Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mayor Mansoor's Immigration Press Conference

As promised, I did attend Mayor Allan Mansoor's campaign event, er, press conference at City Hall this morning. It's taken me a little while to post this because I actually stayed for the entire event, including the one-on-one question and answer period with the press that followed his formal presentation. One wag in town, a guy who fancies himself a journalist, arrived late, stayed for about 10 minutes and then left early - burning rubber out of the parking lot so he could rush home and post a blog entry that said nothing. He apparently didn't want to be noticed because he came in disguise, not wearing his trademark black shirt for a change - maybe it was in the wash. But, he was seen in "his" seat - in the far, right, back corner of the auditorium.

The meeting was sparsely attended. The working press outnumbered residents and other visitors about 2-1. Although I sat near the front so couldn't keep close track of the comings and goings, my occasional peeks over my shoulder revealed that, in addition to the brief stay by the guy normally in black, among those in the small audience were Councilwoman Katrina Foley, Planning Commissioner Steve Mensinger - both made brief appearances - and Benito Acosta, he of recent lawsuit fame. There were around 10 members of the working press - print, radio and television - and a couple of us bloggers, too. I think there might have been 25 people in the auditorium at the peak of attendance. It was a pretty skimpy turnout for an issue with, as we've seen in years past, the potential to generate heated passions.

Mansoor arrived late to the press conference, which was promised to begin "promptly" at 10:00. It did get started at around 10:15 and lasted about 45 minutes. CMTV taped the proceedings and I've been told that it will be available for viewing via streaming video at the city web site tomorrow morning. You can click on the "archived video" link on the city home page to locate it after 8:00 a.m.

So, what was this all about? I'll try to boil it down as much as possible. The mayor is concerned about illegal alien criminals in our city and wants to discuss new programs to address them.

Mansoor outlined four items he wants to pursue with the city staff and his peers on the council.

1- Requiring the use of E-Verify for all city contractors and the people they employ.

2 - Requiring the use of E-Verify for all businesses applying for a business license in our city to be sure that all businesses and their employees are legally able to work in our country.

3 - He "wants to have policy discussions regarding asking all who are taken into custody by the police during the normal course of their duties ask them not only their nation of origin but if they are here illegally as we have a legal right to ask that question and to notify ICE and document that this is followed up so that if they are released and commit another crime the city has at least done it's part to notify ICE." Did you follow that one? It was a direct quotation...

4 - "Have discussions toward a more clear policy on how we handle foreign nationals with a strong emphasis on proper pro-active training".

He went on to state that, "Costa Mesa is not a sanctuary and is, in fact, a "rule of law" city when it comes to upholding our immigration laws and I will ask the council to commit to make it official."

WHY NOW, MR. MAYOR?It seems our former deputy sheriff/mayor has conveniently chosen this time - a few weeks before the primary election in June - because "it's been on my mind a long time and it needs to be addressed". When the press pushed him about the timing he denied that the election had anything to do with it. When pushed further he admitted that all the turmoil in the city recently - the budget, fairgrounds purchase, ACLU lawsuit for day laborers, etc., caused him to delay presenting these issues for discussion.

From my standpoint, I don't believe that for a minute. I think he is running for Assembly and is facing a strong opponent from the Vietnamese community in the primary early in June and possibly again in November so he needs an issue to hang his campaign on. As has been the case in the past, that issue is immigration, even though the resolution of immigration problems are the purview of the Federal Government, not cities. This is precisely what he did four years ago when he and Wendy Leece rode to victory on the backs of the Latino population of Costa Mesa.

In response to a question from the media he brought up the issue of the validity of the Matricula Consular - the identification cards provided by foreign consulates to citizens of their countries. Here we're talking about Mexican citizens. This form of identification is controversial and Mansoor wants to have the city take a position on the validity or lack thereof of those instruments when "criminals" are stopped for traffic infractions and the like. He feels that anyone here legally should have a valid driver's license or passport or visa. He stated that anyone holding a Matricula Consular is probably here illegally and should be deported.

Mansoor threw around statistics about the criminals deported by ICE in 2009 but he didn't provide anything to compare them to - if ICE had not been in the jail in Costa Mesa, for example. When the press challenged him on the issue of his promise that his ICE plan would be directed at "dangerous felons", when more than half those he's taking credit for were for lesser crimes, he dodged the issue.

MY QUESTION TO THE MAYORI did have a chance to ask Mansoor a question - the final one during the formal part of the program. I asked him, "Mr. Mayor, when you first proposed your ICE plan that issue polarized our community. This council chamber was packed meeting after meeting there were people from both sides of the issue yelling back and forth at each other. The arrest of Benito Acosta was probably the most incendiary moment. By bringing this up now are you anticipating similar kind of response from the community? Do you expect, when this is brought forward to the council for discussion in front of the public are you expecting a similar kind of reaction from the community and, if so, how do you plan to handle it?" His response was weak. He said, "I think it was unfortunate that people came to disrupt our council meeting. I want put forward calm dialogues, Mr. West, that's my goal. I think we should be responsible. I don't think we should shy away from these issues. So, it's my goal to have calm discussions on these issues. I think that's the responsible, appropriate way to handle that. I think it's wrong and irresponsible to not address these issues as well. We all know these are important concerns and, as elected officials, I think we need to address them." I thought it was nice that he addressed me by name - the only time he did all morning. :-)

Mayor Mansoor has ripped the scab off an issue that has festered in our city for five years. By bringing it up now he guarantees himself another term in the spotlight of national television as he makes a bid for Van Tran's 68th Assembly seat. He couldn't buy this kind of media coverage! As he spoke and answered questions I found myself thinking that this has a very familiar ring to it. If this process goes as it appears he wants it to - a request to place the issues on a study session agenda, then later to be considered by the council in open session - I can foresee more packed meetings with vocal proponents and opponents batting the issues back and forth in the same kind of atmosphere we saw in the past. Heck, we've already had Minuteman Jim Gilchrist post a comment on this site today and the ball is barely rolling! I fully expect to see Barbara Coe stumble into our council meeting in the near future.

