After the Labor Day holiday, county officials reluctantly confessed that they had lowered health standards for acceptable bacteria levels in order to reopen the beaches.
It's odd that Huntington Beach politicians and bureaucrats who have repeatedly pushed "zero tolerance" to any perceived community threat can't seem to muster the same enthusiasm to save their No. 1 asset, the beach. On fighting drugs, former Mayor and head of the Chamber of Commerce Haydee Tillotson has said it's important to keep "the pressure on the problem so it doesn't come back." On public drinking, the city has stolen a page from wide-eyed ax-toting prohibition-era teetotaler Carrie Nation; police here have arrested citizens as they sip beers at their front doors or in their back yards. The city practically becomes a police state on the Fourth of July, when police fire powerful water cannons at unarmed revelers, limit travel, and eagerly punish unresponsive citizens with clubs.
City Councilman Ralph Bauer, a chamber favorite, can explain the need for such tough action. "This is a family town," he said. "If thugs want to come to this town and act up, then they are going to have to pay the consequences."
In light of this most recent bacteria debacle, some might say the thugs are running the town. Even Sean Rios, a 16-year-old Huntington Beach surfer, managed to sift through the political bullshit. He told the Times Orange County, "It doesn't matter what [city officials] say. The water is always dirty. I'm only going in today because I'm already sick."