Monday, January 29, 2007

A Breath Of Fresh Air - Then Back Into "The Swamp"


A little time away from home can do wonders for one's perspective. I spent a few days out of town last week in an area of our state that is renowned for it's beauty and less frenetic pace. It was a welcome change.

As I enjoyed the beautiful vistas and the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the wildlife in the area, I found any thoughts of the political posturing back home being shoved way, way back in my head. I enjoyed reading the local weekly newspaper, which was filled with mostly positive news articles and columns of local importance. Oh, yes, there were some dicey issues covered, but they were done with a little softer edge than I'm used to reading back here in Costa Mesa.

The letters to the editor were generally well-conceived, thoughtful discussions of local issues with no tinge of the kind of harsh retorts we've become accustomed to reading in our local media here - the kind of things I've occasionally written, too. It was refreshing to see that adults in a community can debate issues of importance without resorting to school yard taunts, petty political ploys and attempts at character assassination. It was nice to see the debate kept at a high level, focused on the issues and not personalities.

Then I came home.

As I attempted to catch up on local events by blitzing through the accumulated newspapers and doing some online browsing, I found myself slapped back into reality. I, once again, found myself immersed in the vitriolic invective that writers to the Daily Pilot online have published as comments.

For example, last week I wrote about an article on the Youth in Government program that our young jailer/mayor and his New Majority quashed in their last council meeting. By choosing to "receive and file" the issue it effectively stopped the program in it's tracks, although the 18 bright young people from our community were already active in it and were about to elect officers last week. If no council member brings it to a study session it is gone - poof! - on the whim of a trio of petulant politicians. When I wrote about it last week there were 30 comments posted online. Today, as I type this, there are 60. We are able to read comments from some of the young people affected by this decision, some by their parents, some by those adults in our community who think this was a bad idea and many from those apologists of the mayor and his majority - including the court jester himself, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever. Unfortunately, some of the most "adult" comments were written by the children.

While I was gone the racist hypocrite over at the CM Press was busily warning us that we needed to "drain the swamp" to improve Costa Mesa. However, on Friday, January 26th, he stooped to a new low when he attempted to use the tragic death of a young Costa Mesa boy as political fodder. The young man in question, Marco Anthony Perez, died of a brain tumor on January 24th. He had been the subject of several newspaper articles and fundraising efforts in recent weeks. The CM Press made no impassioned plea for support for this young Costa Mesa resident of Latino heritage during his brief fight for his life. No, Marco Anthony Perez only became important to the CM Press in death - to be used to, once again, attempt to blame his passing on those terrible Westside industrialists! The man has absolutely no shame. It amazes me that otherwise intelligent residents of this city can follow this guy's drumbeat like a bunch of sheep.

So, I welcome myself home by taking a deep breath and waiting for the next series of boneheaded moves by our New Majority on the City Council. I expect the youth of our community will be among the first to feel the results of their bias. I expect them to reject the plan previously approved to light all the fields at The Farm Sports Complex - the best solution for providing more fields for our children. I also expect them to alienate our neighbors in Newport Beach by placing tighter restrictions on residency of soccer field users.

In the next two years I fully expect our city to become Fortress Costa Mesa, as the New Majority pulls up the drawbridge and fills the moat with, yes, alligators - to the detriment of all residents.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Witty/2 said...

First of all, I must tell you that you weren’t much missed and some might even have wished you spent another week or three on your vacation. A vacation for you is also, in a way, a vacation for the rest of us that even pay attention to what you write.

As a dedicated Foley and Dixon supporter and rabid Mansoor, Bever, and Leece hater, you should consider changing your political affiliation. Your stated political alignment has always been a curiosity for me. I am still waiting for you to acknowledge that any of the current council Republican majority ever gets anything right, or that Democrats, Foley and Dixon are ever wrong. It appears I will have a long wait to see this ever happen.

Let’s see, we have your “young jailer/mayor”, Mansoor – your “court jester … Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever” - your “racist hypocrite” at the CMPress and all the “otherwise intelligent residents of this city can follow this guy's (the CMPress) drumbeat like a bunch of sheep”. How do you justify your existence inside the moat?

If you don’t feel embarrassed writing like you do then just keep up the good work, welcome home, and keep on stirring….

1/29/2007 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Edwardo said...

What happened to Rob? He was here and now he is not.

1/30/2007 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

witty/2,

Gee, it's always nice to be missed. Thanks for proving my point, by the way. I'm happy that you're curious about my political affiliation. I'm not, as you so incorrectly stated, a "dedicated Foley and Dixon supporter and rabid Mansoor, Bever, and Leece hater". I don't "hate" Mansoor and his New Majority - I just don't like their politics. I think they got elected by pandering to the worst side of people. That's my opinion, which I'm sure isn't yours.

I don't think partisan politics has any place in our local issues. The chronically inept Chris Steel was the first in recent memory to attempt to inject partisanship in Costa Mesa a couple years ago. Mansoor and his mob - you included - just keep kicking the can down the street.

