Friday, July 31, 2009

Miller Named Pilot City Editor & Sanitary District Approves Rate Increase


MICHAEL MILLER NAMED PILOT CITY EDITOR
Veteran Times Community Newsman Michael Miller has been named City Editor of the Daily Pilot, to replace the recently-departed Paul Anderson. This is good news for those of us who value the contributions of the Daily Pilot to our communities and attests to the bench strength of the Times Community News family of newspapers.

LONG, STRONG TIMES COMMUNITY NEWS BACKGROUND
Miller, whose byline will be familiar to Daily Pilot readers, has most recently been the City Editor of the Huntington Beach Independent and has done tours in Glendale and also at the Daily Pilot. He also runs his own publishing company, specializing in poetry. We wish Michael the very best in this new assignment.


COSTA MESA SANITARY DISTRICT RATE INCREASE
I attended the Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board meeting Thursday evening, to hear the reasoning behind the 10% rate increase proposed for most residential users of it's services. The meeting was an eye-opener, for sure. Held in the cramped conference at the headquarters on 19th Street - across the street from the DMV - only three non-staffers were present. In addition to myself there was a woman who wandered in on her way home from work because she had never attended any public meeting in her life and was curious, plus the grand daughter of Board Chair Arlene Schafer.

BUDGET INFORMATION FINALLY AVAILABLE
I attended mainly to try to get my hands on recent budget information. When I first heard about the proposed rate increase I wondered why such a large jump was necessary and figured a quick scan of the budget for the Sanitary District might give me a clue. I was flummoxed to find no current budget information available online. That has now been remedied, but I have not taken the time to compare the last two years - those that had been missing earlier - to see how they plan to spend the increase in revenue.

NEW GENERAL MANAGER
I do know that a decision has been made to split the job previously held by General Manager/Chief Engineer Robin Hamers into two distinct positions, with Hamers remaining as Engineer and a new person hired as the GM. Presently Donald McIntyre holds the position of "Interim General Manager". I don't know if this will double the administrative costs and how that works out since Hamers has really been a contractor, with his company providing engineering consulting support, including his presence as Chief Engineer. I don't know if Hamers will take a pay cut or if this new position will involve significant additional dollars - to be paid for every time you flush your toilet.

10% SEWER FEE INCREASE APPROVED

In any event, the board approved the increase as proposed. While a healthy percentage increase, it really only represents around $6.00 per year, per parcel served. Not much to ask to keep the effluent flowing. They received only two protests out of the more than 25,000 connections served. It's obvious to me after having attended that meeting that they could be paving the sewers with gold and no one would care.

MORE TO COME AFTER BUDGET REVIEW
More on the Sanitary District after I've had a chance to review the budgets.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remembering My Friend, Again



MY BEST FRIEND'S BIRTHDAY
As some of you know, on this date for the past few years I have written a few words to pay homage to my best friend since we were both 5 years-old - Larry Moore. Today would have been his 68th birthday. Larry died in December, 2003 following six weeks in trauma intensive care as a result of a motorcycle accident. Although I stayed at his bedside during that time, trying to
get him back, it was not to be and he succumbed to his injuries.

PROUD LAPD OFFICER

My pal was a proud member of the Los Angeles Police Department for more than 31 years - the last half of which he was the Athletic Director at the Los Angeles Police Academy, near Dodger Stadium. Even following his retirement, he remained active in law enforcem
ent athletic events. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the California Police Athletic League - the sponsoring entity for the Western States Summer Games (formerly called the Police Olympics) and also a member and director of the international body that produced the World Police and Fire Games.

BAKER-TO-VEGAS

He and his partner on the job, Chuck Foote (also retired), created the Baker-to-Vegas Challenge Cup Relay - a gut-busting relay race for public safety officers that has operated for more than a quarter century. The photo above is from a recent cover of a monthly news letter c
ommemorating the 25th anniversary of the race and shows my pal and his partner at one of the events. Following Larry's death Chuck has kept the race on track and thriving.

TOUGHEST COP ALIVE
Larry created another event, which is now part of the "Games" mentioned above, that he called the Toughest Cop Alive (TCA). The passage of time and political correctnes
s caused the name to change to the Toughest Competitor Alive, but the event remains the same. It's a one-day combination of activities designed to test even the toughest person, in which the competitors run, jump, climb, swim, lift and run an obstacle course to determine just who is the toughest. The event is now named for him - "Larry Moore's TCA".

