Rainbow flag is history on Huntington Beach city-owned flagpoles
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Feb. 15. We are Carol Cormaci and Vince Nguyen bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter. Together we’ve aggregated the latest local news and events for you.
Huntington Beach City Council members, on a vote split narrowly along party lines, decided last week — after two hours of sometimes tense public comment — to reverse a 2021 decision to raise the rainbow Pride flag for six weeks each spring. Our colleague Matt Szabo covered the council meeting in person and said the chamber was full of an audience seemingly as divided as the council on the subject.
The proposal, introduced by newly elected Councilman Pat Burns, a conservative, will allow only flags representing the United States, state of California, Orange County, city of Huntington Beach, POW/MIA and the U.S. military to be displayed on city property.
The agenda item, without spelling it out in so many words, effectively targeted the Pride flag because it was the only previously city-approved banner that was barred from city-owned flagpoles going forward.
LGBTQ activists expressed disappointment at the passage of the agenda item. To them, it erased the progress made two years ago when the previous council voted to fly the Pride flag at City Hall every Pride Month, which falls in June.
Burns, who was backed with votes by his conservative colleagues Mayor Tony Strickland, Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark and Casey McKeon, protested that he wasn’t taking an anti-gay stance.
“It’s not about getting rid of the Pride flag. I have a nephew and a niece that are both gay, and we love them dearly,” Burns told the crowd. “But in my family, we recognize everyone equally. ... Let’s just stick with our beautiful American flag and everything else.”
Peter Levi, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of Orange County/Long Beach, urged officials to reject Burns’ ordinance proposal in a comment submitted to the City Council in advance of last week’s meeting. The city received hundreds of emails about the measure, council members acknowledged.
“Prohibiting the display of Pride flags because they are allegedly ‘divisive’ sends a dangerous message to the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” Levi wrote. “The change in Huntington Beach policy will actively send the message that they are not welcome here, that they do not belong, while emboldening extremists.”
At least one opponent of the new policy suggested that maybe the move should prevent Huntington Beach from being considered a host city for the L.A. 2028 Summer Olympics, according to Szabo’s report. Assuming the city does host surfing competitions five years from now, the City Council majority at that time would be faced with either revamping the flag policy or carving out an exemption for the Olympic banner.
— When Fountain Valley teen James Nguyen’s grandmother died from cancer in 2020, the 18-year-old was determined to find a way to help anyone else experiencing the deadly disease. He developed a method to detect it through a unique but everyday means — with a toothbrush. Putting a microfluidic chip inside a toothbrush seemed like a reasonable idea to him, writes Daily Pilot reporter Lilly Nguyen. The chip could theoretically be programmed to separate out cancerous cells from saliva. The young inventor has been working with a biomedical start-up in Southern California for the last two years and has been recognized by philanthropic initiative Rise for his efforts. He is part of the 2022 cohort of Rise Global Winners.
— Shipping companies accused of damaging a pipeline months before it ruptured and spewed 25,000 gallons of crude oil into the Huntington Beach coast in 2021 have agreed to pay $45 million in lawsuits brought by business owners and residents. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs said last Thursday that they are finalizing non-financial terms with companies that owned and operated the MSC Danit and Cosco Beijing container ships to prevent “similar events from occurring in the future.” Capetanissa Maritime Corp., Dordellas Finance Corp. and their subsidiaries have been accused of allowing their ships to drag their anchors across the sea floor during a storm in January 2021, about nine months before the spill. The shipping companies have denied any wrongdoing, and the full settlement details have not been disclosed.
— Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Wagner announced Friday he would seek another term as supervisor in 2024, City News Service reported. The former Irvine mayor and state assemblyman said a key priority in his next term would be public safety. He has touted his leadership in reopening Irvine Lake for fishing and support for funding efforts to process a backlog of three decades of sexual assault kits for evidence. He made the announcement at the Old Orange County courthouse in Santa Ana alongside Supervisor Andrew Do and O.C. Sheriff Don Barnes.
— A public memorial is planned for Dr. Michael Mammone, who earlier this month was fatally stabbed while cycling in Dana Point. Relatives and friends of Mammone shared memories of him last week. Many described him as a loving father who spent most of his life taking care of others. Mammone worked at Providence Hospital and spent 20 years working as an emergency physician in Upland before moving with his family to Laguna Beach in 2010. When he was away from work, Mammone loved exploring local beaches and enjoyed snorkeling and scuba diving with his children. The service for Mammone has been scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 16 at Festival of the Arts Laguna Beach, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. He is survived by his wife and two sons, one of whom serves in the Marines.
