Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bruce Garlich - Distinguished Leader

As you might remember, following a hard-fought campaign for City Council last year in which he finished third, our friend Bruce Garlich planned to serve out the remaining two years of his appointment on the Planning Commission. Unfortunately, personal health reasons forced him to resign that position earlier this year. He's been dealing with those issues ever since and I'm happy to report that he is making good progress.

In addition to his tenure on the Planning Commission, Bruce has been an active and valued volunteer in many organizations in our community, including the Senior Center and the Boy's and Girl's Club Boards. He has worked tirelessly in these and other activities, bringing his experience, wisdom, leadership and integrity to each endeavor.

At their annual awards dinner on May 17, 2007 the Orange County chapter of the American Planning Association (OCAPA) recognized Bruce for his very significant contributions to our city as a Planning Commissioner by presenting him with their "Distinguished Leadership Award - Citizen Planner". The following is the text of the article published in "The Orange County Planner", that chronicled Bruce's award:

Bruce Garlich has been working just as hard in his retirement as he did during full-time employment as an aerospace engineer. For more than 25 years, he has served as a citizen planner, including three consecutive terms on the City of Costa Mesa Planning
Commission, one as its Chair. As a planning commissioner, Bruce has shaped or acted on major plans or projects that are now changing the face of the city, including its 2000 General Plan, Segerstrom Concert Hall, and at least two of the projects that earned citations earlier this evening. One measure of Bruce’s influence is the 800 Google "hits" generated by his citizen planner activity
over the past couple years. In supporting his nomination, his fellow commissioners cite Mr. Garlich's "ability to communicate complex issues in a language that [real] people understand.” He is fair, they attest, he leads by example, and he always does his homework, enabling him to ask "the hard questions." Bruce Garlich, they declare, "is an inspiration."

As far as I'm concerned, that last sentence sums up Bruce's activities in this city. He has dedicated much of his post-retirement life to making Costa Mesa a better place for all of us to live, work and play. If you were fortunate enough to watch him on the Planning Commission you saw the steady hand of reason on the helm - whether he was the Chairman or not. One only has to watch the current version of the commission once or twice to see just how much that steady hand is missed.

Congratulations to Bruce on this most recent and well-deserved recognition. We hope to see him back more fully involved soon.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Reprise of "Resolve To Share Your Love"

Today, July 30, 2007, would have been the 66th birthday of Larry Moore, my best friend for 57 years of our lives. Some of you know the story of his passing at the end of 2003 following a horrendous motorcycle accident. On January 18, 2004 the Daily Pilot published the following commentary. In honor of my friend, and to mark the anniversary of his birth, I've reproduced it here for you.

Not a day passes when I don't think of my friend and our lives together. I recall the positive impact he made on the people around him, the love he shared with all of us and the contribution he made to law enforcement around the world. I hope that, when you read this remembrance, you will pause in your busy lives and contemplate your friends and how much they mean to you. More than that, I hope you will find a way to tell each of them how you feel. Life is short - don't wait.


Resolve To Share Your Love

By Geoff West

January 18, 2004

I hope your 2003 ended with days filled with visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, holiday spirit lifting you and the joy of loved ones surrounding you.

I ended my year standing before an overflow crowd at the alter in an unfamiliar church, delivering a eulogy for a man who had been my best friend since we were 5 years old. I stood before the throng, which included childhood friends and relatives, college friends, friends he had made during more than 30 years on the job, and more recent friends, acquired after retirement, and I tried to condense a lifetime of friendship into the very short time allotted to me on that cool, dreary post-Christmas day.

Before it was my turn to speak, I sat clutching my wife's hand, fighting back tears, as my friend's eldest daughter — from whom he had been estranged for nearly a decade at her request — spoke eloquently and passionately about her father.

She told us a story of how, many years ago, a cruel schoolmate teased her about his profession as a police officer. She had been taunted as a "piglet" — the offspring of a "pig." Her father explained to her that the term "pig" was an acronym for pride, integrity and guts.

She told us example after example of her father's pride, integrity and guts, both as a father and policeman. As I listened to this young woman speak, beaming with pride as she talked about her father, it was clear why she had chosen to follow him into law enforcement as a career.

My thoughts flashed back to the last few weeks of my friend's life — when he hovered near death for 44 days in a distant hospital after suffering horrendous injuries from a motorcycle accident on a lonely desert road early in November. By all rights, he should not have survived the crash, but a series of fortuitous events converged to save his life.

He was discovered almost immediately by a group of foreign tourists — strangers in a strange land — who summoned nearby railroad workers. They, in turn, summoned the rescue workers, stayed at his side until they arrived and insisted that he be helicoptered to the right hospital, where his life was saved.

For a month and a half, I stayed near his bedside and watched the staff at the hospital as they skillfully juggled procedures and medications — trying to find the right combination of treatment that would return my friend to us. It was a roller coaster ride for us all, but especially for my friend, who fought with all his considerable strength to come back.

