Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Mayor vs. The Truth

I did not attend any of the court sessions of the trial of Benito Acosta last week, but the infor
mation from news accounts and anecdotal reports from some who were there indicate there was some pretty interesting testimony provided - including some from our young jailer/mayor. Reporter Alicia Robinson provided an excellent capsulization in her article in the Daily Pilot today, here. She projects that the trial may continue through the middle of next week.

A very interesting sidebar is the mayor's reaction to earlier news coverage provided by the Daily Pilot, here. In fact, once at that link you will be able to scroll down to Mansoor's seven segment, nearly 500 word, rebuttal to the text in the article. Even more interesting is the fact that the mayor's version of events contradicts the actual video record, which is available for all to view by going to the city web site. Use this link
, then select the record for January 3, 2006.


In question is exactly what happened when Jim Gilchrist, Mansoor's sponsor as an
honorary member in the Minuteman Project, stood to speak. Gilchrist's segment begins at 00:07:13 on the streaming video counter and runs for more than his allotted 3 minutes. Fifteen seconds into his talk he points to his "5 or 6 dozen supporters" in the audience and asks them to stand to show their support. Although the mayor says he admonished them, this video record shows that he didn't. In fact, if you view the video you will see that he actually encouraged them to stand showing support for Gilchrist's view in lieu of speaking, too. More important, he encouraged "the other side" to do the same. Certainly, Benito Acosta's supporters would qualify as "the other side". The mayor has selective memory, which is very strange, since anyone can view the video and see the truth. Although it is possible, I cannot believe that he didn't view the record before testifying.

So, once again, we have a fabrication instead of the truth. This whole thing about Acosta is a very big deal - especially for Acosta. He might be fined and/or jailed as a result of that evening's events. Of much greater concern for me is how it demonstrates the cavalier disregard for the truth on the part of the mayor. It's as though he thinks no one will bother to check the record. In fact, in his Daily Pilot blog tirade, he specifically indicates that's what we should do. He states, "
We are at a point where people need to provide their own oversight and research to get the facts on issues."

Well, when we do our own research we find that he has not been truthful. How are we to interpret his divergence from the facts in this matter? Is it possible that our young jailer/mayor perjured himself on the stand last week? I cannot imagine him doing that intentionally, but whether didn't tell the truth on purpose or due to ignorance, the effect is the same. Is it really possible for him to testify untruthfully on an issue so easy to verify? If so, one would think this could be big trouble for a sworn law enforcement officer.

For a different, longer, view of Acosta's removal from the city council ch
ambers the night of January 3, 2006, go to this link, which is a video posted on YouTube. This five minute clip not only shows Acosta being removed from the auditorium, but the subsequent demonstrations, as well. Near the end, those familiar with city politics will recognize among the demonstrators some staunch Mansoor supporters, trying to "sing down" the Acosta supporters. It certainly seems to me that there was fault on both sides that evening, regardless what precipitated it.

Also of concern to me is the fact that, regardless the outcome of this criminal trial, Acosta apparently has filed a civil suit against the city. This reeks strongly of yet another pile of money to be lost by the boneheaded moves of our city council. I'm concerned that we will end up either settling that case out of court or losing a sizable judgment - money that could have been used for more public safety staff members and repairing our crumbling streets.

So, as the week progresses, we will look for more information on this trial and contemplate how the outcome will affect the lives of Costa Mesans and the future of some of it's politicians.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Steve Smith's Fantasy World

Daily Pilot columnist Steve Smith apparently fancies himself nanny to us all. I've just finished reading and re-reading his most recent attempt at the enlightenment of the populace with his column entitled "Drake lacks faith in students", here, published September 25th. You can chalk it up to my steady march to geezerdom, but I'm having a tough time finding a point in all his verbiage.

I'm guessing the point of his piece was to let UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake off the hook for the way he botched the hiring of Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of the new UCI law school. If his point was, as he says in his first paragraph, " people can do dumb things", he should have stopped right there, because much of what followed was just plain tough to comprehend. For example, in his 7th paragraph he says, "What Michael Drake did was not bring ridicule to the school, or hire the right or wrong dean, he exposed himself as a weak manager, as a flip-flopper, so to speak." What?! Did he mean to say, "Michael Drake brought ridicule to the school by vacillating on his choice of a dean for the new law school, plus he exposed himself as a weak manager."? If so, why didn't he say it?


