Monday, January 29, 2007

A Breath Of Fresh Air - Then Back Into "The Swamp"

A little time away from home can do wonders for one's perspective. I spent a few days out of town last week in an area of our state that is renowned for it's beauty and less frenetic pace. It was a welcome change.

As I enjoyed the beautiful vistas and the opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the wildlife in the area, I found any thoughts of the political posturing back home being shoved way, way back in my head. I enjoyed reading the local weekly newspaper, which was filled with mostly positive news articles and columns of local importance. Oh, yes, there were some dicey issues covered, but they were done with a little softer edge than I'm used to reading back here in Costa Mesa.

The letters to the editor were generally well-conceived, thoughtful discussions of local issues with no tinge of the kind of harsh retorts we've become accustomed to reading in our local media here - the kind of things I've occasionally written, too. It was refreshing to see that adults in a community can debate issues of importance without resorting to school yard taunts, petty political ploys and attempts at character assassination. It was nice to see the debate kept at a high level, focused on the issues and not personalities.

Then I came home.

As I attempted to catch up on local events by blitzing through the accumulated newspapers and doing some online browsing, I found myself slapped back into reality. I, once again, found myself immersed in the vitriolic invective that writers to the Daily Pilot online have published as comments.

For example, last week I wrote about an article on the Youth in Government program that our young jailer/mayor and his New Majority quashed in their last council meeting. By choosing to "receive and file" the issue it effectively stopped the program in it's tracks, although the 18 bright young people from our community were already active in it and were about to elect officers last week. If no council member brings it to a study session it is gone - poof! - on the whim of a trio of petulant politicians. When I wrote about it last week there were 30 comments posted online. Today, as I type this, there are 60. We are able to read comments from some of the young people affected by this decision, some by their parents, some by those adults in our community who think this was a bad idea and many from those apologists of the mayor and his majority - including the court jester himself, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever. Unfortunately, some of the most "adult" comments were written by the children.

While I was gone the racist hypocrite over at the CM Press was busily warning us that we needed to "drain the swamp" to improve Costa Mesa. However, on Friday, January 26th, he stooped to a new low when he attempted to use the tragic death of a young Costa Mesa boy as political fodder. The young man in question, Marco Anthony Perez, died of a brain tumor on January 24th. He had been the subject of several newspaper articles and fundraising efforts in recent weeks. The CM Press made no impassioned plea for support for this young Costa Mesa resident of Latino heritage during his brief fight for his life. No, Marco Anthony Perez only became important to the CM Press in death - to be used to, once again, attempt to blame his passing on those terrible Westside industrialists! The man has absolutely no shame. It amazes me that otherwise intelligent residents of this city can follow this guy's drumbeat like a bunch of sheep.

So, I welcome myself home by taking a deep breath and waiting for the next series of boneheaded moves by our New Majority on the City Council. I expect the youth of our community will be among the first to feel the results of their bias. I expect them to reject the plan previously approved to light all the fields at The Farm Sports Complex - the best solution for providing more fields for our children. I also expect them to alienate our neighbors in Newport Beach by placing tighter restrictions on residency of soccer field users.

In the next two years I fully expect our city to become Fortress Costa Mesa, as the New Majority pulls up the drawbridge and fills the moat with, yes, alligators - to the detriment of all residents.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Provocative Pilot Pronouncements

In recent months our excellent local newspaper of record, The Daily Pilot, has moved forward with their online edition, attempting to provide more real-time news and information to those of us who care to check their web site. Among the interesting features now available is the ability to post comments on most articles, columns and commentaries published online. This supplements their normal "question" posed to print readers to contemplate and recent results have been very enlightening. Online readers used their 100 words or less to express views in very clear terms - some of which would probably never have made the cut in the print edition.

For example, a teacher at a local Catholic school in Corona del Mar was arrested on campus for writing bad checks. He was snatched up by the Huntington Beach police in full view of students. Well, you'd have thought the sky was falling based on the responses by readers. At my last count there were 60 comments posted on this article, many of which were supportive of this crook - several posted by writers who appeared to be students. The debate bounced back and forth and I'm sure the editors of the Daily Pilot were all smiles.

In another case, an article about the boneheaded move by the New Majority on the city council last week to effectively cancel an already-established Youth in Government program generated some very heated debate. Nearly 30 comments appear following that article, many of which were posted by some of "the usual suspects", lapdogs of the New Majority, including Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever himself. He apparently found 100 words insufficient to enlighten us, so he posted back to back entries. He and the other apologists for the mayor and his majority twisted facts - as usual - and berated concerned citizens who wrote well-reasoned observations.

While I think a healthy debate on important issues is good for our community, and our local newspaper is an appropriate forum for such debate, I find myself wondering about the reaction to these vicious comments by the editors. I'm sure they wouldn't print some of them, so how do they justify publishing them online? If their goal is to demonstrate the intensity of debate on issues, they've done it. I'm not sure they needed to allow these exchanges to deteriorate to the level of a school yard shouting match, though. What do you think?


