Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leece Disrupts Senior Center Tranquility - Again


WENDY CAUSES CHAOS
Perhaps the biggest hub bub here in Costa Mesa this past week was the revelation by recently crowned Mayor Pro Tempore Wendy Leece that she, as the liaison to the C
osta Mesa Senior Center, felt "out of the loop" and wanted to be appointed by the city council as a voting member of the Senior Center Board.

SHE SHOULD TRY SHOWING UP!
To that we say, " Well, duh, Wendy!" How could she
not feel "out of the loop" when she's missed six of the last seven meetings of the board?

WENDY
DISRUPTS SENIOR CENTER TRANQUILITY
Some will recall that Wendy created much turmoil earlier in the year when, at a time when she actually did attend meetings, she listened to the gripes of two members of the Senior Center - women apparently with axes to grind with th
e Director of the center - and immediately launched into an inquisition. She demanded answers to a long list of nit-picking questions, ranging from the petty to the preposterous, which took up hours and hours of staff time to prepare responses.

WENDY HAS A HISTORY OF DISRUPTION
Apparently now Ms. Leece - a woman who apparently has made a career of rattling cages during her tour on the school board and now on the city council - wants to displace two highly competent volunteer members of the board appointed only last year and replace them with two council members. Those council members would be herself and one other.

BOARD MEMBERS TICKED OFF
As one might expect, this has created more turmoil at the Senior Center. Many of the current board members are livid at her intrusion.


"THE REPORTER" (SNICKER) CHIMES IN
The yapping hyena over at the CM Press has picked up on this issue and published two recent posts commending Leece for her bull-in-the-china-shop stampede through the Senior Center. That bozo - who fancies himself a newsman just because he played a reporter (badly) in a terrible movie 35 years ago - posted a link purportedly to the Senior Center Web Site. Only problem there was he was using a link to a now-defunct site. That's typical of this guy, though. He never lets facts or
accuracy in reporting get in the way of his opinions. HERE is the link to the correct site.

PARAGON OF POOR TASTE
In fact, trying to make his point that Leece's crusade is perfectly appropriate as a watchdog for our municipal finances, he dredged up a 13 year old web article about the death of Stephen Wagner, the man who embezzled major bucks from the school district and was sent to jail for his crimes. Wagner died of AIDS-related causes in prison. I'm still trying to figure out what the hyena was trying to prove with that one...

SENIOR CENTER ATTACK EXPECTED

So, shortly after the first of the year you can expect the ruling junta on the Costa Mesa City Council to pick up Leece's banner and charge ahead, fully disrupting the Senior Center and it's members. I guess it's never too soon for Leece to start padding her resume for a run at re-election in 2010. Next time around, though, she won't have Allan Mansoor's coattails to ride on.

FIRST THE LATINOS, NOW THE SENIORS - WHO'S NEXT?
So, now that the attack on Costa Mesas Latinos seems to have simmered down a little, it looks like the Mansoor-led majority are going after the seniors in our city, using the vacuous Wendy Leece as their point person. You will recall that I've warned you about this many times in the past.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Widening of Newport Blvd. On Schedule For January


NAGHAVI SAYS WE'RE ON SCHEDULE
When checking with Peter Naghavi, Public Services Director for the City of Costa Mesa, earlier this week he informs me that the approved and funded widening project for Newport Blvd. south of 19th Street is all ready to go. Construction begins on January 9, 2009.

SHORT TERM SOLUTION
You will recall that a new 4th full lane will be installed northbound from 17th Street to 19th Street and a short southbound lane will be installed from 19th Street to Broadway, adjacent to Triangle Square. There will also be a new right turn lane added southbound at 17th Street. These are short-term solutions to one of the busiest stretches of roadway in the county.

MOST WORK TO BE DONE AT NIGHT
Naghavi tells me that most of the work, roughly 80%, will be done at night - 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. - to provide for the least amount of interference with daytime traffic. There will be times when nighttime work doesn't get completed, in which case it will extend past the 6:00 a.m. target.

