Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Smiling Along With The News and Newport's Protected Views

Well, now, it's been an interesting day here in Cauldronland. The telephone and email have been smokin' with inquiries about the identity of Claudio Gallegos' anonymous Westside Improver - the subject of his post yesterday over at the Orange Juice! blog. If you missed it, you can click here to read it now. I have no clue about the identity of the person - some might say that it's only one of many subjects about which I have no clue. However, I imagine some of us will wait with great anticipation for the next two installments, which Gallegos says will be published the on next two Tuesdays.

As I read today's newspapers a couple articles caught my eye and made me chuckle. One was the report of the difficulty old Jim Gilchrist, Grand Pooba of the Minutemen, is presently having trying to maintain control of that organization. Amid rumors of fiscal improprieties, some members of his board of directors have voted to oust him and take over. My smile just got bigger as I typed those words... sorry, I just can't help it.

The second article was one that reported the most recent of what seems like a jillion reports on the impact of illegal immigrants on our economy. The Associated Press stories, published in both the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register, tell us that "the flow of immigrants into California has helped increase wages and job opportunities for native-born workers." According to the report by the Public Policy Institute of California, "Immigrants don't compete directly with native workers for jobs, but tend to bring different skills to the workplace." The report goes on to say, "This allows native workers with the same education level to take more specialized, better paying jobs." "This symbiotic relationship leads to Americans to be able to take more specialized jobs, and to improved output, translating into a 4% real wage increase for American workers in California between 1990 and 2004.", according to the study. This report, of course, flies in the face of all those folks who use, among their arguments against illegal immigration, their "fact" that those workers take jobs away from "real Americans". That has always been a bogus argument. We're in an economy right now that hovers under 5% unemployment - a level at which most economists acknowledge is basically full employment. At that level, most folks who want jobs have them.

I guess our friends who are intent on deporting every single illegal alien from our country - and knocking the underpinning from our economy in doing so, by the way - will just have to find another arrow for their quiver.

So, as we all wait breathlessly for the next installment of "As The Worm Turns", er, "Confessions of a Westside Improver", I'll look for more snippets in the news to bring smiles to our faces.

Before I forget, our good neighbors over in Newport Beach decided last night to proceed with spending several million dollars to create a passive park on that chunk of land immediately above their Main Library, and coincidentally protect minor incursions in the views of a few well-connected folks on the hill above MacArthur at the same time. That property, of course, would be the perfect location for their much-needed new City Hall and esteemed local architect Bill Ficker had provided them with an outstanding rendition of just such a facility that met both the City Hall and Park needs. Instead, there will now be a passive park that will be used by a handful of people each week, surrounded by three very busy streets. I find myself wondering where those few people will park their cars to access the new park. Certainly, few of them will take their lives in their hands by trying to sprint across MacArthur or Avocado to reach it. It's a classic example of the philosophy of some folks in that town which states that no tree will go unhugged. Any other solution for the City Hall will cost upwards of four times as much as the one Ficker designed and will be unbelievably more complicated to manage from a human resources standpoint. Each of the other plans they are considering will involve demolishing another municipal structure and relocation those functions and staff while a new facility is built. I have no dog in that hunt, but it certainly seems to be a poor decision. And, it's a great reminder that, regardless the socio-economic structure of a community, politicians are still politicians - wetting their finger and holding it in the air to see which way the wind's blowing before making a decision.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pulling Back The Shroud

Claudio Gallegos over at the Orange Juice! blog has decided to reach down from Santa Ana and rip the scab off a festering wound that has been growing in Costa Mesa. That wound is the influence one local activist has had over the direction this town has been going for the past few years.

Today, Gallegos published the first of what he says will be a three-part series called "Confessions of a Westside Improver", which will be based on interviews with a former "improver" in our city. You can read the first installment here. I don't know the identity of this person, but I suspect that, as this series unfolds, those close to the "improver movement" will find clues sufficient to make educated guesses.

Those who have read my words here for the past 20 months or so, as well as some of the things I've written that were published in the Daily Pilot and other local newspapers for the past several years, will find that many of Gallegos' words have a familiar ring. The intimate details in his little saga will provide further validation of what I've written in the past. I began writing about this man's influence over events and people in Costa Mesa shortly after I became aware of him and began following his activities. I've quantified his accomplishments, if you can call them that, on the path to expunge the Latinos from our midst and lead our city down a dark path many times in many ways.

I've urged readers to familiarize themselves with this man's writings on any of several far right-wing web sites, to more fully understand the underlying philosophy that drives his actions in this city. These writings, plus those on his web log, when combined with his almost non-stop preaching at the podium of any city meeting he attends, give you a real feel for his plans for this city.

