Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tea Party Rage in OC Sheriff’s Race: “Most of the queers are liberal…Fuck you!”

A local Tea Party enthusiast wants to “tea bag” liberals, denies homosexuality exists in the Tea Party movement and says “fuck you” at a campaign rally for Orange County Sheriff’s candidate Bill Hunt. Hunt was joined by Sheriff Joe Arapaio from Arizona, who is famous for using police state tactics against immigrants and others. Hunt has said that he wants to be like Joe Arpaio if elected to office in November.

Commentary: Are HB City Council Members Doggone Hypocrites?

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

If coyotes can no longer prowl our city streets and parks for fresh cat and people meat with impunity, why should dogs be allowed to?

In fact, a city ordinance requires out-and-about dogs to be on a hand held leash six-feet or less in length.

The ordinance is clearly posted in every city park, but maybe a lot of dog owners don’t read. Whenever I walk Sappy, my small but ornery Mini Pin, to the local city park, he is usually the only dog on a leash.

Ten or more dogs are often frolicking about—always without leashes—but usually doing nothing more offensive than mutual butt sniffing. Sometimes, however, you find out why the city’s leash law should be enforced, as I did on two memorable occasions.

The first incident was several years ago. I rode my bike on the street that circles the park when a large unleashed Doberman ran for me at full speed, like a wolf chasing a caribou. I barely escaped.

Are our city parks going to the dogs? Photo: Surf City Voice

The dog’s owner sat on a park bench watching, but did nothing to stop her dog. What would have happened if one of my young children had been on that bike instead of me?

I called the police and the dispatcher said to call Animal Control, which I did, but AC said that it was unlikely that an officer would arrive on time to deal with the dog and its owner.

My next dangerous dog encounter was about two months ago while I was walking Sappy, on his leash, at the park.

Sappy gets very irritated by frisky puppies or larger dogs. Usually, he snarls a bit at the other dog and it goes away or I just lead him the other way by his leash and everything is fine.

But this time two very large and powerful pit bulls, probably well over 100 pounds each, which ran free with leashes dangling behind them, didn’t like the idea of being shooed away by an upstart Mini Pin a fraction of their size. Continue reading Commentary: Are HB City Council Members Doggone Hypocrites?

News Flash: Dog bites man, man gets pissed at coyote

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

The coyote is the predator de jour in Huntington Beach and some of the city’s residents at a recent city council study session were howling mad that city officials hadn’t done enough to stop the crafty predators from invading their neighborhoods to eat their cats and dogs and stalk adults and children.

There were over 2,000 complaints to police about stray dogs last year in the city of Huntington Beach.

A retired police officer who spoke out at the meeting even hinted at vigilante action. “I don’t have a weapon,” he said, explaining his reaction to seeing three coyotes on his street, “but you know what I feel like doing.”

Local politicians, police, Fish & Game and county officials alike got the message and have launched an action plan to help protect the people from coyote attacks.

Councilmember Don Hansen called the issue a “public safety problem” that “we need to deal with and get to the level of eradicating these coyotes, killing them, whatever it takes with the problem ones. I think we need to do that immediately.”

The conflict between coyotes and people in Huntington Beach is real and was outlined in detail recently in the Surf City Voice (Monster vs. Coyote, April 14). As noted in the article, there were 80 complaint calls to the police about coyotes in 2009, a steep rise from previous years. Continue reading News Flash: Dog bites man, man gets pissed at coyote

Downtown BID Director is Removed

Editor’s note: This is Connie Pedenko’s farewell letter to her workers after being let go as executive director of the Huntington Beach Downtown Business Improvement District. She was also in charge of Surf City Nights since its beginning. Surf City Nights occurs every Tuesday on the first three blocks of Main Street that combines a farmers market and street fair atmosphere, including a wide variety of street entertainers. No word on whether her sudden departure will mean a change in direction for Surf City Nights.

Dear HBDBID Members:

A very surprising turn of events, have me regretfully sending this final message as your Executive Director.  As you may or may not know, I was relieved of my duties as Executive Director on April 7, 2010.

It was my distinct pleasure to serve as the BID’s Executive Director during the past four years, and to share my consulting expertise in organizational development in helping to shape our common goals and vision.  My longstanding relationships with city and local officials as well, as the business community at large, served me well in directing the branding, building and development of “the BID.”  It is these relationships, as well as a reputation for honesty, integrity and commitment to excellence that I hold most dear.

