Wednesday, July 08, 2020

WHAT, ME WORRY? - WELL, YEAH!

TOO MUCH TIME AND NEGATIVE INPUT
With all the turmoil going on in our country, and the world, for that matter, and because I’ve been hunkered down in semi-quarantine for the past few months, I’ve had way, way too much time to just sit and contemplate.  Of course, the daily dose of strife, rancor and all-around divisiveness we see on the news all day, every day, only adds to the things floating through my otherwise fairly empty head…. and I worry.

WHY WORRY?
OK, what do I have to worry about, right?  I have a great life.  I am married to the best, kindest, most patient, beautiful, loving wife.  I have lots of friends and family whom I love and I know reciprocate.  I have enough to eat - obviously! - and live in one of the finest places in the entire world (or so my in-laws used to tell us when they would return from one of their trips at exotic venues around the world).  I believe them.  But, I worry…

MAKIN’ A LIST…
So, as I sit and contemplate this issue, I’m making a list of things that cause me anxious days and sleepless nights.  What you will read below is a partial list, sadly.  In no particular order, here you go…

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
I worry about the impact of this darn pandemic.  I worry for my wife and myself because we have our own special mix of issues that makes each of us more vulnerable than most.  I worry about our future if one, or both, of us contract this darn thing.  I also worry about our friends and family and the potential impact of this virus on them.  We have relatives and friends with compromised immune systems who have the potential for serious problems with it.  I continue to plead with folks to follow the official guidances and Stay Home, Exercise Proper Social Distancing, Wear Masks and Wash Your Hands and Use Hand Sanitizer.  Honestly, I HOPE I’m wrong about this!  I HOPE this pandemic is not as severe and long-lasting as predicted by some.  I REALLY want my friends and relatives to be able to say to me in a year, “See, Geoff - you were wrong!  All that angst was for nothing!”  I will be a very happy man if that happens… but I don’t think it’s likely.  So, I worry…

THE ECONOMY
Because of this pandemic, our economy - the hottest one in my lifetime - went in the tank.  Yes, some of it is rebounding, only to be punched in the teeth again by what looks like a resurgence of the virus.  I worry about all the small businessmen who have done their very best to find a way to survive - many unsuccessfully - as we all deal with the isolation caused by this disease.  I worry that some of my friends simply may never be able to re-open their businesses, and how that will affect their families and employees and their families. I grew up in a family supported by a small business and I try to imagine the impact something like this virus would have had on it.  Very likely my father and uncle would have had to fold it up, putting 20 people out of jobs.  It’s a terrifying scenario to contemplate and I know it’s the real world for many, many Americans these days.  So, I worry…

CIVIL UNREST
I am VERY worried about what the future holds for our society now that we see widespread unrest throughout the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands (knee) of the Minneapolis police officer(s).  While I’ve never lived as a black man and cannot ever fully appreciate what life is like as one, I believe I do understand some of the rage being expressed by the mobs of demonstrators, which have morphed into looters and murderers.  As I watched the marchers walk down the street a block from our home recently, carrying “BLM” signs, and chanting, “Black Lives Matter!” quite honestly, in my head I was yelling back, “All Lives Matter”, because that’s how I feel about it.  Did I yell back at the marchers?  No, I didn’t.  I continued to watch and record the marchers and tried to figure out exactly how much those mostly young,  privileged, white kids actually knew about why they were protesting.  I worry that, after we (society) have permitted armed, angry mobs to take two municipal police stations in two of our proudest cities, and for them to claim seven blocks of one of those cities as their own, challenging the authorities to reclaim them, the line of authority may have been scrubbed from the pavement.  I worry that those mostly young violent protestors - people with nothing to lose except their freedom and/or their lives - may continue to misbehave in even more violent ways.  Yes, I worry…

“DEFUND THE POLICE”
A sub-set of my concern above is this movement to “defund the police” - to redirect precious budget resources away from traditional police activities to more social services.  I AM NOT saying that we don’t need more attention paid to those things where social workers can be effective given the time and money.  I am saying that to remove funding from already-beleaguered law enforcement agencies is a catastrophe waiting to happen.  This past weekend New York City was a perfect example of just what will happen, as crime sky-rocketed.  Yes, I know it was Independence Day weekend and that was a crappy metaphor, but it was accurate.  Crime will not disappear just because there are fewer police on the streets.  Do we need to look at how we train our cops?  Probably.  Do we need to hamstring them by taking away some of the tools needed if we expect them to perform their duties as peace officers?  Absolutely not!  Unless you have worn a badge or gone into a combat situation and faced an armed opponent you (we) really have no idea what it’s like.  We have no idea what it’s like for families to kiss their loved one good-bye in the morning never being sure they will return home to them any night.  So, yes - let’s look at how we train them.  Yes, let’s look at how we have them interact with the public they are sworn to protect and serve.  Let’s make adjustments where necessary to make them even more effective.  Let’s weed out those few bad cops - the ones who make every other cop look bad by their actions.  Let’s do all those things, and more, but let’s not strip our cops of their ability to do what their job really is - to fight crime and keep us all safe.  Let’s NOT do that.  I worry…

