Friday, September 18, 2009

Patrick Swayze - A Remembrance

AU REVOIR, PATRICK
Many film fans were deeply saddened by the passing of actor Patrick Swayze earlier this week at age 57... I am among them.

A VERY SPECIAL TALENT
I never thought of Swayze as a "great" actor. I thought he was a good actor with a very unusual range of talents. Yes, he could act, but he could also sing and dance. My wife is also a huge fan and, as you might expect, loves "Dirty Dancing" - a seminal movie in Swayze's career. As only a guy deeply in love with a woman for 42 years and counting will do, I sit and watch that movie with her time after time after time.

OTHER MEMORABLE MOVIES

I've enjoyed many movies he made - Red Dawn, Ghost, Point Break and Road House, to name a few.

AN EXCELLENT REMEMBRANCE

There have been many, many remembrances written about Swayze since he died. One of the best I've read was written by film critic Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. You can read it HERE.

MY SPECIAL INTEREST IN HIM

Although I've enjoyed Patrick Swayze as an actor for two decades, I developed a special interest when it was announced a couple years ago that he was suffering from Pancreatic Cancer. Both my father and his younger brother died of that ailment at almost precisely the same times in their lives. My uncle was 10 years junior to my father. They worked together in their business for more than 40 years. They shared the same environment, stress and cigarettes during that time.

SWAYZE FOUGHT LONGER

My father retired at age 62 and passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 64 following a short - 3 month - illness. His brother retired at 62 and died at 64 - almost 10 years to the date of my father's passing. Fortunately for both of them, their illness was brief. Swayze suffered with his disease for much longer and kept working right up to the end.

A FEW VIDEO REMEMBRANCES FOR YOU...
I leave you today with some YouTube videos to help you remember the talented man Patrick Swayze was. The first, with Patrick and Jennifer Gray dancing to "The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing is a signature recollection of him.

The second is Patrick and his wife of 34 years, Lisa Nieme, dancing at the 1994 World Music Awards.

The final one, from the sound track of Dirty Dancing, is Patrick singing "She's Like The Wind".

Patrick Swayze - Rest In Peace






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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homeless Funds, Grumpy Geezers and Red Light Cameras

HPRP FUNDING APPROVED
As anticipated, the Costa Mesa City Council, when confronted with facts, came to it's senses and passed unanimously the request for HPRP funds at their meeting tonight. Once the lationphobes on the council
received sufficient assurances that none of those dreaded illegal immigrants would see one single penny in the federal dollars they voted to move forward. I thought for awhile that they were going to require the vendors to sign in blood...

"THE MOUTH" IS "SCROOGE"

This, of course, is good for all residents of Costa Mesa because it hel
ps those among us who are less fortunate. And, also as anticipated, The Mouth From Mesa North stood before the council and recommended rejecting the federal dollars. His solution was to just tell those among us who are homeless or about to become so to just hit the road and find somewhere else to live - somewhere they can afford. He suggested Santa Ana. I guess we all now know what Scrooge does in the off season.

RED LIGHT CAMERAS REVISITED

Another interesting event occurred tonight, as well. The issue of red light cameras was again presented to the council.
Answers were provided to questions some council members had at an earlier meeting and it was announced that the vendor, Nestor Systems, had been purchased by another outfit - the deal closed on Tuesday. The other group apparently has successful contracts for red light systems in 170 cities around the country and, according to their representative, have no problems anywhere. He asked for a chance to present his pitch to the staff before a decision was made regarding Nestor. The council could have chosen to simply cancel the contract tonight.

MANSOOR VS. THE FACTS

When it came time to vote Mayor Allan Mansoor demonstrated, once
again, that he's not a guy who will let facts cloud his opinion. He made a motion - read from a prepared script that could only have been made BEFORE the meeting - recommending the cancellation of the contract. Gary Monahan seconded it. Katrina Foley offered a substitute motion recommending the issue be postponed for 30 days, during which the staff could meet with the successor vendor to hear their pitch and make recommendations to the council. Eric Bever and Wendy Leece tied offering the second to Foley's motion. That motion passed, 3-2, so the issue of red light cameras in our city is not yet dead.

