Thursday, November 19, 2009

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

TURKEY DAY
Well, it's time to turn the old cauldron down to simmer and take a few days off.

TIME FOR FAMILY AND FRIEND
S
This Thanksgiving season I find myself particularly thankf
ul for my wonderful wife of more than 42 years, a loving and supportive family and very patient friends and neighbors. Without their encouragement we'd have stopped blogging a few years ago, so you can blame them if you don't like what you've been reading here.

GREAT VOLUNTEERS
I'm also thankful for the terrific people in the Newport-Mesa communities w
ho take the time to get involved in community activities. Whether it's serving on the City Council, one of the commissions or committees or volunteering at one of the many non-profit organizations or coaching a youth sport, their contributions make all our lives better.

FAIRGROUNDS ACTIVISTS
I'm very thankful for the hundreds of folks who care enough for the future of the Orange County Fairgrounds that they've turned out by the hundreds at recent gatherings to m
ake their views known to our local leaders. Thanks to all of you for your efforts.. keep them coming.

DAILY PILOT

I'm always thankful for the management of the Daily Pilot for holding things together for the past couple years as Sam Zell seems determined to single-handedly dismantle one of the great newspaper organizations in the world. These are bleak times in the print media and it's being felt locally, too. Despite being staff
ed at roughly half the level of a couple years ago, the Daily Pilot continues to push forward, providing us with timely, balanced, accurate news of our area as it has done for a century. And, of course, this year I'm thankful to have been included in their DP 103 list. Each time I drive north heading for Santa Barbara I'll be reminded that "I'm 101"!

GREAT READERS

And, finally, I'm thankful to all of you who take the time to read these ramblings. I appreciate it when you feel moved to offer a comment, even when you disagree with me. That's really what makes this stuff interesting, after all.

REMEMBER OUR MILITARY

When you bow your head to give thanks for all your bounty this year, please say a special word for our young men and women wearing the uniform of the United States of America in harms way all around the world. They have bravely volunteered to protect our co
untry and deserve our support.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL

So, we here at A Bubbling Cauldron wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you will find time to share your love with those around you, watch some great football and enjoy that once-a-year tryptophan-induced stupor from overeating.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fairgrounds, Huscroft House, Skosh and God

DERAIL THE SALE!
Here's my question for the day... Is there any resident of Orange County who actually wants the
Fairgrounds to be sold? Other than the current Fair Board, that is... Based on the recent public meetings held in Costa Mesa, I'd say the answer is a resounding NO!

FOLEY AND LEECE LEAD THE WAY
Last night the Costa Mesa City Council, following an outstanding presentation by Councilwoman Katrina Foley and Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece, heard dozens of residents and other stakeholders present their individual views on this subject. Heck, they were even serenaded by blogger Vern Nelson, who appeared in a red, hooded cape, and sang "Tainted Sale" to the music of "Tainted Love", which brought down the house. Even Mayor Allan Mansoor cheered him when he finished.

HISTORY AND PLANS OUTLINED
Foley and Leece outlined the hist
ory of this sale scheme and gave the audience the time line that we face if the sale is to be stopped. They also presented the steps the City is taking to slam the door on potential buyers. It was announced that, during their closed session meeting, the council had agreed to proceed with plans to make a bid outright for the Fairgrounds and authorized spending $250,000 dollars of staff time toward that planning.

THREE-PRONGED ACTION
The upshot of the meeting was a three-pronged motion presented by Foley. To quote Foley, "The first part is to prepare a letter to all Orange County legislators and Speaker of the Assembly requesting that they put forth legislation to cancel the sale. The second part to
prepare a letter signed by all of the city council members to demand that the governor terminate the sale. And, thirdly, to authorize member Leece and myself to personally communicate our city's position to the governor, state elected and local officials and representatives to work with the City Manager in making it our top priority to stop the sale." The motion passed unanimously. Now the hard work begins because the time constraints and holidays will severely tax a staff thinned by budget constraints.

FAIR BOARD TO BE INVESTIGATED?

One interesting issue was broached by one speaker - that of the possible illegality on the part of the Fair Board and their hired representative in the sale of the Fair. As mentioned in an earlier post, R. Scott Moxley at the OC Weekly, HERE, indicated that the county attorney was pursuing legal action. The Orange County Register, HERE, further reported today that the State Attorney General declined to investigate because he is the legal counsel for the Fair Board. The buck has been passed back to the county, where District Attorney Tony Rackauckas will be asked to investigate this allegation. It was also suggested that Federal authorities take part in this investigation.