I am more than satisfied with the achievements of the BID, under my direction. With the help of some very forward-thinking board members and an overall supportive group of merchants, I was able to institute practices used successfully by business organizations and create a more cohesive program of goals with measurable accomplishments. We were able to revamp and expand the current events, create new and exciting events, and discard those things that simply did not help us achieve our goal of promoting downtown as a family-friendly environment.  Through careful planning, smart marketing, and creative advertising, BID assets grew from $57,000, when first established as a 501c6 in 2006, to our current assets of $125,000. I sincerely appreciate and applaud those of you who helped along the way, and even those who chose a less cooperative approach; obstacles and unfounded negativity energized those of us who chose to strive constantly for success.

I will close by saying that I sincerely hope you will find (or have found) a person to continue to move this organization forward on a path that benefits all the varied tenants of the downtown business community. As you know from your own experience, an organization like this, without someone at the helm in a professional capacity, does not function successfully. Whatever strengths you think I brought to the position, I hope you will be careful to choose someone who can bring those same skills and talents. My devotion to the many friends I have in the BID will not end with my tenure as Executive Director, and I want you to have the best possible leadership to achieve what we began together, and beyond.

Good luck and much prosperity to each of you.

Connie Pedenko

Monster vs. Coyote: the Great Surf City Land War continues

A long time ago, before people inhabited the earth, a monster walked upon the land, eating all the animals except Coyote. In anger, Coyote attached himself to the top of the highest mountain and challenged the monster to try to eat him. The monster tried to suck in Coyote with its powerful breath, but the ropes were too strong. The monster tried other ways to eat Coyote, but it was no use.

Realizing that Coyote was sly and clever, the monster thought of a new plan. It would befriend Coyote by inviting him into its home. But first, Coyote asked if he could enter the monster’s stomach to see his friends. The monster allowed this, but Coyote cut out its heart and set fire to its insides. His friends were freed. From the monster’s body parts Coyote made the indigenous nations and they flourished. —Adapted from on a summary of the Nez Perce tale of Coyote, the Creator, written by Terri J. Andrew. Turquoise Butterfly Press.

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

In March, Huntington Beach residents living on the edges of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and the Naval Weapons Station packed a study session held by the city council and Chief of Police Kenneth Small, joined by state Fish & Game and Orange County Animal Control officials.

Metropolitan coyotes: An increasing common sight in the suburbs
Metropolitan coyotes: An increasingly common sight in the suburbs. (Photo not in Huntington Beach)

The citizens were snarling mad. Coyotes were invading their neighborhoods and city officials hadn’t done enough to stop them, they said. The citizens made it clear they weren’t going to take it anymore.

The emotionally charged meeting was a skirmish in the proverbial land war that has dominated the history of the American west since its first European explorers and would-be conquerors set foot on its soil centuries ago.

Until recently, there was no doubt about who was winning that war. But now, the coyotes are fighting back and seem to be winning.

Lisa Comacho, who lives near the weapon station’s wide open fields, sounded desperate and angry as she described to the officials a homeland under siege.

Seven pets and been killed on her street in the past week, she claimed. The coyotes are more aggressive than ever and they no longer fear people. Instead, they growl at them and stalk them when they walk their dogs, she said.

“The other day they ripped into a friend’s rabbit cage….They’re killing dogs and cats,” she complained.

Comacho expressed her ultimate fear, the same fear held by others at the meeting. “All I know is that we bought homes to live comfortably and safely and we can’t let our children out. Babies can’t go in the back yard….What we’re looking at is someday a child getting hurt or killed.”

One young mother said that her cat had been killed by a coyote and that a coyote had torn a dog on her street into three pieces. Sobbing, she pleaded for her daughter’s safety. “Is it going to take my daughter to get attacked in order for you guys to do something?” Continue reading Monster vs. Coyote: the Great Surf City Land War continues

Surf City Nights: Not just blowing in the wind, the weekly event may expand

By John Earl

When it started three years ago, the main idea behind Surf City Nights in Huntington Beach was to recapture the first three blocks of Main Street—the biggest beer-bar village in Orange County—for families who normally avoided it.

New Surf City Nights manager, Mary Ann Senske was the chair person for the Wings Wheels and Roters Expo. Photo:

For just one night a week from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. kids and adults could come together for family oriented fun on streets closed to noxious car fumes and the rowdy party-hearty crowd that normally owns the downtown during evening hours.

Surf City Nights got off to a great start.

