Friday, March 30, 2007

Directly Elect The Mayor? I Vote No!

On March 20th, at the end of an entry I posted that day, I speculated that our young jailer/mayor might be investigating the methodology of directly electing the position of Mayor of Costa Mesa as opposed to the current method of being selected from among his peers on the City Council. I also postulated that such a move would further strengthen his grip on our city and result in a virtual dictatorship.

The Daily Pilot today, in an article by Alicia Robinson entitled "Elect mayors, end musical chairs?", brings this issue to the forefront. She tells us that former 12-year councilman (the only one to earn pension credits) Gary Monahan first proposed it earlier in this decade, but didn't have the votes at the time to put the change on the ballot. Mansoor inquired about what it might take to elect the mayor directly a month ago. Monahan is quoted as saying that a directly elected mayor would be "the de facto voice of the city". It is rumored around town that Monahan might be considering yet another run for a council seat in 2008.

People typically view the position of mayor as largely ceremonial, but Mansoor has changed that view with his ill-advised attempt to turn every Costa Mesa police officer into an immigration screener. From that point forward, including the moment when Jim Gilchrist anointed him as an honorary Minuteman, he became the poster child for the anti-illegal immigration movement in this country. His smiling face was plastered all over the media, including appearances on national television, where his "Aw, shucks, I just want safe streets." act endeared him to the radical right and made him a symbol for intolerance - and he dragged the reputation of our city along with him. "Ceremonial", my fanny!

We've seen him consolidate his power to the point where he can, and will, dictate even the smallest bit of minutia - like who sits where on the dais. This kind of arrogance of power should make every resident of this city nervous.

In her article Robinson quotes Mayor Carolyn Cavecche of Orange as saying that, following her election as mayor in 2006, "she's had a better opportunity to promote her agenda". That's what power does...

So, let me be clear on my view of this subject. I think the direct election of the mayor of our city is a bad idea, regardless who the candidate might be. I think it consolidates too much power in one person's grip. I think it would be especially tragic if our young jailer/mayor were to be directly elected to that position, because he's shown us his stripes for several years. He has demonstrated for us any number of times that he puts his own personal political future ahead of the safety of our residents and the well-being of our city. He's shown us that he is willing to lie during a campaign in order to be re-elected and that he's more than willing to turn his back on loyal supporters for political expediency. He's demonstrated that he's a man not to be trusted.

Even though Mansoor has the power of a dictator now through his control of the majority on the council, the direct election of the mayor would only exacerbate that problem and enhance his power. I vote "No!"

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Anger Management

Over at the CM Press our old buddy, The-Brain-That-Ate-Costa-Mesa, is ticked off at the Planning Commission again. Ohhh, poor baby! All this angst can't be good for his health.

Yep, he apparently thinks some members of his little flock seem to be drifting away from the path he's chosen for them and it angers him. This time he shredded four of the five commissioners - he thinks Commissioner Sam Clark is still on board with him. The remaining four, Chairman Donn Hall, Vice Chair Jim Fisler and commissioners Eleanor Egan and Jim Righeimer are sabotaging his grand plan for the renaissance of the Westside industrial areas because they voted Monday night to permit an existing contracting operation to continue to do business in our city. I watched the tape of the proceedings. The parcel in question is zoned industrial and the use as presented to them is just about as benign an "industrial" use as is possible to imagine. Still, "The Brain" is ticked off because they followed the rules instead of his wishes.

So angry is our pal, who very much resembles my theoretical character Your Neighbor, that he's blaming his majority on the City Council for appointing these commissioners. He practically demands that the council replace them, "as is their right", according to this bleating donkey. He makes not-too-veiled threats about the political future of a couple of these commissioners who don't toe his line.

Do you remember when the Westside plans were first launched? This guy stood before every podium he could find and yapped about "market forces" being the driving motivation for change on the Westside. He implied that no coercion would be necessary to oust existing businesses - that time and a changing market would facilitate the changes he wanted. Ha!

I wouldn't be surprised to see the specter of eminent domain rear it's ugly head once again. We already hear the chatter about using it as a way to bulldoze "slums" to make way for apartments or playing fields. The Redevelopment Agency - the City Council in a fancy dress - has the power to use eminent domain in it's area. The council has denied they intend to use it in the past, but I don't trust them, particularly now that their "leader of the band" is getting mad at them.

Don't turn your back on these guys. You'll regret it.

On a lighter note, there was an interesting exchange between Chairman Hall and resident Mike Berry who, with his wife Judy, form a one-two punch on many issues before commissions and the City Council. This time it was the parcel mentioned above. Judy spoke first and pleaded her case for denial of the requested conditional use permit, citing her opinion that the Westside would never get changed if the commission continued to permit industrial uses in the industrial area. Then Mike stood to amplify her views. He got off on the wrong foot with Hall, who interrupted him to rebut a comment he'd made, then just flat told him "you're done" and shut him out as Berry stalked from the podium.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do We Need A Daytime Curfew?

Recently the Costa Mesa Police Department, as part of their comprehensive plan to reduce gang activity in our city, recommended the establishment of a Truancy Ordinance, which amounts to a daytime curfew for school age children. The Daily Pilot provided a good overview in an article by Alicia Robinson here.

I watched the CMPD presentation before the city council at the study session and also watched a handful of concerned parents speak to this issue before the council at a subsequent meeting. I agree with most of the views expressed that night - this smacks of authoritarianism. Quite honestly, I'm not surprised that this city council is considering such a move. They have demonstrated many times in the past that they are more than willing to compromise the rights of residents to attain their own personal goals.

