Friday, October 31, 2008

Last Chance For Candidate Viewing Before Election

TWO FORUMS AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING
With the final televised City Council Candidate Forum behind us and two non-televised events ahead over the next couple weeks I thought I'd provide (with the permission of CMTV) the schedule of replays on Costa Mesa Television (CMTV) Channel 24 on Time Warner Cable for the events "in the can".

BE AN INFORMED VOTER
I think each voter serious about the future of our city should take advantage of this opportunity to see your candidates respond to important issues. So far, more than 300 of your neighbors have seen the three forums conducted to date in person. You can join them by viewing the replays to become informed about the candidates.

City Council Candidate Forum - 10/9/08
Hosted by Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors, Inc.

Schedule Information
(Length - 1:05:37)
11/1/2008 at 6:00 PM
11/2/2008 at 8:30 PM
11/3/2008 at 7:00 PM
11/4/2008 at 2:00 PM


City Council Candidate Forum - 10/15/08
Hosted jointly by the Costa Mesa Chamber
of Commerce, Churm Media and the
Daily Pilot

Schedule Information
(Length - 1:26:11)
10/31/2008 at 7:00 PM
11/1/2008 at 4:00 PM
11/2/2008 at 10:00 AM
11/3/2008 at 9:00 PM
11/4/2008 at 4:00 PM

CRAMMING BEFORE THE ELECTION
Additionally, beginning on Monday, November 3rd, all three of the televised forums will be available for viewing. They will be televised on Monday the 3rd and Tuesday, the 4th sequentially.

Monday, November 3, 2008
5:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Aug. 21 - 01:53:22
7:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Oct. 9 - 01:05:1
9:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Oct. 15 - 01:26:11

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
12:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Aug. 21 - 01:53:22
2:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Oct. 9 - 01:05:13
4:00 PM - City Council Candidate Forum of Oct. 15 - 01:26:11

STREAMING VIDEO AVAILABLE, TOO
Additionally, all of those events may be viewed at your convenience on streaming video on via the City of Costa Mesa web site. This link, HERE, will take you to the city web site, then just click on Archived Videos under the "Costa Mesa TV" button, then select the forum of your choice for viewing. You will need a high speed internet connection - DSL or Cable - to view these items.

WATCH AND EDUCATE YOURSELVES - THEN CHOOSE.
I think, as you watch these presentations, you'll agree with me that we have several solid candidates from which to choose on Tuesday. As you know, my votes have gone to Katrina Foley, Bill Sneen and Jim Righeimer for all the reasons I've previously stated on this blog, HERE, and in the Daily Pilot, HERE. Those are my choices... it's up to you to make your own.

MORE REASONS TO REJECT MONAHAN AND BEVER
I think recent events make it even easier to NOT vote for Eric Bever and Gary Monahan now. Bever, in an amazing show of arrogance, failed to show up for the Daily Pilot interviews and the last two candidate forums. Monahan has this new dark cloud of suspicion regarding a "campaign donation/consulting fee" from Surat Singh hanging over his head. As I write this he has still not satisfactorily explained this issue. It's all a matter of trust, isn't it?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monahan vs. Singh - Show Me The Money!

IT'S "DIRTY TRICKS" TIME
As we make the far turn and head for home in this campaign cycle we're approaching that time when campaign hit pieces may land in our mailboxes - negative mailers designed to punch the voters squarely between the eyes with some allegation, half-truth or pure fabric
ation about a candidate, who then has virtually no time left before the election to respond.

SNEEN SOUNDS THE ALARM

Some mi
ght say that Bill Sneen raising the flag about a suspicious campaign contribution that showed up on Gary Monahan's Form 460 fits into that definition, but I don't think so. Sneen was doing his homework - just as he has done ever since filing his papers to run for city council. He saw a curious entry in Monahan's campaign disclosure form and decided to investigate it. From the time this story first broke in the Daily Pilot, HERE, there has been plenty of time for Monahan to sort it out and provide us with the truth of the matter - plenty of time. This story has also been covered by the Orange County Register, HERE.

WHENCE "CHINO HILLS COUNTRY CLUB"?

