Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blogs, As Viewed By The Wall Street Journal

On December 20th, 2006, Joseph Rago, an assistant editorial features editor at The Wall Street Journal, wrote a commentary in that fine newspaper entitled "The Blog Mob". In his piece the writer addresses the evolution of blogs (like this one, perhaps) in very critical terms. No surprise there, since the blogosphere has been nibbling off pieces of the print media's turf for some time now.

Rago begins by acknowledging the potential of internet-based communications, saying "The ascendancy of Internet technology did bring with it innovations. Information is more conveniently disseminated, and there's more of it, because anybody can chip in." He goes on to compare it to the MSM (mainstream media).

When addressing blogs as journalism he makes the following indictment: "
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps." He then suggests that blogs have more success as purveyors of opinion and commentary. However, he says the larger problem with blogs is quality. To quote him once again, "Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling."

Because the technology on which they ride provides an opportunity for immediacy, Rago says, "The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now." Rather than providing a tool for resolution of divisive issues, he says it appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior. He goes on to equate a quotation attributed to Joseph Conrad on his judgment of newspapering - "written by fools to be read by imbeciles" - to the world of blogmania, too.

Rago closes his long argument with the following paragraph: "Of course, once a technosocial force like the blog is loosed on the world, it does not go away because some find it undesirable. So grieving over the lost establishment is pointless, and kind of sad. But democracy does not work well, so to speak, without checks and balances. And in acceding so easily to the imperatives of the Internet, we've allowed decay to pass for progress."

If all this rings a bell, it should. I think Mr. Rago has hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. One of the reasons, for example, that I created this blog was to bypass the editorial process I encountered in the local newspapers. I've readily acknowledge that the editors almost always made my contributions better, but it was very frustrating to have one's work disemboweled as was the case with one recent submission to the Daily Pilot. As those of you who have read both my commentaries published in the local newspapers and these blog entries certainly know, I'm less patient with the blog. I readily admit it. There's a certain feeling of liberation - and apprehension, quite honestly - to know that once you "publish" the blog it's out there for all to read, typos and marginal grammar included.

Since creating A Bubbling Cauldron eighteen months ago I've become a frequent reader of many other blogs, most of which have an Orange County orientation. Some, published by local newspapers, tend to be slightly boring. Others are provocative and, many times, frustrating as I try to follow the train of thought of those "commenting" anonymously on a particular posting. Some degenerate into virtual school yard squabbles in hyperspace, with name calling and invective used much too frequently. Personally, I like the opportunity to entertain rebuttals and publish them or not, depending on my mood or the language used by the commentator.

I suspect many of us who author blogs get swept up into the process and think that our opinions are actually important to many people. The fact is, one item published in the local newspapers reaches many more readers and is, therefore, potentially much more influential in the arena of ideas than this feeble effort, for example.

I think blogging has a place in our society today. I don't think it has matured enough to be viewed as much more than a hyperlink megaphone, allowing the authors to crank up the volume and bellow into the wind. Some authors have it figured out, though, and produce thoughtful, well-researched snippets of information and opinion. Most, however, seem much less disciplined and appear willing to bellow, bore and berate instead of insightfully, intelligently inform.

So, if you're into cyber-shouting matches, blogging is the thing for you. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just glad you're here., reading what I write and responding to it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Anticipating Christmas

Can your hear them? Last night I thought I heard, way off in the distance, the sound of sleigh bells. It might be my imagination, but I'm almost positive I heard them. Maybe I'm just getting too wrapped up in this "holiday" thing. Or, maybe it's just the sound of electric meters spinning all over town.

I love Christmastime. It's an interesting time for a guy who spends a large part of his life observing the people around him. For example, harried folks bustling around in the strip malls and shopping centers trying to find just the right present will still take the time to say "thank you" when you hold the door for them. Of course, those same people will dash out to their cars, take off - dialing their cell phones - and become that wild-eyed character from the Goofy cartoon they show at traffic school.

I love the our neighborhood cookie exchange, which brings everyone in our little slice of heaven together on a pre-Christmas afternoon to swap confections, sip hot cider and re-kindle acquaintances. It's a great time to meet those "new" neighbors - the ones who moved in eight months ago. I love the fact that little kids arrive ready to chow down the cookies by the fistful. I love the fact that the teenagers will take an hour out from their video games, cell phones and other distractions to actually mingle and speak with us geezers from the neighborhood. I love to see the bright, young people home from college and hear their solutions to all the world's problems. Ah, the exuberance of youth...

