Fish Pickins Redux: Briscoe continues to triumph in HB/Rainbow Dump Suit.




“The past isn’t dead.
It isn’t even past.”

Briscoe – Rainbow – Gates

Naturally Briscoe wondered – because you would too if your responsibility as a school board trustee included the health and safety of Ocean View schoolkids – he wondered HOW IT COULD BE that, during the same period of years (2014-16) that the Southern California Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) cited the Rainbow Dump EIGHTEEN times for noxious public nuisance violations, the County of Orange Health Care Agency (OHCA) and Huntington Beach Code Enforcement could find NOTHING WRONG with the place, allowing it to continue its stench and pollution mere feet from Oak View School year after year after year.

So Briscoe further wondered, because he’s that kind of logical problem-solving guy, was there something wrong with the qualifications and training of the County and City inspectors?  Why else would they fail to detect the problems that state inspectors saw so clearly?  Accordingly, he filed a Public Records Act (CPRA) request asking for the job applications of County and city inspectors, with personal information redacted.  This should, he figured, be publicly available information, but both County and city denied his request on privacy grounds.  So Briscoe sued both County and city, “on his own dime and time” (i.e. not as part of the OVSD board), for access to this information.

And the court ruled in Briscoe’s favor, in both cases – two judges in two courts Orange County’s general counsel Leon Page capitulated and handed the records over to Briscoe.  But NOT SO the city of Huntington Beach, represented by hotshot $300,000-a-year elected City Attorney Michael E. Gates (enabled and followed unanimously by even the HB councilmembers who should know better) which opted instead to appeal the suit, to the 4th District Court of Appeals.  Where HB faceplanted most egregiously, as the appeals court dismissed the case, leaving them on the hook for legal fees.

And THEN, rather than stand accused of being quick learners, HB and Gates decided to appeal again, to the California Supreme Court – where the city’s costs for an almost-certain loss could total as much as $1/4 million!  Briscoe weighs out the possible outcomes:

“1. Supremes can hear the case, unlikely since there is no lower appeals court deliberation to rule on.
..2. Supremes can dismiss out-of-hand due to wimpy, whiney and weak-kneed brief filed by HBCity Attorney Mike E.
..3. Supremes can remand the case back to the appeals court ordering them to hear Mike E.’s wimpy, whiney weak-kneed appeal they rejected out-of-hand in the first place…

“The third option results in the appeals court being really annoyed with Mike E. and likely writing a really devastaing ruling against HBCity Attorney Mike E. in favor of Trustee Briscoe. The appeals court could go so far as to make the written legal opinon on this matter a ‘published’ opinion forever enshrining Trustee Briscoe v. HBCity as legal case law.

“If Mike E. decides to appeal to the Supremes once again as is likely based on past performance the Supremes will have to decide to uphold two lower court carefully reasoned opinions ~or~ overturn everybody based on the Mike E.’s wimpy, whiney weak-kneed boo-hoo-hoo brief complaining about how HBCity may have to pay attorney fees for future illegal CPRA denials.”

Well, so now you’ve seen a sample of Trustee Briscoe’s writing.  He insistently refers to Gates, despite the latter’s constant demand to be treated “with respect,” as “Mike E.” because he knows it drives Gates crazy, putting the world in mind of Mikey from the famed Life Cereal commercials.  The title of this piece refers to Briscoe’s constant mantra about the Rainbow litter across from Oak View during those battles of a couple years ago:  “Chicken Bones ‘n’ Fish Pickins.”  And the eccentric Republican joins the honored ranks of Board President Gina Clayton Tarvin and the activists of Oak View Comunidad as people hated and loathed by the HB establishment and their bilious and deranged scribe/demagogue Chris Epting, but loved by the people.

Briscoe sees two problems:  One, Huntington Beach is the only city in Orange County with an elected city attorney – a quirk built into the city’s charter.  Mr. Gates is a skillful politician and consummate OC GOP insider with an aw-shucks Tom Cruise grin, who acquired his $300K gig with a $150K 2014 campaign which he will never again have to duplicate since every corporation of note, most of which will have business before the city sooner and later, has chipped in to his re-election effort.  And he seems to lead the Council on legal matters like a charismatic Pied Piper, even if sometimes over a cliff.

And then there is the still-neglected and politically unpowerful Oak View barrio, who as Briscoe wrote in The Voice of OC,  

…have suffered three important areas of environmental attack. First, the children and their families have lived in an atmospheric cesspool of stench, dust, and noise. Second, the Oak View community neighborhood is devoid of any green tree canopy, a result of Huntington Beach City vegetation removal. Third, the housing infrastructure is grossly out of compliance with minimum City codes.

Oak View residents are the victims of systematic and institutional failures by City and County leaders. For decades the children of the Oak View Schools endured the stench of total governmental failure at the city, county, and state level. These young residents must learn, play, and live next to an open-air trash dump that spews filth, stench, vermin and vectors…

And despite the School Board’s 2016 victory in getting the Rainbow Dump to begin enclosing, the stench and nuisance remains, and the Code Enforcement has only been there to inspect ONCE in these past seven years.  Hey … I wonder what that person’s training and qualifications look like?

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.