Try To Have A Merry Christmas
Well, folks, it's time to turn the old Cauldron down to simmer again for the holiday. I'm not sure how much I'll be posting between now and the new year, but, before I bank the fire and let the embers retain the heat, there are still some things that need to be said.
NOTHING LIKE IT BEFORE
It's been a very stressful year in Costa Mesa, my hometown for the past 38 years. None of the other old-timers that I've spoken with can remember anything like this in the past. Not even in the days of crazy Dave Wheeler or the bumbling Chris Steel were things in such tumult. Steel's term almost a decade ago should have been a clue for us because he's the first sitting councilman to overtly politicize his affiliation. That was the start of the takeover of this city.
A DE FACTO COUP
Our city has experienced a de facto palace coup, with Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger leading the takeover, compliant Gary Monahan just going with the flow and the lamest of lame ducks, Eric Bever, refusing even to bother going through the motions anymore. Those latter two should get an "F" for Attendance on their report cards! Monahan, in particular, should receive much of the blame for what's happening now. He's basically abdicated his position as Mayor - perhaps as early as that ill-fated St. Patrick's Day, when he chose fun and profit over the responsibilities of his job - and permitted Righeimer to take over.
We've got ourselves saddled with a majority on the City Council that is clearly trying to destroy the government of our city. They're operating like a junta. They've shown, right from the start, that they are chronically impatient and have no interest in following the rules. Effective governance requires both patience and a willingness to work within the established framework. It's become so extreme now that they actually want to sell the voters on backing a Charter for our city created by one man - Righeimer, performing as a snake oil salesman - for the sole purpose of benefiting his life as a political gypsy. He has no long-term ties to our city and is only using it as a stepping stone for higher office. He's trying to show his pals in the OC GOP that he actually CAN accomplish this takeover so they'll support him in future runs for bigger political jobs. He won't care one iota that he'll leave carnage in his wake.
HOPING THE VOTERS WAKE UP
We can only hope that the voters of this city finally wake up and realize that they are being played and vote against the Charter scheme. If this is a good idea, then it's one that SHOULD NOT be rushed. We're talking about the foundational document of our city government here. We should not permit a carpet-bagging political opportunist to simply snatch this city away from the people like a purse-snatcher on a crowded street.
THANKS TO THE COSTA MESA EMPLOYEES
To the loyal, hard-working and beleaguered employees of the City of Costa Mesa, I wish you some peace and tranquility as you take a few days off. I want to thank those of you who have remained, despite all the uncertainty and turmoil swirling around you, for your loyalty and perseverance. Although you've seen your livelihoods placed in jeopardy and many of your fellow-employees chided, threatened and berated by the elected and appointed leaders of this city, you've managed to keep your shoulder to the wheel. You've seen the leaders of our city ignore the best professional advice on staffing and organization available to them and move forward with their own pre-determined, ignorant ideas, but your continued to soldier on. Many of you have been required to prepare the documents that would be used to possibly outsource your jobs, only to see that work effort eviscerated by the elected leaders for no good reason. Although you've seen drastic changes in senior leadership - not one person remains in the job they held a year ago - and you've suffered the tragedy of one of your own leaping to his death from the City Hall roof, you've tried to stay the course. Thank you for that...
PRE-MATURE INITIATION OF OUTSOURCING
At this point in time we don't know the outcome of the ill-advised outsourcing scheme launched by Righeimer and Monahan after who-knows-how-many meetings at Monahan's gin mill and over how many adult beverages. We don't know anything about those meetings because they won't tell us. We do know that they launched that scheme without sufficient thought and violated the council rules doing so - a clear case of premature initiation. We do know that the trial is scheduled for April of next year and can only hope for a positive outcome. We do know that they're spending precious city resources on legal fees at a rate previously unseen in this city.
THE FACADE OF TRANSPARENCY
We've seen a decent man, my friend Bill Lobdell, hired as a spinmeister and under his leadership a facade of transparency has been erected. We have more "information" available to us than at any time I can remember - and that's a good thing. For example, the CEO E-briefing is an excellent communication tool with which Tom Hatch has provided excellent information to the readers, including some essays from Michael Josephson's "Character Counts" series.
THE REAL WORK IS BEING DONE ELSEWHERE
What is truly ironic is that some of our elected leaders don't bother to read those essays. We've got this "transparency" thing going on - kind of like a back lot at a movie studio where building fronts are constructed to give you the illusion of a neighborhood - but the REAL work of the city is being done elsewhere, maybe at the glitzy bar at the Gulfstream or in that shabby little pub on Newport Boulevard. Behind the scenes deals are being made out of the view of the public, many of them to the personal benefit of one or two council members - ego boosters for those with an already over-inflated sense of self-worth.
REAL LEADERS NEEDED
The only way to repair the damage being done to this city is to vote the political opportunists and egomaniacs out of office and return the governance of this city to the real residents - the folks who will dedicate themselves to the well-being of our city FIRST. We need to identify those folks who are willing to make a difference and encourage them to run in November, even though a campaign against the OC GOP machine will likely be a tough, nasty, expensive battle. And, in the meantime, we need to actively oppose the systematic dismantling of our city so there is something left by next Christmas.
NO PEP TALK - SORRY
I want to give you a big pep talk... you know, "Buck up! Things will be better next year." and all that kind of stuff. Sadly, I don't really see light at the end of this long, long dark tunnel. I just see more tunnel. All I can do is tell you to use this holiday season to surround yourselves with the people who love you and gain strength from that love. We're all going to need it in the months ahead.
In case you missed it, the Daily Pilot published another of my commentaries. It's online now and should be in print on Christmas Eve. You can read it now HERE.
HOLIDAY SMILES FOR YOU
We hear at A Bubbling Cauldron wish all of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. Here's a little something that will make you smile. We'll be back soon.