DOESN'T SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS, BUT IS A START
This is a good step for those of us who live in this end of town. It will not solve the cut-through traffic issues and is not a long-term solution to the crowded condition of Newport Blvd. as it passes through Costa Mesa's Downtown area, but it's a start. And, as is always the case with road construction projects, it will test the patience of all drivers in the area.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

THE FACE OF COSTA MESA

REGISTER REPORTS CENSUS NUMBERS
On Monday the Orange County Register, as part of
their series "Changing face of O.C.", published statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that were based on surveys done from 2005 through 2007 for Costa Mesa. I won't begin to attempt to provide all those interesting numbers. The link to the Register article is HERE, if you're interested in sifting through them yourselves.

I did want to tease you with a few of the numbers, though, to provoke you to seek out the report and dig deeper.

THE "COLOR" OF COSTA MESA IS WHITE

For example, according to the report, Costa Mesa now has 107,820 residents, of which 79,002 (73.30%) are "white". Hispanic or Latinos account for 35,551 (33.00.%). Now, before you go berserk and tell me the numbers don't add up, understand that "white" includes Hispanic and Latinos for the purposes of census reporting. Don't go all apoplectic on me.. more numbers to come. The important thing to know here is that nearly a third of our population is Hispanic or Latino (you can pick the your term of choice, I guess).

Among those Hispanic and Latinos, 29,759 (27.60%) are Mexican - no surprise there.

According to the report, 72,269 (67.00%) Costa Mesa residents are classified as "Not Hispanic or Latino", and 59,559 (55.20%) are classified as "White alone".

1,867 (1.70%) are "Black or African American".

Old Grumpy, Your Neighbor over in Mesa North, can begin to grouse about the fact that 2,105 (2.00%) of Costa Mesa residents are reportedly comprised of "Two or more races". Oh, no! There goes the gene pool, Marty!

HOUSING NUMBERS

Back to the report... Costa Mesa apparently has a total of 40,888 housing units, of which 38,665 (94.60%) are occupied. 15,588 (38.10%) of those housing units are detached homes. 9,655 (23.60%) have 20 or more units.

Of those 38,665 occupied housing units, 15,773 (40.80%) are "Owner-occupied", while 22,892 (59.20%) are "Renter-occupied" - including the one occupied by our young jailer/mayor.

More than half of the housing units - 51.60% - were built before 1970. 944 (2.30%) of the housing units are "Mobile Homes".

Of the 11,937 owner-occupied housing units with a mortgage, 7,688 (48.70%) pay $2,000 or more per month.

Of the 22,892 renter-occupied units, 10,723 (46.80%) pay between $1,000 and $1,499 per month and 7,749 (33.90%) pay $1,500 or more.

Most of the 38,665 occupied housing units, 27,263 (70.50%), are heated by utility gas. However, somewhere in town there apparently are 48 housing units heated by wood! 83 units lack complete plumbing facilities!

Of the 38,665 households in Costa Mesa, 23,074 (59.70%) were "family households" and 15,591 (40.30%) were "non-family households".

EDUCATION
Of the 71,064 residents 25 years and older 83.7% are high school graduates or higher and 31.4% have bachelor's degrees or higher.

THE WORK FORCE
Of the 85,821 people described as "Population 16 years and over" - theoretically the "labor force" - 59,890 (69.80%) were actually "In labor force" and 25,931 (30.20%) were "Not in labor force". Of those "In the labor force", only 2,724 (3.20%) were unemployed at the time of this survey.

Of the 56,820 persons described as "Civilian employed population 16 years and over", 20,527 (36.10%) perform "Management, professional, and related occupations". 15,365 (27.00%) work in "Sales and office occupations".

Of the 54,967 commuting workers 16 years or over, 40,978 (74.60%) drove alone. Another 5,902 (10.70%) carpooled and only 2,111 (3.80%) used public transportation.

The median age of Costa Mesa residents is 33.7 years. 9,366 (8.70%) are 65 years or over - geezers, like me.

FERTILITY AND MARITAL STATUS

Of the 2,019 women 15 to 50 years old who had a birth in the past 12 months, 660 (32.70%) were described as "Unmarried women (widowed, divorced, and never married)

Of the 44,886 MALES 15 years and over, 19,908 (44.40%) have never been married; 19,697 (43.90%) are now married, except separated; 693 (1.50%) are separated; 535 (1.20%) are widowed and 4,053 (9.00%) are divorced.