FRACTURING OF FRIENDSHIPS
This is a really big issue for me.  It causes me to lose a lot of sleep every night. I’m an old guy - with any luck at all I will turn 80 in 13 months - and I’ve accumulated a lot of really wonderful friends over all these decades.  I have friends since we were 5 years old with whom I still have regular contact.  In my circle of friends there are childhood buddies, school mates, Army pals, work friends, close relatives, both through blood and marriage, and the many friends I’ve made writing this blog and elsewhere over the past couple decades.  I value every single one of them for their wit, wisdom, patience and just plain love.  I DO LOVE THEM.  And yet, over the past few months there have been fractures in some of those relationships.  I know the current circumstances mentioned above have created some of this - everybody is feeling stress from what’s going on these days.  I also know that some of the positions I’ve taken on some of those issues have created rifts.  I wish that was not the case, but it is, apparently.  Sometimes I’ve written on Facebook quick little blasts to provoke a healthy discussion of issues.  Frequently I will share something someone else has shared with me - a link, a meme or something I think is funny.  Sometimes those struck some of my friends wrong - a product of my insensitivity and a general thinning of skin in these times.  I feel bad when friends get peeved at me, but hope, at the same time, I have caused them to consider the issue at hand more carefully.  It seems not to be happening that way, though.  Circumstances seem to have polarized us and made us more willing to aggressively defend our position without considering others.  I understand that, but it saddens me to think that, after years - dozens - some friendships may dissolve.  I won’t like that, but neither will I stop expressing myself.  And, I worry…

NATIONAL POLITICS
Yes, I do lose sleep contemplating National politics.  As a lifelong Republican I was very disappointed when Trump gained the nomination in 2016.  There were SO MANY highly qualified candidates on that dais during the debates that I could have, would have, voted for.  Sadly, I doubt any of them could have defeated Hillary Clinton in the election.  The fact that Trump was the last man standing and that he did, indeed, defeat Clinton, caused me great concern about the future of our Republic.  I was concerned that our president - our highest elected leader and the most powerful man in the world - was a bully, who seemed to follow his basest instincts instead of listening to the smart people around him as he went about setting policy and making major decisions.  Those concerns were affirmed by his behavior following the election.  Quite honestly, I had not seen such bad, juvenile behavior since I was in junior high school.   It got so I cringed every time Trump opened his mouth or typed a Tweet in those early morning hours when he sought retribution against those who dared to criticize him.  It has pained me for nearly 4 years, and I can’t do a thing about it.  He will be the Republican candidate and will run against Joe Biden - a man nearly my age who seems to have lost more brain cells than me.  I cannot vote for Biden, but I might have voted for Amy Klobuchar.  It won’t make any difference if I vote for Trump, since any Democrat running against him will take my state, California.  So, I’ll probably just write in a name of a Republican I admire - it’s not a big pool -  on the ballot and never look back.  I will worry, though…

STATE POLITICS
I am very concerned that my state has become such a liberal bastion.  Any good ideas that might come out of the Republicans in the Assembly or Senate have zero chance of being considered.  Our elected leaders in this state seem all too willing to simply give away our hard-earned wealth to any special interest group that whines enough about it.  A recent move to create a blue-ribbon (all liberal) commission to consider giving reparations to every black man and woman in this state for the perceived injustices they have experienced may just be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.  If that happens, and the liberal leaders of this state DO decide to provide cash to those who feel entitled to it - my tax dollars, that could be used for better roads and better education for all - it will force me to consider leaving this state.  Despite all it’s natural wonders and that I’ve lived here most of my life, and the fact that it is home to so many of my friends and relatives - it will have become no place for a person with conservative values to live.  I may just pack up my stuff and hit the road, probably following the moving vans of many companies who will do the same thing.  And I certainly do worry about this…

LOCAL POLITICS
We have yet another watershed election ahead of us in Costa Mesa this year.  Four years ago we were among the many municipalities and districts extorted by a law firm in Santa Monica into creating voting districts to “create more equitable opportunities for minority residents to have their voices heard”.  In our case, it was to give a greater voice to the 37% of the residents who are Latino.  Because of that change, two years ago we chose our first directly-elected mayor and the first three council members to be elected by districts.  Ironically, the voters of this city gave the finger to the Republican-dominated council at the time - the ones who manipulated the system to attempt to stack the deck.  The voters chose Katrina Foley - who the previous council had ousted as mayor a year earlier just because they could - over multi-term councilwoman Sandra Genis, by a huge margin.  Even more delicious, the voters chose newcomer local woman and MIT-educated engineer Arlis Reynolds over feckless, divisive, multi-term councilman and former Assemblyman Allan Mansoor by a huge margin.  Youngster Manuel Chavez also defeated the old majority-supported candidates to represent the smallest, but most densely Latino district, where he grew up.  The voters also chose US Naval Academy graduate and successful Naval Officer, Andrea Marr over one of the old majority’s sycophants, also by a big margin.  So, the plan to snatch control of the city again by manipulating  the districting process backfired and our city ended up with not one, but three Latino members on the council.  It  was a great day for our city.  And, a year into their respective terms, the wheels came off with all those things I mentioned above.  However, the new council majority - those named above plus Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens - were out ahead of the problems from the start.  They took charge and, with new city management in the form of new City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison, crafted policies and an organizational structure to blunt the impact of the virus and economic collapse.  We will not escape the impact of these calamities, but I’m proud of the way they’ve managed these tough issues.  The upcoming election will tell the tale.  Will this majority be joined by three new people of similar dedication and skills?  Foley must run for re-election - the term of the mayor is only 2 years - and Stephens must also run for a seat in his district, Number 1, where he will certainly face heavy opposition from members of the old majority.  I’m encouraged by some of the names that are surfacing as candidates in Districts 2 and 6. We simply cannot afford to return to the days when cops were despised by the elected majority, where ICE agents were invited into our jails, thereby terrorizing our Latino population.  We cannot return to the time where developers were allowed - encouraged - to run roughshod over our city.  I lose a lot of sleep contemplating this election, where candidate forums are unlikely unless they are done online and tons of Republican cash will pour into our city.  And, I worry…