GRUMPY FEENEY'S STRIKE AGAIN

And, once again, the perpetually irritating Ernie Feeney stood before the council with her gripe du jour about the Senior Center Management. I think she needs to find a physician to surgically remove that burr fro
m her behind. Once again she attempted to influence the council with half-truths about Senior Center issues. In recent months her unfounded, but adamantly-expressed, complaints and insinuations about the Senior Center and it's management have generated way, way too much staff time trying to sort facts from her fiction. Yes, she has every right to express her opinions, but she needs to realize that before too long they will be falling on deaf ears because they are proving to be consistently baseless. In any event, she and her loud-mouthed husband need to find another hobby... perhaps they can help the aforementioned Scrooge fill his bag with lumps of coal for Christmas Eve.

FISLER HONORED AT MONDAY'S PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

On a happier note, I forgot to mention the very nice proclamation that was presented to former Planning Commissioner Jim Fisler Monday night at the commission meeting. Chairman Jim Righeimer read the plaque to Fisler, who resigned last month to become a member of the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board, and his former peers all expressed their appreciation for his service to the city during his time on the Planning Commission. Fisler acknowledged those who had influenced him and mentored him on the commission, including Bruce Garlich, Eleanor Egan and Donn Hall. Even though I've teased Fisler over the years, no one can refute his work ethic while on the commission. It should serve him well on the Mesa Consolidated Water District Board. Good luck, Jim...

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Costa Mesa Council To Reconsider HPRP Funds

RECONSIDERATION OF A SENSITIVE ISSUE
This evening the Costa Mesa City Council will, once again, consider the question of
whether or not to formally accept more than $560,000 federal dollars designed to provide temporary relief to some Costa Mesa residents currently without housing or soon to be without housing. These folks, punched in the gut by the current economic crisis, may be living on the street, in their cars, in homeless shelters, in motels or temporarily with friends or relatives.

THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATH WATER
The funds, identified as Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program (HPRP) funds, were authori
zed by the federal government for use in our city based on our successful application earlier this year, but were on the verge of being rejected at the previous council meeting on September 1st. Mayor Allan Mansoor and Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece expressed great displeasure at the possibility that some of the funds might find their way into the hands of illegal immigrants. As was mentioned in a recent Daily Pilot article, they seemed willing to throw the baby out with the bath water.

MONAHAN SAVED THE DAY

Councilman Gary Monahan stalled the rejection by suggesting that th
e item be continued until the meeting tonight, at which they may have a full council to consider the issue - Eric Bever was absent again on the September 1st meeting. Monahan implied that perhaps additional clarification could be found on the subject of just who may or may not get these funds in the interim.

ILLEGALS WILL BE SCREENED OUT

After reading the current staff report it is clear that a solution is at hand - one that will insure to Mansoor, Leece and any other latinophobes in our city - that no illegal immigrants will receive any of the funds. The two contractors selected by the city to manage this process for us have apparently agreed to use a screening tool provided by the Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) that will exclude any applicants who are in this country illegally.

GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS

In my view, this is one of those "good news/bad news" situations. The good news is that some members of our community who are in dire straits financially will be provided temporary assistance to acquire a roof over
their heads until they can get established and become self-sufficient. The bad news is that Mansoor and Leece's reaction to this issue demonstrates to the world, once again, that Costa Mesa is a community in which some elected leaders are intolerant of a demographic group in our city that makes up approximately one-third of the population.

ANTICIPATED AUDIENCE REACTION IS NOW MOOT

I expect that there will be more than a few folks in the audience tonight to make their views known on this subject. While some may express their displeasure with Mansoor and Leece, it looks like that issue - like the long gone buggy whip - is now irrelevant. I can see no reason why this program will be rejected this evening.