It deeply saddens me when I realize that he's found a fertile field among those frustrated, angry folks on the Westside in which to sew his insidious seeds of intolerance. It irritates me when I realize he's been able to use his considerable oratorical and writing skills to sweep this small group of disenchanted residents into his fold and help chart their course. It angers me when I realize just how successful he has been at reaching into the heart of this city and tearing it loose. It befuddles me when I think of those fine, caring, long-time Costa Mesans being so mesmerized by this man that they allow him to convince them that the Latinos among us are the sole reason for all the ills that he perceives in our city - and that their eventual expulsion will solve all those problems.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what this self-professed Mensa member has done to our community, nor will it take rocket scientists to take this city back. What it will take is for the good people of this city to understand what's being done to their hometown and for them to speak out, to repudiate him and his disciples, three of whom make up the current majority on the City Council. It will take considerable fortitude for them to swim against the tide of intolerance that was so evident during the last election campaign, when the mayor and his running mate used the incendiary illegal immigrant issue to ride to victory. It's not too late to take back our city.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Seeking Civilized Discourse

It's been interesting to read articles in the Daily Pilot over the weekend about events of concern to our good neighbors over in Newport Beach. They are still dealing with the issue of just where to build their much-needed new City Hall and now the fate of the Banning Ranch oil field has jumped into the headlines again. The former involves a controversy over 12 acres near the current Main Library which is, in my humble opinion, the perfect spot for the new City Hall. The second involves more than 400 acres on the bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River and West Newport, the plans for which range from lots of houses, a combination of houses and park space or purely park land.

I contrast this with Costa Mesa's current "land" issues. At the last council meeting that body approved the acquisition of nearly two acres contiguous to a current park on the Eastside and, it is assumed from the comments made, plans to have that entire area become a park. And, there is still the steady drum beat from so-called "improvers" to raze apartment buildings around town - displacing the Latino residents - and turn those locations into parks, too.

I was interested in the way Newport Beach residents handle their comments attached to the articles in the Daily Pilot. In the recent past many of the Costa Mesa-related articles have had many comment threads that resembled school yard shouting matches. Not so in the case of our good neighbors. One article regarding architect and yachtsman Bill Ficker's most recent proposal for the use of that 12 acre plot as a combination City Hall/Park generated more than 60 comments - most of which were generally well thought-out and clearly presented. One fella, undeterred by the 100 word maximum, posted 6 consecutive comments to make his points - and did so quite effectively. A companion article emphasizing the "park" aspect of the space in opposition to a city hall being considered for that plot generated 11 comments, most of which were calm, reasonable responses. An accompanying editorial by the Daily Pilot also had 11 comments as I type this, each of similar thoughtful nature. So far, not a single "zinger" attempting to defame a previous viewpoint, unlike so many of the comments posted on the Costa Mesa-oriented articles recently. No personal attacks on other commenters, just clear, thoughtful viewpoints expressed with passion.

I make that observation because it seems that our good neighbors in Newport Beach, even though issues are many times quite polarizing, somehow manage to maintain a level of decorum in their debate that seems unattainable, or at least forgotten, in Costa Mesa. That's a real shame, too, because there appears to be a new group of voices trying to be heard in my town, but they are continually "shouted down" by folks who have strong allegiances to the "improvers". It reminds me of the actions of one of that mob who attempted to stifle a demonstrator in the city council chambers last year as she sung the words to "We Shall Overcome". This guy is a rabid "improver" who, as he scrambled across the auditorium to get in her face like some berserk chimpanzee, tried to drown her out by screaming the words to "God Bless America" at the top of his lungs. It was shameful and actually pretty darn funny. This guy and his peers seem less inclined to frame a reasonable argument, preferring instead to attempt to discourage differing views by using spiteful invective and overwhelming volume - a literary spitting match.

I long for the return to civility in discourse in our city. I long for the time when divergent viewpoints would be considered and debated by mature people who had only the best interests of my city in mind without degenerating into personal attacks. I long for the days when political operatives from national parties didn't try to use our city as a farm team, and exercise their influence over elections and subsequent political appointments. I miss the good old days, when local politicians were not influenced by those among us with a not-so-transparent radical racial agenda. Yes, I'll say it - I long for the return to reason in our city.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Improvers" Coming Unglued?

Still fighting a cold, I arose this morning and did my usual canvass of online publications and blogs, just to see what was on folks minds this cloudy day. When I hit the CM Press and read his current contribution to the general enlightenment of our populace I almost choked on my grape nuts! Then I got a big smile on my face. Sorry, I just couldn't help it.

The guy, who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, seems to have slipped a cog or something. In his post today, #88 since he became a blogger, he goes on and on accusing the current majority on the Costa Mesa City Council of having "lost it's focus". I've linked to it here. He asks, for example, "Have your elected positions gone to your heads?" This was one of fourteen questions he posed to the majority - hand-picked by him, by the way - apparently trying to slap them back into line.