Friday, January 19, 2007

The Republican Limbo - Wistfully Searching For True Leaders

Yesterday the Daily Pilot had yet another smiley face photo of our young jailer/mayor plastered on it's pages - an illustration on an article describing his coronation by the Orange County Republican Party as their "Local Elected Official of the Year". Excuse me while I barf! This sets the bar so low you'd think it was a limbo contest!

When I read the news I visited the Red County/OCBlog site and found this grainey, shakey video clip of the actual award ceremony. If you view this five minute clip, don't forget your hanky. Way down at the end he tries to give credit to all the "volunteers" and specifically names "Wendy" - that would be Ms. Leece. He also credited Phil Morello, the rabid Mansoor supporter who, a year ago at a City Council meeting, screamed his version of "God Bless America" at demonstrators singing "We Shall Overcome".

The article in the Pilot was curiously juxtaposed with another article explaining that the mayor and his majority voted at their council meeting Tuesday night - the vote actually came well after midnight - to shut down the fledgling Youth in Government program initiated a year ago and, thanks to some outstanding work by the city staff, was just about to go full steam ahead. Instead, Mansoor, in a fit of pique, decided he'd not had enough chance to provide "input". What, a year's not enough time? I know the mayor's a little slow, but a year seems like plenty of time for even the most dense among us, don't you think?

No, his move was pure political posturing because Katrina Foley was the moving force behind this program. This is obviously what it's going to be like for the next 22 months, until the November 2008 elections. Mansoor and his majority will continue to do whatever they can to discredit and demean Foley until then.

I remember the "good old days" in our town when, not too very long ago, Costa Mesa politics were non-partisan politics. People ran for office as Costa Mesans, not as Democrats or Republicans. They won their seats based on strength of their accomplishments, backgrounds and their goals for the city, not from the tens of thousands of dollars funneled into their campaigns by outsiders. Back in those days the major parties didn't elbow their way into our town, plant operatives in critical appointive seats as political patronage and attempt to take over our city and use it as a testing ground for social experimentation. They didn't woo gullible elected officials with contrived awards designed to keep them in line.

Back in the good old days we didn't have bigots of international infamy designing the playbook for our politicians. Even though more than a few past Costa Mesa politicians have not been high on the political sophistication ladder, most had a strong moral compass and made up for what they might have lacked in academic credentials with a solid work ethic, boundless energy and a true desire to do the right thing for our city. From my vantage point, today I find those attributes lacking in several of our elected leaders.

Over the past few years I've observed and written about this city and it's movers and shakers and, more recently, provided strong opinions about where I thought this city was headed. I frequently wrote cautioning the readers that sinister forces were maneuvering to take this city into dark places. Well, sadly, most of what I feared might happen has occurred - and more. I didn't, for example, expect county politicians to hold such sway over our local leaders that they could force upon them a hired gun and place him in a highly coveted and important position on a city commission. I just didn't see that coming.

I did see the methodical attack on the Latino population coming, though, and most of what I thought would happen has happened. That demographic group, which represents a third of our population, is much less comfortable today, whether here legally or not.

In instances almost too numerous to count, the Mansoor-led majorities on the city council have meticulously removed the heart from this city. They say one thing and do the opposite. They say they're for our children, then defund and otherwise reject programs for them. They say they are for our seniors, then reject workable plans to provide funding for affordable housing. In their warped minds, "affordable" means "undesirable". I take no comfort in knowing that, one of these days when these heartless "leaders" find themselves retired and on a fixed income, they will be searching for an affordable place to live, too. I smile as I envision our young jailer/mayor at age 70, pushing a shopping cart from Lion's Park to the soup kitchen so he can have a bit of dinner.

I don't like the fact that some of our leaders can be so easily manipulated by outsiders, who give them a little peck on the cheek, hand them a fancy bauble - like honorary membership in their organization or a meaningless ego stroking plaque - then send them back onto the battlefield knowing that if they are not successful, well, it's only Costa Mesa, not some "important" city like Newport Beach, Anaheim or Irvine, for goodness sake. If that leader messes up he'll find himself so alone he'll think he'd contracted leprosy.

I don't like the fact that this City Council seems willing to just hand the keys to the city to developers without extracting from them very reasonable fees to support things like art in public places, libraries, affordable housing, etc. Their attitude was concisely demonstrated by a comment Wendy Leece made from the dais on Tuesday. She said the developers are "entitled to bring their presentation and their projects to us and actually make as much money as they want to make if they feel that they can..." While I couldn't see the faces of the representatives of the several tower projects sitting near the front in the council chambers when she said that, I'm sure they were beaming.