IGNORANCE AND INTOLERANCE

What is quite disturbing about this whole drama was the willingness of Mansoor and Leece to simply reject this program without asking probing questions. Had it not been for Monahan's quick intervention these dollars would have been rejected by the council two weeks ago, turned over to the state and homeless residents would continue in their downward economic spiral. I can only chalk up their actions to a combination of ignorance, an inability to grasp even slightly complex issues and deep-seated intolerance of Latinos in our city. This kind of narrow-minded approach to governance should not be forgotten at future elections.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Marc Puckett Resigns as Costa Mesa Finance Director

PUCKETT RESIGNS
In a press release today the City of Costa Mesa announced that Marc Puckett, Finance Director the past decade, has tendered his voluntary resignation effective September 2, 2009.


CONFIDENTIALITY PROHIBITS DISCLOSURE OF REASON

The circumstances of Puckett's departure are unknown, although rumors abound throughout City Hall. Allan Roeder, City Manager, cited confidentiality issues when he made the announc
ement of Puckett's departure and subsequent resignation.

HIS EXPERTISE WILL BE MISSED

Puckett was the ramrod for the city in all financial matters, to which he brought significant expertise. Under his guidance the city has received numerous awards for budget presentations year after year.

ACTIVE LEADER IN FINANCE COMMUNITY

Puckett was also active in several professional organizations. He was the President-elect of the California Municipal Treasurers Association, a position from which he resigned last month.

HEADED THE PURSUIT OF LOST LEHMAN BROTHERS DOLLARS
He started an organization to pursue the lost dollars involved in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the anniversary of which fell on this date. It is unknown whether he will continue in that role following his departure from his position in Costa Mesa.

INTERIM FINANCE DIRECTOR SOUGHT

Roeder indicates that an interim Finance Director will be sought before a decision is made regarding filling the job permanently, and mentioned that the city is undergoing significant downsizing in personnel, including Public Safety and other government function.

SOME DAY WE MAY KNOW...
I suppose some day an enterprising reporter will discover the reason for Puckett's departure. In the meantime we are left to speculate . We know Roeder and the remaining Finance Department staff will continue on guiding the city through the financial rapids ahead.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's Time To Stand Up And Speak Up!

MILLIONS MARCH TO SHOW CONCERN
It was an interesting weekend in this wonderful country of ours. On Saturday, September 12, 2009 - while many of us were enjoying college football on a perfect fall day - well over 1,000,000 people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D. C. to protest the
policies of our trainee president, Barack Obama. Some estimates were as high as 2,000,000. If you view the following time lapse video taken between 8:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. as the crowd was marching toward the Capitol you can make your own judgment as to the numbers involved.


YOU TELL ME... ARE THEY "WACKOS"?
Some will say that it was just a mob - a bunch of wackos - intent on disrupting the "great works" the president has embarked upon. They will describe the attendees as "extremists" and "nut cases", whipped into a frenzy by conservative talk radio personalities. I
wasn't there, but I have viewed many of the videos of the event posted on YouTube. Here's one that might give you an idea about some of the folks that spent their Saturday on the National Mall.



I DON'T HAVE THE ANSWERS
I don't have answers to many of the questions posed by this grand national debate. I do feel, however, that Obama is moving too fast with too many programs that will bankrupt this country if we, the people, don't speak up. I think he and his liberal buddies will use th
e power they now have to ram new programs and taxes down our throats if we don't speak up. I don't kid myself that I can influence the national debate, but I can make my opinion known here and encourage you to do the same.

IT'S TIME TO STAND UP AND SPEAK UP
It has taken 250 years of blood, sweat and tears to create this wonderful country and to protect and preserve the way of life it provides to us. It is possible that it will take only a matter of months to destroy the country as we know it if we don't speak up against this curre
nt administration. Those folks who took the time to do just that on Saturday are an example of what can become a much broader national statement of concern.

CALL OR WRITE... AND DO IT NOW!

Pick up the telephone and call your congressional repre
sentative. Call the White House and express your concern. Sit down at your computer and write a letter to the president.

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