Another very interesting question was, "Have you turned your backs on improvement activists in your appointments to some city commissions and appointed political hacks who know nothing about our city or improvement?" This, obviously, refers to one loyal "improver" foot soldier who was rejected not once, not twice but three times as a candidate for the Planning Commission by Mayor Mansoor and carpetbagger Jim Righeimer was appointed instead. That must have been painful and embarrassing for him.

The final sentence on his entry was quite telling. He says, "The CM Press certainly hopes the above don't apply to you three, but some in the improvement community are asking questions similar to the above."

The message here, my friends, is that this fellow feels his little flock has stopped dancing to his tune. Apparently he thinks they should already have bulldozers plowing down the "slums" around town to make way for parks. That's just one of his metaphors for expunging every brown face from the city's borders.

That "improvement community" to which he refers is that small, angry cadre of mostly Westsiders who have attempted to take over control of the city for almost a decade, beginning with the election of the chronically inept Chris Steel. When Eric Bever was elected and lame duck Gary Monahan joined the dark side, they began to trample the rights of residents and have kept this city in a turmoil for more than two years and counting. Now, with Wendy Leece teamed with Mansoor and Bever, there's no stopping them. They've stacked the deck on the Planning and Parks and Recreation Commissions, which provides them even more power. This "improver" majority has demonstrated a willingness to blatantly ignore opposing viewpoints and have attempted more than once to quash debate when it didn't suit them.

Over the years I've gotten to know a few of the self-named "improvers". Some of them are pretty darn nice people, with good intentions and some very valid concerns about the deterioration of their neighborhoods. There are others in that group, however, that might be best described as frothing pit bulls instead of activists. They seem to have channeled all their fears toward the Latinos among them and have followed the lead of the guy who runs the CM Press to solve every problem in this city by simply removing the Latinos, legal or illegal, from our midst.

Today's posting is, hopefully, a sign that there's discontent in the "improver" camp. Let's hope that means that a few of them will realize what a dangerous, disgusting path they've been led down and will come to their senses. Let's hope those good, solid citizens among them will take a step back and select a different course. I fear that, if they do not, they may be tarred with the same brush as the guy who continues to turn the pages on their song books - a man who is notorious for his racist rants posted on the internet at various sites and who has been under scrutiny by civil rights organizations for years.

In the meantime, if the CM Press is angry, I'm smilin'.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Youth In Government - Again

Last night, at their regularly scheduled meeting, the Costa Mesa City Council voted unanimously to spend more than $3.5 million on a chunk of property on the Eastside which seems destined to become another park for our city. Within the past couple weeks this same group got into a squabble over a measly $3,800 for a Youth in Government program, which actually ended up being less than a grand. Don't you just love politics?

Speaking of which, while fighting a cold I finally managed to view the tape of the last council study session, during which they discussed that self-same program. If I happened to be a betting man, I'd bet the farm that every single person in attendance at that meeting was frustrated by the whole event. While we couldn't see the residents and other guests in the room, we could hear their response to the proceedings. Of course, we could see the council and city staff members as the camera panned back and forth. The photo above will give you an idea of how much fun Mayor Pro Tem (and court jester) Eric Bever was having as he unsuccessfully attempted to make a point to Katrina Foley. It's a good thing the table separated them. This image was captured right after Bever accused Foley of "grandstanding" and of being "willfully ignorant", two phrases of endearment that certainly won her over. Sanctimonious horse's patoot that he is, Bever went on at one point to state, "The youth in our community, the seniors in our community, the middle aged people, everybody who has a mouth and a brain and an idea and a viewpoint has access to sharing those viewpoints." He was referring to the Public Comments section at the council meetings, where speakers have three lousy minutes to present a viewpoint. You just have to love the guy and his arrogant disregard for almost any group in the city.

Much has been said and written about the Youth In Government plan that was initiated by Foley a year ago. The Daily Pilot has published a couple articles and an editorial on the subject and readers have chimed in with comments posted online at the Daily Pilot web site. Many of those comments were predictable and purely political in nature. Most of those supporting the position of the ruling troika, whatever it is, seem unwilling to identify themselves and use pen names of two, three or four letters. There's really nothing wrong with anonymity, but one can assume you choose not to have your family, friends and neighbors know your viewpoints, for whatever reasons. Fear and shame are a couple that come to mind.

After the study session on the 13th, the council adjourned to the regularly scheduled meeting of the Redevelopment Agency - the council in a fancy dress. It was interesting to note that several observers from the study session followed the council to the chambers and used their three minutes to address the Youth in Government issue, even though it's not under the purview of the Redevelopment Agency. Wisely, the agency members (council) voted to permit those few speakers to voice their opinions on that issue.

The Youth in Government issue will be on the agenda of the first council meeting in March. It will be very interesting, indeed, to see just what happens. Will Mansoor, Bever and Leece come up with real reasons for not considering the program this time around? Will they offer workable alternatives? Foley and Dixon were willing to bend to their will the last time around, but the majority refused to accept that compromise.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marina Mania

OK, let's talk about marinas, shall we? Over at the CM Press the self-appointed purveyor of all knowledge continues to rant about wanting the city to pursue the creation of a marina along the Santa Ana River. He talks of "poking a crummy stick in the dirt so the ocean can refill the silted over bay that exists between the Santa Ana River and the bluffs."

