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California and the West | CALIFORNIA DATELINE / Snapshots
of life in the Golden State.

It's Cruiser Madness on Both Sides of the Law

November 14, 2000|PATT MORRISON

Those hip new PT Cruisers are proving a bit of a problem for city governments up and down California. Last month Hemet city officials had to return their new Cruiser after locals deemed it too luxurious.

And last weekend in Santa Rosa, a 22-year-old man fleeing police in a Chrysler PT stolen from a car dealership rammed another kind of cruiser--a patrol car.

It wasn't the first mishap for officers pursuing the car, which was hot in a way Chrysler marketing executives probably didn't imagine. Early in the chase, Petaluma police had laid spike strips ahead of the PT, but unaware of that, Santa Rosa police and two sheriff's cars drove over the spikes instead.

The strips definitely work. Tires went flat on all three law enforcement vehicles.

Police got the last laugh, though. Driver Tyrone A. Bradish, also suspected in the earlier theft of another PT Cruiser from the same lot, was finally busted after he returned for a third time to get another vehicle because his fuel gauge was on empty.

"We eventually caught him because he ran out of gas," Police Sgt. Tony Wynne told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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Clear-cutting vs. breast-baring: The wood nymphs are here, stepping out of Greek legend and stepping into the road. After a tentative first foray of going topless to save the redwood trees, conservationist-poet-artist Dona Nieto has made it a a regular thing, thinking of calling her campaign "Striptease for the Trees" and her documentary the "Bare Witch Project."

In her encounters at logging sites around Mendocino County, loggers have cranked up the volume of Christian radio music to drown her out. The woman--whose performance name is "La Tigresa"--recited her signature poem, "I Am the Goddess," in Spanish to some non-English-speakers, and when she flagged down one truck and began reciting poetry about the Earth as mother, the logger yanked out a disposable camera and took some snaps.

"Because I'm speaking for the Mother Earth, people get it and I get respect," says Nieto. "Everybody knows it has to do with saving the trees."

Traditional protests were "getting us nowhere fast," says Nieto. Certainly, if she and her occasional companions were merely carrying picket signs endorsing sustainable logging, they would not have gotten such news coverage here and on German television.

Perhaps the lingerie company will revive its classic, decades-old ad campaign and sign on Nieto as its model, to declare boldly, if less nakedly, "I dreamed I stopped a logging truck in my Maidenform bra."

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Priced out: San Carlos Mayor Dave Buckmaster is being driven out of town--by the price of housing.

Even though the 28-year-old native son works for an Internet company, he and his schoolteacher wife cannot afford to buy a house in his hometown.

First elected to the City Council when he was 23, Buckmaster decided to follow his firm's move to more affordable Sacramento.

"It was a huge decision. I was born and raised here," said Buckmaster, who has watched area housing prices more than double since he graduated from college. "It really is the Achilles' Heel of Silicon Valley. If anything is going to kill our prosperity, it is the price of housing."

The median price of a house in San Carlos hovers around $750,000.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Turnout in Presidential Elections

Despite last Tuesday's tight presidential race, California's estimated voter turnout, measured as a percentage of those registered, was the second-lowest since 1972.

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Election Turnout % Nov. 7, 1972 82.1% Nov. 2, 1976 81.5% Nov. 4, 1980 77.2% Nov. 6, 1984 74.9% Nov. 8, 1988 72.8% Nov. 3, 1992 75.3% Nov. 5, 1996 65.5% Nov. 7, 2000 71.7%

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Source: California secretary of state

Researched by TRACY THOMAS/Los Angeles Times

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One-offs: Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego), who won reelection by 69% to 27% over GOP challenger Bob Divine, jokes that he's demanding a recount. "People voted for Bob Divine when they meant to vote for Divine Bob," he said. . . . A San Francisco man who avoided paying parking tickets by selling his cars before they were towed and buying new ones has been presented with a $16,375 bill after being caught by a new computer system that tracks parking tickets by name rather than by car. . . . Medical marijuana growers with the right insurance can be reimbursed up to $500 per plant if thieves strike their crops, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal.

EXIT LINE

"I'm the one people call to get the dead cat out of the alley but, hey, that's OK."

--TV ad for Christine Kehoe, a San Diego City Council member running for the Assembly. Kehoe, a Democrat, won the 76th District seat by a nearly 2-1 margin, obviously boosted by the cat vote.

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California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.

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Times staff writer Bettina Boxall contributed to this column.

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