HOMELESSNESS
For several years our city has dealt with a growing population of homeless folks.  Arrangements were made, through the cooperation of a local church and non-profit organizations, to temporarily house upwards of 50 such people.  The city will have spent nearly $10 million to acquire, refurbish and launch a new housing solution in a commercial area of our city.  This MAY go a long way to solve the issue, but it’s taking longer than expected and costing more… so I worry.

SOBER LIVING HOME INFESTATION
For a decade our city has become a haven for Sober Living Homes, many of which are operated by unscrupulous people who are simply in it to make big bucks.  Addicts are recruited from outside our state, moved here and placed in one of these homes in residential neighborhoods and are given only a minimal chance to succeed - to get clean and sober.  The stories abound about the mismanagement of these places and the tragic affects on some of the folks residing in them.  Our city has successfully sued several of them and hope that the other bad operators will get the hint and decamp for another venue.  Many of the failures that drop out of these homes end up on our streets as part of the homeless population mentioned above.  The current city leadership has made great strides in managing this issue, but I worry…

NMUSD DRAMA
Our local school district, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, which serves the children of both Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, continues to be in turmoil.  It recently lost another superintendent and it’s unclear whether they will attempt to rush the selection of a new one before the election, when at least a couple new faces will be chosen for their Board of Trustees.  Issues of equality of education throughout the district persist and flight by students to distant districts in neighboring cities continues to be a concern.  And, of  course, the issue of Distance Learning due to the pandemic is a real hot-button issue today.  The Board of Trustees has long been populated by well-intentioned folks who simply stayed too long at the dance.  New ideas were discouraged and out-right rejected and ignored.  It’s hard to make progress when new ideas cannot even make it to the floor for a discussion.  I worry about this, too.

THIS IS JUST A START
So, my friends, this is just a taste of what’s on my mind these days - the stuff that causes me angst and sleepless nights.  There are other things, too, but this is one of those sleepless nights when it all begins to overwhelm me.  This is a start… Back to worrying…

NOTE: I amended my previous post, HERE, to correct the record regarding my writing about race.  A friend reminded me that I did, indeed, write about race as I jousted with another local blogger who, although has shriveled from the local issues,  continues to foul the ether with his vile pontifications.  I apologize, but he’s a guy most try very hard to forget.

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Saturday, July 04, 2020

A RACIST? WHO, ME? (AMENDED)

DECLINING CIVILITY
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent economic collapse and the civil unrest as a result of George Floyd’s death under the knee of the Minneapolis police officer, I’ve seen a significant change in civility in our society.

IT’S NOT JUST FACEBOOK
I won’t use the shift of tone on social media alone for this observation.  Every single night for the last couple months on the news - any news - we’ve seen the breakdown of civility all across the country, which is certainly exacerbated by the fear of the illness and compounded by so many folks being out of work and all the stress that alone brings.

FRACTURING OF OLD RELATIONSHIPS
What I have observed, however, is the willingness of some people to engage in nasty, vindictive, accusatory discussions with folks who express a differing opinion on some of the pithy social issues of the time.  I admit that I base this largely on my own personal experiences recently, but also of experiences shared - or that I have observed - as it affected others.  Sadly, some of those discussions have been between me and friends - not just Facebook friends, (I expect rancor from some on Facebook - it goes with the turf) but actual, honest-to-goodness long-time friends.  These real friends are those with whom we have never had these kinds of conversations in the past.  Our bond has been based on a shared life experience - growing up together and maintaining close relationships over the years.  Never in the past have we found the need to sit down and have a serious discussion about race relations in our country - it just never came up.  The discussions we shared revolved around the fun times in our lives, our siblings and parents and shared friendships with others.  We enjoyed hearing with great joy about the lives of their children and their accomplishments and families.  Never did I find the need to say to any of those friends, “I don’t know any black people, nor do I understand what their lives are like.”  It just never came up…. until now.

DEVALUING MY OPINIONS
I have come to realize lately that, as an old white guy, raised in a life nearly completely devoid of contact with black people, my opinions are being challenged by friends and others for what they apparently feel is my inadequate background and understanding of  racial diversity issues, thus negating my opinion.  Since almost all of those people do not really know all of my background their condemnation of my opinions are, at the very least, disappointing.  We ALL are entitled to opinions on issues, whether we have lived them or not.