At a time when we've seen actions proposed by Mayor Mansoor and his majority cause a rift between the Latino community in this city and the government, including the police department, do we really want the Costa Mesa Police Department to be tasked to become truant officers? At a time when we should be attempting to build relationships between the police and the youth of this community do, we really want our officers randomly stopping kids who might legitimately be away from their campus for a variety of reasons?

What guidelines will they use for stopping children during school hours? Will they stop the white kids driving their mother's Mercedes to the skate park? Will they stop and interrogate the Latino children waiting at a bus stop for transportation from school to their after-school job on the other side of town? Will they sit in the Wendy's parking lot on 17th Street on Wednesday afternoons and cite the hoard of rowdy urchins from Ensign Middle School who descend on that fast food store each week?

What about those college students at OCC who look younger than their age? Will they stop them as they travel to and from that school?

Will this be a "zero tolerance" ordinance, with no room for the exercise of judgment on the part of the officers? If not, what are the parameters of this flexibility? Will every kid with brown kid be cited and every kid with white skin be warned?

What kind of identification and authorization must a child show to prove he or she is legitimately off campus during school hours? Will they be required to prove legal residence? Will they be taken to jail for a truancy infraction, where they get passed before the resident ICE agent? If that seems like a stupid question, I guarantee you there are children on the Westside of our city wondering about that very issue?

It seems to me that this is a perfect topic for those young people involved in the Youth in Government program to contemplate. It would be very interesting to get the viewpoints of those involved, bright young people who will live with this decision before casting it in stone.

The school district is charged with the care and education of our children during school hours. I suspect that if we returned to a time when there were closed campuses and an enforced school uniform policy many of the problems of children wandering throughout the neighborhoods during school hours would diminish. Drive past any high school in the district during the normal school day and you'll see a continual flow of children coming and going at all hours. I read of the procedure currently in place and wonder just why that's not successful in controlling truancy. Perhaps the district needs to tighten up the enforcement of their own policies before suggesting we unleash a draconian daytime curfew.

Many of you have dismissed out of hand my assertions in the past that our current elected leaders are tending to resemble the leaders of Nazi Germany in the run-up to World War II. This, I'm afraid, is just another example of that kind of behavior. Before we unleash the good men and women of the Costa Mesa Police Department with an open-ended, inadequately defined plan for the interrogation of our kids, more reasonable, rational consideration should be given to this kind of plan.

Yes, we have a growing gang problem in Costa Mesa. Yes, we need to provide the police department tools with which they can combat this problem. I, along with many of my fellow Costa Mesans, are concerned that this approach proposed by the CMPD will only exacerbate the fracture in relationships between the police and a demographic group representing more than a third of our residents. Not only that, but it has the very real potential to create animosity and distrust among the children that are part of the remaining two-thirds.

I urge more debate and caution before this curfew plan is codified.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Civility, Where Art Thou?

Have you noticed just how acrimonious our City Council meetings have become lately? The end of the last one, of course, was fraught with tension and rancor because it involved Councilwoman Linda Dixon being forcibly unseated by majority vote of the council, which conferred upon our young jailer/mayor the right to arrange the seats in any manner he chooses. In fact, it's likely that the council policy the City Attorney was instructed to prepare will permit him, and future mayors, to arbitrarily shuffle the deck any time he or she chooses. Pretty silly stuff, if you ask me.

Silly as it might have been, though, it caused an amplification of the stress long visible to those of us paying attention to such things. Clearly, much of this city remains divided into two factions - those who agree with the mayor and his majority and those who prefer a more mature, moderate, reasonable, steady approach to governance.

Prior to vote being taken to bounce Dixon from her chair, former mayor Sandra Genis attempted to provide some history and education for the council. She read excerpts from The Federalist Papers, quotes from The Bible and even tried some good old common sense. None of that worked. Dixon read the email that apparently launched this whole thing - a message from Leece to the City Manager, Allan Roeder, requesting the seat swap. She then let the mayor know in no uncertain terms how disappointed she was to have not been given the courtesy of being included in the decision - or even consulted. His pitiful attempt at an apology was disingenuous at best.

This kind of rancor has spilled over into the communications tacked onto the end of articles, commentaries and editorials in the Daily Pilot, too. Ever since that fine newspaper provided the capability to post comments we've seen a deterioration of civility in many comment threads. Most usually start out with the first few commentors addressing the issue at hand. However, almost invariably, many of the subsequent comments are critical of earlier comments and commentors instead of simply voicing a divergent view of the subject. Most of the nastiest are posted by anonymous cowards using fictitious pen names, spouting rhetoric they would likely never use in civil conversation. I mentioned this phenomenon in an earlier post and it's getting worse. I admit to being sucked into this literary quicksand, but have never posted comments anonymously - which still doesn't make it right. When your integrity is challenged it's normal to strike back - like any shouting match. However, it seldom accomplishes anything except giving the combatants a sore throat to go along with their sore heads.

So, from this point forward I'm going to do my best to keep my comments on those venues at a higher level - maybe others will do the same, although I don't have much hope for a couple of them. If I back-slide I know there will be some of you out there to remind me.

Here on my blog, though, I'm going to continue to present my views as I choose. That will likely involve ridiculing some of our local officials frequently - because they deserve it. I will also continue to chide one particular blogger - because I disagree with his philosophy and his ego makes him such a great target. I suspect he feels the same about me. That's just the way it is.