PUBLIC SAFETY & COURTS
— A Costa Mesa resident known by some as “Cowboy” helped a police officer by using his dog’s leash to hogtie a fleeing suspect’s leg. For his efforts, Charlie Lush, 74, was honored with the department’s Distinguished Citizen Award earlier this month. Lush insists he was “just trying to help,” and felt “embarrassed” by the attention he has received, partly because he believes he played just a supporting role in the kind of work officers do on a daily basis.
— The Huntington Beach Police Department’s first of three new helicopters took flight for the first time last week. Advantages of the new MD 530F units include a higher 3,350-pound gross weight, increased cruise speed, improved flight characteristics in confined spaces and lower direct operating costs. The second and third helicopters are expected to arrive in the next few months. The city purchased the new units for $10 million. Huntington Beach was able to recoup $3 million by selling two used helicopters.
— While HBPD is celebrating the arrival of its advanced chopper, Costa Mesa police are enjoying the use of a new command center on wheels. The $1.1-million vehicle may be deployed to natural disasters, standoff situations or community events. It replaces a 30-year-old Winnebago that served the Costa Mesa Police Department well but lacked some amenities. Manufactured by Wisconsin-based custom specialty vehicle maker LDV, the new unit was delivered to California in October, and since then, department staff have been setting up internal mechanisms, ensuring all data connections are functioning and features have been tailored to meet CMPD’s needs.
— Laguna Beach police are investigating a vandalism incident at the 3rd Avenue residence of City Manager Shohreh Dupis. They believe the incident occurred overnight or early Thursday morning. When police arrived, they discovered sewage or feces smeared on the house, frontyard, mailbox, planters, stairs and walkway adjacent to the home. Those with information should contact the department at (949) 497-0701.
— A 25-year-old man from Virginia was sentenced Monday to 14 years in federal prison for dealing a baggie of fentanyl in Costa Mesa to a 22-year-old woman, who overdosed and died in Huntington Beach in August 2020, according to this CNS story. Matthew Benajmin Hurley of Virginia told U.S. District Judge James Selna that the defendant’s own “selfish addiction” to drugs led him to deal fentanyl to Rose Avelar in the parking lot for a Travelodge motel in Costa Mesa.
— There was some concern of a public safety threat on the Cal State Fullerton campus last week after an individual sent an email to a professor urging that a class be canceled the next day due to a “once-in-a-lifetime event,” saying that the professor should do so “for the good of humanity,” according to campus police. “After hours of investigation by our detectives, we learned of a Nintendo Direct event that would occur at the exact date and time the individual suggested the class be canceled,” acting Chief Scot Willey said in a statement Tuesday night. “The individual … then reached back out to the professor via email admitting it was a bad joke regarding the Nintendo Direct event.”
— Aria Alexandra Martin, 33, was arrested Friday on suspicion of ramming multiple cars in a Mission Viejo parking lot at about 1:30 p.m Thursday before a standoff with police on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway, according to a CNS report. Her bail was set at $25,000, according to jail records.
— With a master concessionaire’s agreement expiring, John Wayne Airport officials are looking for food, beverage and retail options that reflect Orange County’s culture, flavor and character. As Daily Pilot reporter Sara Cardine writes, an informational meeting takes place Thursday. Airport officials plan to submit a request for proposals from area businesses to bring new products to the airport starting in January 2024. A passenger study conducted in August reported travelers were interested in seeing more Mexican food, craft burgers, pizza and healthy food options at the airport. For more information, visit ocair.com/business. To register for the meeting, visit bit.ly/JWA2023ConcessionsOutreachMeetingRSVP.
— Speaking of our local airport, and with apologies to the recently departed music icon Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, do you know the way to Monterey? If you plan to travel to that region this summer, maybe for August’s Car Week, this item might be of interest to you: JSX has announced a hop-on jet service from Monterey to John Wayne Airport that begins April 6 and is expected to run through Sept. 30. JSX will offer round-trip flights on Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, departing Orange County at 5:55 p.m. and arriving in Monterey at 7:10 p.m.; and departing Monterey at 7:35 p.m. and arriving in Orange County at 8:55 p.m. Tickets start at $279 each way.
— The estate of UC Irvine alumni Paul and Jo Butterworth is the source of a $35.5-million gift to support the university’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences that was announced on Monday. It will fund research initiatives and support students through awards, fellowships and scholarships, university officials said in a news release. Our Los Angeles Times colleague Nathan Solis reports that Paul Butterworth, who went on to co-found Vantiq, was one of the first graduates of UCI’s computer science program in the mid-1970s.