Further on,
referring to kids in college these days, he says, "The fact is that by the time they get to college, most kids already have their core beliefs established. By the time they get to college, these kids are either doing drugs or they are not. They are either drinking to excess on occasion or they are not." Really? While I'm sure that many kids go off to college fully grounded in those values we think will contribute to their success, many of them do not. Many arrive at a campus far from home with new-found freedom without a clue how to handle it. In fact, one recent high-profile case provides a perfect example.

That would be the case of Todd Marinovich, the "roboquarterback" so finely tuned, molded and controlled by his father that, once at USC, he didn't just fall off the deep end - he took a running start and leaped as far as he could! Once away from his parent's influence he left a trail of drug abuse and other crimes in his wake which cost him a very promising future in professional football. Those behaviors follow him to this day - twenty years after he left home for college - and keep his life in perpetual legal turmoil.

College is a time for growth, both academically and emotionally. It may also be a time of experimentation - a time to spread those wings and attempt to fly. Some kids use chemical enhancement to boost them to new "heights". Some kids are prepared for the college experience, others are not. I suspect there are many parents reading this today that would be shaken to the bone if they knew what their kids are actually up to during their college days.


Once again, the preachy Smith attempts to overlay his "pristine" life experience - the one without television, among other things - onto a real world situation. Once again, he fails to make his point. I frequently find myself wondering how his two kids, which he regularly mentions in his commentaries, are going to cope with the real world once they fly from his televisionless nest. How will they adapt to a world full of television-induced influences on their young psyches? Will they understand the language of their peers once at college, or will it be like studying in Russia? I think old Steve needs to lengthen the leash little. Kids raised under a perpetual umbrella will have no clue what to do when that first unexpected raindrop smacks them in the head.

In the meantime, I'm always grateful for small favors. In this case, it's only getting one dose of Smith per week.

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Monday, September 24, 2007


Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 25, 2007, at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, the trial of Benito Acosta - a self-professed native American who also uses the name Coyotl Tezcatlipoca - will finally stand trial on the charges filed against him following his expulsion from the Costa Mesa City Council meeting on January 3, 2006.


You may recall that Acosta was one of dozens of speakers before the council that night addressing both sides of the plan by Mayor Mansoor to cross-designate every Costa Mesa police officer as a
n immigration screener. When Acosta encouraged his supporters in the audience to stand and show their support Mansoor cut him off even though he still had 30 seconds left on his three minute allotment of time. Acosta was subsequently dragged from the council chambers by several Costa Mesa police officers and arrested.


I'm not sure how this is going to play out, but it certainly did appear that our yo
ung jailer/mayor applied a double standard that evening. For example, his sponsor as an honorary member of the Minuteman Project, founder Jim Gilchrist, spoke earlier and did exactly the same thing - he requested his "5 or 6 dozen supporters" to stand and be recognized. (The adjacent photograph shows Gilchrist motioning to his supporters in the audience) Mansoor did not demand that his supporters cease and desist. Quite the contrary, he encouraged Gilchrist to have them stand. And, Gilchrist was permitted to speak 20 seconds beyond his allotted time.

I've watched the city tape of this event several times. I've also watched video from other sources, which showed the breakdown of order following Acosta's forcible removal from the council chambers, with members on both sides of the issue singing at the top of their lungs. It was not a pretty sight, although some of Mansoor's "improver" buddies can be heard chuckling in the background of one tape.

It certainly appeared that Acosta was complying with the directions of the officers as he left the podium before then-Chief of Police John Hensley directed the officers to remove him.
I don't know the law on this issue. I do know that I expect our leaders to apply the rules evenly - that didn't happen on the evening of January 3, 2006.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


As reported briefly by Alicia Robinson in the Daily Pilot this morning, here, the Costa Mesa City Council unanimously approved a new set of rules for residential and industrial condominium conversions.


During a surprisingly brief discussion on the subject, the only developer to speak was Harvey Berger, who has done many projects in our city. Because he squandered a portion of his allotted three minutes to decry fireworks, he was only able to address one specific issue - the requirement for structural and mechanical inspections of the properties prior to beginning the approval process. He felt it would be too expensive and too cumbersome to manage and would probably discourage some deve
lopers. He's probably correct.