LARRY'S LEGACY IS CLEAR

At my age now - two weeks younger than my pal would have been - I contemplate just what my mark will be when I'm no longer around. Larry's mark is clear and is m
emorialized by a bronze plaque at the Los Angeles Police Academy. He left a legacy of accomplishment and inspiration for at least two generations of law enforcement men and women, their friends and families. That was driven home to me as I fielded literally thousands of emails and telephone calls expressing concern and offering best wishes to him during his long stay in the hospital.

A "BEST FRIEND" TO MANY
Even more important, he was a man that many considered their best friend.

EXPRESS YOUR LOVE - DON'T WAIT!

So, once again on his birthday, I remember my friend and the
impact he had on so many lives. And, I remind you all to tell those you love just how you feel. Don't wait.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMIGO. I MISS YOU...Geoff & Larry

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fair Board Discusses Selling The Fairgrounds

FAIR BOARD MEETING
Wednesday evening I attended the meeting of the Orange County Fair Board, held at the Costa Mesa City Council chambers. The event played to a big crowd - I estimated that nearly one hundred people were in the chambers at one time or another.


FAIR VENDORS DOMINATED THE CROWD
Most of the attendees seemed to be either Fair vendors or staff. Several members of the Costa Mesa hierarchy were in attendance, too. I saw City Manager Allan Roeder, Assistant City Manager Tom Hatch, Mayor Allan Mansoor, Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece and former Mayor Sandra Genis.

ONLY THE OC REGISTER REPRESENTED THE MEDIA

The main item on the agenda was described as, "Governors Initiative to Sell Orange County Fair & Event Center". You can read the Orange County Register's Ellyn Pak's account HERE.

MOST SPEAKERS WERE VENDORS
After Vice Chair Kristina Dodge made a motion to direct staff to hire consultants to facilitate the process the issue was opened up for public comments. Thirteen attendees rose to speak. Of those, all but two were vendors who make a good living from their business activities at the Fairgrounds.

GENIS ASKED SOME GOOD QUESTIONS

Resident and former Mayor Sandra Genis spoke, questioning the wisdom of a "non-profit" organization buying the facility and not being subject to the open meeting requirements. She also pointed out the short-comings of the board by not soliciting public comments in the form of opinion cards, as was done at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. She closed by suggesting the City of Costa Mesa buy the property and lease it back.

STILLER URGED TRANSPARENCY

Resident and former Parks & Recreation Commissioner David Stiller was the final speaker. He encouraged the Board to not be rushed into action and to keep all dealings transparent to residents and other interested parties. He suggested that this was not time for "Government By Ambush". He urged what he called "deliberate speed".

BIDDING COULD TAKE HALF A YEAR
Chair Julie Vandermost suggested that if the process that is about to be launched does not result in a satisfactory bid for the property, then Assemblyman Van Tran is prepared to present a bill to the Assembly quashing the sale plans. She indicated that this process could take six months or longer before bids are reviewed, and that the Fair Board has no say in this process.

CROWD FAVORS KEEPING IT "AS-IS"
Based on the obvious mood in the chambers, it's safe to say that no one in attendance wanted anything at all to change with the Fairgrounds and the activities conducted there. We shall see.

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Adios, Mr. Anderson...


Today's a sad day for me. This is the last day at the Daily Pilot for my friend, City Editor Paul Anderson.

A NEW SEGMENT OF HIS LIFE
Tomorrow Paul begins a new and exciting segment of his life when he begins working as the Orange County Bureau Chief for City News Service - a kind of localized Associated Press. He's excited about it, as you can tell when you read in his farewell blog entry HERE.

OLD FRIENDS, WHO JUST MET
Paul and I have had an electronic and telephonic friendship for several years but, until the Daily Pilot "Meet the Editors" evening last week, had never laid eyes on each other. The photo above was taken at that meeting.


"SPIRITED" CONVERSATIONS
Since I have known him we have had some very interesting conversations. A glance at that photo will give you an idea of the generation gap between us. Believe me, that gap has created som
e boisterous discussions on a variety of subjects - sports, writing, politics and life in general. We disagreed as much as we agreed, but always had fun with it.