Very early one morning in the last week of his life, a conscientious nurse turned off his sedation, which had kept him floating in and out of consciousness, to see how he would react to the change. The goal being to prepare him for release to a rehabilitation facility. Coincidentally, or perhaps guided by something else, his former wife and the eldest daughter — who had spontaneously decided to make that long drive across the desert to see him — arrived at precisely that time and ended up having a wonderful visit with him.

Even though he could not speak, he was able to communicate through the firm squeeze of his hand, the nod of his head, crinkling of his brow and tear-filled smiles. In the pre-dawn hours that morning, in the trauma intensive care unit in a hospital in a city far from home, he reconciled with his daughter. Having lost his father much too early, and feeling that he had left some important things unsaid, my friend made it a point to tell his friends how he felt about us. When he grabbed you in a bear hug and said, "I love you, amigo," you knew he meant it.

Later that week, as I stood in the doorway of his hospital room for the last 15 minutes of his life and watched his doctor orchestrate a dozen people trying — unsuccessfully — to bring him back one more time, I knew he left us with nothing unresolved.

I share this very painful, personal story with you today to remind you, as you prepare unattainable New Year's resolutions, that life is much too short. I encourage you to make only one resolution this year: to tell the people you love how you feel. And keep it. Remember my friend and his daughter, and don't wait until it's too late.

I wish a safe and happy new year to you all.

GEOFF WEST is a Costa Mesa resident.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Affordable Housing - Yeah, Right!

Our friends over at the Newport Beach Voices blog have provided a couple interesting entries dealing with the recent edict from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) regarding the need for affordable housing throughout Southern California communities. Here's the link to the relevant entry. Embedded in it is a link to a detailed report which, if you choose, you can visit for some of the details of the numbers.

However, since I've already done that, I'll share some of the interesting numbers for Costa Mesa and Newport Beach with you. In SCAG's report entitled "Final Regional Housing Need Allocation Plan - Planning Period (January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2014), it presents their requirements for additional housing units through their fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The big news locally, which was covered by an article in the Orange County Register, here, is that the City of Irvine must absorb almost half of Orange County's 82,332 total new housing units mandated over the next seven years. Of that total of 35,322, more than 21,000 must be "affordable" - available to very low, low and moderate income households. Irvine officials have freaked out with these numbers, claiming a lack of land. Kind of makes me smile just a little.

Closer to home, Costa Mesa has been mandated to provide 1682 new housing units, of which 972 must be either very low, low or moderate income units. Newport Beach will be required to provide 1784 new housing units, of which 1076 must be very low, low or moderate income units.

For us Costa Mesans this presents an interesting dilemma. By all accounts, we are upside-down in rental versus owner occupied housing. The last number I heard was 60% rental, 40% owner occupied. Typically, very low income and low income housing units mean rental units. I'm informed by city staff that, as far as the 710 market rate units are concerned, we seem to have that covered and more. The Enclave, which will be built by Irvine Apartment Communities in the bean field near the Performing Arts Center, will account for more than 800 units alone.

However, that doesn't address the folks at the other end of the spectrum - the low and very low income folks for which we will be required to plan for over the next seven years. If the rhetoric we've been hearing for the past few years - spurred on by those folks who identify themselves as "improvers" - is any indication, there seems to be little interest in providing housing for folks at the low end of the economic ladder. Quite the contrary, most of the ambient noise we hear these days seems to be about bulldozing many of the apartment units that very likely provide that kind of housing specifically.

The Costa Mesa planners will have their work cut out for them, as they attempt to meet the mandate and still follow the direction of a council intent in turning Costa Mesa into Newport Beach or, at least, Huntington Beach. There are a few folks in our town who, when they hear the words "affordable housing", apparently instantly see slums in their minds eye. They exercise a lot of influence over the council majority, so it will be very interesting to see what tack they take on this subject.


I thought it was quite ironic that Newport Beach has been earmarked to provide even greater numbers of very low and low income units. I find myself wondering just how they're going to pull that off, since the average home value in that city is at least four times that of Costa Mesa. Maybe they can turn the entire Banning Ranch into an affordable housing enclave.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Light of Truth Shines - "Your Neighbor" Whines, Again

Did you ever notice how some folks just don't like to have the light of day shined on their activities? It's interesting, isn't it?

There's a
guy who operates a local blog - a man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor - who has cranked up the volume of his hysterical rants over the past week or so. It seems the Daily Pilot, our local newspaper of record - which he refers to as "ultra-liberal" - has recently mentioned him by name and he just doesn't like it. This is beyond hypocritical, since this is the same guy who has never seen a microphone he didn't embrace nor a topic on which he wasn't prepared to offer an opinion. He whines that he's just a simple private citizen, then stands at the speaker's podium and waves his books around, encouraging all within sight or sound to buy them and read his "pearls of wisdom". This is a guy who revels in the fact that the OC Weekly has called him "one of Orange Counties most frightening people" - and has used that description as a marketing tool to sell his books. He's gained international infamy and is on the watch list of at least one organization that tracks hate groups.


