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Golden State | California Dateline / PATT MORRISON

Republicans Appear to Be the Ants of the Assembly

January 04, 1998|PATT MORRISON

Long before Assembly offices closed for business at noon Wednesday, to reopen Monday morning, most of the Democrats' offices, including the speaker's, were shuttered--but a good many Republicans' staffers were still hard at work.

The fable of the ant and the grasshopper? A strategy like George Washington's to get the drop on the partying British with a Christmas Day action? Or were the Democrats trying to lull the GOP into a false sense of security?

"Maybe they're just not prepared enough to take the time off," remarked Jonathan Waldie, the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee's chief administrative officer. "Or maybe," he said, "we just believe in family values, in spending time with loved ones during the holidays."

Over on the ant side, the offices of GOP Assembly leader Bill Leonard were still aswarm at midweek. This month will find 430 bills available for Assembly consideration. "Our plan is to be prepared."

"My attitude," Leonard said, "is we're No. 2, so we try harder."

*

God vs. goods: For Deborah Wilson's small neighborhood market in San Pablo, getting into God has also meant going out of business.

To please God and to purge her Jordan's Short Stop store of its sin merchandise, Wilson tossed out $2,000 in tobacco goods and poured away $10,000 worth of booze, and put on her shelves in their place her mother's cooking and gospel music tapes.

Neither has sold well enough to make up the difference from smoking and drinking product sales--a full three-quarters of her income. Even a gospel benefit concert and a forgiving landlord could not save the day.

"I never wrote out a business plan," she said. "I never thought about how this would destroy me financially. I just figured it was for God, and if people loved God, they would support me and buy other things."

But come next week, Jordan Short Stop will just stop. Still, Wilson hopes that she can one day start up her purer but poorer commerce elsewhere.

*

Sawdust to sawdust: Now it's termites. The Lone Cypress--official trademark of the Japanese firm that owns the Pebble Beach golf course and resort--has survived storm and arson, and is now getting babied through a bout with bugs. New padded support cables are also being installed, and the soil is getting more mulch. In the face of all that coddling, one member of the California Native Plant Society, Mary Ann Matthews, finds it "ironic" that the same firm has plans to fell thousands of Monterey pines to put up homes and another golf course. (The Lone Cypress also has understudies; two cypresses have sprouted near its base.)

*

Gov love: At first it appeared that Democratic Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, who is stepping up to the plate in this year's governor's race, was collecting endorsements from members of the Los Angeles school board.

But, upon closer reading, it could be argued that, in using flagrantly ungrammatical unattached phrases, the board members were in fact endorsing . . . themselves:

Said board President Julie Korenstein:

"As a candidate for governor, I am proud. . . ."

Said board member Barbara Boudreaux:

"As our next governor, I am confident. . . ."

George Kiriyama gets a gold star for getting it right:

"As a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District board, I particularly appreciate. . . ."

*

One-offs: Alameda police interviewed a 14-year-old in connection with racist graffiti found painted on a home--and misspelled. . . . Santa Clara County courts will soon allow litigants to file lawsuits by fax 24 hours a day. . . . A Christmas Day house fire that killed a father and son in San Francisco was apparently started by burning incense. . . . A San Jose online auction of unwanted holiday gifts included a black leather cat-o'-nine-tails whip.

EXIT LINE

"I disbelieve the juror's answers."

--U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell, presiding over the Unabomber case, in dismissing a prospective juror who declared that he not only didn't know what the death penalty is, but that he hadn't heard of anyone dying.

California Dateline returns to its every-other-Friday format Jan. 16

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Land of Olives

California, with its dry, temperate climate, is the only state in the nation that grows commercial quantities of olives. But fluctuations in the state's unique weather system account for marked year-to-year differences in olive production. So for those of you who use the cooking oil they provide, drop them in a martini or nibble them from the hors d'oeuvres party tray, here's the rundown on the tons produced and their dollar value over the last 10 years.

Tons of olives

1996: 166,000

(in millions)

*--*

YEAR VALUE 1987 $41.1 1988 $45.3 1989 $57.5 1990 $55.7 1991 $36.3 1992 $90.6 1993 $57.0 1994 $39.0 1995 $50.1 1996 $102.5

*--*

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

Source: California Agricultural Statistics Service; U.S. Agriculture department

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