This time of the year can also be one of transition. For example, on the day of our cookie exchange - when neighbors meet to swap recipes, catch up on lives and count heads - one of our newest neighbors celebrated her first birthday and, on the same day, one of our long-time neighbors passed away peacefully in her sleep in her home a couple doors away... Transitions...

I love the holiday parties, like the one we attended in our neighborhood last weekend after the cookie exchange. Our neighbor's home was so beautifully decorated inside that it could, and should, have been a feature piece in a magazine. We shared good food, good friends and the real holiday spirit.

Do you like the picture at the top of this column? It's a small piece of our neighbor's Christmas Tree, which she only decorates every other year. This baby is ten feet tall, has something like 3600 light bulbs and more than 1,000 ornaments on it! It must be plugged into two separate electrical circuits or it will blow the panel! Her whole house is decorated for the season and is wonderful to behold. It takes her two weeks to decorate the tree and another two weeks to put it all away... but it's worth it.

I love the holiday cards that have been flowing into our mail box for the past several weeks, building to a crescendo this week. I love seeing photos of old friends and their growing families that sometimes accompany their cards. I love receiving family Christmas letters - yes, I do! I read every word on every one and am grateful that our friends want us to know about every nuance of their lives. I like knowing that, even if it's only when they put a mailing label on an envelope and apply the postage stamp, our friends think about us at this time of the year.

I love giving gifts, and especially this time of the year. I love the process of trying to find just the right gift and watching the reaction when it's opened. I love the looks of surprise and curiosity when the recipient tries to figure out what the heck would posses someone to buy "this"!

I love what this season does to my sweet and patient wife, with whom I will celebrate the 40th anniversary of our very first date on New Year's Eve. I love how she prepares for the house full of folks who will share this holiday with us. I love the care with which she decorates our home, trying to get it to look "just right". I love how she is unfazed by the fact that, if it drizzles on the day of our celebration making our back yard unusable, we'll have standing room only in the house, with people juggling brunch plates and drinks while playing musical chairs for the few seats available.

I love the curious paradox of Christmas in southern California, where we
sit, wearing Reyn-Spooner shirts, walking shorts and sandals, and open cards depicting snowy scenes, with horse-drawn sleighs and people bundled up against the cold. I love the fact that we can sit on the beach, soaking up the sun, and turn around to see snow on the local mountains. I love the fact that, this time of the year, kids can surf in the morning and snowboard in the afternoon.

The Costa Mesa City Council gave itself, and us, a nice Christmas present - they took the rest of the month off. Their absence gives me an opportunity to thank all of you who read this blog for your continuing interest and comments. Some of you don't agree with some of the things I write here, but that's OK. You don't necessarily have to agree with me, although I prefer that you did. To those of you who like what you read here, I'm happy to provide a little joy - and information - in your lives.

I'm grateful to those of you who care enough to occasionally write a comment. I'm even grateful to those of you who slide right up to the edge of bad taste, but stop short of that line. Of course, there have been a few who just blasted right past that line and found their comments rejected. That's OK, too... it's my blog, so we'll follow my rules.

I doubt there will be many new entries on this blog over the holidays. I'm going to embrace the spirit of the season to try to get into a positive frame of mind for the upcoming year. I'm hoping I've been wrong about the new majority on the city council, and that they will rule Costa Mesa with an even hand and wisdom not previously displayed. (Yes, I'm keeping a straight face when I type those words.)

On this first day of winter, I want to wish each of you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays. I hope Santa fills your every wish.

So, until the urge moves me to post another entry, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR from A Bubbling Cauldron. May this holiday season find you surrounded by those you love, with joy in your heart.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Headmaster Sets The Curriculum

Well, I see our old buddy, Your Neighbor, is going to make it easy for the new majority. In his most recent post he sets out the curriculum for his "students" - the study guide he expects them to follow - or else. Or else they might suffer the fate of Chris Steel and not be re-elected.

In his manifesto, which he cobbled together from previous rants, The Headmaster lists eight items that he expects the council to address, and pronto. Otherwise, he'll give them a sharp swat across the knuckles with his ruler, or worse.

Here's his curriculum:

1 - 55 Freeway - He wants a tunnel so all that nasty beach traffic driving through "downtown" won't see the light of day until they pop out at the Newport Beach border. Funny, I'd have thought he might want to try to find a way to attract the drivers of those 100,000+ cars each day into Triangle Square and other businesses in downtown instead of hiding opportunities for commerce from potential customers. Nah, that makes too much sense.

