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

Finally, Algebra Becomes a Part of the Equation

October 03, 2000|PATT MORRISON

Always, among the banner-headline bills that a governor signs, are a few stunners and a few sleepers. This year's:

A bill by Sen. Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno) requiring--ready?--that California students take algebra to graduate from high school. Despite almost universal astonishment that algebra was not already a requirement, Poochigian's chief of staff, Bill Lucia, said the measure still drew "detractors who felt that in California we were unable to require this level of rigor in mathematics, and fought it subtly."

Come on, Sacramento--even Louisiana has now adopted an algebra requirement.

Two bills by Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) reach into history and geography. California was never a very hospitable place for slavery, but slave owners elsewhere held insurance policies for their slave "property." The bills signed by the governor require the insurance commissioner to demand that any insurance company now in California hand over records of such policies wherever they were held, and that UC scholars evaluate the economic benefits of slave-owning to businesses and slaveholders.

These are especially notable, considering that by one informed count, Gov. Davis has vetoed more bills by Hayden this year than by any other legislator--15.

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Telling tails: San Francisco is such a landlord's market that prospective tenants' pets are having to pass muster, too.

With a vacancy rate under 1%, even pets who have graduated obedience school cum laude are hard-pressed to find a pied a terre. The Humane Society, which has a sample pet-tenant resume on its Web site, says that most of the 5 million animals abandoned at the nation's shelters each year are left because no place will accept them.

Jessica Kerr-Leonard, a dog trainer at the city's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has been looking for months for a place for herself, her miniature poodle and her even smaller papillon. Her worst interview: a landlady who said, "I don't think I could deal with dogs. Have you ever considered euthanasia?"

Maybe--for the landlady.

Dogs in the oh-so-smart town of Indian Wells face a new ordinance restricting whining, howling or barking to 15 minutes in any given hour. Being provoked or seeing a trespasser exempts them from the 15-minute rule, but the law hasn't established a penalty--or how dogs will know when their 15 minutes are up.

And the late California cartoonist Charles Schulz was honored in his home state of Minnesota with an auction: 40 statues of the world's most famous cartoon dog sold at the world's biggest shopping mall.

The 5-foot-high polyurethane statues, designed by local artists and exhibited all over town, brought in $823,000 to fund a "Peanuts" statue and Schulz scholarships. One didn't make the auction block: "Stargazing Snoopy," which was decapitated as it stood on a St. Paul street, presumably on a dark and stormy night.

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From the shelves of Montezuma to EBay: The San Diego State student council voted to recommend banning the school's Monty Montezuma mascot and dumping the Aztecs as the name of its sports teams, something the school Senate and university president have yet to decide.

But already, buyers have emptied student stores of T-shirts, mugs, pennants, posters and stickers bearing Monty Montezuma or Aztec figures, thus ironically guaranteeing the mascot will live eternally--in the form of collectibles.

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One-offs: Authorities arrested two suspected Vista bank robbers, nicknamed "Dr. Evil" and "the Buff Bank Bandit" for their respective T-shirt wardrobe and musculature. . . . The California Prune Board is giving its product a motto makeover, remarketing it as a "dried plum."

EXIT LINE

"At first I thought it was a cool adventure. But then it started raining, and I was afraid I was going to freeze to death."

--Andrew Baumgartner, 14, of El Cajon, quoted in the SonntagsZeitung. Swiss rescuers were astonished that Andrew and four San Diego-area companions survived the night after getting lost on the slopes of 6,959-foot Mt. Pilatus.

California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Violence at Home

Last year in California, 128 people were murdered in cases of domestic violence. They are listed by their relationship to the killer:

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VICTIM NUMBER KILLED Girlfriend 47 Wife 41 Husband 12 Boyfriend 6 Son 4 Stranger/bystander 4 Ex-wife 3 Friend 3 Homosexual partner 2 Acquaintance 1 Daughter 1 Ex-husband 1 In-law (male) 1 Stepdaughter 1 Stepfather 1

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Source: California Department of Justice

Researched by TRACY THOMAS/Los Angeles Times

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