Touting his alleged membership in Mensa, he condescendingly refers to those who disagree wit
h him and his philosophy as "the usual dimwit and cowardly cranks". He accuses the Daily Pilot editors of publishing "letters of bigots who smear others". When I read those comments, and the remainder of that particular post, I started chuckling and still have not stopped. For him to refer to any other human being as a "bigot" is just hysterical. The phrase, "pot calling the kettle black" doesn't even come close on this one!

As you scroll down the lis
t of his essays on the New Nation News site you will find many that make clear his views on race. Heck, he's even chosen to adorn some with a swastika! His actions in our city have certainly been aimed directly at changing our town from one with significant diversity into one what is, in the words of Councilwoman Linda Dixon, "lily-white". That term caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth when she wrote it, but it was right on the money.

To save you a little time trying to pluck the pearls from the excrement in his essays, let me provide some links for
you. Each of the following links will take you to an essay which is quite representative of the perverted viewpoints he espouses. They are not really "pearls", just hard balls of dung among the rest. These are just a few of the hundreds to be found at the site linked in the previous paragraph and on other far, far right wing sites.

Is The Swastika The Spirit In The Sky?

In which he postulates at the end that God is behind the swastika.

The Mutating States of America - Trust Your Eyes (2002)
In which he bemoans the dilution of the white gene pool.

The Recessive
Race (2002)
Where his conclusion suggests that whites must increase their birth rates, including advocating polygamy and pornography as tools of propagation.

Humans (2004)
In which he begins by praising the Nazis for their selective breeding program and goes down hill from there.

America Got A Lot Darker This Week (2004)

In which he advocates "White Power", using images of swastika-holding neo-Nazis as illustrations.

Proof? (20
In which he attempts to debunk the holocaust.

Funny, You Don't Look Indian (2007)
In which he decries the "blending" of certain native American tribes.

That word, "blending" is representative of a theme that runs through many of his essays as he decries the dilution of the white gene pool by "inter-breeding" with "inferior" races. It makes you want to puke! After you've read these essays ask yourself this question: Is this the guy I want charting the course of my city? If your answer is yes, then I'm deeply saddened for you.

This ma
n has infested our city government with his putrid racial views for most of the past decade. He's used his considerable oratorical skills to sway members of the City Council and the commissions to his view. He's written prolifically, and, more recently, has used any number of pseudonyms to post comments on the Daily Pilot blog. Unlike most concerned residents of this city, he demands money from the Daily Pilot to publish his verbiage, then complains when views opposite his position on issues appear in the press.

When he a
ccused the Daily Pilot of being "ultra-liberal" it made me laugh out loud because any position that differs from his is going to seem liberal. He's so far out on the right that he makes Ronald Reagan seem like a Communist.

I was watching a piece on the History Channel the other day that dealt with Adolph Hitler's ris
e to power. It went to great lengths to describe what a meek, introverted person he was in private, but how powerful his words were when he spoke before the masses. It talked about his plan to take over the German government by giving the people someone to blame for the state of their economy - someone to fear and hate - the Jews. He kept up a steady drumbeat on the subject and found willing listeners among those who were suffering because of the post-World War I German economy. After failure and imprisonment he eventually found just the right mix of circumstance and rhetoric to launch his plan for racial purity and the dominance of the Aryan race over those he felt were inferior. He chose to simply exterminate those who were threatening to contaminate the German gene pool.

Does any of that sound vaguely familiar? It should. Your Neighbor has followed the same playback and, sadly, is experiencing similar success. He's found a fertile field in parts of Costa Mesa in which to sew his seeds of intolerance and, with the election of a malleable council majority, they have now taken root. Hitler had the Jews, Your Neighbor has the Latinos - for now.

You know our
description of this guy and his actions are accurate because he's striking out viciously against anyone who dares to speak against him or who attempts to shine the light of truth on him. He has used threats and intimidation of council members when it looked like they might be turning away from him as Chris Steel finally did. I thought Steel was inept and a pathetic council member, but he was smart enough to finally realize what was going on and turned away from Your Neighbor - and incurred his wrath because of it. He's even threatened some current council members with a fate similar to Steel's if they didn't toe his line.

A couple of regular posters of comments on this blog have opined that I over-estimate the influence of this particular guy in civic affairs - that he appeals only to a very small number of residents. I remi
nded them that he appeals to those in power, which counts a whole lot more than any other guy on the street. Those in power set the tone and establish the ordinances by which our lives are governed. To under-estimate this man's influence is a huge mistake. For example, the whole "Paularino Park" thing began with him as a solitary, but strident voice, complaining about marauding soccer players in "his " park a couple years ago. He created this "problem" out of whole cloth and, when it seemed that he was getting nowhere with this move to cause discontent among the Latino population in our city, he turned it into a public safety issue. Well, that's all the management of our city needs to hear - rightfully so. They cannot, and will not, ignore an issue that might cause harm to our residents. He continued with his drumbeat of discontent until he finally just wore down the process. His influence over our city council on this issue will likely bleed over into other neighborhood parks and result in there being many fewer places where kids can go to just "play".

