Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Seniors Rebuffed - Who's Next?

Today's lesson is the word "rancor". My dictionary defines it as, "bitter deep-seated ill will".

Rancorous is the word that best describes much of the proceedings at last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting. The tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife! I found myself thinking that it's a good thing Katrina Foley and Allan Mansoor are not seated next to each other, because last night they likely would have come to blows. At one point in the meeting Linda Dixon asked for the floor, then took that opportunity to speak to chide her fellow council members, including herself in the scolding, and said, "We should be ashamed of ourselves." Right on, Linda! I couldn't agree more. It was like watching kindergarten children in a playground spat.

The New Majority showed it's true colors again last night as they found yet another
group in our community to rebuff. This time it was the growing senior population. In the usual 3-2 vote, - with Foley and Dixon voting "no" - they decided to reject a plan to create a Senior Advisory Committee, the charter of which would be to contemplate, evaluate and advise the council on issues that are oriented toward the growing senior population in Costa Mesa. As you listened to the mealy-mouthed excuses by Mansoor and the court jester, Eric Bever , for not authorizing such a committee, you realized that they have no interest in hearing from any group of residents other than their cadre of boot-lickers on any issue in the city.

So, now they have rebuffed the youth in our community when they decided to "receive and file" the Youth in Government program at the last council meeting and now the seniors at this meeting. Of course, you will recall the previous council - also controlled byMansoor and Bever - disbanded the Human Relations Committee, too.

If you watched the meeting last night you saw our young jailer/mayor at his worst. Time after time he tried to stifle discussion on one issue or another. Once again he and Foley got into it when he tried to cut her out of the discussion and, once again, she told him repeatedly that he was just plain rude. Trust me, rude is the least of it. It's obvious watching him that he really doesn't care to hear any kind of opposing viewpoint and will do all in his power to quash them. What a travesty.

So, you Mansoor supporters, get ready. It won't be long until he finds a way to trample your rights, too. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Beat Goes On And On

You know, some things never change. Over at the CM Press, the racist author continues with his drumbeat about Costa Mesa's under performing schools, which he blames entirely on the presence of children of illegal immigrants. He laments the relatively poor performance of some Costa Mesa schools when compared to schools in Newport Beach, again blaming the disparity on those children of illegal aliens. He, of course, ignores the socio-economic differences between the two cities. If you disregard the illegal immigrants in Costa Mesa - and no one really knows how many people that represents - Newport Beach is still far ahead of Costa Mesa in every economic measurement. The CM Press author says, " want the best education for your kids and you want them to have a leg up on life." That's undoubtedly true. However, many - probably most - of the kids living in Newport Beach don't just have a leg up, they start several rungs up on the ladder before ever throwing that leg up. That's just the way it is. Expunging the Latinos from Costa Mesa - the CM Presses ultimate objective, if you believe his rants on the internet sites for which he writes - doesn't resolve that disparity.

No rational person will deny that injecting students with limited English skills into a school system creates problems. It's one thing to insert new limited English students at the Kindergarten, First or Second grades - programs are available to manage those students and get them up to speed quickly. However, when students with those limitations are inserted at higher grades it will take Herculean efforts to keep them from failing. It takes hard work and dedication on the part of the administrators, teachers, students and their parents for them to succeed. Rather than expend that effort, the CM Press would rather just flush them out of the city.

Now, this would be bad enough if he was the only person in this city with such intolerant views, but he's not. Today, in our city, we have a majority on the City Council who are in lockstep with his views. As a result, anytime any issue that might, in the slightest way, involve students of Latino origins comes up, the New Majority on the council hammers it. And, since the minority on the council, Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon, seem willing to help craft solutions to the problems, the New Majority freezes them out - discarding almost every positive, progressive effort they propose. The most recent of these was the Youth in Government proposal that was trash-canned in a fit of pique by the New Majority instead of taking the time to flesh out their concerns and move forward with a program that was already in progress. Letters to the editor and online comments in the Daily Pilot reflected the disappointment of the children involved, and that of many concerned citizens, as well.

Steve Smith, in his Daily Pilot column, recently took the New Majority to task for that particular move and alluded to an insensitivity to children's issues on their part. Certainly, that cannot possibly apply to Councilwoman Wendy Leece who, in addition to being a mother and grandmother, spent several tumultuous years on the school board. Smith's assessment about Bever and Mansoor, though, may be more accurate. Childless, as far as we know, these two men continue to take actions that appear to be the result of insensitivity, ignorance or just plain stubbornness - maybe all three.

The New Majority has placed the welfare of the children of Costa Mesa squarely in the cross hairs of their misguided attempts to expunge Latinos from our city. Following the lead of the CM Press, they've made the children pawns in their petty political games. Shame on them.