I find myself wishing for a group of leaders with more horsepower under the hood. I get the feeling that, when this group stands toe-to-toe with high powered developers in negotiations on projects in our city, the council is standing on the downslope intellectually. I don't think those developers "snooker" us, but they certainly do take advantage of the weakness of this group. We, the residents of this city, deserve better. However, this is what happens when the electorate is frightened into voting for a group based solely on a single issue - illegal immigration, a federal issue.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Costa Mesa's New Majority - The Three Stooges Reincarnate

Those of you who attended last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting, or watched it on television or streaming video, realize that any attempts at harmony and conciliation by the minority members of the council, Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon, are a flat-out waste of time. The New Majority - our young jailer/mayor Allan Mansoor, the court jester, Eric Bever and the human rubber stamp, Wendy Leece - have demonstrated that it makes no difference what Foley and Dixon think on any issue. The New Majority - Costa Mesa's version of the Three Stooges - is going to do what it wants, period.

As predicted, they stacked the deck on the Planning Commission by re-appointing Jim (I'm a realtor here in town) Fisler, improver activist Sam Clark and carpetbagger Jim Righeimer. I'm not surprised that Righeimer was appointed. I covered that in my previous post. It does deeply sadden me that the bullies running the Orange County Republican Party have elbowed their way into Costa Mesa this way and appear intent on making it a de facto Farm Team for their party. That's my party, by the way, and it still ticks me off!

For me, one of the most interesting sidebars of the appointment process last night was the fact that, when considering candidates for the Planning Commission, Mansoor voted against long time resident, long time improver and long time Mansoor spear-carrier Paul Bunney not once, not twice, but three times! So, in baseball parlance, Mr. Bunney - You're Out! It looks like he was another loyal foot soldier cast aside by a heartless political opportunist following the drumbeat of his party. So much for loyalty, huh, Paul?

The evening, a long one that dragged out until well past midnight, was full of drama and comedy. At one point in the proceedings Linda Dixon held up a hand-written note, which she said was passed to her by someone on the dais - she didn't name the person. The note accused her of being unprofessional because of her "snide" remarks. Amazingly, as the camera showed us a wide view right at the appropriate moment, Eric Bever held up his hand like a little kid in pre-school who got caught throwing a spit wad. You will recall that Bever was also guilty of passing a note in an earlier council meeting in which he attempted to manipulate the agenda surreptitiously. Not only has he proven to be an arrogant buffoon on the dais, but he's obviously also a slow learner.

The highlight, or lowlight, depending on your position, came at the very end of the proceedings. Discussing the final agenda item, the implementation of the Youth in Government program that has been forming for more than a year, the ill will on the dais came to a head and burst like a ripe pimple as Foley and Mansoor got into it. Mansoor, like a petulant little kid, simply refused to discuss his reasons for not supporting the program. Foley pressed him and Dixon pressed him but Mansoor, who appeared to be off his normally feeble game this night, wouldn't budge. It was obvious that he simply didn't want to support a program that was initiated by Foley, regardless the benefit to the community. He finally forced a vote to receive and file the item - which effectively killed a program that is already underway. One of the objectives of this program was to give the youth of our community a close look at the way government works, to prepare them to participate at an informed level. Well, Mansoor sure did that last night. He showed those dedicated young people who had signed up and were ready to elect officers, that pettiness is part of politics and that one weak, heartless man's personal political future is more important to him than the youth of our community.

By the way, rumor has it that our young jailer/mayor is investigating the methodology required to convert Costa Mesa to a city in which the mayor is directly elected by the voters instead of being chosen by his peers on the City Council. Sounds to me like he's trying to set himself up as "Mayor For Life" - kind of like Idi Amin Dada in Uganda.

All you Mansoor supporters are going to rue the day you cast your ballots for him. Based on his performance last night, it's only a matter of time until he puts his hobnailed boots down on some of your rights, too. It's clear that he doesn't care about Costa Mesa - he cares about Allan Mansoor and will stomp on others who get in the way, regardless how loyal they might have been to his cause. I leave you to contemplate that and stew in your own juice.

Monday, January 15, 2007

"Riggy" Looking For A "Giggy"? Political Patronage, Costa Mesa Style

As I scanned down the names of the candidates for appointment to the Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions tonight I found a few I didn't recognize. So, as a guy with way too much time on his hands, I did some Googling and found some interesting entries on one of those unfamiliar names - James Righeimer.

It seems that Mr. Righeimer is a very well connected political activist who has been floating around Orange County for a few years. Sources tell me he's been a campaign manager for Congressman Dana Rohrabacker recently.

One particularly interesting entry from the internet is an entry dated 1/6/06 on the FLASHREPORT authored by Jon Fleischman, Executive Director of the California Republican Party from 1999 to 2001. In his post, Fleischman touts Righeimer as a the next Republican candidate for the 68th Assembly District, replacing Van Tran, who was slotted to make a run for the 34th District Senate seat. Fleischman goes on and on in his posting about what a good soldier "Riggy" is, providing a history of his loyal activism to the Orange County Republican Party. The political gods conspired against those moves, so Righeimer was left without a seat when the music stopped.

I'll be watching tonight's City Council meeting with great interest. The agenda item regarding the appointments comes very, very late in the meeting, at a time almost guaranteeing sparse attendance by residents and minimal viewers on Costa Mesa TV. The placement of this item way down at the end will certainly reduce the chance of any questions about potential appointees and their qualifications.