Your Neighbor can continue to sit in his bunker in Mesa North and whine about the attention he's getting, but he's an insidious influence on our city and his role in the decline of civility and respect for all residents is obvious and worthy of discussion. As long as he continues to present a public face and spew his hate based philosophy he will be the subject of scrutiny. As long as he holds sway over certain council members he will be
the subject of criticism. If he doesn't like it he can simply stop, but I seriously doubt he'll do that. He's on a roll now and seems all set to jump aboard a bulldozer to begin leveling Latino occupied apartments throughout the city.


Bravo to th
e Daily Pilot editors for boldly stepping up to this subject and for - as one blog commentor put it in an unfortunate, ironic turn of phrase - calling a spade a spade. That is their proper role as a community newspaper - to expose evil where it exists. I hope the readers in our city will finally understand what's going on and reject Your Neighbor's attempt to make this city a bastion of intolerance. If not, woe to us. If not, they will soon know what it was like to live in the deep South during the middle half of the last century - because that's the direction we're taking.

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Friday, July 20, 2007


ay morning's Daily Pilot brought us a very interesting column by publisher, Tom Johnson, here, in which he decries the recent decision by the Costa Mesa City Council to designate Paularino Park as a "passive" park - the definition for which still does not exist in the official Costa Mesa lexicon. As you will read, Johnson attributes this re-designation specifically to the actions of one resident - a man who bears a striking resemblance to my theoretical character, Your Neighbor. Johnson goes on to chronicle some of this fellow's "accomplishments" over the past several years.


To no one's surprise, this angry fellow immediately posted a lengthy blog entry on what he has refer
red to as his "little newsletter", which you can read here. You'll see that he's eager for others to read his voluminous works. Having done so myself, I can tell you that many will turn your stomach. If you're feeling the need to fall face first into some literary feces, here's a link that will take you to a site that lists several hundred of his essays. Simply scroll down through the titles and select one or two. Have a bucket handy, because they may make you puke. In his blog entry, this fellow rejects Johnson's criticism and regales us with a list of his accomplishments for the improvement of our city. I guess the only thing missing is cross-burning to make his resume complete.

I'm saddened by the influence this twisted, bigoted man has had on our city. Last year, almost to the day, when I included him in my list of nominations for the Daily Pilot 103 most influential persons, I did
so begrudgingly. I detest what he stands for, but there can be no doubt that he has influenced the direction Costa Mesa politics has taken over the past few years. Through his manipulation of some frightened, malleable people in town he has gone about methodically making life miserable for the Hispanic population of our city - one third of our residents.

He has been instrumental in the reduction in funding of some of the charities on the Westside of our town. He has faci
litated the closure of the Job Center. He has orchestrated the demise of the Human Relations Committee. He has proposed a plan to wipe out the industrial businesses on the Westside of town - many of which provide jobs for Hispanics in our city. He tried, unsuccessfully, to close down the Orange Coast College Swap Meet - a venue for low end commerce and social interaction for the Hispanic population of our city. I doubt his attack on that entity has ended. Now he has been successful in having "his" neighborhood park, Paularino Park, declared a "passive park" to keep Hispanic men from kicking a soccer ball around after a hard day at work. The actual result of that bit of his handiwork will keep neighborhood kids and parents from tossing a ball or frisbee around after school or on weekends. Unless visitors want to sit and watch the grass grow, they will find Paularino Park offers little. Of course, there's always the chance that you'll find this fellow chasing butterflies with his grandkids. Yeah, right!

This man - a
philosophical throwback to 1920's-era Germany - has taken not just pages, but entire chapters, from Adolph Hitler's playbook. He's given frightened residents of our city a group of people to blame for the negative conditions in their lives - Hitler used the Jews, this man uses the Hispanics. He then, playing on those fears and hatred, has methodically gone about trying to expel them from our city. I guess we should feel lucky he hasn't tried to gas and incinerate them. To facilitate this expulsion he has played to the darkest side of some people's minds. He's found a fertile field in which to plant his seeds of intolerance and a small, paranoid group of easily-manipulated people to do his bidding. By using our young jailer/mayor and his majority as willing tools of his plan, this vile, angry guy has managed to nurture and harvest fear and hatred of Hispanics in our town - something I would not have thought possible a few short years ago. Through his negative influence on the leaders he sponsored he's made our city an adversary of every neighboring city instead of partners in the resolution of problems of mutual concern - to the detriment of all our residents.

Tom Johnson has this guy pegged to a T. Until the residents of this city wise up and see this man
and his influence for what they are, this city will continue to be the poster child for intolerance and the subject of ridicule and derision of our neighbors. The leaders he has sponsored and mentored will continue to attract outsiders from the radical right like flies to a fresh pile of dung, feeding on the rotting philosophy spewed by this guy and his sycophants. This guy touts himself as being a member of MENSA, which may be true enough. However, I can't help thinking how his actions are such a colossal waste of a prodigious intellect. What a shame.