Although the debate wen
t smoothly, it was not without it's painful moments. As usual, Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever was the perpetrator. In his classic, arrogant manner, he gave a backhand to developers with projects already in the pipeline but not yet approved when he suggested in his motion that only those already approved could move forward under the old rules. During the debate of his motion he made the following statement: "These rules basically are codifying what we've been putting applicants through from the dais." That statement was very enlightening. This, of course, contradicts the guidelines established when the council approved the moratoria under which the city currently operates pending final approval of the new ordinance. He was more than willing to leave those developers who, in good faith, had paid fees and began the process, but which had not yet received final approval, dangling like a guy sliding down a greased rope. This is another example of Bever's willingness to change the rules midstream and is another perfect example of why you just cannot trust him.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed when Katrina Foley managed to steer the process back on course with support of the City Attorney, Kim Barlow. The motion was changed to permit those left dangling
to continue under the old rules instead of what she described as the new "onerous rules", but gave them only six months to acquire the necessary approvals or they would be forced to play by the new rules.

Unchanged are the unrealistic parking requirements imposed on such conversions in the future. Since most of the apartment projects that might be considered as condo conversion candidates presently have parking issues, the new standards will make it likely that developers will think twice before they jump into such a project.

In a strange turn of events, the council included in their motion the decision to "sunset" the conversion of apartments to condos under the rules of this ordinance on December 31, 2011. That means that any such conversions from that point forward must comply with all the rules in effect at that time. I say this is strange because they had an option to exempt projects within the Mesa West Residential Ownership Plan area, but chose to include that area, too. It makes one question their dedication to actually improve the 80/20 renter vs. owner-occupied ratio in that area. I guess time will tell if this was a wise move.


Since the moratoria affecting both residential and industrial condominium conversions expires in November, the second reading of this new ordinance must occur during October. I wouldn't be surprised to see input from developers on this subject before that happens.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Condo Conversions - One More Time

It's that time again. Tuesday night the Costa Mesa City Council will, once again, consider the new ordinance for conversion of apartments to condominiums, or "common interest developments", to use their terminology.

You will recall that this council has botched this process almost from the beginning, when they launched their much ballyhooed Westside plans without giving sufficient thought to the guidelines to be foll
owed. In their haste to reverse Costa Mesa's "upside-down" housing market - 60% renters vs. 40% owner occupied units - and with images of gleaming, new common interest developments popping up like mushrooms throughout the Westside, they neglected to make sure proper rules were in place to make it happen. The many proclamations by council members and citizen activists about letting "market forces" drive the redevelopment on the Westside became words served for lunch as those "market forces" began taking the renaissance of that part of town in a direction the "improvers" hadn't anticipated. So, the brakes were put on condominium conversions of any type, anywhere in the city until they could finally get the horse back in front of the cart.


This issue
has received much press - commentaries and letters to the editor on this and related issues by residents and council members have graced the pages of the Daily Pilot for a couple months. Most recently columnist Byron de Arakal provided his usual insightful analysis last week (here), which has generated some very interesting comments on the Daily Pilot blog and will likely provoke a rebuttal by one or more members of the city council majority. The council, in it's attempt to "improve" our city, has played a shell game with the rules, attempting to force developers to adhere to rules not yet in place. On the agenda for the meeting, in closed session, is an item about "pending litigation". It looks like this sleight of hand will almost certainly cost the city coffers some settlement dollars as they stare down the barrel of litigation once again. Can you say "Barry Saywitz?

So, tune in to the council proceedings Tuesday. In what will likely be a short meeting, the council
majority will once again have the chance to demonstrate their leadership and wisdom - or lack thereof - on this issue. The city staff has provided several alternatives from which the council may choose a solution to this issue. I expect we'll see members of the public representing property owners throughout the city, and on the Westside specifically, address this subject. We'll have a chance to see if, in fact, this council will "listen to the community". I've got my fingers crossed.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Pampered Pet "Enhancements"

I'm flipping through the pages of the Los Angeles Times this morning when I see a cute photograph of a cat on the front page of the Business section. Attracted by the photo and the headline, "Care, pampering going to the dogs - and cats", I kept reading. Big Mistake!

