Room with a View: 2018 Year in Review

In January…

…the Rose Parade had a crackerjack grand marshal in Gary Sinise and it was a darned shame that somebody had to lose the Rose Bowl in order for the other team to advance to the Championship Game. The entire Rose Bowl was clothed in red — for the University of Oklahoma Sooners (who lost by a blocked field goal) and the University of Georgia Bulldogs (who won by not giving up and by Sony Michel actually scoring the winning touchdown in double overtime). The Bulldogs went on to face the Crimson Tide in the Championship Game — wait! Another red on red college football game? How do they pick who wears the home jersey and who wears the visitor’s jersey?

President Trump declared the entire State of California a disaster area, tweeting “YUGE fireball burns up CA. Dems always asking for Fed help. Now we can send in the Marines! HOORAH!!!” He also signed a formal declaration that will allow all three remaining Republican residents of the formerly Golden State to gain access to federal funds to re-develop wildfire-ravaged areas into artisanal smoke-infused olive oil producers, goat cheese dairies, and wineries.

Doug Ose, a strong and vocal supporter of Donald Trump, filed to open a campaign committee to raise funds to run for governor in the June primary. So at this point we had a Northern California Trumpkin facing off against a Southern California firestarter, Travis Allen. Ose is described as “moderate” by the Sacramento Bee. Allen has been running around setting (figurative!) brush fires everywhere he can find tinder, including attempts to recall State Senator Josh Newman and to repeal the gas tax. But he doesn’t have Santa Ana winds at his back to whip up the flames.

In February…

…the New England Patriots did not win the Super Bowl. And the TV game announcers might as well have worn clown noses while speculating whether that fourth-quarter dive for a touchdown by Eagles player Zach Ertz was righteous. It was so righteous, Ertz could sing “Soul and Inspiration” with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield while bobbling the ball in the end zone.

…the stock market rediscovered the concept of “down” as the Dow Jones Industrial Average spent the first week and a half dropping like a rock. Everyone ran around screaming like their hair was on fire. It was so bad, some pundits actually recommend investing in Bitcoin. Really? The pundits should wait for the year to play out — Bitcoin will crater and the stock market will fall with a resounding clang, followed by a nice bounce that doesn’t repair the damage but does restore investor confidence (somewhat).

…California Democrats showed a remarkable lack of consensus, failing to endorse candidates in half the fourteen statewide offices. Major offices that went without an endorsement were U.S. Senator (Dianne Feinstein notably failing to leap the vote threshold) and governor (Gavin Newsom not reaching 60%). Apparently, California Democrats want neither a steady hand on the tiller (veteran Feinstein) nor a daring navigator to lead them into uncharted waters on the political Left (supposed up-and-comer Newsom).

…in Parkland, Florida, a jug-eared delinquent with no morals shot dead seventeen of his former classmates while armed representatives of the local constabulary waited outside until the shooting stopped. No one was surprised when California’s senior United States Senator, Dianne Feinstein, led a renewed call for increased “gun control” in the face of the screamingly obvious inability of the government at all levels to adequately protect those students shot dead, despite red flags and warnings galore concerning that jug-eared delinquent.

…high school students across the country — some locally in Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, and Long Beach — staged walkouts in remembrance of the seventeen students shot and killed in Parkland, Florida and in protest of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects the right of all citizens to keep and bear arms. The students offer no workable way to reconcile taking away everybody’s guns with maintaining a robust ability to defend against some nut with a gun and no morals.

Antifa arrived in Los Alamitos in the form of a pint-sized hoody wearing sunglasses, who yelled at audience members to “Shut the Hell up!” while speaking against the ordinance proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto to except the tiny city from the California Values Act. The pint-sized hoody refused to talk with me when I asked why profanity was needed. I tried — twice. The second time, her cadre threatened Orange County Breeze with a boycott. The ordinance? It passed 4-1 with a stinger amendment proposed by Mayor Troy Edgar to file an amicus brief in support of United States v. California. The dissenting vote was cast by the only attorney on the Council dais, Mark Chirco.

President Trump requested the mobilization of “the National Guard” to secure the southern border with Mexico in response to sanctuary state policies put in place by California Democrats and a caravan of immigrants (helped by Mexico) headed al Norte. After days of delay, Governor Brown mobilized the California National Guard not to protect the border but for “law enforcement.” If this were just about anywhere else, “law enforcement” would include enforcing immigration law.

…for the first time, a ballot proposition to partition the State of California collected enough signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla had no comment. The State Supreme Court later ruled the proposition unconstitutional and removed it from the ballot.

…meantime, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France were bombing Syrian chemical facilities. The facilities manufactured weapons deployed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own citizens. Governor Brown had no comment.