These are sad times for this city - my home for half my life. I would caution young parents who might consider making Costa Mesa their home to think hard before making that decision. Today, under the influence of this man and his disciples, our city has become a haven for hate and bigotry, where among the life lessons to be learned from the elected leaders and their cronies are intolerance and disrespect of those around you with a different skin color and language proficiency.

I'm glad Tom Johnson decided to shine the light of truth on this fellow. Unless the residents of this city are allowed to see and understand his actions I fear our town is doomed to become a reincarnation of some of the worst southern towns during the middle of the last century. I'm not willing to have this city turned back to that era without a fight. You, my friends and neighbors, deserve better than that.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Night At The Opera, er, City Council

Last ni
ght's Costa Mesa City Council meeting went more or less as expected. Both Mayor Mansoor and Councilwoman Katrina Foley were absent, so Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever took the reins for the meeting. Funny, you'd think a guy who has been up there all this time would understand the procedures by now. Of course, since he seems to spend most of his time on the dais thinking up one-liners, I guess it's not unexpected for him to come up blank with the important nuances of conducting the meeting, like remembering who has the floor, for example.

The ma
jor issues discussed went as anticipated. The changes in the Animal Control ordinance went pretty much as proposed by city staff. Among the few exceptions was a modification to change the restriction for dog and cat ownership from a maximum of three each to a simple total of five critters - dogs or cats. Also, at the request of one eloquent resident, the definition of "reptile" was adjusted to not require those gecko owners among us to get a permit from the police chief. Current owners of pot-bellied pigs - once the rage among unique pets - will be grandfathered in. This ordinance will get a second reading at a future council meeting.

At the end
of the meeting a subject that has been hashed out over months, the Field Use and Allocation Policy, breezed through and was approved without a single comment by the public. I guess the various competing parties have simply worn themselves out. Actually, many, many hours of hard work by the city staff, the stakeholders and the Parks and Recreation Commission - past and present - made this smooth transition possible.

Before tha
t, though, the issue of turning Paularino Park into a "passive park" generated some interesting comments before it was approved, 2-1, with Linda Dixon voting no. One local resident who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, has been the prime mover for the restriction of any active sports in "his" park. He's made allegations of safety problems with marauding soccer players (read that Latinos) threatening residents with errant soccer balls and urinating and defecating in the park grounds - all unsubstantiated claims. If you know anything at all about this guy, his motivation was clear - to cause discomfort to local Latinos.

One might have
thought this fellow would have taken the opportunity to thank the staff and council for all their hard work meeting his demands but, no, he used his time at the speaker's podium to chide councilwoman Dixon for "politicizing" this process. What a hypocrite! That's exactly what he was doing as he spoke and again, when he scurried home to his cave in Mesa North to pound out a blog entry criticizing her. In fact, he had so much pent-up venom that he bounced out of bed and wrote yet another inaccurate and defamatory blog entry about Dixon this morning. Most other people I know might have played the role of a gracious winner - not this guy. He maintained his salivating pit bull demeanor. The next election is more than 15 months away but he's been on the attack against Dixon and Foley since the day after the last one.

h this change in designation, anyone engaging in anything other than a passive activity - isn't that an oxymoron? - will now be subject to censure, expulsion from the park and possible fines. It was clear from the comments by brand new CMPD Captain Gogerty that he was not interested in imposing fines or other punishment on a couple 10-year-old kids tossing a football in the park. I assume that same reluctance would apply to two boys with a soccer ball. Dixon tried to get a statement about what kind of fines would be imposed and ended up with a non-committal response from the City Attorney.

ver, beyond the impact on Paularino Park, it looks like there will be an on-going attempt to further designate many other neighborhood parks as "passive" - a designation, by the way, that does not have a definition in our code. That will mean that soon you will not be able to take your children to a "passive" park for a game of catch, to throw a frisbee or play a family game of touch football. It means that your sons and daughters will not be able to take their soccer ball, walk to their neighborhood park with a friend and practice passing and ball handling. All this because one angry, warped, persuasive guy doesn't like the ethnicity of a third of the residents of our city.


It seems t
o me that our city, in which two members of the three-person city council majority are childless, is becoming a less family-friendly town. Much of the ballyhooed planned re-development of the Westside will be "live/work" units - certainly not a place conducive to raising kids. The adversarial relationship our council has with the Newport Mesa Unified School District certainly does not bode well for kids in this city. Situations like the changes at Paularino Park - with the probable extension to other small parks - demonstrate the willingness of this council majority to ignore the needs and well-being of the majority of residents and bend to the will of a vocal few who demand their way. This narrow focus will certainly not serve this city well. If I were a parent of young children trying to find a home in Orange County I think I'd probably steer clear of Costa Mesa. The current tenor of this town is one of intolerance - a place where among the life lessons learned will be disrespect of those around you with a different skin color or language proficiency. Nope, this wouldn't be a place I'd choose to start raising children today.

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BREAKING NEWS! West Santa Ana Heights Goes To Newport Beach!

