Wednesday, November 25, 2020



This evening the Orange County Registrar of Voters posted the "Official Results" for the General Election conducted on November 3, 2020.  I don't think there will be any changes after this evening, but will check again on Friday since I doubt anybody in the Registrars office will be working on Thanksgiving.


In the 48th Congressional Race Democrat Harley Rouda, who defeated 30-year Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher in the last election, was defeated by Orange County Supervisor Republican Michelle Steel - a woman married to a GOP power broker and who seems not to be able to put two cogent sentences together.  Orange County will now return to being under-represented.  A sad day for us all.

In the 37th State Assembly race Democrat Dave Min soundly defeated Republican John Moorlach.  As a member of the minority in Sacramento Moorlach was unable to be effective.  He has subsequently announced his run for the vacant Orange County Supervisor's seat created by Steel's election - a seat he held before.

In the 74th State Assembly race Democrat incumbent Cottie Petrie-Norris squeaked out a slim victory over Newport Beach Councilwoman Diane Dixon.  Petrie-Norris has been a very effective representative for our area.


This election was a game-changer for this district, which has been burdened by long-term members for the past decade.  In District 1 Dr. Leah Ersoylu defeated incumbent Vicki Snell.  In the Area 3 race Carol Crane soundly defeated challenger Charles Kent Booker.  In the Area 6 race Krista Weigand handily defeated 3 challengers. It's going to be interesting to see what a difference their presence on the board will make.


It's a mixed bag of news in the Costa Mesa races.  Incumbent Mayor Katrina Foley crushed a field of  four challengers, including current councilwoman and former mayor Sandra Genis and former councilwoman Wendy Leece.  Foley received more votes than all the challengers combined.  She has demonstrated her popularity in the past two elections.  In District 2 newcomer Loren Gameros had a solid victory over challengers Ben Chapman and Gary Parkin.  In District 6 Planning Commissioner Vice Chairman Jeffrey Harlan had an impressive victory over 3 challengers.  However, in the District 1 race, current Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens was defeated by the dullard quitter, Don Harper by 323 votes.  The presence of Jason Komala also on the ballot certainly had an impact on this race.  And, Measure Q, which authorizes the sale and taxation of Marijuana in Costa Mesa, had a solid victory, gathering 65% of the votes cast.


It was a mixed result in the Costa Mesa Sanitary District races.  In Division 2 30-year board member Jim Ferryman was defeated by Brett Ferryman.  In the Division 4 race, long-time incumbent Art Perry crushed challenger Michelle Figeuredo-Wilson.

In the Mesa Water Division 2 race incumbent Jim Fisler defeated challenger Adam Ereth.

In the Municipal Water District of Orange County Division 4 race, Karl Steckel defeated four challengers, including Mesa Water's Stacey Taylor and lame duck councilman Allan Mansoor.

And, in the Coast Community College District Area 4 race, Mary Hornbuckle crushed Michael B. Collier by gaining 72% of the votes cast.

Saturday, October 31, 2020



A couple weeks ago I submitted the following letter to the Daily Pilot, hopefully to be presented to their readers as a commentary before the upcoming election.  It, apparently, did not make the cut.  I don't know why... such is life.  We're running out of time, so I thought it was too important to let the election go by without presenting you with my thoughts.  Here's what I wrote.



The past several months have been very trying times for all of us, but for those elected leaders who have had to deal with the results of the COVID-19 pandemic, the related economic crisis and the social unrest that has rocked our country, it has been especially difficult.  These are uncharted waters for most of them.  That’s why I, as a 47 year Costa Mesa resident and lifelong Republican, have been so pleased with the actions of my current elected leaders in my city.

Our seven-member city council - two, Allan Mansoor and Sandy Genis are conservative Republicans - has pleasantly surprised me.  Mayor Katrina Foley, Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens and the three new young members - Arlis Reynolds, Andrea Marr and Manuel Chavez - have not reacted the way the liberal stereotype says they should.  They have demonstrated they are NOT “tax and spend” liberals.  Quite the contrary -  they have demonstrated they are concerned residents - true servant/leaders - who have charted a path for our city during these very difficult times that has proven to be wise and effective - and conservative.