When the name of a contributor - Chino Hills Country Club, with an address on Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa - popped out at Sneen it piqued his interest so he looked for the location. It wasn't a "country club" at all - it was Angel's
Auto Spa. He simply walked up to the owner, Surat Singh, and asked him about the "country club" and Singh told him about it. You may recall that Singh is a successful local businessman who has a history of philanthropy in our city, as demonstrated by being bestowed the "Mayor's Award" in January, 2004 by then-mayor Gary Monahan.

CONSULTING FEE OR CONTRIBUTION?
According to Sneen's account - subsequently backed-up by Daily Pilot reporter Alan Blank's own investigation and conversation with Singh - Surat Singh told him the $7,000.00 in question was NOT a campaign contribution, but rather was the payment of a consulting fee to Monahan for the work he and fellow-former mayor Peter Buffa did on his behalf in the acquisition of land in Chino Hills where he planned to build the still-mythical country club.


CONTRIBUTION NOT DEDUCTIBLE

According to the news reports, Singh stated that he was a businessm
an and wouldn't just hand someone a $7,000.00 non-deductible campaign contribution.

CONSULTING FEE TAXABLE INCOME
Apparently Monahan has denied that the $7,000.00 amount paid to him by Singh was, in fact, a consulting fee for services rendered. He is quoted as stating unequivocally to Blank that it was a campaign contribution.

SOMETHI
NG REEKS
Now, I'm not necessarily calling anyone a liar here, but something is very fishy. And, just like a fish that lays around too long, it's only going to stink more the longer the
question is unresolved.





DOES THE CAMPAIGN TREASURER KNOW?

I thought
that, since there is confusion, perhaps Monahan's campaign Treasurer - a fellow identified on the Form 460 as "Brian Pinkham" - might have an answer, so I called him at 9:00 tonight at the number listed on the form. He seems like a very nice fellow and was very helpful. He told me he's not very familiar with the controversy, but did verify that every contribution check received must be made out to "Friends of Gary Monahan City Council" and is deposited directly into a separate, special checking account which is subject to audit. He confirmed that no cash contributions are accepted.

LET'S SEE THE CHECK - CASE CLOSED!
This really should be a simple issue to put to rest. The payment was made August 29, 2008 - plenty of time for a check to have cleared the bank. Even if Surat Singh doesn't normally have canceled checks returned to him, almost every bank these days will produce the image of that check, front and back, upon request. If the check was made out to "Friends of Gary Monahan City Council" - the name of his campaign - the problem is resolved. If the check is made out any other way, then the issue is still foggy.


WHAT'
S THE TRUTH?
If this was simply an innocent mistake by one of the parties, then we need to know that. If Surat Singh, acting as Chino Hills Country Club, inadvertently issued a corporate check to Monahan for consulting services, but made it out to his campaign, we need to know that. It does stretch credulity that he would make that kind of a mistake, considering his o
bvious wealth and business savvy. So far, based on the reports available, both parties are sticking to their stories.

CAN YOU TRUST HIM?
Perhaps the most important character trait we should be seeking in elected officials is HONESTY. If Monahan is not being truthful about this situation, how can we trust him with the responsibility of elective office? If this was simply a case of sloppiness with his campaign finances, maybe that explains why he recently had to lay off 3 people at his bar - something he mentioned in a recent forum. Can we trust him to do the right thing as part of the elected body that must consider and approve a budget of nearly $145 million? Heck, can we trust him, period?

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
This issue needs to be resolved fast. If Monahan screwed up he should fess up, pronto. That fish is getting riper every day...

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Final Forum In The Can


FINALLY!
Whew! That's it! The final candidate forum of the 2008 cycle is done, finished, in-the-can!

ANOTHER GOOD FORUM
Last night's forum, held at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant on Fairview, was another success. The sponsors - faith-based groups - did a fine job of conducting the event before an audience of nearly 70 people total. Around 50 people stuck it out to the very end. You can read Daily Pilot reporter Alan Blank's account of the meeting HERE.

SOMEONE'S WATCHING
The tone of this forum was quite civil - perhaps because the candidates were seated in front of that large cross...