As we turn the corner on the last week of March and head, appropriately, to April Fool's Day, I look forward to continuing to participate in an exchange of ideas and opinions with those of you who choose to join me. Every comment received here is much appreciated and will be published, unless it is submitted as "anonymous" or it doesn't pass the "cuss-o-meter" filter. Fortunately, there have been very few of those.

Thanks for playing in my sandbox.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Grant, Alexander and Floating Effluent

Well, that didn't take long. Before the sun was up this morning The-Brain-That-Ate-Costa-Mesa had published his version of events at the City Council meeting last night on the CM Press - the official house organ of the Mansoor Majority.

In his own special way ("giddy gang of galloping galoots" - I love it!), in a post full of homilies, he compares our young jailer/mayor to General Ulysses S. Grant and Alexander The Great! He also implies, through one of his homilies, that Mayor Mansoor can walk on water! Geez!

He spends a good deal of time justifying Mansoor's bullying approach to leadership, which doesn't surprise me at all. After all, this is his guy - molded (manipulated?) for years to implement his plans. He knows the mayor much better than I do, for sure. If he thinks Mansoor is like Grant (a drunkard) or Alexander (how shall we say it? - a "switch hitter"), who am I to quibble? After all, he's invested a lot of time writing the script for the mayor and his mob, so he should know. As far as that "walking on water" reference is concerned, there's an old saying, which I will paraphrase - effluent floats.

I'm still trying to figure out Wendy Leece. Her role in this "seating chart" scenario is very strange. Did she initiate this whole thing or didn't she? Why does she give two different versions at different times? Is she really that vacuous? Her performance in this issue only re-affirms that she really is nothing more than a rubber stamp on the dais, doing what she's told by Mansoor. I still think moving her between Bever and Allan Roeder was more about removing her from Katrina Foley's influence than providing her the chance to whisper questions to Roeder. She and Foley seemed to be getting along just fine, which had to rankle our young jailer/mayor.

Now we'll see Mansoor, Bever and Leece chatting among themselves, with Mansoor's back turned on Foley and Dixon - both physically and symbolically - for the next nearly two years. Although, this could change, too. Mansoor has asked that a council policy conferring upon him the power to decided who sits where be created. Maybe, as one observer commented, he'll ask Foley and Dixon to sit in the audience, since their opinions are irrelevant to the proceedings. After all that's gone on, it wouldn't surprise me.

Our young jailer/mayor actually seemed surprised that the seating issue became such a big deal. Under most circumstances it wouldn't have. It's really more of how he ham-handedly went about trying to do it that became the issue. He has a history of this kind of disregard for opinions of others. I haven't seen such a display of cluelessness since Chris Steel sat on the dais with his deer-in-the-headlights look on his face.

So, once again, I jam my tongue firmly in my cheek and "thank" all you voters who gave us Mansoor and Leece last November. I'll continue to remind you what a disaster this has become as time passes, although when they begin to mess with your rights I doubt it will be necessary.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dictator Rising

Those of you who are frequent readers of this blog will recall that I've warned that our young jailer/mayor is methodically attempting to turn Costa Mesa into a dictatorship. Some of you scoffed at that claim, accusing me of being too dramatic. Well, tonight's City Council meeting gave you yet another example of why I feel the way I do.

During the Public Comments portion near the beginning of the meeting several parents and residents of our city stood and spoke against what they perceived to be a pending violation of their rights and those of their children. They referred to a daytime curfew that was mentioned last week as part of the Gang Intervention program discussed at the Study Session. I understand their concern, since such a curfew reeks of some authoritarian regimes in the past. I suspect those concerned parents might not have been as worried if the mayor hadn't demonstrated a tendency to play fast and loose with individual rights.

Then, at the end of what turned out to be an abbreviated council meeting, the much-anticipated seating arrangement changes were discussed and the Mayor Mansoor demonstrated for us that he is, in fact, well on the way to becoming a dictator in our city. Despite the guidance provided to the council by former mayor Sandra Genis - who twice stood before them and read some very relevant passages from The Federalist Papers, gave some biblical quotes, and provided some history of previous council procedures - the mayor and his majority voted to force Linda Dixon to swap seats with Wendy Leece beginning at the next meeting. Dixon voted "No", but Katrina Foley abstained, stating that she didn't think this issue was appropriate business for the City Council.

Prior to the vote Dixon read an email, apparently the one mentioned in a late post on this evening, in which Leece apparently asked the City Manager to make the seating change. That message provided a cc to the mayor. We join in being more than a little curious about the faulty recollection on Leece's part, since she feigned ignorance of how this issue was brought up when interviewed by the Daily Pilot. I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt on this one, but since she showed us a willingness to bend the truth during her campaign, I think it's likely she's fibbing again.

The mayor took one more step to consolidate his iron grip on our city when he moved not only to force Dixon to give up her seat to Leece, but also included a proviso directing that steps be taken to codify his authority to choose who sits where without having to consider any view except his own. Actually, this is pretty much how he operates on most issues, so it was no surprise to me.

Those of you who voted for Mansoor and Leece last November based on their position on illegal immigration will soon find that the mayor is more than willing to mess with your rights, too.

Watching the mayor in action over the past few years makes me nervous. This apprehension is only exacerbated by the pervasive rumor that he might be investigating a change to directly elect the position of mayor. That sure sounds like a guy trying to solidify his position as dictator, not at all unlike Uganda's Idi Amin Dada - the Dictator For Life. As each day passes he demonstrates an unwillingness to be accountable to anyone for his actions. Such a direct election scheme would compound that problem.