Vendors selling fresh produce, bakery goods, crafts and clothing were joined by a cache of talented buskers, including singers, bands, dancers, acrobats and magicians, some of them younger local people seeking to improve their craft and gain public exposure. Together, they attracted thousands of obviously pleased visitors every Tuesday.

The city managed and subsidized the event at first as part of an experiment with the goal of handing over management and costs to the downtown business owners represented by the Downtown Businesses Improvement District, which collects fees from member businesses.

Some city subsidies are still flowing, but complete operating control was handed over to the BID by the city a year ago last January. Looking for a change of direction, the BID fired the city’s SCN manager and hired its own manager, Mary Ann Senske, on a ninety-day trial basis.

Crowds, along with buskers and vendors, had seemed to be trailing off a bit more than normal even for the cold winter months, but on Senske’s first Tuesday on the job SCN looked on the brink of collapse.
At least nine vendors didn’t set up, leaving a huge empty space on the first block of Main Street, normally filled with artisan and candy booths. Only a handful of the regular buskers showed up and crowds were sparse.

The city’s economic development staff went downtown that night to investigate and left worried. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one staff member confided that his department was disappointed with the management of SCN and concerned for its future if things don’t change.
The same staffer said that the BID’s new manager didn’t have the right type of experience for managing a farmer’s market and that it was too big a job for the BID to do by itself full time.

But a quick look at Senske’s background online indicates that as the chair person for the annual Wings Wheels and Rotors Expo at the Alamitos Army Airfield, an event that features “aircraft, helicopter rides, fly-bys, car show, music, food courts, vendors and family entertainment,” according to a calendar blurb in Orange Coast Magazine last October, she should be well qualified to handle anything that might come up on Surf City Nights.

Another city insider insisted that the vendors were upset with new fee increases and said that there had been many complaints.

But a public records search indicates only one recent complaint about Surf City Nights on record with the city: a Thai food vendor who asserted that fees for the event were higher than fees at similar events in other cities.

One of the first things Senske did with the BID’s blessing was to change the fee format for vendors from a percentage basis to a flat fee. Artisans will pay $60 a week in the winter and spring months and $125 per week in the summer, for example.

Entertainers, who earn money only from tip donations for their performances, don’t have to pay but go through a fairly strict application process.
Contacted by the Voice on March 11, Connie Pedenko, the BID’s executive director, insisted that all was well and that the vendor vacancies had been due to the wind and nothing more.

“[T]he wind came up and the vendors on the first block said ‘We can’t put our merchandise out.’…So we allowed them to pull into any slots we had open on the other block and park their cars as a wind barricade.”

Pedenko acknowledged that program changes are under way and that “Whenever there is change people get upset,” but said that the changes were meant to uplift a sagging program.

Adam Ho jamming during Surf City Nights. Photo: Surf City Voice

“When this event started, actually, it was for economic vitality for downtown and to bring business downtown on a Tuesday,” she said, referring to local families who weren’t coming previously.
Surf City Nights is not just a farmers market, she added, but a fair. “We’re going back to that idea and will have different things going on.”

One of those things, the Art Walk, isn’t on Tuesday but fits the family concept that Pedenko wants to emphasize for the downtown. Every third Wednesday from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. downtown businesses host an artist. In February 20 downtown businesses exhibited the work of various artists, excluding nudity or “shock and awe,” of course.

The new manager is also trying to rebuild relationships with entertainers that Pedenko says the BID lost contact with previously. “You will see the ones we originally started with … and they were excellent performers. So you’re going to see them coming back.”

Pedenko promised that things would get back to normal soon. “It will be fine, trust me. Give us a few weeks before we start judging everything.”

Three weeks later it seems that Pedenko has been fully exonerated. Most of the empty booth spaces have been refilled and the crowds are also back enjoying SCN veteran entertainers like folk singer Eric Kufs, guitar blazer Adam Ho and others.

But there’s more good news: Pedenko revealed for the first time that Surf City Nights may expand to the Strand and up into 5th street after the summer months and some other special attractions may be offered too.

Without a doubt, the Strand could use a little excitement. It stands relatively isolated, utterly boring and sparsely visited—can’t we think of something besides clothing boutiques, hamburger stands and yogurt shops? But with its narrow street and sidewalks that are clean and wide, it is also the ideal setting for a street fair and farmers market.

Pedenko admits that the idea will take a lot of planning to pull off. “We ask everyone to be patient because we have some very experienced people who are doing the coordinating. … Everything we do is family oriented. That’s our goal.”

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