DE BOOM IN CHARGE
The moderator, Daily Pilot columnist and long-time community activist Jim deBoom, did a good job of firing the questions at the candidates. With only a minute for each response, the candidates had to be quick with their replies. Since this is the final forum they all had learned the mechanics of the process by now. Having had most of the questions in advance helped - it gave them a chance to prep for their answers.

ARROGANT BEVER A NO-SHOW - AGAIN

Again, Mayor Eric Bever was a no-show. I guess he must feel he's got this election in the bag because this is the second forum in as many weeks - neither of which were televised - that he has failed to show for. Talk about arrogance! The editors of the Daily Pilot were right when they chose to ignore him when preparing their endorsements.

MR. U. KNOW-WHO LURKED BRIEFLY

And, again, Old Grumpy from Mesa North made only a cursory showing, arriving more than 15 minutes late and leaving after around a half hour. He immediately slithered back to his Mesa North cave and wrote a scathing comment on a pre-existing blog entry - he's getting lazy that way lately - denouncing forum participants as a "bunch of phony blowhards". Of course, since he only stayed for a few minutes, took no notes, then bugged out, he really has no idea of the nature of the questions or comments after he left. This is his style - fabricating facts and outright lies. He followed that up with another fear-laced attack on those candidates who pose a threat to his troika with the specter of rampaging gang, bars on doors and windows in Mesa del Mar, etc. The guy really is a racist fear-mongerer.

FOUR QUESTIONS, PLUS
The hosts of the forum presented each of the candidates with four questions, plus a couple composed by members of the audience. The four "canned" questions were: 1) How each candidate would educate themselves on the needs of the community, particularly the youth?; 2) In light of the current fiscal uncertainty, which budget items should not be reduced and which are the most expendable?; 3) Do they support or oppose a gang prevention program as well as enforcement?; 4) who do they feel is the most under-represented group in our city?

BUDGET

Alan Blank's article covers many of the details of the answers. In the case of the first one, each would do some form of "reaching out" to the community and/or staff. On the subject of budget plans, the consensus was that public safety can't be touched. Foley emphasized the fiscally conservative nature of our city staff. McEvoy suggested eliminating the pay for City Council members and instituting a city-operated towing operation to generate income. Reedy again bemoaned the loss of the opportunity for the public to consider an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

GANGS

On the subject of a gang intervention program, most candidates supported that concept, acknowledging that enforcement alone isn't enough. Righeimer said we need programs that work - duh!

WHO IS THE MOST UNDER-REPRESENTED?

The final question from the hosts, about which group in our city they feel is the most under-represented, evoked some interesting responses. Moss, Sneen, Reedy and Foley all said it was the youth of our community. Bunyan said it was the seniors and homeless. Righeimer said it was those in our community who were "least, last, lost" - the homeless. McEvoy said it was the Latinos, which represent 38% of our population, and cited the fact that there were no Latinos running for office. Monahan, predictably, said it was the seniors and those with physical or developmental disabilities.

LATINOS - JOBS AND HOUSING

The first two questions submitted by audience members dealt, in broad terms, with affordable housing and the demise of the Job Center, primarily as those issues effect the Latinos in our city. All candidates agreed that we need affordable housing, but the practicalities of where it would be placed is a big stumbling block.

JOB CENTER

The Job Center was a a more contentious issue. Some of the answers were predictable. Monahan does not support re-opening a Job Center. Foley voted against closing the old one. Reedy, Sneen, McEvoy and Bunyan think we should open another one. Bunyan said we need better rules and enforcement. Sneen thinks a training element should be included. Moss said we should look to private enterprise to provide job placement services.

EASTSIDE REVITALIZATION? WHAT?

An audience member submitted a curious question about what the candidates would do to revitalize the Eastside - implying that all the attention had been paid to the Westside. Most responses had to do with infrastructure - traffic improvements, alley improvements, etc. Reedy mentioned the fledgling Eastside Costa Mesa Neighbors group.