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"The Brain" Rants Again

Over at the CM Press this morning The-Brain-That-Ate-Costa-Mesa has published a little study guide for his followers on the City Council to read prior to the meeting tonight, when they will consider putting a moratorium on certain types of development on the Westside.

For months, when the Westside plans were being formulated, this hypocrite stood before the City Council and Planning Commission and spouted off about how "market forces" would take care of the Westside if it were just properly zoned. Now, when it appears that his idea of the renaissance of the Westside isn't moving fast enough to suit him, he's advocating the council to provide a little "push", to jump start the removal of industrial uses to make way for homes.

And, as we all have seen recently, he continues to raise the bogus claim of pollution defiling the entire city, blown across from those nasty industrial uses by the wonderful ocean breezes. This claim has been refuted in the past by investigations by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD), but that's not good enough for this guy. Now he claims the AQMD isn't the proper body to be assessing pollution. What?!

Nothing will satisfy this guy until every single brown face is removed from our city. His putrid, racist philosophy underlies all the things he's doing to expunge them from our city. The sad part is that he's now got a majority on the City Council that either completely agrees with him or are just too intellectually challenged to see what he's doing. The end result is the same.

By the way, the musical chairs issue comes to full boil tonight and has had plenty of press. But, if guidance is what our young jailer/mayor has in mind for his rubber stamp, Wendy Leece, perhaps they should just scoot her present chair over toward Katrina Foley's spot and place a folding chair beside her next to the mayor and let the guy from the CM Press sit there and coach her along though the proceedings. That way Wendy wouldn't have to try to filter what the City Manager had to say - she could get the straight scoop from her mentor. It's just an idea...

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Buffoonery Abounds

It's an interesting day in the local blog world.

First, in response to an article in the Daily Pilot, here, about the childish game of musical chairs our young jailer/mayor seems intent on playing, our old pal, Byron de Arakal published yet another pithy post on his blog,, here. Nobody manages to insert the knife and twist it just right better than Byron.

Then, over at the CM Press,
The Brain That Ate Costa Mesa posted not one but two new entries designed to twist the facts for his loyal, misguided readers, here and here. It constantly amazes me that he actually finds folks who believe him, especially in light of his perverted views of our society as reflected in his numerous essays on radical right wing web sites, here.

Then, Claudio Gallegos posted the final installment of his expose', Confessions of a Westside Improver, which you can read here. If you missed the first two, you can read number 1 here and the second one here.

All of this is an interesting preamble to the City Council meeting tomorrow night. The grand "musical chairs" issue is scheduled to be discussed at the end of the meeting. It will be interesting to see if our young jailer/mayor continues with this folly, or will he have seen the light and changed his mind. He should simply ask to have the issue removed from the agenda, apologize to the staff for making them waste valuable time and money researching this issue and move forward - but he won't. Nope, much as Brer Rabbit got stuck in the Tar Baby in the briar patch in Disney's "Song of the South", he's just going to keep slugging away until he's got both feet and hands so deep into this ridiculous issue that he can't extricate himself.

So, the beat goes on here in the land of Costa Mesa, where buffoonery
on the dais has been refined to an art form and intolerance forms the foundation for governance.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Pondering The Mayor's Silence

I invite you to visit to view Byron de Arakal's most recent contributions. His past two entries, here and here, pose a very interesting question - "Why does our young jailer/mayor virtually ignore crimes in our city perpetrated by whites and scream to the high heavens when a Latino appears to be involved in one?"

A cynical guy might assume some kind of prejudice existed, particularly in light of the fact that he's been receiving guidance and counsel from a man in our community who has become internationally notorious for his racist views.

I've written about this several times in the past. Last December, following the sweep by law enforcement officials from several venues that snagged 57 white supremacists - 20 at 17 locations in Costa Mesa - I pondered why the mayor had not a word to say on this issue publicly. Neither did the author of the CM Press, who never misses a chance to whoop and holler when a Latino is arrested for a crime.

Today I renew that speculation. What would cause our mayor, a deputy sheriff and the self-anointed savior whose role in live is to protect us from "dangerous felons", to become mute following arrests of white people who had committed heinous crimes? Doesn't that seem the least bit curious to anyone else? It's such an overt omission that it causes one to scratch one's head in bewilderment.

That question will give you something to think about as we await Tuesday's council meeting, during which the mayor either will flex his muscles and force Councilwoman Linda Dixon to surrender her seat to his running mate and hand-picked rubber stamp, Wendy Leece or he won't. Unfortunately, no matter what he does in that matter, he still looks like a bully and buffoon.

It also gives you something to think about as we await the final installment on the Orange Juice! blog of Claudio Gallegos' interview with a Westside Improver.

So, drink some green beer at Monahan's pub and enjoy the weekend.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Simple Solution to Illegal Immigration


Can you count the number of times you've heard opinions on the illegal immigrant "problem" in this country over the past few years? I can't. I venture to guess that there have been literally millions of public pronouncements by elected officials and the man in the street that have been published or broadcast in the past couple years. And yet, here we are, still with no viable solution in sight.

In my opinion, the solution to illegal immigration starts with secure borders. Without a secure border there is no way to stop illegal immigration, period. Yes, you can use Mayor Mansoor's tactic of picking up jaywalkers, errant bicycle riders and loiterers along with those dangerous felons he allegedly wanted to get off the streets and deport them. When they come back to continue to try to earn a living here they can be arrested as a felon and thrown in jail for a very significant period of time, adding to the crisis of overcrowding in our jails. Following their release they would be once again deported and the dance begins all over again.