Our City Council has been ahead of the curve on all the challenges facing municipal governments.  They have crafted rules and regulations that kept the wheels from coming off during these multiple crises.  Along with the excellent City Manager, Lori Ann Farrell Harrison and a cadre of outstanding city staff directors, they have taken on tough challenges and worked through them.  They have negotiated necessary concessions with all the employee bargaining units, trimmed staff where required, furloughed others and made other cuts in an attempt to balance costs with the unknown impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on revenues.

Recently, during a meeting of the Finance and Pension Advisory Committee meeting - those smart folks who volunteer to study complex finance issues and advise the City Council - heard from Finance Director Carol Molina that the catastrophic budget shortfall that had been feared last April has not materialized. In fact, the latest assessment of our finances shows that the City of Costa Mesa ended the fiscal year 19/20 with a small, quarter million dollar surplus instead of the potential $28 million shortfall.  This is great news and reflects the diligence of the leadership of this city - trimming costs where possible to meet reduced revenue projections.  However, lies about this fantastic accomplishment have permeated the internet, posted by rabid opponents of the current council majority.  

As we go to the polls between now and November 3rd - many of us have already voted - I think it’s important to recognize that our current city leadership has behaved, not as partisans, but as true servant leaders, doing the best they can for the residents and businesses in this city under circumstances no previous council had ever faced.  Because the future is still fuzzy, it seems to not be the time to changes horses in the middle of this pandemic stream.  Through their wisdom, foresight and tireless leadership Katrina Foley and John Stephens have earned the right to continue to serve you on the City Council.  Please consider that as you cast your ballots.

(If you wish to choose to comment on this you must migrate to my Facebook page.  The comments feature on this blog has been disabled.)

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Saturday, September 26, 2020



Early in the life of this blog, on May 9, 2006, I posted this entry.  Today I re-post it for your consideration.  My thoughts back then seem very relevant today. 


Since the campaign season looms on the horizon, it's time for us to begin considering what the next few months hold for us as a covey of candidates start jockeying for position in the race for our votes in November. Of course, opinions differ on just what constitutes a good candidate for city government. Each of us, based on our background, bias and expectations, may have a different take on that subject.

I suspect most of us in Costa Mesa would just like to have people on the city council we can trust, who are willing to work hard on important issues and calmly debate them with their peers to do the best job possible for all residents of the community. We will likely gravitate toward candidates who share our values and goals for the future of our city.

As I consider candidates who will vie for my vote I use a kind of mental template against which I compare their qualifications. My template presently includes the following characteristics, not necessarily in order of importance:

INTELLIGENCE - I want a candidate with the intellectual capacity to understand the complex issues that will come before the council. That doesn't mean any candidate must be an "expert" in municipal government - we have an excellent city staff to help them navigate through the process. It does mean that any candidate I will consider must have demonstrated, either through academic achievement or professional accomplishment or both, that he or she has sufficient gray matter to do the job.

LEADERSHIP - I want a candidate with proven leadership experience. This doesn't necessarily mean military leadership, although that would be acceptable. Heck, in recent months a little combat command experience might have come in handy. I want a person to whom others look for guidance and direction. I want a person who has demonstrated the skills necessary to guide the discussion of complex and controversial issues and arbitrate resolutions.

ENERGY - I want a candidate with the energy and stamina to do the job. That doesn't necessarily mean youth. I wouldn't consider a young person based simply on age - just as I wouldn't discount an older person for the same reason. I want a person who has shown, through recent accomplishments, that there's sufficient fuel in the tank and horsepower under the hood to take on the tasks ahead.

VOLUNTEER SPIRIT- I want a candidate who feels our city is important and has demonstrated, through significant community involvement, a willingness to make it even better by volunteering time and energy to worthy causes.

