Tuesday night we saw an example of how public participation in the governance of our city can return a small semblance of sanity to the process.
MANSOOR'S ATTEMPT TO SABOTAGE DERAILED
The discussion was almost derailed, though, when Mayor Pro Tem Allan Mansoor tried to get the whole issue continued and deny the several dozen concerned residents the opportunity to be heard on this subject. He did this during the "Council Member Comments" segment at the beginning of the meeting instead of waiting for the appropriate time in the agenda. Fortunately, Katrina Foley headed off this sleazy attempt to prohibit the public from speaking. It did demonstrate, once again, just how little regard he has for opinions of the residents of this city.
The issue at hand was the ill-advised attempt to impose draconian restrictions on the use of 28 of the 30 public parks in Costa Mesa. The City Council was to consider the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation Commission to impose the designation of "Passive Park" on those 28, thereby effectively making law-breakers of groups who routinely use a few of the parks for recreation - like families on birthday outings, Boy Scouts on group activities, Home Schooled play groups, etc.
"THE PEOPLE" SPEAK OUT
Fortunately, concerned and articulate residents chose to stand up and speak to this issue - including a couple of City Council candidates who have entered the race specifically because of this kind of overbearing action by the current council majority.
MISGUIDED AND EXPENSIVE
This issue, which has dragged on for years, has caused the expenditure of more than 400 hours of city staff time according to Peter Naghavi, Director of Public Services.
At the end, the council - following a motion by Katrina Foley and seconded by lame duck Linda Dixon - voted to simply receive and file this report. This does not, however, prohibit the Parks and Recreation Commission from considering use restrictions on individual parks on a case-by-case basis.
Of course, this issue provided an opportunity for Foley and Mayor Bever - opponents in the current council race - to trade barbs. At one point I thought Bever might reach over and slap Foley - he was really steaming. It made for great theater.
"YOUR NEIGHBOR" STARTED IT ALL
Do you remember how this all started? It was one man, determined to keep Latino men from enjoying kicking a soccer ball around Paularino Park after work, who fabricated a "safety" issue that forced the city to respond. After a couple years of debate and community outreach, the city finally designated Paularino Park as a Passive Park and installed boulders and trees to eliminate any possibility of anyone wishing to kick, throw or bat a ball around anywhere in that park doing so legally.
A CANCER ON OUR MUNICIPAL SOUL
This, sadly, is just the most recent - and most visible - example of this man's influence on the current majority on our city council. He's a clever, manipulative guy who will cajole and harangue the council and make veiled threats of "non-support" for re-election campaigns in order to keep them in line. His cancerous, pervasive, bigoted philosophy has infected the very fiber of this city.
THE PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER
Only a dramatic change in the November elections will keep this from perpetuating. Tuesday's council meeting demonstrated that it is possible to re-capture our city from the extremists who currently have it in a stranglehold.