Sun 4 Aug 2013
It’s been a particularly good week to live in Marin, where the news was mostly positive, rather than in certain other parts of California, where the news too often was grim. Consider the following:
1. On Thursday, a 36-year-man, who had been teaching at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in San Jose, was found guilty on five counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with five second-grade girls between 2010 and 2012. The victims, who were 7 to 8 years old, testified teacher Craig Chandler had taken them to a locked room during recess, blindfolded them, and then made them perform oral sex on him. Chandler now faces 75 years to life in prison.
2. On Friday, a 33-year-old Catholic priest from Sacramento, the Rev. Uriel Ojeda, was sentenced to eight years in prison for molesting a 13-year-old girl while he was an overnight guest in her parents’ house.
3. Also on Friday, Los Angeles Police arrested Scott Hounsell, who until June 15 was the executive director of the Los Angeles County Republican Party. Hounsell is charged with sexting a 16-year-old girl. Ironically, the GOP leader in May had publicly snickered, “Is it just me, or does every Weiner headline for the NY Mayor’s race seem like an intentional dirty pun?” (At least none of the females Democratic candidate Anthony Weiner has been sexting is underage.)
Tragic underestimate. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, by Autumn Parry)
4. At 6 a.m. Saturday, the demolition of an old PG&E power plant in Bakersfield sent shards of metal flying more than 1,000 feet. The shrapnel cut off a 43-year-old Bakersfield man’s leg and caused major injuries to his other leg. Another two people, who suffered lesser injuries, as well as two cars were likewise struck in a Lowe’s parking lot. The 1,000-foot safety zone was too small for blowing up a steel structure, an outside demolition expert later told The Bakersfield Californian. “Cleveland Wrecking Co. of Covina was the prime contractor,” the newspaper reported. “Subcontractor Alpha Demolition hired Demtech Inc. to take down the structures.”
5. At 8 p.m. Saturday, a 38-year-old motorist drove down the paved boardwalk at Venice Beach at high speed and deliberately struck 17 people (click here for video). A 32-year-old Italian tourist on her honeymoon died while 16 other people received injuries ranging from minor to major. The driver, Nathan Campbell, drove off but turned himself in to Santa Monica police two hours later. His motive remains unknown.
6. On Monday, a 30-year-old sheriff’s deputy from Orange County will be arraigned for allegedly pepper spraying a 19 year old’s pizza after another officer stopped the teen for a traffic violation. “[Deputy Juan] Tavera is accused of spotting a pizza on the back seat of the victim’s car and then pepper spraying it without the teen noticing,” The Los Angeles Times reported. “Later at home, the victim shared the pizza with four friends, leading all five to experience physical discomfort.” The incident occurred last September, and the sheriff’s office spent the last 10 months investigating the alleged assault.
Gayer news — These two headlines ran on successive pages in Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle, on the last page of the B section and on the first page of the C section. Was it the “rose-colored view” provided by local dykes that got Marin County Republicans to support marriage equality?
San Francisco standup comic Marilyn Pittman, who performs a risque show called “Ask a Lesbian” (click here for video), visited Mitchell cabin in June, treating Lynn and me, as well as our friends, to a sampling of her brash humor.
In some sketches, Marilyn describes herself as a “dyke,” so I sent her a copy of these headlines. Unfortunately, the “Dykes” refers to Sonny Dykes, the new head football coach at UC Berkeley.
All the same, it was a very good week for the struggle against homophobia. From the GOP in Marin County, to Vatican City, to California’s Central Valley farmlands, tolerance of differing sexual orientations is growing.
While being interviewed by the press a week ago, Pope Francis remarked, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Later that day, The Bakersfield Californian did a spot check of Catholics leaving mass at St. Francis of Assisi near the city and found the people it interviewed overwhelming in agreement with the pope.
“God created us as equals, and as Catholics we believe in welcoming anyone into our church, so it’s excellent to hear that he wasn’t afraid to say it verbally for the whole world to hear,” said one of the people interviewed, Lupe Galindo, 66.
So that’s a roundup of California news — good, bad, and off color — during the past week. In closing I’ll return to the aforementioned comic, Marilyn Pittman, because a couple of her sketches remind me of the old limerick: “A gay in a bar in Khartoum/ Asked a lesbian up to his room./ But they argued all night/ Over who had the right/ To do what/ And with which/ And to whom.”