VISION - I want a candidate who shares my vision for the future of this city. We don't have to agree on everything, but I want a person on the council who shares my core beliefs and has the skill to prioritize the challenges ahead so they can be met with success. I want a candidate who understands that Costa Mesa is not an island - it's part of a broader regional entity, the needs of which must be considered as critical issues are debated. I want a candidate who has a vision to lead this city into the future, not permit it to regress by espousing half-century old philosophies on social issues and pandering to the darkest side of a few people in this town.

COMPASSION - I want a candidate who wants to make our city a place for anyone willing to work hard and contribute to our society, regardless of ethnicity or religion. I want a candidate who will repudiate those who advocate exclusion of groups because of race or national origin.

EVEN-HANDEDNESS - I want a candidate who is willing to listen to all residents with courtesy and compassion and who will try to negotiate each issue to a fair, just conclusion for all residents, not just a vocal few.

MATURITY - I want a candidate who has the maturity to lead our city of well over 100,000 souls into the next decade. Typically, this maturity comes from time spent in the trenches, learning from experience. It's highly unlikely that I will feel comfortable entrusting the future of our city to the whims of the youth among us - those with the attention span of a gnat.

That's my list - at least part of it. I'm sure other elements will be added as we begin to see who the real candidates will be this year. I'll leave it to create your own, personal list and to do the homework necessary to make an informed choice in November.

Thursday, September 03, 2020


For the past few months our nation has been racked by violence unseen for a half-century.  The deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers has ignited demonstrations, riots, looting, arson and murder to the point where many Americans wonder what has happened to their country, and what the future holds.  The demonstrations in the name of men -  convicted criminals - who were apprehended for yet another crime and refused to follow the instructions of police officers on the scene and subsequently died as a result of their belligerence are, at best, misguided and, most likely, politically motivated by well-funded anarchists.

At the same time the deaths of police officers of all races have gone relatively unnoticed.  Nobody will paint a wall in their city with their likeness even though they gave their life to protect the citizens of that city.  Nobody will thank the officers responding to the riots for trying to maintain peace while not receiving support from their local or state officials.  Nobody will explain why they were ordered to abandon a police station to rioters who burned it to the ground.  Nobody will thank them for dodging bricks, rocks, bottles of water and condoms filled with feces as they try to protect lives and property.  Nobody is marching in their memory.  It tears my heart out.

Through this all the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department have followed their training and their leadership and maintained relative calm throughout our city.  Regardless the number of people at demonstrations, the men and women of the CMPD have stepped up, held their ground and used outstanding judgment to resolve the issues.  The "law" would have permitted them to approach these situations much more aggressively - to issue citations, book violators, etc.  Instead, they choose, generally, to be the face of calm authority.  They chose to advise the demonstrators of the rules and encouraged them to follow them.  In most cases that mature approach worked.

I have been honored to know many members of the CMPD and their leadership.  I am proud to say the I'm personal friends with many of them and know what it takes for a law enforcement family to survive and thrive.  I know a little of the history of the organization and the trail of good men who have led it - and some who were not so good.  As a long-term resident I am proud of the leadership over the years that was forward-thinking - the A.B.L.E. helicopter program certainly comes to mind.  I'm proud that, for many years, the CMPD was the go-to place to work for good cops.  I took the photo at the bottom at the 60th anniversary celebration a few years ago.
We don't know what the next couple months hold for us as the rhetoric ramps up in anticipation of the November 3rd elections.  We don't know how much the Trump/Biden rancor will spill over into local races.  We don't know whether we will see more boneheads chanting at Mayor Katrina Foley from her driveway, as has been done at least 3 times as I write this.  We don't know whether this tactic - by imported, well-funded outsiders intent on impacting our elections - will be expanded to the front lawns of other elected leaders or the steps of City Hall.  We don't know if the demonstrations in our city will degenerate into the kind of things we've seen in Seattle, Portland, Kenosha and other cities.