In March…

Los Alamitos loosed heck upon itself when the City Council voted 4-1 to approve an ordinance in support of the United States Constitution. Grass roots efforts by other locales — Orange County, San Diego County, cities as far away as the Central Valley and Santa Clarita — resulted in sympathetic actions.

…Los Alamitos received a certified letter from the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes asserting “that the City’s at
-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act.” Litigation was threatened.

In April…

…Los Alamitos did not back down. The City Council voted 4-1 to confirm an ordinance in support of the United States Constitution. Two days later, “Los Alamitos United” and the ACLU ceremoniously sued the City.

…in gardening news, the first tomato of the season set in a home garden in the City of Cypress. There is no connection between homegrown tomatoes and possibly unwise (even if constitutional) ordinances passed by local government. Homegrown tomatoes are never, ever thrown at unwise local government officials. Homegrown tomatoes are too yummy.

… California State Senator John Moorlach releases a statement with lots of numbers and long descriptions and charts and stuff that boils down to: the City of Cypress is the best in the County of Orange at managing its money — but don’t worry, the State of California will do its damnedest to screw up the City’s budget anyway.

In May…

…Los Alamitos was treated to a May Day parade with participants bussed in to plump up the size. The pastor of the “oldest church in Los Alamitos” joined in the march. Participants walked west along Katella Ave. accompanied by drums and chants. They successfully annoyed drivers at the intersection of Katella Ave. and Los Alamitos Blvd. by blocking traffic as they crossed. The march ended at the small plaza in front of the Los Alamitos Council Chamber, with buses picking up the outside marchers.

…at a special meeting of the City Council, a resolution was approved to move to district elections to avoid litigation.

President Trump invited members of the Los Alamitos City Council to the White House. No word yet on whether Jeff Sessions will serve as associate defense council in the lawsuit filed against Los Alamitos by the ACLU.

In June…

…Los Alamitos began the process of moving from at-large City Council elections to by-district elections on a 90-day schedule to avoid exposure to litigation. Two reporters and four commenters showed up for the first public hearing. One of the commenters was from Rossmoor.

residents of Cypress approved a rezoning plan for the property owned by Los Alamitos Race Course. (It includes some land that was formerly part of the defunct Cypress Golf Course.) Landowner Ed Allred donated property on the southeast corner of Lexington Dr. and Cerritos Ave. to the City for use as a public park. When City staff members toured the property, they found it lumpy (unmaintained golf course rough) and full of lost golf balls and dead critters.

…on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court threw a cream pie in the face of the Democrat-dominated California Legislature by declaring the California FACT Act unconstitutional, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he would retire effective July 30. This is colossal. Re-stock popcorn and soda for Fall political watching!

In July…

…after a great deal of behind-the-scenes difficulties, the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular was held at Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base. The event is jointly sponsored by the cities of Cypress, Los Alamitos, and Seal Beach plus the unincorporated community of Rossmoor. The City Council of Cypress instructed its staff to look into alternative locations. Later in the year, staff reported to Council on three possibilities. The City of Los Alamitos expressed interest in joining Cypress if a move is made for 2019.

Harry Sidhu pulled papers to run for Mayor of Anaheim. Earlier, Mr. Sidhu had made a sizeable donation that allowed the City’s Fourth of July fireworks program to proceed. In November, he won election as Mayor of Anaheim.

Dave Shawver announces a run for Mayor of Stanton. He wins election in November.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Leslie R. Greenfield becomes the Golden State’s first female infantry officer.

…Cypress picked a beautiful day to stage its annual Community Festival. Over the same weekend, Seal Beach Municipal Pier was the site for Rotary’s annual Fishing Derby, and Huntington Beach hosted Van’s Open of Surfing. Cowabunga!

…California Treasurer John Chiang introduces a “completely voluntary” program to make saving for retirement easier for employees whose employers have not in the past sponsored a retirement saving program. Although employee participation is voluntary, all employers with at least five employees are now required to offer a workplace retirement savings plan, either through the private market or through the new CalSaver program.

…in utterly unrelated scary news, Shelley Hasselbrink announced she would run for re-election to the Los Alamitos City Council, and Knott’s Berry Farm hosted a preview of new attractions at the upcoming 2018 Scary Farm. Lots and lots of people were spooked in October. Councilwoman Hasselbrink won re-election in November.

…in weirdly related public safety news, a Stanton man pleaded guilty to throwing flaming towels at the Orange County Sheriff’s substation in that city, and California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged President Trump to prevent the production of 3-D printed guns.

In August…

…the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins announce their football schedules — all futile. Neither team will make it to a bowl game, although both head coaches retain their jobs.

…Los Alamitos Mayor Pro Tem Warren Kusumoto leads the charge (as a private citizen) for a local event supporting National Drive Electric Week. This proves less divisive than his proposal earlier in the year of an ordinance opting out of SB 54.