A SHORT PRIMER
So, let’s talk about my limited background with black people.  Although I have known many Latino and Asian people in both my personal and professional life,  never knew a black person until I entered the United States Army late in 1963 - shortly after John F. Kennedy was murdered.  In Basic Training I had no “buddies” that were black, although there were a few in my training company.  In my first duty station, in the Army Pictorial Center in Long Island City, Queens, New York, one of my very best friends for the short 6 months I spent there was Hayes Manning, a black man from California.  He had a college degree.  His father went to Harvard and his mother attended Radcliffe.  His Aunt Joyce was married George Wein, the producer of the Newport Jazz Festival.  We used to jump on the subway and go to their home on Central Park West and just hang out.  We met legendary jazz musicians who wandered through.  That was the first place I ever smelled marijuana.  During that summer of 1964 there were riots in Harlem so Hayes and I, ignorently, decided to jump on the subway and go see what it was all about.  Huge mistake!  We stepped onto the city streets, recognized this was like a pre-lynch scene in an old “B” western movie and immediately left - both of us petrified from the experience.  He became a lifelong friend until his death in his early 50s.

FLIGHT SCHOOL
During my time at the Pictorial Center I applied for, and was accepted into, the fledgling Warrant Officer Rotary Wing Flight Training program - the  Army was gearing up for the need for more “bus drivers” in Vietnam - and spent the last few months of 1964 and early into 1965 attending an abbreviated Officer Candidate School and learning to fly helicopters in northern Texas.  I had no black friends during that time.  Although an eye ailment eliminated me from flight school, I was reassigned to the Advanced School at Fort Rucker (one of those bases the angry masses now scream about re-naming) and spent the remaining part of my enlistment at that location as a company clerk while my classmates completed their training.  87 men in my class (of the 142 who began) graduated in July of 1965 and all of them, including the 80 assigned to the legendary First Cavalry (Airmobile) Division at Fort Benning, GA (another of those bases the screamers would have us rename), were in Vietnam by September.  Six of those men did not make it through their first tour, having been killed in action in Vietnam.

THE WATTS RIOTS AND CHANGE
During my time at Fort Rucker the Watts Riots occurred back home in Los Angeles.  My very best friend in life was a rookie cop with the LAPD at that time and was involved in that chaos.  In fact, he was doubly involved because he was also in the Army National Guard and his unit was activated and assigned to riot control at the very location he had been working at with the LAPD.  Yes, I was interested.  And, I saw that societal event change things at Fort Rucker.  Before that event men of all races would mingle and enjoy each other’s company in our company Day Room - a place with television, pool tables and a library plus comfortable chairs - a kind of living room for our barracks.  When the Watts riots occurred I saw a polarization occur - blacks sat with blacks and whites sat with whites.  When the television showed blacks looting stores in LA, the blacks in the Day Room would stand and cheer.  When the National Guard fired  on them, the whites would cheer.  Nothing was the same on that post from that time forward in the summer of 1965.  In fact, three weeks before I mustered out in December, there was a cross burned on the lawn of a black sergeant, where he and his family lived in his on-post housing domicile.  Keep in mind that Fort Rucker is located in the armpit of the South, where the “N Word” was used in casual conversation by the civilian populace.  In Dothan - the biggest town near our post - there were drinking fountains marked for “coloreds” and black folks were required to buy tickets at the local theater on the outside of the ticket booth and take an outside stairway to the balcony - they could not sit with the white folks downstairs.  Yes, this was a tough time to be a black person in the South.

TENSION IN THE SOUTH
As my best friend from flight school and I drove from the Primary School outside Fort Worth, Texas to the Advanced School in Alabama we drove past Philadelphia, Mississippi, the location where, just a few months earlier, three civil rights workers were murdered.  Also on our route we crossed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the day before the big march.  We were clueless about that stuff, but did wonder why there were 200 State Police cars staged on the north side of that bridge.  We found out the next day after we arrived at Fort Rucker.

THE ’N-WORD”
Following my military service I worked for a national insurance company in progressively responsible assignments that took me to Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Hartford, Houston, Hartford and San Francisco over a period of seven years, until I resigned and we returned home to Southern California and bought the home we’ve lived in for more than 46 years.  During that time, and in subsequent jobs I’ve had, I had very limited experience working with black people.  I had no long-term relationships with any black people during that time.  The only significant experience I had with black people was during my time in Houston when we attempted to hire young black women - graduates with liberal arts degrees from all-black Texas Southern University - into entry-level clerical jobs to which they had applied.  We were unsuccessful.  These women showed up woefully unprepared for the jobs and it is likely that the societal chasm they found themselves in made it hard - impossible - to achieve success.  My first day at that office, where I held a senior management position, I heard the “N-Word” spoken in casual conversation by the woman who worked for me and did most of the applicant preliminary screening.  That was the last time the word was spoken in my presence.  Regardless, it was indicative of the systemically hostile environment that young black women were exposed to in that office.  I tried to overcome that terrible bias by working hard with supervisors and managers, but was unsuccessful in single-handedly buffing off a century of racial bias.

NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS
In my last assignment with the insurance company I worked in San Francisco and lived in Concord, in the east bay.  Our next door neighbors were a mixed race couple.  He was a black man and a Captain in the United States Navy.  We established a relationship that has lasted for nearly a half century.  Both parents are gone, but we still have a relationship with their kids.

RACIAL DIVERSITY WAS NEVER A CONSIDERATION
In subsequent jobs I had virtually zero exposure to black men and women.  The companies I worked with were mostly white, with some Asians and Latinos in the population.  I did not seek them out because of that lack of racial diversity - I just never considered it in my job searches.  Most of those assignments involved some part of the recruitment process.  We never specifically targeted any racial group when trying to fill positions, although occasionally we would hire black people.  When I struck out on my own early in the 1980s and created a consulting practice that specialized primarily in Executive Search, the issue of racial diversity never came up.  In no case did a client company charge me with finding a woman or man of color - nor did we sort any out that appeared as a result of that search.