JWA, LIBRARY, PAULARINO PARK

Jim deBoom asked a series of "yes or no" questions. All the candidates supported caps on flights out of John Wayne Airport, building a new central library and all agreed, if elected, to meet with the sponsoring group of this forum. None of the candidates felt Paularino Park should be returned to a state where soccer could be played.

FOLEY, RIGHEIMER AND SNEEN GET MY VOTES

This final chance to see and hear most of the candidates only further cemented my decisions on how to mark my ballot - which I will be doing today. I will vote for Foley, Righeimer and Sneen. The Daily Pilot ran an abbreviated version of my recent blog posting on my choices yesterday, which can be read HERE. I'm still very impressed with all the candidates. Both Chris Bunyan and Chris McEvoy continue to impress me with their insightful, and sometimes quirky, solutions to problems.

MONAHAN/SINGH AND $7,000
The buzz around the meeting room last night was all about the recent article in the Daily Pilot about the "donation/consulting fee" paid to Gary Monahan by businessman Surat Singh. I don't know how this issue is going to shake out, but it seems to me that it is easily resolved - just give us a peek at the check Mr. Singh wrote to Monahan. If it was made out to Monahan's campaign, case closed. If not, then more explaining is necessary.

MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE ON NOVEMBER 4TH

That's it, my friends. Time to contemplate how you will mark your ballot. Remember, this weekend CMTV will have a forum marathon going, with the first three available for viewing. The Daily Pilot has their video interview clips available for viewing. Take some time to view these items and make an informed decision.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Hispanics Among Us - Managing The Tsunami


A NEW PEW CENTER REPORT
Last week the Pew Hispanic Center, a Pew Research Center Project, produced a new report for our consideration in which they tell us that Hispanics account for half of the U.S. Population growth since 2000. Mull that fact over just a little, then click on the link, HERE, to go to the site.

A WEALTH OF INFORMATION
Once at the site you will find a wealth of information and links to other segments of this report, including some fascinating interactive maps and interactive databases that provide demographic information about Latinos in each of our 50 states and 3141 counties.

DRAMATIC GROWTH REFLECTED
For example
, in 1980 the 14.6 million Hispanics were heavily concentrated in the 47 (out of 3141 counties) that had Hispanic county populations of at least 50,000. In 2007 the 45.5 million Hispanics cover a much wider area and the data provided on some of their maps detail 57 counties that have large Hispanic populations or rapid growth in their Hispanic populations in the new century.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY #1 - NO SURPRISE!

The interactive maps present a very interesting mountain of information. For example, Los Angeles County Ranked #1 in total Hispanic population, with 4.7 million or 47% of the total. It also ranked 1st in growth of the Hispanic population (850,971) from 1990-2000 - 27% and 1st (435,198) from 2000-2007 - 10%.

ORANGE COUNTY #6
The same
information for Orange County shows it ranked at #6 in total Hispanic population with just over 998,000, or 33% of the total. It ranked #7 in growth of the Hispanic population (310,751) from 1990-2000 - 55% and 15th from 2000-2007 (122,453) - 14%.

NUMBERS 2-5
It won't surprise many to learn that Harris County, Texas (Houston) is ranked #2 nationally and that Miami-Dade County in Florida is ranked #3. I was shocked to learn, though, that Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) is ranked #4, ahead of Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix) at #5.

CALIFORNIA NUMBERS ARE INTERESTING
In California Hispanics represent 36% of the population, have a median age of 26 years and represent 47% of all K-12 students. In the 12 month period prior to the survey there were 236,000 births to Hispanic women ages 15-44. 26% of Hispanics 17 and younger live in poverty while only 9% of Non-Hispanic Whites live in poverty. These are powerful numbers, and that's only the tip of the iceberg in the Pew Center Report, as you
will see when you visit the site.

CONTEMPLATE AS YOU VOTE
As we think about casting our ballots in the pending election - many of us may have already mailed ours in - I think it's important to contemplate what these numbers really represent. We here in Costa Mesa share our city with a Hispanic population estimated to be in excess of 35% of the total. If history bears us out, most of those folks won't vote, but will certainly be impacted by the votes cast on November 4th.