Further in that same posting the CM Press author goes on to lament the fact that "We're not only not attracting upwardly mobile people, we're seeing many of those who already live here flee to safer communities with better schools and a higher quality of life". He then says, "And, it is people who make a difference. A city is its people." He's 100% correct in those observations.

I know a few of those young, upwardly mobile families who decided to leave Costa Mesa recently for what they perceived as a better place to live. They left not because of a problem with the schools - they were very happy with the educational opportunities available to their children here. They left because of the atmosphere in this city - an atmosphere of intolerance that not only festers on the Westside, but is encouraged by the actions of some of our elected leaders. They simply didn't want to raise their families in a city where such Neanderthal values thrive. They looked ahead and saw no light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel - so they moved on. How can you blame them? Do you really enjoy living in a city where such views control the agenda? This is a real tragedy for our community.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Banning Ranch - Another Opportunity Lost

Well, it looks like any chance of Costa Mesa negotiating with the City of Newport Beach regarding annexation of the Banning Ranch has gone from slim to none. As reported in the Daily Pilot recently, Newport's mayor, Steve Rosansky announced during his "state of the city" address that plans are in the works for residential development on that prime piece of ocean view land that abuts Costa Mesa. A scan of the internet reveals that environmental groups also covet this land - as a perpetual "natural" park. I can think of one activist in Costa Mesa who's probably seething. What a shame.

So, it looks like Costa Mesa has missed the boat - again. When it comes to negotiating with our neighboring cities we just don't quite seem to have what it takes. It remains to be seen whether the Santa Ana Country Club, a wonderful piece of property located within Costa Mesa's sphere of influence, and other sites in East Santa Ana Heights, will be annexed to Costa Mesa or Newport Beach. I'm betting Newport gets it all. The residents of the areas in question have practically screamed from the rooftops that they do not want to become part of Costa Mesa.

Let's see, now, if I can convince the City of Newport Beach to annex everything in Costa Mesa east of Tustin Avenue I'd get an instant bump in property value of about 50% and wouldn't have to deal with the dunderheads controlling this city now. Ah, Nirvana!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brown Act Follies

I guess most of us who follow Costa Mesa politics know that our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, and the court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, are pals. Both men have alluded to that relationship many times over the years. Mansoor made it very clear when he actively campaigned for Bever in 2004 and Bever speaks on behalf of Mansoor frequently. Based on their public statements, it's clear that they have a tight relationship.

Those of us who watched the campaign last year realize that Mansoor took Wendy Leece under his wing and professed his support for her candidacy at every opportunity. She was at his side at almost every public function and shared campaign literature with her. He even contributed to her campaign. It appears that not much has changed since the election, either. I've seen recent video of the two of them at a Republican function, where he acknowledged her great contributions to the City of Costa Mesa.

All this collegial coziness leads me to a question for you. Do you know about the Ralph M. Brown Act? That act is part of the California Government code, and was designed to guarantee that public bodies, like commissions and councils, conduct their business in an open manner. To quote the first section in part, "It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."

Here's why I asked the question. Since the mayor and Bever are buddies, and since the mayor and Leece seem to have been joined at the hip over the past nearly a year, what are the chances they occasionally violate the Brown Act by discussing city business together out of view of the public? Not possible, you say? How about this scenario? The mayor and Bever talk about an issue, then the mayor and Leece talk about the same issue. The mayor can't have that second conversation without considering Bever's viewpoint, can he? Based on my understanding of the law, that "chain conversation" is a violation of the Brown Act.

What brings this question to mind is the frequency with which The Mayor, Bever and Leece seem attuned to each other's view on issues. Yes, I'm sure they agree on many things philosophically and it's obvious that, once they decide on an issue, it's going to pass. The minority on the council has no real voice since it doesn't have the votes. Of course, Mansoor's New Majority understands that fact - all of them can probably count to three - so it's not outside the realm of possibility that they pre-fabricate their opinions before the actual public meetings.

Do I have any evidence about such potential violations? Nope, not a one. Do I think those violations are possible? Yes, I do. Do I think they are probable? Well, I've watched Mansoor and Bever on the dais for several years and I know that Bever continues to play fast and loose with the rules. He's passed notes on the dais suggesting a course of action to other council members, which is a technical violation of the Brown Act. When challenged on these transgressions he just cavalierly brushes the criticism aside with a glib retort. Does this make him trustworthy? I'll leave that speculation to you.

Because of their special relationships, I think the probability of Brown Act violations exist. After the lies and deceit during the campaign, this is just one more reason to view the performance of the New Majority with a critical eye.