Sure, we're often tough on Orange County Register follies, but one of a handful of reasons to pick up the area's largest daily newspaper each day is Teri Sforza, a senior reporter and member of the paper's OC Watchdog team.
Sforza, a 2001 UCLA MFA graduate, routinely gives her readers the complete package: solid, in-depth reporting, plus a commanding, entertaining writing style. For several years, she has wowed us with details about government waste and entrenched corruption—such as how former bureaucrats or elected officials continue to receive massive public pensions, even after being convicted of using their jobs to steal or cheat the public.
Local law-enforcement officers are always claiming they live in dire poverty, but the Reg sleuth gave us the truth: Costa Mesa cops can make $14,000 per month, and officers in Huntington Beach nearly have it as awful at a miserly $13,966. But our favorite Sforza moment happened in May, when the obnoxious, tone-deaf lawyers representing Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in a civil lawsuit involving sensational child-sex-abuse claims singled her out for "unlawful news gathering."
The TBN legal brain trust calculated that the only plausible explanation for her juicy, embarrassing reports on the case must have involved "stolen" court files. "Any other explanation is implausible," the lawyers opined to a judge. "No reporter randomly checks filings unless tipped off."
But Sforza, who wrote about the confrontation, had a simple explanation for the woefully ignorant TBN boys: "Every court reporter in America would tell Trinity that the job does, indeed, include randomly checking court filings. Every. Single. Day." And we can assure you that Orange County could use a dozen more Sforzas in its journalism community.
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• "The baby waves at Doheny State Beach and by the San Clemente pier are where I learned to surf, but wound up bleeding from eyebrows to elbows nonetheless." 25300 Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point, (949) 496-6172; www.dohenystatebeach.org.
• "Love the breakfasts [at Flyer's Diner]." 4011 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 870-9235.
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• Tower of Terror at Disney's California Adventure: "Okay, I wanted children so I had a good excuse to go on rides." 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 781-4565; disney.go.com/disneys-california-adventure.
• "I love wandering around Fourth Street in Santa Ana, looking at dresses with my 8-year-old daughter, who is eagerly planning her quinceañera even though she's Chinese."
• "I had just moved to OC in 1993 and had been living in Buena Park for about four weeks when the fires swept through [Laguna Beach]. I was dispatched." Seeing the barking sea lions at Crescent Bay Point Park, she says, was "love at first sight." North Coast Highway and Crescent Bay Drive, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-0716; www.lagunabeachcity.net.
• "The do fu hwa [sweet tofu pudding]" at China Garden Dim Sum. Enough said. 14825 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, (949) 653-9988.