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Snapshots of life in the Golden State | CALIFORNIA
DATELINE / PATT MORRISON

Now Where's Solomon When You Need Him

May 23, 1997|PATT MORRISON

And you thought splitting the atom was difficult.

Public hearings begin soon on how to cleave the desert-to-the-sea territory of the 805 area code in order to squeeze in another area code, come 1999.

The two proposed lines to halve the 805 turf are mapped roughly east to west and north to south--the Bakersfield Californian calls them the Mason-Dixon plan and the Cold War plan.

In area codes, as in so much else, California leads the lesser 49, dividing and multiplying them like a paramecium on acid: from only three in 1947 (213, 415 and 916) to 23 by the end of 1998.

And not to say that area code czar Doug Hescox is ordering a Kevlar wardrobe, but people are very cranky about having to part with their habitual triple digits. Heck, some are still mad over losing local-call name prefixes such as MAdison.

A few code combos like 911 and 411 are reserved for nationwide use. So too are same-digit codes; 888 is already a toll-free area code. Hescox says even 666 is available, but has had no takers.

Not even Dial-a-Prayer.

*

Maybe Bono too, but not U2: The suspense is killing everyone, but we should know soon whether Republican Sonny Bono--congressman, Palm Springs mayor, singer, celebrity ex-husband--plans to try for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's job.

In the meantime, his wife, Mary, thinks he'd be perfectly cast as the mayor of another hot city--politically, not meteorologically: the nation's capital. "I think Sonny could bridge a lot of gaps with the people," she told the Washington Post. "As a Republican he could offer a lot to the city." But then she added: "There is no way in Hades he will run for mayor of D.C."

Pity. Journalism history would be made with a headline about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times: "Moonie Paper Endorses Sonny."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Gulf War Illnesses

By mid-1996, 60,411 veterans of the Persian Gulf War had undergone free physicals for Gulf-related illnesses, and 1,690 of those were examined at California's nine Veterans Administration medical centers. Also examined were 73% of the nearly 42,000 Gulf War veterans still active in the military, including 1,240 soldiers on California's 13 military bases. Those with any of the 10 most frequent complaints, including fatigue, skin rash, headache, memory loss and muscle or joint pain, receive follow-up treatment.

MILITARY BASES: SOLDIERS EXAMINED

* Ft. Irwin: 369

* Camp Pendleton: 265

* San Diego Naval Hospital: 183

* Travis Air Force Base: 109

* McClellan Air Force Base: 89

* Lemoore Naval Hospital: 62

* Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms: 40

* Port Hueneme Naval Construction Battalion Center: 32

* Edwards Air Force Base: 29

* Vandenberg Air Force Base: 25

* Los Angeles Air Force Base: 19

* Beale Air Force Base: 12

* Onizuka Air Station: 6

TOTAL EXAMINED: 1,240

Information about the health services and benefits to which Gulf War veterans are entitled: (800) 749-8387.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Defense Department

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

*

Yea, nay, whatever: The Emily Litella "Never Mind" award goes to Assemblyman Carl Washington (D-Paramount), who sent a memo of apology to the entire Legislature because during a Revenue and Taxation Committee vote on Gov. Pete Wilson's 10% tax cut for banks and corporations, he "inadvertently" voted yes when he meant to say no.

Washington is new to the Assembly, but vote-switching is not. After some Assembly sessions adjourn, there's a rush among the Elect to line up down front to change in private votes they cast in public. (Annoyed legislators are starting to tell the clerk to prohibit such vote changes on specific bills.)

Although they aren't allowed to change the overall results, they can straddle fences and save face, siding with Assembly pals or other interested parties for the floor-vote show . . . and then tiptoe up and change the final vote on the record for the home front--be they voters or contributors.

Yes is no--and war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

*

One-offs: A woman will not face charges for losing count and driving off from a San Jose fast-food restaurant, leaving behind one of her eight natural and foster children--a 3-year-old boy . . . San Francisco celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original season of flower power by making "Summer of Love" a registered trademark . . . a 15-year-old Fresno boy whose nickname, prosecutors say, is "Trigger Happy," will be spending 13 years in custody for killing a friend . . . Contra Costa County officials plan to buy do-it-yourself air sampling kits for worried residents of its oil refinery region to use after industrial leaks.

EXIT LINE

"The test of time will show that Pete Wilson has been a great leader, a tough leader in the mold of Winston Churchill."

--Wilson press secretary Sean Walsh, quoted in the Sacramento Bee . . . (Would that be the Winston Churchill who won the Nobel Prize for literature, who led the British Empire in the defeat of Hitler, who was the most spellbinding speechmaker since Pericles? Or would that be the Churchill who drank wine in the morning, Scotch in the afternoon and brandy at night, who lost the election after winning the war, and who once met with FDR sitting in a bubble bath smoking a cigar?)

California Dateline appears every other Friday.

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