NO RACIAL EMPHASIS ON THE BLOG
During the past couple of decades when I wrote this blog and wrote commentaries elsewhere, none involved specific issues of race.  During this time I got to know a couple black Costa Mesa officials.  Judge Karen Robinson was a terrific leader, our mayor for a time and is an effective judge.  Rick Francis was a really good Assistant City Manager and just a good guy.  But that’s about it.  My focus has not been about racial issues.  Is that good or bad?  It is what it is.  

NOTE: A couple days after I published this piece an old friend, who has followed this blog from the very beginning, reminded me that I did, indeed, address race.  He reminded me that in my frequent jousts with another blogger in town who has written extensively on racial issues - I called him a racist, but he defined himself as a "racialist" - I did take the issue on to refute some of his putrid prose.  He has shriveled into insignificance locally, but still fouls the ether with his drumbeat of intolerance.  Sorry for the misstatement - he is something most are happy to push back in to the corners of our memories.

A LACK OF DEPTH, BUT NO REMORSE
So, as I read back over this essay I realize that, although I’m a pretty smart fella, I DO NOT have a background with any depth of experience with black folks.  I DID see how blacks were treated in the deep south in the 1960s - a pretty awful experience for them.  I have had a solid relationship with a couple black friends, but none lately.  A friend asked me the other day if I had any black friends - my answer was NO - not counting the Concord neighbors mentioned above since we only hear from them once a year.  As I contemplated that fact I realized that I don’t have any particular remorse about not having any close black friends - I don’t have feelings about it one way or the other.  Does that make me a racist?  If you think so I’d like to hear about it.  Because I’m ambivalent on the issue, am I considered a racist?  Because I’m VERY angry about the behavior of the current crop of demonstrators, those who are threatening to burn down our society, do you think I’m a racist?  How is it wrong for me to want to protect those I love and their personal wealth?  I don’t get it.  Is it wrong for me to refuse to just step back and say to those rioters “Go ahead - take everything I’ve worked for just because somewhere in your history - four generations ago - there may be slavery in your ancestry.”?

I LEARNED, BUT NEED MORE
Recently I listened on the radio to an excellent discussion moderated by my friends, John Stephens and Tom Johnson, with four black men of a variety of backgrounds, but each with a local connection to my city, and came away with a much better understanding of their plight.  I have a better understanding of “systemic racism” and want to learn more.  I understand a little bit better about how things like red-lining and inequitable school funding have so adversely affected black men and women in this country and I want to learn more - to more fully understand the issue and what possible solutions there might be.  If you feel the urge to educate me on these issues, go ahead.  I’m a good listener and sometimes actually ask good questions.   Otherwise, please keep your caustic, holier-than-thou comments to yourself.  If you don’t like what I write, just don’t read it.  If you think you can offer constructive observations, go ahead.

…BUT, DON’T THINK YOU CAN JUST TAKE IT!
But that doesn’t mean I’m willing to have my state, California, decide to use my tax dollars to pay billions (trillions?) of dollars in reparations to every black man and woman in this state for alleged mistreatment of people of their race generations ago.  There is a move afoot to create a commission to study that very issue and I don’t like it one bit!  I didn’t do it and I don’t want to pay for it.  If that happens it will be the final straw.  It will mean to me that California - the state I love for her natural beauty and as the home to so many of our relatives - will become unlivable for a guy with conservative values.  I will just pack up and move elsewhere - look out, Texas!  

IS CHANGE NECESSARY?  PROBABLY…
Do I want to see that systemic racism eliminated?  Of course!  Do I want to hand the fruits of my lifetime of labor over to someone who just wants it because he thinks he’s entitled to it?  Nope - not gonna happen!  If a mob shows up on my porch demanding possession of my home and all I own, I will do all within my power to resist that criminal act.  When I say all, I mean ALL!  

LIKE IT OR NOT, THERE IT IS.
So, that’s a couple thousand words about how I feel on this issue.  I don’t really care if you like it or not - it is what it is. You cannot comment here - comments are disabled.  If you want to rant about it you must go to my Facebook page HERE.  Or, you can communicate with me privately. It’s your choice.  

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, MY FRIENDS
In any event, I wish you all well and hope you are having a wonderful Independence Day holiday.  How’s that for irony - Independence Day in the middle of a catastrophic pandemic, economic collapse and social unrest not seen in this country for more than 40 years?  Oh, well…

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Saturday, June 06, 2020

Black Lives Matters Demonstration - 6/6/20

I tried to post this directly to Facebook, but it swallowed my images and just wouldn't give them back for you to see.  So, here's what I wrote and, hopefully, the images and videos.