What we DO KNOW is that the men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department will continue to do their job to keep us safe.  Despite being understaffed by at least 20%, despite having a city leadership in recent years past that despised the men and women of the CMPD and did everything they could to cripple and discourage their members and despite having had leadership changes over the past couple decades that hampered their effectiveness, we know they will honor their motto to "protect and serve" us.  We know the current CMPD leadership is strong and supportive.  We know the current city leadership supports the CMPD 100% and, as budget constraints permit, will recognize that support in a more tangible way.  I just want them all to know that we appreciate them and support them... and to say THANK YOU for strapping on that belt, pinning on that badge and and honoring their oath of office.

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Sunday, August 30, 2020


Ever since he declared himself a candidate for Mayor of Costa Mesa earlier this year I have been attempting to have a conversation with Quentin Pullen - unsuccessfully.  I've reached out several times and, in fairness to him, I told him from the beginning that I was voting for Mayor Katrina Foley, but was eager to hear his ideas about what he thinks it takes to be the mayor of this city.  It's very possible he decided he had nothing to gain by chatting with me.  I get that.

Mr. Pullen is a Marine veteran, a trainer who markets himself as "Coach Q" and tells us he's a long-term Costa Mesa resident who has lived in several neighborhoods throughout the city.  His Facebook page is nice and he's produced a bunch of YouTube videos superficially speaking about specific issues in our city.  He also has a bunch of nice endorsement videos by friends.  It's a nice touch.

As I told him in my last communication with him, I'm very curious about what he, as a black man in a city with fewer than 2% black population and considering the current incendiary racial atmosphere in our country, hoped to accomplished as Mayor of Costa Mesa - specifically.  I want to know what he thinks are the most pressing issues in our city in his order of priority.  I want to know what his ideas are about solutions to those problems.  We get no clue from his website nor his videos.

I want to know what his views on our homelessness issue.  Does he agree with the tactics the current council has taken to resolve it?  If not, what are his ideas?

How does he feel about the management of the COVID-19 pandemic by our current council? Is it good, bad or somewhere in between?  What would he do differently?

The COVID-19 pandemic created a tremendous economic problem for our city and every other city.  What are his thoughts on this issue?  He tells us in one of his videos that he has not been able to operate his business since March of this year.  How has he managed to survive?  What does he want the city to do that it has not done?

In one of his videos he addresses the need for more housing, but seems to be unaware of recent efforts to provide it and of the state mandate to produce nearly 12,000 more housing units in the very near future.  What are his plans for solving this issue?

Because he displays a huge Black Lives Matter banner in his garage workout studio I presume he is sympathetic to that organization.  I very much wanted to talk with him about that, to get a sense of just why he supports it and how that supportive feeling might affect his performance as Mayor of my city.  I want to know how he feels about the ongoing demonstrations and riots taking place in the name of that organization around the country.  I want to know how he feels about the societal unrest, and what, as mayor, he thinks he can do to manage it should it become an issue in our town.

Since he tells us that he is neither a Democrat nor a Republican - he says he's an American - I find myself wondering how he plans to carve out alliances as one vote on a seven-member city council?  Yes, the council is supposed to be non-partisan, but that ship sailed two decades ago when Chris Steel and Allan Mansoor were first elected and partisanship was amplified during the Jim Righeimer/Steve Mensinger era.  I want to know what kind of a consensus-builder he is.

Based only on the little I know about Quentin Pullen I think I would like him.  I think he's probably sincere about wanting to help our city.  However, it's unclear that he really understands the complexity of municipal governance and what kind of negotiations are necessary to accomplish things - even if he has them clearly defined.  I fear he's just the latest in a long line of well-intentioned residents who want to "do something", but who don't take the time to study and grasp the issues.  I'm sorry he has chosen to not chat with me.  Perhaps he will address these issues for the voters to see... somewhere.