I don't care about a person's political affiliation as long as they do a good job for Costa Mesa. I don't think the current New Majority will do so. I think Foley is certainly the brightest, most prepared member of the council - and she obviously poses a threat to Mansoor, etal. I'm glad she's there because she forces the debate on important issues.

You apparently don't like my characterizations. Well, "young jailer/mayor" is accurate - he's younger than I am, is a jailer and mayor, right? My characterization of Bever is also accurate - he fancies himself a very clever comedian, as we all regularly witness by his inappropriate attempts at humor on the dais. My description of the guy at the CM Press is also accurate. Sorry you don't like them.

As to me justifying my existence inside the moat... well, I've lived here for more than three decades, which entitles me to stand my ground and express my viewpoints on issues I think are important to this city. I fully intend to continue to do so. I don't have to justify my existence here to anyone, much less to you.

I'm not at all embarrassed by what I write... are you? I intend to continue to post my views here on MY SITE... if they bother you, just stop reading.

Thanks for the welcome home.. it's nice to be back "in the swamp", even though it's infested with some pretty unsavory critters - no, I don't mean the Latinos among us.

1/30/2007 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Len Bose said...

So many word’s with so little progress. Witty 2, you remind me of the new dog at the park. A couple loud barks, a sniff or two of a couple butts and you’re on your way. I would rather have read about our council majority good or bad.
Now that you have marked your tree what should be done to make our city better?

1/30/2007 08:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

Edwardo,

I wasn't aware that I was required to post on each blog entry. Regardless, as this appears to be your inaugural cooment - welcome.

1/30/2007 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous DVS said...

Len is right! What is your formula for making Costa Mesa better?

Mine is simple: I think we would be a better city if our elected leaders acted in a thoughtful way that took into consideration the interests of all of the citizens. They should listen to the community as a whole.

What we have now is a spiteful group that is willing to railroad things in or out of existence based on their narrow (and obviously partisan) view of the world.

Anyone with me on this or am I the only one that sees it this way?

1/31/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Westside said...

I missed you amigo. I also think your favorite neighbor, EL SEIS, also missed you. EL SEIS, by the way, isn't going anywhere, as he has decided to stay here for good and make Costa Mesa into a miserable place to live. I have to tell you that muchos hermanos Latinos have already moved out of Costa Mesa when you were gone. While EL SIES read his favorite book, MI LUCHA, by Adofo Hitler, he is also celebrating their departure. His dredful dreams are being fulfilled thanks to his pal Mansoor, the Bev, and Wendy. Saludos.

1/31/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

DVS,
I agree completely, with the caveat that we don't give a voice to those living here illegally. That said, we need to regain a level of civility or change the City charter to give us a larger City Council. Why have 5 Council members if three ignore the other two?

1/31/2007 04:07:00 PM  
Anonymous dvs said...

Rob,

Honestly I do understand your point on those here illegally. On the surface it would seem logical to exclude people that don’t follow immigration rules from having the luxury of participating in and directing by involvement our civic issues.

The problem, I believe, is that they are not simply going to go away. That makes them a part of the community whether we like it or not. Their children are in our schools and they attend our churches. They eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. They hold jobs and send money home or spend it here. If their children are a part of the gang problem, then they as the parents have to be part of the solution. We have to involve everyone. You can't do that if you don't listen to them. At least I believe that. Maybe I am wrong, but I can't see how.

Now, for arguments sake, let's say we send the parents home. Some of their children are quite likely US citizens. So they stay behind with an aunt or uncle and they now have less parental supervision than before. They feel betrayed by everyone (including their parents) and they become troublemakers in school and/or on the streets. We have now manufactured a new gang member. What have we solved?

Then to add insult to injury, we have a one note city council that believes law and order solves everything. There is a saying I love: “When your only tool is a hammer every problem looks like a nail”. Our city council needs to learn how to use a broader range of tools. I don’t think they are very interested in doing that though.

I honestly would love to hear real solutions that involve words other than swamp and welcome mat.

I guess if we became another Newport Beach we would price all lower income families out of Costa Mesa and that might help. The down side is that I am already trying to figure out how my kids are ever going to be able to afford a house here.

It may not look like a very pretty picture the way I have painted it, but it isn’t nearly as bad as some in our community portray the city. I honestly think that as adults, parents, business people, volunteers and involved community members, we all do a little bit to help and that adds up to a whole lot of improving!

What are your thoughts?

1/31/2007 06:16:00 PM  
Anonymous rob said...

DVS,

You make a very good point and I must agree with your main premise - people here illegally are generally here to stay (with the notable new exception of those arrested for other crimes) and we need to involve them in the process. Despite the rhetoric or Your Neighbor - no mass deportations will occur, nor should they. However, we cannot continue to reward illegal behavior.