THE NEWPORT HARBOR PROTEST MARCH, 6/6/20
Well, neighbors, I stood on the sidewalk a block from my home for about 90 minutes, waiting for the march proposed by a young high school student to make it's way to my location. I was alerted to this event by my friend, Sandy Asper, who knows the young man who conjured up this idea. As you can see from the graphic I snagged from my Facebook page, it was planned to launch from Newport Harbor High School at 2:00 and travel straight up Irvine Avenue to Santiago Drive, cross the street and return down Irvine back to the high school. It got a late start which, according to Mayor Katrina Foley, the delay was due to some personal stories being told before the march.
ANYHOW...
The outward bound segment of the march reached my location - midway between 19th Street and 20th Street, around 3:00 p.m. and it was very orderly. Newport Beach police officers escorted the group the entire way and were very courteous. And, many of the marchers, despite chanting things that were certainly not pro-police, were very courteous to the officers as they passed them on the route.
TOO MANY IMAGES... BUT...
I took a lot of photos and videos. The video clips I included in this report were as the marchers headed back. I took it in two segments - one of about 1:30 long and the second that is about 4:40. I thought it was necessary to properly present the atmosphere. I saw a few familiar faces, including a couple of neighbor boys - young men I've watch grow up into their middle 20s - as they joined the march.
A GOOD EVENT
In my opinion, this was a good, well-organized and managed event. I saw not the slightest hint of antagonism from marchers or the observers. There were VERY FEW of those, by the way. From my vantage point I could see about a mile of the march course and I don't think there were more than a couple dozen observers.
ENJOY THE IMAGES
I hope you get the sense of what this event was about. Enjoy...

Friday, March 13, 2020

Costa Mesa Girds For The Coronavirus War



PREPARATIONS FOR WAR
Like many cities and states and the federal government, Costa Mesa continues to prepare for the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.
SLAMMING THE DOOR AT THE FAIRVIEW DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER
The first battle began when the City, in the person of Mayor Katrina Foley, sued the state and federal government to stop them from depositing persons infected with the COVID-19 virus at the Fairview Developmental Center, right in the heart of Costa Mesa.  That particular skirmish was won by the City when the federal government officials advised that they would not pursue placing infected persons from the Diamond Princess at the FDC.  Round 1...

EMERGENCY MEETING ON FRIDAY, THE 13TH
Late today, Friday the 13th of March, 2020, the City announced a special Emergency City Council meeting, to be held at 5:00 p.m. in City Council Chambers, then adjourning to a Closed Session in Conference Room 5A.  The council reconvened in the chambers nearly two hours later to take votes on the two items on the agenda.  You can read that agenda report HERE.

CHANGING THE CODE - CREATING THE TEAM
The first item on the agenda dealt with an Urgency Ordinance, changing the section of the Municipal Code relating to Emergency Preparedness, Organization and Coordination that had not been amended since 1980.  You can read that staff report HERE.  Perhaps the most interesting part of this issue is the proposed ordinance that was voted on tonight.  You can read the full text of the ordinance HERE.
COSTA MESA DISASTER COUNCIL CREATED
I encourage each of you to read this ordinance, which passed on a 7-0 vote tonight.  There are many interesting, provocative and controversial elements that are worth your attention.
COMPOSITION OF THE DISASTER COUNCIL
1 - On page 2 of the ordinance, under Section 6-3, the Costa Mesa Disaster Council is created.  City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison, in her role acting as the Director of Emergency Services, is designated as Chair of the Council.   Emergency Services Administrator Jason Dempsey will be designated as Assistant Director of Emergency Services and will act as Vice Chair.  Department Directors are designated as member of this council.  The final group to become part of this council will be "Such representatives of civic, business, labor, veterans, professional or other organizations having an official emergency responsibility as may be appointed by the director or assistant director or city council."
POWERS - "COMMANDEER EQUIPMENT" AND "COMMAND AID OF CITIZENS"
2 - On page 3, under Section 6-6, the Chair and Vice Chair are empowered to proclaim the existence of a local emergency, which must be ratified by the City Council within 7 days.  Section b states the following: "To obtain vital supplies, equipment and such other properties found lacking and needed for the protection of life and property and to bind the city for the fair value thereof and, if required immediately, to commandeer the same for public use. In so acquiring such property, the city waives no immunities and incurs no liabilities other than those at common law or those liabilities created by applicable state or federal law."  Section c states: "To require emergency services of any city officer or employee and to command the aid of as many citizens of this community as he or she deems necessary in the execution of his or her duties; such persons shall be entitled to all privileges, benefits and immunities as are provided by state law for registered disaster service workers."

ONCE DECLARED IT JUST RUNS... AND RUNS... AND RUNS
Based on this ordinance, once a local emergency is declared and ratified, that designation runs until it is officially declared as over, without any kind of interim review by the City Council periodically.  This is a change from the earlier version of this ordinance.
PENALTIES
3 - On pages 4 and 5, under Section  6-9, punishment for offenses are clearly described.

RATIFICATION OF CITY MANAGER'S PROCLAMATION OF LOCAL EMERGENCY
The second item on the agenda was a fairly straightforward ratification of the proclamation issued earlier by the City Manager declaring the existence of a local emergency.  You can read that staff report HERE.  There are links at the end of the staff report that takes you to proclamations and declarations by the County of Orange and the State of California.
INADEQUATE NOTICE AND SEVERELY LIMITED SEATING
The notice of this meeting was not posted online until just after 2:30 p.m., hardly time for most interested residents to plan to attend.  Based on the image captured by Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens from the dais, there were only 3 people in the audience, and only one of those, Gary Parkin, spoke during the Public Comments section prior to the Closed Session.  And, the image clearly shows the "social distancing" efforts by the City Staff for attendees.  If this plan remains for future meetings, there will be seating for only about 30 members of the public and staff.  While I certainly understand the need for caution in light of the public health threat represented by the COVID-19 virus, Costa Mesans are active in local issues and the seating available will certainly result in stifling public participation on important issues.
NECESSARY ACTION IN THIS EMERGENCY
I am not unhappy that my City leaders are being so proactive in this public health emergency.  I'm glad they quashed the use of the Fairview Development Center for infected people - at least for now.  I'm happy they stepped up and made these Code changes and declared the local emergency.  I'm glad they created a management structure to oversee emergencies.  I just wish there had been a broader announcement of this meeting and a way for the public to participate.  This issue will be address at their next regular council meeting on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020.  There will be a chance for those few members of the public who find a seat in the chambers to address it, if they wish.
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS...
Our little world is changing very rapidly.  This is when true leadership becomes important, and we're seeing it today in my city.