Of the 42,124 FEMALES 15 years and over, 14,131 (33.50%) have never been married; 18,592 (44.10%) are now married, except separated; 1,301(3.10%) are separated; 2,278 (5.40%) are widowed and 5,822 (13.80%) are divorced.

INCOME LEVELS
In Costa Mesa the median household income was $61,075. The median family income was $67,947. The per capita income was $29,893. 12.9% of our population lived with an income below the poverty level.

ROOTS
75,740 (70.20%) Costa Mesa residents claim to be native born. Of the 32,080 residents who are "foreign-born", 21,505 (67.00%) are not a U.S. citizen. Of the foreign-born population, 20,063 (62.50%) come from Latin America and 7,333 (22.90%) from Asia.

ANCESTRY
One interesting number that jumped out at me was the fact that, of the 107,820 residents in our city, only 2,279 (2.10%) described their ancestry as "American". 9,836 (9.10%) claimed English ancestry. A similar number, 9,856 (9.10%) said Irish and 13,258 (12.30%) claimed German ancestry.

HAD ENOUGH YET?

Well, I hope that has piqued your interest enough that you'll go back to that link I provided at the top and check out the rest of the numbers yourself. I think they provide you with a little better view of just who those people are that you rub shoulders with in this wonderful city.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Local Newsmen Plan NEW Newspaper - Seek Investors


JOHNSON AND LOBDELL PLAN A NEW NEWSPAPER!
In response to my earlier post, late Monday afternoon I received information from an extremely reliable source who informed me that former Daily Pilot publisher Tom Johnson and former Daily Pilot editor and Los Angeles Times journalist Bill Lobdell - two of the most highly-regarded newsmen in our area and the duo credited with saving the Pilot from extinction in the 1990s - have been meeting with several Newport-Mesa community leaders recently about their proposal for a NEW daily community newspaper that would be delivered via the Internet and, on specific days, in print.

SEEKING INVESTORS
According to my source, Johnson and Lobdell are looking for investors who see the value in giving our community back a quality newspaper that will last deep into the 21st century. I did some checking around today and one person familiar with the Johnson-Lobdell plan says the business model is "intriguing".


VOICEOFSANDIEGO.ORG

There is precedent for such an "online first" approach. One such example is in San Diego, where a non-profit online newspaper, voiceofsandiego.org, which you can view HERE, was launched to fill what the founders thought was a gap in credible, timely news coverage of that area. It seems to be working. When you visit the site you will see that it is crisp, easy to read and utilizes extensive audio and video clips on many of it's stories. The stories are timely and well-written.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES AND TCN ARE SHAKY
With the shaky condition of the Los Angeles Times under the Tribune Company umbrella - and the inevitable ripple, er, tsunami, coming down to the Times Community Newspapers and our Daily Pilot - it wouldn't surprise me at all to see our local newspaper of record for the past century cease to exist in the not-too-distant future. That would be a calamity for our community.

THE REGISTER IS SINKING, TOO
The Orange County Register has been in dire straits for months and has been rumored to be on the block in recent weeks. One rumor has the Register being bought by the Los Angeles Times - apparently the combined weight will help them both sink faster! The demise of the Register and The Times (including the Times Community Newspapers) would leave our communities with no source of news and information.

HACKS CAN'T FILL THE GAPS
Some egotistical hack writers who operate local blogs have voiced their opinion that locally-written blogs could fill the gap if the Daily Pilot should disappear. That's absurd. None of us are "journalists" - we don't have the resources to gather and verify the real news. We write opinion, which sometimes includes facts. In my opinion, we simply MUST have a reliable source of news and information available to us - so we can keep the local politicians honest, for starters.

KEEPING OUR FINGERS CROSSED FOR THEM
I hope Tom Johnson and Bill Lobdell are able to find investors and pull this off. The Newport-Mesa community deserves a local, reliable source of news and information. The hybrid model - online first, print to follow - seems like an excellent solution. We look forward to hearing more about this plan and will report any future news as we receive it.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Is Tribune Company Sinking?


WSJ REPORTS POSSIBLE TRIBUNE COMPANY BANKRUPTCY
The Wall Street Journal reports Monday that the Tribune Company - parent of the Los Angeles
Times, who is, in turn, the parent of the Times Community Newspapers, including our own Daily Pilot - has hired investment bank Lazard Ltd and the law firm Sidley Austin to advise the company on the possibility of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is just one more truly sad bit of news from the Tribune Company since Sam Zell acquired it a year ago.