I expect the New Majority to stack the deck with their cronies on both commissions. However, if they place Righeimer on the Planning Commission it will be the most flagrant example of political patronage I can recall in Costa Mesa. Here's a guy who, until recently, resided in Fountain Valley, then moves to Costa Mesa after his pal, Rohrabacker, helps our young jailer/mayor get re-elected. From what I read in many pieces on the internet, it sure looks to me like "Riggy", as Fleischman calls him, is just another political opportunist looking for a nest. How else do we explain a guy who, a year ago, was being touted as the next Assemblyman for the 68th District showing up in Costa Mesa as a probable appointee to the relatively lowly Planning Commission? Don't be surprised to see him appointed to the Planning Commission this year, then mount a well-financed campaign for Katrina Foley's seat on the City Council in 2008.

I sure hope someone takes down that sign that says "Carpetbaggers Welcome" at the entrance to Costa Mesa soon! I'm really getting tired of outsiders like Jim Gilchrist and his Minuteman Mob, Rohrabacker and now Righeimer stomping into our city to take it over.

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"Born In East L.A." - A New Reality

Back in 1987 many of us laughed at the plight of Cheech Marin's character, Rudy, in the movie "Born In East L.A." Rudy, a Latino American citizen, was picked up by an INS raid and, since he didn't have his identification on him and no one could contact his mother because she was on a trip to Fresno, Rudy was deported to Mexico with other factory workers. The movie follows his travails as he tries to make his way back. It was actually very funny - then.

Today in Costa Mesa that scenario is very likely to play out in real life. I can see the very real possibility of legal residents being swept up by overly-aggressive police officers and being mishandled at the jail, resulting in deportation.

Based on the report from the first month of activity by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent assigned to the Costa Mesa jail, half of the people detained and processed for deportation are those apprehended for misdemeanors. This is in direct conflict with Mayor Mansoor's often repeated assurance that he wasn't interested in sweeps, only in getting dangerous felons, repeat offenders, off our streets so they couldn't prey on our residents. So, even though he didn't get his original wish for all Costa Mesa patrol officers to be certified as immigration screeners, the effect will be the same. If this continues to play out the way it appears it might, soon the brave men and women of the CMPD will find themselves snatching up every person of brown skin who commits even the most minor of offenses - jaywalking, parking violations or lingering near a convenience store after buying a refreshment following a hard day at work. Instead of chasing those dangerous felons the mayor is so concerned about - a job they do very well, by the way - the CMPD will become de facto immigration agents.

This is just another example of the mayor's curiously tentative relationship with the truth. Of course, to those of us who watched him obfuscate his way back into office this past fall, it comes as no surprise. Beneath his cherubic countenance there lies a darker side.

Now, before you go all apoplectic on me, let me state one more time that I do not support illegal immigration. See, that was a simple, declarative statement - unambiguous and easy to understand, right? I fully understand the impact of illegal immigrants on our country. I understand the burden they place on our social services and education system. I understand that, instead of spending that money they work so hard to earn, they send a large portion of it "home" in the form of remittances. Those remittances sent to Mexico, last estimated at more than $15 billion annually, represent the second greatest form of income for that country - oil revenues are number one.

I also understand that it is simply not practical to yank every illegal immigrant currently working in this country from the labor force and deport them back to their country of origin. Extracting those 12-30 million workers from the workforce would cripple our economy. Yes, I've heard the bogus argument that those workers are taking jobs from "real Americans". That's a load of bull! When is the last time you saw a bunch of white people - "real Americans" - picketing a field for the backbreaking work of harvesting strawberries or any other crop? Not in the last 20 years, at least. When did you last see "real Americans" picketing hotels or restaurants for jobs as maids, custodians, dishwashers or cooks? Give me a break!

As I've said many times before, real illegal immigration reform must start with secure borders. Until they are secure, all those people the ICE man at the Costa Mesa jail identifies as illegal and processes for deportation will soon be back, probably working in their old jobs. Fix the border first, then let's discuss the solution to the question of those already here. Maybe a form of amnesty will work. I'd support that only if the borders are secure to block further illegal immigration. Perhaps we should consider a program of guest workers similar to the bracero program that was in place when I was growing up. It worked well for it's duration.

Our mayor and his cronies are looking for simple solutions to complicated problems. If simple solutions were workable someone would have implemented them long ago. There are not simple solutions to these issues. For example, no one has addressed what happens to the American citizen children of illegal immigrant parents who might be deported. What's the mayor's solution to the plight of those citizens? Will he propose revoking their citizenship? That wouldn't surprise me at all.

Another related question for our "tough on criminals" mayor... how does he feel about the 57 white supremacists rounded up a few weeks ago - 20 of which were picked up in Costa Mesa at 17 different sites? To date, we have heard nothing at all from our mayor on the subject. Since he, and his buddy who runs the CM Press, are so vocal about the illegal immigrant criminals among us, it strikes me as curious that both of them have been completely mute on those raids. It is not illogical to assume that, since they've said nothing about an issue that really cries out for comment, they might be sympathetic to those folks. As the old saying goes, their silence speaks volumes.