— Costa Mesa-headquartered California Pizza Kitchen announced Feb. 7 it is expanding its footprint in Latin America with the opening of a full-service franchise location at the San José Aiport in Costa Rica, where it first operated out of a kiosk. The new CPK is owned and operated by specialty retailer Morpho Travel Experience.
LIFE & LEISURE
— The popular board game Monopoly will feature Surf City landmarks when it is released in late September, and the developer is looking for suggestions. Top Trumps USA Inc., a licensee of Hasbro, has been doing city editions for nearly 25 years and has recently hit the West Coast with Palm Springs, Napa Valley and Sacramento editions. Locals interested in suggesting locations can email firstname.lastname@example.org by March 1.
— While we were pondering the item on the proposed Huntington Beach Monopoly game, this L.A. Times piece on where to play tabletop games caught our eyes. One of its listings is Meeples Family in Anaheim, where you can gather with your family and/or some friends, choose from their library of about 2,000 games to rent and then sit down at one of their tables (they seat up to 10 people) and dive into the competition. Some snacks and nonalcoholic drinks are available. Meeples Family is at 321 W. Katella Ave., #160. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
— Lily Gabora, a Laguna Beach High senior who lives with blindness and epilepsy has thrived, thanks to her passion for music. She’s become well-known in some circles for singing the national anthem at Angels games. Beyond Blindness, which Gabora has received services from since she was an infant, plans to have her perform in the nonprofits Vision Beyond Sight Gala on March 11 at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin. The senior was also recently chosen as homecoming queen.
— Kirsten “Kiki” Montgomery was recovering from alcohol dependency and seeking purpose in life in 2021, when a chance visit to a friend’s studio turned her life around. Local candle maker Robert Brink was five years into running Laguna Beach candle company the Hundredth Acre, which sells hand-poured, small-batch soy wax candles with enticing aromas, like “Main Beach,” and wanted to move onto other things. The two met two years ago to talk it over, and now, Montgomery’s wares can be found in shops all over the city, including Bushard’s Pharmacy, the Pear Street General store, Twig boutique and home-goods store Beach House.
— Lexa Walsh’s Sisters Infoshop at Grand Central Art in Santa Ana focuses on the work and lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and Walsh’s own religious experience. Activities like a Social Justice Fair, Sister Ellen O’Leary’s miming and multiple other socially engaged activations are planned for the first Saturday of each month through the show’s run until May 14, reports TimesOC writer Sarah Mosqueda.
— Reporters Andrew Turner and Matt Szabo released the 2022 Daily Pilot Football Dream Team, with Edison senior quarterback Parker Awad named Player of the Year after helping the Chargers advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. The Sunset League Offensive Back of the Year completed 202 of 287 passes for 3,082 yards, 34 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed for 177 yards and five scores.
— Fountain Valley topped Hesperia 282-221 to claim the team title in the CIF Southern Section Inland Division individual wrestling championships. Five Barons won their weight classes: Anthony Lucio (113 pounds), Hercules Windrath (138), Khale McDonnell (170), TJ McDonnell (182) and Ryland Whitworth (195). Eight local wrestlers overall were crowned champions.
— Less than 24 hours after leading the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl glory with a 38-35 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (despite a bum ankle!), Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was honored with a parade down Main Street in Disneyland. Mahomes was named MVP of the big game, which won him the enviable trip to Orange County on Monday.
— Peyton “Dez” Tuma, 17 and a senior at Newport Harbor High, won the Ultimate Madden Bowl, the popular football video game’s biggest prize. Tuma, the No. 2 seed of the tournament, won the $250,000 grand prize, becoming the youngest Ultimate Madden Bowl winner ever. Tuma’s Cowboys defeated top-seeded Henry Leverette of Georgia’s Bears, 24-14, in the championship game at the Electronic Arts studios in Redwood City.
— Spring training is just around the corner, and the Angels, who are looking to make their first playoff appearance since 2014, have a lot on their plate. From Shohei Ohtani, to sorting out newcomers, L.A. Times sportswriter Sarah Valenzuela breaks down the potential storylines the Halos face as they gear up for the 2023 season.
— The 21st annual Laguna Beach Music Festival is returning to the community this week, with three concerts scheduled at the Laguna Playhouse starting Friday. The performances will feature Jeremy Denk, a pianist and the artistic director for the event, violinist Stefan Jackiw, the Isidore String Quartet and the Choral Arts Initiative. Tickets can be purchased at the Live! Laguna Music Festival 2023 website, lagunabeachlive.org.
— Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 18 for a concert featuring iconic rock band Chicago in Pacific Amphitheatre on Aug. 20 as part of the OC Fair summer concert series. Tickets will be sold online at Ticketmaster.com. Prices range from $42.50 to $82.50.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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