Category Archives: Original Story

Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice (Book Review)

Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice by Adam Bereki.  Costa Mesa: Spartan Associates, 2010.

Reviewed by Daniel C. Tsang
Special to the Surf City Voice

I made the mistake of initially dismissing as a flimsy account Adam Bereki’s slim (160-page) personal narrative about being drummed out of the Huntington Beach Police Department because of his sexual orientation .  But on re-reading his book, Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice, I came to realize that his book is a stunning indictment of what the author perceived as the deep machismo, laced with homophobia, of the Surf City’s police department

Adam Bereki, . Photo courtesy Mike Lee of Starlight Photography

Current Police Chief  Ken Small, who headed the department during Bereki’s short tenure, is quick to dismiss (in the Orange County Register) Bereki’s work as “fiction”.  Yet Bereki tells a believable if horrifying  story where truth is stranger than fiction, such as when a trusted mentor turned on him by simulating anal sex with him during police training exercises and another fellow cop made jokes about it being his “day off” when someone was reported masturbating in public.  He also got demerits for being gung ho about police work, thus  putting his lazier fellow cops to shame.  In fact, his personnel  evaluations  miraculously shot up when he briefly slacked off and in his own recounting, did what many other cops did: read a book, sit under a tree, or browsed the Internet during work hours.  Bereki  also claims most cops file reports that are never acted upon; more than once, he felt tempted to tell crime victims that dark secret.

Bereki, passionate about police work since he started in the Explorer program as a teenager, went to police academy and was initially welcomed into his hometown police department.  But soon rumors of his sexual preference began spreading, especially after his housemate, a cop whom Bereki viewed as his mentor, “Junior,” found him in bed with another guy, who was actually a fellow gay cop, “Justin,” from Laguna Beach Police Department . It didn’t matter that the two were zonked  out drunk after a night on the town in L.A.  The mentor  went to the “police association’s bar and told everybody the story.”  His tormentor would later scream at him, according to Bereki, saying: “I don’t want gay rumors or roommates in this house.  I don’t know where you and Brad have been doing up in LA, but that’s where all the fags go.” Brad was another friend of Bereki’s. Continue reading Friendly Fire: The Illusion of Justice (Book Review)

SE Meeting: Poseidon, Ascon, AES top the list

May 18, 2010
4:30 PM

Huntington Beach
Civic Center
Lower Level, Meeting Room B-8

Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy, Chair; Council Member Joe Carchio, Council Member Devin Dwyer & City Staff

Contact: Economic Development Department @ 536-5542

  1. 1. Public Comments

The Southeast Area Committee welcomes public comments on all items on this agenda or of community interest.  We respectfully request that this public forum be utilized in a positive and/or constructive manner.  Please focus your comments on the issue or concern that you would like to bring to the attention of Committee Members.

  1. 2. Poseidon Project……………………………Ricky Ramos – Planning

  1. 3. Ascon Landfill Project…………………….Rosemary Medel – Planning

Update on the status of Interim Removal Measure by Mary Adams Urashima

  1. 4. AES ……….……………………………………Staff

Introduction of new AES Plant Manager Weikko Wirta

  1. 5. Park Projects……….………………….……Dave Dominguez – Community Services

Presentation on Community Gardens by David Baronfeld

  1. 6. Major Development Projects……………Staff

  1. 7. Capital Improvement Projects…….…..Tony Olmos – Public Works

Newland Street Widening

Newland/Hamilton Traffic Signal

  1. 8. Adjournment to July 20, 2010

Union Reform Moves Forward in Orange County

Edgar Esquivel, a UPS worker in Orange County, Calif., reports on the progress of the new reform movement in his Teamster local.

May 10, 2010

Analysis and commentary
By Edgar Esquivel

Special to the OC Voice

FIVE MONTHS after it was born, the grassroots movement Reform Teamsters 952 has gained significant momentum through rank-and-file workers’ efforts to change the direction of their union.

Picket
Teamsters Local 952 members on strike against the Orange Country Transportation Authority in 2007. Photo: Reform Teamsters 952

In recent weeks, the group, made up of pragmatic rank-and-file workers from Teamsters Local 952 in Orange County, Calif., has campaigned at numerous work sites, including UPS, CVS, Coca-Cola, Straub (the local Budweiser distributor), UPS Freight and Yellow Freight–and has been well-received by workers at each of these companies.

But perhaps the biggest shock to the Local 952 system came at the UPS hub in Laguna, Calif., where the reform movement was launched. In late April, UPSers from the Coast Center at the Laguna hub organized votes of “no confidence” against their two shop stewards, who were controlled by the union old guard. One old guard steward was defeated, and a reformer elected in his place.