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Sunday, August 16, 2020


Yes, there are more races we should address as the 2020 campaign season has now launched - and who really knows what THAT means?  I sure don't!  Are we going to have candidate forums? Are we going to have Zoom debates?  Are we just going to close our eyes and stab at our ballots, then mail them in? Will President Trump emasculate the United States Postal Service so our votes won't make it to the Registrar?  Anyhow, there are more races to be discussed and I'm going to give you my take, early in the season, for whatever it's worth.  HERE is a link to the page on the OC Registrar of Voters web page that gives you some info on each of the following candidates.

As most know, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District was extorted, just as the City of Costa Mesa and many other municipal entities were, into voting by district.  That required creating districts, then staggering the elections for those districts.  And, of course, the district boundaries are similar, but not the same, as the City boundaries or those of other districts that operate within Costa Mesa.  Yeah, confusion reigns.  This time around the CMSD has two seats being contested.  I'll address each of those individually.

This seat, is currently held by long, long time incumbent JAMES FERRYMAN, a man with a very long history of service to our community, including his tour as one of the strong leaders of the CMSD.  He would be my choice, hands down, if I could vote in this race.  He is challenged by BRETT ECKLES, a man with a youth sports orientation and a strong allegiance to the former political regime led by Jim Righeimer and Steve Mensinger.  Two years ago he ran against Andrea Marr for the 2nd District City Council seat and was soundly trounced by her.  I suspect that was because she brought such strong academic and leadership credentials to the race AND he carried the baggage of that previous administration.  He has not lost that baggage and Jim Ferryman has too much experience and leadership to be tossed aside.  Jim Ferryman is far and away the best choice.

In this race we have a similar situation.  ART PERRY is a long time community leader and educator.  His experience on the CMSD board has contributed to it being one of the most highly-regarded special districts in Orange County, if not the state.  Under the leadership of men like Art Perry and Jim Ferryman the CMSD has shown just how well such an organization can be run - with efficiency and fiscal responsibility.  Art Perry would be my guy in this race.  He is challenged by MICHELLE FIGUEREDO-WILSON, a woman with zero municipal experience.  She also challenged for a seat on the City Council two years ago, and, despite serious support from the OC GOP hierarchy, was soundly whipped by young newcomer Manuel Chavez.  She gained only 709 votes in that election.  She brings nothing to the table - to academic credentials nor demonstrated leadership experience.  She is a constant complainer via the social media sites and is closely allied with the above-mentioned Righeimer/Mensinger cabal.  Nope.. Art Perry's experience and long-time dedication to our community make him the easy choice in this race.

It's interesting that, although there are three seats up for grabs, only one will be contested.  The seats held by incumbents FRED BOCKMILLER and MARICE DE PASAQUALE will not be contested - nobody stepped up to challenge them.  However, the Division 2 seat held by incumbent JAMES R. FISLER is being contested.  He is being challenged by newcomer, but home-town boy, ADAM C. ERETH, a member of the iconic Perry clan in town.  He brings an exceptional academic and work background to this race and will be a very refreshing replacement for the onerous Righeimer/Mensinger sycophant, Fisler.  I've watched Fisler over the years and have come away singularly unimpressed with his tours on various commissions and committees.  He's a politician who brings no expertise to any assignment.  I expect this will be a tough race - Fisler is well-connected in that part of town - but Ereth brings a special new kind of energy to this race and would certainly be a breath of fresh air on that board.  If I could vote in this race Adam Ereth would be my guy.

There are several seats on this board being contested this time around, but only one with a local connection.

This race will be hotly-contested by an interesting mix of people.  There are two people about which I know absolutely nothing about - CHRISTOPHER GANIERE and DANA M. REED.  They apparently have no prior public service experience and will not get my vote.

Mesa Water District manager STACY LYNNE TAYLOR  has a strong Public Relations background at Mesa Water.  I've met her and don't dislike her, but I will not consider her because there is a much stronger candidate on the ballot and she is one more member of the Mesa Water power-hungry hierarchy trying to spread it's tentacles throughout the regional water management infrastructure.