Now, I know this guy has made a big deal of being a Mensa member in the past, but that kind simplistic suggestion leads me to believe he may have been sloughing off brain cells by the wheelbarrow-load recently. Then, again, it's possible that he recognizes that the audience he must convince on this scheme is his hand-picked majority on the city council and any kind of a more complex presentation of the situation will go right over their heads. When it comes to convincing them he's following the old KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid. It seems to have been an effective tactic recently, because the majority on the council and most of their appointees on commissions always seem to nod their heads in agreement like so many bobble-head dolls when he pontificates in front of them

This pipe dream was cast aside two decades ago and it still isn't a good idea - particularly when it's proposed just to satisfy one guy's perverted wish to be able to dangle his toes in the ocean from a Costa Mesa location.

A few of the issues to consider include the following:

Who, specifically, would own this marina? It seems likely that Newport Beach would have first dibs, since it would front on the Banning Ranch property for the most part - a chunk of land their city leaders have recently decided to pursue.

What of Pacific Coast Highway? A major replacement bridge, similar to the Back Bay Bridge, would be necessary to permit watercraft to move upstream to the marina. Few boats could make it under the present bridge.

What kind of jetty would be required at the mouth of the river? Anything resembling those forming the entrance to Newport Harbor would certainly adversely affect the beaches to the south. On the other hand, the northern jetty might re-create The Wedge, Mecca for rabid body surfers and others with a water-activated death wish.

What of the homes in West Newport? Any widening of the river mouth to permit an entrance to a marina would very likely adversely affect those homes - perhaps requiring several to be removed.

One writer to this blog recently speculated that any marina created in the river would be connected to Newport Harbor via channels below the Banning Ranch property. This adds to the question of ownership.

And, with that in mind, maybe this marina wouldn't be accessed via the Santa Ana River mouth at all. Maybe it is reached via those channels from Newport Harbor. That would mean a nice, leisurely 90 minute chug from slip to sea. Sounds inviting, doesn't it?

Several thoughtful comments on this issue have been posted to an earlier blog entry. They can be read here.

With the track record our city council has in dealing with other government entities of late, I shudder at the specter of them trying to orchestrate an agreement between Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Cal Trans, the Coastal Commission and any number of other entities with a real or perceived interest in such a project.

On the positive side, we might even be able to get Bob Graham's 19th Street Bridge out of such a deal. Yeah, right!

Costa Mesa has plenty of real problems with which deal without fabricating a pie-in-the-sky fiasco that would take up valuable staff time, waste precious financial resources and divert the council's attention from real issues. If our pal at the CM Press has such a burning desire to live in a true "coastal city", I suggest that he simply pick up his bags and move to a city that already is one - like Newport Beach, Huntington Beach or Dana Point, for example. I'm sure he would be welcomed to any of those places with open arms (he says, tongue firmly planted in his cheek). I'll hold the door for him.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Youth Program Rejected - Again

The Daily Pilot reports this morning that the majority on the City Council, led by our young jailer/mayor, has again rejected the Youth in Government program originally proposed by Councilwoman Katrina Foley and placed in the "receive and file" trash can at an earlier council meeting.

According to Alicia Robinson's article, (here), Mansoor and his mates questioned the value of such a program during their study session last night. I have no first-hand knowledge of the proceedings - yet - but will review the tape when it's aired on Channel 24 on Thursday evening (or on streaming video if it's available earlier).

This is not unexpected, since it was clear at the January council meeting where this was discussed that the majority had no interest at all in this program. It was clear to me then that this was pure political posturing - that they didn't want a program launched by Foley to succeed. Nothing has changed that viewpoint.

Several individuals were quoted in Robinson's article, among them the council court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever. In typical condescending fashion, Bever is quoted as saying, "The youth in our community, the seniors in our community, the middle-aged people, everybody who has a brain and a mouth and a viewpoint, has access to share those viewpoints." What a crock!

This issue apparently was discussed for more than two hours Tuesday night - extremely long for a study session issue - so I can hardly wait to view the proceedings. I hope to glean some insight on the reasons the majority has chosen to reject and disappoint the youth of this city this way. Quite honestly, I don't have much hope of finding rational reasons for their actions - only politically charged rhetoric. We'll see.

Foley, who apparently said she won't attempt to revive this program, is quoted as saying, "I know how to count to three, and we don't have three votes." Sad, but true.

So, on this Valentine's Day - a day when hearts are on our minds - the mayor and his majority on the council have demonstrated, once again, that they are missing that particular organ. They've shown us, again, that they are intent on removing any program, concept or plan that might demonstrate that Costa Mesa has a heart.