The local print media will report tomorrow that the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) this afternoon has decided, in it's infinite wisdom, that the much-contested West Santa Ana Heights portion of the county will be annexed by the City of Newport Beach. Apparently, the border will be the east side of Santa Ana Boulevard. I can practically hear the cheering at my home on the Eastside of Costa Mesa as those residents celebrate - and breathe a sigh of relief.

This decision actually comes as no surprise to me. The residents of West Santa Ana Heights were adamant that they didn't want to be annexed into Costa Mesa, and have said so loud and clear for many years. Who can blame them? Their property values just jumped at least 25% - probably much more than that.

This is yet another blow to the municipal ego of Costa Mesa, where, for the past couple years, the priority of the elected leadership has been the expulsion of one third of it's population - the Latinos among us. Given the choice between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa there's no question which way I'd go, for sure. I wonder what the chances are of convincing Newport Beach to throw a lasso around everything in Costa Mesa east of Tustin Avenue and giving it a little tug? Oh, well...

Still pending, and with about the same chance of ending up in Costa Mesa as West Santa Ana Heights, are the Santa Ana Country Club, those few islands of county property remaining near Irvine Avenue, and the cherry on top of the sundae - the Banning Ranch.

Ever since termed-out former mayor Gary Monahan told his peers we needed to play hardball with Newport Beach on these annexation issues I knew we were doomed. It's like playing poker with all your cards showing, for goodness sake. By exposing our intentions, so to speak, we were left with no chips to play. The best we could do was to threaten to dig a tunnel under Newport Boulevard at the end of the freeway through which would regurgitate the beach-bound traffic that is currently dribbling through "downtown" Costa Mesa directly into Newport Beach. That worked pretty well, didn't it?

So, the Costa Mesa City Council will continue to bumble it's way through "negotiations" like a guy in a fast draw contest with an empty gun. It's OK, though - they're taking care of those darn Latinos. Pathetic!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

"Adios Critter" Day, Jackass Gets His Way, Allocating Fields and How We Play

Back from a much needed weekend out of town, I'm perusing the agenda for the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 17th and find some interesting items listed. It looks to me like the agenda saves the best, and most controversial, items for near the end.

For example, in an ironic bit of timing since the critter-filled Orange County Fair is currently being held right across the street, the second item under Old Business is an ordinan
ce amending Title 3 of the municipal code relating to animal regulations and another section specific to dogs. Theoretically, this is to bring the city up to date and drag it into the 21st Century from it's initial days almost 60 years ago as a primarily rural community. With the sweep of the pen - and the solid line of a ruler through the old code - this change basically removes almost any reference to critters other than dogs, cats and some birds. There are some exceptions, but they are few and severely regulated. For example, all you reptile fanciers are going to need a permit for your critters. And you dog and cat owners are going to be restricted to a maximum of three each unless you have a license for a kennel, pet store or an animal hospital.

I find myself thinking about Noah, and wondering how he would react to the whopping fines imposed on him if his ark happened to come to rest within the Costa Mesa city limits.

As I read the new ordinance, if it doesn't bark, meow or chirp you can't have it inside our city. The exception to this will be the Orange County Fairgrounds. But, if you hope to own a cow, horse o
r other hoofed critter in this town you're out of luck unless the police chief gives you special dispensation. This is going to cause a problem in a neighborhood in the north part of town, where a well-known jackass is in residence.

Speaking of which, item 3 of Old Business will be the presentation to the council of the Parks and Recreation Commission's recommendations regarding Paularino Park. You will recall that this flap was created by a single Costa Mesa resident - see hoofed critter above - who felt threatened by marauding soccer players in "his" park, so has been a thorn in the city's side ever since, demanding that this park be restricted to non-athletic uses. Anyone paying attention to this guy and his agenda over the past few years knows what he was after - elimination of a place where Latinos could kick a soccer ball around after work. Now that he has a sympathetic - maybe that should just be "pathetic" - majority on the council it's likely that "his" plan will pass and the park will becom
e a field of grass littered with boulders and trees to prohibit any use but walking or sitting. Don't you dare take your young son over there to play catch with a baseball or a frisbee. No sir, the Park Rangers will bust you, for sure.

And, as a perfect segue, the final item on the agenda will be Number 1 under New Business, Field Use and Allocation Policy. This one promises to be very interesting because of the many diverse constituencies represented and the fact that, although much progress has been made, there appears to still be much animosity between leaders of some of the youth sports groups in town. I've watched this debate over the past few years, through various iterations of the City Coun
cil and Parks and Recreation Commission, and thought much progress had been made recently. Then we hear of the recent discontent by one leader of youth football and wonder if perhaps we would be better served by just turning this whole thing over to the kids - the adults don't seem to be able to sort it out amiably. Or, maybe we should just take the adult leaders out onto the front lawn of the City Hall and let them settle the thing once and for all by a tug-of-war.