MANAGING THE TSUNAMI
The Hispanic
folks in our community are a growing proportion of the residents of this city. There are those in this city who have done their very best to make life miserable for our Hispanic neighbors, including some folks on, or running for, the City Council. As I have written many times before, this wave of Hispanics - mostly immigrants - is the "wave of the future" in our little part of the world - a de facto tsunami. If we don't figure out ways to manage this wave we are destined to be drowned by it.

BEWARE THE RACIST RANTS
There are
those who will react to this information with proclamations that those who wish to consider it are "soft on crime" and/or "lefties", intent on making our city another Santa Ana. Horse manure! The fact is that the Hispanic population of our country, and our region in particular, is growing. Those who wish to pull their heads back into their shells like some misguided turtle and hope it all goes away are delusional and just not facing reality. It's time, in my opinion, to elect leaders that understand the realities of life in southern California today and are prepared to deal with it like leaders, not vigilantes.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Money, And Lots Of It...

CAMPAIGN FINANCES TO CONSIDER
Within the past few days the Daily Pilot has provided us with some very interesting issues to consider as we head for the home stretch in this years municipal elections.

THE TROIKA DOMINATES FUND RAISING
HERE, they provided us with the most recent campaign contribution information on the Costa Mesa candidates. The "CM Press Troika" - Jim Righeimer, Gary Monahan and Eric Bever - have collected more than $140,000 between them - more than $100,000 g
reater than the next candidate, Katrina Foley, who has raised just over $30,000. Riggy is the BIG DOG on this list, with just under $60,000 raised so far.

DOLLARS VISIBLE ALL OVER TOWN
I'm not surprised at these numbers. Bever spent $50,000 in his campaign four years ago. Campaign signs, many of which violate our municipal ordinances on the placement of such signs and their size, for the "Troika", are plastered all over town and our mailboxes are filled with slate mailers for those three.

MONAHAN'S DILEMMA
Even more interesting is the article, HERE, that presents
an interesting dilemma for Gary Monahan. This one tells us that local businessman, Surat Singh, has provided a $7,000 contribution to Monahan's campaign according to sworn statements on Monahan's Form 460 - the campaign finance disclosure forms. Opponent Bill Sneen thought that contribution was curious - it was apparently from an entity identified as the Chino Hills Country Club, which showed a Newport Blvd. address. So, he nosed around a little and spoke with Singh, who told him that he had paid Monahan $7,000 for consulting that he and fellow-former mayor Peter Buffa did to help him acquire land in Chino Hills where he plans to build a country club. He told Sneen the money was not a campaign contribution because he couldn't deduct it as a business expense as such.

DAILY PILOT CONFIRMS STORY
The Daily Pilot got wind of this issue and reporter Alan Blank interviewed Singh, who confirmed the facts as presented above. However, Monahan says that money was, indeed, a campaign contribution on which he is not obligated to pay income tax.

WHO'S LYING?

Somebody's not telling the truth here. I cannot think of a single reason Surat Singh would lie about this issue. He is a highly respected member of the Costa
Mesa business community who Monahan recognized with the "Mayor's Award" in 2004 for his philanthropy. That leaves Monahan, who has filled out these forms many, many times over his previous 12 year tenure on the City Council. It's unlikely that the inclusion on the Form 460 was a simple mistake - which Monahan is not claiming, by the way.

TRUST IS IMPORTANT
I mention this because trust is very important when considering the votes you will make on November 4th. I've already said I'm not voting for Monahan, and listed the many reasons for that decision. This new information only affirms my decision... trust is important.

***

FINAL FORUM ON TUESDAY

A reminder, Tuesday, October 28th, is the date of the final Costa Mesa City Council Candidate Forum. This event will be held at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 2850 Fairview. It begins promptly at 6:30 pm and is scheduled to conclude at 8:00 pm. The candidates have been provided the questions in advance, so one can hope for a polished performance by each of them.

WHO WILL SHOW UP?
I find myself wondering if they all will show up. Eric Bever, for example, stiffed the good folks at Halecrest and Mesa Del Mar last week when he failed to show up for their forum. I wonder if he will take a pass on this one, too. I also wonder if Monahan will duck this event to avoid questions on his financial situation?

See you there...

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