Next is re-tread and termed out Costa Mesa Councilman ALLAN MANSOOR - a guy looking for another public trough to which he can belly-up.  Right up front, I am NOT a Mansoor fan.  Although he is a multi-term councilman, his times on the council were "distinguished" only by his anti-immigrant positions - he wanted to turn every Costa Mesa police officer into an ICE officer, for example.  He was named as an honorary "Minuteman" by the anti-immigrant leader, Jim Gilchrist, for goodness sake!  He has no record of accomplishment here - only divisiveness - or in the California State Assembly seat he held before returning to local politics.  He has been a willing pawn for the local OC GOP power brokers and brings nothing - no demonstrated leadership at any level, no strong academic credentials, no technical expertise, zero - to this particular race.  I strongly suspect that the only thing he knows about water is when he admiringly goes "ooohhh" as he watches it swirl around the toilet bowl when he flushes it.  The last time he ran for public office was two years ago when he ran, as a seated councilman and former mayor,  for the District 5 council seat.  He was crushed by newcomer Arlis Reynolds - making it clear that his neighbors knew him and rejected his brand of politics.  I suspect that will happen in this race, too.

Which brings us to the final person on the ballot - my friend and neighbor, KARL SECKEL.  Notwithstanding the fact that he lives in my neighborhood and I've gotten to know him over the past several years, as an old resume-reader for decades I can tell you that he brings a nearly perfect background for this job.  He has worked for MWDOC for nearly 4 decades and has an outstanding academic, technical and management background for this assignment.  He will retire the end of this year and his presence on this board will provide an extraordinary level of continuity of technical and professional leadership.  He is endorsed by the incumbent, Joan Finnegan.  This is an easy call for me -   Karl Seckel will enthusiastically get my vote.

Maybe next time.  I know nothing about any of the candidates except one.  So, I'll try to do my homework and get back to you - maybe I'll actually read Steve Smith's blog! :-)

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Friday, August 07, 2020


I know... I'm supposed to be retired, but this issue is just too darn important to remain mute.  This local election - November 3, 2020 - will be the second time Costa Mesa elects a mayor by direct election AND it will be the first time that council members will be selected directly by the voters in voting districts 1, 2 and 6.

So, I thought it might be appropriate to give you my take as we begin this campaign season - one that will be unlike any other in City history.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic it is highly unlikely that any kind of face-to-face candidate forums will be conducted.  I wonder if there will be creativity shown and Zoom-style forums be attempted?  Right now, my opinion is that the City should sponsor forums of some type.  Perhaps they could be conducted the same way council and commission meetings are done using CMTV as the platform and retained on the CMTV YouTube site.

So, with only the information I have available to me via the completion of ballot statements and the ballot designations for each of those candidates who have qualified for the ballot - plus my own personal knowledge from observations of incumbent and former council members - I'm going to give you my take.  You can agree, disagree, or none of the above, but it's a place to start.  Incidentally, you can view each of the aforementioned official forms by going to the city page, HERE.

So, let's take each of the four races to be contested in order and I'll give you my opinion of each candidate.  I'll go in the order they appear on that page I linked to above to make it easier for you to bounce back and forth if you choose to do so.

