Pomona Elementary Town Hall A Success
The Town Hall meeting hosted by councilwoman Wendy Leece Wednesday night at Pomona Elementary School in Costa Mesa was a success. It was a standing-room-only crowd, with more than 150 people in attendance and at least half of those were Latinos, including many families.
Officials in attendance included councilwoman Leece as the moderator, plus Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer (who stayed only about 20 minutes, skulking out the side door after snagging a free bottle of water) and councilman Steve Mensinger (and one young son) who stuck around until the end. Planning Commissioners Jim Fitzpatrick (Also bugged out early, staying long enough to get paid by the Sanitary District for attending. He probably had to run home to wax his new moustache) and Rob Dickson also attended (Dickson stayed until the end). Mesa Consolidated Water District President Fred Bockmiller was there for the whole program, as were Newport-Mesa Unified School Board members Dana Black and Judy Franco.
There were also several long-time Westside activists in attendance - folks who, for decades, have been attempting to "improve" their part of town. I was happy to see them at this meeting.
TRANSLATION WAS NOT A PROBLEM
The thrust of the meeting was public safety and all the presentations, including the Q & A at the end, were translated into Spanish. Those folks who appeared to have limited English fluency were attentive throughout the evening, including most of the children. I expected that element of this program to be more cumbersome than it actually turned out.
CMPD STOOD TALL
Lt. Robert Sharpnack and Officer Julian Trevino (above) from the Costa Mesa Police Department took the lead, making excellent presentations that provided crime statistics and, in a nutshell, encouraged the members of the audience to call the police when they have problems and to work together as a community to help the police help them. Members of the CMPD Gang Detail, led by officer David Sevilla, were also present. Sevilla gave an excellent presentation, also emphasizing the need for community cooperation.
A lengthy presentation was also made by Diane Hill of United Neighbors, in which she encouraged the members of the audience to treat public safety as a "family" activity and encouraged them to consider using the model she's developed for the north part of town.
There was also a brief, but effective, presentation by the CERT team, encouraging folks to get involved in that program beginning with their next class in January.
I LEFT THE MEETING WITH A GOOD FEELING
I was left very encouraged by this meeting. The members of the CMPD spoke with authority and friendliness. From what I could tell by observing the audience, I think most of the folks "got it". I was impressed by the number of families in attendance, especially on a school night. I hope Leece uses this one as a model for others as she moves forward addressing neighborhood problems in the heart of the neighborhoods.
Although I avoid talking these days about a guy I've described as Costa Mesa's racist laureate - a fellow I call The Mouth From Mesa North. He attended this meeting tonight, after posting an entry on his blog with a link to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, just in case any attendees saw anything suspicious and wanted to report it to ICE. For those who know this guy's habits, yes, he was dressed in black and, yes, he sat in the far right rear of the rows of seats. He was there early and, as luck would have it, the seats around him filled up with members of the Latino population - except for one or two empty ones near him. Then, a few minutes into the meeting, three very handsome black people came in and, as luck would have it, sat right next to The Mouth.
GOTTA KNOW HIM...
Now, to fully understand the irony of this situation, one had to have followed his exploits for awhile. One really needed to know that he's an internationally notorious racist, who claimed a measure of that notoriety when, in one of his many essays decrying the homogenization of the American populace though interracial marriage, he described our populace as becoming a "slimy brown mass of glop". So offensive is his body of work that he uses the admiration of it by former KKK leader, David Duke, as a marketing tool to sell his books! This link to an essay from the Southern Poverty Law Center may give you some perspective. So, viewing him sitting in this elementary school auditorium completely surrounded by blacks and Latinos in this public setting made me smile. That's enough about him - I now have to go wash my hands.