2 - John Wayne Airport - Now he wants an alternative for John Wayne Airport! Sorry, pal, that flight has already departed. We basically told Newport Beach "You're on your own" when they wanted an airport at El Toro - the logical place. I agree that Costa Mesa is going to suffer greatly as John Wayne continues to grow - and it will.

3 - Ocean - He wants it! No, not all of it, just a little dribble to call his own so his "vision" of Costa Mesa becoming a "coastal city" can come true. I suppose he would be happy if the Santa Ana River is dredged out just a little so a bait barge could float adjacent to Costa Mesa.

4 - Pollution/Bluffs - He keeps on banging that "pollution" drum, even though the South Coast AQMD ran test on the Westside at his demand and found it clean. This, and his plan to scrape the industrial uses from the bluffs, is just another scheme to attack the immigrants among us.

5 - Slums
- Another part of that plan is to "thin out" the apartments. He means plow the earth they stand on and, bingo!, all those undesirable low wage earners who live there will disappear. Read that "immigrants".

6 - Sports Fields - Ah, yes, he wants more "neighborhood" sports fields, yet kind of rejects eminent domain as an option. He suggests the city use our tax dollars to pay residential real estate prices for playing fields. I'm wondering how one would convince folks in a residential neighborhood to sell their homes to make parks. Sure smells like eminent domain to me.

7 - Newport Beach - He says we should develop a better working relationship with Newport Beach. Well, duh! It's his chosen ones who have fought against that, virtually spitting in Newport's eye at every turn. How, exactly, would he rehabilitate that relationship - come bearing gifts (like the Santa Ana Country Club, for instance)?

8 - Non-Profits - Putting this one last was pretty slick. While on the 3R Committee he manipulated the method of funding non-profits and it caused such a ruckus that he quit (or was fired). He says he wants to "reform the way tax money is doled out to non-profits so that any hint of racial or ethnic discrimination is removed." That's "improver speak" for quit giving money to anybody and, if by chance, we happen to hit a charity that supports immigrants among us, so much the better. What a transparent, heartless buffoon!

I expect to see the new majority jump to his commands and move briskly to accomplish his goals. Don't get too comfortable in your warm little homes, my friends. Soon you may see bull dozers in your neighborhood, plowing down your home and those of your neighbors to make room for a playing field or two.

I told you this was going to happen...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Leader Of The Band

Lest there be any doubt about who thinks he is providing direction for the new city council majority, one need only read the most recent offering on the blog published by a guy who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor.

He closes his pathetic little tome with a reminder to the new majority on the council that they'd better follow his lead, or else. He reminds them of "a former City Council member" - a not-too-veiled reference to the chronically inept Chris Steel - a man Your Neighbor took credit for getting elected in 2000, then got him "un-elected" in 2004 when Steel turned his back on him after he realized just what an insidious force he was in our city.

It looks like Your Neighbor feels it necessary to remind his little flock that he's in charge - the guy with all the ideas and strategy - so they'd better toe his line if they don't want to end up like Steel.

I would never defend Steel's performance as a councilman. He was hapless and incompetent, but benign. This new crew, though, is far from benign. With an unbreakable majority, they will just continue to inflict damage on our city with no way to stop them.

So, as we move into 2007, I find myself wondering how those 10,122 voters who elected Mansoor feel about having a neo-Nazi calling the shots in our city. Will they just sit quietly back while he provides the song book for the new majority as they go about expunging the Latinos from within our borders? Will they cheer these moves or cringe when they realize what they have done to this city with their votes? The 49+% of us who didn't vote for Mansoor and Leece are already seeing our fears coming to pass as the ruling troika has begun formulating plans to institutionalize the quashing of debate of important issues when they come before the city council. If they are successful, no longer will our young jailer/mayor be obliged to go through the formality of hearing divergent viewpoints on issues when he already has his mind made up - he will simply cut off the debate whenever he darn well pleases and call for a vote.

Meanwhile, Your Neighbor stands on the podium, baton in hand, ready to lead his little band of "music makers" in the destruction of our city - a city already reeling from the reputation Mansoor and his crew have inflicted on it as a bastion of intolerance.