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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Byron de Arakal - "We Should Repeal Measure Z"

CONSIDERING MEASURE Z
At their meeting on Monday, February 24, 2020, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission considered, under Public Hearing #3, the discussion of creation of a new development fee and a committee to administer it per the only conditions of the onerous Measure Z that survived the vote.  You can read the staff report on that issue HERE.
THE VOTERS CHOICES IN 2016
In case you've forgotten, the voters voted heavily in favor of Measure Y, the slow growth measure.  It also passed Measure Z by a smaller margin.  As a result, only the elements of Measure Z that applied were those NOT included in Measure Y.  Here's what the votes looked like back in 2016.
THE CHAIRMAN SAYS "IT'S DISINGENUOUS - REPEAL IT"
Following the lengthy discussion, just prior to the vote being called, Chairman Byron de Arakal took a few minutes to explain why he was going to vote no on this issue.  I think it's important to understand just why he thinks Measure Z should be repealed, so here's a transcription of his entire explanation.

“I will not be supporting the motion and I’ll kinda give some reasons why. 

Principally, I think this fee and the ordinance that created it and the committee structure that it also created are wholey duplicative of fees we already have in place, and processes we have in place to administer park fees.  

As I mentioned in the meeting two years ago about this ordinance that a seven member, or seventeen member, committee to recommend to the council how these fee revenues should be spent should be a job that, if they are going to do it, should be recommended to the Parks and Recreation Commission and not the City Council.  We have a Parks and Recreation Commission for a reason.  

And, so this ordinance creates this big committee, and then it creates a new park fee - we already have essentially two or almost two, and now were gonna have three.  

Measure Z was created to chase voters away from Measure Y, and the only thing that could be placed in that measure to make it amenable to the voters to give them the notion to chase them off Measure Y,  is to say, “You know what, we’ll raise a bunch of money for your parks and your open space.”  - didn’t tell anybody that there are already thousands of dollars  per door for parks fees that get applied to these residential developments.  And so, it was really kind of a ruse, it was, you know, a magic show and I hated Measure Y, and still hate Measure Y, and I hated Measure Z, as well, because it was disingenuous.  It’s motive was disingenuous and how it was constructed was disingenuous, in my opinion.  

Now, having said that, we’re about to foist another fee on the development community, at a time when we’re about to have to figure out where we’re going to place 12,000 more housing units, principally, I think, in the area that just so happens to be in this area where this fee’s gonna be charged.  

Now, don’t think for a minute there wasn’t a motive for placing that fee just on this area, because there were people in this community that wanted no residential development north of the 405, west of Harbor and Fairview.  They didn’t want it, so they put a fee in place to chase the development community away because you’re just adding another fee on top of a park fee we already have.  
And so, ideally for me, I would love to see this commission recommend to the City Council that they place Measure Z on the ballot for a straight up or down vote on whether or not to repeal it - but that’s not gonna happen tonight.  

So, I’m gonna vote no on this motion because I think Measure Z was disingenuous from the beginning, I think it adds another fee to the development community, a development community we’re gonna need to meet our RHNA obligation in our new Housing Element.  And, ah, I just think it’s a big mistake.  And then we create this seventeen-member committee, that, who knows how political that could get?  And it cuts out the Parks Commission’s ability to make recommendations in it’s Capital Improvement Budget review because they’ve got this seventeen member committee who’s deciding now what happens to whatever pot of money comes out of this.  So, I’m going to be voting no." 
WHO?
When the Chairman said "...there are people in this community that wanted no residential development north of the 405...", we know who he meant - the sperm donors of Measure Z.
THEY VOTED HOW?!
And, this issue got curiouser and curiouser as the commission voted.  Commissioner Tourje was absent, but, as you can see from the image below, only three (3) commissioners voted "Yes" - Perkens, Russell and Zich.  Chariman de Arakal voted "No" and Commissioner Colbert and Vice Chairman Harlan abstained after consultation with City Attorney Tarquin Preziozi.  Fun fact - Harlan actually seconded the motion.
TO THE COUNCIL ON THE THINEST OF VOTES
So, now this issue will go before the City Council for consideration after the thinnest of votes to move it forward.  This should be interesting.