Look out, Cupid - they're shooting back!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hang On! Here We Go!

The Planning Commission meeting Monday night was a particularly interesting adventure. This was the first meeting with the "5 improvers", or 4 improvers and a question mark, depending on how you view Jim Righeimer.

At the beginning of the meeting the assembled throng was treated to a mini-concert by a group of wonderful young children from Rea School. They led the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag, then sang the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. It was a nice touch. Apparently, although it didn't come through to the viewers at home, there was an accompanying Powerpoint presentation on the large screens displaying a recognition of the contributions Bill Perkins and Bruce Garlich made during their six year tenure on the commission - a very nice touch.

In the middle of this concert I received a telephone call from another observer, wondering if I was watching. He also wanted to know if I shared his feeling of irony at those bright, eager, mostly brown faces singing patriotic songs in front of the "improvers" on the dais, some of whom were almost certainly wondering how many of those children were in this country illegally. I, of course, shared the same question...

I couldn't help thinking about those children in the context of our current municipal immigration debate. I found myself wondering how many of them will find themselves separated from one or more parents in the near future as the parent is interrogated after a minor infraction - jaywalking, wrong-way-bicycle-riding, etc. - and end up being deported because they cannot produce adequate identification.

The meeting itself was just a little surreal. Following the mini-concert Donn Hall, serving as vice chairman of the commission, clumsily made presentations to Bruce Garlich and Bill Perkins acknowledging their service on the commission before being bounced by the new council majority. Hall's well-intentioned, but inept, attempt at a gracious presentation fell well short of the mark. He didn't even give Garlich and Perkins a chance to acknowledge the presentations and to say thanks to the many people gathered to honor them. I found myself cringing as I viewed the proceedings. That would not be the last time I would cringe that night.

After all that hoopla they finally got around to electing new officers - Hall as Chairman and Jim (I'm a realtor here in town) Fisler as Vice Chairman. Some will remember that Hall is a former mayor of Costa Mesa who, during his tenure two decades ago, tilted at more than his share of windmills.

Right off the bat the guy who resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, stood before the commission and tried to sell them on the wisdom of the creation of a marina in the Santa Ana riverbed - a pipe dream that was first floated by Hall two decades ago and failed to gain consideration. Hall took this guy's lead, acknowledged that he is "right" - a truly scary concept!

Hall, in his role as chairman, finally got around to introducing the new commissioners, Jim Righeimer and Sam Clark.

You knew this was going to be an interesting meeting when they decided to consider the last item on the agenda first. Good grief! Hall, crusty curmudgeon that he is, ran what can only be described as a loose ship last night. He seemed not particularly concerned with protocol and did a marginal job of controlling the flow if dialogue - frequently allowing comments to be shouted from the audience. This does not bode well for the future. He's shown us in the past that he cares little for the formalities so important for proper decorum and deliberation on the commission. With him in charge now the commission needs to be watched carefully. He demonstrated a penchant to attempt to consider and vote on items not on the agenda, for example.

In what may be an omen of things to come, Commissioner Eleanor Egan - a long time improver - attempted to derail the first item discussed. She launched a long and tedious presentation about how that particular project didn't fit her idea of the Mesa West Urban Plan. Fortunately, Hall slowed her momentum down long enough for Don Lamm, director of Development Services, to leap to the rescue and remind the commission that the urban plan didn't preclude industrial development, only provided a mechanism to insert residential into that primarily industrial area. Any industrial property owner in that area should be very, very worried. This sure looks like the improvers are going to try to change the rules - that agreement that was hammered out over a year's time by the Westside Revitalization Oversight Committee (WROC). I'm not surprised. You will recall that I've frequently reminded all residents to watch their backs, that their rights may be the next trampled by this mob. Well, this is only the beginning.

A note about Righeimer. He seems like a very smart fella, who is obviously up to speed on planning issues. I'm withholding judgment on him for a little while longer, but I suspect he'd be a good guy to have in this role - if his appointment hadn't been such a transparent example of political patronage. Time will tell.

As provocatively entertaining as the Planning Commission meeting was last night, the City Council Study Session this evening promises to be even more fun. I'd love to have the boxing glove concession for this one. I find myself hoping that Katrina Foley and Allan Mansoor are sitting at opposite ends of the table, to avoid the possibility of nose-to-nose dialogue. Stay tuned.


Monday, February 12, 2007

"Improvers", Carpetbaggers and Sounding Off

Over at the CM Press this morning the guy who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, presents a schedule of events for his readers to consider. Sound familiar?

