Friday, August 14, 2009

My Bad, My Apology, My Birthday and Wild Surf

Photo courtesy of Surfline.com and Photographer Tom Cozad and Pilot Howard Hamlin
MY RECENT COMMENTARY
Recently the Daily Pilot published a letter of mine in their "Sou
nding Off" section in which I addressed another writer's consternation with the traffic that infested the Balboa Peninsula during the huge surf a couple weeks ago. His premise was that the city should have done something about it.

DESCRIPTION TOO BROAD
In my letter I said, in part, "
The issue was exacerbated weeks ago when the huge waves at the Wedge drew thousands of gawkers, apparently intent on seeing another person get pounded to death on the rocks, as happened early in the “Weekend of Waves.”, and went on to discuss the problem of managing traffic in the event of a big tragedy - an earthquake or tsunami. You can read the entire commentary HERE.

TAKEN TO TASK

Today the Daily Pilot carries a letter from a person named Jonathan Hebbard, a Costa Mesa resident, who took me apart for my suggestion that EVERY person on the peninsula to watch the waves was there to see another person killed. You can read his letter HERE. Mr. Hebbard is correct. I was wrong to make the statement as broad as I did and for that I apologize. Certainly, not all the people that jammed the peninsula those few days were there to see a person killed. Most, I'm sure, were there to see the battle between the surfers and those monster waves.

SOME WERE "LOOKING FOR BLOOD"

However, I was on the beach at The Wedge on the Thursday of that week, just as the waves were beginning to build, along with a couple hundred observers. While there I saw many viewers cheer, whoop and holler each time a surfer - attempting to ride one of the big waves - was pounded into the sand. Do I think they wanted someone killed? Of course not! Do I think they got a thrill when a surfer was crunched? Yes, I do. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is in our society. It's the same reason people go to bull fights. I suspect most observers over that weekend were there to see the huge waves and to admire the skill and bravery of those choosing to attempt to ride them. I do think some of the observers - many of whom created the gridlock on the peninsula that caused so many problems - were there because of the media coverage of the tragic death of the surfer a day earlier... they wanted to see the "killer waves".

I APOLOGIZE...

Once again, I apologize to Mr. Hebbard for my insensitivity. I should have chosen my words more carefully and will try to do a better job of that in the future.

MY BIRTHDAY PRESENT TO YOU

So, I leave you for this weekend with a couple links that will amaze you. The first is courtesy of Daily Pilot crime reporter, Joe Serna, who has this link on his blog. Click HERE for an unbelievable series of photos taken from the air by photographer Tom Cozad and Pilot Howard Hamlin in a series of shots of our recent huge surf entitled "Surf From Above" on Surfline.com. The above photo was clipped from that series.

MORE, MORE, MORE...

The second, a series of photos and video clips of the recent surf here in Southern California entitled Full Story:Summer Megaswell Hits West Coast", is als
o from Surfline.com and can be viewed HERE. You will see some amazing photos of The Wedge, among others. Other fascinating surfing links are also available for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally, A Budget Framework...

OVERPAID PLANNING COMMISSIONERS PROVE MY POINT
Before I forget.... the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, at their meeting Monday night, exceeded my expectations - kinda. As I earlier predicted, their one-item meeting was going to be a quickie - I speculated that it would be finished in a half-hour. Well, I was wrong, but not by much.
The meeting began promptly at 6 p.m. and concluded at 6:27, so the boys did themselves proud. And, since they will only be meeting once a month through November, that means the good taxpayers of Costa Mesa paid them what amounted to more than $800.00 per hour for all their "hard work" on Monday. Don't you feel good about that?

*****
FULL STUDY SESSION AGENDA
Today was a busy one for our City Council. As mentioned yesterday, they had a full agenda, with a Study Session packed with interesting items - including Wendy Leece's proposal to sanctify the City Council chambers with a plaque carrying the motto, "In God We Trust". Since the session was not televised live I have no idea how that played with the remainder of the council members.

PAINFUL REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY REALITY
Then they adjourned to the council chambers for a meeting of the Redevelopment Agency - the council in a different dress. That was a quickie, during which they made decisions protecting the city in the event the state successfully snatches redevelopment dollars from us.

