MACAU STORY: The last (and only time) I was in the Portuguese tax haven and gambling mecca of Macau, Stanley Ho had a casino monopoly, gang wars raged, and everyone feared the gangster known as “Broken Tooth.”
Today, the tiny enclave is officially part of China, gang wars have subsided, Broken Tooth is gone (for now), and Las Vegas has invaded and is making billions. Ho still has 16 casinos, but Vegas mogul Sheldon Adelson reaped $2.95 billion from his four pleasure palaces in the first half of this year, which has allowed him to help bankroll Mitt Romney’s presidential bid. Macau casinos now rake in five times the annual Vegas shakedown.
Adelson has donated $36.6 million to Romney so far and has said he’ll up the ante to $100 million to put Mitt in the White House. Adelson is just one of 31 billionaires backing Romney with bucks, according to Forbes financial magazine.
There are very cynical people in the world who suspect that Adelson is hoping for a GOP win so the feds will get off his back. He’s under investigation for alleged bribery and money laundering aimed at getting favorable concessions from China. President Obama’s Justice Department is after him.
Part-time Montecitan Harold Simmons is a relative piker in the Romney sweepstakes, having donated a mere $15.8 million. Not bad for a guy who started out with just one drug store. He’s worth $7.1 billion but had a bad year, dropping $2.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Another part-timer, Oprah Winfrey, is worth $2.7 billion and, as far as I know, is not donating a cent to Mitt. She’s not only the richest African-American woman in Montecito but the nation’s only black billionaire. She is reportedly shooting a film in New Orleans, The Butler, with Forest Whitaker. Due out next year, it’s the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served eight presidents, 1952-86.
Wonder what’s in Ty Warner’s wallet? He’s just behind Oprah at $2.4 billion, still nothing to toy with. Craig McCaw, ex-hubby of you-know-who, is worth $1.5 billion and trying to sell his James Island, off the coast of British Columbia, for about $75 million. Then there’s Santa Barbara’s richest part-timer, Larry Ellison, founder of the Oracle software empire. At $41 billion, he’s the third richest man in the U.S. and is still raking it in. He made $8 billion in the past year.
That’s not bad for a South Side Chicago kid. Ellison just bought 98 percent of the Hawaiian island of Lana‘i for an estimated $500 million or $600 million or something. What’s next: Santa Cruz Island? Santa Barbara itself?
Scanning Netflix, I spotted the 1952 movie Macao (sometimes spelled that way), featuring locals Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, both now deceased. Netflix and Leonard Maltin’s guide gave it such a good rating that I ordered it. Wonder if Adelson ever saw the movie — or even went to Macau?
CHICKEN SALAD: Let me get this straight: The seriously ideologically split Santa Barbara City Council has taken some Architectural Board of Review (ABR) members to task for supposedly being ideological. What a joke.
It was almost amusing to watch some on the council shaking fingers at ABR members for the shocking crime of abstaining on the Chik-fil-A patio shrubbery. The three conservatives even wanted to throw two ABR abstainers under the bus. (The third abstainer had already resigned.) After much breast-beating and pompous speeches, the witch hunt was defeated 4-3.
Seldom, if ever, has a chicken sandwich caused such a ruckus. After four hours of wasted time, the council wearily agreed on an expanded code of conduct for the ABR and other design boards. I don’t recall the council folk pledging to keep their own left-right leanings out of deliberations. Who, really, could blame them? So they’re not taking any stinking oath.
A different council might have voted 4-3 to oust the abstainers and searched for replacements more to their ideological liking.
After Chik-fil-A eventually opens on upper State Street, replacing Burger King and its red meat, we’ll see who salutes a chain that helps finance antigay hate groups. As for me, I’m not big on fast food that doesn’t come out of my microwave. I’m abstaining on chicken sandwiches