Friday, September 10, 2010

September 11, 2001 Remembered - Again

ANOTHER SAD DAY OF REMEMBRANCE
Once again we reach a milestone - another anniversary of September 11, 2001. It's hard to believe that nine years have passed since a handful of Islamic extremists hijacked four airplanes, crashed two of them into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and were foiled in their attempt to crash the fourth into another building in Washington - perhaps the White House or the Capitol Building - by brave passengers who took back the plane but not in time to avoid crashing in a field just outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

PREVIOUS POSTS
I've written about this several times in the recent past. Here are links to three of my previous entries, if you care to revisit them:



CNN MEMORIAL SITE
In addition, CNN.com has created a permanent memorial site which I've had posted on this page for several years. This site provides information on victims of the 9/11/01 attacks - folks like Todd Beamer, who helped lead the charge of passengers on Flight 93 with his rallying cry, "Let's Roll!". You can view that site HERE and visit it in the future at the link on the right of this page.

PATRIOT DAY
Today, as we plan to mark Patriot Day tomorrow, our world remains in turmoil. We continue to fight bloody battles in the Mideast, trying to root out the evil that perpetrated the 9/11/01 attacks. Thousands of young Americans have lost their lives in these battles. Ironically, the first from Orange County was an illegal alien from Costa Mesa named Jose Angel Garibay, who hoped to gain citizenship through military service and later to become a police officer. Brave young Garibay is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery.

LUNATIC THREAT PENDING...
As I write this Terry Jones, the lunatic pastor of a 50-person church who had threatened to burn a copy of the Qur'an on 9/11/10 because he thinks a mosque planned for a site near the World Trade Center location in New York City is an affront to Americans, changed his mind, then changed it again. According to early news reports, he's negotiated a deal with the Imam in New York City to move the location of the mosque in question. Subsequent reports are more than a little sketchy and he still may burn a copy of Islam's holy book.

MUSLIM REACTION
Regardless, his threat has unleashed uprisings among Muslims around the world and our political and military leaders have expressed concern for our troops and embassy's in hostile lands. I'm tempted to shrug off those concerns, but history tells us that Muslim extremists have no patience nor tolerance. That simple act of stupidity on the part of the pastor could, indeed, foment violence against Americans at home and abroad. We live in a very troubled world.

A VIDEO REMINDER OF THAT DAY
Lest we forget what this is all about in the first place, I leave you today with this video clip - one of dozens found on YouTube - commemorating the attacks of September 11, 2001.


NEVER FORGIVE - NEVER FORGET

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Services Pending...

INSULT TO INJURY
As disappointing as it was Tuesday night when the Costa Mesa City Council hastily voted to approve an incomplete Fairgrounds lease contract - one with many important issues remaining to be resolved - despite the efforts of Councilwoman Katrina Foley to have those issues addressed and the lease returned for a special meeting for a vote next Tuesday before their Study Session, even more disappointing are the recent comments by Assemblymen Jose Solorio and Van Tran on this issue.

SOLORIO DUG THE HOLE...
Yesterday afternoon, as the City Council was heading into a closed session to discuss the Fairgrounds lease, Solorio issued a press release in which he expressed extreme displeasure with the deal hammered out between the City and Facilities Management West and said he was recommending to the Governor to simply cancel the deal.

TRAN ROLLED THE BODY IN...
Then, Wednesday, Tran tossed more shovels of dirt on the grave of this deal with his first official comment on the subject in months. He is quoted in news accounts as stating, "All vital signs tell me that this entire deal is in intensive care."

ACTIVISTS SHOVELED IN THE DIRT...
Many activists, convinced that this deal was done with the devil, are rejoicing at the prospects of the sale being killed.

LAST RITES COMING
It seems to me that we will soon be seeing a priest at City Hall, ready to offer the last rites to this deal - something that will make many self-anointed "Save the Fair" advocates euphoric.

DISREGARDING LOCAL ZONING IS POSSIBLE
However, even if the Governor does cancel THIS sale, there's nothing to keep the Department of General Services from proceeding with it's new Request for Proposals and consummating an even more onerous deal. That's right - the State could negotiate with interested buyers a much more draconian deal from the City's standpoint - one that might cut out local zoning regulations and the recently-passed Measure "C".