In any event, as usual, the best will be saved for last on Tuesday evening. I invite you to attend the meeting beginning at 6 p.m., view it live on Channel 24 or on streaming video via the city web site - there's a link to it over there on the right side of this page. Or, you can just wait for me to tell you how it went.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


It's going to be a terrific weekend beginning tomorrow, Friday, July 13th. On that day the most recent edition of the Orange County Fair at the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa opens it's three week run. This year, as usual, it promises to be loads of fun. You can read about the schedule of events, times, etc. at the fa
ir web site, here. The Orange County Register also has a special blog for the event, which you can reach here and watch ace reporters Jeff Overley and Niyaz Pirani make fools of themselves on streaming video as they guide you through the fun and games.

The highlight of this year's fair will be the cattle drive through Costa Mesa streets on Friday, July 27th. I've been trying to get the city council majority to volunteer for duty as the clean-up crew with brooms and shovels, to follow the bovine contingent and perform a function for which they most certainly are highly qualified. So far no word if they're up for it.

Visit the web site and find out just how much fun you can have for the next three weeks.


Then, on Saturday, July 14th, The Great American
Race comes to Orange County again. This year the 25th Anniversary Great American Race completes it's 4,000 mile trek from Concord, N.C. to finish at the Promenade Center in Downtown Anaheim. This race, the largest of it's type in the world, is a test of stamina and endurance for more than 200 competitors in over 100 cars as they struggle to hit the "perfect score" and win the top prize. Last year's winners, Dave Reeder and his then 13 year-old grandson, Sawyer Stone, seen above, are in the thick of it again this year.

This event has a very pronounced Orange County flavor to it. Five time champion Wayne Stanfield is a Costa Mesa High School graduate and former long time Costa Mesa businessman. He and Newport Beach resident Dennis Holland ran the very first race in Holland's 1909 Buick Racer - the second car to be registered in Orange County. Stanfield retired from competition a few years ago, to the great relief of his fellow competitors, and joined some partners to purchase the race from it's creator, the late Tom McRae. Since that time he has been the Chief Operating Officer - the guy who puts the whole race together.

You can read more about the race at their web site, here. If you're an old car fan, or a hot rod fan - this year many '32 roadsters are competing in a special class - jump in your car and run up to Anaheim Saturday for a real thrill. Since it's inception the Great American Race has been a slice of Americana, playing to record crowds along it's route every year. You won't want to miss it this year.

Have a great weekend.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Anger Management - Who's Next?

Well, it certainly has been an interesting few days here in the Land of Newport-Mesa. I've managed to provoke a man who very much resembles my theoretical character, Your Neighbor, into writing not one, but two blog entries aimed directly at me, here and here. Any day is a good day when he's unhappy with me. I think he's just peeved because he fancies himself an ace reporter and I managed to scoop him on a couple issues in the past week or two. Of course, he's never happy when I point out the failings of his Anointed One, our supreme leader, the mayor. That means he stays peeved a lot.

I ticked off the current mayor and a former mayor with my commentary about the bogus plan to directly elect the mayor of our fair city and how it went down in flames, here.

Then, a friend pointed out an entry on the Daily Pilot blog purportedly posted by our resident court jester, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever, in which he threatens me with le
gal action. For your reading pleasure I've copied and pasted that entry below. This comment was the fifteenth and final one posted at the end of the recent commentary, here, co-signed by Mayor Mansoor, Bever and Councilwoman Wendy Leece published in the Daily Pilot online on 6/30/07.

Eric Bever wrote on Jul 8, 2007 8:20 PM:

" Mr. West again incorrectly states: "The only voices they listen to are those of their tight knot of westside buddies and one guy from Mesa North. All other voices are just ambient noise to them." MR. WEST, YOU ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY MISTAKEN. We listen to all who have a viewpoint to share regarding city issues. At council meetings we all listen to every person's comments. West’s oft-repeated incorrect statements like the above only confirm his complete lack of credibility. Mr West, you are hereby informed. Your continued promulgation of this incorrect claim shall constitute libel. "

As usual, Bever knows not of which he speaks. When he tossed his hat (and pony tail) into the ring as a politician he opened himself up to criticism and ridicule, when appropriate. Unfortunately for him, "when appropriate" seems to come around qu
ite often. For example, in this very instance he sets himself up for criticism, not only by me, but by anyone with the slightest knowledge of the legal system. If he, as an elected official, continues to threaten me - or any other resident of this city - he might find himself at the other end of that legal system he has used as a threat, for harassment and abuse of his power. He obviously feels he's a very clever fella, so he will likely realize the error of his ways and think twice - or three times - before printing such a statement in the future. I hope so - he has a lot to lose.

Then, I thi
nk I've managed to make more than half the people in Costa Mesa, including some good friends, angry at me with my commentary in the Daily Pilot today, here, responding to their columnist, Steve Smith's column on Tuesday, here. I won't bore you with the details of our little spat about fireworks in this city - you can read both pieces for yourselves - except to observe that he shouldn't poke a beast in the eye with a stick and expect it to continue to sleep peacefully.


All in all, it's been a very interesting and productive week here at the old Cauldron. A week ago I was watching "bombs bursting in air" during the Independence Day celebrations. Tonight, I can almost hear the "blood vessels bursting" around town. Yep, it's been a
productive week. To all of you still ticked-off at me tonight, please remember this. What you read here are only my humble opinions. Take them for what they're worth. (I heard that, Andrew!)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hello, Stranger - Where Are You From?

