Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Appeal, Stats, Fluoride, Tradition & More

Ah, the joy never stops. Today, both the Orange County Register and the Daily Pilot had articles regarding the appeal filed by the City of Costa Mesa in the case of the dismissed charges on Benito Acosta.

According to the Register report, Costa Mesa City Attorney Kim Barlow doesn't e
xpect a ruling by the three-judge panel until next week. The Daily Pilot article quotes Acosta's attorney as stating the appeal "meritless". I guess we'll find out some time next week. In the meantime, that old meter is spinnin' as legal charges continue to rack up on this case.


In a kind of related issue, the Orange County Register Immigration Blog provided us with a brief st
ory and link to a very interesting bit of information provided by something called the Migration Information Source. For those of you interested in such things, I've linked to it here.

Another issue ca
using angst in our little neck of the woods these days is the fluoridation of our water supply, which some folks apparently think is tantamount to poisoning all of us. The debate on the Daily Pilot blog has been, er, spirited - to say the least. You can read the relevant articles and their comment threads in the Daily Pilot. There are four separate articles for your consideration here, here, here and here.


Also, for us Costa Mesans, the fate of Fairview Park continues to raise the collective blood pressure around town. Mike Scheafer, former councilman, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner and active member of the Lion's Club among many others, wrote to the Daily Pilot suggesting the skate park being proposed for Lion's Park be shifted to Fairview Park because it would displace the Lion's Club-sponsored Fish Fry - a six decade tradition in Costa Mesa. As I type this more than 100 comments have been posted on that article. You can read it here.


The issue of Fairview Park and the skate park are apparently going to be on the City Council agenda for next Tuesday evening. I suspect folks representing many views will appear to present their case.


After having driven past Fairview Park a couple of times this week, it seems to me t
hat there is plenty of room on the eastside of Placentia, near the model trains that get used one weekend a month, for the city's second skate park and the parking and restrooms necessary for such a facility. Placement at that location certainly would not interfere with the more passive uses on the west side of Placentia - reachable by the big, ugly bridge.


There are those in our town who devote a lot of energy and blog inches trying to convince us that Fairview Park should remain "pristine" - not a word I associate with that park. Those folks apparently think that any active uses in the park will detract from their plan to bulldoze what they refer to as "slums" - apartments that are occupied by Latinos - to make space for more parks. How pathetic and transparent!


Nowhere in the discussion did I see mention of the possibility of utilizing small pieces of several neighborhood parks to place small, single skate elements so the younger children could practice their skills close to home. A simple small bowl or pad with a grind rail would only take up 400 -500 square feet in parks that are infrequently used now.

With only a couple of council meetings left this year, it's going to be very interesting to see how these issues shake out.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Orange Coast Voice - Costly Legal Action and Day Laborer Harassment

As we all begin to breathe a little easier - both literally and figuratively - because most of the horrendous fires here in southern California are either contained or look to be contained within the next couple days, our attention turns to more mundane things - like the Benito Acosta fiasco.

Over at the Orange Coast Voice, published by activists Duane Roberts and John Earl, the current issue presents some interesting statistics about the trials involving Benito Acosta. The current issue may be found at this link. According to that publication, the City of Costa Mesa has already spent more than $130,000 on the two trials involving Acosta, with no end in sight.

Please take the time to read this fascinating account and to review the PDF files linked within the story reflecting the bills from the two law firms involved. It looks to me as though the meter continues to spin, racking up significant charges in both the criminal trial - presently dismissed, but perhaps to be appealed - and the pending civil rights law suit filed on behalf of Acosta by the ACLU.

In the same issue there's an interesting article entitled "Chilling Effect", which addresses the current condition of day laborers in Costa Mesa and their relationship with the Costa Mesa Police. I'm not going to attempt to interpret Earl's words - please read them for yourselves. I will say, though, that the closure of the Job Center has exacerbated tensions between the police and day laborers. This has been compounded by the anti-immigrant attitude of our current City Council majority and their band of "improver" buddies. When you read Earl's account of this situation you will come to realize that relationships between the city government and the Latino community will continue to be strained until there is a change in attitude at the top in our city government. Right now, that seems highly unlikely.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Report From The Doorstep of Hell - Now What?