And, how do we secure the border, you ask? Well, obviously, it's not by building a seven hundred mile long fence - a fence on which at least one contractor used illegal immigrants as laborers. Fences have not worked in the past and won't work in the future. I have a much better, much more cost effective idea. From Cambodia to Kosovo, this idea has been time-tested in most conflicts between neighboring countries throughout the past century. Much as abstinence is guaranteed to stop unwanted pregnancy - it works every time - my solution is guaranteed to stop unwanted "invaders" from wandering across our border. It's simple to install, requires virtually no maintenance and is guaranteed to stop anyone from walking across our borders uninvited.

That solution is land mines.

That's right, those nasty little buggers that can disintegrate the lower half of your body if you step on one. There are others that are spring-loaded and, once tripped, pop up to shoulder height and explode, shredding anyone within 50 yards with shrapnel. It sounds like the perfect solution to me - if we're serious about securing our borders.

I was right, wasn't I? You're angry at me right now, right? Well, think about it. Just scribe out a strip of property inside our border of, say, 300 yards. Then have the military fly along the center of that section and distribute those nasty little land mines that can blow a body to bits when touched. It's the perfect solution! Oh, sure, you'll probably lose a few dozen people the first couple weeks as they traipse through the mine fields and get blown half-way back to Jalisco, but it wouldn't take long for the word to get around before the migration would stop. And after all, what's a few disemboweled and dismembered Mexicans in the grand scheme of things, right?

Are you angry yet? Are you disgusted with me for even suggesting something like this? Good - you should be.

Of course, I'm not serious about using land mines to stop illegal immigrants from continuing to flow unimpeded across our border. It's a terrible, disgusting, inhumane idea. My point was to get your attention. Now, once you've stopped hyperventilating, I want you to drop me a little note - comment or email - and give me your solution to securing our borders, because our government's half-hearted efforts have not worked. Let's hear your ideas. If you don't want your comments posted on this site just send me an email - the address is on my Profile.

And, for goodness sake, stop yelling at your computer! I warned you at the beginning that this would make you angry.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Gilchrist Twists In The Wind

As I read reporter Jennifer Delson's report on the current travails of Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist entitled "A Minuteman meets his hour of crisis" published in the Los Angeles Times today I couldn't stifle the smile that formed on my face. The chronicle of the turmoil within that organization, including Gilchrist being fired by members of the board he had hand picked and he, in turn, trying to fire them, had me thinking that he deserved every bit of discomfort he gets.

You will recall that Gilchrist, failed congressional candidate and the self-annointed savior of our country, had embraced and supported our young jailer/mayor, Allan Mansoor, during his campaign for reelection. He made Mansoor an honorary Minuteman and his Minutechicks held a fundraising picnic for him. Gilchrist and his band of loopy minions demonstrated on the streets of Costa Mesa against illegal immigration and Gilchrist popped up in front of the City Council several times to praise Mansoor's "bravery" and "leadership". Many of his whacky, rabid entourage drove long distances from garden spots like Ontario and Bakersfield
to bring their wisdom before the council and many of them wrote flowery letters of support of the mayor and his positions to local newspapers.

There's no doubt in my mind that Gilchrist and his flock had a positive impact on Mansoor's campaign. That, alone, is a reason to chuckle when he's in trouble. He deserves it.

I look forward to seeing how the issue of control of the Minuteman Project, and the alleged missing $750,000, gets resolved. In the meantime, I'll enjoy imagining Gilchrist twisting slowly in the wind.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Gangs of Costa Mesa

At their study session next Tuesday the Costa Mesa City Council will discuss, among other things, the current proposal by new Police Chief Chris Shawkey to attack the growing gang problem in our city.

I read the staff report available on the city web site. It's voluminous, 22 pages, and looks like a pretty good start. The proof, of course, will come in the application of the plan - if the city council approves and funds it. There are elements they've rejected in the past that, according to most credible experts in this field, are essential to the success of any such program.

And, it will come to no surprise to regular readers, that the CM Press has chimed in on this subject with his own special spin. Part of what he has to say should be cause for concern to all Costa Mesa residents.

In his little assessment of the plan he notes with much indignation that the only gangs mentioned by ethnicity are white supremacists. He's offended that the staff report found it necessary to mention that ethnic group and didn't mention Latinos. He attempts in his mini-tirade to portray these groups as somehow oppressed, singled out for discussion when, in his words, the real problem is the Latinos. Give me a break! Anyone with even half a brain, much less a Mensa member, realizes that we're talking about Latino gangs in this city. The fact that white supremacists exist in our community is very relevant and an important consideration when formulating plans to deal with gangs in general.

You will recall that he and his buddy, the mayor, were strangely mute when a task force snatched up 20 white supremacists from 17 separate locations in Costa Mesa as part of a county-wide crackdown the end of last year that took 58 individuals off the streets. Those arrested were part of a group that, among other crimes, allegedly had targeted law enforcement officers for assassination. I commented on this curious silence at that time because the mayor had been the first one in front of a microphone or writing commentaries in the newspapers if a Latino person had been arrested for committing a crime and the CM Press crowed loud and long when any crime involving Latinos occurred. He told us he was frequently "first on the scene" at some crimes because he monitors the calls from his home in Mesa North. I thought at the time it was a curious double standard, and still do. It was especially strange since the targets had been law enforcement officers. I would have expected the mayor to be overjoyed about those arrests and to have made a big deal of it. Any real civic leader would have made a point to compliment the task force, and the part Costa Mesa officers played in the sweep, in an effort to make our citizens proud and feel safer. No, the mayor was mute and invisible.