Do you recall that I warned about your rights being trampled next? This is how it starts...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Remembering My Friend, Larry Moore

A few weeks ago Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke wrote a very moving account of the friendship between former USC basketball player Jim Sterkel and a man who celebrated their friendship by anonymously donating $5 million to the university with the proviso that the new basketball court would be called "Jim Sterkel Court" in perpetuity. Sterkel passed away several years ago following a career which included what might be called journeyman duty as a basketballer for the Trojans and a brief stint in the NBA. He went on to raise a wonderful family - including Olympic swimmer Jill Sterkel - and led an exemplary life.

I was so moved by Plaschke's story that I wrote to him to thank him for it because it reminded me of the value of true friendship. It also reminded me of my best friend, Larry Moore, who passed away three years ago, on December 19, 2003.

Some of you might recall the story of my friend - he died after spending six weeks in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in Las Vegas following a motorcycle accident on a lonely desert road. Only the fortuitous arrival of lost foreign tourists kept him from dying on the spot. Those strangers in a strange land alerted a nearby railroad work crew, who had the wisdom and training to call the Life Flight helicopter to take him to the hospital in Las Vegas.

Through his long ordeal in the hospital I was at his side. I held his power of attorney for health care, so worked with the staff making decisions to, hopefully, bring him back. Over that time he repeatedly rallied, then retreated and finally reached the point in his recovery where we began making plans for rehabilitation back in California. Sadly, before we could make that move a blood clot finally took him from us for good.

Over those many weeks in Las Vegas I sat at his bedside and recalled our lives together. We had been best friends since we were five years old. He was two weeks older than me, so we celebrated our birthdays together every year that we could throughout our lifetimes. We were closer than most brothers. My wife and I are godparents to his youngest daughter.

As teenagers Larry and I dated many of the same girls and I would sit in his room for hours as he composed songs about some of them. He recorded a few songs back in the 1960s and performed as an opening act on local television for a couple of young guys you may have heard of who were just launching their careers at that time - The Righteous Brothers.

Larry had a long and illustrious career with the Los Angeles Police Department. Most of the first half was spent, ironically, as a motorcycle officer. For the last half of that 31 year career he was the Athletic Director at the Police Academy, near Dodger Stadium. In that role he created and managed programs designed to keep the officers fit and ready for duty. He coached and participated on their water polo and swim teams for many years and played on their football team. He was on the Board of Directors of the California Police Athletic Foundation, which conducts what is now known as the Western States Police and Fire Games and also the World Police and Fire Games - second in size only to the Olympic Games as a gathering of international athletes.

He created an event he originally called the Toughest Cop Alive competition. Today, in a bow to political correctness, it is called the Toughest Competitor Alive. It is a one-day event in which competitors run, jump, swim, climb, lift weights and run an obstacle course in a pure test of speed, agility and endurance. This event is part of the national and international competitions mentioned above.

One of his crowning achievements was, with his partner, Chuck Foote, the creation of the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay - the premier event of it's kind in the world. Annually, thousands of public safety officers participate in the event - a challenge of speed and endurance. His passing preceded the 20th anniversary of the event at which an award for the most dedicated volunteer was named for him.

Larry affected many lives as he traveled the world representing the LAPD. During my vigil at his bedside I sent nightly email reports of his progress to a few friends who, as many will do, forwarded them on to others. Eventually hundreds of his friends and associates read those messages each day. Following his passing I heard from an associate of Larry's from Belgium who had been monitoring his condition through my emails while on a trip to Antarctica.

When Larry retired I attended his celebration and watched man after man stand and announce that Larry had been their best friend and share stories of their affection for him. Such was his capacity for love that many people in his life considered him their best friend.

On an overcast day at the end of 2003 I sat in a church packed to overflowing near where we grew up and heard him eulogized. The hundreds of friends, co-workers and family members heard his eldest daughter, who followed him into the Los Angeles Police Department, talk in loving terms about her father. Chuck Foote spoke of the man who was his partner for two decades with humor and love. I was asked to compress more than a half century of our lives together into a five minute speech - I failed. It's not possible to do a short-hand version of the life of such an outstanding man, so I didn't. The crowd understood. We adjourned to the cemetery where an honor guard attended him. We heard Taps played as he was laid to rest at a site adjacent to his parents, in the shade of a lovely tree. I remember that day, and the outpouring of respect and affection for him, as though it was yesterday.

I write this message today to help you remember the value of true friendship. Larry and I were best friends for 57 years and, three years after his passing, there is not a day that I don't think about him and our years together - and miss him.

We all lead busy lives, especially this time of the year. I encourage each of you to pause for a moment and think of those friends who mean so much to you. Take a moment to pick up the telephone and call to tell them how you feel. Don't reserve your expressions of friendship and love for that once-a-year holiday card.