Anyhow, part of his presentation today is a gloating rant about what he refers to as the no-planning commission, and makes reference to tonight's meeting being the first for the "improver" commission - stating that all the members have ties to the angry group of malcontents who describe themselves as "improvers". In my view, that's a real stretch. Four of the five certainly have strong ties to that group, with Sam Clark being the latest appointee. To say that carpetbagger Jim Righeimer is an "improver" tests credulity. He hasn't even been in town long enough to unpack his bags, for goodness sake. No, Righeimer is occupying that chair as political patronage until something better comes along - a council seat or maybe another run at the Assembly seat held by Van Tran. This perch will give him a place to get some name recognition until it's time to move on.

Incidentally, with at least four of the planning commissioners carrying the "improver" banner, what are chances of Brown Act violations among this group? Do you really think they won't be pre-fabricating decisions on development issues in this city? Just wondering...

Tuesday's council study session is going to be very interesting. The discussion of the Youth in Government program, trash-canned at a recent council meeting, will be enlightening. At last report, none of the New Majority had requested that any information be discussed or presented. It will be interesting to see just what kind of "input" our young jailer/mayor makes on this issue. You will recall, his reason for discarding this program was because he hadn't had a chance to provide input in the nine months after it was first introduced. Talk about a slow learner!

Sunday the Daily Pilot published one of my submissions under their "Sounding Off" banner (here). It's going to be very interesting to see what kind of comments are published in the online version responding to this particular piece. I'm thinking they will very likely prove my point. I'm grateful to the editors of the Daily Pilot for considering my commentary print-worthy.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rain, Youth's Pain And "Your Neighbor's" Brain

Here are a few things to mull over this weekend. It's supposed to rain, so you'll just be sitting around, longing for football games, anyhow.

On Monday the new Planning Commission will be seated, including "improver" Sam Clark and carpetbagger Jim Righeimer. I wonder if Dana Rohrabacker will show up for the festivities? The highlight of that event will be the ceremony acknowledging the contributions of Bill Perkins and Bruce Garlich during their six years on the commission. Looking at the agenda report, the new commission will have it's hands full that evening. I find myself wondering if one loyal "improver" will show up at the meeting after being rejected three times by our young jailer/mayor for a spot on the commission. The carpetbagger got his seat when the music finally stopped.

Tuesday brings us the City Council study session in which the Youth in Government program, quashed last month by the council, has a chance for resurrection. You will recall that the mayor, in fit of pique, led the vote to "receive and file" the plan because he hadn't had a chance to provide "input". Alicia Robinson in the Daily Pilot recently reported that, curiously, none of the council members had provided any questions to be answered in the study session. During the council meeting in which the program was effectively trash-canned, Rubber Stamp Leece protested that it hadn't been her intent as, Parks and Recreation Commission Chair when this program was discussed last April, to have the program launched before the council had a chance to address it.

My review of the proceedings revealed a very different picture. She was all a'twitter about it and couldn't wait to second Mark Harris' motion, "to support the City funding and the implementation of a Youth in Government Program for the next fiscal year, and to have staff work with the School District to ensure that students who participate in this program are credited hours towards community service requirement for graduation" That was the extent of the motion. No other comments were made before or after the vote implying that it was their intent to recommend to the City Council any action on this issue. Subsequently, the City Council approved the budget, which included the modest amount of $3,800 for this program.

If our young jailer/mayor honestly wanted to provide "input" on this issue, he had the gestation period of a human embryo during which to provide it. I don't know, maybe it takes that long for an idea to evolve in his cranium. This is just a sham, of course. Katrina Foley initiated this plan, and the New Majority has demonstrated that they will crush the hopes of the children and the seniors in this community if necessary to prohibit Foley from getting credit for anything. Such is the pitiful condition of leadership in Costa Mesa these days.


In the meantime, that bozo over at the CM Press - a guy who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - spent his week creating more fiction for his acolytes. He ripped the school district and the city for the poor showing by three Costa Mesa schools, blaming - you guessed it - illegal immigrants! Of course, that's all part of his scheme to rid our city of anyone with a Latin-sounding name. His solution to the shortage of playing fields is to plow under a handful of apartment buildings in the city where - you guessed it again - Latinos live, to make more fields.

He chided the council about their lack of effort to "market" Costa Mesa to developers. He suggested the city wine and dine potential developers and used an exceptionally obnoxious illustration to make his point.

He repeatedly pumped Camp Pendleton as a venue for a new airport to take the pressure off John Wayne Airport. ( I agree with that, by the way) With this country in the midst of a nasty war, it's unlikely the federal government will unload any portion of their primary Marine training base for an airport.

He assailed the process of doling out Community Development Block Grant funds to charities. You will recall that he "resigned" from the 3R Committee, the body charged by the council to assess and recommend to the council recipients for such funds, last year in the run-up to the campaign. It is assumed that he bailed out at that time just to take pressure off our young jailer/mayor because of his association with this guy. If he had his way, not a single charity in town would receive those funds because they encourage the presence of undesirables - you know, those folks who can't afford to live here - the hungry, elderly and, here we go again, Latinos.