It doesn't surprise me at all that the guy at the CM Press takes umbrage at the mention of those white supremacist gangs. He writes his racist essays for web sites like the New Nation News and National Vanguard among others that are specifically massaged for white supremacist consumption. His incendiary rhetoric provides no doubt about his personal views on race in this country. In his recent posting he provides his readers with a mini version of his underlying position on race. It's disgusting.

So, next Tuesday the council will have the new plan presented. I will wait with great interest to see how our city council, and particularly the majority, respond to it.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Everybody Cares About Musical Chairs

Well, the mayor's most recent misstep (of many) last Tuesday night has gained notoriety for our fair city far and wide. Both the Daily Pilot, here, and the Orange County Register, here, took shots at the council for the mayor's clumsy attempt to shuffle the deck on the dais and force Linda Dixon over to the hinterlands with Katrina Foley. Orange County blogs were buzzin' with it's own special brand of speculation. Byron De Arakal, over on, said it best - as usual.

Simultaneously, the two main posters on the Orange Juice! blog, Claudio Gallegos and Art Pedroza (who resigned from the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee after the recent elections because of his disenchantment with the organization) have made Costa Mesa their cause of the week. Gallegos continued his three-part interview with a "Westside Improver", and promises a more incendiary finale next week. Pedroza wrote a blog entry, which included input from our young jailer/mayor, regarding the differences between Costa Mesa and Santa Ana - of which there are many.

Both sets of postings have generated several comment threads of the type we've come to expect on that blog - dominated by heated raves by gutless anonymous posters. I guess if you're part of the SantaAnaCentric inside group you've learned to deal with it, but from an outsider's standpoint it sure does seem non-productive.

There's a lot of speculation going on around town right now on 1) whether the mayor will actually agendize the issue of the seating chart for a future meeting and 2) just who is Gallegos' anonymous westsider?

As to the first question, I wouldn't be surprised if he continues to display poor judgment and actually require the staff to prepare an agenda item for consideration. History has shown us that he's capable of such lapses. In fact, using poor judgment seems to be his normal mode.

I doubt we will ever find out the identity of the anonymous Westside Improver. I suspect the poor person fears for his or her safety, so will choose to remain unidentified. I guess I can't blame him or her. There has been enough information provided for at least one person involved to guess the identity - the guy who runs the CM Press. Since his broader writings on the various far, far right wing web sites panders to the worst side of people, it's likely that he has some very rabid followers who have not taken kindly to the fact that their guru has been exposed, so to speak.

So, I guess we'll just wait for next Tuesday's finale to see what surprises might be in store for us. In the meantime, we can only hope that our elected leaders wake up and start acting like adults one of these days.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Looking For The Front Half

Although the City Council meeting Tuesday night showed moments of conciliation, one of the strangest events in all the years of my observations of these meetings occurred during the Council Member Comments section, early in the meeting.

Our young jailer/mayor and Minuteman extraordinaire - in a fit of pettiness beyond any in my memory - decided that his sidekick, Rubber Stamp Wendy Leece, needed to be seated beside City Manager Allan Roeder. So, as the pompous dictator-in-training that he's become, he asked Councilwoman Linda Dixon to swap seats with Leece, thereby placing her between Mansoor and Katrina Foley. That would move all dissenting views to one side where they would be much more easily ignored. Dixon balked, alluding to a previous telephone conversation they'd had, and quoted Leece from an earlier conversation when she apparently said she preferred to be seated in the middle, not wanting to look like an outsider.

Mansoor was ticked off, and the debate went back and forth before he finally decided that Dixon wasn't about to budge. So, in a fit of pique for such an unimportant item, said he would agendize the item for a future meeting! Unbelievable! With all the important issues facing them, this petty tyrant feels it's necessary to agendize the seating chart on the dais. This, of course, will require staff time to place it on the agenda - likely laughing and shaking their heads as they do it.

I guess expecting our leaders to act like adults is hopeless. What a bunch of schmucks.

The guy over at the CM Press is crowing about how effective he was before the council Tuesday night, ranting and raving about his little "passive park" - Paularino Park. He's also attempting to resurrect that red herring of air pollution from the Westside industrialists - something that has been disproved over the years despite his constant drum beat. He listed specific instructions for the city in that regard. It's going to be interesting to see if his disciples on the council will bow, once again, to his wishes and spend valuable city resources for another wild goose chase.

I find myself wondering just why this guy subjects himself to such a horrible existence in Costa Mesa. Wouldn't you think that, if he's so darn unhappy with the life he leads here, that he'd look for greener - or, in his case, whiter - pastures elsewhere? Gosh, I sure would. All these terrible safety issues he talks about all the time - marauding soccer players, foul air, gangs, etc. - would sure make me think about living here much longer. Of course, you will recall he complained about some of his neighbors moving out not too long ago. Can't understand why someone wouldn't want to live near him - cheerful guy that he is.

In case you missed it, late Tuesday night Claudio Gallegos posted his second installment of Confessions of a Westside Improver on the Orange Juice! blog. To read it just click here. The final installment is promised for next Tuesday. Should make for some interesting reading.