MUSICAL CHAIRS
Then the lights were dimmed and the council played musical chairs and swapped name tags and re-convened as the city council to consider one item - the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between the Costa Mesa Firefighters and the city.

FIREFIGHTERS OFFERED MORE THAN WAS ASKED...
To summarize, the questionable areas that existed a week ago have been hashed out by the negotiators on both sides and an acceptable proposal was presented for the council to consider. Presentations by senior city staff with, added input by the leaders of the firefighters association, made clear that this was an acceptable proposal. In fact, the firefighters actually presented more savings than the city originally requested.

STUBBORN OR STUPID?
It was very frustrating, but not unexpected, that Mayor Mansoor just couldn't grasp the numbers no matter how many times it was explained to him. Of course, this is who he is - a man with very limited intellectual resources being asked to comprehend what began as some complicated issues. In the end, though, I think it was just stubbornness on his part. Led by the solid discussions by Katrina Foley, Wendy Leece and Gary Monahan, the proposal as presented was passed on a 3-2 vote, with Mansoor and Bever voting No.

BEVER'S CONTRIBUTION? ONE WORD...
It was interesting to note that, despite all his bluster on the Daily Pilot blog over the past few days, Bever said only one audible word all night. That was when he said "second" to Mansoor's substitute motion to delay voting on this issue until the next council meeting on the 18th. That motion failed. Bever offered not a single word - not even any of his occasional grunts - during the discussion. He asked no questions, posed no alternatives - it was as though he was asleep. In fact, he may have been for all we could tell. One might have thought someone had cut out his tongue, for goodness sake.

THE BERRYS BLUSTER

Maybe Bever felt the tag-team of his neighbors, Mike and Judi Berry, said enough so he didn't have to. Believe me, I thought they said more than enough, but at least Judi didn't whine about cutting the Mutt Mittens from the budget this time around. And who knows what Mike said?! Sometimes it seems as though even he doesn't know what he's saying.

PETTINESS ON DISPLAY

When the final vote was taken Mansoor, clearly peeved, abruptly said, "That's it. We're adjourned."

NOW LET'S MOVE FORWARD

This budget process has been taxing for all concerned. City Manager Allan Roeder, Steve Mandoki, Marc Puckett, Bobby Young and the rest of the senior staff did a masterful job of presenting the council with workable solutions. Some of those are still dependent on a certain level of sales and property tax dollars. However, with the passage of the issue tonight, they now have a skeleton on which to begin adding muscle and bone. So now the city staff can move forward unless other curves are thrown our way. They can begin to plan for the potential early retirements they anticipate this fall and they can begin to manage the 104 unpaid furlough hours each employee - except the firefighters - will be expected to take between now and the end of August next year.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL FOR A JOB WELL-DONE

Congratulations to all involved for a job well-done. To the employees of our city, thank you all for understanding the extent of the problem and for your dedication in working together with the senior staff to resolve the problems. The firefighters, in particular, are to be commended for presenting a workable solution with some very sticky service issues that had to be addressed.

MANSOOR AND BEVER UNWORTHY OF OFFICE

I cannot close this post without observing, one more time, just how ineffective Mansoor and Bever have been in this process. It seems as though everything is black or white to them. Their inability to grasp - either through stubbornness or denseness, or both - the intricacies of this process demonstrates just what happens when the electorate is wooed by a one-note samba during a campaign. Mansoor and Bever used the fear of your dark-skinned neighbors to win their seats, which concealed the fact that neither man has the grey matter necessary to do their jobs. That is certainly something to keep in mind in the future as one or both may seek another elected office.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, August 10, 2009

Catching Up

CAN'T TURN YOUR BACK FOR A MINUTE!
Geez, I sneak away for some quality time with the little woman for our 42nd wedding anniversary and the wheels begin to come off around here!

Upon my return Monday I found a few minutes to go online to catch up and found some very interesting items awaiting me.

QUACH'S CANDIDACY SQUASHED
First, there is the art
icle about Assemblyman Van Tran's right-hand man, Andy Quach, getting tanked - with a blood alcohol level of .26 (three times the legal limit) - and smashing his car into another car, a power pole and a building and knocking out power to 300 homes! According to news reports, Tran himself came close to getting arrested as he tried to intervene during the processing of his friend at the scene. Quach was to be a contender in the race with our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, for Tran's Assembly seat. Looks like that race got just a little easier for our easily-led mayor.