And, before I forget, I want to wish my old pal at the CM Press a very happy Martin Luther King Day.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stand Back! Thar She Blows!

Uh-oh! Uh-oh! Stand back! It looks like the guy over at the CM Press is about to blow another gasket! This time he's really peeved at the whole Costa Mesa City Council for their response to the question posed by the Daily Pilot in an article today entitled, "Purging gangs from Costa Mesa may take several forms". The question was, "What do you think is the best way to eradicate gangs in Costa Mesa?" He was so angry that I bet there was steam coming out of his ears!

Each of the council members, in their own way, agreed that a multi-facted approach is best, stressing education and intervention. To no one's surprise, the New Majority expressed stronger views about enforcement, but they were not far off from the positions taken by the minority members, Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon. All, combined, encourage me that there might actually be a consensus reached on this issue. It's about time!

However, the CM Press author continues his rant about alligators and swamps - comparing the areas in town he thinks are slums to the swamp and the residents (Latinos) to alligators. It's clear that he continues to view anyone without white skin to be sub-human - hence the alligator and swamp analogy. If he had his way, he would be on the first bulldozer, leveling every high-occupancy apartment house in this city. It's unclear whether he would permit the residents to leave first or not.

I expect, at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, that the CM Press author will jump to the speaker's podium and rip the City Council for their less than stellar - in his view - response to the question posed by the Pilot. I'm thinking this poor guy is suffering from some unfulfilled career move. I bet that, from the time he had an inconsequential bit role as a reporter in a really crappy "B" movie back in the mid 70's, he's wanted to be a real reporter - hence, the creation of the CM Press. I suspect he perceives himself as Jimmy Olson, ace reporter, only a whole lot smarter. Maybe if we began calling him "Ace" instead of Your Neighbor he'd feel better about himself.

Sadly, he just doesn't understand the difference between reporting and propaganda. He can't tell facts from fabrications. So, he'll continue to rant and rave and whip some of his acolytes into a frenzy with his racist puke and pretend he's providing "news" to his readers. Pathetic is the word that comes to mind.

So, let's see if the City Council can join together and provide direction to this city on the issue of gangs and gang violence. From their responses, there seem to be kernels of some very good ideas waiting to be developed. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Undergrounding Utilities - R.I.P.

At their study session on January 9, 2007, the Costa Mesa City Council was advised by a representative of Southern California Edison that, for all intents and purposes, any chance of using "Rule 20" money to place utilities underground in our city is dead. Well, maybe not dead, but certainly frozen like a cryogenically-processed corpse until at least 2011 because of the unavailability of those dollars. Based on comments made at the study session, the Public Utilities Commission doles out those dollars based on whatever whim hits them at the time. Also, they've changed the rules recently, which requires Edison to retract an agreement it had made with the city to extend it's eligibility for those funds.

So, unless the council finds a way to fund the undergrounding of utilities beyond this source of finance, it looks like Mayor Mansoor's pet project has bit the dust. This is actually good news for Costa Mesa. The last time this issue was discussed a few months ago, the same Edison representative told the council that costs for such projects had risen dramatically - four times the estimate he provided two years ago. Instead of costing around $800 million to place utilities underground city-wide, it would be more like $4 billion - with a big B. Those kinds of dollars, if financed with bonds, would place a burden on the backs of the great-grandchildren of Costa Mesa kids currently in kindergarten.

Unfortunately, the mayor was absent from this particular study session, so there is no way to assess his reaction to this news. I'm confident that he won't let it be put to rest without an attempt at resuscitation.

I agree that our city would look much nicer with all the wires underground. However, as is the case in our personal lives, the city can't have everything it wants regardless of cost. I, for example, would love to have a Ferrari, but I can't afford it. Neither can the city afford to place the utilities underground when the costs are so exorbitant.

I expect to hear from our neighbors in Newport Beach with their stories of undergrounding specific neighborhoods. I think that's just dandy - one more reason to envy them. The fact is, Newport Beach is a much wealthier city than Costa Mesa, with two-thirds the population but a budget that is 50% greater. Ah, those property values and the taxes they generate! So, while we certainly do appreciate their advice based on their experience, we're working with a very different set of circumstances - and pockets that are just not as deep.

All is not lost, though. The Edison folks tell us that wires on poles are much easier to repair in the event of a break.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Is Newport Beach Really Prepared For A Tsunami?

I recently received an email from a woman living on the Balboa Peninsula who expressed concern about the potential for damage to that area by a tsunami. Apparently, her young son cannot sleep because he worries about a tsunami occurring and not being able to escape. In a subsequent exchange of emails she confirmed that she wrote to me because of the piece I wrote in the fall of 2005 entitled, "The Big One - Fiction Or Prediction?" on the earlier version of this web site. That piece addressed the probable damage from a major earthquake along the Newport-Inglewood Fault - which runs directly under Newport Harbor - but contained some thoughts about a subsequent, locally generated tsunami, too.