After spending much of the time since last Sunday glued to the television and listening to radio reports about the devastating fires throughout Southern California and trying, with only marginal success, to contact friends and relatives in the fire zones, I feel like I've been pulled through an emotional knot hole.

We have many friends who live in or around the affected areas, some of whom evacuated and others who chose to hunker down and see what happened. That latter is not advised and we're keeping our fingers crossed that their decision doesn't come back to bite them.

Since Monday I've tinkered with a blog entry to address this subject, but kept bumping up against statistics that were accumulating so fast that it was just overwhelming. Fortunately, our pal Art Pedroza over at the Orange Juice! Blog has been doing a daily update. If you click here you can go to that blog and scroll down through his summaries and the links he's provided. The articles and images will give you all the information you need on our situation out here. Art's done an amazing job on this subject all week. Kudos to him.

In his most recent entry he included a link from The Cycling Dude blog which addresses riding bicycles in this smoke-filled environment. Click here for that link.

The scope of these fires and the tremendous efforts made to combat them are staggering. The images of helicopters, Super Scoopers and that huge DC-10 tanker dropping water and fire retardant all over our region for the past five days have been amazing. Stories of firefighters going for 36-48 hours without sleep, trying to protect homes and lives, makes you realize how much we owe to those heroes.

One number I heard this afternoon that rocked me - 25% of the land area of San Diego County has been burned in this set of fires! That's an astounding number, which only compounds the half million residents displaced at least temporarily and more than 1500 homes that have been destroyed.

Those of us in Orange County are dealing with the fact that the Santiago Fire - "our" fire - was caused by an arsonist. This fact heaps even more emotional grief onto an already terrible situation. To date, more than $150,000 in reward money has been made available for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

Among the many frustrating situations being faced here has been the wind - then the lack of it. When the fires first started winds were being clocked in some places at over 100 miles per hour, with constant winds well over 50mph in many places. This made it almost impossible to contain the fires - the wind-driven embers simply jumped fire lines and started new fires miles away. At one time during the past three days there were nearly 30 separately identified fires burning from the Santa Inez Valley north of Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. Today there is very little wind, which some would cheer. However, because the entire region is covered with thick, acrid smoke, some of the most effective air assets cannot be used because the pilots cannot see! What we need is a little breeze from somewhere to move the smoke around a little so the big guys can get back into the game.

It's going to take more than a week for most of the fires to be contained based on recent reports. I doubt we will have full containment of all the fire locations until well into November and probably won't have meaningful statistics until Thanksgiving.

Thanks to each of you who have expressed concern for us out here on the Doorstep of Hell. Thanks to those of you who have chosen to contribute to the various relief organizations helping the newly homeless from these fires. Thanks to the emergency personnel - the firefighters, police, National Guard and the countless volunteers who continue to provide support to the evacuees. Thanks to you all.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Looking For Answers From Kim Barlow

In the midst of trying to figure out how much of Southern California remains unburned, I submitted a letter to the editor to the Daily Pilot addressing the subject of Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow's recent letter published on those pages. You can read her letter here.

The Pilot published a version of my letter this morning. It was edited for space and to correct what they thought were errors. Unfortunately, their "fixes" only further complicated things. For example, I misspelled the judge's name in the last sentence of my submission. They "fixed" that problem by misspelling it another way!

So, in what may be a feeble attempt at clarity, the following is my submission to them - with the judge's name spelled correctly. I've highlighted items deleted in the Daily Pilot in italics:


Letter to the Editor, Daily Pilot

I read Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow's "Sounding Off" commentary, (Peelman's missed oath doesn't negate his principles), published on these pages October 20, 2007 with great interest. Her attempt to clarify the role of Peelman as "our prosecutor", while thorough, left me with a few questions.

When she says, "The City Council does not determine who gets prosecuted, nor does it direct what charges may be pursued, when and under what circumstances charges will be filed, whether a case should be dismissed at some point in time during its course, or whether to appeal a decision adverse to the people.", I find myself wondering just who works for whom? In the dismissed Acosta case the City Council held numerous closed session meetings over many months in which the case was discussed. Are we to believe that these sessions were "one way streets", with Barlow telling the council what is happening without the opportunity for the council - her boss - to "provide direction"?