If we throw up our hands and say "well, you made it, and your kid is enrolled in school - I guess you get to stay" then this critical issue will never get resolved and this city will continue to be polarized. No matter how you slice it, refusing to tolerate illegal immigration and the related detrimental impacts is not intolerance, bigotry or racism - it is respect for a civil and peaceful society. Each and every illegal immigrant made a conscious choice to come here and should accept the consequences.

That said (and I got on the soapbox to put this all in context), we should make every effort to let all illegal immigrants know that they are welcome in Costa Mesa if they make every effort to abide by the laws of the country they have taken the risk to live in. Living in the shadows must be unpleasant. I don't think struggling with language problems, working very hard for little money, living in cramped conditions and being in the center of a very hot debate is much fun.

I sincerely believe that there will be meaningful immigration reform at the federal level soon. When that happens, an open and sincere dialogue should be initiated that ensures that every illegal immigrant participates in the federal process and takes all the necessary steps to comply with the law. If that requires relocating for a period of time to come into compliance, so be it.

As for this sincere dialogue - it would have to be just that, sincere. The old Human Relations Commission quickly devolved into an impotent PC joke. If the activists who allegedly represent the illegal immigrant community could stop making noise and let real Costa Mesa residents (illegal and legal) explain their points of view and try to find common ground, we may have a solution.

The key to everything is to recognize and accept that it is not ok to simply come here illegally, and every effort must be made to obtain legal status. This is a very passionately held conviction for millions of Americans. There can be no dialogue if one party refuses to play by the rules that govern everybody else.

Disrupting families and creating more gang members doesn't solve anything. Neither does hiding in the shadows and refusing to attempt to obtain legal status. Hopefully meaningful immigration reform is around the corner.

How to start the dialogue is the million dollar question...

1/31/2007 10:28:00 PM  
Anonymous DVS said...

Rob,

I look forward to meaningful federal reform also.

As to open reasoned discussion, well, the two of us are talking. That’s a start. I am going to go out on a limb here and make the assumptions that you are neither an illegal immigrant nor a spokesperson for them. Neither am I. So maybe we are not going to make any serious headway with that community. But I also don’t believe that they are the only source of criminal activity in Costa Mesa; aside from the obvious point of being here illegally.

You mention the Human Relations Commission. I was not a part of it, but heard about it after it was disbanded, so I have no first hand knowledge of its goals or how effective it was (or ineffective) at attaining them. Maybe we need something more specifically targeted toward reducing blight and crime like Citizens Blight and Crime Reduction Committee. I make no claim to being an expert at naming committees and I am sure it shows.

What do you think would be a productive venue for conversations in our community? Do you think a completely grass roots organization would be appropriate and could accomplish starting this conversation? The reason I ask that is because I am (perhaps needlessly) concerned that no one will join a conversation spearheaded by the council given their current penchant for petulance toward those that are not in obvious agreement with them. Maybe I have that wrong.

I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

2/01/2007 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

I don't want to break the flow of an excellent debate here, but wanted to inject one comment. I think both rob and dvs are referring to the Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee. It was not a commission. There is an Orange County Human Relations Commission, hence, the confusion.

The Costa Mesa Human Relations Committee was formed almost two decades ago and served the city well until unceremoniously disbanded by the previous city council majority. Depending on your viewpoint, it either provided a valuable venue for residents to address cross-cultural issues or it was a waste of time. As I said, it depended on your viewpoint. We obviously know how Mansoor and Bever felt - they voted to trash it. Mansoor was a member of that committee before being elected to the City Council.

The comment thread above is precisely what I hoped for when I changed blog hosts to provide a "comments" capability. Thanks to those of you willing to give some thought to the issues and for keeping the level of dialogue high. Keep it up.

2/01/2007 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous rob said...

Pot stirrer,

Thanks for the clarification re commission/committee. The CM Committee was hijacked by the extremes on both sides, and the usual hot rhetoric was spewed by both sides. There can be a middle ground, but that middle ground must be based on respect for the law. There is a bright line that exists, and how both sides approach it will be the determining factor as to the future of our City. The illegal immigrant community needs to truly understand that it is not ok to be here illegally. The "legal" community needs to understand that people who have lived here illegally for many years have established strong roots in the community, with kids in school, etc. As Americans - it is against our compassionate nature to uproot thousands of families and deport them. It is also against our nature to tolerate people who don't play by the rules and shirk our laws and the responsibilities of a civil society (taxes, insurance, community pride, cultural assimilation while maintaining historical cultural roots).

I see two camps - one furious that thousands have barged in, taken over a geographic area, refused to speak the language or pay their fair share. The other - furious that we don't recognize their hard work and right to be proud of their heritage. Frankly - I don't know much about that camp, which is why the dialogue is needed.

This is the divide - I would be happy to try and bridge it. It must be done with the utmost respect for the laws and culture (based on legal immigration)of the United States.

2/01/2007 03:04:00 PM  

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