Perhaps his most bizarre suggestion was, once again, to dredge out part of the Santa Ana River to make a "harbor" for Costa Mesa. It's a truly weird suggestion, since we don't have a way to access it. However, that's our guy - fabricating issues as he goes along.

I suspect he'll be spending at least part of his weekend preparing the play book for the council study session and the next meeting in two weeks. Without him to show the way the New Majority would be lost - or so he thinks.

Enjoy the rain.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Seniors Rebuffed - Who's Next?

Today's lesson is the word "rancor". My dictionary defines it as, "bitter deep-seated ill will".

Rancorous is the word that best describes much of the proceedings at last night's Costa Mesa City Council meeting. The tension was so thick you could have cut it with a knife! I found myself thinking that it's a good thing Katrina Foley and Allan Mansoor are not seated next to each other, because last night they likely would have come to blows. At one point in the meeting Linda Dixon asked for the floor, then took that opportunity to speak to chide her fellow council members, including herself in the scolding, and said, "We should be ashamed of ourselves." Right on, Linda! I couldn't agree more. It was like watching kindergarten children in a playground spat.

The New Majority showed it's true colors again last night as they found yet another
group in our community to rebuff. This time it was the growing senior population. In the usual 3-2 vote, - with Foley and Dixon voting "no" - they decided to reject a plan to create a Senior Advisory Committee, the charter of which would be to contemplate, evaluate and advise the council on issues that are oriented toward the growing senior population in Costa Mesa. As you listened to the mealy-mouthed excuses by Mansoor and the court jester, Eric Bever , for not authorizing such a committee, you realized that they have no interest in hearing from any group of residents other than their cadre of boot-lickers on any issue in the city.

So, now they have rebuffed the youth in our community when they decided to "receive and file" the Youth in Government program at the last council meeting and now the seniors at this meeting. Of course, you will recall the previous council - also controlled byMansoor and Bever - disbanded the Human Relations Committee, too.

If you watched the meeting last night you saw our young jailer/mayor at his worst. Time after time he tried to stifle discussion on one issue or another. Once again he and Foley got into it when he tried to cut her out of the discussion and, once again, she told him repeatedly that he was just plain rude. Trust me, rude is the least of it. It's obvious watching him that he really doesn't care to hear any kind of opposing viewpoint and will do all in his power to quash them. What a travesty.

So, you Mansoor supporters, get ready. It won't be long until he finds a way to trample your rights, too. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Beat Goes On And On

You know, some things never change. Over at the CM Press, the racist author continues with his drumbeat about Costa Mesa's under performing schools, which he blames entirely on the presence of children of illegal immigrants. He laments the relatively poor performance of some Costa Mesa schools when compared to schools in Newport Beach, again blaming the disparity on those children of illegal aliens. He, of course, ignores the socio-economic differences between the two cities. If you disregard the illegal immigrants in Costa Mesa - and no one really knows how many people that represents - Newport Beach is still far ahead of Costa Mesa in every economic measurement. The CM Press author says, " want the best education for your kids and you want them to have a leg up on life." That's undoubtedly true. However, many - probably most - of the kids living in Newport Beach don't just have a leg up, they start several rungs up on the ladder before ever throwing that leg up. That's just the way it is. Expunging the Latinos from Costa Mesa - the CM Presses ultimate objective, if you believe his rants on the internet sites for which he writes - doesn't resolve that disparity.

No rational person will deny that injecting students with limited English skills into a school system creates problems. It's one thing to insert new limited English students at the Kindergarten, First or Second grades - programs are available to manage those students and get them up to speed quickly. However, when students with those limitations are inserted at higher grades it will take Herculean efforts to keep them from failing. It takes hard work and dedication on the part of the administrators, teachers, students and their parents for them to succeed. Rather than expend that effort, the CM Press would rather just flush them out of the city.

Now, this would be bad enough if he was the only person in this city with such intolerant views, but he's not. Today, in our city, we have a majority on the City Council who are in lockstep with his views. As a result, anytime any issue that might, in the slightest way, involve students of Latino origins comes up, the New Majority on the council hammers it. And, since the minority on the council, Katrina Foley and Linda Dixon, seem willing to help craft solutions to the problems, the New Majority freezes them out - discarding almost every positive, progressive effort they propose. The most recent of these was the Youth in Government proposal that was trash-canned in a fit of pique by the New Majority instead of taking the time to flesh out their concerns and move forward with a program that was already in progress. Letters to the editor and online comments in the Daily Pilot reflected the disappointment of the children involved, and that of many concerned citizens, as well.

Steve Smith, in his Daily Pilot column, recently took the New Majority to task for that particular move and alluded to an insensitivity to children's issues on their part. Certainly, that cannot possibly apply to Councilwoman Wendy Leece who, in addition to being a mother and grandmother, spent several tumultuous years on the school board. Smith's assessment about Bever and Mansoor, though, may be more accurate. Childless, as far as we know, these two men continue to take actions that appear to be the result of insensitivity, ignorance or just plain stubbornness - maybe all three.