If that's the case, what happens in the pending federal case filed by Acosta against Mayor Mansoor, Chief Hensley and The City if the defendants wish to try to find common ground for a settlement? Will the attorney ignore that direction if he feels his case is strong?

I certainly don't pretend to have legal training and I'm not being critical here, I just want to know how this "system of justice" is supposed to work.
I want to know just how much authority, responsibility and influence our elected officials have in this kind of a situation. It sounds like Ms. Barlow is saying, "none, none and none."

When Ms. Barlow tells us that Mr. Peelman, her associate from Jones & Mayer, should not be taken to task for failing to meet a legal requirement for a prosecutor - which caused the Acosta case to be dismissed - I become concerned. If Mr. Peelman is not responsible for this gaffe, who is?
Is the judge responsible because she enforced the rule? Is the defense attorney responsible because she brought it up? Who do we, the people, look to as the party responsible? Even though I hold Ms. Barlow in high regard, this sounds just a teeny bit self-serving.

Ever since Jones & Mayer was contracted to perform the job of Costa Mesa City Attorney, represented primarily by Ms. Barlow, it appeared to me that we were getting good return on that investment. We, the residents of Costa Mesa, really can't judge that, though, since much of what happens occurs behind closed doors. We are not privy to the legal advice she provides, nor the council's questions of her. We don't know whether she frequently has to rein them in to avoid costly legal problems or not. We are left only to judge by the outcome - as in the Acosta case.

Despite Ms. Barlow's excellent account, based on letters and postings on the Daily Pilot blog, there are many people in this community who still find it curious that charges were filed by the prosecutor for the city after the District Attorney's office chose not to do so, and that those charges were filed only after Acosta filed his federal case. Whether it is or is not the case, it looks like we, the city, chose to try to teach Mr. Acosta a lesson - to show him his proper place - for acting in a disrespectful manner towards the mayor at the earlier meeting in December of 2005. It looks like we were willing to spend thousands of taxpayers dollars on a case that would generate $1,000 in fines. None of that, in my opinion, makes our city look very good.

Ms. Barlow ends her commentary with the following statement: "Whether you agree with the decision to prosecute Acosta or with the judge's order dismissing the case, the guiding principle for every prosecutor remains the same. Swearing one more oath does not and cannot change that." Well, apparently Judge Kelly MacEachern felt differently, so who are we to believe?


That it - the way I submitted it to the Pilot which was sliced and diced to fit their pages and, apparently, to tone it down a little bit.

I don't know about you, but I'm not very comfortable with the way this situation has evolved. In my opinion, Kim Barlow shouldn't have published her letter. It only served to rip a scab off a festering wound and ended up generating more questions than answers.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Weekend Reading

More things to contemplate while you're relaxing with your family this weekend.

First, the Daily Pilot has announced the 2007 edition of their DP 103, a list of 103 people and things that were "influential" in our lives this year. You can read it here. As you scroll down through the list you'll find many familiar faces - movers and shakers in the Newport-Mesa area who appear year after year for their contributions. As always, there are some new ones, too. I've already teased some of my pals who made the list, but were superseded by plankton, at #80.

Thanks to each of those folks recognized by the Daily Pilot. Without their energy, vision and generosity our community would be a sorry place, indeed.

Speaking of which, our pal, Doug Bennett, over at the Orange Coast College Foundation and #84 on the DP 103, took time out from trying to sell Rabbit Island to drop me this little note:


I wanted to let you know that there will be a new library in Costa Mesa in January – the new Orange Coast College Library. Yes, it is a college library but it is also a library that the community will be able to use. It will be 88,000 square feet and although I am biased its pretty spectacular, lots of computers, places to read and books. Community members can get a library card for $20 a year. It won’t have all of the children’s and juvenile collection of a city library but it will fill a need for students and the community until the new city library is built. It is being paid for with our local Measure We will be having a dedication ceremony in February, I’ll make sure you are invited.