In the opening paragraph (to read the whole article click here) writer Leslie Earnest talks about the late Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million to her Maltese, which was enough to rock me back. However, the second paragraph is what really got me. It reads as follows:

"Americans are pampering their pets more than ever. They treat dogs and cats as if they were human, buying them bathing suits, strollers, anti-depressants and, for the neutering-conflicted, testicular implants". (That emphasis is mine) Arf! Ouch! Arf! Ouch!

Now, I'm a pe
t lover. Well, actually, I'm a dog lover. Cats and I seem to barely tolerate each other. When I cat-sit our neighbor's feline we seem to get along OK. I'm a convenient source of food and a couple legs against which he can rub if so inspired. I, for my part, have figured out where that special scratch spot is that gets that whole purring thing going like an outboard motor, but there's always just a little bit of tension between us as I wait uneasily for that moment when he will tire of my caress and slice my hand like swiss cheese with those nasty, little claws. Nope, I'm a dog guy.

We've had some wonderful dogs in our lives. They become de facto children to us, except without the teenage years, thank goodness. There is little we wouldn't do to enhance their comfort - a reasonable trade-off for th
e companionship and unconditional love they bestow upon us. However, I must admit that the idea of providing one of our mutts with a testicular implant never entered my mind. Yikes! What's next - breast implants? How about a little botox injection for little Muffy to fix those droopy eyes? Good grief! Just when you think you've heard it all!

So, curious guy that I am, I investigated this a little further. Seems there is a product called "Neuticles", which - quoting the web site (here) - "Neuticles are crafted from FDA medically approved (For human implant use) Polypropylene. Neuticles replicate the canine testicle in size, shape and weight. The 'space-age' material is solid in form and is used in other medical applications as well." Yikes! I have this image of old Rover, prancing across the living room with his new polypropylene "equipment" clacking like a pair of pool balls with every step.

This got m
e thinking. The opportunities for "customization" seems almost endless. If you're Michael Vick, for example, maybe you could adorn your especially aggressive pit bull with a pair of these things made of brass. It couldn't sneak up on anybody, but probably wouldn't care. They might get uncomfortable when the weather turned cold, though.

Or, if you want to know where Rover is all the time, maybe you could replace his "original
equipment" with a pair of sleigh bells so it would sound like a Budweiser Clydesdale approaching when he runs to greet you.

Ah, the things we do for our pets here in the Land of More Money Than Brains for
the sake of their self esteem. Good Grief!

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Putting 9/11/01 In Perspective

"The United States loves life. We love death. That is the difference between us."
- Osama bin Laden

Here we are, six years downstream from the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. and the resolution of our response is still unclear. Today I watched as General David Petraeus, the commander on the ground in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker presented to Congress the results of our current policies in Iraq, including the "surge", and their take on what is necessary for success in Iraq in the future. Following their testimony their words will be dissected and criticized by those opposing our continued presence in Iraq - that has already begun as I type these words. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and our military commanders will be allowed to complete the job they were sent to do.

I think it's time to put this War on Terror in s
ome perspective. Searching for that perspective I recently came across a publication by the Congressional Research Service entitled, "American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics.", which was published June 29, 2007. This report was apparently written in response to numerous requests for war casualty statistics and lists of war dead. It's a fascinating piece of reading and covers American casualty statistics from the Revolutionary War forward to the present day. It includes not only major wars, but peace-keeping operations and other skirmishes, as well. Here are some excerpts:

As you leaf thr
ough the pages of this report you can't help but be staggered by some of the numbers presented. For example, in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) it is estimated that between 184,000 and 250,000 men served and a total of 4,435 Americans died - the same number was reported for so called "battle deaths".


During the four years of the Civil War (1861-
1865) 2,213,363 members of the Union forces served. 364,511 died, of which 140,414 were considered "battle deaths". Confederate statistics are unreliable, but it has been estimated that between 600,000 and 1,500,000 served, 133,821 died, of which 74,524 were "battle deaths". In the battle of Gettysburg alone, on two days in July of 1863, more than 165,000 men from both sides fought that bloody battle. More than 46,000 died. Nearly 500,000 Americans died in our Civil War.

During World War I (19
17-1918) 4,734,991 Americans served. 116, 516 died , of which 53,402 were "battle deaths".

In World War II (1941-1946) 16,112,566 Americans served. 405,399 died, of which 291,557 were "battle deaths".

