DUI-Driver’s License Checkpoint

The Santa Monica Police Department will be conducting a Driving under the Influence (DUI)-Driver’s License Checkpoint. The operation is scheduled for Friday April 28, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. at an undisclosed location within city limits.

The deterrent effect of DUI checkpoints are a proven factor in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and/or drug related collisions. Research shows that accidents involving impaired drivers can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized enforcement checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely.

Traffic Officers will be looking for objective signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment and verify that motorists are in possession of a valid driver’s license.

In California 2013, drunk driving led to the tragic deaths of 867 persons and over 23,000 serious injuries. Nationally, the latest data shows nearly 10,076 people were killed by impaired drivers. Recent statistics reveal that 30 percent of drivers in fatal collisions had traces of one or more drugs in their systems. The study showed that more drivers tested positive for drug impairment (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), checkpoints have provided the most effective documented results of any of the DUI enforcement strategies. Nearly 90% of California drivers approve of DUI checkpoints.

Funding for this checkpoint is provided to the Santa Monica Police Department by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Santa Monica Police Department would like to remind everyone to call 9-1-1 to report drunk drivers. Your call might help us save a life!

— Submitted by Lieutenant  Saul Rodriguez



Restaurateur to Be Honored for Community Service

From preparing, donating and serving more than 15,000 Thanksgiving meals to delivering 5,000 teddy bears to Bosnian orphans, Fred Deni believes that the greatest satisfaction in life comes from hands-on involvement in helping others.

“It’s easy to just write a check,” says Deni, “but the sense of really making a difference in people’s lives comes from the actual experience of preparing and serving a meal or giving a teddy bear to a motherless child in a war-torn country.”

For nearly 40 years, Deni has donated and served Thanksgiving meals, with all the trimmings, to homeless families and seniors in Santa Monica. This year is no exception, and he’s already planning for the 300-plus meals to be served on Nov. 23.

In acknowledgement of his generosity, WISE & Healthy Aging, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit serving older adults and their families and caregivers throughout Los Angeles County, will present the owner of two Santa Monica restaurants – “Back on Broadway” and “Back on The Beach” – with its “Caring for Our Community” award on May 20.

This isn’t Deni’s first such recognition. In 1996, the Santa Monica Chapter of the American Red Cross presented him with the organization’s “Spirit Award” for his volunteer work inspecting state-run orphanages in Bosnia.

“It was a shocking experience,” he recalls. “Like being in a black-and-white film. In one town, I watched as long lines of women waited for hours for a chunk of cheese and a loaf of bread. Unbelievably, when I returned home to California, one of the first things I saw was a dad complaining because his kid had to wait a few minutes for a hamburger. Comparing the two life experiences put everything into perspective.”

Deni later returned to Bosnia with 5,000 donated teddy bears that he collectively organized for children in the orphanages.

Originally from New Jersey, he has lived in southern California since 1972 when he moved here to test for a television pilot. Despite roles in various movies and television shows – including the Ron Howard-directed film, “Angels and Demons,” it didn’t take Deni long to realize that movies and TV were not his real passion.

Although he still holds a SAG card, he prefers live theatre and serves on the board of the Ruskin Theatre in Santa Monica. Last year, Deni received an “Art Patron of the Year” award from the City of Santa Monica, presented to him by Senator Ben Allen.

In 1978, Deni moved to Santa Monica and opened “Back on the Beach.” It was during that first year that he made a surprising discovery that would change the course of his life.

“I found a homeless man rummaging through the restaurant’s trash bin looking for food,” he recalls. “At that time, every Thanksgiving I had a houseful of guests for dinner, but after seeing that, I decided ‘no more.’ Instead, we would prepare and serve mealsl for Santa Monica’s homeless.”

As time went on, with more and more organizations filling that need for the homeless on Thanksgiving, Deni and his spouse and business partner of 36 years, Jim Christel, turned their attention to seniors. With help from the city, along with logistical support from WISE & Healthy Aging, and entertainment provided by volunteers, Thanksgiving dinner at Back on Broadway has become the equivalent of a big – very big – family celebration.

“Many of our volunteers come back to help year after year,” Deni said. “Several who started out as toddlers are now in their 20s, so it’s particularly rewarding to see second- and third-generation family members volunteering alongside their parents and grandparents on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thanksgiving meal preparations start about five days before the big day –preparing mountains of mashed potatoes and oceans of gravy, plus stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans and of course roasting the turkeys – 450 pounds of it.

“For more than 20 years Fred has graciously provided Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of seniors in Santa Monica, and he’s most deserving of our Caring for Our Community award,” said Grace Cheng Braun, president and CEO of WISE & Healthy Aging.

Cheng said aside from a nominal fee for tickets to ensure that seniors are serious to attend, Deni foots the entire bill for the two seatings of about 300 people.

The presentation of the “Caring for Our Community” award will be part of WISE & Healthy Aging’s annual “Celebration of Caring” luncheon on Saturday, May 20, held at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey. Other awards that day will recognize members of the community for “Leadership in Caring” and “Compassion in Caring.” The Celebration of Caring event is open to businesses and the public, with proceeds supporting services and programs offered by the nonprofit WISE & Healthy Aging.

  • Submitted by Grace Cheng Braun, WISE President and CEO