The New Majority has placed the welfare of the children of Costa Mesa squarely in the cross hairs of their misguided attempts to expunge Latinos from our city. Following the lead of the CM Press, they've made the children pawns in their petty political games. Shame on them.

Further in that same posting the CM Press author goes on to lament the fact that "We're not only not attracting upwardly mobile people, we're seeing many of those who already live here flee to safer communities with better schools and a higher quality of life". He then says, "And, it is people who make a difference. A city is its people." He's 100% correct in those observations.

I know a few of those young, upwardly mobile families who decided to leave Costa Mesa recently for what they perceived as a better place to live. They left not because of a problem with the schools - they were very happy with the educational opportunities available to their children here. They left because of the atmosphere in this city - an atmosphere of intolerance that not only festers on the Westside, but is encouraged by the actions of some of our elected leaders. They simply didn't want to raise their families in a city where such Neanderthal values thrive. They looked ahead and saw no light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel - so they moved on. How can you blame them? Do you really enjoy living in a city where such views control the agenda? This is a real tragedy for our community.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Banning Ranch - Another Opportunity Lost

Well, it looks like any chance of Costa Mesa negotiating with the City of Newport Beach regarding annexation of the Banning Ranch has gone from slim to none. As reported in the Daily Pilot recently, Newport's mayor, Steve Rosansky announced during his "state of the city" address that plans are in the works for residential development on that prime piece of ocean view land that abuts Costa Mesa. A scan of the internet reveals that environmental groups also covet this land - as a perpetual "natural" park. I can think of one activist in Costa Mesa who's probably seething. What a shame.

So, it looks like Costa Mesa has missed the boat - again. When it comes to negotiating with our neighboring cities we just don't quite seem to have what it takes. It remains to be seen whether the Santa Ana Country Club, a wonderful piece of property located within Costa Mesa's sphere of influence, and other sites in East Santa Ana Heights, will be annexed to Costa Mesa or Newport Beach. I'm betting Newport gets it all. The residents of the areas in question have practically screamed from the rooftops that they do not want to become part of Costa Mesa.

Let's see, now, if I can convince the City of Newport Beach to annex everything in Costa Mesa east of Tustin Avenue I'd get an instant bump in property value of about 50% and wouldn't have to deal with the dunderheads controlling this city now. Ah, Nirvana!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brown Act Follies

I guess most of us who follow Costa Mesa politics know that our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, and the court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, are pals. Both men have alluded to that relationship many times over the years. Mansoor made it very clear when he actively campaigned for Bever in 2004 and Bever speaks on behalf of Mansoor frequently. Based on their public statements, it's clear that they have a tight relationship.

Those of us who watched the campaign last year realize that Mansoor took Wendy Leece under his wing and professed his support for her candidacy at every opportunity. She was at his side at almost every public function and shared campaign literature with her. He even contributed to her campaign. It appears that not much has changed since the election, either. I've seen recent video of the two of them at a Republican function, where he acknowledged her great contributions to the City of Costa Mesa.

All this collegial coziness leads me to a question for you. Do you know about the Ralph M. Brown Act? That act is part of the California Government code, and was designed to guarantee that public bodies, like commissions and councils, conduct their business in an open manner. To quote the first section in part, "It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."

Here's why I asked the question. Since the mayor and Bever are buddies, and since the mayor and Leece seem to have been joined at the hip over the past nearly a year, what are the chances they occasionally violate the Brown Act by discussing city business together out of view of the public? Not possible, you say? How about this scenario? The mayor and Bever talk about an issue, then the mayor and Leece talk about the same issue. The mayor can't have that second conversation without considering Bever's viewpoint, can he? Based on my understanding of the law, that "chain conversation" is a violation of the Brown Act.

What brings this question to mind is the frequency with which The Mayor, Bever and Leece seem attuned to each other's view on issues. Yes, I'm sure they agree on many things philosophically and it's obvious that, once they decide on an issue, it's going to pass. The minority on the council has no real voice since it doesn't have the votes. Of course, Mansoor's New Majority understands that fact - all of them can probably count to three - so it's not outside the realm of possibility that they pre-fabricate their opinions before the actual public meetings.

Do I have any evidence about such potential violations? Nope, not a one. Do I think those violations are possible? Yes, I do. Do I think they are probable? Well, I've watched Mansoor and Bever on the dais for several years and I know that Bever continues to play fast and loose with the rules. He's passed notes on the dais suggesting a course of action to other council members, which is a technical violation of the Brown Act. When challenged on these transgressions he just cavalierly brushes the criticism aside with a glib retort. Does this make him trustworthy? I'll leave that speculation to you.

Because of their special relationships, I think the probability of Brown Act violations exist. After the lies and deceit during the campaign, this is just one more reason to view the performance of the New Majority with a critical eye.