In the Korea
n War (1950-1953) 5,720,000 served. 36,574 died, of which 33,741 were "battle deaths".

During the Vietnam Conflict (1964-1973) 8,744,000 served.
58, 209 died, of which 47,424 were "battle deaths".

Finally, the most recent numbers
for our current conflict, which the report refers to as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" (from March 19, 2003 to June 2, 2007) 3,480 Americans have died, of which 2854 were "hostile deaths". This number, sadly, continues to grow as we know from the daily reports via the news media - the most recent number I heard was just under 3,800 deaths.

If you've managed to slog through all those sad numbers, you'll find the rest of the report itself fascinating.

My point here, although it took a long time to reach it, is that the current War On Terror has ta
ken many, many fewer lives than any other "war" in American history. The Vietnam War - one that still resonates with so many of us who served in the military during that period - cost us nearly 60,000 young Americans. The Korean War, which ran for only three years, cost over 36,000 lives. While every single young American life is precious, the numbers of dead and wounded during this current war pale when compared to any other conflict in our history. That does not mean that losing another American soldier in combat is acceptable, but each day the news media, with the help of the internet, provides us with images of carnage that keep the wound that is our American perception of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan open and bleeding.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

As you loo
k at the photos on this page I hope you'll remember what started this whole thing. The quote from Osama bin Laden at the top has defined the tone of this conflict. Nearly 3,000 American lives were lost on September 11, 2001, snuffed out as the fuel-laden jets crashed into their targets. When the twin towers in New York City imploded those innocent victims stood no chance - they were simply shredded, mangled and vaporized as the buildings came tumbling down around them. The brave passengers of Flight 93, apparently headed for another target in Washington, D.C., were the first heroes on that day six years ago. They all lost their lives, but saved unknown thousands from death and injury by their brave action.


This war on terror is actually a war declared by radical Muslim
s well before September 11, 2001. This attack on America and her allies may have begun as far back as October 23, 1983, when a truck bomb exploded at the American military barracks in Beirut, Lebanon with a force said to be the equivalent to 12,000 pounds of TNT - at the time, the largest non-nuclear blast ever deliberately detonated on the face of the earth. In that blast 241 American military men and women died. This was preceded by the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in April of that year, which took 17 American lives among the 63 killed in the attack.

On February 26, 1993 the W
orld Trade Center towers were attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, who exploded a truck loaded with a urea nitrate fuel oil device and included sodium cyanide, which they hoped would filter through the ventilation ducts and slowly smother the occupants of the towers. The plan was to explode the bomb so as to knock one tower into the other, toppling both and killing an estimated 250,000 people. 6 people were killed and 1,042 were injured. The plan failed and most of the perpetrators were captured, tried and convicted and are serving 240 years each.

On June 25, 1996 a car bomber exploded the equivalent of 20,000 - 30,000 pounds of TNT at the Khobar Towers in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, killing
19 Americans and injuring 372 people of various nationalities.

USS COLE, 2000

On Oc
tober 12, 2000, in an attack that is viewed by some as a precursor of the 9/11/01 attacks, the guided missile destroyer USS Cole was attacked by two suicide bombers who approached the ship and exploded their cargo, leaving a 35-by-36 foot gash in the ship's side. 17 sailors were killed and another 39 were injured.

H TO 9/11
If you d
oubt we are at war, take a look at this link, which chronicles the path that culminated in the attack on September 11, 2001 in amazing detail. It contains 580 entries, which lists the intelligence success and failures that resulted in the attack. Take a look at the numbers above and understand that this "war" is a long way from over. Don't forget the attacks in England and Spain and the murders of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl. Let those be a reminder that, as has been said many times - if we don't defeat them over there we will be fighting them over here.

As I post this today there have been rumors about anot
her massive attack somewhere to commemorate 9/11/01. I hope that, as you read this, nothing of the sort has happened. We, as a country, must remain steadfast in our resolve to quash these evil forces that are determined to destroy our way of life. Regardless of the political posturing and rhetoric by our elected leaders, we must show unity and dedication to that end.


If your resolve weakens, remember the quotation from
Osama bin Laden at the top of this entry.


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Saturday, September 08, 2007


Three years ago I wrote a little essay which was published in the Daily Pilot that talked about "four-letter words". It was a fun thing to write and was well received. Today I'm going to write about one of those words - FEAR.