Tell those you love how you feel. Do it now. It will be the best Christmas present they could possibly receive.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

More Mellow Mayor? Not Likely!

Our young jailer/mayor has his mug all over the Daily Pilot again today. In a piece by Alicia Robinson he is quoted as saying he doesn't plan to go further with his ill-advised ICE proposal since that agency has placed an agent in the Costa Mesa jail. He didn't say he would rescind the motion made a year ago that started this whole mess, though.

I agree with an accompanying editorial in the Daily Pilot expressing the need for our city leaders to divulge the number of alien criminals identified by the ICE agent, and their disposition. One way or the other, this is still a very tender issue throughout the community and the public deserves to be informed.

According to the article, Mansoor apparently isn't in a very conciliatory mood when it comes to the minority on the City Council. And, he dismisses criticism that he is "unfriendly" to the city's Latino community and blames ill feelings on those who fought his immigration plan - like me, I guess.

It doesn't surprise me that Mansoor doesn't plan to establish a better working relationship with the minority on the council now. I watched him at the last council meeting and at the recent study session during which the City Manager proposed some techniques to re-establish harmony on the dais. Mansoor isn't buying it. Now that he has an unshakable majority again, he doesn't have to worry about harmony. He's going to do what he wants, period!

I know some of you who read this blog disagree with my assessment. That's fine. Let's just wait a little while and see who ends up being right. Honestly, I hope you are, because if Mansoor continues on the trail he's been following for the past couple years it doesn't bode well for the city. I hope he has a change of heart and decides to include the minority views expressed by other council members during the deliberations of important issues.

However, since he was looking for ways to institutionalize the quashing of debate during the last study session, I don't think it's likely that he will change for the better. Quite the contrary, I think he will become even more tyrannical.

By the way, still no comment from our young jailer/mayor regarding the arrest of 20 people at seventeen locations in Costa Mesa during the sweep of alleged white supremacists throughout Orange County. Curious silence from a guy who says he's a real crime fighter. How do we explain this silence? I'll leave it to you to contemplate.

Well, that should put you in the old Christmas spirit. Sorry about that, but that's the way it looks from my little perch these days.

Friday, December 15, 2006

White Supremacists Snagged - Where's The CM Press?

The local media this morning reported that 57 white supremacists were arrested in sweeps throughout Orange County. The Los Angeles Times, here, and the Orange County Register, here, had basically the same story - 300 law enforcement personnel though out the county coordinated raids in several cities. Neither mentioned Costa Mesa.

However, our newspaper of record, The Daily Pilot, in a story by Michael Alexander, here, reported that 20 people were arrested in Costa Mesa as a result of raids on 17 locations. If these numbers hold up, this is big news. Nearly a third of the total number of people arrested in these sweeps around the county were snatched up in Costa Mesa. One would think any public spirited resident who professes to be pro-law enforcement would be all over this story.

However, the CM Press - a blog run by a guy who writes essays on far right-wing web sites - is curiously mute on this story. In the past he has been all over any kind of activity that might be a criminal act by the Latinos among us, but here is the biggest law enforcement sweep in my memory in our city going "unreported" by this hypocrite.

As the old saying goes, his silence speaks volumes.

And where, by the way, are the comments from our erstwhile mayor, Allan Mansoor, on this subject? In the past he's been out front whenever a Latino appears to be involved in a crime. You will certainly recall his insensitive comments following the murder of Israel Maciel a few months ago. Where is he on this one?

So, how do we interpret this silence? A cynical person might suspect that the CM Press is in support of those folks arrested, so wants to downplay it. Having read most of his essays in the past few years, he certainly does seem to be a kindred spirit to those white supremacists arrested.

This should give those 10,122 people who voted for Mansoor in the recent election some food for thought.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Is The Circus In Town?

Will somebody please tell that clown who runs the CM Press that the election is over? Will you please let him know that his sycophants won, so he doesn't have to keep flogging the folks who didn't win?

In his latest bit of tripe he, once again, bemoans the air quality in Costa Mesa, postulating that it's dirty due to the industrial uses on the Westside bluffs. Of course, that claim was investigated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District at his demand, not request, a couple years ago and was refuted.

This is just another example of this particular guy fabricating issues that will facilitate the reduction of the Latino population in our city. Every time he uses the word "improve" he means "remove", as in "remove the Latinos".