Disclosure:  Katrina Foley is a personal friend.  I've known her for two decades and have had a chance to watch her in many roles in which she served our community.  I have not always agreed with her, but I have always admired her intelligence, energy, organizational and oratorical skills and her unceasing willingness to serve our community.
She is the incumbent and the first directly-elected mayor in Costa Mesa history.  In her race two years ago she brought a wealth of experience as a council member (including a tour as mayor a year earlier), Planning Commissioner and Trustee on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.  She has often been at odds with the OC GOP power brokers that have run the city in the recent past.  She had been chosen mayor by her peers on the council, then de-frocked a year before the last election and replaced by multi-term council member, former mayor (and current candidate) Sandra Genis, the woman who was a co-conspirator in Foley's ouster.  In the last election Foley crushed Genis, setting the tone for a sea change mandated by the voters in the way Costa Mesa is governed.  Awkwardly, Genis remained on the council and her term expires with this election.  Foley's performance and leadership during the triple-crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse and the nation-wide plague of civil unrest, has been outstanding.  She and Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens set the pace for the council and staff, all of whom have done an exemplary job of managing these issues, even though often facing painful choices.  It will come as no surprise to learn that I will enthusiastically support Katrina Foley for mayor in this election.

Melone, whom I refer to as "Dog Park Al Melone", is a perennial also-ran and brings nothing to the race except for a love of dogs.  He will suck up a few votes, but really shouldn't get any.

Pullen is a new guy on the political scene.  I had never heard of him until he pulled his papers.  Since then he has become a Facebook friend and I've learned a little bit about him.  He's a fitness trainer and former Marine.  If being on the City Council included feats of strength - tug-of-war, for example - he might be my guy.  But it does not, and he is not.  I've asked him just why he is running and he told me he wants "change", but was unable to come up with a single thing he wanted to change.  He seems like a well-intentioned good guy and, based on the huge banner he has in his garage gym, a supporter of Black Lives Matter.

Genis, as mentioned above, is a multi-term council member who's service to our city stretches back three decades.  She's a land planner by profession and has a long history of being on the right side of issues - until recently.  When she participated in the ouster of Foley as mayor - the first time in our history that a sitting mayor was voted out by her peers - it was a purely partisan move.  This makes her claim on her ballot statement of being a "non-partisan" candidate ring hollow.  I thought it was interesting that, even though she's been a fixture on the Costa Mesa political scene for 3 decades, she apparently felt it was necessary to tell us on her disclosure form that she was a "female".  Curious.  During her recent tour on the council, when she and Allan Mansoor have often represented a minority view, she has been an obstructionist on many important issues.  Her disjointed, long-winded near-filibuster rants during discussions of important issues have contributed to many meetings running very long.  She now seems unable, or unwilling, to concisely craft her opinion.  Although she still has a cadre of supporters in the city, she will not get any support from me.

Wendy Leece has also served our community on the City Council and as a Trustee on the NMUSD Board.  I was not a Wendy Leece fan many years ago, when she ran as a Republican ticket with Allan Mansoor.  A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and she was misused, ignored and abused by the OC GOP over those years.  As far as I know she's still a Republican, but probably painfully so.  When I heard she was running I contacted her to find out why, since she has been a supporter of Foley in the past.  She told me she wanted to give the voters a choice.  When I pressed her about what kind a choice she meant, she implied a choice other than Foley and Genis.  Well, she gave me no clue about what she would change - except maybe she is unhappy with the current mask rules because it hampers her exercise of her religious services.  Anyhow, much as I like and admire Wendy for her service to our community, she will NOT get any support from me.

Another disclosure.  John Stephens is a friend.
Stephens is the current Mayor Pro Tem on our City Council.  He and Katrina Foley make a strong team and have provided leadership for the newer council members over the past couple years.  His district is a hotbed of supporters for the previous regime, so this race could be interesting.  He has demonstrated a steady hand during his tour on the council.  He, like Foley, is a lawyer by profession and those skills are demonstrated frequently as he helps navigate complex issues from the dais.  He is a smart guy with skill in building consensus - something essential during these very troubled times. If I could vote in District 1 John Stephens would certainly be my choice.  His skills and experience are far and away superior to his two challengers.

Harper is a familiar name to some.  He has served the city as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner with no distinction and has also served on the Finance Committee and on youth sports groups.  He is tightly aligned with the former GOP regime and will certainly get support from those folks.  I watched him while he was on the Parks and Recreation Commission and seldom did he contribute anything to discussions on those issues.  Even if Stephens was not in this race he would not be my recommendation.