Fear is a very interesting word. One dictionary describes it as:
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. That sounds about right.

I imagine most of us feel fear from time to time. Sometimes it's just the fear of failure, or of being late for an appointment. We might be afraid to fly, or fearful of encountering a snarling pit bull on our daily walk. Our young soldiers in the middle east likely feel real fear as they head out on patrol, never knowing if they will return intact or if they will encounter those damnable IEDs. That's real fear. While it's difficult for me to admit it, I write today because I'm experiencing real fear - that almost paralyzing, looking-over-your-shoulder kind of fear. That cartoon above might make you think I'm taking this lightly. As you read further, you will see that I'm not.

For several years I've sparred with another writer, both here in the blogosphere and on the pages of the Daily Pilot. My views of his actions and opinions have been well-documented on my blog. He and I have created fictitious characterizations of each other - he is "Your Neighbor" and I am, according to him, "Lonely Old Man". We've used those characters to jeer at and criticize each other. In years past the Daily Pilot would occasionally place commentaries from of us adjacent to each other on the same page. It was kind of a "balanced" approach to the same issues.

I've attributed acts by local politicians to his "grand plan" based on my observations of him, of them, and from reading his voluminous works. Certainly, none of this has made him a happy person. Some folks just don't like the light of truth shined on them.


While I wouldn't consider our back-and-forth exchanges particularly pleasant, I think we both made our points and I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation. I don't think either of us has felt cordially about the other for a a long time. A few years ago I speculated about what might happen if a majority that followed his views were to be elected to the city council. Well, as you know, that happened and now each of those things I thought would come to pass either have happened or are well on their way to completion.


However, things changed a couple days ago when he posted on his blog, here, what can only be described as a not-too-veiled threat against me and included my wife. In his own, special way - there are no "accidental words" in his work - he made it very clear that he's keeping a short leash on some of his associates and that it's only his benevolence that keeps them from physically attacking me. I have a good idea just who these leashed mutts are and, quite honestly, I'm afraid of them. Actually, I'm scared "excrementless", because this group is notorious for mindless violence. I have it on good authority that these thugs have physically intimidated a former city official that this guy regards with special contempt. When you carefully read his posting you will see that it certainly looks as though he may be exercising similar restraint as respects a former long term councilman, as well. I wonder what that's all about?

I am unwilling to put the safety of my wife and myself in jeopardy in order to keep this city from going over the brink, so, I hereby announce to my nemesis, "Your Neighbor", that he has won. His tactics have worked. Fear has carried the day for him.

From this point on I will no longer discuss him, his essays, philosophy or his influence over events in our city. I'll just step aside and let the chips fall where they may, because it's clear to me now that he is willing to hurt people who stand in his way or criticize him. I'll leave it to others to follow his actions and comment when they feel it's appropriate. I'm not comfortable with this decision, but, having consulted with friends and law enforcement officials, I see no real alternative. Considering how easy it was to shut me up, I imagine he's wishing he'd thought of this a long time ago.

I apologize to those of you who have come to expect me to keep track of his actions and report my opinions for you to consider. I realize that this is a little like pulling the goalie in a hockey game, but I'm afraid you're on your own now. I caution any who might be tempted to jump into the goal to understand who you're dealing with before you make that leap.

My wife and I now must decide if we can continue to live in a city - our home for more than 34 years - where the agenda is controlled by a thug and bully, and where important issues can be regulated by turning the screws on the decision-makers in this town. The parallel to the pre-World War II Germany of Hitler and his Stormtroopers is remarkable.


I'll continue to post my views here when I think it's appropriate, but probably not with the same frequency and certainly not with the same intensity. Who knows, maybe I'll just decide to bypass all the angst of commenting on futile city matters entirely and turn this into a knitting blog. (Listen closely, that noise you hear is the cheering coming from my "friends" on the Westside of our town.)

I decided to write this post explaining my decision so you, my readers, would understand what's happening. I could have simply tucked my tail between my legs, skulked off into the bushes and said nothing, and considered doing exactly that. After a couple days of contemplation and consultation, that seemed like the wrong choice. I think it's important for you to know why I will no longer make any reference to him or his influence in this city.