In his latest blog entry this guy says the following, " The voters of Costa Mesa gave a mandate to Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece to clean up and improve this city. Part of that mandate is to move at warp speed to revitalize the Westside and make it a nice and safe place to live--with clean air." That reference to "warp speed" should make every resident and business owner on the Westside very nervous. That tells me that he expects his chosen ones - Mansoor, Bever and Leece - to move with great speed to accomplish his goals. Of course, history shows us that Mansoor and Bever don't particularly care to follow the established rules and like to cut corners - like denying opportunities for the public to comment and cutting off other council members as they address issues.

As I've said many times in the past, you can't trust these guys, so don't turn your backs on them.

In the meantime, I hope Santa is watching so he can have the appropriate lump of coal ready for delivery to a certain home in Mesa North on December 24th. It will be the place where the owner looks very much like The Grinch. Feliz Navidad, Neighbor.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Your Neighbor" Keeps On Shoveling It

A guy who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, continues to flog the Costa Mesa Police Department in his blog. In his most recent entry today he speculates that the new police chief, Chris Shawkey, will probably not choose to live in Costa Mesa when he relocates from Arizona. He implies that if the new chief chooses to live in a neighboring city that somehow taints his authority and automatically renders him a less effective leader. What a steaming pile of manure!

This guy wouldn't be happy unless the chief decided to move his family into one of the apartments in what he refers to as the "Mendoza Slum", or somewhere deep in the bowels of the Westside. Only then, if you follow this guy's twisted logic, would our new chief be really qualified to lead his troops. More manure!

The way Your Neighbor shovels this stuff, I imagine his yard is a real garden spot. I sure wouldn't want to live downwind of him, though.

If Shawkey finds a home in Costa Mesa that he likes and can afford, that would be just dandy. If he chooses to look elsewhere, that's fine with me, too. Quite frankly, the nature of the job being what it is, I'd recommend that the chief find a place where he can relax and find some peace and quiet at the end of the day. Just because his job is virtually a 24/7 gig doesn't mean he has to sleep on a cot in the police building, for goodness sake!

I mean, can you imagine living next door to Your Neighbor, for example? In the past he's complained about some of his neighbors moving out of town. Well, can you blame them? Who would want to live next door to this guy who, apparently, spends much of his time tuned into his police scanner, listening for reports of marauding illegal aliens. When he's not busy composing one of his racist essays for publication on any number of internet sites he apparently spends much of his spare time on patrol in neighborhood parks, on the lookout for renegade soccer players.

No, I wouldn't blame Chief Shawkey if he looks for a home outside our city limits. Every person should have that right - to choose to live where they please. Except, according to Your Neighbor, people with brown skin and Hispanic surnames.

I wonder just how smart it is to keep poking the local cops with a stick the way Your Neighbor has been doing. For an alleged Mensa member, sometimes he just doesn't seem very smart.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Sore Loser" Speaks Out

Returning from a weekend out of town I found most of a commentary of mine, here, published adjacent to a nice, conciliatory editorial in the Daily Pilot, here. I say "most of" because the editors trimmed about a third of what I sent them, most likely in the interest of community harmony. That's OK, though - my point was made.

Their editorial made many excellent points, the most important of which was their observation that Mayor Mansoor and his majority should consider issues beyond their political base as they go about governing the city. Sounds good to me.

Some writers have taken exception to my post-election demeanor, accusing me of being a "sore loser". OK, I admit that I haven't taken the return of Allan Mansoor and the election of his chosen running mate, Wendy Leece, to the city council very well. The fact is, I don't think they were the best choices available to the voters. I've covered my reasons for feeling that way for several months ad nauseum.

Now, I understand the "wisdom" of extending the hand of congratulations to them and trying to make the best of a very, very bad situation - as both Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon have done. However, the first council meeting following the coronation of Mansoor and Leece proved to us that it will not only be "business as usual", but that there will be even less civility on the dais for the next two years. Mansoor has already demonstrated to us that he will be even less patient with opposing views than before and showed us that he's willing to circumvent the public process by ducking public comment on important issues.

By having Mansoor and Eric Bever re-elected to their positions as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore respectively it only affirmed what I had been saying for months - that Leece is there only to echo the opinions of the other two. Gone is Gary Monahan's savvy grasp of the process and occasional voice of reason and mediation. If Leece expresses an original thought during her tenure I will be very surprised - pleased, but surprised.

This is bad news for residents of this city, and for those folks who plan to do business here. We've already seen Mansoor and Bever attempt to micro-manage potential new developments and change the rules on others.