COMMENTS?
If you wish to comment on this entry you must go to my Facebook entry, which can be found on my page HERE.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sharpnack Claim Morphs Into A Lawsuit

WAIT!  WHAT'S THIS?
Those of us who pay attention to City Council meetings got a little surprise Tuesday afternoon as the agenda for the Closed Session was read into the record by City Clerk Brenda Green before the council adjourned to a remote conference room to consider the seven items listed.   City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow asked the council to add another item to the agenda for discussion that afternoon - the lawsuit filed by former Police Chief Rob Sharpnack against The City of Costa Mesa - which Barlow had just become aware of shortly before the meeting!
BRAND NEW LAWSUIT
The 38 page lawsuit was dated February 12, 2020 and it's unclear whether the lawsuit had actually been served on The City by Tuesday night when Barlow brought it up.  You can read it HERE, if you wish.
NOPE... NOTHING TO REPORT
The City Council approved adding the lawsuit to the Closed Session agenda and they adjourned to deliberate.  When they returned a couple hours later for the regular session Barlow had nothing to report out of the Closed Session - on that or any of the other seven items on the agenda.
SPADONI SPRINGS THE PAPERWORK
In an interesting sidebar - early in the regular meeting, during Public Comments, resident (and former police officer) Mary Spadoni trundled up to the speaker's podium and proceeded to waive the text of the lawsuit at the council.  Apparently she managed to obtain a copy of it via a public records request and posted the link to it on the Facebook page Costa Mesa Sandbox.  By the time Public Comments had ended two people had contacted me about the lawsuit and had retrieved the text from that Facebook page.  One of them shared it with me since I have been blocked from participating on that site.
TRYING TO RIGHT A PERCEIVED WRONG
Some might recall that Spadoni frequently spoke and wrote about information that was eventually included in the initial Claim Sharpnack made against The City.  Much of that is included in the lawsuit.  Clearly, she is an insider in this process and makes no bones about doing her best to defame those she feels are responsible for Sharpnack's situation, including Mayor Katrina Foley, Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens, current City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison, former Acting City Manager Tammy Letourneau and former Acting Assistant City Manager Justin Martin.  The last two now hold positions at the City of Laguna Niguel.
THE TIMING IS CURIOUS
The timing of this lawsuit is very interesting - just two weeks before the Primary Election in which Foley is running for a chance to gain a seat in the State Senate against incumbent John Moorlach and another Democrat challenger, David Min.  Any mud that can be tossed Foley's way will probably go a long way to assuaging the animus felt about her by Spadoni and her pals, particularly if it affects her chances in the upcoming election.
MY SPECIAL INTEREST?
Why am I writing about this?  Well, in his original claim Sharpnack named me as a "witness" - the only non-current or former employee of The City on the list.  It's curious, since I have no first-hand knowledge of any of the circumstances.  Yes, I've written about CMPD issues, including observing about the many, many former police chiefs who have served my city over the past five decades.  This, of course, includes Rob Sharpnack.  I have no idea if I will end up being a part of his lawsuit - I hope not, but we shall see.
HAVE I MENTIONED THAT I HATE POLITICS?
In the meantime, the hit pieces about Foley continue to land in mailboxes all over the the 37th Assembly District and I doubt if it's over with two weeks to go before the election.  And the beat goes on.

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Barrage Of Lies About Foley Continues

ANOTHER HIT PIECE IN THE MAIL THIS WEEK
Many voters, presumably women, received yet another lie-filled hit piece attempting to discredit Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley and impact her run for the State Senate seat currently held by incumbent Republican John Moorlach.  I wrote about the first one last week.  You can read it here if you wish. http://abubblingcauldron.blogspot.com/2020/02/hit-piece-on-foley-is-despicable.html

WE HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED IT, BUT...
We did not receive this particular hit piece, but several friends have and it's been widely shared on social media sites.  It is every bit as despicable as the previous one and clearly demonstrates that Foley's opponents in this race are very worried about her and will stop at nothing to diminish her chances of winning one of the two positions available in the General Election in November by quashing her chances in the Primary Election on March 3rd.
AN INTERESTING SIDEBAR
One interesting sidebar to this race is the venom being spewed on the Facebook site, Costa Mesa Public Square.  Some may recall that my friend, Bruce Krochman, launched this site several years ago as a venue for civilized political discussion.  Apparently unable to keep up with the demands of moderating the comments (I warned him about that in the beginning), he later passed it on to some rabid partisans - frustrated Republicans concerned about the loss of seats in local and state-wide bodies.  Those folks changed the focus and it became the repository of vile, overt partisan rants - despite what their homepage says about welcoming all viewpoints.
I WAS NUMBER 1
Krochman asked me to be participant Number 1 on his site, to which I agreed.  Several months later, as the site grew and it began to dominate my page I bowed out and stopped participating.  Later, as the rhetoric began to take on some unpleasant features, I tried to sign on again, but was rejected.  A year or so later I was begged, twice, by Admin Julie Mercurio, to please sign on again.  I politely declined.  The tone on the site was so dominated by unscrupulous individuals - including some then-current elected officials - that I felt it would be akin to me bashing myself over the head with a 2X4.  And life went on.
NASTY STUFF CONTINUES
However, in light of the uproar about these two anti-Foley mailers, the nasty tone on the site has ramped-up.  A friend who participates there shared some of the recent comments, one of which refers to me as an "ass blogger" and went on to denigrate Foley - the most effective mayor we've had in a couple decades, and the very first directly-elected mayor in City history.
CONSIDER THE SOURCES
I suggest that folks who are in a position to read the bilge published on the CMPS site consider the source of that crap.  Most of them are my fellow Republicans, petrified about the shifting political demographic in our region.  As one commenter on a Facebook thread decrying this latest mailer mentioned today, if you read that last mailer and just turn every accusation presented there 180 degrees you will have Foley's position on the issues.  The liars persist...


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