He is also a new name - I'd never heard of him before he filed for this position.  He identifies himself as an ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE CONSULTANT - whatever that is.  He apparently works for Target Corporation.  We have little information about him.  We are unaware if he has had any kind of involvement in civic activities in our city in the past.

Chapman describes himself as a PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT with 11 years experience.  We do know he's the darling of the OC GOP.  I know very little about him, although I did see him and his husband, a former Episcopal Pastor, speak before the city council back when we actually had meetings at the Senior Center.  I expect he will get lots of support from the OC GOP in this race.  He would not be my choice if I could vote in this district.

He, also, is a new guy on the political scene.  In contrast to Chapman, he describes himself as a "boots-on-the-ground" kind of guy with strong family values.  He's a 40 year resident of Costa Mesa with a very strong, lengthy background in labor organizations.  He also is now a Facebook friend, so I've learned a little bit about him - we apparently share a love for off-road activities. If I could vote in District 2 he would likely get my vote, but I'd like to see how he handles interaction in the form of forums, etc.  I have no way of measuring his knowledge of civic affairs yet.

He's a retired engineer, active in the Costa Mesa Historical Preservation Committee and also served on the Senior Commission.  He occasionally speaks before the City Council on issues related to those activities.  He seems like a good guy, but, in my opinion, does not bring the strength, energy nor awareness of important issues to be taken seriously as a candidate.

This race will have four candidates - two potential contenders failed to qualify today.
This woman is also a brand new face in local politics.  She says she's a wife, mother of two children and a wellness coach.  I see nothing in her background to tell us that she has a clue about important municipal issues.  She may be a very nice woman, but she is the weakest candidate, by far, in this race.

Another disclosure: Jeff Harlan is my friend.
Harlan is currently the Vice Chair of the Planning Commission, a lawyer with a strong background in land use issues.  His experience on the City Council will be invaluable at a time when the State expects us to create housing opportunities out of whole cloth.  Over the years I've had a chance to watch him in action.  He's a very smart, very steady guy who makes good, thoughtful, well-reasoned comments every time he speaks.  He is far and away the best candidate in this race.  No other candidate comes close to bringing the skills he has to the council seat for District 6.  He will get my vote.

He is another person about whom not much is known.  He describes himself as a NURSE MANAGER and a Mental Health Board-Certified RN.  I would probably like him, but I can see nothing in his background that prepares him for a seat on the council, even though it appears he has a job for which we critically need good management.  He will not get my vote.

Last, and in my opinion least, is this man.  He's a multi-time candidate who, in years past, apparently had trouble with his identity.  At one time his signs said "Vote for Lee", apparently going after our small Asian community vote.  He also attempted to use his Latino heritage to appeal to our burgeoning Latino population - and failed miserably.  In his ballot statement he fails to mention Sober Living issues as problems with which we should deal - perhaps because he has been snuggled up to those folks for years.  I've had a chance to watch him on the various commission and committee assignments he's held and came away completely unimpressed.  He seemed to be having difficulty crafting a cogent thought.  He has never been a good candidate for a City Council seat and, now that his neighbors - those who know him best - will have a chance to address him specifically as a representative for our neighborhood, I expect him to finish well down the ballot again.

So, there you have it... The opinion, at the very beginning of this race, of an old guy with too much time on his hands, but who actually does still pay attention.  You can weigh these opinions for whatever you feel they are worth.  I do encourage you to click on that link above to read the statements by each candidate - the Ballot Statement and Disclosure Statement.  If you choose to comment, one way or the other, you will have to migrate back to my Facebook page to do so.  I no longer accept comments on this blog.  I get two votes this time around - for Mayor and for District 6. Fortunately for me, those races are easy calls.  I will vote for KATRINA FOLEY and JEFFREY HARLAN.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2020


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.

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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.

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…

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”?

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 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!  

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!  

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.  

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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