I have this image floating around in my head of Mansoor, Bever and Leece caucusing with their merry band of former malcontents (I say "former" because it's likely they all are happy as clams now following the election) over the holidays to chart their course for the direction of this city over the next decade. I expect they will be considering a clean sweep of the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions, backfilling the vacancies with eager members of the "improvers"- payback for those who take credit for getting them elected. I wouldn't be surprised to see one particularly controversial activist considered for another appointment now that the election is behind us. Heck, I wouldn't even be surprised to see other members of his family appointed, too.

I expect to see the same thing happen as vacancies occur on city committees, too. We've already seen Bever's penchant to try to stack the deck based on his peculiar view of life. There will be nothing to stop him now.

I will be very interested to see just how the outside influence (and money) that found it's way into the Mansoor/Leece campaign plays out. Jim Gilchrist, the Minutemob head honcho, and some of his minions have already come to Mansoor's defense in post-election letters to the editor recently published in the Daily Pilot.

Of even greater interest to me is just how brazen that certain virulent activist mentioned above will become. Based on my read of his recent blog postings and subsequent actions by our young jailer/mayor, it's clear that Mansoor is singing from the activist's songbook. It might be a coincidence, but I doubt it. Of course, they don't care what I think - or what any other resident thinks, for that matter. They have the majority, so they can - and likely will - do whatever they darn well please.

The activist in question, who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, has taken a particularly aggressive position regarding the Daily Pilot, the newspaper of record for our area. On one hand, he complains about the editors not printing his submissions, then proceeds to figuratively poke them in the eye with a stick. For the past couple weeks he's shredded the editors and publisher in his blog. If he seriously wants to be published in the Daily Pilot, wouldn't you think a more conciliatory posture might work? Of course, this relationship is nothing new. For years he's sparred with the editors and reporters of the Pilot. Ironically, he complains when the Pilot pays attention to him, then gripes when they don't print his drivel. What a buffoon! For a guy who claims to be a Mensa member, he sure can be stupid!

Speaking of the Daily Pilot, they've begun permitting comments to many of their articles in the online version. This has made for some interesting exchanges by readers. One guy recently used this facility to whine about the Pilot not printing letters to the editor he submitted. Aw, poor guy! I've had a similar experience over the years. I'm sure there are many reasons for the editors to not publish submissions - too little space; too many letters saying the same thing or, just plain bad writing. Such is life. The guy should get over it and/or start a blog so he can vent. Works for me.

Since nobody else seems to care about what's going on with our new city council following the election, I guess I'll just have to keep watching and writing. I hope you'll keep on reading and commenting. Grumpy signing off for now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Freedom - Never Forget

"Yesterday, December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Those words, spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on December 8, 1941 about the attack on Pearl Harbor, launched our country into World War II, to fight enemies in Europe and Asia and defend our freedom and way of life. Today, December 7, 2006, is the 65th anniversary of that attack.

Our world today faces similar threats to our safety and way of life. On September 11, 2001 we saw attacks on our homeland - the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers and the attack on the Pentagon - that took more American lives than the Pearl Harbor attack more than a half century ago. Since that date our leaders have been attempting to thwart the threat posed by radical factions in the Middle East, to, in their words, "fight them over there now instead of having to fight them here later."

Our country is in turmoil about the progress of the War on Terror. Political opportunists on both sides of the aisle have attempted to make political hay at the expense of the men and women in our armed forces who face an ethereal enemy every day and suffer casualties in the defense of our freedoms. Such relentless criticism is, at the very least, a distraction from the conduct of the war. At worst, it gives comfort and encouragement to those enemies who have stated their intent to destroy this country - to wipe it from the earth.

Today I ask each of you to look around you and view all the things we take for granted. We complain about traffic and the cost of fuel, but forget to be grateful for the opportunity to own a car and to travel wherever we choose in this country.

We complain about the rising cost of homes, yet forget to be grateful for the opportunity to purchase one, period.

We complain about our leaders, yet forget to be grateful for the opportunity to vote them out of office if we choose to do so.

We complain about our government and our leaders, yet forget to be grateful for the ability to do so.

Today I ask you to look at the image at the top of this page. It is the cross on Mt. Soledad, in San Diego, and the adjacent American Flag. This cross, which sits as the centerpiece of a memorial to veterans of our many wars, has been under attack for nearly two decades. To me, that attack symbolizes the attacks on our country here and afar. I took this photograph last spring during a visit to the memorial and view it frequently as a reminder of what a wonderful country this is and what we, as citizens, must do to protect it.

