Government springs into action—well, gets ready to, anyway—against the creeps who have been stripping copper and aluminum from public installations and selling it for personal profit. Naturally, the government’s action involves stripping away more of our personal privacy, but by now that’s pretty much par for the course. Beginning Dec. 1, amendments to state recycling law will require facilities that buy copper or aluminum to videotape or photograph the items, then wait three days before paying the seller. They will also have to obtain the seller’s thumbprint and photo ID. It’s extreme, but how else are these crimes going to be stopped?
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19
How about the free-falling stock market? Wall Street’s crash has dragged down the market for metals. In spring and early summer, steel was $600 a ton; now it’s $50. Copper was $3.50 a pound, now it’s $.95 cents. Aluminum was $1.80 a pound; now it’s $.30 cents. Consequently, even as those new and drastic anti-metal-theft laws are getting ready to go into effect, thefts of copper, aluminum and other important metals have dropped off drastically. In San Bernardino, for instance, police Capt. Scott Paterson says there’s been a 33 percent reduction in metal thefts since the metal-market crash. Deputy Roger Young of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department says thefts have dropped 30 percent.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20
What do the Victoria Gardens Mall in Rancho Cucamonga, a Wal-Mart in Chino, truck stops in Ontario and the Grapevine, a grocery store in Highland, and homes in Ontario, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Irvine and Los Angeles have in common with a man identified only as “Cubi?” They’re all mentioned in a complaint filed by federal investigators in a mounting cocaine-trafficking probe that appears about to—if you’ll pardon the term—blow. Heh-heh. Pretty funny. Cubi, I mean.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21
In the still-alive-and-kickin’ tradition of cowardice and bigotry that so memorably served racist politicians a half-century ago, Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter (D-Rialto) covers her ass with God and patriotic duty as she explains why she has not signed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the state Supreme Court to reject Prop. 8—the ballot measure that rewrites the California constitution to take away the right of same-sex partners to marry. Carter tells the Riverside Press-Enterprise she voted for Prop 8. “It primarily stems from my constituents but also from deep religious convictions,” Carter says. “Since I represent my district, I didn’t sign on to it.” Of course, if most questions of racial equality had been put to a popular vote in many states 40 or 50 years ago, most God-fearing rednecks would have been saying the same thing. And most African-Americans, like the deeply religious Ms. Wilmer, wouldn’t have been allowed near the polls.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22
About 120 middle and high school students from Riverside and San Bernardino counties converge at UC Riverside for a robot competition. Very disappointing. For one thing, it turns out not to be a dance contest. Instead, it’s a bunch of math geeks who’ve spent months holed up in the house making complicated little machines when they should have been out playing football—although it’s a pretty good bet (and a somewhat mitigating factor) that some are on the cross country team. The kids’ gizmos compete in two challenges—one simulating the aftermath of an earthquake, the other mimicking an accident in a mineshaft. Again, disappointing. When I hear “challenge” I think of . . . oh . . . setting off on a mission to Alpha Centauri in search of a habitable planet for humans to colonize in anticipation of the coming day when Earth’s overpopulation and natural resource depletion turns it into a death clod. Then came the robots, and do I need to say it? Disappointing. Not even one Model B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot blinking and waving its apparatus while monotonically shouting “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” I saw Dr. Zachary Smith, though. He was bummed, too, wailing “Oh, the pain . . . the pain!”
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Volunteers from the Old Riverside Foundation get the day off from saving little bits and pieces of local history from the steamroller of time when the Palmer-Moreno house in Norco goes up in flames. History buffs had been trying to preserve the house for years. It’s one of Norco’s oldest homes, built in 1910 from a kit. But for all the talk of tradition in the city that loves to call itself Horsetown, USA, everybody was always out to lunch—or more accurately, at the rodeo. Preservationists had planned to salvage doors, fixtures and hardware from the six-acre hilltop residence. Instead, they arrived to find a pile of charcoal. At least the place died in a historically accurate way. Lots of houses burned in the old days. As we’ve recently been reminded, lots of them still do.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24
Was that a raindrop?