I understand the boy's apprehension. When I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles we had frequent "drop drills" in anticipation of a nuclear attack and there were monthly tests of the "emergency warning system" - a city-wide system of sirens to alert the populace of their potential annihilation from a nuclear strike. None of those things made me feel "safe" - I was petrified at the thought of being incinerated by an atomic bomb.

With the devastation caused by Hurricane's Katrina and Rita in 2005 and the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, all of us have a heightened awareness of potential natural disasters.
Along the Oregon coast there are signs posted in low-lying areas which direct travelers to routes to higher ground in the event of a tsunami. There is also a system of warning sirens for such alerts. As I drove that area on vacation last year I found myself wondering just how effective those preparations would be. I did keep looking for those signs, though - just in case.

In doing research on this subject I find no record of a tsunami ever hitting the coast in Newport Beach, nor any Orange County beaches, for that matter. Chances are slim that one would ever strike this section of coast, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be a plan in place.

Recent local news articles tell us that the federal agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently deemed Newport Beach to be "tsunami ready", joining Dana Point and Huntington Beach. That would imply that all systems are in place in the event of such a disaster. So, I went to the Newport Beach web site to find out what they've done. What I found was not very encouraging. On their site, under the "Disaster Preparedness" page, I scrolled down to the section entitled "Tsunami Safety Information", looking for information and comfort. I must say that I came away from that experience disappointed.

On that page readers are encouraged to turn on the radio or watch local television if you feel an earthquake, which they quaintly call "a natural tsunami warning". They are also told that, in the event of an earthquake, they should leave the beach and low-lying coastal areas. Well, duh! No kidding! Among the most profound instructions is to "make sure your teenagers don't go to the beach" during a tsunami warning. Is that the best they can do?

Subsequently, I dug deeper and found a link to their Emergency Management Plan and, buried on pages 91-93 of the 171 page PDF document are more details about their plans to try to insure the safety of residents and visitors in case of a tsunami.

I wrote back to this distraught woman and advised her to contact City Manager Homer Bludau, 644-3000, and ask him about the specifics of the city's plan in the event of a tsunami warning. How will residents and visitors be notified? Do they plan to block inbound lanes for use by outbound traffic? What about plans for the children at Newport Elementary School, which sits on the sand on the peninsula? Does the school district have a plan for their survival?

If I were one of the roughly 20% of Newport Beach residents who live in an area potentially threatened by a tsunami I'd be on the telephone to my officials demanding information about their preparedness. I'd want to know the details of their plan, so I could also be prepared to help implement it so my neighbors and I actually had a chance to evacuate and survive. If I had children in Newport Elementary School I'd want to know the contingency plans for them.

I made a few telephone calls and found the woman in charge of managing the tsunami preparedness plan for Newport Beach. She told me that a workshop will be held at the City Council Chambers at City Hall on Tuesday, January 16, 2007 at 6 p.m. at which time informational flyers will be distributed and questions answered for any residents or other concerned parties who choose to attend.

Based on what I know of Newport Beach's plan now, there is one glaring deficiency - notification of an impending tsunami. Dana Point has a system of sirens and loudspeakers to notify residents and visitors of an impending tsunami, plus clearly marked evacuation routes. Their plan can be viewed here.

Newport Beach has signs in place, and has evacuation routes plotted, but apparently intends to use emergency vehicle loudspeakers and those on the jointly-owned helicopter to make audible notification to folks in threatened areas. To me, this seems inadequate and is a significant problem - even if the possibility of a tsunami hitting their beaches is quite remote.

To those of you concerned about this issue, I recommend attending the meeting mentioned above and get some answers for yourselves.

In the meantime, you can be comforted by the fact - based on the information provided on Newport Beach's site - that even a projected "500 Year Event" of the largest magnitude anticipated would likely raise the water level only 16 feet. Visions of 100 foot high waves that might be in some concerned folk's minds are just not realistic. The last, and only, event of any magnitude encountered in Newport Beach was following the 1964 Alaska earthquake, at which time the ocean level rose approximately 4-5 feet and caused minimal damage. From what I can learn, no one in our region expects anything like the Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred in 2004 and killed at least 310,000 people - but you never know...

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Peninsula Envy

Over at the CM Press the guy that very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, continues to spout off about Costa Mesa not being a true coastal city. In a recent posting he rants about how unfair it is that Huntington Beach and Newport Beach have ocean frontage and Costa Mesa doesn't. He says the following, "Go ahead, look at a map. See how Costa Mesa is between Newport Beach and Huntington Beach except near the ocean, and then Newport Beach (with some county land as well) has muscled us out of the way as it goes all the way over to Huntington Beach on land that should be ours?"

Does this have a Hitleresque ring to it? It should! First this guy gives the angry, frustrated folks on the Westside someone to hate - the Latinos - just as Hitler did with the Jews. Now he's lobbying for the takeover of land near the ocean - five miles from his home - so Costa Mesa can be a true "coastal city". This is what Hitler did with Poland, Austria and the the rest of Eastern Europe.