Doug Bennett

Executive Director

Coast College

So, once that new facility is opened you library fans can sneak over and check it out. It may whet your appetite for the new Costa Mesa Library even more.

A former member of the DP 103, Gary Monahan, announced that the three-term councilman, mulit-term mayor and the only councilman to qualify for a city pension, has decided to pitch his hat in the ring for a council seat again. You'll find Daily Pilot article here. The comment thread attached to that article is thought provoking, to say the least. Monahan's candidacy will be the subject of a separate post in the future.

So, let the speculation begin about which names will find their way to the ballot next year. At this point, it looks like Monahan, Foley and Bever for sure.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Libraries, Lawsuits and Blog Terrorists

Here's a little early-week potpourri for you to contemplate.

First, over on the right edge o
f this page you will find a new link - for the Costa Mesa Library Foundation. When you have a couple minutes slide on over to the site and familiarize yourself with the efforts of these tireless volunteers who are determined to improve the library situation in Costa Mesa. Don't resist that urge to send them a few bucks to nudge their efforts on down the road. Pick up your pen, write that check and put it in the mail tomorrow.


The Costa Mesa City Council meeting tomorrow has a couple of interesting items on the ag
enda. Right off the bat, there's a closed session that includes an item on labor negotiations and - here's the biggie - a discussion of the most recent lawsuit involving the City of Costa Mesa and Benito Acosta. I won't attempt to revisit the last one - which was dismissed two weeks ago because of a gaffe by the attorney for the city. This one is the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of Acosta. I honestly hope the majority on the council - who tend to see things in black and white - will be able to put their collective egos on the back burner and do what is right for the city - settle this disaster before it drains our coffers and causes further embarrassment to the city. Who knows, maybe all it would take would be for the mayor to suck it up, admit he made a mistake in the heat of the moment and apologize to Acosta. Do you think that will happen? Nah, neither do I.

I'm sure many of you visit the Daily Pilot online frequently. This has the potential to be a wonderful tool for the community as the debate of important issues can be pursued. Unfortunately, there is a small cad
re of bitter spoil-sports who are determined to derail almost every comment thread by attacking those who express an opinion instead of addressing the issue at hand. Most of these people are cowards, fearful of attaching their identities to their comments. They are a bunch of bullies who hide behind trees and throw stones - like the insurgents in Iraq that plant IEDs then scurry away like the cockroaches they are. They contribute nothing to the debate and only cause pain and destruction.

Among the most painful comment threads I can remember are those attached to the several articles about the tragic death of Sara Harris last week when she crashed her car in the Mesa Verde area. Regardless the reason for her crash - there are many as yet unsubstantiated theories - the viciousness of some of th
e posts on those articles shakes my faith in humanity. It's beyond me to understand how people can be so cruel and heartless. I find myself wondering if this is really the tenor of the times in Costa Mesa. Has the influence of the current majority been so pervasive that it's unleashed the worst of human nature among many members of our community. If so, what kind of a legacy will that be for our young jailer/mayor and his crew to leave behind? It's a very sad state of affairs. I provided no links to those articles. If you really want to read them, go the Daily Pilot online and find them yourself. If you do, please seek out Publisher Tom Johnson's commentary on this subject which was published last Friday. His view is, by far, the most reasoned discussion of this subject.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Adios, Alicia

I received some sad news earlier this week. Daily Pilot ace reporter and columnist, Alicia Robinson, is moving on. Her last day a the Pilot will be next Friday, October 19th.

Alicia, who has been a stalwart on the Daily Pilot for the past few years, has handled general reporting assignments and has covered the politics of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa like a blanket. I've always found her articles to be accurate and balanced, providing the news as it should be presented. She managed to give us in-depth coverage of issues without injecting her own views or emotio
nal attachment to the story. She has been a real pro.

Her "Political Landscape" column each week is widely quoted, particularly on local blogs.

In addition to her print work, I, personally, enjoyed the recent video debate between combatants on both sides of the Newport Beach City Hall issue. I'm sure that was a lot of fun and it gave her a chance to spread her wings a little more.