A VERY TALENTED GUY
As I've gotten to know him I have appreciated the prodigious talent that resides in that 1970s facade. Not only is he a student of the body politic, he's an excellent writer and very talented sketch artist - a part of his skill set that needs to be more fully utilized.

MY "GO-TO" GUY
Paul was my go-to
guy when I had complaints or "constructive criticism" - like when they would "edit" too much of one of my submissions. He was my guy when the Pilot didn't get a story right - which didn't happen very often. And, he was my guy when I thought the Pilot covered a story particularly well and needed to tell someone.

HE WILL BE MISSED
I know Executive Editor Brady Rhoades is going to miss Paul in the newsroom - for many reasons. He's a good editor and an excellent writer. I'll miss Paul for all those reasons, plus, he's a friend.

PAUL AND MONA, SITTING IN A TREE...
So, as my pal, Paul, takes off on this new adventure with his beautiful Mona at his s
ide, I wish him all the best. I'll follow him on his blog and his Facebook page and look forward to seeing his byline again in the future.

ADIOS, AMIGO...

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Daily Pilot Editors Get It Right On Aztec Basketball


EDITORS PUT IN THEIR TWO CENTS ON AZTEC BASKETBALL
The
editors of the Daily Pilot, our local newspaper of record, used their bully pulpit last Sunday to chime in on the issue of renting the Costa Mesa Downtown Recreation Center basketball court to an outfit called the Aztec Basketball League. You can read that editorial, entitled, "Leave hoops league to city staff", HERE. That league, owned and operated by Sergeant Rigoberto Baustista - a National Guard recruiter - has operated successfully and trouble-free for years out of Santa Ana, but was recently displaced by renovations at their facilities.

BAUTISTA JUST WANTED COURT TIME
Bautista approached the City of Costa Mesa a couple months ago requesting the opportu
nity to rent our court on Sundays, for which he was willing to pay our top rates. By utilizing the court 8 hours a week - all day Sunday - the Aztec Basketball League would displace fewer than two dozen drop-in players, some of whom are probably Costa Mesa residents, who played basketball and volleyball in the facility. The difference in revenue to the city will be almost $40,000 if the league rents it.

"THE MOUTH" INFLUENCED THE COMMISSION
At first, when this issue came before the Parks and Recreation Commission, it seemed
to be getting favorable consideration until one local loudmouth, our old pal, The Mouth From Mesa North, stood and raised the specter of marauding ex-cons invading our city and terrorizing our women and children. When Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Kurt Galitski moved to approve the request you would have thought the remaining commissioners had turned to stone. Not a peep could be heard from them, much less the necessary second to Galitski's motion. The issue died a painfully peaceful death.

COMMISSION PASSED IT UNANIMOUSLY

Then, in respons
e to much community uproar - including comments that their decision, or lack of one, was racially motivated - Vice Chair Mike Brumbaugh brought the issue back for re-consideration at their next meeting. This time Sergeant Bautista was present to plead his case. The short version is that the commission approved the contract unanimously.

BIZARRE BEVER BROUGHT IT U
P
Then, for whatever reason he might have
had in his strange brain, City Councilman Eric Bever brought the issue to the City Council for review, which launched one of the most bizarre discussions I can recall. For example, as part of his discussion Bever suggested that we should negotiate a higher rate from Bautista, even though he was willing to pay our top rate. What do we call that - a Mexican surcharge?

BAUTISTA HAD NO CHOICE
Mayor Allan Mansoor -
already running for Van Tran's Assembly seat - apparently had some contact with Sergeant Bautista and managed to convince him to change the name of his organization. Apparently he was concerned that Costa Mesa residents might feel that they were not welcome into a league that sounded too Mexican. Mansoor proposed that the contract be let to Bautista, who would manage the "Costa Mesa Basketball League on Sundays". Councilwoman Katrina Foley - aghast that the mayor had the nerve to require a business owner to change the name of his business - tried to get the mayor to respond to her questions. He simply - that's the only way he operates - restated his motion.

NOT-TOO-VEILED BIAS

For those of us who have watched Mansoor in action for most of this past decade, his intent was clear. He didn't w
ant a business that reeked of Latino roots to be doing business in our facility. He didn't want Costa Mesa residents to be confused about the name and, hence, their opportunity to participate. This pronouncement was in spite of the fact that many Costa Mesa residents and teams already participate in the Aztec Basketball League.

