Disneyland, signing really bad stadium deals with professional sports franchises. Other winners include Sierra Madre's “Our Wonderful Wisteria,” which took the Lathrop K. Leishman Trophy as the most beautiful noncommercial float; Palmdale, which won the Past Presidents Trophy for the most creative use of floral and non-floral elements; and Cerritos, which won the Bob Hope Humor Trophy for its hilarious premise that anyone would actually want to live in Cerritos. (That was for you, Stanton.)

Tuesday, Jan. 2
Hey, didn't have room for this anywhere else, but just wanted to let you know that, on New Year's Eve, I ate venison for the first time. It tasted adorable.

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