According to Alicia, she's moving to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, and will apparently be focusing on news of Corona and environs. You know Corona, right? It's the gateway to the Inland Empire. It's the place you never visit because it's on the way to somewhere else. About the only time most of us even thi
nk of Corona is when we're stuck in that traffic on the 91 Freeway. Usually it's mentioned in that cell call which goes something like this: "Sorry, Mom, the traffic is terrible and I'm stuck in Corona."

Nonetheless, this is a terrific opportunity for a very bright and talented reporter. In the Press-Enterprise she'll be read by nearly four times the number of readers as the Daily Pilot. Granted, she may have to learn "909 Speak", but she can handle it.

Alicia is the most recent excellent Daily Pilot reporter to move on to bigger things. You'll notice I didn't say "better", just bigger. I know we'll see her byline on big stories in the future. I wish her all the best as she takes her talent to the next level.

Good Luck, Alicia. You have many fans and we'll miss you. Keep up the good work.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This morning Alicia Robinson reports in the Daily Pilot, here, that the City of Costa Mesa has spent $32,000 prosecuting the case against Benito Acosta so far, and the meter is apparently still running.

She quotes City Attorney Kim Barlow as saying the case could be appealed to the State Supreme Court.

Let me ask you - what is the return on investment in this case? Is it really worth $32,000 plus to convict Acosta of two misdemeanor charges and gain the fine of $1,000? I don't think so. It looks to me that what's going on here is that a petulant council majority, led by Mayor Allan Mansoor, is trying to "get even" with Acosta - to teach him a lesson for being rude and disrespectful before the council.


Here's another question for you. How do you suppose this is going to appear when presented in the federal civil rights case Acosta and the ACLU have filed against Mansoor, former Police Chief John Hensley and the city? How will it look when the court is told that the Orange County District Attorney's office declined to prosecute this case more than a year ago? How will it look when the court is told these charges were filed only after Acosta filed his case? And, how will it look if the city - in yet another boneheaded move - actually does appeal this case to the State Supreme Court? Add that to the obvious double standard Mansoor used on January 3, 2006 and it's going to look like the leaders of our city are inept, vindictive and prejudiced.

In my opinion, this is exactly what happens when you elect small people to big jobs. Mansoor and his majority have consistently ignored the advice and counsel of each of their most recent top law enforcement officers - men who, between them, have had nearly a century of experience. This is the kind of trouble that lack of regard for folks with wisdom and expertise can create for the city.

It is not unreasonable to assume that Acosta and the ACLU will prevail next spring, and with their success will come not only a huge financial hit to the treasury of this city, but to it's image, as well. I do not take joy in pointing this out, contrary to what some bloggers have said in the recent past. I'm not happy we have a city led by people without the vision to see the quagmire they are dragging us into. Their stubborn short-sightedness is going to cost us a bundle.

Over the past week or so, as stories of this case and it's dismissal by the judge have dominated the news, some Daily Pilot bloggers have suggested that our young jailer/mayor should be recalled for this monumental gaffe. At that time I said it was a bad idea. It would cost the city a lot of money and, more important, would only serve to further divide us as a community. I must say, though, that if this plays out the way it appears that it might, and ends up costing us a lot of money and tarnishes our image among the community of cities, the voters of this city should weigh their choices next November very carefully to avoid perpetuating this kind of narrow-minded folly in the future.

In my view, the city should cut it's losses. It should cease any further consideration of an appeal and immediately begin negotiations to settle the federal case out of court, if possible. The longer this drags out the worse we are going to look and the more it's going to cost.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Change Happens - Adapt or Drown

Over the past decade or more a group of long time residents of this city, the self -anointed "improvers", have preened, pontificated, postured and protested before council and commission meetings about how the
city was declining - and clearly blaming that decline on what they perceived to be the reason - the Latinos among us. In recent years that description has morphed into "illegal aliens", because it struck a chord with the broader community. Yes sir, brown and illegal - how much worse could it get, right?

When I first began writing about issues in our city a half-decade ago the hot button subject was the decline of the Westside. I've recently gone back and re-read some of my earliest contributions to the Daily Pilot, composed and published several years before I began my blog. I've also kept some of the respo
nses to those essays, most of them written by members of that "improver" group.