THE "FAIR" CAN GO ELSEWHERE
And, if such a deal is cut, there is no guarantee in the RFP that a Fair must be part of the mix of uses, freeing the 32nd District Agricultural Association (the Fair Board) from seeking new digs for it's Fair. Does the name "Great Park" spring to mind? It should!



A WORSE DEAL IS POSSIBLE

All those activists cheering over the grave of this deal should be careful what they ask for. Some of those folks are avid equestrians. If the 150 acres at 88 Fair Drive are sold to a developer of , say, outlet malls or a chicken farmer, what will happen with the horses?

A TIME FOR MOURNING
No, I fear that if this deal is, indeed, quashed by Solorio, Tran and the Governor, there will be no joy in Costa Mesa as the other sale process moves forward. The DGS professes that they want a deal struck before the end of the year. That gives you plenty of time to have your funeral duds cleaned and pressed in time to say a few words over the moldering carcass of our once proud Fairgrounds.

MANSOOR'S BIGOTRY TO BLAME
Personally, despite Solorio and Tran blaming other reasons for turning their backs on the Costa Mesa deal at this late hour, I think the anger expressed by the Latino Caucus of the legislature about Mayor Allan Mansoor's recent "rule of law city" resolution had much to do with their decision to abandon our city. While that anger is understandable, I'm disappointed in both of them for permitting it to cloud their judgment and potentially place the future of the Fairgrounds in jeopardy.

TRAN HAS BEEN NO HELP...
Tran, has basically been the invisible man in this process. He's the one who should have been crafting the legislation to make this sale work, but he wasn't. No, he can't afford to appear to be siding with Mansoor on any issue right now because that would put a real crimp in his campaign among Latino voters as he attempts to unseat Loretta Sanchez.

SEND SOLORIO AND TRAN A NOTE
So, if this deal is, in fact, killed by the Governor, don't bother sending flowers. Instead, send a little note to Solorio and Tran letting them know how you feel. I'm sure they will appreciate your views.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Good News and Bad News

RECYCLING, SCHOOL AND TRIANGLE SQUARE SIGNS PUSHED OUT
As anticipated, the Costa Mesa City Council pushed three items on it's agenda Tuesday night off into the future - October, to be exact. The Garcia Recycling issue was pushed off until October 19th. The issue of the school on Red Hill was pushed to the same date even though the appellant requested a date in January, 2011. The controversial LED signs at Triangle Square were shoved off until October 5th.

LATE START SETS THE TONE
The council arrived very late to the meeting, just before 7:00 p.m., having spent nearly two hours in closed session discussions about bargaining unit contracts and the lease agreement for the Fairgrounds.

PUBLIC SAFETY OUT IN STRENGTH
In a show of strength and unity, nearly 150 members of Costa Mesa public safety groups, predominantly law enforcement and their friends and families - including several small children - all wearing white t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "I support public safety" packed the council chambers to overflowing. They sat or stood quietly as the meeting progressed, then departed following an impassioned presentation by their union president and a supporting short presentation by a representative of the fire association. Their absence left only a couple dozen people left in the auditorium. According to sources, four of the five bargaining units contracts expired September 1st and the agreements made last year to help with the budget dilemma died with those contract expirations.

FAIRGROUNDS LEASE FINALLY SIGNED...
The good news in a long night was the passage of the final version of the lease between the Orange County Fairgrounds Authority and the tenants, Facilities Management West, even though Katrina Foley attempted to get what she felt were important details resolved before taking a vote. Eventually, however, the council voted 4-1, with Foley voting no, to finally approve the deal.

...BUT IT MAY BE TOO LATE
However, the bad news came in the form of a press release late Tuesday afternoon by Assemblyman Jose Solorio and published in several media outlets, including the OC Weekly by Matt Coker, HERE, in which he tells us that Assemblyman Solorio, the city's main supporter in the Assembly, has decided to recommend to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to kill the sale completely. If that happens, after we finally got a signed deal, it will be tragic for our city and for the future of the Fairgrounds.

DGS ENTERTAINING OTHER OFFERS
As you know, the State Department of General Services placed the Fairgrounds back on the block last month and the proposals and deposits are due at the end of September. A successful bidder will be announced no later than the end of the year.