So, what's next, a blitzkrieg of the Banning Ranch? That's about the only way Newport Beach is going to give up that chunk of land. Costa Mesa has little leverage and the majority on the council have demonstrated absolutely no negotiating skills. They, instead, prefer to spit in the eye of our neighboring cities. They apparently equate thuggery with leadership.

Of course, that's about all you should expect from easily manipulated folks who take their marching orders from a guy who is proud of his racist views. It saddens me that so many gullible people in this city have bought into this tripe. On January 4, 2007 I posted an entry entitled, The Lemming's Roadmap, which included a couple dozen links to essays written by this guy. Pick one or two and read them - and try to keep your dinner down.

In the meantime, we will just continue to watch the new majority and report when they institutionalize the trampling of resident's rights.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bruce Garlich Resigns From Planning Commission

The Daily Pilot and the Orange County Register report today that, earlier this week, Planning Commissioner and former city council candidate Bruce Garlich resigned his seat on the commission for reasons of personal health. His term would not have expired until 2009. According to reports, his seat on the commission will be filled from the pool of applicants to be considered for the two seats available this year - those held by Chairman Bill Perkins and Commissioner Jim Fisler.

Having gotten to know Bruce over the past few years has been a high point of my life and I'm proud to call him my friend. He's a man of intelligence, energy and integrity and his mature leadership on the Planning Commission will be sorely missed, as will his participation in the numerous volunteer organizations that he serves. Hopefully, he will return to these activities in the near future.

This is bad news for the City of Costa Mesa, because Bruce's steady hand on the commission, both as a commissioner and as the chairman, kept it focused and on track. During his six years on the commission he set the example for others by doing his homework, acting as a mentor and always keeping the debate focused on the issues and not personalities.

Please join me in wishing Bruce and his wife, Marietta, the very best as they navigate through the next few months. We hope he has a speedy recovery from his ailment and is able to return to all his interests at full strength soon.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Lemming's Roadmap

In response to recent comments posted here in which some purported "improvers" have taken me to task for accusing them of being led, at least intellectually, by a guy who operates his "little newsletter/blog" - the CM Press. This man clearly provides direction to the past and current city council majority and is obviously the source of many of the schemes espoused by them to "improve" Costa Mesa - read that, "Get rid of the folks with brown skin".

If you take them at their word, some state emphatically that they don't really care what kind of racist essays this fellow authors on numerous web sites. To them, it apparently makes no difference that his philosophical foundation is pure, unadulterated racism. Nope, they just think he has good ideas - no matter where they come from. It astounds me that, in this day and age, mature, intelligent people will actually fall for this guy's line and follow his lead like lemmings heading over the cliff.

I've read most of this guy's essays over the past few years, including many that go back several years. I must tell you that it's not for the weak of stomach. His views are so controversial that the Southern Poverty Law Center tracks him as a source of hate-speak.

So, as promised to my pals in the "improver" group, I hereby provide a list of links to some of his more incendiary essays. You can find the index of most of his writings on the New Nation News, here. Among them you will find the following essays, the titles of which are hot links that will take you directly to the essay:

Breeding Humans
Slow Breeding Whites And The New Plantationism
America Got A Lot Darker This Week
The White Tribe In A Brown Land On A Brown Planet
The Recessive Race
Bedroom Genocide
One Person's Racist is Another Person's Freedom Fighter
Race Doesn't Exist - Huh?
Bush The Blender
Non-Whites Telling Whites To Be White - Someone Has To Do It!
Frankenpeople, Nazi Dogs, And More Homos
Anti-White Bigots And Haters Lose One
Trouble At The Human Factory
The Gods Of Evolution
Snippets From The Gene Wars
Genes, Free Will, Sharks
The Return Of Slimy Brown Glop & Using Our Brains As We Should
Encroaching Darkness
Is The Mau Mau Machine Sputtering?
The Dark Age - Kill All Whites And Destroy All Reminders Of Them
Is The Swastika The Spirit In The Sky?
Ding Dong! The Whites Are Dead! Which Old Whites? All The Whites! Ding Dong, All The Whites Are Dead

If you go to the index you will find hundreds of other essay titles displayed, some of which are even more provocative and disgusting. I challenge each of you "improvers" to select one of the above and read it, then write to me and tell me honestly that it doesn't make any difference to you - that it is irrelevant. Read one of these essays, then look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you agree with it. If I don't hear from you I suppose I'll just have to assume you agree with the views expressed in the essays - a sad commentary on the state of our city, in my view.

The indifference reflected by some of the "improvers" is precisely how Adolph Hitler began his rise to power nearly a century ago. He gave the German people someone to blame their difficulties on - someone to hate. The result was WWII and the holocaust. Do I think the author of the CM Press is the reincarnation of Hitler? Not necessarily, but his tactics are exactly the same. Just because this man is a persuasive writer and speaker doesn't mean you should follow his lead in lockstep like a bunch of goose-stepping storm troopers.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wise Police Policy Yields Results

Today the Los Angeles Times published an article entitled, "A hire that's a cold contrast", which dealt with the current police chief in Richmond, a tough city across the bay from San Francisco.