WHERE WAS RIGGY?

Another question arose as I watched the proceeding
s on television tonight - where's Riggy? Costa Mesa Planning Commission Chairman Jim Righeimer has been omnipresent at every other meeting on this subject and had begun his own effort to place the subject on the ballot. He's been taking a lot of flack over the past week or so for his censoring of comments on his Save The Fair web site and, reports have it, that he's had at least one toe-to-toe heated discussion with a member of the public who questioned his motives.

HE'S STILL A CARPETBAGGER...
My opinion of Riggy has not changed over the past couple years. I've referred to him as a carpetbagging political opportunist, who used his GOP connections to get himself appointed to the Planning Commission after helping get Mansoor re-elected two years ago after having resided in Costa Mesa for only a few months. I don't like his heav
y-handed approach on the Planning Commission, which is now made all the more onerous because he's been joined by Steve Mensinger and Colin McCarthy - all three have strong developer ties. To me, that's like asking the fox to be housemother in the chicken coop.

A NEW LOWER PROFILE?

I was suspicious of his motivation with his Save The Fair scheme and the passage of time has done nothing to change my opinion. Hopefully, the council action last night will eliminate any need for
him to insert himself into this process.

A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON TAKING...
A sidebar at the meeting was the concern expressed by several residents about the evolving sale of the Huscroft House on Bernard Street. After the city bent over backwards helping the buyer of that derelict building in the form of financial incentives and rel
axation of zoning issues, it seems the owner has sold the place to an outfit that plans to use if for a recovery home! Actually, it sounds like it's a series of recovery homes, to stay within the 6-person-per-house rule.

NEIGHBORS APPREHENSIVE
This has created much angst among residents along that street, several of whom have purchased homes in an adjacent development assuming the Huscroft House would remain an owner-occupied dwelling and be an a
nchor of a revitalized section of the Westside of town.

THANK YOU, LINDA DIXON
This whole deal was bad from the beginning, but then-councilwoman Linda Dixon carried the torch for that ram
shackle building and the council at the time got snookered. When will we learn? The City Attorney will investigate to see what, if anything, can be done. They shouldn't hold their breath, as our friends down in Newport Beach can tell you.


MONAHAN WAS CITED AND FINED

On the subject of councilman Gary Monahan's illegal banner on his pub, city officials tell me he was issued a citation late last week and has 30 days in which to pay the $75.00 fine and remove the banner. If he fails to do so he will be cited again, this time with a $200.00 fine and anoth
er 30 days to take the banner down. If he continues to thumb his nose at the city he will be cited a third time and fined $500.00. If he doesn't remove the banner after that citation the issue will be turned over to the city prosecutor for disposition. We all remember what a bang-up job he did with the Benito Acosta criminal trial, don't we? He dropped the ball and the case was dismissed.

ABUSE OF POWER

I expect Monahan will continue to rack up the fines and write them off as a cost of doing business. The time line above will take him through the football season. However, I fully expect to see another similar illegal banner in March, advertising March Madness, and the process will begin all over again. As I've
said before, Monahan seems more than willing to abuse his position on the council for his own personal gain and ignore any rules he doesn't like. Thanks to all of you who voted him back into office after a dozen years of these kinds of shenanigans.

IT'S OFFICIAL - "IN GOD WE TRUST"

Oh, yes... at the end of the council meeting, aft
er many impassioned speakers on both sides of the issue, the council agreed with Wendy Leece and voted, 5-0, to hang the motto, "In God We Trust", in bold brass letters on the wall behind the speaker's dais. Of the many excellent presentations we heard on this issue, Byron de Arakal's suggestion struck me as the best compromise. He thought, if we really had to have a patriotic phrase hanging behind the council, it should be the first three words of the Constitution- "We, the people"... I agree.


A WORD OF CAUTION
I encourage the city staff to use great care when placing that motto on the wall behind the Mayor's chair. We sure don't want Mayor Mansoor to look like the motto is running through his head - even though it would likely find no obstruction to impede it.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Fair Quicksand, "God" and Monahan Thumbs His Nose

THE FAIRGROUNDS PLOT THICKENS
This whole "Fairgrounds Sale" plot continues to thicken. Right now it must be feeling like quicksand to a few politicians around Orange County. For example, over at the OC Weekly's Navelgazing site, R. Scott Moxley has produced an interesting investigative piece entitled, " County Lawyer Seeks State Probe of OC Fair Privatization Plan". You can read it HERE. Moxley discusses the role former Senator Dick Ackerman may have had as a hired gun
for the Fair Board in their role in getting a For Sale sign placed on the Orange County Fair and Exhibits Center. This has been nibbled at by several bloggers for several weeks, but the news of an official investigation is HUGE! There are times when being a Republican can be a painful experience.