Separately, co-owner of the Orange Juice! blog, Art Pedroza, posted an interesting entry here which is certain to tick off the guy at the CM Press. It's worth a look.

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Giving Credit Where It's Due

Last night the Costa Mesa meeting ended with a flourish, a unanimous vote on a contentious issue. And we thought they couldn't get along! Silly us.

Although Councilwoman Katrina Foley was housebound for some unexplained reason, her presence was felt - and heard - because the technical gurus at City Hall managed to hook up an audio feed between her location and the council chambers. Her smiling, blond countenance was replaced by a big, black squawk box that allowed her to voice her views on every issue throughout the evening. I must observe, though, that at times it was a little like listening to Darth Vader. Whatever - it worked.

In fact, this may have been a great solution, because the last time this item was discussed at the council's last study session it looked as though Eric Bever was ready to leap the table that separated him from Foley and pummel her.

The issue in question was the much debated and squabbled over Youth In Government program. You will recall that our young jailer/mayor got his shorts in a bunch when this was proposed in January because he felt slighted by not having had the chance to provide "input". I won't beat that horse any more, except to observe that this council finally acted as we expect - they discussed, debated, heard testimony and then resolved the issue. Sadly, because of their earlier fit of pique, the young people who had signed up for this year will get short shrift. A sub-committee of Foley and Wendy Leece will work to hammer out the details of how the current group can salvage what's left of the school year and make plans for a more extended program beginning in the fall.

This didn't have to go this way. If, as speaker Chris Blank observed, they hadn't let petty politics cloud their judgment, the children involved this year would have had a very satisfactory experience. We saw a couple of them speak tonight - even though this item was the final agenda item - and realize that their inability to fully participate this year is the city's loss.


Before I forget, that guy who very much resembles my theoretical character "Your Neighbor", as predicted, jumped up like a jack-in-the-box during the Public Comments portion to yap at the council about his favorite pet peeve, Paularino Park. He was all over them for not being more attentive to his demands that more trees and rocks be placed in the park to dissuade those nasty rogue soccer ball kickers that he says have terrorized folks in that park. I'm sure he's sleeping soundly as I type this knowing that he's, once again, made the city staff dance to his tune.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Selma, Alabama - March, 1965

All the news coverage over the past few days about the anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama dredged up some very painful memories for me - many of which I'd just as soon forget. As I watched the news coverage of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, here, pander to the black congregation in Selma last weekend, it reminded me just how shameless politicians can be as they campaign over the bloodied bodies from the past. As I heard Obama - an articulate man - break into his version of "black speak" and listened to Hillary "preach" to the crowd in her best "southern" dialect it made me sick.

At the time of the marches in Selma that Obama and Clinton fought for podium time to commemorate I was in the United States Army and was in the middle of helicopter flight training. On Saturday, March 6, 1965, the day before the first of three marches - what has become known in that part of the world as Bloody Sunday - a classmate and I drove through Selma enroute from the Primary Helicopter Training School at Fort Wolters, Texas (near Mineral Wells) to the Advanced School at Fort Rucker - where Alabama, Florida and Georgia join to form the armpit of the south. As we drove my 1957 Ford across the Edmund Pettus Bridge we saw a couple hundred State Police cars congregated at the headquarters at the base of the bridge. Since we had been immersed in flight training and a de facto Officer's Candidate School for several months, we were virtually unaware of the political climate around us at that time. We did notice the atmosphere, though. It was like a pre-lynching scene in an old B movie. If we'd been stopped that tense morning - two anglos driving a car with California license plates and a loaded 357 Magnum pistol under the passenger's seat - we'd have been lucky to be thrown in jail. Keep in mind that this was around the time when three civil rights activists had been kidnapped and murdered not too far away in Mississippi.

We drove on through Selma, leaving behind the violence the next day portrayed in the photo above, and went on our way to our new duty station and continued with our training to become what would be the nucleus of the first air mobile unit in the Army, the 1st Air Cavalry Division out of Fort Benning, Georgia - an organization which was shipped enmasse to Viet Nam in the fall of 1965. The experiences of that organization were featured in the movies, "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now".

Circumstances conspired to eliminate me from flight status - a health issue that remained un-diagnosed until well after I left the Army the end of 1965. As a result, I spent from March until December of that year assigned to Fort Rucker, so I got a real first-hand dose of what life was like in the bowels of the segregated south.

The closest town of any size was Dothan, Alabama. Occasionally, some buddies and I would venture into town to the lone movie theater to see the most recent releases. I'll never forget my reaction the first time I saw that theater, with a separate entrance for blacks, who were forced to purchase tickets at a separate window and were required to sit in the balcony, entering through a separate, outside entrance. This was a time where separate drinking fountains were maintained for blacks and whites. The KKK was still prolific and active. In Alabama at that time it seemed to me that the white residents of that state worshiped University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, Governor George Wallace and God, in that order.

Two weeks before I mustered out of the Army there was a cross burned on the lawn of a black sergeant - on post, in government housing. This was not a good time in this country.

I recall sitting in the day room on post during the summer of 1965, watching the Watts riots as they unfolded. Being from Los Angeles, I had a special interest because my best friend was a rookie Los Angeles Police Officer at the time and was up to his neck in that turmoil. Until the time of those riots our post seemed to be happily integrated, with black and white soldiers living harmoniously together. The riots changed that. From that point on, blacks and whites segregated themselves in our day room, watching the news of the day in small same-race clusters. When the news showed black rioters looting stores and setting them afire, the clusters of blacks would cheer. When it showed National Guard and police units firing on looters, the clusters of whites would cheer. You could almost chew the tension.

