The Republican Limbo - Wistfully Searching For True Leaders
Yesterday the Daily Pilot had yet another smiley face photo of our young jailer/mayor plastered on it's pages - an illustration on an article describing his coronation by the Orange County Republican Party as their "Local Elected Official of the Year". Excuse me while I barf! This sets the bar so low you'd think it was a limbo contest!
When I read the news I visited the Red County/OCBlog site and found this grainey, shakey video clip of the actual award ceremony. If you view this five minute clip, don't forget your hanky. Way down at the end he tries to give credit to all the "volunteers" and specifically names "Wendy" - that would be Ms. Leece. He also credited Phil Morello, the rabid Mansoor supporter who, a year ago at a City Council meeting, screamed his version of "God Bless America" at demonstrators singing "We Shall Overcome".
The article in the Pilot was curiously juxtaposed with another article explaining that the mayor and his majority voted at their council meeting Tuesday night - the vote actually came well after midnight - to shut down the fledgling Youth in Government program initiated a year ago and, thanks to some outstanding work by the city staff, was just about to go full steam ahead. Instead, Mansoor, in a fit of pique, decided he'd not had enough chance to provide "input". What, a year's not enough time? I know the mayor's a little slow, but a year seems like plenty of time for even the most dense among us, don't you think?
No, his move was pure political posturing because Katrina Foley was the moving force behind this program. This is obviously what it's going to be like for the next 22 months, until the November 2008 elections. Mansoor and his majority will continue to do whatever they can to discredit and demean Foley until then.
I remember the "good old days" in our town when, not too very long ago, Costa Mesa politics were non-partisan politics. People ran for office as Costa Mesans, not as Democrats or Republicans. They won their seats based on strength of their accomplishments, backgrounds and their goals for the city, not from the tens of thousands of dollars funneled into their campaigns by outsiders. Back in those days the major parties didn't elbow their way into our town, plant operatives in critical appointive seats as political patronage and attempt to take over our city and use it as a testing ground for social experimentation. They didn't woo gullible elected officials with contrived awards designed to keep them in line.
Back in the good old days we didn't have bigots of international infamy designing the playbook for our politicians. Even though more than a few past Costa Mesa politicians have not been high on the political sophistication ladder, most had a strong moral compass and made up for what they might have lacked in academic credentials with a solid work ethic, boundless energy and a true desire to do the right thing for our city. From my vantage point, today I find those attributes lacking in several of our elected leaders.
Over the past few years I've observed and written about this city and it's movers and shakers and, more recently, provided strong opinions about where I thought this city was headed. I frequently wrote cautioning the readers that sinister forces were maneuvering to take this city into dark places. Well, sadly, most of what I feared might happen has occurred - and more. I didn't, for example, expect county politicians to hold such sway over our local leaders that they could force upon them a hired gun and place him in a highly coveted and important position on a city commission. I just didn't see that coming.
I did see the methodical attack on the Latino population coming, though, and most of what I thought would happen has happened. That demographic group, which represents a third of our population, is much less comfortable today, whether here legally or not.
In instances almost too numerous to count, the Mansoor-led majorities on the city council have meticulously removed the heart from this city. They say one thing and do the opposite. They say they're for our children, then defund and otherwise reject programs for them. They say they are for our seniors, then reject workable plans to provide funding for affordable housing. In their warped minds, "affordable" means "undesirable". I take no comfort in knowing that, one of these days when these heartless "leaders" find themselves retired and on a fixed income, they will be searching for an affordable place to live, too. I smile as I envision our young jailer/mayor at age 70, pushing a shopping cart from Lion's Park to the soup kitchen so he can have a bit of dinner.
I don't like the fact that some of our leaders can be so easily manipulated by outsiders, who give them a little peck on the cheek, hand them a fancy bauble - like honorary membership in their organization or a meaningless ego stroking plaque - then send them back onto the battlefield knowing that if they are not successful, well, it's only Costa Mesa, not some "important" city like Newport Beach, Anaheim or Irvine, for goodness sake. If that leader messes up he'll find himself so alone he'll think he'd contracted leprosy.
I don't like the fact that this City Council seems willing to just hand the keys to the city to developers without extracting from them very reasonable fees to support things like art in public places, libraries, affordable housing, etc. Their attitude was concisely demonstrated by a comment Wendy Leece made from the dais on Tuesday. She said the developers are "entitled to bring their presentation and their projects to us and actually make as much money as they want to make if they feel that they can..." While I couldn't see the faces of the representatives of the several tower projects sitting near the front in the council chambers when she said that, I'm sure they were beaming.
I find myself wishing for a group of leaders with more horsepower under the hood. I get the feeling that, when this group stands toe-to-toe with high powered developers in negotiations on projects in our city, the council is standing on the downslope intellectually. I don't think those developers "snooker" us, but they certainly do take advantage of the weakness of this group. We, the residents of this city, deserve better. However, this is what happens when the electorate is frightened into voting for a group based solely on a single issue - illegal immigration, a federal issue.