I re-read their complaints from a few years ago and hear them speak and read their
words published more recently and must, at least in part, agree with some of what they say. They complain about the crime in their Westside neighborhoods - rightfully so. They complain about the shoddy condition of some of the dwellings in their neighborhoods - I would, too. They complain about overcrowding of homes and apartments, which tax our social and physical infrastructure - valid observations.

Each of those things are certainly reason for concern. And each of them have solutions under our current laws and cod
e enforcement regulations. And, each of this issues are not exclusive to the Latino community. If you read the Costa Mesa crime logs you will see Latino names, but you'll also see names that are not Latino. When you drive the neighborhoods of the Westside you'll certainly see some shoddy homes occupied by Latinos, but you'll also see many run down dwellings that are occupied by mostly older anglos - some of those very folks who complain about the condition of their neighborhoods.

Many, if not most, of the folks who have become activists in the "improver" movement are people my age or older - much older. They've listened to the strident voic
es of the radical right, who promised quick solutions. These folks - part of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" and their children - are among those who founded this city and shepherded it's amazing growth over the past half century. But we, myself and those folks, don't represent the future of this city - we represent the past. I can tell you from personal experience, when you reach a certain age you're not particularly enthusiastic about change. You're happy to find some fog on the mirror when you breathe on it! The only change you want to see is a new date on the calendar each day. At my age and beyond you like to find your newspaper exactly where it should be, your slippers beside the bed and your robe within easy reach. You like to find the same products with which you've become comfortable for most of your life still available in the markets and drug stores. However, that's not the real world... life is change.

The folks of the "impro
ver" group don't like the change they are seeing in their part of town. They don't like the fact that they cannot communicate with some of their neighbors, nor share the same cultural values. I don't blame them for being uneasy. However, as I've said many times in the past, the Latino immigrants are the wave of the future for, at least, this part of our country. If we don't find a way to manage that wave we are destined to be overcome and drowned by it.

I don't think anyone honestly believes that it is possible to round up and deport all 12 million (or
more) illegal immigrants in this country. Even if it was possible, it certainly isn't practical from an economic standpoint. Instead of trying to find ways to expunge them from our city - and our country - lets find a way to make their presence work better for all of us.

Many people in this country react in horror when the word "amnesty" is mentioned. They are offe
nded that those "criminals" who crept across the border will actually be allowed to stay in this country - perhaps with a path to citizenship - while others wait patiently in line to become legal residents. They scream at the top of their lungs that amnesty should not happen - that it will only encourage more illegal immigration. Well, with the open borders that we have now, that's probably true. In my view, once our borders are secured, a form of earned amnesty should be adopted. Back taxes and other fees should be imposed to those eligible and crime-free.

I have gotten to k
now many people who took advantage of amnesty the last time it was offered. Without exception, they are honest, hard-working, cheerful, family-oriented people, grateful for the opportunities available to them. They jump in their cars and head to distant places - Portland, Chicago, etc. - to visit family members, just as my family used to do in the middle of the last century. They are proud of their heritage, just as my parents and grandparents were. They encourage their children to achieve good grades and attain higher education so they can make a better life for themselves and their families - just as my parents and grandparents did. These folks have become valuable members of our society - just as my parents and grandparents were.

Many so-called "improvers" have used low test scores in schools which educate the children of Latino immigrants - most of those kids are American citizens like you and me, by the way - as an example of the financial dra
in of the immigrants on our society. Well, recent upticks in some of those schools have demonstrated that those children, who may be brown, are certainly not dumb. They may not speak English in the home, but they certainly do speak it in school, and their test scores demonstrate their comprehension. These are, for the most part, cheerful, bright children who are thriving in circumstances most of us cannot imagine.


The so-called "improver
s" better wake up. These children - the ones whose parents they are so eager to castigate, incarcerate and deport - are going to be registered voters in the very near future. If they think Benito Acosta gave them nightmares with his activism, they had better renew their valium prescription, because during the next decade these kids are going to begin voting in large numbers. They and their anglo peers, not you and me, are the future of this city, so we'd be much better off trying to find ways to integrate them into the mainstream of our society than to waste precious energy and resources trying to alienate and anger them.


