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School Boss Sweepstakes

At first glance it looked like L.A. school board members couldn’t add. After saying they would select nine citizens to help pick a new school superintendent, members named an 11-person screening committee. What gives?

Turns out that in closed session, three board members threw a fit when they learned corporate magnate Eli Broad hadn’t made the cut, well-placed sources say. Two of the unhappy board members — Caprice Young and Genethia Hayes — were part of the reform slate Mayor Dick Riordan helped elect last spring — with the help of a cool $250,000 from Broad. In the end, Broad was named to expanded slate.

The screening-committee roster is also notable for who isn’t on it, namely businessman Bill Siart, a former banker and friend of Dick’s, who recently started a firm to help charter schools get off the ground. Siart was runner-up to Zacarias in the last selection process — what happened? The most plausible answer is that Siart is a candidate for school boss this time as well.

Then there’s former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, who turned down a committee appointment. The buzz is that the former San Antonio mayor, currently an L.A.-area resident and president of the Spanish-language Univision television network, may be considering throwing his hat in the ring. The school board is seriously considering naming an outsider, and Cisneros already is serving on the volunteer committee reviewing school-district financial reform. He dropped off the national political map after a bimbo eruption. But that shouldn’t hurt him at L.A. Unified, where executive-suite affairs are the stuff of legend.

—Howard Blume

MILLENNIAL HANGOVER

With a year’s worth of Y2K products — date books, journals, picture frames, T-shirts — finally tucked neatly away (to collect dust before one day spilling out of the closet and reminding us of that once-monumental passage into, well, just another year!), OffBeat felt we had earned a good cup of coffee. But as we cruised down the java aisle of our local Albertson’s, we were horrified to come upon the latest in caffeine products — the “Millennium Blend” (weeks after the fact; but, hey, coffee doesn’t spoil). An alien’s face hangs from the see-through canister encasing the golden-brown beans. The ad copy reads: “Alien Colonization, energy grid meltdowns, economic collapse. Welcome to the year 2000.” Are we relaxed yet?! The chipper medium roast, a product of Millstone Whole Bean Coffees in Washington, has been warming L.A.’s grocery shelves since November; at the Los Feliz market, it’s so popular the bin is refilled weekly.

“It’s our feature of the month for January,” said store manager Jack Evans. “And it seems to be selling pretty well.” So what ingredients, exactly, go into a brew for the ages? Scott Hilton, Millstone’s district manager, wouldn’t say, but the company’s Web site had some sage advice for those still suffering from Y2K backlash. “Try to keep it all in perspective with a cup of Millennium Blend. After all, it’s not just surviving — it’s surviving with style.” So, did the styling, Madonna-adjacent Los Feliz smart set stream into Albertson’s December 31 to stock up on Millennium Blend for its post-apocalyptic New Year’s brunches? “Nope,” Evans said. “Just water. And soup.”

—Deborah Picker

ANIMAL CRACKERS

Malibu Municipal Court, best known for its paparazzi-swarmed celebrity cases, was the showcase last week for a new kind of charge: bestiality. That’s right, man-animal love, not in the Okefenokee swamp, but right at the film colony’s back door.

A preliminary hearing was set for an Agoura Hills resident known as the “carrot man” on multiple charges of animal cruelty and sexually assaulting animals. Authorities say Daniel Bruce House, 55, who sells carrots to stables for a living, bound and sexually assaulted several horses along Cornell Road in Agoura last summer.

House has pleaded not guilty; his lawyer says the case is a witch-hunt.

“Today, anyone accused of an offense of hurting an animal in any kind of a way gets heavy-duty overreaction,” says attorney Michael Rotsten. “To a certain extent people start acting like vigilantes.”

Whatever the merits of the House case, animal-welfare officials say bestiality has exploded to epidemic proportions in recent years. The growth is largely in the popularity of zoophilia (animal love) Web sites and chat rooms, ranging from the Official Homepage of the First Church of Zoophilia (featuring marriage vows for “adherents of the church and their loved ones”) to the crude animal-man blowjob and copulation pictures of bestiality.com.

“There is a whole world on the Internet that claims to love animals and be acting in the interest of the animals,” says Claire Ponder, an official with the Humane Society of the United States. Ponder believes that the Internet has inspired sexual abuse of animals by individuals who otherwise would never have thought of it. “It really confirms to them that they are not weird and this is a practice that other people are enjoying.”

“We hear about one to three cases a month. And those are just the ones we hear about,” agrees Bradley Woodall, a cruelty-case coordinator with the Portland, Oregon–based Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Unfortunately, the majority of bestiality cases are never prosecuted, says Woodall. About 25 states have failed to pass laws banning the practice (California is not among them). Woodall puts part of the blame on legislators, who don’t want their names associated with such distasteful matters.

“Nobody wants to touch it,” Woodall says.

That may change soon. The Humane Society last year launched a campaign to tighten up laws against the sexual abuse of animals. Until then, bar the gate and lock the barn door, Fanny.

—Christine Pelisek

nate the great

Nate Holden is one of — at most — two Los Angeles City Council members old enough to remember 1936. So it came as something of a surprise to find his recollection of that year flagging just a bit. The occasion was a council committee meeting given over to attacks by the mayor’s underlings on a widely reported November critique of Hizzoner. The report had contended that the success of Dick Riordan’s efforts to attract business to Los Angeles had been somewhat exaggerated. By, naturally enough, Riordan himself.

Deputy Mayor Rocky Delgadillo was taking hard swings at the methodology of the report, which was compiled by some UCLA researchers with the participation of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. The report also faulted the mayor’s efforts on the grounds that they concentrated on low-paying jobs.

Delgadillo compared the report’s alle-ged statistical flaws to those of “the Literary Digest presidential poll of 1936.” That was the poll in which the since-defunct magazine concluded that Republican Alf Landon would trounce incumbent Franklin Roosevelt in his first re-election bid. Roosevelt, of course, went on to smash Landon.

“That was Dewey,” interposed the redoubtable Holden — mistaking the ’36 faux pas for the famous 1948 poll which inaccurately forecast then–New York Governor Dewey besting incumbent Harry S. Truman. Based on the error, several newspapers put out banner headlines saying “Dewey Wins!” or some such balderdash.

If only elected officials’ memory lapses were limited to matters five and six decades old! According to the UCLA report, Riordan’s recollection failed him about matters barely five years old. But then, selective memory seems to have become a prerequisite for holding public office.

—Marc B. Haefele


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