Speaking of which, tonight Mansoor will toddle off to a fund raiser hosted by that self-same Barbara Coe and her minions at the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) meeting at which his praises as the "savior of California" will almost certainly be sung. What's that old phrase, "You are known by the company you keep?" Well, somebody should have reminded Mansoor of that fact.

I've got a feeling that it's going to be a long, long summer and that Mansoor's campaign is going to be something very interesting to watch. By proposing policies that will bring down the hammer on Costa Mesa Latinos he guarantees a busy time for the Costa Mesa Police Department until November.

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Anonymous Yeah that just happened said...

After arriving 5 minutes late, the mouth stayed for exactly 6 minutes before exiting with his tail tucked firmly between his legs.

4/28/2010 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Thanks for adding precision to my estimate. Quite a guy!

4/28/2010 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great coverage!!!

4/28/2010 08:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Kent Morrow said...

Way to stay on him. Maybe the 70% of the public that is stubbornly against illegal immigration will wake up before Mansoor gets elected to the state legislature. Glad to see Katrina was there. The efforts of the generous people will make this a good place to live for all the undocumented.

4/28/2010 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Kent, the media present asked him some tough questions, but he dodged most of them. Katrina seems to be everywhere these days. I saw her returning to City Hall for a Fairgrounds meeting later in the morning. She's like the Energizer Bunny!

4/28/2010 09:32:00 PM  
Anonymous x said...

Think US immigration law is tough? Try Mexico's!

4/29/2010 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

"x", yeah, I read Millard's blog, too. I did read Malkin's piece. Of course, that's not relevant to Costa Mesa.

4/29/2010 09:39:00 AM  
Anonymous x said...

Really, why not? Immigration is the issue. So let’s look at our neighboring nations for guidance on how best to keep citizens safe.

It's only irrelevant to the usual nuts and cooks who salivate at the idea of turning this into a race issue. At the expense of their fellow citizens.

4/29/2010 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Oh, yeah, "x" - gotta watch those cooks, don't we? Immigration is a federal responsibility. No "local" solution will work - not the Arizona law nor Mansoor's re-invigorated attempt to flush Latinos from our city - unless and until our borders are secure. Fix that problem, THEN work on the issue of illegal aliens among us. As long as those deported traffic violators keep on coming back we will have a problem. Mansoor was mute on that part of his statistical presentation. He didn't tell us how many of those deported "dangerous" criminals returned after having had a Cerveza in their homeland.

4/29/2010 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous x said...

For a white republican male living on the wealthy East Side you sure pull the race card an awful lot. I'm African American and I seldom if ever do. Would you support a job center in your neighborhood or would that be too close for comfort? How about a soup kitchen? I think you are all for illegal immigrant rights and special treatment as long as it’s not in your comfy east side neighborhood. Classic NIMBY.

I want our country immigration laws enforced, like Mayor Mansoor. If our federal laws will not be enforced by our elected gov. Then states and cities need to take additional steps to secure the safety of my fellow Americans. You going to call me a racist too?

4/29/2010 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Anonymous "x", do you REALLY think I believe you're being truthful about your heritage? Not for a second, pal. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you're one of the whiny westside "improvers". Yep, I'm an old white Republican living in "almost Newport Beach" - I've never denied that. Your bogus suggestion about a Job Center over here, or the soup kitchen for that matter, rings hollow. The services go where they are needed.

I, too, want our immigration laws enforced - I've stated that in writing from the get-go. The problem is that they are not being enforced. However, that doesn't mean that Mansoor has the authority to impose his own immigration laws here.

You're welcome to continue to play here in my sandbox, even if you choose to be anonymous...

4/29/2010 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

When I saw that headline in the Pilot, I couldn't wait to see the comments there and in the Cauldron. My immediate thought, which hasn't changed a bit, is 'What a pandering slimeball.' Let's ride the wave of those wacky folks in Arizona and stir some stuff up, Allan. Sure, purely coincidence that you happen to be running for assembly at the same time. A new low, if that was possible! Unfortunately, we can't even make 'there's a new sheriff in town' jokes - he quit that job (just like Palin quit hers)...birds of a feather!

4/29/2010 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger mesa verde madman said...

All that said, obviously something needs to be done about securing the borders... but you can't just start pulling people over and asking for their papers and deporting them. That's NOT what America is all about!

4/29/2010 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

mesa verde madman,

I hope you take the 42 minutes it takes to view the streaming video on the city site or on John Earl's site. The first 15 minutes is Mansoor written text. After that he fielded questions but didn't really answer many. As you watch you become aware that he has been coached to use some specific buzz words - like, "These are complex issues". This is just like his campaign four years ago. Especially interesting is his explanation of his law enforcement background.. weird reply. Thanks for your observations, as always.

4/29/2010 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous CM Mesa North said...

I have no problems with the e-verify that he wants to enforece, every single employer should do that as a routine background check.
However, one thing many people fail to neglect is what many illegal immigrants bring to the table - literally. Produce prices will go way up, as well as food prices at restaurants. Sales tax will go way down if illegal immigrants leave. Immigrants also will have to pay into Social Security and will bring in more money to a program that will be bankrupt soon.
People always speak about how bad it is that illegal immigrants (Latinos especially) are here illegally, what about what they are contributing indirectly to the State and your pocketbook everytime you go out to eat or to the store?

4/30/2010 11:38:00 AM  

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