WAITING AND WORRYING...

We are left to simply wait and see about the fate of the Fairgrounds sale, hoping against hope that all the time and money spent on this process will not be in vain.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Festivities

HOW WE SPENT OUR HOLIDAY
I don't know how you spent your Labor Day holiday weekend, but let me share mine with you.My wife and I spent our holiday on the California Central Coast in a town so small that it isn't even a town, per se. No mayor or city council to drive you nuts with boneheaded decisions - only a community services district charged with keeping the water and sewers flowing, the trash picked up and fires fought.

LOCAL LIONS CLUB SPONSORS PINEDORADO
In this little burg of only 6,000 permanent residents there are two really big events each year - Independence Day and Labor Day. On the latter, this weekend, there is the annual Pinedorado celebration, sponsored by the local Lions Club. This time around the theme was "Home Town Heroes".


REMINISCENT OF THE FISH FRY OF YEARS PASTThis event is real small town Americana and reminds me very much of what the Costa Mesa Fish Fry and parade used to be when our town was much smaller. Pinedorado includes a parade Saturday morning which travels the entire length of the town in which you'll see service clubs on display, the football team riding on a flatbed truck, local school bands, local emergency responders and Shriners on minibikes.

HORSES...
We saw several mounted groups, including a couple of locally-bred Clydesdale horses pulling a wagon and the pastor of the local Presbyterian church aboard his beautiful paint stallion. And, since "stuff happens" the local Boy Scout troop manned the shovels to clean up behind the equine groups.







...AND HOT RODSAutomobile fans were treated to a flock of vintage Thunderbirds, a couple lonely Corvettes and a covey of Smart4Two cars. The automotive hit, though, was the Dodge Viper Sheriff's Cruiser used as the "pace car" for the event.

CLOWNS AND A "KELP BAND"
We also saw members of the local bicycling club, clowns on scooters, four companies of strong, enthusiastic, disciplined young people from the Grizzly Youth Academy and a group called the Krazy Kelptics - they played music using kelp as instruments! We even saw a flatbed truck loaded with "floozies" from a local bar. As I said, this is small town Americana.











PROUD MARINES

This year was an especially patriotic event. This year the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton marched in the parade and gave a concert following the parade in the parking lot of the local Veterans Hall that was attended by hundreds of admirers in a standing-room only crowd. As I watched the band play I saw many a tear in eyes among those in the crowd.

"GREATEST GENERATION" HONORED
Grand Marshals for this year's event were more than two dozen local residents - members of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" - who either served in the military in World War II or performed as "Rosie the Riveter", supporting the troops at home. They were transported in the parade by huge military trucks and the Marine Band preceded them as an honor guard. You couldn't keep from feeling proud of those brave men and women who sacrificed so much for us all, and of those young Marines serving our country today.
THIS FAIRGROUNDS NOT FOR SALEThis little community has a "fairgrounds", just as Costa Mesa does, right in the center of town. However, there is absolutely no chance it will be put on the auction block to help balance the state budget. Nope, this "fairgrounds" is used only once each year - the Labor Day holiday weekend. It contains permanent little structures for ticket sales, booths for food sales and games and a little, teeny railroad for children to ride. The entire "fairgrounds" would fit nicely in the front parking lot at Costa Mesa City Hall. In the weeks before Pinedorado members of the Lions Club tighten nuts and bolts and slap a fresh coat of paint on everything so, as you sit and enjoy your Hearst Ranch beef or chicken, you'll be proud of your surroundings.

HOT ROD SHOW
Sunday, in the parking lot where the crowd assembled the day before to hear and cheer the Marine Band, there was a car show, where classic cars and hot rods from the area are put on display to jog memories of many of us who remembered the days when the cars were new and we were, too. This year that part of the event grew so much that they had to block off one of the main streets adjacent to the parking lot for the overflow entries. It was great!

NOW BACK TO REALITY
That's how we spent our weekend - mingling with happy, patriotic folks honoring my parent's generation for their selfless sacrifice to keep our country free. I hope you had a good time, too. Now, back to reality - there's a council meeting Tuesday requiring our attention.

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