BEVER BLOGS BUFFOONERY
Then, there is the article Alan Blank wrote in the Daily Pilot last week, HERE, about Costa Mesa
employees taking furloughs generated lots of flack on the DP Blog. Among the many familiar names posting long, long entries was our very own formerly-pigtailed councilman, Eric Bever. He defended his position on the votes at the recent council meeting wherein he voted NO! to almost every item having to do with the negotiated budget issues. He apparently thinks that the employee unions should have taken a flat 5% pay cut instead of 104 hours of unpaid time - the fiscal impact is the same.

HE SHOULD PAY ATTENTION

Now, I understand Bever's view, but I wonder if he understands the
position of the unions. Word has it that he was absent from almost all the sessions where negotiations took place or were discussed. Maybe if he'd pay a little more attention to his job as councilman he'd actually be in a position to make an informed vote, not just some gut reaction in a fit of pique. As I type this the comment thread on that article is at 54 and counting... very interesting.

GOOD GOD, WENDY!

And then there is the issue that Wendy Leece is going to present at the council study session on Tuesday! She apparently wants the city to fork over enough cash - maybe as much as $3,500 - to place a plaqu
e somewhere in the council chambers proclaiming, "In God We Trust". You know, I'm not really surprised at this. All you folks who voted for Wendy knew what you were getting. It was inevitable that, somehow, she was going to attempt to insert her religious beliefs into her job as a council member. What astounds me is her absolutely abysmal timing! This is an unnecessary distraction for our city leaders at this moment in time.

LOBDELL CHIMES IN

There are some interesting viewpoints on this issue, one of which is HERE, from former Daily Pilot Editor and current Co-Publisher of the recently-launched Daily Voice, William Lobdell's take on this subject. He's the author of, "Losin
g My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America - and Found Unexpected Peace."

MAYBE WENDY'S RIGHT...
Lobdell is apparently willing to cut Wendy some slack, but many of those posting comments on th
e Daily Pilot article are not, HERE. But maybe Wendy has a point. Based on some of their actions in recent years, maybe this current City Council needs a little reminder of some of the cornerstone values of Christianity - like tolerance, for example. It might work better, though, if - every time a council member votes to disenfranchise a member of a minority in our city - a big mallet would drop from the ceiling and give him or her a big whack on the skull. I can see it now... "I'm sorry, Mr. Bautista, but we want you to change the name of your basketball league to get rid of that nasty, offensive 'Aztec' reference"... Whack! A new lump on the skull of the mayor! I don't think a simple little plaque with a motto on it will do the trick.

MAYBE PLURAL?

On the other hand, I'm a little conc
erned about just what this plaque will say. Since we are rapidly becoming a very diverse nation, in which sizable chunks of our population do not, in fact, worship God. What about Greek gods, Hindu gods, Norse gods, Roman gods? You get the picture. Maybe the plaque should say, "In Gods We Trust", and cover all the bases.

OR A HIGH-TECH CRAWL?

And, since we're a high-tech kind of place, maybe we don't need a plaque at all. We can take an idea from the news media and include a big, running scroll
across the council dais that says, "In God We Trust....In God We Trust....In God We Trust..." in big, red illuminated letters. Wouldn't that be cool?! Even better, every time the word "God" passed in front of Wendy Leece's position on the dais a big halo would light up around her head!

FULL AGENDA AT THE STUDY SESSION...

Tuesday is going to be an interesting day for the City Council. They have the aforementioned Study Session at 4:30, in which they will hear about John Wayne Airport, Local Agency Formation of Orange County and have the new city website previewed - in addition to Wendy's plans for a religious overlay for our city.

THEN BAD NEWS FOR THE REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY...

Then they adjourn to a meeting of the Redevelopment Agency - the City Council in a fancy dress - at which they will undoubtedly hear how the current state budget crisis is going to hamstring redevelopment agencies state-wide.

AND THEN A SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING

And then they will convene a special City Cou
ncil meeting at which the new Memorandum of Understanding with the Costa Mesa firefighters will be discussed. It's going to be a very, very interesting afternoon and evening.

I guess I'm just going to have to stick closer to home from now on...

Labels: , , ,