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<i> Snapshots of life in the Golden State.</i> : Budget Impasse Made for a Life of All Work, No Pay

You have to figure that anyone signing on to work for new Assembly Speaker Doris Allen (R-Cypress) would realize that the job comes with certain hazards. And we all know that many state employees have been working for nothing since July 1, when the Legislature failed to pass a budget.

Put both of those factors together and you get the life of Mike Pottage, which is nothing short of ridiculous these days.

Since joining Allen’s staff as director of communications June 28, Pottage (rhymes with cottage) has had exactly one day off and two days pay.

“I came into a situation where we were trying to put a press operation together,” said Pottage one recent evening at 8 while waiting for the Assembly to reconvene and maybe, just maybe, vote on a budget. “The entire Speaker’s office has been organized since the 5th of June--during a budget crisis.”

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No, he’s not complaining. He loves the work, loves the boss, understands the difficulties, thrives on the long hours. Had the budget impasse lasted too much longer, he could have turned to his seven grown children for a loan to get by.

But he has already made plans for his first moment off, and they don’t include a trip to Disneyland. Pottage is going to the drugstore. “I have to take a blood pressure pill,” he said earlier this week. “I haven’t taken it in two days because I haven’t had time to go to the pharmacy.”

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Love Him True

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Elvis Presley died 18 years ago this month, but you wouldn’t know it by his fans. They love him tender in 500 Elvis fan clubs in 44 countries; no state and only one nation treats him nicer than California. Here are some places where the King is always on their minds. *--*

PLACE CLUBS Canada 23 California 21 England 21 Austrailia 19 Brazil 10 Germany 7 Romania 5 Malaysia 2 Sri Lanka 2 Croatia 1 Macedonia 1

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Source: Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

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What’s in a name: The good people of Lassen County are in a bit of a bind over what to call two local landmarks. Fredonyer Mountain and Fredonyer Pass have been known since 1852 for their discoverer, Atlas Fredonyer, a Republican crusader. And convicted child molester.

Fredonyer’s dark side has always rankled Don E. Saltzman, a lieutenant at the California Correctional Center near Susanville. So Saltzman suggested that the landmarks be renamed in honor of Larry D. Griffith, a Lassen County Sheriff’s Deputy killed last March while responding to a domestic dispute.

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The state Legislature recently agreed--to the chagrin of the Lassen County Historical Society. “It’s not our place to go back and change history,” said the society’s Janet Corey. We can always, however, call it something else.

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What’s in a name, Part II: First, he sued Disneyland to change the park’s ban on same-sex dancing. Then he sued Chippendale’s to change its prohibition on male attendance at male strip shows. Next he sued Gloria Marshall Figure Salons to change the company’s women-only policy.

Now he’s changing his name: Andrew Ross Exler, 34, has become “Crusader.” It’ll even say so on his Social Security card.

“If we changed our names so that they reflected what we are or what we do, my gosh, we’d have some really interesting names,” Christian activist Paul Sickler, who occasionally jousts with Exler, told the Palm Springs Desert Sun.

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We always thought they acted funny: Young but proud, the 2-year-old Inland Empire Film Commission is touting its arid environs these days as “Hollywood’s Largest Backlot.” Of the six feature films recently produced in the land of three-digit temperatures, one is particularly eye-catching.

“From Dusk Till Dawn,” featuring Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney and Juliette Lewis, is described by the commission as follows: “The story is about two thieves who stumble on a biker bar whose patrons happen to be the undead.”

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Festival of festivals: Southland readers will be forgiven if they don’t realize that California--the No. 1 farm festival state--is currently in the thick of the celebration season. From July through October, each month is a double-digit fair month, with festivals stretching from Klamath (salmon) to Yuba City (prunes).

Last week saw the 17th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, a three-day fete honoring the stinky rose and introducing the brave to everything from teriyaki-soaked garlic cloves to garlic ice cream. “I don’t think I’d ever try it if it wasn’t free,” said an honest Michael Scharff of Walnut Creek.

So what’s on tap this weekend? The International Calamari Festival kicks off in Santa Cruz. Tomatoes are feted in Fairfield, lamb in downtown Dixon. And Fresno County weighs in with the Firebaugh 49th Cantaloupe Roundup. Git along, little muskmelons.

EXIT LINE

“What is tolerated in San Francisco will not be tolerated in Dump Truck, Iowa.”

--San Francisco Police Inspector Michael Curran, in a San Francisco Examiner article on the Bay Area’s thriving S & M scene.

California Dateline appears every other Friday.


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