OPE
RATING WITH HALF STAFF
Those of us who have been following this disaster with much trepidation have see
n Zell and his minions methodically dismantle a once-proud news organization, chomping away at the staff like a Great White Shark - taking big chunks out every couple months or so. It is rumored that the Los Angeles Times, for example, is attempting to operate with a newsroom at half the strength it had last Christmas.

ZELL FAILING

Zell has been attempting to unload the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field - both of which are part of the Tribune Company - but that deal has stalled. In the meantime, the mountain of debt Zell incurred when he purchased the organization continues to mount up. The Wall Street Journal article states that "the company's cash flow may not be enough to cover nearly $1 billion in interest payments due this year, and Tribune owes a $512 million debt payment in June."

WHITHER THE DAILY PILOT?
This most recent revelation cannot bode well for the Daily Pilot, our newspaper of record for the past century.
How this news of the probable bankruptcy of it's parent will affect the Daily Pilot and it's sibling newspapers is unclear, but it's unlikely that the impact will be positive. The Daily Pilot is attempting to continue to provide it's readers with the important news of our area with what mounts to a skeleton crew. Among those who have departed or have been forced out are the Publisher, Tom Johnson and his second-in-command, Director of News and Online, Tony Dodero. With them went two decades of institutional memory and a huge chunk of the leadership so essential to keep things on an even keel. Managing Editor Brady Rhoades and City Editor Paul Anderson have been trying to keep things going since Dodero departed a month ago.

LOBDELL, THE PROPHET

In an ironic bit of timing, former Daily Pilot Editor Bill Lobdell, wrote an interesting piece in OC Metro on December 1st basically predicting the demise of the Los Angeles Times.
His view as a former insider is fascinating. You can read that article HERE. Lobdell, who has a very special story of his own to tell, which he has done in a book being released within a couple weeks, was among those to depart the Los Angeles Times this year. His book, "Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America - and Found Unexpected Peace", goes on sale in February.

THE LUNATIC FRINGE

Over at the CM Press, the egotistical author - who fancies himself an ace reporter just because he played one badly for 19 seconds in a terrible movie 35 years ago - has pontificated that his "publication" can pick up the slack if the Daily Pilot succumbs during these difficult times at the Los Angeles Times. Good grief! The guy consistently fabricates issues, makes up "facts" to suit his own personal
bias and misrepresents issues and individuals. Anyone who considers him a reliable source of real, honest news reporting needs a wake-up call in the worst way.

WHITE KNIGHT NOWHERE IN SIGHT

I sure do
not want to see our Daily Pilot cease to exist. I keep hoping some wealthy local resident will team up with Johnson, for example, and pluck the Daily Pilot from the deep end of the pool. I keep listening for the hoof-beats of a white knight off in the distance. So far, I only hear silence.

SAVE THE DAILY PILOT
So, if you've got a few bucks in the bank and are looking for a way to invest in t
he community and want to become a media mogul at the same time, drop me a note. I suspect we could round up a team to keep the Daily Pilot going, even though many people predict the complete demise of the print media. I, for one, think we need a viable free press - to keep our local leaders on the straight and narrow. If we rely on blogs like the CM Press - where "news" is made up - for accurate and timely information we are in big trouble.

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"A date which will live in infamy..." FDR

December 7, 1941...
I was four months old when the Japanese attacked our base at Pearl Harbor and launched this country into World War II. I have no personal recollection of any of the events of that war, but my parents and their peers lived through it and were part of what Tom Brokaw referred to as "The Greatest Generation".

Today, on
the 67th anniversary of that attack, I hope you will take a few moments to contemplate what it meant to the future of this country. Remember that World War II, as horrible as it was, pulled this country together and launched it onto the path of being the most progressive, powerful country on earth.

Today I fear we, as a country, lack that same resolve. We will know soon enough, as our economy - and the world economy - spirals downward. We will soon see if our new president has what it takes for that job.

In the meanti
me, look at the images here and remember what they represent.

Manzanar

Iwo Jima

Hiroshima

Japan Surrenders on USS Missouri

Never Forget



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