Our present leadership seems to advocate an "enforcement only" policy toward our gang proble
m. That's a huge mistake, in my estimation. Any program that has no element of intervention included is doomed - recent history in Los Angeles has demonstrated that for us. You'd think our young jailer/mayor - a law man - would know that, wouldn't you?


In my view, it's critical that we work harder to educate, motivate and integrate the children of the immigrants among us. If we don't do a better job of providing alternatives to gangs, that insid
ious sub-culture will take over large numbers of our youth, just as they have in other parts of Southern California.

Things change - got it? Those geriatric activists my age will not be around to harvest the bitter crop they are planting, but your children will. It's time to get our collective heads out of th
e sand and find solutions that will work instead of trying to turn the clock back a half century, because that's not going to happen.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Beat Goes On, And On....

The Benito Acosta Trial - a gift that keeps on giving - or taking, depending the side of the table you're on.

I noticed on the city web site that there has been a special City Council meeting called for Tuesday, October 9, 2007, which will immediately follow the scheduled Study Session for that date. This will be a "closed session" meeting to discuss the recently-dismissed case of Costa Mesa v. Acosta.

I hope they've got the metal detectors hooked up, just in case someone decides to throw themselves on their sword for the mistake made by the attorney for Jones & Mayer last week.

Since this is a closed session, we mere mortals will likely have a very difficult time learning the result of the discussion. Is it just me, or does it seem that this council spends an awful lot of time in closed sessions recently? I suspect, as the old phrase goes, "We ain't seen nothin' yet!" With the federal civil rights case looming in the second quarter of next year, I suspect we'll be seeing many, many more closed sessions as our elected "leaders" try to figure out how to extricate themselves and our city from that particular tar pit.

Stay tuned...

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Friday, October 05, 2007


It has been an interesting week here in Cauldronland. The trial of Benito Acosta see
ms to have sucked most of the available energy from readers of the Daily Pilot and the bloggers who post their views online. There apparently is no spleen left unvented. Well over 150 - and counting - comments have been posted on the several articles on this subject, which can be read here, here and here. As I type this, the most recent article this morning, here, announces that the appeal of the decision by Judge Kelly MacEachern to dismiss the case late last week has been denied. So, this part of the Benito Acosta adventure is over.

On the horizon, apparently set for a spring start, is the federal civil rights case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Acosta against the city. That one has the potential, should it be resolved in Acosta's favor, to reach into our city coffers and extract very significant dollars. And, as painful as the financial part of it would be, even more destructive will be the cost to the city's reputation, which is rapidly becoming one of a bastion for intolerance.

Of interest is the fact that the word "recall" has been bandied about on the blog, postulating that the way Mayor Allan Mansoor handled the events of the City Council meeting on January 3, 2006 is worthy of being recalled
from office. Even though he clearly demonstrated bias - some would say prejudice - in the way he handled Acosta versus the way he permitted his sponsor, Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist to permit his "5 or 6 dozen" supporters to stand when he spoke to show their support of his views, I don't think that mistake is sufficient cause to try to recall our young jailer/mayor. Mounting a recall effort is costly, both in terms of dollars and community harmony. The mayor and his running mate, Wendy Leece, gained sufficient votes last year to make me believe that a recall effort would fail.

There may be
no bigger critic of the mayor and his majority in this city than this writer. I think his actions, supported by his majority, have caused Costa Mesa to become known as a city without a heart. I think their attempt to create their own foreign policy by advocating the designation of every Costa Mesa police officer as an immigration screener destroyed the bridges built over the previous two decades between city government and the Latino community - one third of the population of our town.

Under the guise of making Costa Mesa "a safer place", they have created an atmosphere of fear and apprehension on the Westside of our city. I, for one, don't feel much safer knowing that the bible teacher who was snatched up for riding his bicycle the wrong way has been deported. Nope, that doesn't make me sleep any better.


Each month, when the Costa Mesa Police Department presents their crime figures - which now include statistics for those arrestees who have been screened by the agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presently assigned to our jail - anti-immigrant activists crow about how much safer our streets have become. I have seen no statistics that tell us how many of those detained by ICE are actually convicted of a crime and subsequently deported. Along with that information, I'd also like to know how many previously deported criminals have been re-arrested, having returned to our city following deportation.

