Poor Les, you can feel him straining his brain trying to get a handle on Surfside's silly little Disneyland bridges, scenic walkways they're called.

The solution is simple: pay as you go. If you want to have bridges, and precious few want them, make them toll bridges with quarter slots so that those who use them can pay for them.

But the problem goes deeper, to the root of what Surfside is, or was. When I first moved here in the early 90s, I was told that the Peninsula was thought of as a "haven for losers" for folks who had fled from the cities and come down here to drink themselves to death in their little trailers and huts in the woods. That's what it had become, an anarchic paradise.

Surfside was different, struggling under the yoke of a group of arrogant good old boys who did as they pleased and nobody complained. Stories of chairs being thrown at member meetings, midnight rapping on walls, some members carrying concealed weapons. Eventually after a good deal of strain and drain, they were voted out, some left, and there was a brief period of benign indifference all around.

Now, however, there's a new group of good old boys rigging the stage. You can be sure that someone's "friend" condemned the bridges in the first place, and that someone's "friend" will get the contract to build the new ones. Better replace the dangerously inadequate bridge over the River Mung by the clubhouse, and then clean out the irrigation ditch they call a "canal" of the unhealthy stuff that makes it a health hazard.

In any case, there's a new bunch of part-time royalists running the show. Even the squad leader is a weekender - what can they know about what it's like to live here? And they call the rest of us "the rabble." They should really live here, not just park on the ridge and pretend that they're looking down on Santa Monica in the foggy moonlight.

The whole place was once run by volunteers yet now we have a $50,000 person hanging around the clubhouse cooking up ways to increase the dues a nickel and a dime at a time. Better they should do us all a favor and disband the outfit and leave us as modest county residents, like everyone else out here. I'm sure we can figure out how to run the water department.

The legal foundation of this bunch of self-serving tools is shaky. Free Surfside now!

Tom Taylor

Ocean Park

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