THE EDITORS GOT IT RIGHT!
In their editorial, the Daily
Pilot editors drive right to the heart of the issue. Their last paragraph begins with this sentence: "This is micromanaging on a level that's beyond comic." They finished their piece with this sentence: "Best to leave the management of basketball leagues to the Parks and Recreation Commission and the city staff." I couldn't agree more!

OBVIOUS AFFLICTION

It has become incre
asingly more clear as time passes that Mansoor - and to some extent Eric Bever and Gary Monahan - have become afflicted with BenitoAcostaPhobia - the fear and loathing of anything sounding Mexican. It's obvious that it continues to cloud Mansoor's judgment, just as it was clouded that fateful evening when he violated Benito Acosta's rights as a speaker before the City Council that has resulted in a lawsuit against him and the city.

WHAT WILL HIS NEW CONSTITUENTS THINK?

I find myself continuing to wonder how his new constituent base in the 68th Assembly District will interpret his anti-Latino actions. Will the large Vietnamese-American group wonder how broad his racial bias goes? They should. The Latinos already know how he feels about them...

CHANGE THE CITY AND OTHER BUSINESSES?
The editors suggested, I'm sure tongue-in-cheek, that, following Mansoor's logic, we should change the name of our city from Costa Mesa to Coastal Table - to avoid sounding too Mexican. In a blog comment in the Daily Pilot I recently wondered if the mayor will require Mi Casa, El Ranchito and Acapulco restaurants to change their names because people might think they are exclusively for people of Latino heritage. This is how ridiculous this issue has become.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES

The residents of this city are poorly served when it's highest elected official - the mayor - so flagrantly exercises his own racial bias in the conduct of his job. The mayor and his former pal, Bever, should be ashamed of themselves. The voters of this city deserve much, much more from it's elected leaders. It's one thing when they display their stupidity - they can't help that. It's an entirely different story when they blatantly display their racial bias...

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Watching Waves and Daily Pilot Raves


Recapping some events that occurred before my sweet wife and I took off for a much-needed relaxing weekend away...

THURSDAY WEDGE RECON

Thursday we grabbed a couple sandwiches and scooted down to The Wedge to see if the promised big waves
had materialized. A couple hundred souls stood around the base of the jetty, hoping for some bone-busting boomers, but none of the really big ones had yet occurred. The surf was mild - sets of 4-6 feet - and the high tide at noon brought the water up over the berm, much to the surprise of some photographers.

GILE ON THE JOB

Channel 2 and 9 reporter Michele Gile, shown here intereviewing a Newport Beach Lifeguard Captain, was on hand to get some early c
omments for their 2 p.m. newscast.

SAD NEWS LATER
We found out later that one unfortunate 50 year-old body surfer from Lawndale lost his life as the unpredictable waves
smashed him against the rocks. His story was all over the Los Angeles television news ever since.

MEET THE EDITORS

That evening we attended the "meet, greet and eat" event sponsored by the Daily Pilot. Executive Editor Brady Rhoades and outgoing City Editor Paul Anderson were on hand to answer questions fired at them by a couple dozen loyal readers. You can read Rhoades' blog
about the event HERE and Anderson's HERE.

GOOD FOLKS, GOOD FOOD

This was a terrific event, with serious questions posed to the editors. The Egans and Gluecks, local activists and occasional Daily Pilot contributors, were among those enjoying the terrific food served up by the good folks at The Newport Rib Company.

ROB DICKSON JUGGLING EVENTS

Frequent writer and participant on the Daily Pilot blog, Rob Dickson, showed up with his fiance and managed to get in a couple comments before departing early for a prior commitment.

FOLEY FIELDS FACEBOOK QUESTIONS

Ubiquitous Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Katrina Foley made the event, too, and fielded questions from her Facebook Friends and relayed them to Rhoades and Anderson. I'm convinced that Foley is actually triplets, and that she actually can be in three places at once!

GOOD EVENT - WE NEED MORE OF THEM

In my opinion, this event was a rousing success. For me it was bittersweet, though. I finally got the chance to meet Paul Anderson face-to-face at a time when he's about to depart for his new job as Bureau Chief for City News Service's Orange County bureau in Santa Ana. I hope Rhoades finds a way to perpetuate this series, to help him and his editorial staff stay in touch with the community.

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