Casa Youth Shelter purchases an adjoining lot on Reagan Street in Los Alamitos through an amazingly generous donor. Wow! Now comes the really hard part: carefully planning to make the best use of the new property.

…Cypress Police Department said good-bye to K-9 Sem, the largest police dog in Orange County. (No word on whether he was also the fluffiest.) He will live out a well-earned retirement with his handler. On the heels of his departure, the Police Department welcomed his replacement, K-9 Kubo. Woof!

…Seal Beach began an improvement project for its municipal pier. Construction is scheduled to finish prior to Summer 2019. Merchants in Old Town rejoice.

… Stanton City Manager Jim Box abruptly resigned. In unrelated news, an earthquake jolted the area. Its epicenter was in La Verne.

…the California Small Business Association endorsed Democrat Tom Umberg for California State Senate District 34. Umberg went on to unseat incumbent Janet Nguyen as part of a “blue wave” that flipped seats from Republicans to Democrats in Orange County in an oddly protracted counting process that saw incumbents at first look to win re-election, then be undone by late-counted votes.

Eric Steven Bowman, a coach at Los Alamitos High School, passed away. Our condolences to his family, and his many friends.

…Los Alamitos City Councilman Richard Murphy — the only member of that City’s Council not running for re-election (Troy Edgar was termed out) — changed his position on the controversial ordinance that landed the City in court, sued by a local resident with backing from the ACLU and unions with support from a local church. Councilman Murphy said that although he supported the interpretation of State law that should allow the City to exempt itself from SB 54, he felt that exposing the City to costly litigation was not prudent. Instead, he preferred what the City of Huntington Beach did, suing the State of California. Later in the year, a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the City of Huntington Beach, and the suit against the City of Los Alamitos was suspended pending appeal of that ruling. A GoFundMe account to pay for the City’s cost raises tens of thousands of dollars but is short of actual legal bills.

In September…

…the Holy Fire proved that Orange County could burn just as well as Santa Barbara County (see: January). I think the ash fall from this fire blighted my tomatoes (which never recovered) and my roses (which had somewhat recovered by Thanksgiving).

…both United States Senators from California showed that they do not believe in due process or the rule of law. The way in which they cooperated in the partisan attempt to prevent Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court undermined Congressional authority and Constitutional law. Despite the all-out effort, Kavanaugh was confirmed in time to join the Court (a little late) for its new term. Also despite the shameful display, Dianne Feinstein was later re-elected in the November general election — maybe because her opponent was Kevin de León, who is even further left than Kamala Harris.

In October…

…a new term began for the United States Supreme Court, shy one Associate Justice. That opening was cured when Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in after surviving a dreadful and harrowing nomination process.

…Retiring Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens endorsed Matt Harper for re-election. Marper is unseated in the November election by Cottie Petrie-Norris.

…the so-called Dynamex decision roils business relations with its independent contractors. Truckers sue to prevent its application to independent operators.

…California State Senator Ling Ling Chang — who replaced recalled State Senator Josh Newman — honored local business Subs ’N’ Grub as Small Business of the Month. Subs ’N’ Grub has two locations in Cypress, and one in Los Alamitos.

…Los Alamitos celebrated finishing the beautification project on Los Alamitos Boulevard by closing Serpentine Drive for speeches and free food. Like Coyote Creek Park (opened in 2017), this project was spearheaded by Mayor Troy Edgar, who stuck with it even when the project looked deader than Scrooge’s business partner.

In November…

…lackadaisical Congressman Dana Rohrabacher couldn’t surf his way to another term.

…sharp-as-a-tack Young Kim did not win election to Ed Royce’s old District.

Sharon Quirk Silva was re-elected. I wasn’t surprised, but was disappointed. Maybe her opponent spent more time and money elsewhere in the District, but we barely knew she existed here at the southern end.

…Son of Lowenthal failed to gain Travis Allen’s Assembly seat despite Taylor Diep’s understated campaigning. I may not have to bear a grudge against Travis Allen for giving it up to run a quixotic campaign for governor. Maybe I will just moderate the grudge a bit. I still grind my teeth over the debate between Travis and Troy Edgar. Immediately following that debate, fellow Los Alamitos Council Members Warren Kusumoto and Gerri Graham-Mejia endorsed Allen against Edgar. Although Troy and Warren have publicly reconciled, that stunt still sits badly with me.

…Matthew Harper did not gain re-election in the 74th Assembly District despite sporting a fedora. His challenger, Cottie Petrie-Norris, will help pad the Democratic supermajority in Sacramento.

…something weird went on in the Los Alamitos School Board election while I was paying attention to City Council elections. Challenger Marlys Davidson got the most votes. That bears looking into.

…something weird also went on in the Buena Park City Council election. I don’t know what, and I don’t know whether I’ll have time to find out what.