I mention this today because, for more than a year I have felt a similar tension building in Costa Mesa. There's a cadre of unhappy folks in our city who apparently feel that the Latinos among us are the root of every problem in our city. Among that cadre are the current majority on the City Council - Mayor Allan Mansoor, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever and rookie rubber stamp council member Wendy Leece. Because they now have the power to do so, they have been methodically taking steps to make the lives of Latinos in our community difficult in hopes that they will leave our city. They've used the lightning rod issue of "illegal immigration" as their wedge to attack every entity or program that provides support to the Latino community.

I'm saddened by what our alleged leaders are doing to this city, much as I was saddened while living in the south in the mid-1960s, watching up close and personal the inhumanity and violence that occurred. Many of you who will read these words were not alive at that time. If you had been, you would understand what a terrible time it was for this country and certainly wouldn't wish to have those days re-created here in Costa Mesa more than 40 years later.

If you read the coverage of that time in our country, I hope you will begin to develop a new perspective on current events in this city and involve yourselves in the correction of the course we seem to be on - a course infested with intolerance and bigotry. If you don't, who will?

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

"Your Neighbor" Throws A Fit

Well, our old pal over at the CM Press is throwing a hissy fit because the city staff has not jumped to the snap of his fingers regarding the use of a public park near his home. He first flipped out many months ago when he reported marauding soccer players kicking the ball around on the grass in this passive park. He conjured up all kinds of concerns and told the city administrative staff that this represented a horrendous safety issue and it must be stopped. He told a tale of his small child nearly being hit by an errant ball. If you took what he said at face value - something we've learned not to do - you would expect to see that park overrun by soccer players at all times of the day and night. According to comments I observed at commission meetings, investigations have not supported his wild claims.

He also told stories of men defecating in the shrubbery and being rude to those peaceful citizens who chose to meander through the park while these miscreants were kicking the ball.

Want to bet that none of those criminal ball kickers were blond, blue-eyed young men? Of course not! These fellows were Latino men, kicking the ball around after work to let off some steam.

Now our pal, who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, is ranting and raving about how he feels slighted by the city staff, whom he accuses of ignoring direction from the Parks and Recreation Commission and the City Council. As if it is humanly possible to ignore this guy! It's like trying to ignore a bad case of athlete's foot, for goodness sake.

Expect him to jump up before the City Council at their meeting Tuesday - he'll likely be the very first speaker at the Public Comments portion of the meeting - and read the council the riot act for being bad managers and unresponsive to resident's needs. I wouldn't be surprised if he calls for heads to roll because he was slighted. That's right - he apparently thinks the world of Costa Mesa revolves around him and expects the staff and city council to bow to his every demand. In the past when the council hasn't been immediately responsive to him he's threatened to get them "un-elected", as he did the chronically incompetent Chris Steel - a man who was smart enough to turn his back on this guy.

This is just another of his moves to make every Latino in our city uncomfortable enough to look for another place to live. The guy is disgusting in his transparency. Sadly, he has enough influence over this current City Council majority that I wouldn't be surprised to see them grovel at his feet once again and follow his directive. What a shame.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Damage Control and Anonymity, Redux

It's been an interesting couple of days. Ever since Claudio Gallegos over on the Orange Juice! blog posted the first of what he tells us will be a three-part series based on interviews with a person described as a "Westside Improver", the guy over at the CM Press - who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - has been busily posting up a storm in an obvious attempt at damage control. It's like watching a guy trying to extinguish a forest fire with a squirt gun.

Yesterday, in his post #94, he presents his readers with his version of the history of the "improver movement" and of his "little newsletter" - that's what he used to call his blog. As one reads this posting you can almost hear the lilting strains of violins playing in the background as he portrays himself and his associates as benign do-gooders, concerned only with making Costa Mesa a "nicer" place. It almost brought a tear to my eye as I read it.

Then, today, in #95, he makes another obvious attempt to head off any further damage that might be done by the pending second and third installments of Gallegos' interview series. This little piece of sarcastic misdirection is clever, but way, way too obvious. As I read it the word "squirming" came to mind.

I had to chuckle as I read that post when I came to the following question: "Could it possibly be that Mansoor is actually a pretty bright guy and decides things on his own and doesn't need others to tell him what to do or how to think?" My answer to that one is No, No, No and No.

So, like many Costa Mesans, I look forward to next Tuesday, when Gallegos will publish the second installment. Until then, I fully expect the guy at the CM Press - one recent writer called him the CEO, which I accurately interpreted as an acronym for "Condescendingly Egregious Obfuscator" - to continue to wriggle and squirm to try to find ways to dilute the impact of Gallegos' presentation.

Separately, over on, Byron de Arakal has chastised folks who submit comments as "Anonymous", and has banned such comments from his blog. As you know, I've also banned any comments directed here under the name of "Anonymous". I will no longer even read such submissions. Using the "comments moderation" tool available to me, I simply "reject" any comment sent by "Anonymous". As I've suggested in the past, if you expect to have a chance to post a comment here, all you have to do is check the "other" button and select a pen name if you want anonymity. That doesn't guarantee your comment will be posted, but it does assure that I'll read and consider it. Of course, I'd prefer you used our own name, but understand how the fear of retribution can make that an unsatisfactory option for some of you. The "source" on Gallegos' blog series, for example, likely fears for his physical well-being - a valid reason for anonymity. So, pick a name, any name, and fire away.

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