Buenos días. ¿Hablas español? Si no, debes aprender rápidamente.

Did you get that? I said, "Good Morning. Do you speak Spanish? If not, you had better learn fast". At least, that's what my translation software says I said.

In an article in the Orange County Register today by writer Brian Joseph, he tells us that Hispanics will become Orange County's ethnic majority in 2034 - seven years earlier than predicted. It also predicts that Hispanics will account for 50% of the population in the state by 2042.

Joseph goes on to tell us that, by 2050, California will be 52% Hispanic, 27% white and 13% Asian, and the total population will be 59.5 million. Yikes! My initial reaction was not so much about the changing demographics, but wondering where all those people are going to sit - or stand, for that matter. The phrase "Up close and personal" takes on a whole new meaning! You think we have a water problem now? Just wait until nearly 60 million people flush their toilets every day!

So, your friendly correspondent - who, for the past thirty years, has been telling friends that their children should learn Spanish if they expect to communicate with the people around them - turns out to be a prophet. It kind of reminds me of the lyrics to that old song..."Oh lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way!"

Actually, it didn't take a prophet to see what's been happening in our state and region over the past several decades. Continued prosperity in this state, shifting geopolitical realities and a virtual open door on our southern border combined to create this situation, with no "relief" in sight. Soon, not only in Costa Mesa, but thoughout our area, if you don't "habla Espanol" you won't be able to "habla" with most folks around you. Trying to communicate with your neighbors in a couple decades is going to make our current perception of Babel seem like a Sesame Street episode by comparison.

This won't make much difference to me personally. By the dates quoted in this article I'll be long gone - only the brass urn full of ashes, jammed into a nice, decorative piece of granite at a local cemetery, will be all that's left of this old carcass. But, what about you? What's your plan for living in a society where the majority of your neighbors don't speak English? How will you handle being in the minority? What is your plan for living in a state where the population will double in your lifetime?

I know some of my Latino friends are smiling as they read this entry. I don't blame you. Some might say, "What goes around, comes around." By the way, did you notice that the O.C. Register refers to those of Latin extraction as "Hispanics", while the Los Angeles Times (and the Daily Pilot) uses the term, "Latinos"? I fought that battle with the Daily Pilot editors several years ago, as they changed every submission I sent them. Finally, I just gave up since it was their ball game in which we play by their rules.

There are those who rant and rave about "sending them all back" where they came from - an asinine, impractical and impossible solution, bred by fear. There are those, like me, who feel our borders should be made secure as the first step in national security. That may never happen if the lack of resolve we see on the part of our national elected leaders is any indication.

So, what's your solution? Seriously, I want to know. If you don't want to post your ideas on the blog, just send me an email. I'm curious and I know some of you who read this blog can come up with some good, rational solutions to problems. I want to hear them on this subject.

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Riggy Slips The Leash - Again

It was like a night at the Bark Park in the council chambers last night. Those of you who chose to miss the Costa Mesa Planning Commission meeting last night because you thought it would be brief and boring missed some post-July 4th fireworks.

Whenever I see developer Barry Saywitz's name on the agenda I make it a point to watch the proceedings because he and carpetbagger Commissioner Jim Righeimer have this little
feud going that makes for some fun viewing. Last night was no exception.

You may recall that Righeimer went after Saywitz like an unleashed pit bull when Saywitz was at
tempting to get a condo conversion project approved. This time, during a re-hearing of the same project, old Riggy was back at him again, trying to micro manage the project by questioning every line item in the project to see why Saywitz felt he couldn't make sufficient profit if he was forced to delete three of the twelve units.

This time, however, crusty Chairman Donn Hall wasn't having any of it. He stopped Righeimer in his tracks as he began tenaciously interrogating Saywitz, told him he had embarrassed the commission previously with that kind of nonsense and that he, Hall, wouldn't put up with it this time. Riggy fired back, saying he was appointed by the city council to do exactly what he was doing. Hall persisted and prevailed after threatening to muzzle Riggy on this subject. I must admit that I en
joyed watching Hall cuff Righeimer around as he barked at him on the dais.

Saywitz was the loser, though. His project was denied, as commissioner Clark and Vice Chair Fisler joined Righeimer in voting it down.

Righeimer has demonstrated again that he's a dangerous guy to have angry at you. Watching him in action against Saywitz, it's clear that he has a burning animosity toward him. One suspects there may be more here than meets the eye.

In any event, Righeimer's conduct on the dais should cause any developer planning to do busine
ss with our city to take pause. An earlier speaker, a developer with a long history of doing business in our city, virtually said as much during his comments. If the city is serious about re-vitalizing the Westside of our city it needs to, in addition to developing reasonable development standards, work hard to make the Planning Commission a whole lot more "user friendly" and much less adversarial. Somebody needs to get a trainer for Riggy, to teach him to sit, stay and heel on command.

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