A LETTER TO ARNOLD
Tuesday the Costa Mesa City Council will debate Katrina Foley and Wendy Leece's proposal and vote on whether to send a letter to the governor requesting him to quash the sale. Another full council chambers is anticipated as stakeholders and other residents line up along the walls to express their concerns. Let's hope a certain Mesa North resident shows u
p on time so he can get a seat and not be asked to leave the auditorium, as was the case a week ago. Of course, an auditorium without him in it will be an improvement in the air quality all by itself.

NON-BELIEVERS BEWARE

And, of course, following that item on the agenda Leece will overlay he
r personal religious views on city business and ask the council to place the motto, "In God We Trust" behind them on the wall of the chambers. According to her warped public comment, placing that motto will make us "more patriotic". Give me a break! Someone needs to remind Wendy that we do not live in a theocracy! Based on public comments by Mayor Mansoor and Councilman Gary Monahan, it seems like Leece has the votes, so every person who enters the chambers to do business before the city will be reminded of the city's religious affiliation. Yep, if you don't believe in "God" or believe in many "gods", don't expect to get a fair hearing in Costa Mesa, where "In God We Trust". If you're an agnostic, atheist, sun-worshiper or if, for whatever reason, you choose to rely on yourself rather than put your blind faith in a supreme being, you're out of luck in Costa Mesa. Don't come whining about not being treated fairly, either, because you will have been warned by that big, embossed sign behind The Mayor's head that tells you, "In God We Trust". Oh, and don't worry about the cost because city officials tell us it will be covered by private donations. Great - Wendy has co-conspirators, willing to pony up less than a thousand bucks for the sign.

MONAHAN THUMBS HIS NOSE AT CITY RULES

By the way, Councilman Skosh Monahan still has the illegal "Sunday Football" sign up on his building. I told you earlier that the deadline for him to remove it was last Wednesday. I guess the rules are made for someone besides Monahan - something to remember when he asks you to name him the directly-elected Mayor for life next year. This is just one more example of why he got into politics in the first place - to get what he can for himself by using his position and power to bend the rules in his favor. He's the perfect example of why you just can't trust politicians to do the right thing most of the time.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fairgrounds And God, In That Order

MORE FUN AHEAD TUESDAY
Tuesday's Costa Mesa City Council meeting is lining up to be another fun-filled event.

EMOTIONAL COMMENTS GUARANTEED

Late in the meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, the council will address two items, each of which have the potential to generate some very significant, emotional comments from the public.

LETTER TO THE GOVERNOR

The first is the proposal by Mayor Pro Tem
Wendy Leece and Councilwoman Katrina Foley for the council to prepare and send a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger requesting that he immediately remove the "For Sale" sign from the Orange County Fair and Events Center.

GENIS' SUGGESTION

Former mayor Sandra Genis sent out
an email this weekend urging recipients to send similar letters to the governor, and to broadcast her letter far and wide. If you choose to communicate with the governor, here is the address as provided by Genis' email:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

e-mail: http://gov.ca.gov/interact#email

"IN GOD WE TRUST" - OR NOT
The second is Leece's proposal that the council approve placing the motto, "In God We Trust" on the wall behind the dais in the council chambers. This has been the subject of much heated debate since she first brought it up. Some view
it as unnecessary, and another example of Leece's intent to overlay her own personal religious beliefs on the city. Others feel it is completely appropriate to include the motto because it is the official federal government motto and it's displayed prominently on our money, for example. Still others feel it provides a forbidden intrusion of "church" into "state" business. And others feel it is too narrow - that such a motto excludes religions that don't believe in "God", per se. Regardless, I'll be curious about the comments on this issue.

MY "FAIR" COMMENTARY IN THE DAILY PILOT

By the way, the editors of the Daily Pilot saw fit to publish another of my commentaries this weekend. No surprise that it covered the Fair issue. As promised, I reviewed it and found that they printed almost everything I sent to them - enough that I won't bore you further with my actual text. If you wish to read the commentary as published you can find it HERE.

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