At 103,000 people, Richmond is just about the same size as Costa Mesa, but has a very different racial make-up. According to the Times article, Richmond is 36% black, 27% Latino and 21% white and is ranked among the most dangerous American cities. Based on the information in the article, in 2005 police made arrests in only 13% of the homicide cases they investigated.

One city councilman is quoted as saying, "Somebody got shot and killed and 50 people were watching but 'nobody saw nothing,' "

Then the city hired Chris Magnus, a white man who came from Fargo, North Dakota - a city almost entirely white - as their police chief.

The story goes on to detail Magnus' approach, reinstatement of what is commonly knows as "community based policing" and giving senior officers responsibility for specific area within the city - a beat of their own. According to one officer quoted, "The chief gave us voice mail, email and cellphones.", which dramatically improved communications between the officers on the beat and the residents of the city. Because the officers were more visible and accessible to the community in a positive way, communications improved and more crimes were solved.

Contrast this to current day Costa Mesa, where our mayor and his majority seem determined to drive wedges between the police and the community, particularly the Latino community. There are many of us hoping that our own new chief, Chris Shawkey, can re-establish the lines of communication within the community that were shredded a year ago when our young jailer/mayor proposed his plan for cross-designation of Costa Mesa officers as immigration screeners.

Quite honestly, I don't think that's going to happen. I think that the current make-up of the city council, with the automatic acquiescence of Wendy Leece replacing the occasional voice of moderation Gary Monahan provided, practically guarantees even more draconian approaches to resolving conflict in this city. I guess we'll find out soon enough as this council gets it's game plan in place - perhaps as early as the meeting tonight.

The constant drumbeat of the blog CM Press, the bible for many of the self-anointed "improvers" in town and the song book for the Mansoor majority, continues to pound out it's anti-Latino rhythm with the persistence of a Chinese water torture. It apparently influences many people in this town who either don't care, or are too lazy, to assess the reasons behind the author's invective. They don't take the time to read his broader essays, which are an open window into the warped mind of this man. If they did, the readers would repudiate his mantra instead of taking every word he writes and every comment he utters at the speakers podium as gospel.

The Times article chronicles for us the success possible in very difficult situations when intelligent application of good community communications exists. Trust of the police by the residents creates sources of information which aids them in solving crimes. Thanks to the mayor, in Costa Mesa we have just the opposite - fear of the police, which dried up sources of information, which has led to an increase in violent crimes.

The aforementioned CM Press, in it's most recent posting, lists applicants for the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions, the openings on which will soon be filled by the City Council. I perused those lists with great interest and found among them names of some of those "improvers" mentioned above. Based on their public pronouncements, published viewpoints and actions over the past several years, I personally don't think some of those people will represent the interests of all residents of Costa Mesa on those commissions. I think they will represent only the narrow views of their cadre of malcontents which have orchestrated control of this city. However, should a couple of them gain appointments it will likely make for some interesting ingredients in the stew we stir here. They will go from private citizen to public figure and the spotlight that goes with such positions. They will no longer be able to hide behind pseudonyms while voicing controversial viewpoints on blog postings, for example. Nope, the light of day will be upon them and they will become fair game. Whether the public pays attention remains a big question. Only time will tell.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolutions? Maybe...

Well, here we are in 2007 already, all set to make resolutions that we have no chance of keeping. For example, each year I resolve to lose those extra pounds I gained over the past year and, each year, those pounds are joined by others. So, I've decided not to make such a foolhardy resolution. Instead, I've resolved to continue to be built more for comfort than speed - a resolution I know I can keep.

I thought about making a resolution to avoid critical comments about our local politicians, but realized that would almost certainly be one I couldn't keep. Instead, I've resolved to continue to pay attention to what they are doing and to comment as the mood moves me. That's another resolution I know I can keep.

There are those in our community who seem determined to solidify it as a bastion of intolerance. As they make their pronouncements I'll try to provide a counterpoint. If you only listen to them it would be easy to assume that every voter wants to expunge every Latino from our city. I don't think that's the case.

At a time when our world is filled with turmoil and uncertainty, I wish our young men and women in the armed services a quick return home to their loved ones, knowing full well that some will not escape unscathed. The newspapers this morning chronicle the fact that 3,000 Americans have died in those distant places so far - a terribly unhappy benchmark for us all.

I'd wish for world peace, but we all know that is not possible. As long as arbitrary political borders supersede historical tribal and ethnic boundaries strife will exist in this world. As long as politicians attempt to enforce harmony among historical enemies strife will exist.

Instead, I wish for our politicians to, somehow, acquire the wisdom, determination and patience to find a way to mediate a successful solution to the turmoil in the mid-east while keeping our country safe from further attacks.

I also wish that our elected leaders will be able to find a way to secure our borders and craft a good resolution to the current and on-going illegal immigration issue. Despite what some would have you believe, it's not a simple issue - if it were, it would have been resolved long ago.

So, on this first day of January, 2007, I wish for you and yours a year filled with love and accomplishment.