Liberty Is Alive And Well In Costa Mesa Today
At the end of the meeting, the last item to be discussed was the subject of whether or not to place before the voters the question of a directly elected mayor. This discussion began at 11:55 p.m. and went on for a half hour before the issue was finally voted upon.
The item was placed on the agenda by Mayor Allan Mansoor at the request of former mayor Gary Monahan, who served this city for twelve years on the council, including multiple terms as mayor. As it turned out, Monahan was the only person who spoke in favor of placing this subject on the ballot this morning. All other speakers, including former mayor Sandra Genis, spoke opposing the concept. The few other citizens who spoke, each of whom were respected community activists, said, basically, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
During the debate on the dais the issue looked like a slam dunk to be placed on the ballot, particularly since Councilwoman Linda Dixon was absent from the meeting. Mansoor made a motion to do exactly that - have the issue placed before the voters on the ballot at the primary election on February 5, 2008. This, coincidentally, would be the most costly solution - probably costing the city in the neighborhood of $200,000. Councilwoman Wendy Leece, the barnacle on his rump during the past election, seconded our young jailer/mayor's motion - demonstrating for about the zillionth time that she has no mind of her own.
The debate was heated between Councilwoman Katrina Foley and the mayor, particularly when she pressed him on the issue of term limits for the directly elected mayor. He hadn't included any mention of that in the motion to be placed on the ballot, even though he was quite specific that he wasn't interested in additional compensation for the position, nor was he interested in any additional enumerated powers - like the power to appoint commission and committee members. Finally, after several questions like, "Do you support term limits for a directly elected mayor?" the closest he would come to an answer was that he didn't like term limits.
Earlier speaker Jay Humphrey pressed the issue of the additional powers, stating that, while Mansoor wasn't interested in the additional powers, other future directly elected mayors may be - and this decision would provide them with the power.
Mansoor championed his issue weakly. When pressed to explain why the city needed this after fifty-four years, he didn't have a response. He said it would provide more "clout", but speakers reminded him that clout from half the six Orange County cities that have a directly elected mayor came from their size, not the mayor.
Finally, at 12:25 this morning, the vote was taken. The result was 2-2! Tie vote, motion failed! Mansoor and Leece voted yes - Foley and Mansoor's buddy, Eric Bever, voted no! The look on Mansoor's face was priceless as his head snapped to the left in a classic double-take, looking at Bever as if to say, "What the heck is going on here?!"
I have no idea what happened to cause Bever to vote against his pals on the dais, but he sure did make the right decision. Maybe he was peeved because he was rebuffed by his buddy a couple times earlier in the meeting. Once, for example, he kept trying to interrupt the debate on the CarMax project when the issue of a wall was being negotiated and Mansoor put him off you could hear him mutter an epithet. Or, maybe, Bever remembered that a couple years ago columnist Jim DeBoom once named him an "Eagle" and he picked tonight to finally begin acting like one.
So, regardless what happened with Bever tonight, the spirit of the day prevailed. As former mayor Genis - appropriately attired in a blouse resembling the American Flag - so rightly put it during her comments opposing the proposal, "I think it's quite fitting that we're doing this just at the very beginning of the Fourth of July, 'cuz two hundred and thirty years ago we said 'We don't need no stinkin' kings' and that's what I say here - 'We don't need no stinkin' kings!'" I couldn't have said it better myself. You could practically envision George Washington smiling.
On this Independence Day, I wish you all a safe and sane celebration. The spirit of liberty, hard won and painfully retained, is alive and well in Costa Mesa today.