Over the past few years, the center had developed a reputation for weakness due to their shop stewards’ lack of action. A majority of members in the center circulated a petition that forced their union business agent to hold a new election for shop steward for package car drivers.

This action by Coast Center workers was a blow to the officers of Local 952, who for years have failed to instruct and train shop stewards on how to properly carry out their tasks in defense of members.

And on April 28, in a stunning upset for Local 952 President Bob Hahn, Mike Deszcz–a reformer who for years had been blackballed by the president himself for his strong union advocacy–won the election. As a result, a Hahn clone has been replaced with a 30-year Teamster who wants UPS to acknowledge that UPSers are human beings, and not a number or a bottom line.

After the victory, Deszcz added: “I consider it a privilege to represent workers at a time when it’s greatly needed.” Showing that he was not running to be exempt from union dues, he said he will use his portion of his monthly dues to buy gift cards for the hard-working members of Coast Center.

Reform Teamsters 952 congratulated Deszcz and the Teamster brothers and sisters at Coast Center for taking a stand against the status quo and old guard policies of Local 952. Their triumph symbolizes reform, and Reform Teamsters 952 welcomes and embraces it. Continue reading Union Reform Moves Forward in Orange County

Downtown Shuttle Starts

From a Surf City official press release:

Surf City's Downtown Shuttle is ready to go.
Surf City's Downtown Shuttle is ready to go.

The free Huntington Beach Surf City Downtown Shuttle will make its inaugural voyage from City Hall to downtown Huntington Beach on Saturday, May 22, 2010, running through September 5 and making stops at the northwest corner of Main Street and Orange Avenue, and on 5th Street at The Strand.  The surf-themed shuttle resembles a classic woody-style vehicle, and will operate on weekends from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  The shuttle will also run on Memorial Day (May 31) and Labor Day (September 6), but will not be in service on Independence Day (July 4).

Shuttle riders can take advantage of free parking in the Huntington Beach City Hall parking lot, located at 2000 Main Street at the corner of Main Street and Yorktown Avenue and board the shuttle at one of the two available stops in the lot.  The shuttle will run on a 3.5 mile continuous loop throughout the day, and provides a quick, fun and comfortable alternative to driving downtown on days when the demand for available parking spaces reaches its peak.  This means that visitors will spend less time searching for parking, and spend more time enjoying shopping, dining and strolling in downtown Huntington Beach.

The Surf City Summer Shuttle is a pilot program for 2010.  The city will evaluate the program throughout the summer to determine how the program can best serve the community in the future.  The program is funded by Air Quality Management District funds provided annually to help alleviate congestion by providing viable alternatives to driving.

For more information on the Surf City Downtown Shuttle, visit www.huntingtonbeachca.gov or contact the Economic Development Department at (714) 536-5542 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (714) 536-5542      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

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Never Ending Cycle: A green and healthy way to get around in Surf City

By David J Keulen
Special to the OC Voice

Old fashioned bicycle
David Keulen tries out an older version of bicycle riding. Photo: Dave Keulen

Riding a bicycle can be fantastic in Huntington Beach. The city has all the right ingredients for a pleasant ride….lovely weather, wide roads, and almost exclusively flat terrain.  Plus the recent economic downturn has illustrated the advantages of changing to a means of local transportation that is convenient, healthy, and low-cost, in other words, cycling.

Of course, there’s just one problem, namely the mega-ton four-wheeled vehicles that also course over the same roads that lead to the beach, the store , the schools. Virtually everyone who has ridden a bicycle anywhere other than on the beach bike paths has experienced a potentially life-threatening near-miss with a car. As an experienced bike rider, unfortunately one begins to take this for granted and hopefully learns to be extra cautious, learning to anticipate dangerous situations in advance in order to avoid a collision that will inevitably injury the bike rider more than the driver of the car.

But it doesn’t have to be so dangerous. All across the United States numerous cities have begun to see the value of bicycling for both transportation and recreation, and have incorporated cycling access, parking, and education into their municipal infrastructure. These aren’t bicycling fanatics, but are city planners and transportation engineers involved with issues such as public safety.  And, of course, it is a public safety issue, not a private safety issue that can be solved by wearing a helmet , a reflective vest, and using a special kind of bicycle. If the city environment is engineered with cycling as a defined part of the transportation package, it becomes safer and more viable. Continue reading Never Ending Cycle: A green and healthy way to get around in Surf City

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