In my view, until and unless the federal government secures the border, anything done by ICE in Costa Mesa is only window dressing. Yes, I certainly do want dangerous felons - that's how the mayor
described his target group when he first proposed having all the CMPD officers designated as immigration screeners - off the streets and kept off. This present program doesn't seem to be doing that.


Rather than waste fiscal resources and emotional energy on a doomed recall effort, I suggest those in our community who have had enough of the mayor's heavy-handed style of governance begin right now to find candidates to change the power structure on the council. In just over 12 months we will elect three council members - a majority - so the opportunity is there for a chan
ge for the better. However, the only probable candidates in addition to Katrina Foley that I see poised for a run are sycophants of the mayor and his current majority. Assuming our resident court jester, Eric Bever, chooses to run again, it's likely he will be joined by one or more self-described "improvers" in the race for the three seats to be contested.


I've even heard rumors that turncoat Gary Monahan, the termed-out twelve year, pension-eligible
former councilman and mayor might run again - apparently hoping to add years to his pension pot. You may recall that it was Monahan who, inexplicable, changed direction and joined Mansoor and Bever to form the first majority that began directing this city onto it's current path of intolerance. For that move he found immigrant's rights activists camped on the doorstep of his business for several weeks, chanting epithets at him and disturbing his customers. With that as a backdrop, it's unlikely he would view the plight of the Latino community with much sympathy should he regain a seat on the council.


Unless new candidates surface who represent a more balanced approach to the governance of our city, we will be doomed to be under the thumb of this narrow-minded group of anti-immigrant activists for the next decade. Unless we are able to shift the power from those who seem destined to encumber this city with legal and fiscal penalties for their missteps, we will continue to see our precious resources used not to hire more police officers and fire fighters, nor to repair our crumbling streets, but to pay settlements and fines for their sledgehammer approach to governance.

Now it the time to begin returning this city to the right path - the one that will take it back from the dark forces of intolerance.

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Monday, October 01, 2007


This word just in... sources at the courthouse just told me that the case against Benito Acosta - described variously as a "student activist" by his supporters or "pretend Indian" by his opponents - was dismissed late this afternoon by Judge Kelly MacEachern.

Apparently, as reported earlier by Daily Pilot reporter Alicia Robinson, Costa Mesa's prosecutor Dan Peelman was not sworn in as a public prosecutor, which is a requirement of the state constitution. This procedural gaffe, which had been reported as being described by Peelman to the judge as a "harmless error", toppled this case after more than a year of preparation and nearly a week of testimony.

It's my understanding that there was an appeal filed this morning, which may or may not affect the judge's decision. According to sources at the court house, few knowledgeable observers think will change anything. When you consider the legal fees racked up for at least 5 pre-trial hearings , witness depositions and other billable items,
one thing is obvious - the city sure didn't get bang for it's legal buck in this instance.

There are those who think this never should have been brought to trial in the first place, including the Orange County District Attorney's office, which reviewed the circumstances and chose not to prosecute the case. That should have been an alarm bell for officials in our city. Instead, this looks more and more to be about the petulance of the Allan Mansoor-led City Council majority, trying to teach Acosta a lesson for his rudeness before them on several occasions.

Looming on the horizon is the federal civil rights case that will apparently be filed against the city by Acosta's ACLU attorneys. This one has the potential to reach deep into the city coffers and really do some financial damage - all because we have a majority that lacks the maturity and wisdom to effectively manage this city.

So, dear Costa Mesa readers, the next time you fall into a pothole or have to wait longer than you wish for response by a member of Costa Mesa's public safety organizations, thank the majority on the council. They've developed "frittering away money" into an art form!

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At noon today Alicia Robinson reported on the Daily Pilot online that Costa Mesa's case against Benito Acosta might be in jeopardy. You can read her story here.

Having read the piece, I cannot imagine that the court will go along with the defense position that the case should be dismissed. However, strange things happen in court rooms.

Stay tuned...