On this day, an anniversary of a day of "infamy", please join me as I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag:

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you for reading these pages, and for commenting on them when you are moved to do so. This is just one more freedom worth defending.

I'll leave you today with one more quotation, from a man who did as much as any other in the middle of the last century to defend our country and the freedom of the world:

Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fortress Costa Mesa

Well, that certainly didn't take long! I had speculated about how long it would take for the new city council majority to show it's intentions. It took one meeting.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting - after all the
well-deserved accolades were heaped upon termed-out councilman Gary Monahan and the tears from his send-off were barely dry - the new council majority wasted no time in showing us just how they plan to operate.

Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece were sworn in and perched on the dais, then the new majority showed us it will be business as usual by re-electing Mansoor as mayor and his glib buddy, Eric Bever as mayor pro tempore. This was an omen of things to come.

First, on an item plucked from the Consent Calendar, they debated for nearly an hour on whether or not the City of Costa Mesa should partner with the City of Santa Ana on a study funded by the OCTA regarding methods of getting residents to the MetroLink station in Santa Ana. What evolved was a clear case of Santanaphobia. The Mayor and his buddy, Bever, clearly didn't have any interest in being associated with Santa Ana on this issue - and probably not on any issue, for that matter. Their position was fueled by comments from several activists, including one particularly vitriolic guy who writes a local blog and has demonstrated his racial preferences for years. They decided not to move forward with the proposal and, as a result, may miss the opportunity for the utilization of $100,000 in OCTA funds.

It looks to me as though the new majority will continue to spit in the eye of neighboring cities to the detriment of Costa Mesa residents. They obviously intend to continue to operate this city as a stand-alone fiefdom with as little interaction and cooperation with neighboring cities as possible.

This observer came away from viewing this meeting with the impression that, with their "mandate" firmly in hand, the new majority fully intends to run roughshod over the residents of this city. The mayor, in particular, showed even less patience with differing viewpoints than in the past. He showed that he continues to be willing to quash comments by other council members - particularly when he's apparently already made up his mind.

For example, in the case of the request by Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) for permits to film two special events outside on their property this month despite the fact that they had a request for a minor conditional use permit denied by the council in the past, Mansoor very obviously had his mind made up before any kind of discussion took place. With the majority now in place without the bothersome occasional voice of mediation previously provided by Monahan, he will be hard pressed to even go through the formality of debate before calling for a vote. Does the word "dictator" sound familiar?

You will recall that I speculated about how long it would take for this crew to begin stomping on resident's rights. Last night we found out.

So, to the 10,122 voters who cast their ballots for Mansoor, I urge you to watch your back... your rights may be next.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Costa Mesa Heads Over The Brink

Well, in less than 48 hours the winners of the recent elections will be seated, new municipal officers will be elected and the new majority will take charge of Costa Mesa.

I suspect the council chambers will be filled to capacity on Tuesday, the 5th, by supporters of our young jailer/mayor and his running mate. I expect to see all of the "usual suspects" - the gaggle of "improvers" who have strutted, gloated and "rejoiced" (as one recent writer to the Daily Pilot put it) ever since November 7th, including one very controversial activist who has used his blog to bray away about what the "mandate" the Mansoor/Leece victory represents.

I won't be surprised at all to see Jim Gilchrist, the Grand Poobah of the Minuteman Mob, and some of his frothing out-of-town followers stand at the speaker's podium and praise Mansoor and Leece as "true patriots" and "brave leaders".

I also won't be surprised to see several of the folks who, for a year, have stood in opposition to the mayor and his motley crew and criticized him for his ICE plan and his tactics. It could be a very interesting evening on Tuesday.

I don't think I'll attend this particular meeting. If I'm going to up-chuck my dinner listening to fawning followers gush about their victory I'd rather do it at home.

Six months ago I looked forward to December 5th, 2006 as a date when we could, indeed, celebrate the return of thoughtful, intelligent, reasonable leadership to Costa Mesa. Sadly, that is not to be. Instead of electing leaders who have proved their dedication to this city through decades of service and demonstrated their skill any number of ways, a slim majority of voters chose to perpetuate the divisive and narrow-minded forces that have ruled this city with an iron hand for the past two years.

No, December 5th will not be a day of celebration as far as I'm concerned. I will mark it on my calendar as the day a small, angry group of people, guided by a very unsavory philosophy spewed by one twisted activist, kicked this city over the brink. I don't see a way to stop the slide.