Commentaries Worth Your Attention
This weekend, the tail-end of a relatively slow news week in Costa Mesa when compared to the past several months, two commentaries appeared in our local newspaper of record, The Daily Pilot, written by two Costa Mesa residents that, individually and together, require your attention.
Last Thursday afternoon, January 26th, a commentary by Crissy Brooks - co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives - titled "How do we avoid doing nothing?" was published in the Daily Pilot online and appeared Friday morning in print You can read the complete commentary HERE.
A WISE YOUNG WOMAN
I read it the first time online. In fact, I read it a couple times, because I found myself wondering how such a young woman has managed to acquire such wisdom.
ADDRESSING THE CONUNDRUM
As you will see when you read it through, she addresses the conundrum faced by many people in our city and elsewhere - how do you affect change if you "do nothing"? There were many very interesting observations made by Brooks, whose father, Dave, is currently president of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, and I want to highlight just a couple of them for you.
The first phrase that caught my eye was:
"The problem is that while we are doing nothing, something is happening. City charters are being drafted, neighbors are being laid off."
Later she said:
"Decisions are being made to shape the way we are governed every day and most of us are quiet, doing nothing. Doing nothing in 2012 will not be neutral. Nothing results in something, and in the case of the city charter, it will have long-term effects on the shape and future of Costa Mesa."
And further on she said:
"Whatever we do, we have to do something. To do nothing is not nothing. To do nothing is to add to the confusion and brokenness from which we seek to be free."
I suspect many of you will agree with her observations, but will you "do something"?
ROBERT THE ELDER
Then, Saturday evening, January 28th, a Community Commentary by Costa Mesa resident Robert Murtha, titled, " We can all unite around a good cause" appeared online and also in print in the Sunday edition of the Daily Pilot. You can read it HERE. You will likely remember that name, but you're probably thinking of his son, also Robert Murtha, the star running back for the past couple years on the Estancia High School football team.
YOUTH SPORTS ACTIVIST AND MENSINGER PAL
Robert, the elder, is very active in youth sports and, through those activities, he's become very close to non-elected councilman Steve Mensinger. In fact, a year ago, when Mensinger was appointed, he stood before the city council to praise him. To say they are tight would be a major understatement. It is that closeness that makes his commentary so extraordinary.
SURPRISED BY HIS TREATMENT
Murtha recounts for us his experiences at the recent Mesa Verde Golf Classic, which was hosted by Costa Mesa United. He tells us of the trepidation he had when rolling up on members of the Costa Mesa City Employees Association, who were staffing on of the many booths around the course. Apparently expecting to be shunned by the group, instead he gives us this quote: "I was waiting for the whispers to each other, cold shoulder, even maybe some eye rolling with a few OMGs. But instead, I was offered a hot dog, a drink, thank yous and a hug or two."
He recounted another incident that day that also pleasantly surprised him. I'll let you read about it in the article.
AN EXCELLENT OBSERVATION...
Near the end of his commentary he gives us this observation: "For the sake of our future, I hope we can all get past our differences, move forward and show the friendship and respect I received that day."
WHY WRITE ABOUT THIS?
So, why do I write about this tonight? Well, for a year members of our City Council have attempted to paint members of the various employee organizations as greedy, self-serving union thugs, unwilling to work with the City to try to resolve our perceived fiscal distress. They went so far as to launch a mass-layoff scheme, which they botched and it resulted in a lawsuit against the City.
TRYING TO DO THE JOB DESPITE MAJOR CUTS
This new council has kept up a pace that has made it very difficult for employees to do their jobs while trying to formulate the Outsourcing Requests for Proposal that would be the cornerstone of the scheme for them to lose their jobs. The headcount has dropped by more than 25% and the Police Department is being forced to try to do the job of keeping us all safe with staffing levels rejected by both the City's paid expert consultants and former interim Police Chief Steve Staveley. Staveley was so distressed by the council's stubbornness that he quit and left behind him a scathing letter denouncing some of the council members.
The council has manipulated numbers to fabricate a "fiscal crisis", which pivoted on their proclamation of an "unsustainable unfunded pension liability", as though the City would be expected to fork over all those dollars next Friday. Those inaccurate buzz words served only to inflame the casual observer.
What amused me was the obvious surprise expressed by Murtha in his commentary when he was not, in fact, shunned by those city employees. He is so tight with Mensinger and his pals that he certainly expected them to react like he carried the plague - but they didn't. They embraced him and reacted the way they've reacted to every obstacle placed before them over the past dozen months - they've just put their shoulders to the wheel and continued to do their jobs the best they could.
PROUD OF BROOKS AND MURTHA
I'm proud of both Crissy Brooks and Robert Murtha for expressing their frank views in these two commentaries and hope we all learn from each of them. Certainly, as Brooks suggests, more residents need to get involved - at least pay attention to what's going on in our city. And Murtha makes it clear that folks on the opposite side of an issue are not necessarily evil. Good lessons for us all.