BUBBLE, BUBBLE, TOIL AND TROUBLE
It has been an interesting week here in Cauldronland. The trial of Benito Acosta seems to have sucked most of the available energy from readers of the Daily Pilot and the bloggers who post their views online. There apparently is no spleen left unvented. Well over 150 - and counting - comments have been posted on the several articles on this subject, which can be read here, here and here. As I type this, the most recent article this morning, here, announces that the appeal of the decision by Judge Kelly MacEachern to dismiss the case late last week has been denied. So, this part of the Benito Acosta adventure is over.
THE OTHER SHOE
On the horizon, apparently set for a spring start, is the federal civil rights case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Acosta against the city. That one has the potential, should it be resolved in Acosta's favor, to reach into our city coffers and extract very significant dollars. And, as painful as the financial part of it would be, even more destructive will be the cost to the city's reputation, which is rapidly becoming one of a bastion for intolerance.
Of interest is the fact that the word "recall" has been bandied about on the blog, postulating that the way Mayor Allan Mansoor handled the events of the City Council meeting on January 3, 2006 is worthy of being recalled from office. Even though he clearly demonstrated bias - some would say prejudice - in the way he handled Acosta versus the way he permitted his sponsor, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist to permit his "5 or 6 dozen" supporters to stand when he spoke to show their support of his views, I don't think that mistake is sufficient cause to try to recall our young jailer/mayor. Mounting a recall effort is costly, both in terms of dollars and community harmony. The mayor and his running mate, Wendy Leece, gained sufficient votes last year to make me believe that a recall effort would fail.
NUMBER ONE CRITIC
There may be no bigger critic of the mayor and his majority in this city than this writer. I think his actions, supported by his majority, have caused Costa Mesa to become known as a city without a heart. I think their attempt to create their own foreign policy by advocating the designation of every Costa Mesa police officer as an immigration screener destroyed the bridges built over the previous two decades between city government and the Latino community - one third of the population of our town.
FEAR REPLACES HARMONY
Under the guise of making Costa Mesa "a safer place", they have created an atmosphere of fear and apprehension on the Westside of our city. I, for one, don't feel much safer knowing that the bible teacher who was snatched up for riding his bicycle the wrong way has been deported. Nope, that doesn't make me sleep any better.
REAL "ICE" RESULTS?
Each month, when the Costa Mesa Police Department presents their crime figures - which now include statistics for those arrestees who have been screened by the agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presently assigned to our jail - anti-immigrant activists crow about how much safer our streets have become. I have seen no statistics that tell us how many of those detained by ICE are actually convicted of a crime and subsequently deported. Along with that information, I'd also like to know how many previously deported criminals have been re-arrested, having returned to our city following deportation.
FIX THE BORDER!
In my view, until and unless the federal government secures the border, anything done by ICE in Costa Mesa is only window dressing. Yes, I certainly do want dangerous felons - that's how the mayor described his target group when he first proposed having all the CMPD officers designated as immigration screeners - off the streets and kept off. This present program doesn't seem to be doing that.
FIND BETTER CANDIDATES
Rather than waste fiscal resources and emotional energy on a doomed recall effort, I suggest those in our community who have had enough of the mayor's heavy-handed style of governance begin right now to find candidates to change the power structure on the council. In just over 12 months we will elect three council members - a majority - so the opportunity is there for a change for the better. However, the only probable candidates in addition to Katrina Foley that I see poised for a run are sycophants of the mayor and his current majority. Assuming our resident court jester, Eric Bever, chooses to run again, it's likely he will be joined by one or more self-described "improvers" in the race for the three seats to be contested.
MONAHAN - AGAIN?
I've even heard rumors that turncoat Gary Monahan, the termed-out twelve year, pension-eligible former councilman and mayor might run again - apparently hoping to add years to his pension pot. You may recall that it was Monahan who, inexplicable, changed direction and joined Mansoor and Bever to form the first majority that began directing this city onto it's current path of intolerance. For that move he found immigrant's rights activists camped on the doorstep of his business for several weeks, chanting epithets at him and disturbing his customers. With that as a backdrop, it's unlikely he would view the plight of the Latino community with much sympathy should he regain a seat on the council.
BALANCE, NOT BUFFOONERY
Unless new candidates surface who represent a more balanced approach to the governance of our city, we will be doomed to be under the thumb of this narrow-minded group of anti-immigrant activists for the next decade. Unless we are able to shift the power from those who seem destined to encumber this city with legal and fiscal penalties for their missteps, we will continue to see our precious resources used not to hire more police officers and fire fighters, nor to repair our crumbling streets, but to pay settlements and fines for their sledgehammer approach to governance.
THE TIME IS NOW
Now it the time to begin returning this city to the right path - the one that will take it back from the dark forces of intolerance.