Poo Fighters

Once a friend of land developers, Garry Brown has joined the battle to keep OCs beaches free of the brown stuff

"I think what's happening now is conservative people from both parties are looking at the business dynamic, in the loss of money from treating the ocean poorly," Evans says. "Those people are realizing that the ocean is the economic engine that runs Orange County and the rest of Southern California. To have what happened in Huntington Beach—where at the height of the tourist season, the revenues dry up because of ocean pollution—I hope that motivates people who have to make a living here to help out. You can't treat Mother Ocean like that."

"The only way this is going to work is if the whole environmental community works together," Brown says. "If you follow someone else's lead, it's important to make sure the goal is to get the job done. You have to put egos aside. It doesn't matter who gets the credit."

"There is a lot of spiritualism in this office," Brown says in CoastKeeper's hallway. "Everyone believes this is what they were put here to do. The timing is right to be doing what we're doing.

"This is a six-days-a-week, 14-hours-a-day job. And on Sundays, I get on the computer and do paperwork. But I love doing it because, hell, we're right. We know in our hearts we are doing the right thing. I am absolutely convinced we can make a difference."

CoastKeeper eventually plans to turn its attention inland because our coastal ecosystem originates in Big Bear Lake. Brown will likely rub up against people he knew in his former life.

"I already do, all the time," he says. "The subject [of his arrest] never comes up. People are nice enough not to bring it up."

And he figures OC power brokers who might see CoastKeeper's mission affecting their bottom lines probably know of his past. As one local observer informed him, "Garry, by now, the Irvine Co. knows everyone you've slept with."

A political machine chewed him up and spit him out once. Could it happen again?

"It could," he says. "I'd hope I'm smarter and would see it coming now."

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