…outside money seeped into the Cypress City Council election. Although all three incumbents survived, that outside money raises questions for the 2020 City Council election, when Rob Johnson and Mariellen Yarc will be termed out. If the three challengers had chosen to run against open seats rather than incumbents, we might be talking about Council Members Frances Marquez and Steve Bradley.

…State Senator Janet Nguyen did not win re-election. I will miss her.

…the gas tax repeal failed. Really? Really? I blame misleading ballot language and highly effective “magical thinking” television ads.

Seal Beach voters approved Measure BB,a sales tax increase of 1%, to shore up City revenue in response to ever-increasing public employee pension costs. According to the text of the Measure, the tax takes effect on “s the first day of the first calendar quarter commencing more than 110 days after the adoption of this ordinance.” Adoption is considered to have taken place on Election Day, November 6. Therefore the additional 1% sales tax will begin on April 1, 2019.

Seal Beach will hold a runoff election to determine a Council member for District 1, comprised of Old Town and Surfside Colony. District 1 is currently represented by Ellery Deaton. The runoff election is scheduled for January 29 at an estimated cost of $19,000.

…Republican Congressional candidates from Dana Rohrabacher to Mimi Walters to Young Kim flamed out. Travis Allen, having given up campaigning for re-election to his 72nd District Assembly seat and failed to win in the primary, announced that he’s running for Chairman of the California Republican Party. Democrats swept Congressional Districts in Orange County by winning with a big GOTV effort that resulted in slow-counted provisional and mail-in ballots. Republicans lost by being lackadaisical about getting out the vote. Overnight results suggested that Young Kim and Mimi Rogers, for instance, had won. Call it the Trickle Down Election Effect.

…after nuking the GOP in Orange County, the Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, Fran Sdao, announced that she would not seek re-election. After allegations of sexual misconduct, the Chair of the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, announced he would take a leave of absence while the allegations are looked into. How can I satirize this?

…the entire state of California — except, wouldn’t you know it, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego — burned to ashes from the mountains to the sea. Hellscapes of scorched foundations and seared car husks could not sketch the staggering ruins of thousands of buildings and many dozens of lives. Through this wreckage tromped two clowns, California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and President Donald J. Trump. Newsom blames the fires on global warming and climate change. Trump blames Democratic mismanagement of forest resources. How do you satirize them?

…in the middle of two calamitous California wildfires — the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California — an ignorant CBS (national) weatherman declared that what California needed was “a good hard rain.” No, we don’t. That would cause catastrophic debris flows, like those in Montecito earlier this year. What we are thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day is a “gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed…”1

…we are grateful to all our firefighters particularly, and to those who follow behind to pick through the ashes for pieces of lives lost.

…NASA’s Mars InSight landed successfully on Elysium Planitia. Can a Disney Mars Resort be far behind? Congratulations to the team at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

George H.W. Bush passed away. He and his wife Barbara, who died earlier this year, were married for seventy years. God willing, I aim to beat that.

In December…

…termed-out Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar received commendations and honors at the last Council meeting of the year, including a salute from Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel (through her field representative Tim Whitacker) for leading the charge for retaining local control in the face of SB 54. Edgar’s last act as Council member was to recognizer Nikki Monninger, bass player for Silversun Pickups, as an outstanding citizen of the City. Then he threw a party on the patio at Off The Hook.

…the 2019 Mayor of Los Alamitos will be Warren Kusumoto. Richard Murphy will serve as Mayor Pro Tem.

…the Cypress Council elected Stacy Berry as Mayor, and Rob Johnson as Mayor Pro Tem.

…the La Palma Council selected Marshall Goodman as Mayor, and Peter Kim as Mayor Pro Tem.

…Los Alamitos Unified School District Superintendent Sherry Kropp announced her retirement after eight years on the job. She will leave in April 2019. The District will immediately begin searching for a replacement.

…members of the Cypress Police Department escorted six kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Cypress for a shopping spree at Target, part of a national Shop With a Cop program. No arrests were made in Cypress, but elsewhere a couple of Really Stupid Criminals™ tried to shoplift almost $2,000 in electronics after telling cops what a nice thing they were doing. The alleged thieves were apprehended by store security and turned over to the cops. Note to other Really Stupid Criminals™: Target is merciless in fighting shoplifters.

…a United States District judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is unconstitutional. Everybody that you would expect to go ballistic went ballistic. Everyone you would expect to gloat gloated. But even legal eagles opposing Obamacare think that the ruling won’t survive on appeal.

…following four and a half years of legal maneuvering and delays, Scott Durzo, who ran a popular youth sport camp in Seal Beach, pleaded guilty to multiple counts of committing a lewd act upon a minor. He will be formally sentenced in February 2019.

…after more than fifty years serving in leadership positions at Southland Credit Union, Advisory Committee Member G. David Mills steps down.

  1. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1.