Archive for July, 2008

By Scott Sink
OC Voice Staff Writer

Motorists passing through Huntington Beach may see local Native Americans and concerned residents picketing in front of the Brightwater housing development, built by Hearthside Homes, on Bolsa Chica and Warner.

The protesters are denouncing the building of houses upon an 8,500 year old village site, which includes at least 174 human burials.

“We’re trying to make people aware about what’s going on here,” said Paul Moreno, an organizer of the event from the Micmac Nation. “What has been done here isn’t right. Developers have destroyed 90 percent of Orange County’s sacred sites.”

Although the Coastal Commission approved the building permit in April of 2005, a broad-based coalition of indigenous peoples and environmentalists contend that Hearthside did not comply with the laws protecting sacred sites and archaeological remains. (more…)


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By John Earl
OC Voice Editor

What some people call a mere Huntington Beach bean field is actually one of California’s last remaining wetland areas, according to environmentalists and scientists for the California Coastal Commission. In either case, all the beans and much of the wetlands habitat will vanish soon due to a 5-2 city council vote on June 16 that advanced a 6-year-old proposal to build up to 170 homes on the site.

The housing tract will be located on part of a 50-acre section of land on the upper mesa of the Bolsa Chica wetlands, on an historical flood plain adjacent to a county flood control levee, south of Warner Avenue and along the west side of Graham Avenue.

Since 1971 city officials have dreamed of building homes on the site. The project is related to a larger, 30-year-old battle for 1,700-acres of threatened Bolsa Chica wetlands and habitat connected areas, 1,100 of which have been preserved but would have been replaced by now with a 5,700 home marina and other urban sprawl were it not for the efforts of local and state wetlands preservationists.

Councilmember Cathy Green, for one, has been content for years believing that the project would replace only beans, not wetlands, and that the city should keep with its past intentions. “I have always thought of it [the site] as a bean field and always thought that it was going to be developed residential,” she recalled before voting. (more…)

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By Vern Nelson
OC Voice Columnist

“We think our healthcare system is actually pretty good right now.”-State Senator Tom Harman, Sept. 2006.

At the time the senator uttered this astonishing remark to Laguna Beach’s Coastline Pilot, the U.S. was spending nearly twice as much per capita on health care as other developed countries, while rating 37th on most measures of quality of care, and it’s worse now.

Nearly 2 million Americans are driven into bankruptcy each year due to illness, and three-quarters of them had insurance when they got sick. Meanwhile, 22,000 Americans die every year from lack of medical service due to being uninsured-up from 18,000 at the time of Harman’s remark-equivalent to a Sept. 11 attack every 51 days. (more…)

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By John Earl and Scott Sink
OC Voice

Increased deportation raids conducted at gun point by “La Mirgra” in work places and homes across America are terrorizing documented and undocumented immigrants alike.

Multinational corporations operating under the banner of “free trade,” and xenophobic hate groups like the Minuteman Project, are the main beneficiaries of what a recent article in Nation magazine calls the emergence of Juan Crow, a reference to “Jim Crow,” the past practice of institutionalized racism used against African Americans.

Against that background, “Terror in the Barrio: The Rise of the New Right in Local Government,” a new book written by former Daily Pilot columnist Humberto Caspa, is both an informative and flawed history of Costa Mesa’s slide toward fascism.

Oddly, although “Terror” is part of the book’s title, there isn’t a single personal case history of that terror present in its pages. This could lead the reader to wonder why, since examples have been plentiful for the past several years in Costa Mesa (see “Chilling Effect,” OC Voice, Oct. 2007).

The specific proposals that marked the city’s right-wing turn, presided over by former mayor, Allan Mansoor (a member of the Minuteman Project), former Pro-tem Eric Bever (they have since switched roles) and former Councilmember Gary Monahan included disbanding the city’s Human Relations Commission, closing the Job Center after 17 years and using the police to enforce federal immigration laws on the slightest pretense. (more…)

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By Chris Caesar
OC Voice Staff Writer

While Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher made repeated assurances that he takes the problem of detainee abuse “very seriously” during an interview with the OC Voice recently, he apparently lacked familiarity with a number of issues associated with the system – including the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to detainees, and a number of widely documented incidents of abuse.

Critics chastised the congressman earlier this month for dismissing mistreatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay – specifically, an incident in which a pair of women’s underwear was placed on a prisoner’s head – as an act of “humiliation” and “frat boy pranks,” not torture. Rohrabacher made the remarks June 6 as a member of the Human Rights subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

While both the humiliation and torturing of prisoners is expressly forbade in the Geneva Conventions, Rohrabacher nevertheless stressed the importance of the distinction.

“The whole point is: what is the definition of torture?” he said. “We’ve had people define torture [so broadly] that it has become meaningless – if you tickle someone with a feather, is that torture? That’s certainly a physical tactic, and by the definitions some people have used for ‘torture,’ it would include tickling someone with a feather.”

While maintaining he “spend[s] a lot of time and effort reading…reports” on the issue, the Congressman still expressed disbelief that over 108 detainees had died in US custody, and that over 25 of the incidents are considered acts of homicide by the Pentagon, according to government data obtained by the Associated Press and recent testimony by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture. (more…)

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Editor’s note: The following article is hotly disputed by Shea Homes. Spokesperson Laer Pearce explains Shea’s position in the response the follows directly at the end of this article. The Voice encourages readers to consider the views of all parties involved in this issue.

By John Earl
OC Voice Editor

One of the primary reasons the Huntington Beach City Council accepted the California Coastal Commission’s recommended modifications to the Parkside housing project on the upper mesa of the Bolsa Chica wetlands (June 16) was the developer’s promise to repair the Wintersburg flood control levee up to FEMA standards along the property’s southern border, which Shea vice president Ron Metzler and city staff repeatedly assured the city council would lead to a FEMA certification and the elimination of flood insurance for 7,000 homes located all the way to the 405 freeway and north of Edinger Avenue.

They pointed to a 2002 FEMA letter as proof that the flood map for that area would be changed after Shea’s mandated improvements are made. The letter confirmed that the improvements would lead to lower or zero flood insurance premiums for an unknown number of people.

But Bolsa Chica Land Trust director Flossie Horgan tried to tell the council about a recent request to the city by Shea Homes to “consider a design alternative that would limit the improvement of the levee along the C05 Wintersburg Channel to the developed frontage in lieu of the entire length of the property as originally required under the conditions of approval for the project,” according to a Jan. 23, 2007 letter from City Engineer Travis K. Hopkins to the Coastal Commission. (more…)

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