I'll close this entry now with a couple of links for your reading pleasure. This one will take you to my original blog, and contains a couple entries from two years ago that you might find of interest. This one takes you to a second entry where additional relevant reading can be found.

Thank you all for reading. Please check back from time to time to see what's simmering in the old Cauldron. Good luck to you all.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gutless Anonymous Posters - GAPs

Returning from a long weekend out of town I scanned the accumulated comments on the Daily Pilot blog for signs of wisdom. It was a tough search, since most of the comments posted continue to be entered by writers I'll refer to as "GAPs" - Gutless Anonymous Posters.

I've been critical of anonymous posters for a long time. The opportunity provided by the Daily Pilot to hold a meaningful debate on important issues is diminished by those cowards who won't identify themselves. One of these is a guy who frequently signs his messages as "Ron", but who uses many other pen names on the P
ilot blog, sometimes having conversations with himself. After you read a recent post, I'll bet you can guess his identity. Here's what he had to say yesterday evening in defense of his gutless anonymous postings:

wrote on Sep 3, 2007 6:07 PM:
Complaints that some don't use their real names here miss the point that what is written should stand or fall on its own merits and not depend upon the name/reputation of the person who wrote it. Anonymity avoids a fallacious appeal to prestige. For example, suppose a poster has a genius level I.Q. and you know it. Would you give his message more weight beause of who he is? Some of us would like to avoid that, at least in this type of forum. We believe a simpe appeal to reason is best. "

I reproduced his comment as it appeared, typos and all.

His position, that it's the comment that counts, not the author, is bogus. For example, does it not mean more to you to read a comment attributed to Mayor Mansoor or Mayor Pro Tem Bever than the same comment signed anonymously? Of course it does! When you assess the things you read in most news articles you consider the source of the information. An article in the liberal-leaning Los Angeles Times, for example, may be viewed differently than an article on the same subject in the Orange County Register or the Wall Street Journal. Anonymous Ron complains, under one of his numerous other names, that the Daily Pilot editors publish their editorials "anonymously", yet lacks the courage of his own convictions.

And, sure, I'd like to know if the author of an opinion "has a genius level I.Q.", just as I would like to know if the author is an overt racist who publishes his vile stuff all over the internet and has published at least three books to spread his gospel. Yeah, I'd like to know that. I'd like to know that it's the same guy who exercised influence over our City Council - wouldn't you? Of course you would!

When you read the stuff I post on the Daily Pilot blog, or the commentaries that occasionally appear on the print pages, you know those opinions come from a guy who has lived half his life in this city, cares about it's future, pays attention to what's going on and is willing to suffer the abuse that regularly comes following the publication of my views. You don't have to agree with my views - or even read them. They are my views and, if you don't like them, such is life.

In my humble opinion, it takes much more fortitude to post a comment for the world to read using your true identity than to post the same comment anonymously. If you use your true identity you must be willing to accept the criticism that might follow or, in my case, is sure to follow. You must be willing to have the cowards who post anonymously denigrate and mischaracterize your opinions and to be the subject of comments usually seen on bathroom walls. That's why, even though I don't agree with some of them, I think those people willing to sign their names to their comments demonstrate tremendous courage. They are willing to accept the abuse that is sure to follow.

Those GAPs who post what amounts to graffiti on the Daily Pilot blog are probably not actually from Costa Mesa - they are likely kooks from other areas like Rancho Cucamonga, Upland or Ontario, trying to influence things in our city with their cowardly comments. I'll continue to refer to them as such until they identify themselves.

Of course, there are those comments posted by Mar..., er, "Ron" under his many aliases that take up so much space. My guess is that's the only he can get his views in the Daily Pilot these days.

Those of you without the courage to stand behind your comments are just a bunch of school yard bullies, hiding behind the big guys and yelling epithets like a bunch of yapping hyenas. I invite each of you GAPs to begin posting your views using your true identity. Some of you obviously have passion about the subjects discussed on the Daily Pilot blog. Instead of engaging in a spitting match, why don't you try to use your intellect to frame your views so you can influence opinion in a positive way? Instead of derailing the debate of the issue at hand with your infantile jibes and taunts, why don't you attempt an adult conversation on the issue instead, for a change? If you guys are as smart as you think you are, you should have no trouble at all presenting your views without the petty pontifications.

I'll look forward to those discussions.

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